Toby (or as I call him, Panda) is seen lounging under a peony. This my photography friends was one of my toughest shots. Why? The colors of black and white are the hardest shots to get. Mainly because the auto focus on cameras cannot recognize and process those colors effectively. I mentioned the nuances of white yesterday but now lets look at black. Hover over this pic and you see will the differences. Black is not always black nor is white always white! So how do you get shots like this? Having a Sony a77 and soon to be an a99 for full frame, they have the ‘live view’ option when composing the subject. Yes I WAS a Canon shooter but having switched to Sony endears me with speed and color accuracy. This shot could not be composed as is unless I was in full manual mode. Sideline, if your camera has a ‘P’ for program button on your dial, start using that instead of the prepackaged ‘auto’ and ‘scenery’ settings. Then all you need to do is set your ISO at 100 or 200 for sunny days, 400 for cloudy/shady days and 800 for sunrise/sunset pics. If you know how to get to your white balance ‘WB’ settings, set appropriately for the day/night and get away from using the ‘auto’ white balance. If your camera does have the ‘P’ setting, it will automatically set your ‘F stop’ and ‘S shutter’ speeds. Cool huh? Now back to composing this shot manually…1) ISO 400, 2) F 8.0, 3) S 1/800 4) WB daylight/sun and 5) manual focus (why? if I were to use the auto focus (AF) it can not register black and white. I tried AF by focusing on the peony stem next to Toby’s nose and then moved the camera over to compose the shot, but it still came out blurry. The more you can get away from auto photography, the better your photos will be. Back when Swenson Gardens first started, I use to use a Canon A80 point and shoot camera. Yes 1 out of 10 shots were ok but now in the DSLR world, at least 90% of my shots are good. Yes it takes some practice and both Becky and i went through a digital photography class at National Camera Exchange as well as other classes, BUT time behind the eye piece of your camera is still the best way to learn. Happy shooting!