Understanding Portrait Mode on Digital Cameras

Beginners can quickly and easily learn to take great portraits using the portrait mode setting on their digital camera. Using an automatic mode will allow beginning photographers to focus their attention on the subject, without the added distraction of trying to remember or figure out proper camera settings.

How to Use Portrait Mode

Digital camera manufactures make using automatic modes as simple as possible. Most cameras allow photographers to change between automatic modes by turning a dial on the top of the camera. Portrait mode is usually depicted by a figure with its head turned to the side.

Why Use Portrait Mode?

A well composed portrait focuses on a single subject with minimum distractions from the background. Portrait mode automatically sets the camera to have a larger aperture (narrow depth of field), so that background objects stay out of focus and do not compete with the main subject.

When to Use Portrait Mode

Portrait mode is the ideal setting for capturing shots with a single person or object as the main subject. Portrait mode operates best when used for a single subject. The photographer should fill most of the frame with the subject by stepping in closer or zooming in. The camera's flash can be used to minimize shadows or help compensate for less than ideal lighting conditions.

Experiment with Manual Settings

Portrait mode allows beginning photographers to learn the basic techniques and settings for shooting portraits. By setting the camera to portrait mode and observing how the camera adjusts the settings in various situations, the beginning  photographer can have a starting point for experimenting with aperture settings in semi-automatic modes or manual modes. More control over the camera's settings will provide the photographer with greater opportunities to create unique and creative portraits.

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