Tuesday, August 23, 2011


So, I got this picture last weekend at the beach which is equal parts amazing and distressing. Here it is:

It is gorgeous, right? My husband smiling, my boy smiling. What's distressing though is that because of my own inexperience with my camera, this photo which could have been SPECTACULAR isn't. The background is completely blown out and, while that's a cool effect, I admit, it isn't what I was going for. The skin tones are also completely unrealistic because I had to alter the exposure significantly in Lightroom (yep, it was MORE blown out than that originally).

What happened: I was taking shots of the boys on the beach in manual when Rhys looked up, saw me and started running towards me with a huge, beautiful smile on his face. I lifted the camera and started shooting . . . without stopping to change my exposure settings, which were COMPLETELY off now that I was shooting basically into the sun.

Here's the thing . . .even if I were more experienced, even if I were much better at this whole photo taking thing, I still don't know that I'd have chosen to take the time to fix my settings when it may have meant missing a moment like that. I may have (hypothetically) panicked and choked. Granted, with experience I'd probably get faster at changing those settings . . . maybe I'd have taken 2 shots, then fixed then gotten 2 more (I took 6 total, as it was). Even so, I may have missed "the" shot.

While Rhys is adorable full time, photo ops like this one don't happen on cue. I've got to be ready to roll when he's looking into the camera.

If I'd had the camera in program mode, I may have gotten the shot, but then I would have missed a lot of great other shots during the day that were taken in tricky lighting situations that program mode wouldn't have handled to my satisfaction. (It was bright and sunny with lots of shadows). I'm not even certain that program mode could've handled the lighting for the shot in question.

Aperture priority or shutter priority modes? I'll admit, I haven't spent that much time in either of those. I feel like I want to be learning how to use my camera. REALLY learning how to use it . . . and I can't learn fully if I'm copping out by letting the camera auto some of my settings for me. That's an ego thing, partially, I'll admit . . . but the "wanting to learn" argument is still fully valid.

I don't see an easy answer.

What mode do you tend to keep your camera in? What's your battle plan for catching "the shot"?


Nutsy Coco said...

I typically leave my camera in aperture priority unless I'm shooting something specific like fireworks or star trails and don't beat myself up at all for doing it. I adjust the ISO as needed given the lighting conditions. I too often forget to change settings to use full manual and I DO beat myself up for that when I end up with a bunch of crappy pictures.

DomestiKook said...

I learned on an old Minolta SLR, like FILM. Sometimes a quick change of the aperture was enough to ensure a good photo, or a quick flip of the shutter speed. I would say learn more in non stress situations. You don't want to learn when it's important. Random, mundane objects are all that is required, esp with a dSLR, instant pictures, instant feedback, instant adjustment. I have 3 slrs and totally know what you mean by not letting the camera do the auto work!

Manda said...

I am having the SAME issues learning to use my camera! Sucks!!

HollyLynne said...

I did spend some time in Aperture Priority and Auto ISO over the weekend at Disneyland . . . Auto ISO caused more problems than it solved, but I did get some great shots in Aperture Priority. I think it is case by case . . . sometimes I can get away w/ using a mode, sometimes not. Use of a mode would still require some thought and adjusting each time I turn on the camera . . . although less thought and adjusting than going full manual does.

Nutsy, I TOTALLY forget to change things, too. I took a bunch of well lit photos on 6400 ISO this morning. LE SIGH.