A, M, S, P or Green?

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A, M, S, P or Green?

Your camera may have slightly different letters to denote the different shooting modes, but they are basically this: Aperture, Manual, Speed, Program or Green (point and shoot and hope for the best).

In a nutshell, "A" tells the camera that you will decide what aperture to use and the camera will do the rest, same for S for speed - you pick the speed and the camera picks the aperture (separate and apart from ISO. Usually.) I don't know what "P" does - I never use it.

In Manual you pick everything which means you have to understand how aperture, speed and ISO are all going to come together to make a good exposure. And that takes some practice.

I had my camera for two years before I moved off of green, and then I had to force myself. I was getting good shots on green, but when I made the effort to learn how to control my camera, I was able to do so much more creatively. I got a zillion really bad shots in the process. At this point I'm fairly comfortable with Aperture mode because I love to take pics of people. Who are not moving fast. And flowers. Because they don't run away.

This shot was taken in Aperture mode. Would have never gotten it on green.

Here's a link to an interesting list of why you want to learn to shoot in manual that I found to be very helpful.

20 Things I Wish I Knew About Shooting In Manual

So what mode are you shooting in? And what kinds of things do you like to photograph? Show me your best shot!

Great photo Tina. Is that your cat? Or just a friendly poser?

I do most of my shooting on manual, although I confess I just kind of move stuff around without too much method, just watching the info graph(?) to let me know if I'm well exposed. I rely on Jordan to do most of the "thinking" when I want a good photo. I am a huge sucker for shooting in macro.

Awww, love your spooky cat! (my son is sitting next to me and he goes "ooooh, look at that spoooooooky cat!" lol!

I shoot in manual, but also A mode, as I usually like to have control of my aperture without fooling with the shutter speed. if its good light, i really don't care what the shutter speed since I know it'll be fast enough to get a sharp image.

I like to photograph my boy the most.... here's a recent triptych I made that I really like... all shot in manual mode since the sun was going down, clouded over, and was losing my light. If I shot in A mode at a wide aperture that I like, the shutter would have still been too low to get a sharp picture if the camera had chosen it.

100112_triptych_1_wm by Jaclyn Clayton, on Flickr

No, not my cat, belongs to a friend. They found her in the middle of a busy street and took her home - she is very feisty!

I have just scratched the surface on learning how to shoot in manual. I totally understand how to compose a picture, but learning how to control the camera and the terminology and where the buttons and which way to turn them? All that is taking a lot of time and my hit-and-miss results sometimes frustrate me.

I love macro shots. I don't have a macro lens but I can get in pretty close with my 70-135.

@Jaclyn - know what you mean about your boy being your fave subject, same here - I got me a sweet little boyfriend, although not so little these days, about to be 9. He used to love to let me take his picture, now I have to bribe him with iPad time. Aperture is my favorite mode. But I am committed to learning M. And I will say I think S mode is even harder to get right than M.

I'm still in green mode ... someday i'd like to learn more about photography, maybe i'll take a course or something at the local college. I tried learning from a book but there are toooooo many terms that go way over my head right now. I have got some pretty neat photos, but i'd love to get better.

@Melissa, I know what you mean about the terminology. I found having a glossary of terms helped. Here's a link to one I like:

Glossary of Photography Terms

Sometimes learning a specific aspect of photography (ex: macro) because you're trying to create a certain look can be easier than wading through manuals or full books.

I'll be honest, I shoot on P when I'm out and about, for personal projects. Manual for clients, though I'll occasionally switch to P if the shot is really important (once-in-a-lifetime moments that I can't recreate).

@Liz - you know, I understand A, M, S and Green - but P remains a mystery to me. I need to read that section of my manual! smiley

I shoot with a Nikon D700. I always tell my friends that when they want to "go beyond auto" - they should start with P. P is the best of A and S. It chooses the best aperture and shutter speed -- or at least what it thinks is the best based on the light. If you are shooting sports, it's probably not going to get it right - because you'll probably need a faster shutter speed than what it may give you.

After you take the shot, you can view it in camera - and most cameras will have a way to also see the details of what the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are for that image. This is a great learning tool to see what the camera is doing and how the three (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) are working together. I believe it made it easier for me to then move on to using A and then S, and finally M. I now use M more than any other setting and LOVE it!

Oh, and getting ISO off of its own auto is tricky but needed. When in auto, and the location is dark, the auto ISO will want to bump itself up high, but that introduces a lot of grain/noise. Every photo shooting situation is different, but keeping ISO the lower the better. The only time I have my ISO high (1600+), is when shooting night time sports, or indoor sports. Other than that, I keep it around 200.

I love talking photography - hope to buzz around these forums more often smiley

I am waiting for my new camera to arrive. It's my first foray from the point & shoot world, so I'm really just hoping I can learn enough about all this to take pictures well enough to justify spending all the extra money. Thanks for the easy breakdown and the link you posted. I may print it out to keep with the camera, at least until I start feeling comfortable.

@Liz - you are going to so love having a DSLR and it will be the best money you ever spent in preserving memories and expanding your creativity. Remember, the manual that came with your camera is your very good friend! Can't wait to see what you can do!

It took me a very long time to get out of green mode, even with our DSLR. The best shots I've taken have definitely been those with manual settings and focus. It is hard with fast moving subjects though!