Say NO To Auto Book Review & Giveaway

One of the most common questions, or shall I say fears, that I hear from people is that they’re terrified of putting their camera on manual.

That little M on the wheel.  Yeah that.  It seems to scare tons of people.  And it used to scare me.  But it doesn’t have to.

Up until very recently I was scared of Manual, too.

But when I went to Food & Light, I forced myself to keep my camera on Manual for the entire trip and just Do It.


And I’m so happy I stepped way outside of my comfort zone and just took the Manual Plunge because look at this post with my favorite images from the workshop

And no, it’s not always easy to shoot Manual!

I still have my challenging moments like at San Diego Cityfest this past weekend.

Extremely bright mid-day sunlight, lots of people, fast-paced action and trying to figure out how to get my pictures from being overexposed, in focus, and looking respectable was a big challenge!

My suggestions:

If you shoot Canon, don’t be afraid to take your camera off P (full auto) and try out some Av (aperture priority) or Tv (shutter priority)

And when you’re feeling brave, try M (manual)

I’m not sure what the corresponding letters are if you shoot Nikon but we all know what Manual means and how to avoid it find it.

My next suggestion is Kristen Duke’s book, Say NO To Auto

In just 17 pages, Kristen covered tons of information! She struck a wonderful balance of keeping the information simple and basic and without getting so technical that your eyes glaze over.  Yet she didn’t dumb things down, either.

I have posted before on how camera settings and numbers tend to be like 7th grade algebra class for me.  Kristen’s book gives you what you need to know in a very streamlined format.

She also gives real values and numbers for settings.

Most photography books or information you find online skirt around actually giving out settings and numbers by saying, well every situation is different and therefore it’s impossible to give generic ISO or aperture/f stop or shutter speed settings.  There are no universals so to speak.

I do agree with that to a point, and yes although every situation is different and as you progress in your photography and comfort level with your camera and shooting manual, you will tweak and adapt things on your own and won’t follow a cheat sheet.

But when you are just starting out and trying to take the training wheels off and are ditching the Auto settings, sometimes a cheat sheet with real values is important.

Such as, if you’re shooting one person vs. a group, the weather is sunny vs. cloudy, and you are shooting someone standing still vs. moving, this is a good jumping off place for your settings.  <— worth it’s weight in gold!

For that reason alone, buy this book!

Or buy it in e-book format!

Because the proof is in the pudding (unedited pictures using auto and using manual settings)

Look left, look right.  Enough said.

For all the Point and Shoot users, or DSLR users who are scared of anything other than Auto, I want to reiterate this point which I have said many times in the past:

It’s not about the camera you use so much as it’s about:


(Food) Styling & Composition, i.e. setting up your shot

And not being afraid to try new things

All a DSLR is going to do is capture your efforts in higher resolution and detail.  So make sure you’re paying attention to the details; the way the shot is set up, staged, and composed before you get bogged down in anything else such as the settings on your camera.

I have lots of Photography Tips, Tricks, Book Reviews, Food Styling Tips, and more in my Photography Section.

But once you’re ready to take the training wheels off and give Manual a try, you should buy the book!  $10 for e-book or $20 for hardback

Want to try to Win a copy of the book?

To Enter the Giveaway:

1. If you shoot with a DSLR, do you shoot Manual?  If not, why not?  What is your biggest challenge/fear/hurdle with either shooting manually or with your photography in general?

Please be specific.

2. For a second entry, Twitter Follow Me and then tweet the following:

“I am Saying NO to Auto on my Camera and entered to win @LoveVeggiesYoga Book Giveaway”

3. For a third, fourth, or fifth entry, do one or more of these things and leave a separate comment for each (that’s five total chances to enter)

Facebook Like Me, Facebook Like Kristen Duke Photography, Subscribe to Kristen’s RSS Feed/Put her blog in your Google Reader, Stumble Follow Me & Stumble It, Pinterest Follow MeInstagram Follow Me, or post this Giveaway on your blog.

Contest will run until Friday, August 19, 2011 and winner will randomly be chosen and announced.

Open to All!


  1. I will shoot manual sometimes if I’m at home or playing around, but I confess that when I’m on vacation/trips or somewhere where getting the shot is super important to me I use auto. I’m not familiar enough with the settings to be able to get a good shot in 2 takes, and when I travel I don’t want to spend 15 mins on one shot, changing settings to see what works. I also don’t want to risk messing up and not getting the shot at all, if it’s something I’ll never see again or a place I may never be again. I’m a little embarrassed about this, but I’m working on it!

  2. I’ve never even thought to shoot anything but Auto. Mostly, that’s because I don’t know what any of the other settings mean. This book would help me immensely!

  3. I enjoy your photography posts so much and this book sounds fantastic!!!
    I am shooting with my DSLR, but I find it difficult to shoot outside, specifically festivals like you said, where there is a lot going on and I think it´s hard to capture a good moment (photo) that is not blurry and with a lightning that is off! I have been using M, but I am going trial and error… not so successful sometimes, so this book definitely comes in handy, as I really want to improve my photography skills!!

  4. i do not have a dslr but my biggest challenge with my point and shoot is LIGHTING. through trial and error, i am learning that most often, the flash is not necessary. it’s fun to discover “a-ha” moments where a photo turns out better than i thought!
    “…tend(s) to be like 7th grade algebra class…” – > quick sidenote! interesting how math plays a role in photography, something we would consider an artistic pursuit. i can relate that to knitting – more math involved than you may think!
    thanks for the giveaway!

  5. I don’t have a dslr,I am planning to buy one,most of the time I go for auto mode as I feel if I change the setting the photo gets distorted,or the pic is not that good,.I guess I need to spend more time with my camera,further images are not good night time,this book sounds cool,,,will check it out

  6. I try to always shoot manual. Since I’m new to DSLR shooting, I figured it was the best way for me to learn the ins and outs of my camera! However, I will get frustrated every now and then when I use manual and the photos look like crap, and switch to auto out of desperation. I wish I didn’t! This book looks like heaven! My biggest hurdle is my lack of patience. ;)

  7. I like you on facebook!

  8. I like Kristen on facebook!

  9. I tweeted! (@shayquig) Boy I really want to win ;)

  10. That sounds like a great book…love that she gives the settings!


  11. I love talking photography… I shoot with a DSLR and almost entirely in manuel. I finally committed to myself this summer to not take it off manuel, and all those numbers and letters finally made sense after just doing it! My biggest struggle right now is trying to find “my style”. I look at blog after blog with beautiful photos, all of them SO different and I love them all… sometimes I try to make my photos more like so- and so’s or someone elses but I’m trying to settle in to my own style more. Ahhh I just love all the endless possibilities with photography and how its challenged me and allowed me to be creative.

  12. I have a Fuji DSLR and I love the quality of the pictures it produces. I haven’t had enough time to play around with it properly though yet.

  13. Awesome giveaway! I have a new point-and-shoot with many dSLR-like functions, so I’ve been trying to use Manual more often. I’d love a quick reference guide for how to best use it, though!

  14. I now subscribe to Kristen’s feed.

  15. I’d love to be able to shoot in manual, but what holds me back is that when in auto I end up with better results! Hoping to change that soon – the book looks great and I love your photography posts!

  16. I also liked Kristen on Facebook

  17. I always shoot in Manual, and usually raw. I love the ability to edit everything. Lightroom has been so helpful.

  18. I have to confess that I shoot Auto. The little M totally freaks me out and on the rare occasion that I switch to Manual, I feel completely out of my league. This is an awesome giveaway, but even if I don’t win, I’m buying the book!

  19. Because I travel so much, I’m afraid of missing a once-in-a-lifetime shot by bungling it with using manual. I’ve really wanted to make the switch to manual, but I can never get the aperture setting to work how I want–it *never* focuses on what I want it to, and by the time I think I might have figure out the setting, the shot is over. This book would be amazing for helping me figure out how to solve that problem!

  20. Lol, i’m totally stuck on P! I need to be braver but i’m considering moving to nikon so my boyfriend and i can share lenses as they are so flipping expensive :P and i’m scared to learn about one brand and then switch to another
    Love the tips though, thanks!!!

  21. I love my DSLR, but I must admit I don’t know much about photography at all. I usually use auto because I don’t know what any of the numbers mean. Shutter speed and aperture are particularly confusing to me! I would love to be able to understand it all better and to shoot better pictures! :)

  22. I do shoot with a DSLR, but I’m on serious Auto pilot. I really want to take a class or something, but perhaps this book would be a great start! I know I’m not using my (or my camera’s) full potential and this needs to be remedied!

  23. Lately I have been working only on Aperture and Manual modes. Surprisingly I havente tried Auto mode at all on my DSLR which is just 2 months old. My biggest challenge is to remember all the different setting I need to make. When I get one shot right and move on to another, I am totally confused what all changes need to be made to make the next picture perfect. I am learning but I guess this thing will always challenge me.

  24. When I got my DSLR I refused to put it in Auto and starting shooting in full manual from the get-go which I think really helped! I find it easy to figure out the best settings when it’s food photography or something that’s not moving. It’s times when I’m out and about that I actually find the hardest to shoot b/c I’m faced with time constraints. I would love to start to “learn” to associate certain elements with different settings to make this more second nature. Right now, the only things that I feel I “know” are ISO and aperture as they relate to light and focus but I know there is more to learn!

  25. I just very recently starting playing around with my manual setting. It has taken me almost 2 years of having this camera (I have an Olympus) to get there, so I’ve worked at a snail pace. The thing holding me back the most is time to learn about it. I have sooo much more to learn and would love this book!

  26. I don’t have a DSLR, but my biggest photography pet peeve in general is my camera being to slow to caputure what I want when it’s in motion. For example, the cat might look just right in this scratching pose, so I try to take a picture, but the camera only captures the cat after it’s done scratching and is getting out in an awkward blur.

  27. I use a completely manual camera and love it!

  28. And I liked Kristen!

  29. Michele Williams Reply

    Yes, I have a DSLR and try to shoot on manual, but that requires me to use my brain, and sometimes I”m lazy so I slide it over to the evil green setting.

  30. Michele Williams Reply

    I like Kristin Duke Photography on Facebook

  31. Michele Williams Reply

    I Facebook like you!!

  32. I do shoot manual from time to time, whenever I have the time to really get into photographing. I like to ‘play’ with the different possibilities and see which ones work best in what condition (sunny/cloudy, noon/evening, inside/outside, …). I think the biggest challenge is to just know which shutterspeed or aperture works best on that exact moment, context, … immediately. It’s difficult, even when I’m working on it for some time. So when I see something that’s worth it to be captured but there are only some moments left, I use P, just because it’s so fast. I already tried with M but there were some times that the picture wasn’t good from the first or second try and by the third try the ‘moment’ was gone…

  33. I already follow you on twitter and tweeted about this wonderful give-away!

  34. I liked Kristen’s photography on facebook.

  35. I don’t have a dslr camera simply because, until recently, I haven’t had the need. I shoot manual all the time on my Canon Powershot and I get pretty good pics. I’m excited to upgrade to a dslr now that I have learned to use my point and shoot at its maximum capacity.

  36. I thnk my fear of manual just comes from the unknown. You know, like making yeast bread for the first time or making things that sound fancy like crepes or frittatas, but are really not. I just need that extra push methinks. Maybe if I win the book I can leave my manual using self in the dust.

    PS I thought I was being fancy playing with the aperture ;)

  37. I usually don’t shoot with manual, especially when photographing food inside – the lighting in my kitchen is soooo bad (need to fix this soon!), and it gets frustrating getting one blurry and out-of-focus image after another, that most times I just have enough and switch to auto (gasp!), with a flash.
    I would LOVE to win this book!

  38. Subscribed to Kristen’s RSS Feed

  39. Instagram following you (on my boyfriend’s account)

  40. And I’m pinterest following you :)

  41. Ha ha! If I’m sitting at home taking photos, I’ve started moving away from the auto settings. But when I’m out and about, I’ll leave it on auto because it takes me too long to figure out what manual setting I should be on.

  42. I also added Kristen’s blog to my feed reader!

  43. I play around with my settings, but it is SOO hard for me to get a good picture of my daughter who moves SO fast. I have GOT to learn how to that better :) Great giveaway..and as always your pictures are beautiful!!

  44. I shoot with a camera that is in between a P&S and a DSLR – the settings are like a DSLR (AV, P, M, S, some built-in modes), but the lens is not removeable. You can adjust the ISO and exposure and things like that too. I think the only reason it is technically still called a P&S is because of the lens.

    I would LOVE to win this book! My biggest challenge, really, is time. Finding the time to spend learning and practicing. Time….its always the hurdle!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *