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Taking Control

If digital cameras do such a good job selecting settings, why would you want to interfere? There are lots of situations in which an experienced photographer can do a better job of selecting settings than even the most sophisticated digital camera. Here are a few:

  • You’re looking for a special exposure effect, such as a silhouette. When faced with strong backlighting, your camera may correctly expose your subject anyway, allowing the background to wash out. By choosing your camera’s Backlight scene mode, using EV settings (explained in the next section) to dial in a little extra exposure, or manually set shutter speed and f-stop, you can adjust the exposure to produce a true silhouette.

  • You’d like to use a particular shutter speed to produce a certain look. Perhaps you’ve mounted your camera on a tripod and want to shoot a mountain stream at a slow shutter speed to provide the popular fluid blurry look in the water. Or, you want to use the absolute fastest shutter speed to freeze action.

  • You want to isolate your subject using selective focus, making the main subject sharp while blurring objects in front of or behind it. Selecting a combination of large f-stop, telephoto zoom setting, and manual focus, you can do this even with digital cameras that are noted for their generous depth-of-field.

  • You need a special color effect, and therefore would like to manipulate the white balance of your camera, or specify sepia or another color filter your camera offers.


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