Category Archives for Photography Tutorials

Aperture Priority Mode – How to make a Blurry Background


How to make a blurry background

Check out the video below about Aperture Priority Mode.  Even if you don’t have a DSLR you most likely have this mode on your Point and Shoot camera.

Video Transcript

Hi there! It’s Ingrid from Camerashy. One of the questions that I get asked by my students all the time is, “Ingrid how do you make a blurry background?” A blurry background?  Oh I get it, I know what you’re talking about. You want to blur the background of your photos so you get a nice creamy, dreamy background and your subject really stands out. It makes for a really nice portrait shot. I know what you want to do and it is really easy.

All you have to do is to move out of Auto Mode and move in to Aperture Priority Mode. So how do you do that? Aperture Priority Mode will be AV if you are shooting on Canon or it will be A on a Nikon, Panasonic,Olympus – pretty much everything else right?

So you want to be in Aperture Priority Mode and then turn the command dial to get the lowest aperture that you can shoot with. This would be dependent on the lens that you are using. So, don’t worry if you can’t get any lower than f/5.6 that is probably got to do with the lens that you have on there.(Check that you are using lens that has wide maximum aperture. )

So you need to shoot wide open. When you are


So you are out of Auto Mode but not quite in Manual but you are getting there. That’s Aperture Priority Mode!

Aperture Priority Mode really is the best mode to be in when you are shooting portraits, or photos of your kids or anything that you really want to pin point the focus and blur the background so that you can really tell the story of your image.

For more quick and easy tutorials on how to use your Digital camera, make sure to sign up on the blog and subscribe to my channel so that you never miss another video.
Happy Snapping!

Let me know if you use it in the comments below after watching the video!



Learning Photography – 3 mistakes beginners make using a new DSLR camera

 3 mistakes pin

1. Shooting only Auto Mode

If you switch your DSLR camera to Auto Mode do you know that you are only using about 20% of its functionality?  That’s like having a zippy sports car and keeping it parked in your driveway (as one of my students rightfully stated!)  Why spend all that money on a wonderful piece of photography equipment to do that?  When you shoot in auto mode, the camera takes over all of the control of your camera settings. It decides on exposure, ISO, WB and whether or not you need flash amongst other things.

While you think this might be a good thing when you are just starting out, when you are learning photography you must challenge yourself a wee bit more.If you want to improve you need to move out of auto mode learn to shoot in the Creative Zone.

Learning Photography - Mode DialUsing the P, Tv (S), Av(A) and M modes correctly by controlling the settings,  will bring your photography to the next level.  Although every shot may not necessarily be a winner (Hey! everyone’s gotta start somewhere) you’ll be a step closer to improving your photography. Remember; we all learn by our mistakes, so don’t be afraid to make ’em.

2. Using Flash Inside

Using Flash inside is something that most people think is a necessity. In many cases this is true as the light is just too poor or your subject is a wiggly 2 year old.  There are many times however that it is possible to shoot without flash indoors:

  • If you have lots of natural light
  • Your shooting under very strong artificial lights
  • When you want to capture the lights or ambience in your picture.

These lighting conditions work well without flash especially if your subject is not moving, for example if you are shooting ingredients for a recipe.

So to shoot with out flash inside you simply need to turn it off. However, if you are shooting in Auto Mode you will have no control over when your flash turns on and pops up.

This is always the great giveaway as to when a photographer is using Auto.  I’ve seen countless students who initially think the only way to keep that flash off is to press down against the pop-up action of the flash unit … eh…great way to break your camera by the way.

Go ahead and turn the camera to P and simply don’t turn on your flash.

In P Mode the flash will only pop up if you tell it to do so.  The camera will make adjustments so that it will compensate for the lack of flash and you should get a correctly exposed shot.  Shooting in low light can of course be improved by using better lenses and changing some other settings such as ISO but by just doing turning off the flash in P Mode you will have a good jumping off point to see which settings you can further tweak to improve shooting indoors with no flash.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ve probably already taken my free mini-course on taking Better Photos where we cover all of this stuff. You can still sign up to get access to it here.

3. No specific Focus Point

When your photograph lacks a focal point the viewer of your image doesn’t know where to look in the picture and ultimately their eye leaves the image.  Having a definitive focal point ensures that your photo is engaging and the viewer of the image gets what it is  that they are supposed to be looking at.

Usually the Focal Point of the Image is where your FOCUS POINT is.

Your FOCUS Points of your camera are highlighted within the viewfinder as red spots (or squares) when your press your finger on the shutter button.  Always make sure that your focus points are over the area of the image that you want to be in focus.

If they are not, then you can reframe your image so that this is the case or  you can manually set the focus point by accessing the focus point selection function of your camera. Personally I always like to have my focus point set to the middle point.  I can then use Focus Lock method to reframe my image exactly how I like it.  This ensures I always know where my focus point and hence my focal point is in the image and helps to make my photos more visually stronger.

Happy Snapping


Why Program Auto Mode is a Beginning Photographer’s Best Friend

I Love P! I do! Ask any of my students 🙂 I tell them all P is their best friend – their buddy, their pal!  So who or what is P I hear you ask?

Ah! P doesn’t stand for Professional, ahem, as I’ve heard, ahem, at least twice before…

P = Program Auto Mode! See it up there on your camera Mode Dial?


P100 Mode Dial

Program Auto Mode is your best friend because it gives you all the benefits of shooting in Auto Mode such as, the camera takes care of all of the exposure decisions for you, but lets you override any setting you wish.  And as you know, there are lots of other things to worry about on your DSLR or mirrorless camera other than just exposure.   In Program Auto Mode you can control the Flash, the White Balance, the Metering, the Auto Focus Modes etc. while the camera makes sure you have a well exposed shot every time.

All of these things are functions of your camera that you really need to take time to learn.  These will make the difference in your photography between just “blah” photos to something that you’re really proud of.  And while you are learning about these things, you don’t have to worry about Shutter Speeds or f-Stops – all that is taken care of by P so you can spend your time getting to know all the other stuff while still getting correctly exposed shots.

Little Tweaks make a big difference

I believe that you should run before you can walk and using P mode allows you to do just that.  Before you start manipulating the exposure get to know how your camera sets things and you will see how small tweaks can make a huge difference.

For example, look at the following two shots:

Fill FLash-2

Pic without Flash

Fill FLash

Pic outside with Flash

In Auto, the camera will never decide to pop up the flash when you are  outside as it only worries about whether there is enough intensity of light or not.  Using Fill in Flash when your outside will help to avoid these shadows and totally change the look and feel of your image. You can only add this pop of flash in the P mode but it is as simple as just by pressing the Flash Button on the side of your camera flash.

As you can see, using your flash outside as a Fill In Flash can bring your photos to life!

There are so many of things like this that cannot be done in Auto Mode and once you’ve been using your camera for a while you’re bound to come across these limitations. In fact, if you’ve had your camera anything more than a wet weekend (or a snowy one) I’m willing to bet you have already.

Little Clues

Program Auto Mode also gives you little clues as to how the camera is deciding to set the exposure.  If you pay attention to the numbers on the back of your camera, you can quickly begin to see the exposure combinations that work best for various scenarios.  This will give you a clue as to where to start when setting manual exposures.



The first number you see is the Shutter Speed and the Second is the Aperture.  These two varibles will dictate the exposure along with ISO.  And ISO can be controlled in Program Auto.

As your photography progresses knowing the variables will be come very important

I actually believe that getting a firm grip on ISO and its impact on your images is a great foundation in shooting in manual and P mode allows you to play with ISO and figure out this important part of the equation.

So the next time you are at the park, or messing around with the camera outside, don’t be too hard on yourself and have a go in Program Auto Mode and see what you can change 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about all the things your wonderful camera can do, then join me for a live webinar on “Simple Things you can do to Improve your Everyday Photos.”

Happy snapping


What does THAT button do? DSLR camera menus & buttons explained

second hand camera gearIts not uncommon for me to hear from students that trying to decipher the menus and buttons on their cameras is like trying to learn a completely new language.  In this video I try to explain how you can easily find the function you need quickly and why you rarely even need to venture into the camera menu.


If you’d like to join the Camerashy Take 52 Photo Challenge we’d love to have ya! Click here to sign up:

Happy snapping!


Exposure Compensation Explained

Since I’ve moved home to this site ( I’ve been spending some time going through old tutorials that I’d done in my archives and I’ve decided to refresh some of them for my newer readers out there. This tutorial is all about that little +/- button you have on your camera. The Exposure compensation button. Watch the video below to see everything it does 🙂

This week I continue my series on figuring out some of those buttons on your camera.  Ever wondered what that little +/- button on your camera is for?  All cameras have this Exposure Compensation Button – point and shoots and DSLRs and understanding it can really make improvements to your pictures.  Watch the video below to find out how!

Prefer to read? I’ve outlined the transcription of the video below!

Hey there! It’s Ingrid here once again from Camerashy. This week we are going to talk about another underutilized button in your camera and it is called Exposure Compensation. If you have a Canon, the exposure compensation button is this little + – minus button right here on the back. On some other Canons it is up here at the top, and on some Nikons it is up here at the top as well. What you are going to look out for is that little + button.  So what does this do? Well, the exposure compensation button is your way of controlling the exposure of your shot – i.e. how bright or how dark it is and over-ride the camera settings. This can only happen if you are in the program auto mode, the aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode. If you are in auto mode, this won’t work. This is a really good way to get a feel for exposure without actually knowing what you are doing.

So why would you use exposure compensation? Sometimes you take a photograph and the camera just doesn’t get it right. It might be a little bit too dark or a little bit too bright. Just not exactly what you see with your eye. This sometimes happens when the photograph contains extremes of light. Say for example if you are photographing in snow, the camera sees all of that bright snow and the camera seems to darken your image down or likewise when you are shooting into the sun you need to  overexpose the photograph a little bit.

So, how do you do this? Well you just use your exposure compensation by pressing and holding down that +- button and rotating the command dial towards the + if you want to make your image brighter or towards the negative if you want to make your image darker. So what you are really saying is, hey! Camera I see what you’ve given me but could you please make it a little bit brighter or a little bit darker? Thanks ever so much… Be sure to say it a nice way because this is one of the only times that you know a little bit more on what’s going on the camera does and we don’t want to offend :).

So, remember, you are not really controlling how the camera makes it brighter or darker. You can only do this by slowing down the shutter speed or opening up the aperture and this will ultimately affect how your image looks but it really does help to just give you a little bit more insight to what is going on with the exposure and so you are one stop closer again to using these modes in a more manual way. So, venture out of auto mode into your program auto, your shutter priority and your aperture priority mode and play with your exposure compensation to see how it affects your photos.

So, I hope you find this useful, be sure to give it a thumbs up if you liked it and share it with your friends.

Until next time…

Happy Snapping!


A Tutorial on Choosing Photo Paper

The following post was contributed by the good people at Snap Paper.

If you are aspiring to learn photography and become a professional photographer, printing using the correct papers is an essential part of the process. Although the vast majority of your images will remain stored in their digital form, some will undoubtedly find their way to the printer and then the quality of your work will not longer be judged solely on your photographic skills, but on the printed work as well.  In the inkjet printing world, the paper type and quality plays a central role in the final quality of the print. In this tutorial we will cover all aspects of sourcing photo paper for your particular circumstances.     

Choosing Photo Paper

Snap paperBond Paper Vs. Photo Paper – Perhaps the biggest mistake amateur photographers make is attempting to print a high-resolution image on normal printer paper. It is true that both normal printer paper and photo paper originate in the same manner, however one is uncoated and suitable for simple text printing while another contains a receiving layer designed to accommodate large amounts of ink. Printing on a non-coated paper will produce lower resolution, washed out results and the paper will start displaying waves caused by ink over saturation.

Photo Paper Size – Printing in a professional capacity is very much about cost effective printing. You want to balance quality with your printing expenditure. One area where waste may raise its ugly head is choosing an incorrect size and then having to reprint your work. Naturally, the same photo paper model will cost less in its smaller 6×4” than its much larger A3 alternative. As a photographer you should be made aware of the various options.

6×4” and 7×5” – These are two photo-album size measurements designed to fit into a normal photo album for image keepsake.

A5 and A4 – These are larger than the photo-album sizes and used to fit into various frames to be mounted on the wall, kept on a desk and so on. A common mistake is buying A5 or A4 sheets to insert into photo albums. While cutting these to size is possible, it is both time consuming and a waste of money.

A3 and A3+ – These are mostly used on a professional basis and require an A3 printer. A3+ or oversized A3 is slightly bigger and can vary in sizes so double-check the precise measurements prior to buying.

Photo Paper Finish – The finish is a transparent layer that adds a level of glare to the image. Most common on a scale of highest to lowest levels of glossiness are glossy, satin and matt. While it is possible to revert the finish of choice by using a fixative spray in a different finish to override the initial finish, you are better off choosing the most suitable finish to start with. For personal use, the finish of choice is often down to personal taste however in a commercial manner such as when displaying an image in a gallery viewing angles should be taken into account.

Glossy – Glossy is the finish with the highest level of sheen and in a commercial manner makes viewing from the sides tricky at times.

Satin – Satin can include various levels of sheen, though less than glossy finish. It makes it easier to view images behind glass.

Matt Finish – Matt does have any glare. It is very rarely used in a professional commercial manner to display work.

Photo Paper Weight – Photo Papers vary in weight from as little as 120gsm to 300gsm and more. Weight, which is measured in GSM (grams per square meter or g/m²) relates in most cases to the thickness of the paper (known as caliper), as it is a measurement of material density. While the type of base paper and receiving layer will play a role in the quality of the paper, weight is an important indication of quality. Generally speaking, the higher the weight is, the higher its quality is. It is important to select the most suitable weight to the type of print. For example, lower weights such as 120gms are often used to print brochures and posters, while higher weights such as 250gsm and over are used to print photos.

Snap paper 2

Photo Paper Printing Mistakes

Mistakes in printing photos are annoying and can be costly. Common mistakes to avoid vary from buying the wrong paper to printing on the non-coated side.

Paper Technology – Printers are available with Inkjet or Laser technology. It is essential to match your printer with a suitable compatible paper.

Wrong Orientation – Failure to proof landscape or portrait prior to printing leads to waste and should be proofed beforehand.

Printing On the Non Coated Side – Unless stated otherwise, photo paper has only one coated side (with the exclusion of double sided photo papers). Printing on the non-coated side leads to poor results and waste. 

Neglecting Printer Settings – Most printers are set by default to print text and to get the best out of the photo paper you will have to adjust the printer settings. Often manufactures are able to supply a profile computer file which when opened will set your printer automatically for best results.

This post was written by the people at Inkjet Photo Paper suppliers Snap Paper. Snap Paper™ is a leading manufacturer of Inkjet papers with operations in mainland Europe and other parts. Its range of Inkjet media is used by commercial and domestic clients in order to achieve high quality image reproduction using any type of Inkjet printer.

How to set manual mode in your DSLR Camera

How to set manual mode in your DSLR

This post was inspired by a question in my Take 52 group on Facebook.  If you are not in that group then you are missing out on all kinds of good information and a cool bunch of photographers friends too 🙂  – So join us! 

“How do you set Manual Mode in your DSLR”

Shooting in manual mode is often considered the holy grail to many beginner photographers but its important to remember that there are many levels of manual shooting and it really is not the be all and end all. If you are comfortable making a few mistakes here and there though, its a great way to start taking control of your camera and learning to use it to the max.

What do I mean by Manual  Mode?

Manual Mode should really be more clearly defined as Manual Exposure Mode.  This means that you, the photographer are taking full control of the exposure of the shot.  You will decide on the the Shutter Speed, the  Aperture and the ISO value you need to shoot at. It is these three variables that go to make up the correct exposure.  If you change one of these variables it will impact one or both of the others.

Its important to remember therefore, that there is no one correct combination of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO for any one scene – there are several combinations that will work.  Which one you choose is at your (the photographer’s) discretion depending on the look and feel of the image that you are trying to create.

So for example, if you are a portrait photographer, and Depth of Field is really important to you, then that is the variable that is top of mind for you and you will have a certain f/stop in mind that you will want to stay within to achieve your particular look.

If you are a Sports photographer, Shutter Speed is usually the most important thing to, so you will strive to shoot at as fast a shutter speed that the conditions will allow.

Its the combination of these variables and which one do you change that trips people up in my experience.

Just remember which the the one that is most important to you, hold it where you need it to be and fiddle with the other two until you get a correct exposure.

How do I know when I’ve got a correct exposure?

In through the viewfinder of your camera you have a little meter that reads   -3..-2..-1..0..+1..+2..+3   The goal is to have the indicator right on the 0, unless you are trying to deliberately over or underexpose your shot (then you’d shot towards the + or – side of the meter.)

exposure compensation

In  Canon cameras such as the Rebel T5i, there is a command wheel at top of the camera. Turing this dial changes the Shutter Speed value. If you have a mid-range DSLR like the new Canon 7D ii (lucky you!)  you may also have a second dial either on the back of the camera body or at the top right hand corner (Nikon.) Turning this dial will change the Aperture.  If you do not have this second dial then consult your user manual as you will need to press and hold another button while turning the main command dial.  This gets a bit tricky and takes a bit of practice!

What about Manual Focus?

You can shoot in Manual exposure mode and have a whole host of other things taken care of Automatically in your camera, including Focus.  The Auto-Focus on modern DSLR cameras is really excellent and there are only a few times when it doesn’t work well.  (If you are shooting in low light for example or trying to photograph through glass)

So I prefer to always shoot in Auto-Focus as I trust my camera more than my eyes!

Semi-Manual Modes

So we’ve established that in Full Manual you are in control of all three exposure variables – Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO.  The other modes in the creative zone let you control some of the settings whilst the camera controls the others.

Mode Dial

In Av, A or Aperture Priority Mode YOU control the Aperture and the camera sets the Shutter Speed to compensate.  You also can control the ISO or leave it to Auto in this mode.

In Tv, S or Shutter Priority Mode, YOU control the shutter speed and the camera sets the corresponding Aperture. You can also set the ISO in this mode.

In Program Auto you can only control the combination of the the  values, you cannot change each one independently, but you can still control the ISO.

So you see there are many steps from that little Green Box of Full Auto to Full Manual. Don’t frustrate yourself by jumping in the deep end too soon and just keep shooting and paying attention to the numbers and you’ll get there eventually.

Happy snapping

Ingrid Owens CameraShy

CameraShy Q and A: Can I get a Shallow Depth of Field with a Compact Camera?

Get all your photography questions answered live each Tuesday In cameraShy Q and A with Ingrid Owens.  No such thing as a stupid question - beginners welcome!Welcome to my first ever live Hangout on Air! Check out the video below to see me doing my very first live broadcast – not the best quality but I’m so impressed by the technology – and its totally free!

In this series I’m planning on answering any of your photography questions in a (mostly) live Google Hangout every Tuesday morning about 11am EST – CameraShy Q & A .  Email me your question if you’d like or show up live and we can chat about it!

This week’s question was from regular blog reader Jackie – click on the video to hear her Q and my A!

To get an invite to the next hangout be sure to follow me on Google +.

Happy snapping


Slow Shutter Speed – When should you use one?

Slow Shutter speedIn my last video I talked about using Shutter Priority Mode on your DSLR or Bridge camera and stepping further out of the automatic settings.  In this video I talk about some of the scenarios when you might want to consider using shutter priority mode and slow shutter speeds.


Let me know in the comments below if you have tried playing with slow shutter speeds on your camera – it’s a LOT of fun!

Happy snapping!



P.S. If you would like to learn more about your DSLR I’ve opened up my “DeMystify your DSLR” – Beginners Photography course. Your camera is waiting on you to make the most of it! Click here for more information.

Shutter Priority Mode – What is it?


Shutter Priority Mode-What does it do

Ever wondered why you would use Shutter Priority Mode on your DSLR , advanced compact or bridge camera?  In this video I’ll explain a little about why you would use it and where you’ll find it!  


Do you use Shutter Priority Mode?

Tell me why in the comments below!

Happy Snapping



P.S. If you’d like to learn more about Shutter Priority Mode and all the other Modes that wonderful camera of yours has to offer, check out my Master your DSLR online course, now open for new registrants.


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