For most people, their first experience with digital photography is with a basic point-and-shoot camera. These cameras range from very basic with only a few options to those almost as complicated as a full-size camera. Unless they have experience with photography, many of them will reach a point where they are disappointed with their pictures and believe that they could take better images if they only had a more expensive camera.
While this is true to a small degree, most of the problem lies with the photographer and their lack of knowledge. This article will discuss ways to improve your photography with the camera you already have.
One of the helpful things about a point-and-shoot camera is just that you can point it, shoot it, and you have a nice picture. You don’t need to know how to work many of the controls, but a little knowledge can go a long way. First, you should learn a bit about how to use the basic modes.
Somewhere on your camera will be a little dial that is probably set to a green square or circle. This is a fully automatic mode and is perfectly fine for many images. But on this same dial are little pictographs. There will be a face, a flower, a mountain, a running man, and perhaps, a couple of others. We will discuss these modes and how you can use them to make your images better.
No matter what camera you are using, how expensive it is, whether you are a professional shooting manual or an amateur shooting fully automatic, you mainly control only two things. These are the aperture and shutter speed. Photography is all about the light, and these two settings determine how much light enters the camera. Aperture is how large the hole is through which light passes, and the shutter speed is how long the hole stays open. But they also affect other aspects of the image, which is what these different modes are for.
The face is called portrait mode. Next time you take a picture of someone’s face, shoot it like you usually do and then move the dial to the face and shoot another. Hopefully, you can tell the difference, and the second shot will be better. This mode chooses an aperture that will make sure that the entire face is in focus, but that, hopefully, the background is out of focus. This is called depth of field and is what can separate a good picture from a great one.
The flower is for close-ups and is called macro mode. Use it for flowers or anything else that you are shooting very close to the camera. It will choose an aperture where as much as possible is in focus while not sacrificing shutter speed, making your images blurry. This can make a very subtle difference or a huge one depending on factors such as the lens’s focal length, how close you are to the subject, and how large the subject is.
The mountain is landscape mode and is just that. It is for shooting wide-open spaces. It doesn’t have to be a landscape, though. It can be a city or anything where you are taking in a large portion of space so that it is a long way from the closest thing to the furthest thing in your frame. This mode will try to keep everything in focus.
Finally, the little running man is for sports photography. It can also be used for animals or small children – anything that is moving fast. It will try to ensure a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion and get a good crisp shot of the subject while letting the background drop out of focus.
Next time you want to take pictures with your point-and-shoot camera, try these different modes and see if you don’t make an immediate improvement in your photography.