Random thoughts on art, technology, stuff, and occasionally Real Estate: Photography 101: I AUTO Get Out More

Photography 101: I AUTO Get Out More

Today's digital cameras can do everything for you on automatic.  In fact, some of the small compact digi-cams don't even give you the choice of overriding the auto systems.  But knowing just what your camera is doing in auto mode can help you trouble-shoot and problem-solve if your camera isn't performing as expected.

Your camera has two distinct auto systems:

Auto Focus

On most cameras the focus area will be in the center of your LCD display or viewfinder and will be indicated by a small square or corner brackets. The camera's tiny electronic brain  sees the scene in real time, analyzes the quality of the focus in this area, and adjusts the lens optical components accordingly. As you move your camera you may be able to hear the lens re-focusing.

You will read instructions in your camera manual to "press the shutter button halfway down".  What happens with that "halfway press" is that you are telling the camera's autofocus mechanism to set and lock. 

Sometimes you will hear photographers complaining that a camera has "poor low-light focusing".  In low light or darkness  the camera's electronic brain can't "see" the the objects in scene  well enough to calculate the focus.

Your camera's other Auto is Auto Exposure:

Remember the Nutshell Basics and the Third Fundamental?  When your camera is set on full Auto Exposure, its tiny electronic brain measures the amount of  light in the scene and selects the lens aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, that it is programmed to think is the correct exposure.

 The universal icon for full Auto Exposure on full size SLR cameras seems to be the little green rectangle.  For compact digi-cams, consult your camera manual - it varies from camera to camera.  On the Kodak V705, it is the tiny blue lighted button beside the on/off button.

Auto Exposure can be fooled.  We've discussed that before!  Most commonly it is fooled by bright light flowing in through a room's windows.  The camera's tiny electronic brain measures the amount of light coming in the window rather than the general amount in the room.

Coming soon... we'll get the camera OFF of AUTO....

Photography 101 ~ List of All Tutorials


Cheryl Johnson // Bob Tayor Properties, Inc.


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Comment balloon 3 commentsCheryl Johnson • March 15 2007 08:59AM


And.... as I learned the other day - make sure the camera is fully charged and carry an extra set of batteries!
Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ (BVO Luxury Group @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty) almost 11 years ago

Been there ... Done that ... Got the T Shirt ...  My battery fiasco happened two years ago at the graduation ceremony of my partner Bob's youngest son from UC Irvine Med School. 

I took along some new, unfamiliar equipment and no backup batteries, and ended up with not one single photo of the hooding.  What was I thinking?  Fortunately, Aunt Lilly was snapping away like a mad woman on her trusty little Sony point-and-shoot.

Posted by Cheryl Johnson (Cheryl Johnson, Bob Taylor Properties, Inc., Los Angeles, CA) almost 11 years ago
Cheryl, very nice blog and very informative.  LOL Tony - I can certainly relate to the battery thing!
Posted by Don Rich (West USA Realty) almost 11 years ago