Five simple drills to move you up the ranks from recruit and put you in
control of your camera.
So you finally put away your point-and-shoot and got yourself a gen-u-ine DSLR. Good for you! But, Buck Private, if you've still got it set on the "green zone" -- the fully automatic mode -- you're shootin' like a civilian. Sure, the pictures you take with your new camera are better than any you've gotten before, but it's time to take charge and learn what great photos you can get when you're the one in control. Do these five drills to get started, and don't worry, we'll go easy on ya.
Get with the program
Switch to program mode, your semiautomatic weapon for exercising a bit more control.
Go Darker or Lighter With Exposure Compensation. Dial your camera to P for program mode, then find the +/- button or symbol. On most cameras, you can just hold it down and move the command dial to nudge the exposure up or down from the medium tone that the built-in lightmeter dictates. In other words, if you're shooting a dimly lit scene, you may want to crank it down to expose less and get a darker shot that matches what you see. If you're shooting something bright, up the exposure to get a photo that shows the brightness that's really there.
Pick it up: Your lightmeter looks for medium gray, so it made the snow the midtone (left). But we know snow's white and bright, so crank up the exposure compensation to make it right (right).
Dial it down: The meter looked for details in the shadows, washing out the image (left). Cranking down the exposure comp brought back drama in the clouds and detail in the highlights (right).