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Boomers & Beyond, Going Beyond

Behind the lens

Expert tips for better photos
–by Gary Bendig Kohne – Camera & Photo
PUBLICATION DATE: Dec 2016

If you’re new to photography, the controls on your new SLR camera may as well be the controls on a spaceship. Right out of the box you’ll probably put your new camera into the green or Automatic Mode and go take pictures in the hope that the significant expenditure you made for your new camera will give you professional results.

Although Automatic Mode will sometimes give you wonderful results, perhaps even award-winning results, most often you’ll take a picture, then look at the screen and say, “Gee, THAT didn’t come out the way I wanted it to!” This is why there are all those controls, but don’t worry!

These days, the camera manufacturers have made it significantly simple to get great results by allowing you different exposure modes to get you the photographs you want without the need to learn all about apertures and shutter speeds, the ISO, how they all work, what they all do, and how to set them yourself.

If you were born with a camera in your hand or learned how to use one as a pre-teen, then you would use one of the modes with single or double letter abbreviations on the dial at the top of the camera and set the camera settings by hand simply because those settings and concepts have become second nature to you. If, however, you’re just starting out then you’ll want to use the “cue card” modes because those will give nearly identical results but without the years of study.

For example, there’s a mode that features a graphic of a person’s head. This is called Portrait Mode. When you use this mode, you’re telling the camera that you want your subject to be in focus and you want the background to be blurred.

Gary Bendig is an owner and Vice President of Kohne Camera & Photo in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Gary Bendig is an owner and Vice President of Kohne Camera & Photo in Perrysburg, Ohio.

For example, there’s a mode that features a graphic of a person’s head. This is called Portrait Mode. When you use this mode, you’re telling the camera that you want your subject to be in focus and you want the background to be blurred.

First, be sure to put some space between the subject and the background. If the subject is leaning against a wall, that wall will not blur no matter what. Give more distance between the subject and the background than between you and the subject.

Next, use a long lens. If you own an 18-55mm zoom lens that came with the camera and you also have a 75-300mm zoom lens, use the longer lens for your portrait because it will accentuate the blurring of the background. If you don’t have a longer lens, then set the 18-55mm to its longest focal length available (55mm) and simply adjust your body position forward or backward to compose the picture to your liking. Portrait Mode, a long lens, and some distance between your subject and the background will give you a professional result every time.

The opposite of the Portrait Mode is Landscape Mode. When you use that, you’re telling the camera that you want everything sharp and in focus from your feet to the wildflowers three yards away, and on to the pond with a canoe on it, and beyond to the mountains and moon in the background. In other words, a travel book shot. Since this is the opposite of a portrait shot, you would accentuate the sharpness of everything from right-here-to-forever by using your short zoom lens, and for best results you would use the shortest focal length it has, such as 18mm on an 18-55mm zoom.

When you set your camera on Sports Mode, an icon of a running sports figure, three things happen automatically. First, if it’s not already set this way, the camera goes into a continuous shooting situation. When you lean on the shutter button it will keep firing at several frames per second until you run out of room on your memory card or let up on the button.

Secondly, the camera will use the fastest shutter speed it possibly can based on the lighting condition you’re within. The more light you have, the faster of a shutter speed it can use, thereby freezing the action just like you see in sports magazines.

Lastly, the camera goes into continuous focus. Maintain your right finger halfway depressing the shutter button and keep aiming at your moving subject. The focus will actually follow the subject as it moves nearer and farther. Press the button all the way down when you want to take the picture and that moving subject will be in focus simply because it’s been in focus all along! An expensive camera, expensive lens, and lots of light on your subject will all accentuate the performance on this feature.

These three exposure modes, Portrait, Landscape, and Sports, are the modes you’ll likely use the most, but there are more features your camera has that are beyond the scope of this article. Kohne Camera & Photo offers classes and one-on-one consultations to get you fully up to speed on the care and operation of your digital SLR camera.

Meanwhile, just get out and practice!

Gary Bendig is a Canon shooter, a natural-born teacher, a musician, and a nature and wildlife specialist.

Gary Bendig is a Canon shooter, a natural-born teacher, a musician, and a nature and wildlife specialist.

Gary Bendig is an owner and vice president of Kohne Camera & Photo in Perrysburg, Ohio, the only premier camera store and professional grade photo lab in the area. Gary is a Canon shooter, a natural-born teacher, a musician, and a nature and wildlife specialist.

Contact him at: 419/385-9500.

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Phone: (419) 824-0100
Address: 5657 N. Main #1 Sylvania, OH 43560


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