Most digital cameras, from point and shoot models to dSLRs, have different camera modes or programs available to you. Now that we have learned a few of the basics, I am going to give you a quick run down of what these modes actually do to your pictures. Then you can better choose when to use them.Portrait (usually depicted by a head or person): Remember depth of field? This mode usually throws the background behind your subject out of focus (narrow depth of field) and sets the flash to red-eye reduction. The out of focus background is less distracting and brings more attention to the person.
Landscape (usually depicted by a mountain): This mode gives you a wide depth of field, bringing everything into sharp focus, including things far away. Some cameras increase the vividness of colors to add ooomph to the landscape.
Macro (usually depicted by a flower): This mode is for close-ups. You get wide depth of field (you need a deep range of sharpness when you get in really close) and higher shutter speeds (which means the picture is taken faster and you have less change to shake the camera and blur your pic). Your camera will also try to focus on what is close to the camera.
Sports (usually depicted by a guy running): The mode also takes "fast pictures" (the shutter speed will be as high/fast as possible (more on this later)) in order to freeze the action and minimize blur. For those who know what I'm talking about... you will also get higher ISO settings, which may mean grainier pictures in lower light situations.
Night (usually depicted by a person with a star or moon behind): This mode takes "sloooowwwer pictures" (slow shutter speeds - the camera takes a longer time taking the picture). All motion while the camera is taking a picture is recorded (and causes blur), which means that it is important to keep the camera steady! The camera shutter stays open longer to capture more light, because nighttime is dark.
Night Portrait or Slow Sinc Flash (look in your manual to see if you have this and where to find it): This combines the slow shutter speed (see Night Mode above) with a red eye flash, to illuminate your subject and keep them sharply in focus. Still keep the camera steady! The flash is quick but the shutter still stays open longer, allowing chance for motion blur.
And lets not forget our best friend... AUTO or PROGRAM MODE. These modes are the newbie's best friend. When in doubt, don't mess about: Use AUTO. Auto is a good all-around choice and the camera's computer will do its best to figure out what settings you need in any given situation.
I suggest practicing with each of these modes and seeing what they do for you. There are also my personal favourites, Aperture-priority mode and Shutter-priority mode but I will save those for a more advanced lesson (if you'd really like to know or have any questions, comment or email me! I'd be happy to share).
9 DAYS left in the contest!!! Post those pics! Can't wait to see them :-)