A couple of months ago I made the confession that I had never shot out of the auto mode with any of my cameras. I didn't even know how! After I made that confession, so many of you commented and said that you also shoot in the auto mode.
I took a fundamentals of photography course recently and I learned something very valuable during the first class that I want to share with you that will make a huge difference in your photography! This alone was worth the price of the class to me!
On almost every camera, (even the most basic point and shoot digital cameras), there is a "P" on the dial. This is called the Program AE Mode on my Canon, but I have the same "P" on all of my Sony cameras as well as my Panasonic. The Program mode is very similar to the Auto except that you control the "White Balance" and the "ISO" speed. The camera still automatically sets the shutter speed and the aperture.
Here are a series of photos, straight from the camera, that I've taken to show the difference in the Program and Auto modes.
Before, when I would shoot in Auto, I had to do a lot of editing to my pictures before I could post them. Usually the color was flat and washed out so I pretty much always had to increase the saturation. A lot of times in Picasa I had to use "warmify" to give my pictures the warmth they lacked.
White Balance is a very easy concept to understand and most cameras have the same standard symbols. If you are taking pictures on a cloudy day, turn it to the cloud. If you are in the shade, most cameras have a house indicating shade. There is a sun for sunny days, a light bulb for indoors and usually a long battery looking thing which is standard for florescent lighting. I don't know why but the term "white balance" intimidated me. There really is nothing complicated about it, once you locate it on the camera menu and learn to change it.
ISO sounds intimidating too, but just remember back to the days when we had to buy film. I usually bought 200 speed film which was great for shooting outdoors. For indoor situations you needed a higher speed film. For digital cameras the ISO works the same way, you have to increase the speed for lower light situations. What a huge difference it makes just going from auto to program! I can't believe that I didn't already know about this!
Remember me telling you about the first night in class when I told my instructor that Auto was my friend and he quipped, "it's a stupid friend"? Well this is exactly why he said that. He knew something very important that I didn't know. Auto white balance is the stupid factor.