My students come to me with new DSLR cameras that are equipped with great auto modes. For basic snapshots, the auto setting is okay. When you don’t know how to use your camera, the auto setting is okay. When you want to become more creative, the auto setting is NOT okay.

One of the most frequently asked questions during my classes involve shooting aquariums and other glass enclosures. It is relatively easy to do. . .but not with the camera set on auto. When you are standing in a dimly lit room looking into a lighted aquarium and your camera is on auto, the first thing that is going to happen when you depress the  release button slightly is the flash is going to pop-up. If you proceed with the shot, the flash will fire and reflect off of the glass and you will have a picture of your flash reflection.

The best way to take these shot is to  set your camera on aperture priority (AV) mode, which lets you control the depth of field, while the camera controls the shutter speed. Usually, if you are aiming for a specific subject, F5.6 or F4 are good settings. Step up and place your lens as close to the glass without touching as you can or you will take a picture of your own reflection. Focus on your subject and the light inside the aquarium should be enough for a good shot. The shutter speed is not too much of an issue unless you are attempting to photograph a very quickly moving subject. Most animals in an aquarium are not moving that fast.

Of course, the is some trial and error involved, but aquariums are a good place to practice with the artistic settings on your camera.

As I tell my students in almost every class, TURN OFF THE AUTO!

And remember to have fun with your camera 🙂