Shooting in Manual

Learning to shoot your camera in manual mode should be your goal in your journey through photography.  Shooting in manual gives you complete creative control of a photo, letting you be an artist, not just a “snapshot taker.”

At this point we have talked about the “triangle” of photography- aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.  All three of these elements come together to form a photograph.  There are countless combinations you can use to create proper exposure (which is a photograph which exhibits an even and appropriate amount of light.)  You just have to think in terms of priority.  If depth of field is your concern, you are going to choose your aperture first and adjust your ISO and shutter speed accordingly.  If motion is your concern, then you are going to choose your shutter speed first and your aperture and ISO accordingly.

For example-

Let’s say I am outside and I want to take a photograph of a couple.  The background is not important and a little bit of a distraction so I would like to employ the use of a wide aperture to isolate my subject and make it standout in the photo.  So I choose an aperture of f2.8.  With this aperture, I know that the blur from the depth of field will give me the look I am going for here.  The sun is out so I don’t need the extra light from ISO, so I set my ISO to the fastest it will go- 200.  Now I have to choose my shutter speed.  I will need something fast since my aperture is so wide which lets in a lot of light.  I opt for 1/1000.


Now, the great thing about digital is that you can check your exposure right away. How does your photo look?  Too bright and overexposed?  You need to achieve less light.  Too dark and underexposed?  You need more light.


When you need more light you can:

widen your aperture ( use a lower number f-stop- i.e. f2.8 instead of f16 )

slow down your shutter speed ( use a lower number/bigger fraction- i.e. 1/30 instead of 1/100 )

slow down your ISO ( use a higher number- i.e. 800 instead of 200 )

When you need LESS light you can:

use a smaller aperture ( use a higher number f-stop- i.e. f16 instead of f2.8 )

speed up your shutter speed ( use a higher number/smaller fraction- i.e. 1/100 instead of 1/30 )

speed up your ISO ( use a smaller number- i.e. 200 instead of 800 )

Now, just remember when you change one setting, you must adjust the others.

Here is your homework:

Shooting in manual is all about understanding the triangle of photography- aperture, shutter speed, and ISO- and understanding how they affect eachother.  This week you are going to try shooting in manual.

Take the same photo using 2 different settings.  So take one of the photos with a wide aperture and a fast shutter (adjusting your ISO for light.)  And take the second photo with a narrow aperture and a slow shutter (adjusting your ISO for light.)

Shooting in manual takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature.



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