Tag Archives: photography

What Camera Mode? Aperture Priority, Manual, Shutter Priority, Or Auto

The choice of what mode to put the camera in is one of many debates among pros. I have discovered that each mode has it’s purpose when you consider the pluses and minuses. The only hard and fast rule I have found is that if you’re not getting the results you want, trying another mode could solve your problems.

First to consider is your knowledge of photographic principles. They’re not that hard to learn, but hard to put into actual practice. To get out of auto, you need to understand –

  • Aperture
  • Shutter Speed
  • ISO

Learn how these work together to get an exposure.

Here is how I use the different settings with my basic knowledge of exposure.

Automatic or “P”

Pros will tell you that a real photographer is never in this mode. They’re wrong. Some photographers actually pride themselves on never using anything other that auto-mode on their cameras. They know the limitations and they don’t care. Journalistic and street photographers are keen to it because they can free their minds from worrying about their equipment and focus their efforts on the photos that they’re trying to take.
Myself, this is where I try to leave the camera set when I turn it off. If I want the camera working fast for that split second shot, auto-mode is my best chance. I enjoy stream-of-consciousness photography where I just shoot things as they come to me and auto-mode allows me to be ready for that.
They downside to auto is that it’s just a computer following an algorithm in an attempt to create a good photo. There are some situations that are just impossible for the camera’s computer to figure out. They can’t tell when you want a silhouette. Another example would be that they cannot focus where there is not a good contrasting line to focus on. There most certainly are limitations and you will find them in your work.
If auto works for you, use it. Camera manufacturers keep improving auto-mode and scene modes and certainly do free the photographers mind.

Aperture Priority  And Shutter Priority Mode

I learned on an aperture priority mode Minolta 35mm camera many years ago. In those days, that was all that this particular Minolta camera had. I tend to favor this mode of shooting. Aperture priority allows the photographer to control how much of the photo is in focus. It’s an easy artistic effect where focus can be on or off of a subject.Aperture mode will attempt to put the shutter speed at an appropriate match to the shutter speed. I know that I need a fast shutter speed to freeze motion and reduce blur, so in aperture mode, I increase the size of the aperture to let in more light. This allows for faster shutter speeds which accomplishes the task. Conversely, if I want more of the photo in focus, I know that in care reduce the aperture size which will lower the shutter speed. If I slow the shutter to much, I know it will blur movement.
Learning the limits of your camera and lens are a must for aperture and shutter priority modes. Knowing the effect of the settings help you choose the correct settings for these modes. The more you practice with these modes, the easier and faster you can make the correct settings for your desired outcome.I frequently use these modes when I have enough time to contemplate what I want the outcome of the photo to be. I am skilled enough to use them in a hurry when the light conditions are not complicated. Landscape, stage events, family gatherings, etc. are examples when I have the extra time to consider these settings.

Manual Mode

In the other modes, the photographer relies on the metering and computer sensor of the camera to choose the setting. For perfect photos, many times the camera just isn’t good enough and I can manually choose each of the settings for exactly what I want. It takes practice and I still have to “chimp” and look at the live view screen to judge my output. Pros generally claim better results and site their extensive experience.

I shy away from anyone telling me that all manual, all of the time is the only way to take great photos. Using it all of the time can certainly reduce the number of chances you have to capture the moments and that takes way from enjoying the craft of photography. On the other side of that coin, producing perfect images because you knew exactly what the settings should be for the desired effect produces results and gives a sense of pride. If you never reach the point of all manual, all-of the-time, don’t let it bother you.

Weigh The Benefits Of The Modes

Consider the benefits(and downfalls) of the modes you’re using. Auto is going to give you more photos of lesser quality than learning to choose a setting and get precision in the other modes. Aperture and shutter priority have their uses and the photographer will have an increased number of correct exposures when they learn to use these modes with skill and purposeful intent. Manual will produce the exact exposure that the photographer wants, but it’s time consuming to use and it takes knowledged and a bit of intuition to get the best setting.
Above all practice with the different modes frequently until you know what is possible with camera. The more you practice, the more you’ll understand the results, and the less you’ll care what the “pros” think.


Get Prints Of Your Photos And Use Printing As An Editing Filter

We all have to many photos not worth printing and not enough prints. With digital storage being cheaper than ever and printing being more expensive than ever, it’s easy to just leave them on the computer. The problem with this is that there digital images just don’t have the impact or bring the enjoyment that a printed photo does. Digital images tend to collect and it’s difficult to find the real standouts in the digital pile.

I read some advice to use printing as an editing tool when deciding to keep your photos. If you’re willing to pay for the print of a photo, it’s probably worth keeping and posting. If not, consider deleting it. If you start printing some of your photos, you’ll get a better eye for what is worth printing too.

With a recent order, I decided to try out some of the different styles of print. I did the standards of matte and glossy, but the new metallic finish, I’d never seen before. I chose a photo of motorcycles at a show and the metallic finish was great for this. Now I’ll be on the lookout for photos that will look good printed with a metallic finish.

I don’t print my own. I work with computers and printers all day and the last thing I want to do when I’m having fun is work with printers. They’re frustrating and the ink cartridges are expensive. I pay a service to print mine. Let the pros that work with printers and images all day long worry about getting the best quality print. I’d rather concentrate on my photos.

I really enjoyed the anticipation of waiting for the prints too. It reminds me of the days of waiting for film to get back from the lab.

Spring Is Here And I’m Ready For More Photography.

I tried to brave the cold this winter and work on my photography hobby regardless of the weather, but Winter just sucks after a while. If I’m not enjoying it, why do it? I managed some, but the majority of my time for photography was spent learning more about the craft through books, websites, and tutorials.

I’m hooked on trying street photography now. There’s disputable definitions for what street photography is, so in my opinion, it’s whatever I want it to be. The description for me is wandering around and taking photos of whatever is interesting. I like the definition of “people on the street in that are not posed”. I think that is more of a style though than an entire genre of photography and I’m not ready to intrude into people’s lives like that yet. If I were taking photos like that, I’d want them to be good enough for people to appreciate my intrusion. I would like to change my outlook by improving my skills to that level though.

As I work towards photos of people on the streets, I’m starting where the people are not identifiable or those that probably wouldn’t mind. This lady was walking around taking photos of others and scenes and she was attractive with bright green hair. I don’t think she was to shy for a photo.

Lady with bright green hair.
A lady with green hair.

This gentleman was walking in Newark, Ohio on a sunny Spring day with an umbrella. Springtime in Ohio calls for carrying rain gear all of the time, because you never really know when you’ll need it. I noticed the shapes of the windows in the brick wall and was waiting for anyone to wonder into the scene to make it more interesting. 

Man walking in sunshine with umbrella.
Man walking with umbrella.

This photo is through a railroad bridge. Men working and a person walking in deep thought drew my interest and the bridge made a natural frame for the scene.

Men working and a person walking in thought.
A scene of life in progress as viewed from under a railroad bridge.

Pondering Before Spring

2 guys pondering things while watching a river.
Pondering while watching a river.

There’s a little park with a spillway close to my house that really isn’t much to see, but it’s nice to watch the water go over and during a winter thaw, the roar of the water drowns your troubles and cares away for a little while.

I don’t know what these 2 guys were pondering on the other side of the spillway, but as I was pondering, I noticed they were too. I kind of wished I had a pipe as it appeared to make the task more interesting.

I was pondering what to do with the upcoming Spring and how to get through what’s left of Winter.  I spent the better part of the Winter using my free time to study photography like  mad. I spent an inordinate amount of time learning some Photoshop techniques. I think it was a good investment of time because with my new skills, I can get more use out of the cameras I have.  Motorcycle season is coming up and less money spent on cameras leaves more for gas money to go explore.

I also spent a lot of time studying street photography. There’s a lot of argument in that genre of photography as to what  “street” photography even really is. I’m just a novice, so from my perspective, it’s just photographers that take a massive number of snapshots of their life as it unfolds before their camera. Out of those thousands of photos, some great photos emerge. That’s not to say that the thousands that don’t make the cut aren’t worth something. These photographers use each mistake to get closer and closer to the great shots. That style of photography suits me fine and I’m going to try more of it.

I’m giving up the dream of a really high end camera too. What a waste for what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m never going to be a professional. I’ve learned what professionals have to do to make a meager living and I’m not looking to turn a fine hobby into a job anyhow. The world has enough people trying to be professional photographers and judging by demand and salary, they need computer programmers more. I’ll leave the professional equipment for the professionals.

I’ll stick with a bridge camera. They don’t do everything well, but they do everything. The world of cameras is changing and certainly for the better. I’ll spend the money on books and experiences instead of equipment. The photos will be good enough for now.

So in short, the results of pondering that day was a rough map of where I want to take photography. I just want to record some moments from everyday life and I want to fill life with experiences worth taking photos of. Easy enough.

A European Starling

European Starling
A European Starling

This a really common bird in Ohio called a European Starling. They are everywhere in downtown Newark, Ohio. They remain active throughout the winter too.

When this photo was taken, I was walking into work. This is one of the reasons I try to always carry a camera. Sure, it’s just a common bird, but it made me stop in my tracks and take a moment to enjoy natures beauty in an area where you really have to pay attention to find beauty.

It made me look up information about something so common that I really didn’t know much about too. I found out that they were brought here by Eugene Schieffelin, a wealthy industrialist. Like so many of today’s wealthy, they found it fashionable to fund junk environmentalism in the 1890’s too. In Schieffelin’s day, they thought it was a wise endeavor to import wildlife and plants from one area of the globe to another. Starlings have made a negative impact on the native birds and the effort proved destructive in the end. They’re still a beautiful and interesting bird to watch and photograph.

A Mustang Mach 1 At A Car Show

Mach 1 Mustang at car show in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Ford Mach 1 Mustang at The 2013 Dixie Days Car Show in Mount Vernon, Ohio

I was looking for photos that make me think about warmer weather and this Ford Mach 1 Mustang did the trick. It was taken at The Dixie Days Car Show in the Fall of 2013 in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Car show photos are something that I have not yet mastered, but I really like the results I get from a 50mm lens on a crop sensor Canon 20D camera. The lens is just enough to keep me from being right on top of the car and the crowd doesn’t realize that I’m shooting.

Strange enough, I find that people tend to gravitate in front of my camera at car shows. I don’t really mind, the cars are there for people to look at and not for me to take photos of, but I don’t concentrate of the photos I’d really like to take at the shows because of that. The hoods are always up which kind of ruins the photo too.

Not long now until decent weather as the temperature was 30 degrees today! We’re getting closer.

14,0000+ Photos In Adobe Lightroom


Number of files in Lightroom.
Number of files in Lightroom

That’s right, I’ve got over 14,000 photos on my computer. It’s mind numbing, but I’m not alone. Many others must have the same problem because there’s a popular program called Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 that’s helping me manage it all. The realization that I had 15,000 photos was when I made a move from the more primitive Adobe Bridge and I had to pull all of the photos into the new program.

Adobe Lightroom is a combination of  a database and a companion to the more powerful Photoshop. After photos are moved into the Lightroom database, they can be organized and edited as a precursor to final editing in Photoshop. When I pulled the photos in, it was like watching my life pour into that database. Everything I’d found interesting enough to take a photo of in the past 10 years or so, was flowing through at a blazing speed. When it was done, I just had a feeling of “Wow, I want more of that, so that it lasts longer.”.

I started with more like 20,000 and quickly edited them down to 14,000. Quantity is far less desired than quality. I’ve got so many tht I can’t find the quality photos. I’ve just scratched the surface on learning Lightroom, starting with organization of images first. It’s a bit of a clunky program to learn as not everything is intuitive, but once you learn a few processes, the payback in time saved editing is well worth the effort.

Part of the drag of digital photography is the number of photos taken. That should be an advantage and it is if you have a powerful database like this to sift through and get the best quality photos.

Lightroom does much more than help organize photos, but this alone is going to make digital photography more enjoyable.