Musings on Using Auto

midnight hiding
Midnight “hiding”. I shot this with my SLR in Auto. Our house is very open and very light like most Florida cottages, so no flash popped up.

Three years ago two young women showed up for one of our nature hikes excited about their new consumer SLR digital cameras. In conversation before the hike, Karl learned that neither took prior photography courses and didn’t know much about the SLR camera.  It became clear after a few shots that both had a good “eye”, in other words, they naturally followed most rules of lighting and composition and focused on the subject. That in itself is not unusual, a lot of adults and even children have enough background and have seen enough art and photography that they often naturally understand what needs to be done.

At every stop, as I talked about nature, the area, and suggestions for shots to try, they clicked away and showed us some of the photographs. On the way home, we both marveled in awe and not a little bit of shock at the advancements in technology. With those new, state of the art, digital cameras they took quality, sometimes potentially market level photographs all in Auto.

Eleven years ago shots I did of wildlife in action could only be done with a pro-level SLR and a good lens, both of which cost many thousands of dollars, both set to capture that type of action. I recently saw an article in a photography magazine of similar types of shots done with a similar kit, but by photographers shooting in auto. We recently had a discussion at a camera club about cameras, and many of the people who won contests in the past year admitted they shot primarily in Auto.

Now for the caveat, the shots in Auto were done with good natural light. The computer inside the camera works best with decent lighting and can make adjustments. As most people know, the on-camera flash, especially in Auto, can wash out a photograph. In addition, the on-camera flash range is limited.

For the best, clearest shots in all conditions use a SLR camera set properly, (and that does NOT necessarily mean all Manual) with a quality piece of glass (lens). There will always be exceptions, a big part of any photograph is being there. But, for photos of your lunch for Instagram, family events, and general photography, don’t feel you need to be fussing with all kinds of settings. On a day with good light, try a few in Auto and see how they look.

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