Photography Tip: Understanding the Dial on Your Camera, Part Uno

Today’s tip is a quick overview of the lower section of the dial on your camera.  And, when I say quick, I mean quick.  There won’t even be pictures!  Sorry, but I’ve got tomatoes to tend to!

So, let’s get crackin’!

Most digital cameras have a little dial on the top.  This dial can be changed depending on the situation in which you are taking pictures.

Let’s start with The Green Box.  This is Automatic.  Everything.  The camera does all the thinking for you.  It uses its sensor to decide what the lighting is like and then it decides your Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.  There is nothing wrong with shooting in this mode.  But, if you want to have a little more control over your pictures, you will need to turn your dial away from this setting.  (You don’t have to.  But, if you want to, I will hold your hand along the way.  Using the Modes I’ll describe below is a great way to start having a little extra control over your camera.)

Let’s now turn your dial, moving it below the green box.  Depending on your brand of camera, you will see the following symbols: a head, a mountain/cloud, a flower, and running figure, a head with a star next to it, and finally, a lightning bolt with a slash through it.  Your camera may have different symbols, but they will probably be very similar to what I’ve described.

The Head:  This represents Portrait shooting.   You can switch to this Mode, if you want a blurred background.  It’s supposed to make the human subject stand out, while softening skin tones and hair.  Still, the camera does the thinking for you.

The Mountain/Cloud:  This Mode can be used for Landscapes.  If you are on vacation and you are looking at a gorgeous view, you can switch to this Mode.  It will change the aperture to make everything from front to back remain in focus.  That way, you can be assured that your prairie flowers will be in focus as well as the mountains in the background.  It will also make the blues and greens more vivid.

The Flower:  You can take close-ups in this Mode.

The Running Figure:  This Mode is the one you want to use if you are taking pictures at your kid’s soccer game, or any sporting event outside.  It’s going to speed up your shutter speed for you, so you can stop the action.

The Star Head:  This Mode can be used if you are taking nighttime portraits.  It supposedly will expose the picture for a natural-looking background for your subject.  (I wouldn’t know; I’ve never used this setting before.)

Lastly, the Lightning Bolt with a Slash:  This just means No Flash.  Pretty self-explanatory.

I said quick, didn’t I.  I don’t mess around, people!  I’m all about business, here.

So, next week, I will describe the other camera settings on the dial.  When you start moving into those Modes, you are really starting to take control over your camera.  You will be telling your camera who wears the pants in the family.  You’ll be saying that you, YOU, are the big cheese, and your camera?  It does what you say.  No more dilly-dallying around, no siree!

So, get out there, Soldier, and take some pictures!!  Practice, practice, practice!!!




One comment

  1. Cheryl Geltmeier Pellett

    Thank you!!!! Very simply said. I’m hoping to learn how to use my camera more effeciently now. Thanks Elizabeth!!!

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