Posted by Glyn Wade



It’s where we begin and where a lot of new and prospective members tell me they want to get away from. In fact it’s where Claire and I began and why we took a course….and then another course at Burslem college. We wanted to do more than use our camera (we shared one then) on something other than AUTO.

So to a lot of you, AUTO is a dirty word. Getting away from it allows you to make your pictures more how you would like rather than letting the camera decide. You can alter your depth of field, use long exposures, blur things, make things sharper etc etc. It’s nice to be in control of what you’re doing although I bet some of you would rather your car would drive itself sometimes so you could have a little nap.

BUT….picture this….you’re in an amazing room and you don’t have long as there are lots of people passing through…the decoration inside the room is from the 16th century and is both stunning and still in stunning condition. Suddenly there is a gap in the crowd and a small child bursts through the barrier and stands in front of a painting. The young girl in the painting is holding a red balloon and is crying. The young girl standing in front is shouted at by her Mum. She turns round and starts to cry but holds firmly onto her red balloon.

You have maybe a second to capture this moment. Do you fiddle around with your settings….hmmm, it’s a bit dark in here….best bump up the ISO, I need to get the painting in focus as well as the girl so maybe an aperture of about 11…..shutter speed….erm…..damn. The girl has come back to her Mum, the crowds have crowded as crowds do. The shot has gone.

Maybe if you’d just whizzed that dial round to AUTO and taken the shot you’d be a shoe-in for POTM….



When I was on holiday recently I got ill and when I did manage to drag myself out of my bed I was pretty weak through more having come out of me than I was taking in. It was hard enough work walking round let alone going into places and taking photographs in the extreme heat. When we popped into churches hewn out of rock and underground cities I needed to take the pictures quick so I could lean against something or find somewhere to sit down. I really didn’t feel like fiddling with settings. So what did I do? Yes, I used AUTO.

Example 3. David Cameron turns up to camera club one week. The room is darkened as Dave Chadwick is doing his presentation on his trip to Clacton-on-Sea. Mr Cameron has heard about our little club and wants to privatise it by selling out to a bunch of Tory bankers. I’ve heard about this and he comes up to me to shake my hand. I slap his hand away when he tries to shake my hand and tell him to get the hell out of our club.

You have a camera with you. This shot could make the front of tomorrow’s papers and make us both famous. Would you fiddle with the settings or slap your camera on AUTO? Okay so maybe you’d film it on your phone but this is a camera club so let’s stick with that… You’d get the shot, let’s be honest.

Most of us may have successfully worked out what some or all of the other buttons on our cameras actually do (don’t worry the rest of you, you will too) but sometimes AUTO can be damned useful. It could be the difference between the Pulitzer prize or a blurry shot with an indistinguishable subject. Which would you choose?