How I Started Shooting in Manual

July 21, 2015

A good friend of mine who is looking into purchasing his first DSLR and wants to get into photography asked me why I shoot in manual mode vs. the automatic mode setting on the camera. We both agreed that it really was just easier, so here was my short answer to my dear friend.

So once I learn something I am normally off and running 100 miles an hour and shouting to the rooftops why my new discovery is so awesome. This has been nothing short of my discovery with shooting in manual. I was blessed enough to have some really good photographers around me very early on. The day after I got my camera I walked around my job and took pictures of plants and bugs and grass and anything else I could all in automatic mode. I was already smitten; besides the sleeping pictures of my husband and yawning Charlotte I knew this camera and me were quickly entering into a long-term relationship.

Fast forward to the following Saturday and my good friend Mike Clapp was excited to see me walking in with my new camera and told me to get the longest lens I had in my bag and he set my camera over from automatic to shutter priority. I didn’t know what that even meant, but what I did know is when I pressed the shutter button it went like super rapid fire. He hooked me up with the Al-Servo setting so it tracked my son all over the football field as long as I had the shutter pressed half way down. I was amazed at the cool pictures I was getting. I felt like I was working for ESPN, and the way I was all over the field, laying on the grass, practically in the in zone all I was missing was my press badge.

I wrote those settings down, and literally the whole football season I set my camera like that for every single game, no matter what the weather or lighting was doing. I didn’t want to “break” anything, lol. I have always been a Curious George fan; he was always so nosey, just like me. Soon after football I wanted to know more about my camera settings and I knew I was in love with bokah so I set out to learn how to shoot in aperture priority. I watched so many videos I am surprised I didn’t become a camera. For a great video to learn more about aperture click here.

Once I understood more about aperture, I really wanted to know why everyone was always shooting in manual. There must be more to the story I thought in my mind. I started to try and understand more about the exposure triangle. Please click here for a great reference explaining the exposure triangle.

Understanding the exposure triangle can be complicated and it takes a lot of practice. So I would sometimes dabble in manual mode when I was out practicing. I loved the control that the manual mode gave me. I don’t think that shooting in creative modes vs. automatic modes makes you better over the latter, but for me the learning was because I wanted to have more control over my camera and I didn’t think I was always getting the shots the way I wanted.

Have you ever taken a cell phone picture and your face was totally dark and the background was totally bright? I wanted to figure out how I could stop that from happening. Once I upgraded my camera I became much more confident in shooting in manual mode. I had done a lot of practicing. I had shot in aperture priority for almost six months before I had the confidence to change that little button at the top of my camera. To learn more about shooting in manual mode I would highly recommend checking out Mark at Adorama, he is awesome. I would also recommend checking out this awesome article from Digital Camera World 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to just go out and practice. Take some risk. Don’t be afraid to change your dial to shutter priority, aperture or manual and see how that changes your images. I know I wouldn’t have gotten some of the fun images I have captured if I didn’t take a little leap and try something new. Have Fun and Happy Shooting!

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