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by Phil Ball

Q. Sometimes when I am reviewing a photo I've taken with my camera, my photo-buddy tells me I should change a setting on my camera to improve a subsequent photo. Often, I cannot find the feature he mentions. For instance, he told me to turn on my flash to add light to fill in shadows on a face in bright sunlight but there seems to be no choices under flash on the menu and it won't flash in sunlight. Do I have a dumb camera that is incapable of giving me more control? (Additional camera info was given)

A. No, your camera is not dumb. The problem is that you are using an advanced camera in the green Auto setting. Sometimes called the Dumb Mode, Auto is for those who want the camera to do all the work for them so they don't have to work hard and make choices. You are ready for a more advanced mode and I suggest that you should try setting your camera to Program Mode. It is as automatic as the Auto Mode but you are allowed to make some important adjustments like setting Forced Flash in the instance you cited.

Digital cameras will hide or gray out menu options in some modes that are quite available in other modes. They do this to help you but can prove annoying if they are depended upon since they limit your options. To get the best use out of your camera, I would suggest that you explore the options available to you but even if you are unwilling to do that, just being able to control whether the flash fires or not can lift your photos out of the ordinary. Although it seems contrary to common sense, using the flash during daylight can be a good idea if your subject is wearing a hat or has their face in shadow.

Published: Courier 10/14/12 - Page 3C