Chapter 4 Assignments
The information covered in this chapter will define how you work with your camera from this point on. Granted, there may be times that you just want to grab some quick pictures and will resort to the automatic modes, but to get serious with your photography, you should learn the professional modes.
Starting off with Program Auto mode
Set your camera on Program Auto (P) mode and start shooting. Become familiar with the adjustments you can make to the program and exposure by turning the Control dials. While you’re shooting, try different ISO settings and notice how your aperture and shutter speed values change.
Controlling depth of field with A mode
The name of the game with A mode is depth of field. Set up three items at different distances from you. I would use chess pieces or something similar that you can place close to the camera. Now focus on the middle item, and set your camera to the largest aperture that your lens allows (remember that large aperture means a small number, like f/3.5). Now, while still focusing on the middle subject, start shooting with ever-smaller apertures until you are at the smallest f-stop for your lens. If you have a zoom lens, try doing this exercise with the lens at the widest and then the most telephoto settings. Now move up to subjects that are farther away, like telephone poles, and shoot them in the same way. The idea is to get a feel for how each aperture setting affects your depth of field.
Learning to control time with S mode
Find some moving subjects and then set your camera to S mode. Have someone ride a bike back and forth, or even just photograph cars as they go by. Start with a slow shutter speed of around 1/30 of a second and then start shooting with faster and faster shutter speeds. Keep shooting until you can freeze the action. Now find something that isn’t moving, like a flower. Start with your shutter speed at something fast, like 1/500 of a second, and then work your way down to about 1/4 of a second. The point is to see how well you can handhold your camera before you start introducing hand shake into the image.
Giving and taking with Manual mode
Go outside on a sunny day, and with the camera in Manual mode (M), set your ISO to 200, your shutter speed to 1/200 of a second, and your aperture to f/16. Now press your shutter release button to get a meter reading. You should be pretty close to that zero mark. If not, make small adjustments to one of your settings until it hits that mark. Now is where the fun begins. Start moving your shutter speed slower, to 1/100, and then set your aperture to f/22. Now go the other way. Set your aperture to f/8 and your shutter speed to 1/400. Now review your images. If all went well, all the exposures should look the same. This is because you balanced the light with reciprocal changes to the aperture and shutter speed. Now go back to our original setting of 1/200 at f/16 and try just moving the shutter speed without changing the aperture. Just make 1/3-stop changes (1/160 to 1/125 to 1/100 to 1/80), and then review your images to see what 1/3 stop of overexposure looks like. Then do the same thing going in the opposite way. It’s hard to know if you want to over- or underexpose a scene until you have actually done it and seen the results.
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