How to Use Your Camera’s Auto Scene Modes

Autumn Baldwin, CK Dream Team member

Autumn Baldwin, CK Dream Team member

My family and I went hiking last weekend, and I made sure to bring my camera along. However, between carrying a tired four-year-old and trying not to fall off the mountain, I didn’t have time to mess with the settings on my camera every time the lighting situation changed. At the same time, I wanted better shots than I’d get if I left my camera on auto, so I took advantage of one of the easiest ways to improve your photos: using different automatic scene modes to quickly tell your camera what type of shot you’re looking for.

Take Great Photos without the Fuss

All dSLRs and many other cameras come with automatic modes that are usually accessible with a quick turn of a dial or scroll through the menu. Automatic scene modes are fantastic because they tell the camera what sort of shooting situation you’re in and the camera optimizes the settings for you. You get a great photo without having to fuss over aperture, shutter speed, or ISO. You’ll know you’ve found the auto modes when you see the following icons:

Quick guide to your camera's auto modes

Quick Guide to Auto Modes

Choosing an automatic mode is simple—just decide what type of photo you’re looking for and dial to the appropriate icon. Take a look at these examples to get an idea what automatic scene modes can do for your photos:

Use portrait mode when you want a photo that puts all the emphasis on a person, while leaving everything in the background slightly blurry.

Use portrait mode when you want a photo that puts all the emphasis on a person, while leaving everything in the background slightly blurry.Use sports mode when you want to freeze the action in a photo. Sports mode is fantastic if you want crisp, clear sports photos or a cool photo of individual water droplets in a waterfall.

Use sports mode when you want to freeze the action in a photo. Sports mode is fantastic if you want crisp, clear sports photos or a cool photo of individual water droplets in a waterfall.

Use landscape mode when you want to be sure all portions of your photo are in focus, and to help boost color saturation.


Use landscape mode when you want to be sure all portions of your photo are in focus, and to help boost color saturation.

Use macro mode to help your camera focus when taking an extreme close-up of a tiny object.
Use macro mode to help your camera focus when taking an extreme close-up of a tiny object.

Landscape audot mode

Use night mode when taking portraits at night to get a nicely lit photo that takes advantage of both flash and a slower shutter speed.

Since we hiked during the day, I don’t have any examples of night mode photos – but don’t worry! The first chapter of the Creating Keepsakes special issue  Better Digital Photos and Scrapbooking is full of photos showing the advantages of ALL your camera’s modes, both automatic and manual. You’ll learn everything you need to know to stop shooting on auto and start getting better photos.

Better Digital Photos & Scrapbooking

For more photography tips, as well as scrapbook pages, recipes, crafts, and more, visit my blog at http://www.itsalwaysautumn.com. Hope to see you soon!

Autumn Baldwin, CK Dream Team member

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4 Responses to How to Use Your Camera’s Auto Scene Modes

  1. Carol Barol says:

    I’m anxious to check out this new issue. Sounds like just what I need!

  2. Lisa P says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I am on the lookout for this issue.

  3. Frances says:

    You simplified the explanation beautifully. Thank you for this!

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