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This week’s assignment was to explore the different scene modes on your camera. (How did it go for you?) I discovered that my camera has 19(!) different scene modes. I chose two common ones — landscape and macro, and two that I’ve always wanted to try — low key and hi key.

Naturally, I headed to the nearest graveyard to do my assignment.


Yep. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched too much Buffy in my lifetime (is that possible?) and recently read Neil Gaiman’s lovely story “The Graveyard Book” (a very sweet story, despite the name, really!) — but for months, I’ve been completely intrigued by this graveyard I drive past every day. I can barely take my eyes off it. (Joss Whedon would have a field day here!) So, when the only day I could shoot this week happened to be freezing cold and gray, I knew exactly where I should go.

I wandered for quite a while, the only living person there, and was surprised to learn that it’s a very old graveyard; most of the residents moved in during the late 19th century. There weren’t any signs explaining the history of the place – which meant it was left to my (very vivid) imagination. And you’ll be happy to know that I didn’t freak out — except once when some cats started fighting and two squirrels went berzerk and then my camera bag thunked into me unexpectedly. Other than that brief cardiac episode, I was cool as a cucumber. (And there should be a law against cats fighting in a graveyard. Just sayin.)

So take a peek, if you dare…

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And check out this side-by-side comparison. Same shot, different modes. What a difference it makes!

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Neato, huh?

I was so absorbed by this place and the assignment, that I didn’t even notice that my fingers had gone numb, until I couldn’t push the trigger button on my camera. And even then, I initially thought there was something wrong with my camera. (Yeah, I get *that* absorbed when I’m doing photography.)

So how did it go for you? Any pictures to share? Are you ready for week four’s assignment? Yes? Me, too!

Assignment for week #4:
We’re moving into the manual modes – whoohoo! If your camera doesn’t have a full manual mode, it probably has some of the other ones listed. If not, explore some of the other scene modes that you didn’t get to last week. Here we go:

  • Program Mode (P): Explore what setting options are available. (ISO? White balance? etc) Shoot in a variety of environments (shade, sun, indoors, out) look at what setting options your camera chose – that’s a great way to learn what to do when you’re using full manual mode later.
  • Shutter Priority Mode (S): Find a moving subject, start at a low shutter speed and keep changing it to a faster shutter speed until you can freeze the action. Now do the reverse — find a subject that isn’t moving, start at a fast shutter and keep changing it to slower shutter speed until the picture is blurry. (Now you know how slow your shutter speed can be while hand holding a camera.)
  • Aperture Priority Mode (A): Explore how each aperture setting affects your depth of field.
  • Manual Mode (M):
    a. Outside on a sunny day, set your ISO to 100, your shutter speed to 1/125 and aperture to f16 – check the meter and verify/adjust it to zero and take the picture. Now move your shutter speed up (faster, 1/500) and your aperture down (wider, f8) and take a picture. Now move your shutter speed down (slower, 1/60) and your aperture up (narrower, f22) and take the picture. Review the pictures – they should all look the same because the exposures were the same — even though you used different combinations of aperture and shutter speed.
    b. Set your camera back to shutter speed 1/125 and aperture f16. Change the shutter speed up and down, without changing the aperture and compare the shots. (This changes the exposure — under or over exposed — of your picture.)

And here’s my tip for remembering how aperture works — because the numbers are confusing. “The bigger the number, the smaller the hole.” (If you’re ever on a photo shoot with me, you will probably hear me mumbling that little diddy under my breath.) And, the smaller the aperture (bigger number, smaller hole) the farther your depth of field is. Remember using empty paper towel tubes as pirate telescopes as a kid? Yeah, that was a small aperture and far depth of field. See? You know this stuff already, just don’t know you know.

Now go have fun, Matey’s! And feel free to leave a comment, question, link to a picture, random musing or pirate talk below.