Shooting on auto reminds me of something else; so with all due respect to those of you who love them…I’m not a fan of those wine and paint classes. Before you freak out and block me on Facebook…give me a chance to explain why.

Aside from the fact that I can’t seem to follow directions on a Friday night after I’ve downed half the bottle of wine I had to bring myself, (and open with the corkscrew I had to borrow from my unlucky neighbor) the paint was laid out for me, the exact quantities I was supposed to use, in the exact colors meant for this ‘masterpiece’ I am going to create, a sample of which is propped up at the head of the class.

This isn’t art20151121-Arnett-882

I didn’t create this painting, somebody else made all the decisions that resulted in this image, and I actually paid so I could sit there and follow instructions on how to copy it.

In photography, shooting on auto mode is kind of like that. The whole point of automatic mode is that the camera makes the important decisions for you in terms of how to control the exposure triangle. It decides ISO, shutter speed, and aperture based on lighting conditions and the exact values it deems necessary to achieve that ‘perfect’ image. The thing is, the camera can’t possibly know that you wanted to blur the background, it can’t know you were hoping to underexpose your subject so it would be just a silhouette against a beautiful sky, only you know that. We don’t really WANT cameras to know any of that, of course, because then we’d all be out of a job. But if you truly want to get to the point where you know how to achieve that image you’re after, manual mode really is the best way.

Sure a photo shot in auto may turn out great…but you can only take half the credit, because this beautiful, expensive, powerful machine did most of the work for you. And while that’s ok for everyday moments, little league games, and impromptu snapshots, if your plan is to make a living out of this amazing art, if you’re hoping to go beyond the hobby, there comes a time when switching to manual becomes pretty important.

It’s good to be in control

Manual mode takes some getting used to, and it can definitely be overwhelming, but making that switch opens up a whole new world and truly brings your photos to the next level. All of a sudden you’re in control, and while anything that comes out awful will be your fault…you can also take full responsibility for everything that turns out to be amazing.

untitled-19Yes you will constantly have to readjust your settings. Light changes. Clouds move. Your subject moves. Stuff moves. Manual mode makes you think hard about all the elements that play a role in capturing an image and the multiple ways they can be combined. As you become more comfortable shooting in manual, you suddenly realize that you actually know which settings to use in order to obtain the shot you were after.

You may end up with more images to go through during editing…but odds are you’ll also end up with that terrific shot nobody else was able to capture, that movement that you were able to freeze but others couldn’t because auto mode wouldn’t allow the shutter speed to go that high…or the motion you were able to show because you came equipped with a tripod and were able to slow down the shutter speed…or the clouds that are visible in your image but not in anyone else’s because their auto mode metered it wrong and it came out too bright and all detail was lost.

A camera doesn’t make you a photographer

Just as Turbotax doesn’t make you an accountant, and having that treadmill in the basement doesn’t make you super skinny, having that expensive camera doesn’t make you a photographer either, but knowing what to do with it does. You can’t call yourself a photographer if you’re shooting on auto.


If you are interested in improving your photography Tog Loft offers a range of classes for every skill level Click HEREto learn more.