Were you disappointed when you bought a fancy camera and it didn’t take good pictures for you? It happens to a lot of people.
But even when you know nothing about how your camera works, it’s possible to take a good photo on Auto Mode.
Auto Mode isn’t the place to stay, so once you get the hang of it, you can move on to aperture mode, shutter mode, and manual mode. You can also learn about exposure compensation, metering and all sorts of other fun things!
But first, let me show you how to take 5 different photos on Auto and then how to put the finishing touches on them using Lightroom.
- Portrait with bokeh
- Golden hour nature photo
- Freeze a splash
- Food photo
Portrait with bokeh
It’s actually pretty easy to take a portrait with bokeh (out of focus background).
I’m assuming that you have an 18-55mm kit lens, but maybe you even have a telephoto lens that zooms to 200mm or 300mm.
You’ve got your camera on auto mode. To achieve an out-of-focus background, bring your subject away from the background. Zoom your lens in all the way because this increases the bokeh effect.
It’s really that simple. The soft, overcast sky made a good light source for this photo. The photo would be even better if his expression were more authentic and there were catchlights in his eyes.
Golden Hour nature photo
Many people like to photograph flowers and nature, but they choose the worst time of day to do it. The harsh afternoon light is not always the best time to photograph a flower. The light is intense, the shadows are harsh, and you won’t likely be impressed with your photo.
Try taking nature photos during golden hour instead. The light will look much more pleasing in your photos. Even on Auto Mode, you’ll likely be happy with how some of your photos turn out.
These are all unedited Auto Mode photos.
Freeze a splash
You’ll likely end up with blurry photos on Auto Mode if the light is dim. That is because you need lots of light if you want to freeze the action. It’s fun and easy to freeze water splashes when you’re outdoors in bright light.
That is the key to freezing motion on auto mode; lots of light.
Let’s start with accidental silhouette photos. Your eye sees something pretty but the photo turns out like this:
If the background is really bright, you’ll likely end up with a silhouette. Had I wanted this birdhouse to look brighter, I should have moved to the other side where the light was actually hitting it.
But let’s suppose you want a silhouette photo. How do you do it? It’s pretty easy to get a silhouette photo on Auto Mode. Just make sure the background is really bright and that you’re standing on the shady side of the object.
Many bloggers purchase an expensive camera and are disappointed with the results of their photography. Let’s consider somebody who blogs about food but only knows how to use Auto Mode. Is it possible to take a decent food photo on Auto? Yes.
The key to a good food photo is light. Normally, you want the light to come from beside or behind the food in order to bring out the texture. A window is a great light source.
It can be a little tricky and you will likely want to do a basic edit of the photo (particularly exposure and clarity).
It’s a lot better to understand how your camera works so that you don’t have to rely on Auto Mode. But until then, do the best you can with side or backlight and then use a program like Lightroom to put the finishing touches on your photo.
Adding finishing touches using Lightroom
I use Lightroom to edit my photos, but just about any editing program will work fine.
There are two ways to think about editing. The first is fixing a photo that didn’t turn out right. Hopefully, you can avoid this approach as much as possible. If you find yourself having to fix the same sort of mistake over and over (say underexposed or misfocused photos), then you know it’s time to learn to get it right in-camera.
But if your photos are turning out nicely, then you can think of editing as putting the finishing touches on your photo. I’ll show you how I do that.
When to move off Auto
Keep track of the problems that you keep running into. These problems are clues about when to move away from Auto Mode and what settings you need to begin learning about. Don’t try to learn everything – just what you need to know to overcome problems you’ve been facing.
You’ll want to explore:
These are all dull-sounding words, but when you explore and learn the concepts, you’ll overcome challenges and have far more creative control over what you’re doing.