Escape The Green Zone and Grow

by | Dec 21, 2017

Frustrated? Intimidated? Confused? Don’t be, here’s what you need to know…

I really felt a need to do a quick post so I could reference it for those who contact me looking for guidance and knowledge. I teach lots and lots of private photo workshops to both beginning and advanced photographers. A commonality among beginning photography students is simply being overwhelmed by the cameras manual and settings and being stuck in “the green zone” which I really feel prohibits their growth as a photographer. It’s kind of like wanting to be a painter, but you never venture further than a Painting By Numbers set.

paint by numbers

Taking pictures in the “Green Zone” and wanting your photography to improve is like wanting to be a great painter but you won’t go beyond painting by numbers.

Don’t get me wrong, the AUTO MODE on your camera will render a good average image most of the time without you having the need of any knowledge what so ever. The catch is, I did say Average. The second catch is, since the camera is making all the decisions in a split second for every picture its not repeatable so when you do get a great image chances are it will be difficult for you to do it again if any one of the elements in the situation change even a little bit. That’s pretty frustrating for sure.

The premise of most of my photography instruction is that it is not really that complicated once you understand some basic concepts of your camera. After that, the camera does and excellent job of taking reasonably good images so you can focus on the fun part, your creativity and self expression.

So once you understand some of these basic principles outlined below you can let your inner self out and REALLY START TO HAVE FUN WITH PHOTOGRAPHY.

There are two paths to creating compelling images and having an understanding of both are necessary. Technical and Creative.

Contrary to popular belief, the technical part is the easiest. The creative component is partially genetic and the balance comes from experience and your overall love for self expression. I’m really only exploring a list of the technical components in this post.

Three basic functions of your camera

Your Camera’s Basic Functions:

1. Aperture

2. Shutter Speed

3. ISO

(image here)

Simply put, aperture is how much light your lens lets through to expose your image. Shutter speed is how fast (or slow) your camera lets that light come through and ISO is simply your camera’s sensitivity to that light. Each one of these settings affects the other.

Your Camera’s Three Important Settings to Understand:

1. Metering Modes (evaluative, center weighted or spot). And then exposure compensation later on.

2. Focus Modes (continuous or single)

3. Shooting Modes (Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual). The rest of the programable modes you can forget about.

The metering modes tell the camera how much light to let in for a predictable exposure. You see I said predictable as opposed to correct? Correct is in eyes of the beholder. The focus mode determines how your camera focus on the subject so you don’t have to do it manually, but you can if you want to. And finally the shooting modes are pretty simple and somewhat self explanatory.

Once you have a basic understanding of these three basic functions and three basic camera settings you are on your way with much more confidence. The creativity part is up to you and your experience.

If you want to fast track either your technical skills outlined above or your creativity consider one of my Private Photography Workshops as we can really focus on what you really need to work on in a way that best suits your learning style.

Now go have fun.

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About the author Perry Johnson
Perry Johnson is classically trained commercial photographer and graphic designer with over 30 years experience. He initially crafted his skills at the École Supérieure Des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse in France. Over the years Perry has taught countless photography workshops and courses to individuals, groups and business including Target Corp., Lockheed Martin, Johnson Outdoors, Enza-Zaden and more. Perry’s commercial photography clients include Darden Restaurants, Marriott Corp, Visit Florida, Food & Wine Magazine, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau to name just a few. Perry owns a marketing communications firm named Imagica ( This boutique agency offers a fully integrated menu of marketing services for business that includes photography, website design, graphic design, advertising, strategy, social media, public relations and more. It’s this current and diverse experience from the “outside in” that gives a unique perspective on the power of photography to inspire, motivate and tell a story.

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