Wednesday, February 13, 2013

All About Scene Modes

Harness the power of your camera's scene modes to make better pictures in any circumstances
By William Sawalich Published in Shooting
Handholding for macro shots can be tricky, as the slightest movement can mean the difference between a subject in totally sharp focus and one that's blurry. Try to use your camera on a tripod, or at the very least position yourself so you can brace the handheld camera against another object. Depth of field can be microscopic in macro, so maintaining a steady composition is crucial. Flash is usually set to automatic, so it will fire if needed and compensate for being so close to the subject.



Landscape mode is the polar opposite of Portrait mode. With the lens focused at infinity, instead of choosing a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field, Landscape mode prompts the camera to choose a small aperture (such as ƒ/16 or ƒ/22) to increase depth of field so that all elements of a landscape, from foreground to background, will be in focus.

To accomplish this, the camera is likely going to have to use a slower shutter speed, especially if you're working in low light. To prevent blur, a tripod is an ideal accessory for Landscape mode.

The flash is also disabled because the camera assumes you're photographing something at a distance. In some cases, saturation is boosted subtly for more vibrant foliage, although this can be separated out into its own mode.



If there's one Scene mode that should be on everyone's radar, it's Night Portrait. This mode uses a combination of a long shutter speed and fill-flash, sometimes referred to as "dragging the shutter."

The premise is simple: If you're photographing a portrait in low light, the long ambient exposure will allow the background to register on the sensor, while the fill-flash will illuminate the subject. That combination is a real showstopper, as it prevents the dreaded "brightly lit subject standing in front of a pure black background," just as it avoids a blurry foreground subject that would result from a long exposure for the background.

Ever notice at a sporting event or concert all those flashes in the stands? If those photographers were making portraits with Night Portrait mode, they'd have nicely lit foreground subjects and a brightly illuminated playing field or stage in the background.

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