Your DSLR camera doesn’t always have to be on fully manual.. There are other setting you can learn from too!
When I meet up with other local photographers here in New York 50% of the time we end up shooting on the road. Shooting street scenes, shooting strangers or just simply shooting some different scenery/landscapes just to be creative and share some knowledge like a game of ping-pong.
For the past couple of years when I go out to shoot I have been adapting to using new settings. Being flexible and putting my DSLR camera ability to work.
Before I began going out and doing some photo-journalistic-ish shooting, all I knew was the cameras “[M]” (manual) mode, and before that just like everyone else, the “[P]” (professional) mode (…kidding). I’ve come to learn and take into consideration that I purchased this small machine to do more then manual mode and I have to take the camera out and make it work for me.
When I link up with other photographers and go shooting I ask them what lens and what mode they shooting in. 70% of time when shooting they answer “MANUAL” mode. After the walk we review and compare our shots and a good percentage of the time they’re dissatisfied with most of their results because the settings on the camera they shot with was off by a stop or the focus was off. I suggested switching to “Aperture Priority” mode when shooting outside and 9 time out of 10 I get the look as if he/she were saying “What you talking bout Willis”!
The thing with shooting on Aperture Priority mode is you can solely concentrate on 1 setting while shooting… your aperture! All else is simply left to the camera and right on target. Shutter speed is taken care of whether you in hard light, soft light, low light or even when your shooting a subject zooming right by you. Just as long as your focal point is set dead in the center you’ll achieve alot more great looking shots then in Manual mode.
For me, I learned the hard way. Manual mode was number 1 priority for me. Then I teamed up with a photographer that has over 30 years on me in this field and he took my camera, put a piece of black tape on my screen and had me shoot with my DSLR on AV mode. Solely depending with the settings in the viewfinder I had to take to account that I needed to know this as if it were part of my nature. He advised me that the best time to “ONLY” use manual is in the studio. Simply because I am in control of the settings. I am in control of the lighting and all else is under my demand.
While shooting outdoors I have to adapt and take into mind that I only control the camera and for that I have to learn and take the shot with the qualified settings for the environment I’m in. He also embedded in my mind that people don’t care how I got the shot, but they do care on how beautiful the shot is and that’s most important for us as photographers.
A couple of years have gone by since then and I have taken that advise and put it in my work ethics ever since. Adjusting to different setting will help you out on knowing functions you’ve never controlled. You can then build a knowledgebase and archive it all just incase you like many others tend to fade away of all the knowledge your brain has consumed in the past. Writing down setting and diagrams is also a big plus in this field. It helps us just incase we need to go back and retake the shot we wanted to re-do again.
It doesn’t matter what mode you shoot in, what matters is that you get the shot!
Remember, when your hired by a client, a huge company or even a family member all they want is for you to get the shot. They don’t want to know any schematics, no details on camera settings, no lighting diagrams… nothing!