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As a photography enthusiast you’ve decided to buy a DSLR; you get home, open it up and find a huge amount of buttons and settings. You look at the main wheel and see a few symbols that you recognise and some you don’t. It’s all rather confusing. After taking a few test shots you find that while the pre-sets are good they don’t always work how you’d like them to.

Then you have a look at the manual and it’s quite frankly overwhelming and not that helpful. So you look online and try to find out how to use it and find the abundance of ‘tips and trick’ on the Internet are just about as useful and helpful as the instruction manual. You just need a clear and concise how to.

We understand your frustration; all professional photographers have been in your shoes at the beginning of our path to success. We started our photography journey simply wanting to gain more control over what our final images looked like.

Gain More Control of your Camera to Create the Images you Expect.

To help you gain more control over your images there are two ‘semi-manual’ settings AV and TV (or S on Nikon).

Photography Blog: Improve your photography with these two settings.

AV: Aperture Priority.

Aperture priority controls how much light and detail are captured in your image whilst the camera works on automatically changing the shutter speed to compensate for your desired depth of field (or detail in the image).

Smaller F-numbers let in more light but less detail in the background, creating what is professionally known as a shallow depth of field.

This is perfect for well-lit portraits, product photography, group shots, and landscapes; basically anytime you know your subject is going to be fairly still. You can use this when you want the subject to be the striking focus of the final image and the background isn’t important or when you want to capture all the detail in the image. Higher F-numbers capture more detail but less light will be let in. This is best used in well lit/daytime photography.

Photography Blog: Improve your photography with these two settings.

Captured in bright daylight I set the aperture to F5.6 ensuring the background was blurred and the subject stayed sharp.

When to Avoid Aperture Priority Mode.

AV mode is perfect for situations that are

well lit. The camera automatically changes the shutter speed, which controls how sharp your subject is. If the camera thinks it needs more light to achieve the best exposure it will slow down your shutter speed creating a blurred effect to any camera shake and moving objects. If the camera thinks it needs to slow the shutter speed down to three seconds to capture enough light in the image it will do.

Unless you intentionally want a blurred effect, such as shooting traffic moving at night or sparklers being moved around avoid Aperture Priority in low light situations.

Photography Blog: Improve your photography with these two settings.

TV: Shutter Speed Priority.

Shutter Speed Priority controls how sharp your subject is. This is best used in a well lit situation, where you don’t care too much about the background detail/depth of field, but need your subject to look sharp and not blurry. A great example of when this will be most effective is at a sporting event, or with pets and children or any situation where the subject is moving a lot.

The faster you set the shutter speed the sharper your moving subject will be, although it is worth remembering that this can dramatically change your aperture, which will reduce the depth of field.

The slower you set the shutter speed the more blurred your moving subject will be. This will increase the aperture allowing a bigger depth of field however slower shutter speeds will create a blurred effect with subject movement in your image and even camera shake. If you are slowing you shutter speed it is best done with your camera on a tripod.

Photography Blog: Improve your photography with these two settings.

Captured in daylight I set the shutter speed to 1/250 ensuring the moving subject stayed sharp.

When to Avoid Shutter Speed Priority Mode.

Avoid using shutter speed priority when depth of field is important, such as group shots. When shooting a group shot in medium to low light, the camera will automatically open up the aperture, dramatically reducing your depth of field. Unfortunately this will result in some of the people in the final image being out of focus. Also shutter speed priority mode is not a good choice if you want a shallow depth of field. Lots of professional looking images have the subject sharp and the rest of the image blurred. This effect gives your image a high-end feel, by making your subject stand out against the background, ideal for portraits and product photography. Shutter speed priority mode will not guarantee this effect; your camera could automatically decide that your aperture is best at a higher number in order to achieve the best exposure, which will create more detail in you image. For this effect, you should use aperture priority mode.

When Using These Settings, Always Remember:

These are semi automatic setting. You will need to practise using Aperture priority and Shutter speed priority modes and how to compensate for your camera’s presumptions. They are pre programmed to find the best exposure not the best final image results, the ability to create better images comes with experience and practise so get shooting.

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