Are You Taking Photos in Manual Mode?


If you love photography, consider yourself a hobbyist, or are looking to make photography a career, you need to be taking photos in manual mode.

Not to sound like a broken record, but, if you love photography, consider yourself a hobbyist, or are looking to make photography a career, you need to be taking photos in manual mode.

WHY You Need to Be Taking Photos in Manual Mode.

A lot of my friends, family and even my mentor students ask, “Why would I do that when taking photos in Auto Mode is so easy?”

I get it. I asked myself the same question when I got my first DSLR in High School. I definitely had the creativity and “eye” for photography, but I hadn’t quite mastered manual mode until years later, and when I did, my level of creativity skyrocketed. I was able to do things with my camera; I would never have been on AUTO mode.

Once I fully mastered shooting in Manual, my photography drastically improved, and I started Studio 29 Photography. Taking photos in Manual Mode gives you all of the control over how your images will turn out. You can manipulate your settings to achieve the perfect exposure for any lighting scenario. You can be so much more creative with your photos, dragging the shutter, double exposures, long exposures, etc.

Taking Photos in Manual Mode

Manual is the best, and once you learn it, it will be the only way you should ever take photos.

The best advice I wish I could have given myself when I first started taking photos: practice practice practice. So, I will do the same for you today, but I will also give you some insight into taking photos in manual mode.

The 3 most important factors for taking photos in manual mode can be considered the 3 points of a triangle. When you connect all the points of the triangle, you end up with perfect exposure.

You will only have complete control of all the triangle points if you are shooting with your camera in manual mode.

Manual mode is recommendable for several situations and uses, including:

  • Repetitive photographing – Auto mode constantly changes, leading to inconsistencies when photographing the same thing repeatedly under the same conditions. Adjusting the exposure settings via manual model guarantees consistency.
  • Photographing under changing lighting – Leaving the camera to recalculate and adjust the exposure with every shot as lighting changes can result in inconsistency. Instead, exposure remains constant under manual mode, ensuring consistency.
  • Shooting videos – Aperture and shutter speed significantly impact the quality of video footage filmed using a DSLR camera. Manual mode allows you to control these factors, giving you control over the video’s quality.

Manual Mode Settings 

Manual mode gives you control over three important settings: aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. The values of these settings determine your image’s overall quality, especially brightness. Here is an overview of how these settings work:

The three points of the triangle are Shutter Speed, ISO, and Aperture.

1) Shutter Speed

The shutter speed factor of shooting in manual mode has a few aspects to it. You have to be able to read the meter on your camera. As you look at your camera, there are little numbers (-2, -1, 0, 1, 2) in the bottom of your field of view in the viewfinder. These make up the light meter, and adjusting this will change the exposure of your photo.

Tip: If you need help seeing how your different settings can change your light meter, you can turn on your LCD screen and watch the exposure change as you are toying with the dials. For beginner photographers, physically seeing the settings change around can be very helpful.

Once you have chosen the exposure on the light meter, shutter speed comes into play. The shutter speed is the amount of time your camera’s shutter is open, allowing more or less light into the picture. This will change how blurry or sharp your image is. Low shutter speeds mean an increased possibility of blurriness. Fast shutter speeds make for sharper subjects.

2) ISO

Your camera’s sensitivity to light is called the ISO. There are low and high ISO numbers on DSLR cameras. Setting your camera to a lower ISO means you are in a particular setting with ample lighting to get good exposure to your photo. Setting your camera to a higher ISO enables you to take photos in a lower-lit situation. The higher your ISO, the more sensitive to light your camera will be. The higher the ISO will also mean the grittier or more “grain” a photo will have.

taking photos in manual mode

3) Aperture

Also known as the f-stop, the aperture is the hole at the center of your camera shutter. This is how you can manually focus your image and decide how much of the background is needed to be in focus. The low f-number apertures give more light, and less background is the focus on your image. The high f-number apertures give less light and more background in focus for your photo.

RELATED: Tips for Taking Photos in Natural Light

Remember, practice makes perfect! Try playing around with these different settings and different types of images.

Continue to click around the House Fur blog for more photography tips! But, most importantly, get out there and practice!

how to take photos in manual mode

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