Should I be in manual mode all of the time?

Not on your nelly!
I am going to write a sentence that may have purists cringing in their boots. I keep my camera on automatic when not being used and have the camera set to jpeg and RAW.

Before anyone asks why I'm preaching about learning how your camera works and photography as art when in reality someone can go in my camera bag and find my camera in auto mode. I will explain my thought process.

It doesn't matter how good a photographer you are, or how well you know your camera if a moment is lost, its lost forever. If something unusual takes place right in front of me, I capture that moment quickly in auto, to have an image in the can, and then sort out what I want to do to take a "good image."
An example would be, taking a walk on a Gower beach and a giraffe runs past. Now I've lived on the Gower for most of my life, and that's something that I've never seen or am I likely to see, I'm just using a silly example, I'm sure you understand that. So, said giraffe runs past, and I rattle off some quick shots and in my head start counting the money rolling in from the newspapers. The giraffe then decides to stop running and have a mooch about around me. The camera comes off auto mode, probably into aperture priority and I start to compose good shots.

OK, I know the likelihood of that happening is zero, but events do happen in front of us and can last split seconds.

If, on the other hand, I'm out walking and a scene presents itself, I settle back, decide on what I want to achieve form the image, and start working my camera settings accordingly.

If its outdoor portraiture then aperture priority is my go to setting. If its landscape, and I'm not rushing to catch a particular feature such as a cloud formation (ever changing) or a given light then I settle back in fully manual. If I'm at a fast moving sports event, I'm straight into shutter priority, relying on changing the ISO to give me a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action if needed.
What I'm trying to say is that you don't have to miss a shot because you've been told that all good photographers are fully manual all of the time. If you are a beginner, auto has two really good purposes. Firstly as a safe go-to place. Secondly as a tool to show you what the camera thinks should be happening and giving you a great starting point.

Thomas Heaton, First Man Photography, Peter McKinnon, Sean Tucker.... They'll all tell you the same thing, don't just learn your camera, learn from your camera. If you go to my top 22 YouTubers post, subscribe to the guys above and learn how they work. They have open and honest channels and share their skills willingly.

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