Want to move away from the green-mode on your camera?

When I first started with photography there wasn’t anything called a green, or fully automatic mode, so I had to learn by making lots of mistakes, getting many photos out of focus (there wasn’t any autofocus either back then) or way too dark and way too light. But today, most cameras by default shoot in the green mode. This is not a bad thing, since for most people what you want is a photo which is just bright enough, in focus, and flash when needed.

But, when you want to start to experiment a bit more, here are some handy tips;

  • First, I would recommend buying a tripod (or borrowing from a friend maybe). A very cheap one (20-30 euro), or very small one will do (if you get really into tripod shooting, you can always get a bigger, more professional one later).
  • Second, figure out how to set your camera to use a timer. This means that after you’ve pushed down the shutter-button it would count down for 2 or 10 seconds, and then take the photo. This is important when using a tripod.
  • Put the camera on the tripod, set the timer to 2 or 10 seconds, and take a bunch of test-photos. The trick in the beginning is to learn how to ”aim” and focus while the camera is on the tripod, especially if the tripod is very short and close to the ground.
  • When you’ve figured out how to do this, look for a photo mode which is called Av (it’s usually on a dial, which has some settings listed such as P, Av, Tv, TAv, or Portait, Landscape etc.).
  • The Av-setting is used for deciding how much of the very close and far away things should be in focus. A very low number F2.8, F3.5 or F4 means you will have some things a bit out of focus, which is usually very pleasing to the eye when you want a portrait, with a very soft blurry background and only the person in question in focus.
  • If you set the aperture (f-setting) very high, such as F16, F22 or F32 you would get much more in focus. This however is why you need the tripod. In order to get much more in focus the camera needs to have a longer exposure, and you probably wouldn’t be able to hold the camera still in your hands for that long. If you set the aperture (f-setting) to a very high number, you might want to try to focus on something which is a bit closer to the camera than the main object, so if you’re taking a photo of a landscape, focus on the rock which is some meters away, instead of on the horizon. You’ll probably get both the rock and everything else in focus nicely.
  • If you have a tripod and use a very high aperture you can also try another type of photography that you might like, such as photos of flowing water, or fast moving objects looking like a long blur. The high aperture means the camera will open the shutter for a long time, maybe 1 or 2 seconds, and flowing water then becomes soft and milky-looking, while the stationary things, such as rocks, stay totally sharp. A moving car or bike would look like it’s moving very fast, especially if you shoot in a time of day when there isn’t much light, and the car has it’s lights on.