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Get me out of "Auto"...please!
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Jul 30, 2014 09:07:41   #
dpullum Loc: Tampa Florida
 
Well, yes, eventually dip your toe into manual control of the camera. As a first step check the "properties" of a well exposed shots that your camera took on Auto. This is real life rather than the abstraction you will fall asleep reading.

I use Auto a lot, not because I do not know beyond basics, but because it is convenient and I can not see the screen in sunlight.... who has time to retreat to the shade set the camera when the event happens... of the moment... Auto is the default setting on smart photographers camera. And pocket cameras beat DSLR hands down!! Why?? because they are with you all the time on your belt 24/7 and the back pack is full of lenses etc in the closet at home.

The thing mostly messed in beginning photography is not the mysticism of the iso, speed, f stop... rather, the prime need is to see, compose. Composition tool always with you is your hands... learn to make 8x10 crop in your visual fields... move around giving various possible photos and framing....Suggestion, we read from lower left to upper right, and there should be limited major elements in your photo... perhaps 3 max. AND take many photos... you have 1200 per roll of electronic film (SD) vs the old 12, 24, 36 shots with 35 film. Good luck in learning composition and enjoy shooting.

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Jul 30, 2014 09:57:04   #
pithydoug Loc: Catskill Mountains, NY
 
minniev wrote:
From one grandma to another:
Yes, learn to get off auto. I was where you are a few years ago. Auto will still be there when you need it, and I sometimes still fall back on it, but I shoot mainly on M.
I'll tell you what helped me, but that doesn't mean some other method (many have been described here) won't work better for you.
1. Get a good basic book that describes how exposure works and read it, more than once, practicing and taking notes as you go.
2. Take photos in Auto. Look at the settings your camera chose for those you like and those you don't and determine what worked and didn't work. Use your camera's special auto settings such as "children" and "sunset" that you like and do the same. Take notes.
3. Take a series of photos in Manual with a stationery subject, changing one setting at a time and paying attention to results. Take notes.
4. When starting to shoot grandchildren and animals in non-auto, try Shutter priority first. Experiment to see how fast you need to go to catch them. With landscapes and flowers, try Aperture priority first. Take notes.
5. While I was doing all this, I kept my ISO on a standard setting, usually 200, so it didn't confuse me. Once I got shutter speed and aperture under control, I started adjusting ISO.


You'll soon get where you can predict what settings you need for what shots. As you journey, continue to ask here as needed. There are many of us who have weaned ourselves off of auto to get more control of our photos.
From one grandma to another: br Yes, learn to get ... (show quote)


G2,
All this is fine but it's not until one understands the magic triangle of Shutter, Aperture and ISO. Without this basic knowledge all those numbers are just numbers. As we all know, we can take about 6 or so shots of the same thing and all be "correct" exposure. Enter motion and DOF and a smidgen of ISO and with proper setting get what was intended. Triangle first experiment second.

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Jul 30, 2014 10:27:28   #
AutoGal
 
Hahahaha Welcome GrandmaG.

As you can see, my name is "Autogal" and I too, am in the process of still learning my camera of many buttons. I do have to say that very young grandchildren do call for "auto" most of the time.

I just wanted to add that the other day, I made a mistake and shot in raw....(oh horrors!!!!) and these were meaning ful shots. What to do??? Never shot in raw before!!!

Well, it was the best mistake I have ever made...I did not quite know what I was doing, but, I finally got it and was blown away by the results of how GREAT the photos I tweaked in PSE 11 came out.

I was sorta sorry that this mistake had not happened before cause it forced to learn raw.

I was always so afraid that I would screw up the photos, that I never tried raw.

Guess I will have to change my avatar name...

Sooooooo, get ready for the fun ride. :-D

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Jul 30, 2014 10:41:33   #
diensthunds
 
GrandmaG wrote:
... It seems I'm always in a hurry to get pictures & don't (or can't) take my time with them. ...


You are being lazy. Hate to put it that way but it's true. Stop trying to rush through it and just press press press the shutter button. Take a moment before hand to think. Set your camera in manual, figure what shutter speed you need, what aperture do you want (for depth of field, or for letting light in) and let your ISO swing via automatic. Compose your shot and you are done. Takes all of maybe 45 seconds to do this once you get used to it.
Leaving your camera on auto maybe fine if you just want to pick it up and get a shot then put it down, but if you are going to complain about the outcome being to dark, blurred, or otherwise not tack sharp, well you only have yourself to blame.
Sometimes you do have to put a little work into the picture before hand.

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Jul 30, 2014 11:54:35   #
AZNikon Loc: Mesa, AZ
 
fotohouse wrote:
My advice would be to just get your camera out and play with it. With digital it is free and you get instant feedback. Do a study on some subject in or just outside your home, no flash, and put your camera on manual mode M. Do not zoom the lens and use a tripod if you have one.

1) Use the meter scale, should be on the bottom of the viewfinder and probably looks like ( <-3..2..1..0..1..2..3+> ) or something similar.

2) Set you aperture at 3.5 (or its largest setting (smallest number)).

3) Then adjust the Shutter setting until you get the meter to zero.

4) After that pictures at one stop increments in adjustment to the aperture and adjust the shutter speed back to zero.

I like to have people do this with a series of objects sitting on a table in a row going away from the camera, as you make the adjustments you will see how the aperture effects what is in focus (this is your depth of field refered to as DOF).

Do this, take some pictures, post a few here and next lesson will be on shutter speed settings.

Now, I would stay in auto for a while when taking pics of the grand kids, they are to precious to miss a shot as you learn how to improve your photography.
My advice would be to just get your camera out and... (show quote)


I need help understanding #4.

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Jul 30, 2014 12:38:46   #
Jackinthebox Loc: travel the world
 
jerryc41 wrote:
Don't feel bad, I often shoot in auto. Joel Sartore, a photographer who has worked for National Geographic, has said that when he's at home, he leaves his cameras on Auto because he knows he can pick one up and get a good shot.

There are two easy ways to get off auto: P and Aperture. First shoot in P Mode and adjust aperture and shutter and see what difference it makes. When you adjust one, the other one will automatically compensate.

The try Aperture Mode. Set a moderate aperture - F/8 - and then spend a day shooting as you adjust the shutter till the exposure is right. The indicator in the viewfinder will tell you when exposure is right.

In the old days, 1970s, all SLRs were manual, and we didn't give it a second thought. You would set the shutter and then match a needle to get the aperture right.
Don't feel bad, I often shoot in auto. Joel Sarto... (show quote)



sorry misfire.

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Jul 30, 2014 12:39:53   #
Jackinthebox Loc: travel the world
 
GrandmaG wrote:
I've had the D5000 Nikon DSLR for several years and I still use mostly the automatic settings. It seems I'm always in a hurry to get pictures & don't (or can't) take my time with them. I have 3 lenses, 2 speedlights, and a polarized filter.

I mostly use the 18-55 mm 1:3.5-5.6G lens that came with the camera and my SB400 Speedlight. I use my 55-200mm 1:4-5.6G when on vacation. These 3 items, the filter, & the cords fit nicely in my small tamrac bag (plus the camera body, of course). The SB 900 speedlight and the 35mm 1:1.8G lens mostly stay in my other camera bag at home. I've only used them a few times. I love the quality of the pictures and the fact that there is no lag time, plus I can take a burst of photos to catch just the right expressions on my grand children's faces. I have played around with RAW photos a bit and edit some photos in Adobe PSE 8.0. I would love to learn how to use more of the features of my camera so I can take professional looking portraits and group shots.
I've had the D5000 Nikon DSLR for several years an... (show quote)


I almost always leave my dial set on M. It is easy to roll the wheels while watching the needle move. Of course M is only just a 'little bit' more than Auto. The camera still does most of the thinking. To have a better shot try AEB as well. 1/3 and 2/3 down give nice results. It does it automatically once the settings are set.
The Big A works well but not on a bright sunny beach.

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Jul 30, 2014 12:43:16   #
lamiaceae Loc: Los Angeles Area, CA
 
Welcome to the Hedgehog. I'm new to this Forum too, but not new to Photography. All the comments I saw seem to be good. As with most things, to know where you are going you have to know where you came from. You can learn a lot of the theory of photography and camera use by just reading, even older books. You can find a lot of information for free on the Web. Also film based photo books are really cheap now used. The concepts of optics and exposure are pretty much the same for digital and film. The medium or software is just different.

Yes, experiment with the exposure setting of your camera. Oh, you do know about White Balance and Light Temperature? I'd suggest working with ISO's around 200 & 400. For 100 or less you need to be a bit more precise though quality goes up slightly. I'd leave ISO 1,600-what ever for extreme situation when flash is not feasible and the available light is not great enough to shoot at less than 800. The amount of noise you get in high ISO varies by camera model (and price). One of my cameras, a Pentax K-5 goes to ISO 512,000 but the look I get is not my style at all. I'm usually at 200 or 100. I can go down to 80, but that presents its own problems. I not believe your Nikon D5000 goes below 100.

I found the couple explanations of the P or Program setting interesting. Since I'm from the old school of film photography and understand most of my exposure setting instinctively (except I need to learn more about off camera flash), I usually shoot in Aperture Priority Mode (Av), or Manual Mode (M). Sometimes I use Shutter Priority Mode (Tv), Bulb (B), or X Sync. The reason I am writing the full names out is that Nikon uses different abbreviations or symbols for their settings. Pentax and Canon seem to use the same. I have three DSLRs, a Pentax K-5, K-20, and K-100. I never really touch the other (strange) modes on my cameras, Sv, TAV, P, USER, or the dreaded Green (All Automatic Mode). Shutter Priority (Tv) is good for action, like Horse or Car Racing and other Sports. I mainly shoot scenic, landscape, architectural, close-up, and macro. Therefore I want to know and set my depth of field.

But that advise about learning by playing with the Program Mode (P) is probably a good idea. Now that I think of it I do use it on my other Point-N-Shoot cameras. They are pretty dummied up automatic, but I get a bit of control in P Mode.

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Jul 30, 2014 13:09:16   #
boberic Loc: Quiet Corner, Connecticut. Ex long Islander
 
bkyser wrote:
First, composition and seeing a photo in the viewfinder that tells a story is the first way to take those professional looking portraits. Jerry is right about P and Aperture modes being viable alternatives to shooting in manual. I started in all manual mode, and find that it is actually more comfortable for me to just look at a situation, know about where I'm going to start, then tweek. Cameras are sophisticated computers with more computing power than the first rockets sent to space. I have a guy who sometimes helps me shoot weddings that takes stellar photos, and because he was brought up in the digital age, he always shoots in P mode. He can adjust the shutter speed or aperture and know that the other settings will change appropriately and give him a correct exposure. I don't push people into shooting manual, to each his own. Now, if you really want to start taking portraits and doing portrait lighting with strobes, then there really isn't a way around manual, but that's a discussion for another day.

Jerry, as for the needle you mentioned, MAN, I MISS THAT NEEDLE. something about the LED readouts, still just doesn't feel right. Time to break out my film cameras again.
First, composition and seeing a photo in the viewf... (show quote)


Me to. As I am a refugee from when film and total manual was the only option I would love to have a match needle. That stupid green light and the beep annoy the hell out of me. Best way to get off auto is just do it. No magic. You will make lots of mistakes. Every one does, especially when learning something new. It least you won't have to waste a fortune on film regects. Don't get stuck on shutter or apature priority try both. Reading Peterson's book is a must to learning the exposure triangle. Good luch and practice, practice, practice

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Jul 30, 2014 13:16:35   #
riverlass Loc: northern California
 
minniev wrote:
From one grandma to another:
Yes, learn to get off auto. I was where you are a few years ago. Auto will still be there when you need it, and I sometimes still fall back on it, but I shoot mainly on M.
I'll tell you what helped me, but that doesn't mean some other method (many have been described here) won't work better for you.
1. Get a good basic book that describes how exposure works and read it, more than once, practicing and taking notes as you go.
2. Take photos in Auto. Look at the settings your camera chose for those you like and those you don't and determine what worked and didn't work. Use your camera's special auto settings such as "children" and "sunset" that you like and do the same. Take notes.
3. Take a series of photos in Manual with a stationery subject, changing one setting at a time and paying attention to results. Take notes.
4. When starting to shoot grandchildren and animals in non-auto, try Shutter priority first. Experiment to see how fast you need to go to catch them. With landscapes and flowers, try Aperture priority first. Take notes.
5. While I was doing all this, I kept my ISO on a standard setting, usually 200, so it didn't confuse me. Once I got shutter speed and aperture under control, I started adjusting ISO.

You'll soon get where you can predict what settings you need for what shots. As you journey, continue to ask here as needed. There are many of us who have weaned ourselves off of auto to get more control of our photos.
From one grandma to another: br Yes, learn to get ... (show quote)


As another grandma in line here....
I have to say that MinnieV's advise is what I would have written for you. I agree with every word.
Manual takes practice, but offers so many more choices. I was afraid to leave AUTO but it was the best thing I ever did.
Leave AUTO except for emergencies. The learning curve is worth it.

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Jul 30, 2014 13:18:20   #
GrandmaG Loc: Flat Rock, MI
 
When I "master" some manual modes, I'll need to invest in backdrops & better lighting apparatus. Any suggestions?

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Jul 30, 2014 13:37:19   #
redhogbill Loc: antelope, calif
 
GrandmaG wrote:
I've had the D5000 Nikon DSLR for several years and I still use mostly the automatic settings. It seems I'm always in a hurry to get pictures & don't (or can't) take my time with them. I have 3 lenses, 2 speedlights, and a polarized filter.

I mostly use the 18-55 mm 1:3.5-5.6G lens that came with the camera and my SB400 Speedlight. I use my 55-200mm 1:4-5.6G when on vacation. These 3 items, the filter, & the cords fit nicely in my small tamrac bag (plus the camera body, of course). The SB 900 speedlight and the 35mm 1:1.8G lens mostly stay in my other camera bag at home. I've only used them a few times. I love the quality of the pictures and the fact that there is no lag time, plus I can take a burst of photos to catch just the right expressions on my grand children's faces. I have played around with RAW photos a bit and edit some photos in Adobe PSE 8.0. I would love to learn how to use more of the features of my camera so I can take professional looking portraits and group shots.
I've had the D5000 Nikon DSLR for several years an... (show quote)


here is some reading! hope this helps

http://www.uglyhedgehog.com/search.jsp?q=manual+shooting&u=&s=0

good luck

:thumbup:

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Jul 30, 2014 13:55:11   #
GrandmaG Loc: Flat Rock, MI
 
My head IS spinning a little but there is so much good advice here! Now that I am mostly retired, I can experiment with my camera. I am posting a few pictures but please don't laugh!






This is the original. I cropped it & tried 4 different adjustments but couldn't get the red out of my daughter's face.
This is the original. I cropped it & tried 4 diffe...

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Jul 30, 2014 14:03:33   #
fotohouse Loc: Northern Illinois
 
4) After that pictures at one stop increments in adjustment to the aperture and adjust the shutter speed back to zero.

Sorry for the typo, 4 should read:

4) After that picture, adjust the aperture at one stop increments and then use the shutter speed adjustment to meter back to zero.

Doing this will show the different DOF you will get at each aperture, that way one can learn to use the DOF, to isolate the subject from the background. Also distance from the subject and focal length can effect the DOF for a given scene.

Most people just pick up the camera, focus, and shoot. Aperture can be used to isolate the subject and shutter speed can be used to capture movement or to freeze it depending on what you are trying to do.

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Jul 30, 2014 14:32:00   #
fotohouse Loc: Northern Illinois
 
GrandmaG wrote:
My head IS spinning a little but there is so much good advice here! Now that I am mostly retired, I can experiment with my camera. I am posting a few pictures but please don't laugh!


No laughing here,

Picture one; Not knowing what the settings are. I think it could have benefited from a longer focal length and a wider aperture to blur the background some to isolate the boy from the background, to make him stand out as the subject even more.

Picture two; I like the glow from the candle. I think I would crop out the cupcakes in the foreground.

Picture three; Too harsh of lighting, could stand to be diffused. Are you using a flash, or just really bright lights. If flash, Are you using a speedlight or just built-in flash? A higher vantage point would have provide a more dynamic look and hidden some of the shadows from the light behind them. Having both subject looking a the camera is always better. I also like to have my subjects step away from a wall a couple of feet, this helps for shadows and when you match it with a shorter depth of field it provides better separation.

Too understand what I am saying about the shadows and the separation from the background look at picture one and then look at picture 2 and 3 and you will see the shadows off to the right of their heads.



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