If all else fails, put it in full auto mode and just shoot. I hear this from a lot of pros out there and it is frightening. Here is the issue: when you do not exercise a muscle it becomes weak. If you use crutches you will never be able to run. I think you get it. For those of you who know how to fully manipulate your camera by telling it what to do and not the other way around, my advice is to do just that. For those of you who do not understand manual operation… the only way you will get better at it (or even start to understand it) is to put your camera in “M” mode and start shooting. See what your camera does. Try to get a good exposure by checking your histograms (NOT YOUR LCD IMAGE!) Once you have a good exposure mess with the aperture and shutter speed to see what they do. Here are some starting points for you newbies:
Aperture (f-stop) = how big the hole is that lets light in
Controls Depth of Field (DoF)
The bigger the hole, the smaller the f number(f/5.6, f/4.0, f/2.8), the shallower the depth of field (less in focus from foreground to background from point of focus). The smaller the hole, the bigger the number (f/16, f/22) the more will be in focus from foreground to background from the point of focus. The below shot was taken at f/1.4
Shutter Speed = how long the shutter is open to let light in
The longer the shutter is open (1/60, 1/30, 1/15), the more motion blur you will get. Conversely, the faster it is the more you will be able to stop motion (1/125, 1/250, 1/500) The below was shot at 1/3 sec. with a flash exposure to stop some of the motion. This is called Tungsten Blur. (More on that later.)
Here is a simple guide to industry standard full stops of exposure for both Aperture and Shutter Speed. Each number represents a “stop” of light exposure. A “stop” means doubling the amount. For example, f/4.0 lets in twice as much light as f/5.6 and a 250th of a second (1/250) lets in half as much light as a 125th (1/125).