Home > photography > 5 Lies Your Camera Likes to Tell

5 Lies Your Camera Likes to Tell

Think your camera is your best friend? Think again.

Your camera is a marvel of amazing technology, but you still need to use your brain when you shoot. Even if you’re in full Auto mode, don’t assume your camera knows what’s best for you!

Here are five common bloopers and how to avoid getting tripped up on your next shoot.

1) It’s exposed.

Adjust exposure for backlit scenes

Photo by Windermere Studios

Your camera has several automatic metering modes to help you catch the right amount of light without you needing to whip out the calculator. But are you using the right one? Spot, center-weighted and multi-zone metering are great for many situations, so be sure you know which one is best for you.

For example, you may want to over-expose when shooting in situations like snow, to be sure you get that fluffy, clean white stuff you’re used to seeing. No one likes gray snow.

Finally, let your artistic creativity be your guide. There’s no shame in flooding your summer portraits with light or even leaving in a bit of flare if you’re going for a sun-soaked, dreamy mood. Similarly, underexposing your shots is your key to super-dramatic clouds, abstract shadows and gritty street shots.

2) It’s in focus.

Focus on your subject, not the background

Photo by Windermere Studios

Despite the reassuring “beep-beep!” of your AF, there’s still a lot that can foil your focus. The most common culprit is motion blur if it’s too dark in the room. As a rule, you want your shutter speed to be at least 1/(focal length) for your shot to have a chance at being sharp. If it’s not possible, try bumping up your ISO to compensate for lack of light.

Also, be sure you’re focused on the right spot. If you’re shooting wide open (low f-stop numbers) your depth of field gets smaller, meaning it’s easier to accidentally focus on your subject’s nose, not their eyes. We love bokeh as much as you, but missing the focus can make or break a perfect portrait.

3. You can keep on shooting.

Smooth ocean small file, busy photo big file

Photo by Schmootography

Your camera’s telling you your memory card can hold 386 more shots, but did you know this may not be the case? The size of each photo file you shoot depends on the data in each, which usually translates to how busy your pictures are. A zen, monochrome ocean scene makes a smaller image file than a colorful fisheye of Times Square. So be aware if you’re worried about space on your hard drive, or on your memory cards.

When in doubt, pack extras.

4) You’re a great/horrible photographer.

Green Slovenian landscape by Ana Pogacar photography

Photo by Ana Pogačar Photography

“Great shot! What camera was that?” We’re sure you’ve heard this before but contrary to popular belief, the camera doesn’t make the image. YOU do. You don’t need to upgrade your equipment just to run with the big dogs, and top-of-the-line gear isn’t carte blanche to the photographer’s Hall of Fame. So be proud to carry your favorite camera into the field. As long as you know what all the buttons do and have a grasp of fundamental principles, you’ve got everything you need to take an awesome photo.

(Like the above shot, taken with a 4 megapixel Canon Powershot point-and-shoot.)

It’s not the size of the ax; it’s how you click it.

5. You’re off the hook.

Manually adjust exposure even when using Auto modes

Photo by Windermere Studios

Even if you switch on your camera’s auto modes (green square, Tv, Av), don’t switch off your brain. Auto modes work most of the time to get you better shots with less fiddling, but they can also be fooled. Like when shooting in unusually bright scenes (snow), unusually dark scenes (backlit subjects) and when you want to freeze action.

Take that extra second to think about what you’re shooting, the picture you want to get, and how best to make it happen. You can manually bump up or lower the exposure when using most automatic modes, so consider over- or under-exposing your scene to get what you want.

Have you discovered any scandalous lies that your camera has been telling you? Share it with us!

  1. May 7, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Great discoveries for newborns :D

  2. May 8, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Reblogged this on Jeff Sinon Photography and commented:
    There is more than a little truth to this. Read On!

  3. May 9, 2013 at 12:44 am

    got here via Jeff Sinon Photography, and what a great share! thanks for the practical tips!

  4. May 9, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Great read, and so true! The most advanced equipment is far from perfect. Let the gray matter work it’s wonders on your artist view :)>

  5. Steve
    May 9, 2013 at 8:39 am

    A good lie my camera tells me? Looking at the picture on its LCD screen, then believing if the picture is exposed, or properly focused.

  6. May 9, 2013 at 9:08 am

    This article contains everything I try to tell my friends when they are asking me for advice. It´s hard when friends are not believing that image quality has nearly nothing to do with the camera used…

  7. May 9, 2013 at 11:23 am

    this sure was nice to see in my inbox today
    i really enjoyed the info and i did learn something new so THANKYOU SMUG MUG
    keep it up

  8. May 11, 2013 at 5:36 am

    I am such a novice. Upgraded from a Brownie to a point and shoot. Thank you for the advice.

  9. Peter
  10. May 12, 2013 at 3:04 am

    Good pix to prove your point.

  11. May 15, 2013 at 10:38 am

    This is a great post, every item on this list rings so true! I love it when my camera tells me #5 but hate that it usually tells me the worst of #4!

  1. August 4, 2013 at 4:41 pm

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