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 don’t have a DSLR, but that is definitely on my wishlist!

  2. This is awesome!! And probably exactly what I need. I usually shoot in aperture priority mode, but not full on manual. My biggest challenges right now are definitely styling and composition and lighting. I think part of my lighting issue is the lack of great lighting in my house, but maybe this can help!

  3. I bought a Nikon D40 about 2 years ago, but have not had the time to “really” use it. My husband says I should have just gotten a small point and shoot, but one of these days…. We went to the coast last weekend and it was really overcast and there wasn’t enough light and when it was on manual I kept hitting the button and it wouldn’t take, so I started playing around with all the different settings and finally took a few pictures, but I really need to learn what all those little icons are. Your pictures are amazing. Some of the flowers really pop at you. Great job Averie!

  4. One day I just picked up my boyfriends’ camera and started playing around with it. It was set to M… so that’s how I learned. I didn’t know there was anything different for months! Now when I’m outside I like to shoot in TV. Love the information in this post :)… and I hope I win :P

  5. Oh my goodness, I totally need this book! I’m terrified of shooting manual!!

    I’ve had my DSLR for a little less than a year now, and I love the way my photos turn out with the auto-function and my new 50mm lens, compared to my old point-and-shoot. I think I’m scared to use the manual function because I don’t want to “miss” a good shot! The auto just seems like the safer option, so my photos won’t be blurry or poorly lit. (even though I’m sure my photos could turn out better if I learned how to use manual!)

  6. Just tweeted about the giveaway, too!

  7. Manual is so very intimidating to me! I have two sweet and active little boys, and it seems that the moment I was trying to capture has all but disappeared by the time I find the manual setting that will work for it. So, I stick to auto, but with full intent of using manual…does that make sense?

  8. I just ‘liked’ you on facebook. Why didn’t I know you were on fb before???

  9. I just ‘liked’ Kristen Duke Photography on fb too!

  10. I tend to shoot manual when I’m playing around, and then when I see a really cool shot, I get all nervous and shoot one or two manual and then a bunch of auto “just in case”. I need some tips to ditch this tendency.

  11. It took me a long time to start shooting on manual.. lately I’ve been shooting with my D 40 and kit lens.. (my camera is broken.. uuugghh.. very stressed about that).. My “good” camera is only a D90 and I shoot all my magazine work with that.. and I’ve had it for years… so it’s fun to go back to my D 40 and play with the manual settings and 18-55 and see that I can get close to the same results.

    Yay for photography! I love watching your work grow by leaps and bounds.. you are AWESOME!! your passion is infectious!

  12. Pingback: Thrifting & Browsing

  13. i primarily shoot manual. i love having as much control of the outcome of my photos as possible. i remember once being afraid to shoot in manual because it was simply too intimidating. thankfully, my sweet hubby has taught me everything he knows and has encouraged me to get out of my silly comfort zone.
    hmmm….my biggest hurdle with my photography is my lack of the ever growing money tree in my backyard. photography, is by far, my most expensive obsession. but worth every penny.

  14. i tweeted the giveaway!

  15. i follow on pinterest.

  16. added her blog to my google reader..

  17. That’s a really awesome sounding book! I try to shoot manual as often as possible, I’ve taken a couple workshops, but definitely don’t know all the tips and tricks to produce anything really good! I guess the reason why I don’t is because it often seems to get really overwhelming really quickly, all the buttons and settings and what not, but I’m sure I just need to sit down and learn for real. The results are always so much more amazing! Thanks for the giveaway :)

  18. I follow you on facebook!

  19. And you’re a lovely addition to my Google Reader :)

  20. I got a DSLR for Christmas and love it, but am pretty lost! Besides just pretending it’s a really big and pretty point & shoot. Heh.

    Would LOVE that book to help. I got the Canon for Dummies blah blah blah book, but one page in and knowing there were 3939843 to go and I felt like even more of a dummy! 17 pages is much more my speed to not feel overwhelmed and frustrated!

  21. i blogged about your giveaway!

  22. I use manual most of the time. If I’m not sure what to set it on, I’ll often take a photo in auto and see what settings it used and start there. It’s a lot of fun to see how different the photos look when you use a different fstop/shutter speed combo!

  23. Manual can be a scary thing, I’ve been learning more about my camera and photography in baby steps. Interesting on the book, I need to check that out.

    1. Sometimes and I’m getting better with it. When I’m walking around snapping quick photos, I don’t.

  24. I ALWAYS shoot in manual! It was scary at first, but now that I’ve got it down, it’s SO worth it. The biggest challenge for me is choosing a shutter speed that doesn’t blow out the background and make the focus of the photo too dark. Every photo is unique and sometimes it takes a little fiddling to get the right exposure. Thank goodness for post-processing!

  25. i am scared of shooting on manual. i just got my dslr in may and feel sort of overwhelmed by the process of learning. but i’m trying to remind myself that it’s a process and that not every shot has to be perfect!

  26. O! I love shooting with that “M”. It’s a lot of fun twisting my dials around. But I know there is SO much that I don’t know about my camera and what it can do for me…I wanna know mooorrreee!

  27. I try to shoot my pictures of food on manual, or Aperture or Shutter Speed Priority. Sometimes of its a pic for the blog that I want to capture in a sec and its does not require particular beauty I then use Auto. However, I would say 90 – 95% of my photos (successful and otherwise), are on manual!

    Thank you for sharing the info!

  28. I shoot on manual mainly because I don’t know what I’m doing. We bought a new camera recently without a clue how to use it…still don’t. I just turn the dial and hope I get something semi decent. I try and pick up tips here and there, but a book would be very helpful. With practice I am confident I will get better results!

  29. I shoot aperture priority but now I am wondering if manual is the way to go…. thankfully I know my way around the camera. :)

  30. The farthest I got from automatic shooting was getting a 50mm lense and altering the aperture. I ended up with 1 amazing photo and have been never able recreate it. Therefore, I have been sticking to my point and shoot. If I understood how to set it up I would practice it more. Now I am just shoooting blind.

  31. Facebook like you!

  32. Facebook like Kristin!

  33. Pinterest follow you!

  34. I pretty much always shoot manual. Is it always good? Heck no! But it makes me learn and adjust things as needed. Definitely the hardest is taking pics of my non stop 2.5 year old!!

  35. i’m always afraid that my own eyes are failing me… like I could get a sharper image, but my own eyesight is hindering me!

  36. Ohh, I would like to win it. I am shooting in manual. But tips are still welcomed.

  37. I am following you instagram

  38. I am liking you on FB

  39. and following you on pinterest

  40. I follow you on twitter

  41. I like you on Facebook

  42. I would like to win this for my friend who loves photography

  43. I only recently got my DSLR and I promised myself I would not use the Auto – I figured that would force me to learn more about the ins and outs of my camera . . . WRONG! I failed miserably! I was so excited to start using it I went the easy route and have been using Auto ever since :(

Leave a Reply

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