That Green Square

Say you want to get into photography.  You have this awesome camera.  It takes fantastic pictures, right?  That’s the problem, the camera is taking the pictures and you are just pointing it at something cool.  How many times have you seen a picture and wondered, “how did they do that?” or better yet, “how can I do that?”  If this sounds like you, this blog may benefit you and your shooting.  If you already know, it’s probably best you move on – because this will bore the heck out of you.

If your camera has M, Av or Tv, and you haven’t used them, you are about to see a whole new world open before your very eyes.  Your camera is great, but it’s a machine.  It does what it is programmed to do, and it is just as stupid as your computer.

That green square is auto mode.  In auto mode, your camera will look for medium gray.  That’s it.  Exciting stuff, huh?  Say you’re at a ballfield taking pictures of kids.  It’s a very bright day and the sun is overhead to just behind them.  What will your camera do?  Expose for the surroundings.  Everyone has taken pictures where the subject is too dark but the background is just perfect, right?  This is your stupid camera.  To fix the problem, you’ll need to start to tell your camera what to do, rather than blindly trust its awesomeness. This is where turning your camera to M will give you the perfect exposure on your subject.  Sure, the background may wash out a bit, but you want a picture of the subject, right?


Here is a picture of a child on a ballfield.  On auto, the mound would have been close to middle gray.  If the camera exposes to the mound, the child is in shadow because her back is to the sun.

Manual mode allows you to spot meter on the child (you may need to change your metering mode from evaluative to spot in your camera’s menu), changing your shutterspeed or aperture to let in the right amount of light.

In this case, ISO 200, aperture 5.6, shutterspeed I think I had around 200.

You’re not trying to trick your camera, you’re trying to tell it that you, are in fact the awesome one.


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