Auto This, Manual That by Nick Bedford

I've come to the conclusion that, after four years of taking pictures, I no longer care about how a picture was taken, only how it stands on the merits of its subject matter and composition. I think I did a while ago, really, and to a certain degree you should too.

f/4.0 © 2014 Nick Bedford

f/4.0 © 2014 Nick Bedford

When it comes to exposure, my eyes aren't an accurate light meter. With experience I can guess the exposure, but more often than not it's not accurate. Most of the time when I shoot manually I'm actually just setting the exposure settings to what my meter says anyway since that would yield an appropriate exposure the majority of times.

So with my personal photography, I shoot in aperture priority mode, focus with autofocus, recompose, and fire. I control the depth of field which in turn changes the range of shutter speeds I can use. I care far more about the actual image composition than constantly adjusting my exposure triangle.

I just want to tell the camera what I want in my frame, and where to focus the majority of the time. My camera is set up with a minimum of ISO 400 and max of 3200 and ISO 400 gives me half the shutter speed by default, which helps with the quick pace of street photography. So in a way, you still have a lot of control over your settings if you know how they are affected by your other choices.

f/5.6 © 2014 Nick Bedford

f/5.6 © 2014 Nick Bedford

I rarely take more than one or two pictures of the same subject. I see something, aim and fire and look at the result at a later time. I know my camera enough to know that if anything messed up the photo, it's likely my own execution, rather than the camera's automatic exposure decisions.

I should be good enough to know that, for example, at night the camera will slow down and use a high ISO, so I should be good enough to work around this when taking the picture and not get mad at it when it decides such settings.

I guess my point is that you really shouldn't worry about which "mode" of photography you're using and just use the one that allows you to take the picture successfully whether it's manual, semi-automatic or even fully automatic.

f/2.0 © 2014 Nick Bedford

f/2.0 © 2014 Nick Bedford

Nick Bedford is a Freelance Photographer &  Member of The West End Camera Club