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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

{photography with lei} how to shoot in manual mode

Hi friends! It's been a while! Hope you all have enjoyed your summer... we just got home from vacation, which we enjoyed immensely. But it is definitely time to get back into a routine!

When we last interacted we discussed aperture, shutter speed and ISO, the 3 components required to achieve a proper exposure. We learned how to shoot in aperture mode, and shutter mode. I don't know how many of you tried it, but I was mistaken in saying that your camera will set the ISO for you automatically. You should have control over both the function you choose (aperture or shutter speed, AND your ISO). Sorry for that misunderstanding!

Today we'll talk about how to shoot in manual mode. As you know, manual mode gives you complete control of all 3 functions (aperture, shutter speed and ISO). And the benefits to that include manipulating the amount of focus and getting creative with the lighting of your subject, among other things.

For a quick recap, read the post on shutter speed and ISO here, and the post on aperture here.

Everyone develops their own method for shooting in manual mode – some more technical than others. I'm just going to share with you how I do things, and it's pretty simple. First, I set my ISO. As long as you stay where you're at (i.e., outdoors or indoors) this shouldn't need to be adjusted more than once. There have been a few times when I've shot as the sun was going down that I've needed to bump up my ISO before the end of a session, or when I've moved from extreme sunlight to extreme shade. But it's the first thing I do because it's easy to forget from one shoot to another unless you make a habit of checking it right away. Imagine my horror when I shot an entire outdoor shoot at 1200 ISO once. Grainy outdoor pictures = no good. A newbie mistake for sure!

After I set my ISO I decide my aperture. This is usually based on what visual interest I want to evoke and that's why I typically choose it before shutter speed. If you remember, bokeh – which I love and use routinely in my images, is achieved with a very large aperture (my lenses go up to 1.8). So my first determination is always if I can pull that off with the image I am going for. Just a personal preference, and obviously attuned more to portraiture than say, landscape photography, in which you would want to capture the whole image with 100% clarity.

Based on my aperture setting I then adjust my shutter speed. When you look at your LCD display or your view finder you should notice a scale that runs along the bottom of the screen. This is like an internal light meter and helps you find the right balance between aperture and shutter speed to produce a proper exposure. The scale measures exposure value in “stops” (indicated by + and -) and should look something like one of these 2 examples:

If I press my shutter button down halfway and focus on the image I want to capture, while looking at this scale, I can see how over or under exposed my image is based on my current settings. There will either be a moving vertical cursor up and down the scale or little boxes that light up as you move up and down the scale, depending on the brand of camera you have. Raising or lowering my shutter speed will bring my exposure value to center, where I typically want it. If I'd set my shutter speed first, then raising or lowering my aperture would have the same effect – moving the scale above (overexposed) or below (underexposed) proper exposure (which is 0, or right in the middle). There is a rotating dial, different from the command dial which you use to select the mode you are shooting in, that is used to adjust this. You should have already found this if you've played around with aperture (Av) or shutter speed (TV) priority mode. If not, consult your manual, as it is manipulated differently - again depending on the brand camera you have.

Clear as mud? Take a deep breath. It takes some practice but soon you will be bale to do this in your sleep. I found a cool little cheat chart online that may help you out. Print it and keep it in your camera bag for quick reference!

To wrap things up here are a couple images along with their settings to help you put an image with all the lingo we just learned!

shutter: 1/3200
aperture: f/5.6
ISO: 100
lens: 85mm 1.8

shutter: 1/3200
aperture: f/1.8
ISO: 200
lens: 85mm 1.8

shutter: 1/1600
aperture: f/1.8
ISO: 2500
lens: 85mm 1.8

Now get out there and shoot! Feel free to email me anytime if you run into problems!



Blogger The Farmer's Wife said...

Thank you so much for this post. I have been eager to shoot in manual, but wasn't quite sure on how to do it!!! Thanks!!!! I'm heading out to practice!!!!!

August 3, 2011 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger lynn said...

thanks so much--i need all the help i can get with my new canon!

August 3, 2011 at 3:10 PM  

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