BPP 146: What You Can't Do in Auto

The sad truth is, a camera is just a computer that does not know what it’s photographing or how you want to photography a scene. So when left in Auto mode a camera will just make average decisions and will strip you of all creative intention.

I willing to bet you did not invest in a camera to just take average photos that do not stand out. I am guessing you want to take photos that are both unique and valuable to you and the viewer.

So today I share what you can’t do in Auto mode to help give you the push to shooting in Manual.

Did you enjoy this episode? Check out more recent interviews with other great guests!

Full Episode Transcription:

Disclaimer: The transcript was transcribed electronically and may contain errors that do not reflect accurately what the speaker said. Because of this, please do not quote this automated transcript.

Raymond: 00:00 Hey Raymond here from the beginner photography podcast. And today I'm going to share with you what you can't shoot while shooting in auto mode. So let's get into it.

intro: 00:10 Welcome to the beginner photography podcast with Raymond Hatfield, the podcast dedicated to helping you grow your photography skills. Raman interviews the world's top photographers in their field to ask questions that will get you taking better photos today. Now with you as always, husband, father, home brewer, La Dodger Fan and Indianapolis wedding photographer, Raymond Hatfield. Oh, welcome

Raymond: 00:40 Back to this episode of the beginner photography podcast. As always, I am Raymond Hatfield, Indianapolis wedding photographer and a your host for today. Today we are continuing continuing on this little series that I have of kind of taking control of your camera. I've realized that as as the podcast has grown, I've there's been plenty of new listeners and if that's you welcome. Thank you for joining that maybe haven't taken the time to go back and listen to some of the older episodes where I talk about just kind of like the fundamentals of photography where I share that, you know, real world examples of how the gear matters less than the photographer itself. So I'm just kind of putting all this out here, new updated information for 2019, because let's face it, information is, is, is always changing. And the, well, I've been doing this long enough to now I think that I put it in a pretty concise list so that'll be clear to you.

Raymond: 01:41 So I'm excited to get into this. But first I want to give a shout out. Today we are giving a shout out for a another iTunes review and this week it comes from none other than our group's own. Kimberly Irish Kimberly gave a five star review to the podcast in iTunes, which I cannot tell you how thankful for that I am. So Kimberly says, I've been learning so much from all of the guests. I love that Raymond asks questions that really push the guests to go back to the time when they were just starting out or get them back into the mindset of a beginner. As a beginner myself. It is so helpful and encouraging to hear the beginning stories from all of these amazing photographers. Thank you so much to Raymond and the guest, Kimberly. Thank you for that. For that review.

Raymond: 02:33 That was a really enjoyable review to hear. It was great to hear that you've, you've kind of taken that that I do try to push the guests to, to go back to the beginning. There's always that w with almost any interview that you hear online, it's like, hey, you know, somebody who's a, a prolific or has made a predominant spot in their industry. He was like, how'd you get started? Oh, well one day, you know, I, I started doing this one thing

and then one thing led to another and here I am. And you're like, no, what is that one thing that led to another? Like tell me what that is. That is what I want to know more of. How did you get to that? Cause there's plenty of people who, who started in that same spot and didn't end up where you are.

Raymond: 03:13 So I really do try to push my guests and I'm so glad that you are picking up a lot from the group. So Kimberly, I know that we've chatted on Facebook plenty of times, but I just wanted to publicly say thank you so much for not only leaving an amazing review, but being a contributing member of the beginner photography podcast Facebook group. So thank you. If you are listening I can't tell you how much it would mean to me if you were to leave the podcast a review as well here in iTunes. Right now we're stuck at 75 reviews and I am, I'm on a mission. I'm going to hit a hundred. Let's see, let's, let's make this hard. And I'm going for 100 reviews. It is May, June, July. We're going to do this by mid month, the end of July. By the end of July, I want to go for 100 reviews.

Raymond: 03:59 So will you help the podcast get to a hundred reviews? We only need 25. That's not 25 people out there listening and left a review today. We would make that goal. It doesn't have to be, you know, you don't even have to type anything out. You can just leave a star rating if you want it to. But the truth is ratings and reviews truly means so much to the podcast. A, I don't have ads on this podcast. I don't go over the top like many other podcasts. It's just me here. And and I'm talking to you, that's all that this is. And if you were to leave a rating and review, that would let me know that you're listening and that I'm not just talking to empty airwaves and can just turn this microphone off and spend the rest of my time focused on photography.

Raymond: 04:43 So once again, your favorite podcast player, if you could just leave a quick rating and review, I cannot tell you how eternally grateful I would be to you. Okay, so let's get into it. Let's get into today's episode of the podcast. What you can't do in Otto, what you can't do in auto. What does that mean? Well, let me start off by asking you a question. I want you to tell me why did you buy your camera? Seriously? Why? What was the reason? Why did you buy your camera? Was it because you just had some extra money in your pocket when you were at the store and thought, Oh yeah, here we go. What the, Hey, I'll just go ahead and pick up one of these cameras and see what happens. Was it because you needed a, a, a pretty little talking piece for your next dinner party?

Raymond: 05:42 I doubt it. I doubt that that is why you bought a camera. A camera. A DSLR is a bit of an investment. It's not just an impulse buy for a lot of people. And when you've been looking at beautiful photos your whole life, you look at these cameras and the camera itself is the gatekeeper. Now the gate seems to be coming closer and closer and more open, I guess, to us by way of using you know cell phone technology. And there's no doubt that you can get an amazing photo by using your cell phone. But what was it inside of you that made you purchase invest in a DSLR camera? Again, I'm guessing that it wasn't just because you had the extra money laying around and thought whatever, or because you needed something to talk about at your next dinner party. If I had to guess, I would say that you spent your money on a camera because you wanted to create something unique and something valuable.

Raymond: 06:47 Photographs become more and more valuable with every passing day. Right? I can't, you know, it makes sense that you would want to capture your life then you would want to capture your family or the things that are important to you now and every time I personally get one of those, you know, one year ago today, updates on Facebook, I look at it and I cannot believe like till this day I've been shooting for more than a decade and I cannot believe how powerful a photo can be. Every time I see a photo, I can get transported right back to that moment. Right back to that moment. And I look at and think no way was that one full

year ago today. And that photo that I'm looking at was taken with a phone, just a just a cell phone, just my cell phone, my, my iPhone five s e you know, 50 year old cell phone right here.

Raymond: 07:45 Might as well be 50 years old. This thing is shown sage. But we all know and want to to create something unique and everyday life experiences that we go through changes, our view, changes the way that we see the world. And that is why you can have a hundred different photographers taking a photo of the exact same thing. And every single photo will be different because we all see the world just a little bit differently. And, and no matter where you started and where you are now, even if somebody else, even if your neighbor, you know started same time that you did and you're now at equal spots, I'd say in learning photography, your life experiences are the only thing that separate you as human beings. So therefore you see what you see through the camera entirely different than they do.

Raymond: 08:47 But you, you want your photos to stand out, you want to make somebody stop and say, wow, look at that photo. That is what you want out of a, out of a, out of a camera right out of whatever camera that it is. But somewhere along the way you have a cell phone and you're taking good photos that you like and that you enjoy and you think to yourself, even though I liked these photos, if I can just get a better camera, I can start taking better photos or I can take, I can have better control of my photos and that is what is going to set me apart and I will be able to create photos that tell my, you know, that share my, my view of the world and make people stop and say, wow, just like so many other photographers have been able to accomplish.

Raymond: 09:39 Am I right? Is that a little bit closer to why you bought your camera? Because I would bet that it is yet so many people when they buy their camera right, they get the box, they bring home, they go to the store before that they think about it. They do all this research like, oh, which, which cameras the best camera to buy for under, you know, 500 bucks or something like that. Like, oh, this is the one they choose the one they go to the store. They point to it, the guy behind the counter gets the keys, they unlock it, they pull the box out, they hand it to you, you go to the register, you swipe your Carter and you insert your chip or you do both. And then you have to do the other thing. Cause that's always a mess. And then the hand you receipt and they say you are free to leave the store with that box.

Raymond: 10:23 You can leave right now taken home with you and the world is yours and you get so excited. You get so, so, so, so excited. This, this seemingly infinite possibilities, right? And you go home and you are used to your cell phone where what you do is you press the camera button, it pulls up a a, you know, a digital image and you say, Yep, that's what I like. And then you press a button and you are done. So what do you do with this new fancy camera that you got? Well you get home, you rip it out and about, you don't rip it out of the box. You carefully open up the box and you know, you get excited, you pull it out of that weird plastic, but the paper stuff, you take it out of there and you set the dial to the green button to automatic mode and then you pull up the camera and now all that you have to do is just press a button and now your photos are there.

Raymond: 11:16 Your photos are there. So, so many people who invest in, in an, in, in a higher caliber of camera than just their cell phone still shoot their photos in auto mode. And again, maybe it's because it's easier. Maybe it's because you're intimidated by shooting manual. Maybe you tried manual, you switched it to that M Dial once you know, once and you just, all your photos were black or all your photos were white or the camera wouldn't focus or something. And you thought, what is going on here? Whatever the reason I want to, you gotta know how a camera, let's think about what a camera is, right? You think about a camera as this tool that you know has a fancy lens and and light comes in it and a mirror pops up and then it exposes the sensor and then that is the photo that you get.

Raymond: 12:11 Right. But a camera is not, is an entirely different thing than cameras of the past than film cameras. They're an entirely different thing. It can be that you buy today is a computer, it has processors inside, it is making decisions, it is a computer. And the fact is is that that computer has no idea, no idea what it is that you are photographing and more importantly how you want to photograph it. So when you take your fancy camera out of the box and you start taking photos and you leave it in auto, your camera makes average decisions, which is fine, which is totally fine if you want average photos, if you just want a pure documentation, this thing happened, this is how it happened, this is what it looked like. Good day then that is fine. Average photos are fine to shoot in in Otto, but, but I, I am taking a wild guess here and assuming that if you are listening to this podcast right now, if you are listening to the beginner photography podcast right now, you don't want average photos today.

Raymond: 13:50 Let's talk about what you can't do in auto because if you just want, if you just want to leave your camera in auto, you're going to take average photos. There's no reason for you to be here right now, right? There's no, there's, there's no reason for you to be here right now. If you just want those average photos, this podcast is for those who want to better themselves, better their understanding of photography so that they can take better photos to better tell their story through their photographs. And if you just want to keep it in auto, that's fine. You can find another podcast to listen to because this is not the one for you right now. We're going to talk about what you cannot do in auto. So let me ask you a question. Have you ever taken a photo and it was too bright or have you ever taken a photo and it was too dark?

Raymond: 14:41 Maybe you're at the beach or something like that. Maybe it's kind of like later at night you're out there like a restaurant or something and you'd think to yourself, why, why would the camera make this dark scene like too bright? Like it's like things are moving around. It's like there's motion blur. Why would the camera decide this? Well, let's talk about that. A camera will determine what is a good exposure exposure being how, how bright the photo is. If it is too bright, it is over exposed. If a photo is too dark, it is underexposed. So a camera will determine what is a good exposure by trying to make the overall tone of the image gray. Why Gray? Because gray is the middle ground between black and white. If something is gray, it is not too dark. If something is gray, it is not too white.

Raymond: 15:39 Gray is what? Your camera will try to make an exposure. But let me ask you a question. Wow. I'm just like, I keep saying that. What if you are photographing something dark, something black, like a Tux or something dark like the night sky in auto mode, your camera will screw it up. Your camera does not want to take photos of dark things. Your camera will think once again, your camera has no idea what it is that you are photographing and therefore it'll just see, oh no, something's dark in the frame. We need to brighten it up to bring it to a gray because that's average. And if we bring up a a black Tux to gray, that text doesn't look good anymore. If we bring up that black Tux to gray, what is it gonna do to the skin tones? It's going to, if somebody is has a more pale skin tone is just going to blow out their skin, they're just going to look like a ghost is wearing a gray tucks.

Raymond: 16:38 It is not gonna make any sense, but your camera will think that that is the right decision because from a scientific standpoint, that is, that is right where it needs to be right in the middle of the road. Not Great, right in the middle, right in the middle of the road. Now what if you are photographing something that is white? You know what sorts of things are white wedding dresses? You know what else is very bright like a day at the beach or snow? They had to be let. Let's not even talk about the wedding dress right now. Let's just talk about the day at the beach or the snow. Why are you at the beach? Why are you with this? Now there's a very good chance that if you're taking photos in the snow or at the beach, you're probably hanging out with family, with friends.

Raymond: 17:26 You're having a good time. You're not out there just to document the exposure of those areas you are trying to create like already. You're inherently trying to take photos that help you capture that memory if you're at the beach or if you're in the snow, right? Otherwise, why would you just go on the snow for for no reason. You're in the snow because you're hanging out with kids and letting them play around, you know, whatever it is. Or you're snowboarding with friends, whatever it is in auto mode, your camera, we'll screw that up. Once again, I'm not going to sugar coat it. Your camera will screw that up. Why? Why will your camera screw that up? Because your camera thinks that white means that it's too bright. It is too bright and there's too much light coming in this lens. Therefore we have to control the rest of the settings and make the photo gray.

Raymond: 18:19 Who wants grey snow? I don't want grey snow. Nobody wants grey snow. That, that doesn't even make any sense. You're never going to look at the photo of grey snow and be like, Oh wow, I want to be there. No, you want to look at like, you know, bright, you know, fresh, fluffy, pure, white snow. And once again, your camera will think it just doesn't know. That's the problem. That is the problem with auto mode is that your camera does not know what you are shooting and therefore in auto mode your camera will screw it up. The photo will be underexposed. So therefore if you have somebody in your frame, right, you go to the beach. I'm sure if, if you've ever been to the beach and tried to like bring out your camera and take photos in some sort of automatic mode, I guarantee that this has happened to you.

Raymond: 19:09 The beach, the sand, very bright. The water reflecting off the sun, very bright. The Sky, very bright. If you have a friend out there or a family member and they're like walking towards you, they according to the camera are going to be very, very dark. So when you go to take a picture, it is going to try to take the bright sand, the bright water, the bright sky, and bring down the exposure, which already has your friend or your family member who's already, you know, doesn't have the same amount of luminance, the the that, the sand water the sky has and it's going to make them even darker. So now they're just just pure darkness. They are pure darkness, but your water looks pretty good. This guy looks pretty good. Maybe the sand looks all right, but nothing like nothing else even. It's still going to be such an underexposed photo because your camera does not know what it is photographing.

Raymond: 19:59 And on top of that, let's just say that you are trying to photograph a dog scene. Maybe you're out, it's a beautiful night, right? You see the moon or some stars or even if you know it's like you're out camping or something and it's dark. So you want to take a photo so you know your camera's still not on mode. You're going to take that photo. And the first thing that your camera is going to do is papa bell, little tiny weak flash. And if you're out and you're photographing the stars, let me tell you something that week, little dinky flash from your camera will not aluminate the night sky. It will not work. The camera has no idea. Once again, what it is photographic. All that it sees is scientifically, this photo is very, very, very dark and we can't bring the shutter speed low enough to make it gray or properly exposed.

Raymond: 20:49 So therefore we have to use the flash and it is going to go off for power. And you know what? It's going to duty a photo, nothing. It is not going to change your photo at all. And that is just an example of how your camera has no idea what it's looking at. That's it, right? Come on. So in auto, essentially what I'm trying to say here is that a it camera, a camera that left an auto will strip you of any artistic intentions. What is the job of a tool, right? What's the job of a hammer? If you are an artist and you have a range of tools, right? You need a wrench, but all you have is a hammer. Like you're getting like, oh, okay, I just Kinda came up with this year on the spot. So, so this may not make sense. So bear with me here.

Raymond: 21:47 What if you're an artist, right? You like do like some woodworking or some carving or something and you show up and you see an entire desk write this entire

beautiful like clean workshop and all that there is is one hammer. You're going to look at that hammer and think to yourself either one or two things you're going to say, okay, well let's see what we can do. Or you're going to know, or I probably, and it's not one of two things and you're going to know right away that you don't have enough tools at your disposal to be able to create what it is that you want to create. But you do have the one tool, right? You have the one tool and you can try your best, but at the end of the day there are so many things that you cannot do with the Hammer, which is why we have other tools that you will not be able to complete whatever it is that your artistic intention is for that sculpture.

Raymond: 22:39 I'm pretty proud of that. A little example right there, I kind of surprised myself. That was, that was a good one. So in auto, your camera is just a hammer. That's it. Once again, it will just strip you of any artistic intentions, take away all of the tools that you have. So here are the three types of shots that you can get in manual easier than you can in auto. Number one silhouettes. We all know a beautiful silhouette silhouette is you have a scene. It is a evenly lit or a part of the scene that is evenly let. And within that part that is evenly lit. There is a, a, an outline, a silhouette of a figure that, you know, figure could be a person or it could be a, you know, a hood ornament or whatever. It can be anything. You can make a silhouette of anything.

Raymond: 23:35 But let's just assume that we're talking about people here. Okay. So the camera will simply, okay to have a, have a silhouette, that person or the subject that is going to be the silhouette is, has to be under exposed. They have to be, you know, very underexposed for them to be a complete outline. Right. And when, when you're Ken, what do we just talk about? When your camera see something underexposed, it doesn't like that. It doesn't like that. So in this situation, your camera would either slow down the shutter speed to bring in more light and then everything is exposed and you no longer have a silhouette or it would want to pop up that flash. And then once again, you would not have a silhouette. You just can't get it. You cannot get a silhouette in auto. No. Okay. I take that back.

Raymond: 24:29 You might be able to accidentally get a silhouette and auto but you cannot predictably and with intention get a silhouette. There are plenty of times on a wedding day where you walk in to a room and maybe there's one just like really bright, especially in churches like a bright light stained glass window or just like a regular window that's letting in a lot of light compared to the the rest of the room itself and there's so many times where you can get a great silhouette in that spot or you can even create a silhouette with a, with an off camera flash, placing it behind your subject so many times you can do that in an auto. It wouldn't do that. It would just brighten up the scene as if you were simply trying to document what this space look like. So that was number one, a silhouette.

Raymond: 25:16 You cannot predictably and reliably capture silhouettes in auto mode. Number two and number three is what we already talked about. You can not get beach photos and snow photos. You cannot get good beach photos and good snow photos. You cannot get good wedding photos in front of a glass where there's, you know, high contrast, you camera will not want to do it. These are situations where the photos technically have to be overexposed. Sometimes it's by a good amount. Sometimes these photos have to be overexposed by more than a stop, stop and a half and your camera will not do that for you. It will not in auto mode overexpose a photo that much. Now you may be able to go to the beach and take some photos, you know that are, that are good enough. Maybe photos that you even like like, but I guarantee you that the eyes that you're looking at those photos with right now are not the eyes that you will be looking at the photo with.

Raymond: 26:18 Once you learn how to shoot in manual and know how to control that light in those types of photos, your, you're pretty much looking for the moment, right? You're looking for a good expression and something cool that you know, the kids built or

something. But that's about it, right? It's not an artistically great photo. And that of course brings us to number three photos in dark conditions like indoors or of stars. One of the, one of the coolest things about digital photography is how easy it is to go out and photograph stars or photograph the Milky Way. And you simply cannot do that shooting an auto because the camera will see an underexposed image and because it has no idea what it's photographing, we'll assume that you are in a very dark, you know, place and therefore it just needs to brighten it up by either lowering your shutter speed, raising up your ISO or introducing flash and it just doesn't work for stars.

Raymond: 27:13 You cannot do it or even indoors. Right. Let's, let's take stars out of the equation here. When you're indoors light, okay. Have you ever walked into a a room and you're like, wow, you know, this is like we're having a good party. Like this isn't bad here and you go to take a picture of it and the photo is just like too blurry or, or the colors are all crazy. That is because our eyes are incredible things. We can see in very low light conditions unlike our cameras, right? So, but camera when left an auto will once again just try to document the room that you were in and not let you, and we'll try to force the flash so that it can have a higher shutter speed to freeze the motion. But when left and manual, you can just raise up your ISO because a lot of times the light, even though there's less of it, is pretty good quality light and maybe you want a higher ISO so that you don't have to use a flash, but your camera is never going to make that decision.

Raymond: 28:15 Simply put, the world is not always properly exposed, but your camera when left an auto wants to shoot like it is. And as a photographer you need to know how to confidently take great photos in any light. I know that that may seem difficult right now. That may seem like a bit of a stretch, but if you want to be a working photographer, if you want to be a competent photographer, that is your job. You need to learn how to confidently take great photos in any light. And Arno will not only make it impossible to achieve a specific photo that you want, but therefore will create more work for you in editing to fix something that could easily just be adjusted in camera.

Raymond: 29:09 So for all of these reasons, I cannot stress how important it is to know how to shoot in manual. And this is why I've spent my entire winter creating my upcoming course called auto to amazing, which I created to just remove the confusion of shooting manual to remove the confusion of what setting do I change, to remove the confusion behind what goes into taking a unique and valuable photo. The Beta course is going to open up at the end of this month, may it's only going to be open to 50 students of we'll also get some pretty exciting perks. So I'm excited for that. And my favorite part about the course is that I hired a videographer to actually follow me around while shooting. So I can show you how I shoot and I talked through my decisions that I'm making while get this, I'm using an entry level canon t five an entry level camera that came out when the iPhone five s came out and that you can now buy online used for under 250 bucks.

Raymond: 30:09 Now I know that there are other modes more than just manual, right? Like aperture priority that is a favorite of new photographers and that using aperture priority can get you some incredible results because you are, you are gaining some control of the camera while still letting the camera make some other decisions. But it kinda comes down to what it is that you are shooting, right? If you just want to shoot in aperture priority because it's not as scary as manual, then the decision that you made to shoot an aperture priority is out of pure laziness, right? If you shoot in average a priority because it works best for what it is that you're shooting, well then you have to pick the right tool for the job. That's fine. You know, shooting in a studio is a whole lot easier to shoot an aperture priority than it is to shoot on a wedding day.

Raymond: 31:07 Because once again, the camera is going to make slight changes, slight, you know, differences in decisions. Then when you come in to edit the photo or you know several hundred photos, your job is going to be so much harder than if you just shot in manual and got consistent results the entire time. So let's wrap this up. Automotive, while it will give you properly eggs, most photos will strip away any ability for artistic intention. And when you cannot create the photo that you want because your camera will not let you, you will not be able to produce photos that are both creative, unique and valuable. That was three of them. You will not be able to produce photos that are unique and valuable. When you leave your camera in auto, you're simply creating snapshots.

Raymond: 32:14 Okay? Okay, well that, that's it. That's it for this week. That's what you can't do in auto. That is the power of, or I guess the, the, the removed power in auto. The, the power that is removed from you by shooting in auto. So I hope that you enjoyed this week's episode. Again, that is it for this week. Until next week, I want you to go out and I want you to shoot. I want you to shoot, shoot, shoot as much as you can. I want you to try something new. I want you to stay safe and I want you to focus on yourself. That was it until next week. Until then, love y'all.

Outro: 32:55 If you enjoy today's podcast, please leave us a review in iTunes or your favorite podcast player and continue the conversation with Raymond and other listeners of the podcast by joining the beginner photography podcast Facebook group today. Thank you. We'll see you again next week.

BPP 146: What You Can't Do in Auto

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