It’s my mission this year to help you become a better photographer for your family and we’re starting with Canon camera modes. You deserve to have great photos to look back on and cherish as your family grows up. I’m teaming up with Canon again to teach you everything I know–Or close to it. So if there’s something you have a question about ask and I’ll be sure to address it in an upcoming post!
Also, in a few weeks I’m going to be at the B&H Event Space in New York City giving a presentation about just that! If you’re in the area I’d love it if you stopped by, or if not, tune in because it’ll be live streamed!
Ok, so you’ve decided you really want to get better at photography, and you’re wanting to finally switch out of auto mode. What next? Canon Camera Modes!
On a Canon, scene intelligent auto is great for guessing the best settings for your moment. But learning your settings and switching to manual can make a huge difference.
It can be intimidating to switch to full manual mode (where you have control over all of your camera settings) all at once. But there are some other Canon camera modes in between that can help you get that perfect photo. There are a dozen modes on an EOS Rebel T7i and that alone can be intimidating. I’m going to highlight 5 favorites I have and work you through how to use them.
SCN (Special Scene Mode)
Similar to full-auto except in this mode you can pick a specific scenario you’re shooting in. Taking a group photo? A picture of your child blowing out his birthday candles? A night portrait or a picture of the delicious meal you just made? These special scene options automatically choose the best settings for your situation. It’s kind of like a more specific auto-mode.
Make sure you pay attention to your camera settings in each of these different modes. That way you’ll get an idea of how to fix your settings when you’re ready to move to full manual mode.
You’ll want to switch to this mode if you want to… You guessed it, take portraits. It makes your subject stand out against a shallow depth of field (a blurred background) and creates smoother skin tones and softer hair. Great for beginners if you’re just wanting to shoot portraits. But if you think you’ll be switching back and forth between photographing portraits of your kids and your kids doing other things, I’d suggest using the next mode to photograph.
AV (Aperture Priority Mode)
This is the Canon camera mode I switched to from auto when I was ready to step up my photography a little bit, but not ready to go to full-on auto. It allows you to set the aperture (f-stop) and automatically takes care of the rest. With the aperture you can decide how much or how little depth (or blur) you’d like in the background of your photos.
The higher the number the less background blur you’ll have. The smaller the number, the less depth you’ll have. Decide how much of the background you want to see and set your f-stop accordingly. The photo on the left I shot at f/1.4 the photo on the right was shot at f/11.
TV (Shutter Priority Mode)
This is a great Canon camera mode to switch to when you’re wanting to create a certain look for things in motion. A waterfall for example can be frozen with a higher shutter speed, seeing more of the droplets and stream of water. Or you can use a slower shutter speed and make it look like a smooth, rushing stream.
When it comes to photographing your kids–Riding a bike, or running for example. If you want to freeze them in motion, and capture them in a sharp image, you’ll use a higher shutter speed. If you’re purposely wanting to blur them a little bit–Capturing the motion, you’ll want to use a slower shutter speed. So in the photos below, on the left I used a shutter speed of 1/80. And the photo on the right was shot at 1/4000.
Canon Camera Modes: Program AE Mode
All of these different settings we’ve been discussing–Aperture, shutter speed (and ISO), together determine your exposure, which is how bright your photo is going to be. Personally I like my photos to be ever so slightly over exposed. In this mode you get to decide your preferred exposure level, and your camera takes care of the rest. I usually set mine to be about +⅓ or +2/3 . I’ll take a test shot, see if I like how bright it is, and adjust as necessary. The nice thing about this mode is if you’re moving in and out of shadowy areas, or areas where the light drastically changes, your camera’s settings will automatically regulate.
Press and hold the +/- exposure button and roll the shutter wheel to set your preferred exposure level. Note that the higher that number goes, the brighter or over exposed the photo will be. The lower, the darker. You want to be around the 0, just above, or just below.
The great thing is once you master the latter three modes you’re pretty much ready to switch to full manual. Then you can take full control over your settings. I like to set my aperture first depending on how much depth I want, then my ISO and last my shutter speed, keeping note to where that exposure meter is falling.
If you’re more of a visual person, I’ve created a video detailing the differences between these Canon camera modes.
From birthdays to family vacations, to holidays and more, I’ve teamed up with Canon again this year to share how we capture the moments we cherish most. I’m also dishing out tips to help you better photograph your special moments with your family. Shout out to my favorite camera brand for sponsoring this series.