The digital camera has been with us now for over twenty years and has revolutionised photography for the masses.
Gone are the days of taking a 36 exposure film to the developers and waiting in anticipation, not knowing what would come back. Now, to over 80% of us, our smartphone is as important an item as our wallet or house keys – taking a photo and viewing it in high definition is a seamless exercise.
Digital cameras can do everything for us if that is what we want but they also allow us to enjoy photography more by taking control of the picture taking process and ultimately getting more consistent, higher quality results…we show you how.
Understand the basic controls
All digital cameras will have a ‘Mode’ button or dial, here you take control of how much decision making you want the camera to do.
The functions are:
P = Program/Automatic: The camera will choose the appropriate Aperture and Shutter Speed depending on the readings it takes when you focus.
A = Aperture Priority: You control the Aperture and the camera automatically picks the most suitable Shutter Speed.
S = Shutter Speed Priority: You choose the Shutter Speed and the camera selects the Aperture for you.
M = Manual: You take complete control of both the Aperture and Shutter Speed.
Auto = Fully Automatic: Usually depicted with a green camera icon, this mode allows the camera to do absolutely everything…but you don’t want to do that right?
Get the right shot in 4 easy steps
The first thing you need to decide is which mode you wish to use, this depends a lot on what it is you wish to capture. Whether it’s the essence of speed from a moving race car or to freeze the action of a dog leaping to catch a ball, Shutter Speed Priority (S) will achieve this.
If it’s a close up of the delicate petals of a flower in your garden or perhaps you’re taking a portrait and wish to blur the background whilst keeping the subject in sharp focus – try experimenting with Aperture Priority (A).
Blurred pictures are one of the most common mistakes but also the simplest to fix. Try to stand with your feet shoulder width apart with one foot slightly further forward than the other and support the camera underneath with one hand so that your elbow is pointing toward the ground. Adopting this stable posture is the most effective way of avoiding camera shake. You can always use a tripod if you have one or simply steady your arm on an object or wall for added balance and support.
The viewfinder or eyepiece on your camera may not show all of the image that will be captured but your live view screen does and also allows you to access some preview options, for example a grid overlay to help you frame your shot more accurately and ensure a straight horizon.
This can also help you frame the shot creatively using the ‘rule of thirds’, by placing the main subject off centre along any of the two grid lines lying horizontally and two running vertically.
Your shutter release button works in two stages, pressing half way will engage the autofocus and exposure metering system whilst fully depressing the button activates the camera's shutter, taking a picture.
The beauty of digital photography is that we can check the results on screen and adjust accordingly. If the picture is too dark we can open the aperture wider, lower the shutter speed or increase the ISO and try again, too light and the opposite applies.
Photography is about you controlling light, like with any art form, the more you practice and understand your camera,
the better you will get.
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