- Modes—Automatic, Portrait, Macro and Landscape
For super-basic beginners the automatic mode will be critical, until you learn to control the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, focus, and flash yourself. But—to begin taking photos off of auto-mode you need to learn the differences between the different settings.Portrait mode uses a narrow depth of field, which ensures that your large-sized subject is always in focus. Marco mode is perfect for flowers, bugs, and other small objects as it focuses on small objects at only a minimal distance. Landscape is great for photographing wide distances as it uses a small aperture for a large depth of field—ensuring that the entire scene will be in focus.
- Aperture and Shutter
The aperture (A or AV) and shutter (S or TV) will control the exposure of your photos, and mastering these two skills can catapult your skills miles forward—and take you off of the auto-settings and onto manual modes. The larger the aperture the wide the focus, and the smaller the more object-focused your shot will be. Large apertures require extensive light. Controlling the shutter speed will help you gauge your photos based on the action, or inaction, of the content. For freeze-frame photos you need a quick shutter whereas for larger views you need a slower shutter speed. Mastering the shutter and aperture will put you in ‘semi-automatic’ mode, which will mean you are on your way to becoming a true photographer.
- White Balance Using white balance is critical to having vivid colors in your photographs—and allows you the creativity to manipulate colors. While most cameras do this with their automatic setting, using this balance manually will help you to create more intriguing color schemes. Unfortunately this control varies from camera to camera so you will need to look at your manual.
- Fill-In Flash and Bounce Flash
Photographers understand the value of light—and this skills needs to be done instinctually. The only reason that cameras have not replaced photographers (other than their lack of legs and mobility) is that light use can require human intuition. While all modern cameras have an automatic mode that adjusts for light, using a flash for fill-in light is an important technique that every pro mastered long ago. A fill-in flash will simply use a flash to provide additional light to brighten features on subjects, and a bounce flash will reflect the light off of a surface like a mirror, wall or photographer umbrella.
- Exposure Bracketing
Autobracketing and exposure bracketing is a setting on most cameras that can greatly increase the quality of your photos in a single step. Exposure bracketing instructs your camera to take the same shot under different exposures, and then gives you the opportunity to choose the best photo to move forward with. The best parts are that you can control the variation within the feature and it will also adjust the shutter and aperture for you. This can also be a great tool in learning the difference in the effects of shutter speed and aperture opening.