Let’s face it. Most people who own DSLR cameras out in this world are amateurs. And within that group of amateur photographers are a whole bunch of people who really don’t know that much about photography itself or how their cameras work. I used to be one of these people, so I speak from experience. When I purchased my first DSLR camera way back in 2010, I had no idea what I just bought. For years, I kept it set to Auto mode, thinking that just by using the camera itself, I was getting better shots. Little did I know that the true power of of my DSLR had yet to be unleashed (or discovered).
I’m writing this post to offer those of you who are still like how I used to be a tip. It’s a tip that can boost your knowledge of your camera settings as well as make your current photography a heck of lot better than it currently is. And the best part is that this tip won’t require any additional work for you. You’ll actually be tricking yourself into learning, which, in my opinion, is the best way to learn.
Before I begin, let me tell you what the true barrier to learning as much as possible about photography is. It’s the fact that we think there’s too much to absorb, so we don’t learn much of anything. I can remember when I first heard the phrase exposure triangle. I was like, “What?” Thinking about full Manual mode bewildered me. I had no idea what exposure was and I really had no idea what aperture was. In my mind, everything was upside down and backwards. Nothing made sense, so it was just easier to keep the camera set to Auto. I mean heck, my shots were coming out pretty good. Why change?
Well, I’ll tell you why I should have changed. Because I had no control. Photography is about controlling one’s environment so it is portrayed the way the photographer intends. He or she can’t do that when they’re letting the camera make every single decision.
So, the goal is to slowly and methodically, in the easiest and least painful way to understand, take the control away from the camera and keep it for ourselves. How can we do that? That’s what I’ll tell you down below.
Have you ever heard of Exposure Compensation? If not, please read through this delightful post. It explains everything:
What I’ll tell you here is that using your exposure compensation feature is an extremely simple method for making your photos brighter or darker, as you’re taking them. That’s it. It’s that simple. Most DSLR cameras have a button and a dial or something similar that controls the feature. All you need to do is roll the dial or push the button to your desired setting and take your shot. Right there, you’re stealing back some of the creative control from your camera. Use that feature liberally, get used to it and learn to love it. This is the very first and easiest thing you can do to improve your images.
Next, switch your camera into Aperture Priority mode. If you aren’t up to snuff on this mode, please read through this post:
For the next six months, keep your camera set to this mode and combine it with the exposure compensation feature. By the time the six months is through, you’ll have gained an immeasurable amount of knowledge about how depth of field, focus and light works, all from this one priority mode. Aperture priority is so simple to deal with and it can truly improve your photos immensely. Professional photographers use this mode all the time and it’s a great way to take back creative control, while allowing your camera to use its built in functions, such as light metering. Of course, when you combine aperture priority with a change in exposure compensation, you’re going to be kicking some serious butt. You’ll be taking photos you want to show your friends.
The reason I’m suggesting that you use Aperture Priority mode along with the exposure compensation feature is because both of these features are easy to learn and can make huge differences. They also naturally lead to bigger and better things down the road. They’ll teach you things you didn’t know you wanted to learn and you’ll feel good about yourself when you’re finished with a day’s worth of shooting. I can tell you that it’s a great feeling when you review photos after messing with the camera settings. Taking shots in Auto mode outside – yeah, that’s fine. Taking shots in a creative mode while adjusting the exposure yourself – wicked cool. You’ll love it.
Please give me your opinion on what I just wrote. I’d love to hear your perspective on how you prefer to learn or how you have learned about photography. What tricks did you use? How did you end up succeeding? Thanks!