One problem with Auto mode is that it has no idea what type of subject you are photographing and therefore attempts to make a best-guess
reading of each situation. Many Scene modes are optimized for many of the shooting scenarios you’re likely to encounter, and some apply in-camera effects that would be difficult or time-consuming to replicate on a computer later.
Even if you’re planning to shoot most often using the camera’s advanced modes, the Scene modes can be a helpful training tool. Shoot a few shots using the Sports preset, for example, and note the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings that the camera chose. Then, fine-tune your own settings using the Scene values as a baseline.
Using the Scene Modes
- Set the Mode dial to the SCN setting.
- Press the Function/Set button. The Scene modes are selected at the top of the menu.
- Rotate the Control dial until your chosen scene icon appears.
- Press the Function/Set button to choose the scene.
Shooting portraits is a perfect example of a common scene (Figure 3.2). This mode emphasizes skin tones and makes them a little softer to improve the skin’s look, avoiding the harsh, greenish cast that can occur under some types of lighting.
As you might have guessed, the Landscape scene has been optimized for shooting landscape images. The camera does its best to boost the greens and blues in the image (Figure 3.3). This makes sense, since the typical landscape would be outdoors where grass, trees, and skies should look more colorful. This mode also increases the sharpness that is applied during processing and utilizes the lowest ISO settings possible in order to keep digital noise to a minimum.
Kids & Pets
It’s hard to get any more specific than this. Kids and pets have a habit of not always posing for the shot you want…or the shot you think you might get…if only they’d…just…stop…moving…for a moment. The Kids & Pets mode uses a fast shutter speed, wide aperture, and high ISO to freeze the action of these moving targets.
While this is called the Sports scene, you can use it for any moving subject that you are photographing. The mode is built on the principles of sports photography: continuous focusing and fast shutter speeds (Figure 3.4). To handle these requirements, the camera sets the drive mode to Continuous AF shooting and the ISO to Auto. Overall, these are sound settings that will capture most moving subjects well.
You can, however, run the risk of too much digital noise in your picture if the camera decides you need a very high ISO (such as 1600). Also, when using the Sports scene, you will need to frame your subject in the middle of the viewfinder so the center focus point is on them.
Most of the Scene modes are easy to figure out from their names, but what’s so smart about Smart Shutter? It’s designed for getting good shots of people, especially when you’re shooting pictures of yourself in a group of people. Smart Shutter has three modes, accessible by pressing the Display button:
- Smile: When you look at the camera and smile, a shot is taken—you don’t need to press the shutter release button at all.
- Wink Self-Timer: As you frame your subjects, the G12 detects one person’s face. Press the shutter release button. The camera waits for that person to wink, then counts down a couple of seconds before taking the shot. (If it doesn’t detect a wink, the shot fires after 15 seconds.) You may need to wink with both eyes to trigger the shutter.
- Face Self-Timer: Press the shutter release button and then look directly into the camera to start the self-timer countdown.
For each mode, you can set the camera to shoot up to 10 successive shots by pressing the up or down button.
Super Vivid, Poster Efect, Nostalg ic, and Fish-Eye
These four Scene modes replicate looks that you can achieve using post-processing software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, iPhoto,
or other programs. The advantage to using them while shooting is that you don’t need to spend time applying the effects later. The disadvantage is that you’re stuck with the effect for the shot. Personally, I’d prefer to do the processing later in software using a “normal” shot where I have more control.
Color Accent & Color Swap
The Color Accent mode picks out one color in your scene and renders everything else black and white. Press the Display button and position the focus box on the color you want to preserve, and then press the left button to lock it in.
Color Swap works in a similar fashion, only in addition to setting a target color, you then point at a different color in your scene and press the Right button to set the replacement hue. Anything blue, for example, could appear red.
Again, however, I’d much rather do these adjustments in software later.
HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a method of combining several shots at different exposures to bring out more detail than you could normally get with just one shot. For example, you could use HDR to shoot a scene where a person in the foreground might otherwise be put into silhouette by a bright sky in the background. HDR used to be possible only in software, but now the HDR Scene mode does the work in-camera.
For best results, mount the G12 on a tripod or other stationary surface, then press the shutter release button. The camera takes three shots and then combines them into one HDR image. It’s best to turn off the image stabilizer (IS) when using this mode; that sounds counterintuitive, but the camera could overcompensate and produce a blurry shot.
The Miniature Effect mode pulls off a neat trick: By selectively blurring areas of an image, the effect makes objects in the center look like miniature toys (Figure 3.5). Another term for this effect is tilt-shift, which is accomplished on DSLRs using expensive lenses with selective focus controls.
With the mode enabled, press the Display button to adjust how the focus is centered. Press Set to change the highlight rectangle from horizontal to vertical (or vice versa). Then, use the zoom control to make the area larger or smaller.
Beach and Snow
Shooting at the beach or in the snow, while representing opposite extremes of temperature, share a trait that’s problematic to digital cameras: The environments are often very bright from light reflecting off sand or snow, which can confuse a camera’s light meter. These modes compensate for the brightness.
Fishy environments feature the opposite trait of the Beach and Snow modes. Often underlit and exhibiting blue-green color casts, underwater and aquarium shots can easily turn muddy. The Underwater mode reduces the blue-green coloring and enhance the other colors. (And for today’s obvious public service announcement, Canon wants you to know that it’s highly recommended that you put your G12 in a waterproof enclosure before submerging it.)
I never paid as much attention to trees and flowers as I do now that I carry a camera everywhere. The Foliage scene boosts colors to make them more vivid, a welcome enhancement in the autumn or spring especially (Figure 3.6).
With only a few opportunities each year to take photos of fireworks (unless you live at a Disney theme park), it seems odd that Canon would include a scene dedicated to the nighttime explosions. However, fireworks are tricky to photograph well. The Fireworks scene features long exposures and a narrow aperture to emphasize the bright colors against a dark sky (Figure 3.7).