Lets dispel the myth that as a Pro Photographer, you have to shoot on Manual. One of the problems here lies on the loose definition of what shooting on “auto” means. I like to call that full automatic “green square auto” (GSA) because most cameras label it that way. It means your camera choose everything for you. The aperture, shutter speed, ISO and even the flash. I do recommend you stop using GSA because it’s essential that you understand exposure and there in lies the root of this whole discussion. Pros will tell beginners they need to shoot on manual and that’s really in an effort to teach them exposure. It often comes off as snobby and dogmatic to the beginner, but sometimes there is just no other way to get the point across.
Now if you’ve got a firm grasp on exposure, why not use some of the automatic modes to help you land more keepers? Modes like Aperture Priority where you set the aperture (aka the depth of field) and let the camera choose the shutter speed. If you’re worried that it may choose a shutter speed that’s too slow, you can even use auto-ISO where you can set a max ISO and a minimum shutter speed. If I’m shooting Manual and I go from an abundant light to a low light shooting situation, I know I’m going to have to ride the shutter speed down or ISO up to maintain my exposure. Why not let the camera do that for me so I can worry about the connecting with my subject and finding unique compositions?
The key here is understanding exposure so you can choose the right settings for the situation you’re in. If you only shoot on full auto, you are just shooting by the seat of your pants not fully in control. It’s impossible to take the image in your minds eye and create it in the camera on GSA. You can always do that on Manual and if the situation is appropriate, you can also use some of these semi-automatic modes to get more correctly exposed shots and still be in complete control of your camera. You’ve got to know exposure to know when it’s appropriate, so take the plunge and learn how to get good exposures on Manual.
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