If you’re an absolute beginner or have been shooting for a few years, learning to take photos in Manual Mode is my #1 Piece of Advice for taking amazing photos!
I firmly believe that everyone should own a camera because photography just has way of making people so darn happy! I also believe being able to document your fur babies (and human babies) is a priceless skill to have!
Why should you photograph in Manual Mode? After all, it is so much easier just to let the camera do all the thinking for you. The answer is simple. It is all about control and uniqueness.
Most likely you don’t let a computer tell you how you see the world so why would you want a computer to tell you how to capture it? Also, that same camera is programmed at a factory just as a thousand other ones exactly like it. If you want to capture the world like everyone else then continue to use auto mode but if you want to capture the world as only you see it then manual mode is the only way to go.
But before you throw caution to the wind and just start clicking away you need to understand a few things about your camera. The camera is merely an extension of your eye. It will only capture what you put in front of it and it will use only the tools you give it to draw that picture. It is recommended to read your camera manual to help you become familiar with how your camera works. Knowing your equipment is an integral part of using manual mode.
Possibly the best part of using manual mode is that you have complete control over the exposure. The exposure is what ultimately controls the feeling or mood of the image. If you want something gothic or moody, then you can control which parts of the image are darker or underexposed, and control the parts that are over or properly exposed to lend dramatic flair to the end image. If you want a happy and upbeat image you will want to control the overall brightness of the image.
To control exposure you need to choose the aperture, shutter speed, and the ISO.
Between the three of these items, you tell the camera how much light you want it to capture:
- Aperture is like the retina of the eye. It helps with depth of focus. It helps the camera see.
- Shutter Speed is like the camera’s eyelid. It tells the camera how fast to blink to catch the action. And the ISO tells the camera how much light to grab in that blink.
- Using a Light Meter, even just the one inside your camera will help you choose the proper settings for the effect that you wish to achieve.
Have fun and experiment with the different settings in manual mode. Photography is about playing and discovering how you see your world and those around you!
Interested in purchasing a camera? Here is my photography gear list.