When using a DSLR camera the ultimate goal is to shoot on fully manual to get the most out of your camera and have maximum control of your shot. But understanding how to shoot on manual can be very cumbersome and takes dedication and practise and without formal training this can be very difficult. This is why the majority of yearbook students will shoot on Automatic mode or one of the pre-set shot modes (i.e. the running man for sports shots or the face for portraits.) But did you know those settings could be making your photos worse?
The pre-set shot modes are meant for whatever type of photography their picture describes but in a perfect light situation. And let’s be honest, “perfect” light is hard to come by. I’ll give you an example: typically a lot of school sports happen inside of a gymnasium with dark, terrible fluorescent lighting and reflective orange/brown floors and by using the pre-set sport mode, it isn’t accommodating for the low light environment. This will give you either a blurry or dark, non-white balanced photo.
So you are probably thinking, if I don’t understand how to shoot on fully manual and I shouldn’t use automatic or the pre-set modes, what should I be using?
On a Canon you will see two settings on the exposure wheel: Av and Tv and on a Nikon these same two settings will read as A and S.
Av or A stands for our Aperture Value. What this setting does is gives you the freedom of choosing your own Aperture and the camera will read the lighting situation and automatically adjust your ISO and Time Value depending on the Aperture you have chosen. This is great when you want full control of the depth-of-field in your photograph but are unsure of how to use the camera on manual.
Tv or S setting stands for Time Value or Shutter Speed. This setting will do the same thing the Aperture setting does but instead, it will just effect the shutter. This setting is perfect for sports photography because it will give you the freedom to change your shutter fast enough to “freeze action” your shot but then your Aperture and ISO will automatically change depending on the available light you have.
Be sure to give these two settings a try. It is a great semi-automatic middle ground to have some control over your camera settings but still give you the assistance you may need from your camera!