Digital cameras have a variety of shooting or scene modes, which are optimised for specific scenes and automatically select focus and exposure. Some cameras offer shutter priority or aperture priority. Shutter and aperture are the two most important manual controls on your camera and when you become more familiar with their effects on an image, you may want to explore the possibilities these two modes offer.
It is worth taking the time to study the scene modes available on your camera and experimenting to see the difference with the modes on or off. It will also give you a feel for adjusting the settings on your camera (camera permitting) so you gain greater technical control.
Your camera may have some of the following scene modes:
Backlight - eliminates dark shadows when light is coming from behind a subject, or when the subject is in the shade. The built-in flash automatically fires to "fill in" the shadows.
Beach/Snow - photograph beach, snow and sunlit water scenes. Exposure and white balance are set to help prevent the scene from becoming washed out looking.
Fireworks - shutter speed and exposure are set for shooting fireworks; pre-focusing and use of tripod recommended.
Landscape - take photos of wide scenes which maximises depth of field by setting a small aperture of f11 to f16. Camera automatically focuses on a distant object.
Macro - take close-up shots of small objects, flowers and insects. Lens can be moved closer to the subject than in other modes. Hold the camera steady or use a tripod. A close up lens is still required.
Night Portrait - take photos of a subject against a night scene. The built-in flash and red-eye reduction are enabled; shutter-speeds are low. Use of tripod recommended.
Night Scene - photograph nightscapes which are pre-programmed to use slow shutter speeds. Use of tripod recommended.
Panning - "freeze" the action of a subject, such as a runner or moving car, while blurring the background to give the "feel" of motion. Pre-focus on a point where the subject will come, track the subject smoothly with the camera and depress the shutter-release button while still moving the camera. You can also use burst mode while panning.
Panorama - obtain extra wide vistas; take a series of shots then stitch them together with software to make a single photo.
Party mode - take photos in a dim lit room; exposure and shutter speed are automatically adjusted for room brightness. Captures indoor background lighting or candlelight. Hold the camera very steady when using this mode.
Portrait - main subject is clearly focused and the background is out of focus (has less depth of field) by choosing a large aperture to keep the background out of focus and direct attention to your subject. Stand close to your subject and, when possible, select an uncomplicated background that is far from the subject.
Sports - take photos of a fast moving subject; selects fast shutter speeds to "freeze" the action. Best when shots are taken in bright light; pre-focusing is recommended.
Sunset - take photos of sunsets and sunrises; helps keep the deep hues in the scene.