Saturday, 27 July 2013
Explanation of Camera Operating Modes for Wedding Photography
First of all this guide is not intended for professional photographers, who with years of experience will have their own preferred settings.
Many of the camera users I know, including those I spot at weddings taking pictures have their cameras permanently stuck in auto mode. I am not knocking auto mode because a lot of knowledge and electronic wizardry has gone into making this a “best fit” option for many photographers. I just wanted to let you know how you can use some of the other settings to perhaps take an even better picture.
TV – Shutter Priority. When you select this mode, you are telling the camera which speed to use, the electronics in the camera then work out the best aperture for a perfect exposure. So why is shutter speed important? If you are taking pictures of motor cars racing, or your children running in the park, if you have a fast shutter speed you are more likely to stop the action perfectly. If you had a slow shutter speed then you would find that the cars were blurry and perhaps the arms and legs of your children.
“At a wedding” – I choose speeds faster than 1/60th to ensure there is no blurring. However during the first dance I switch between speeds and I prefer slower than 1/10th as this captures the movement in the brides dress as she is swept across the dance floor.
AV – Aperture Priority. When you select this camera mode, you are instructing the camera which aperture to select. Once again the cameras electronic circuits work out the best shutter speed for a perfect exposure. The most common use of aperture priority is to control the amount of background blur.
“At a wedding” – I choose a wide aperture f16 or above to ensure everyone in a group shot is in focus and so is the background. I would chose an aperture of f4 if I wanted to blur the background.
M - MANUAL . You set both the shutter speed and the aperture. There is no need to fear this setting. You use the light meter indications inside the camera viewfinder to either expose correctly, or under or over expose as necessary.
“At a wedding” – I would use manual mode sparingly. Preferring to use either TV or AV.
P – Program. If you are a beginner and haven’t got time to work out the best settings for shutter speed and aperture, then please use this mode. The camera adjusts the settings for you automatically. Keep an eye on them though, as shutter speeds can drop down and cause motion blur at lower light levels.
“At a wedding” – If I wanted to get a lot of general shots in similar lighting conditions I would use Program. Why? Because sometimes getting “the shot” or “capturing the exact moment” is more important that twiddling knobs!
ISO – This is the one important factor, not controlled with the mode knob, but is heavily interlinked with its use. The higher the ISO number the more sensitive the camera senor is to light. So you would choose a higher ISO number when shooting inside a church, for instance. Be careful though, because the higher the ISO the grainier or noisier your pictures become. Try taking a series of pictures at different ISO settings. When things get too noisy, go back a setting and then try not to use the higher settings unless it is a must have shot.
Photography either as a professional or as an amateur should be fun. Get out there and experiment, using the different modes and see what effects this has on your pictures. There are still lots of camera clubs about and certainly lots of forums to help you on the internet. Take lots of photographs and do print the ones you like. Photographs look different in print, than on your computer screen.
Duncan Malloch has been a keen photographer since the age of 9. At 10 he was taking, developing and printing black and white photos in his own darkroom. In 1984 he shot his first wedding as a professional. Since then he has won awards from the master photographers association and taught photography at a local college.