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Beginners Guide to Photography No.4

Updated on October 23, 2017
Dave Proctor profile image

Dave is a experienced professional photographer, now semi-retired and living the high life in sunny Spain

Before I carry on with the course, a little bit of advice for you.

If your camera has an viewfinder and a rear display, turn off the rear display and only use the viewfinder (or eyepiece as some call it).

There are two main reasons for this. firstly you get a far better idea if your subject is in focus by looking through the viewfinder and secondly the rear display eats battery life.


We have so far looked at Aperture priority and Time Priority. I just want to briefly expand on what else will be on this menu and their possible uses, though at this stage I would suggest just using the modes we have already looked at.

Auto - This is the fully automated mode where the camera does all the work and will even pop up the flash (if one is fitted on-board), if the camera feels it requires it.

P - In this mode the camera is fully automated, except it will not adjust the ISO nor will it pop up the flash.

A (or Av) - As we looked at Aperture priority

T (or Tv)- Time Priority

M - This denotes manual mode. In other words you set everything.

If you have consistent lighting, to avoid the camera being affected by things like white shirts, black cars etc. in the foreground, take a look at your previous settings in Av and set the dial to manual and programme in the speed you previously took a photo at.

B - Stands for bulb. In this setting the camera shutter will stay open as long as you hold the shutter down. Only really use this when taking night photography, you are using a tripod and an automatic (E.g. wireless shutter release)

Other - Your ever helpful camera salesman will tell you that your camera has one or more Sports, landscape and portrait modes. Brilliant you think. Poppycock says I.

Let's start with 'Sports' mode.

How many sports can you name?

Now what is the fastest sport?

And the slowest?

So are they saying that they have developed a pre-set mode to cover every sport irrespective of lighting, speed and every other consideration. I really feel knowing your camera and how to set it yourself is far better.

The same goes for landscapes and every other pre-set mode. There are too many variables and it is only by understanding them will you take the best possible photographs.

Rant over. But please ignore these gizmos they do not help.

Exposure Compensation & Guide

When you look through your cameras viewfinder or at the back screen you will often see a scale with an arrow beneath it that looks something like:



This has two particular functions.

If you want to take a picture in manual mode the arrow will indicate when you have achieved the right exposure. If it is under exposed the arrow will move to the left (the minus side) conversely if the settings are over-exposed the arrow will go the right (the positive side).

The second function is exposure compensation.

Somewhere on your camera (normally on the back) you will see a small button with a plus and minus sign (+/-).

In A or T mode You can then scroll to the left or right. This will then add a degree of under-exposure moving the arrow to the left and over exposure, to the right.

You can also adjust this in the 'info' window.

Here Is an example of the affect this button:

Overexposed by moving the arrow to the plus 1
Overexposed by moving the arrow to the plus 1
Arrow central
Arrow central
Underexposed by moving the arrow to the minus 1
Underexposed by moving the arrow to the minus 1

Whilst there is not a great deal of difference,I personally like the shot that is slightly under-exposed, as it gives greater definition to the clouds.

What do you think?

White Balance

Unlike a human being, a camera does not have a brain!

Without going into a physics lesson. Different types of light have different temperatures, now our brains automatically adjust for these changes in temperature, so when we go indoors under say fluorescent light, we do not see things scrolling yellowy, brown.

A camera cannot make such adjustment, so we have to tell it what is white (or 18% grey, which is the ideal).

Now there are preformatted white balance corrections and these can be reasonably effective, however, entering a custom white balance will produce a more accurate result.

This is reasonably easy.

Set your camera, then take a picture of either an 18% grey card (from your photography shop) or a piece of plain white paper, under the light that you have to adjust for.

Now go the menu of your camera and select custom WB. Select this

and you will get a message saying something like ' Use WB data from this image for Custom WB' Press OK.

Next go to the WB menu and scroll across until it says 'Custom' or shows a symbol of 2 triangles facing each other with a square in the middle >•< or similar.

Select this. take your photo and it should show correct colour.

© 2017 Dave Proctor


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