Photography | Shooting in manual mode

Shooting in manual mode


Shooting in manual mode is made out to be something really, really BIG. It's as if you are not a true photographer until you shoot in manual mode. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each mode on the camera whether it is aperture priority, shutter priority, program mode or manual mode has got a specific use and a smart and good photographer knows when to use them.

shooting in manual mode

Why shoot in manual mode?

The question that many people ask is - why shoot in manual mode at all when the average camera has such sophisticated technology built into it that it is almost guaranteed that you will get a perfect exposure every time? Shooting in manual mode has it's benefits. One very basic thought behind shooting in manual mode is that it really helps you understand the process of taking a photograph. In that sense, it makes you a better photographer.

Once you are familiar with the way a photograph is made and you understand the reason why a photograph turns out the way it does, it will be easier for you to shoot in other modes as well. Also, it has the benefit of being able to replicate the look and feel of the photographs that you like. A great example of this is people who shoot portfolios in the studio. Once they have figured out the look they want, they know exactly what settings to shoot on rather than mess with them each time a new client walks in.

I personally use the manual mode when I don't want the camera making too many decisions on my behalf. This usually happens when I come to a setting where I am happy with the exposure - both on my subject and the foreground (if any) and the background and I am not expecting the light to change too much. This might happen while shooting with flash or in natural light. In natural light though, you will have to keep checking the exposure at certain intervals to ensure that the moving sun has not caused any change in the desired exposure.

Usually the camera tries to act smart and changes the exposure value if you recompose - like move the subject to one side of the frame or zoom in etc.  This is what I don't want happening. Once I am happy with the exposure, I am happy with it. That is why I use the manual mode to lock it down.

As you know, there are three values that create an exposure, the aperture, the shutter speed and the ISO. If not, please read this article on the Realtionship between Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.

How to shoot in manual mode?

In manual mode, you take over all the controls from the camera, which is aperture, shutter speed and ISO. You do this my switching to the M mode on the camera.

  • You define your starting point by deciding what is more important to you - the aperture or shutter speed.
  • The ISO obviously is at the lowest setting when you start off and this will be the last thing that you increase. 

Watch the video below to understand how to nail and lock down shooting in manual mode. It is no rocket science - I can definitely assure you of that.  Subscribe to our channel if you feel like it by clicking here.

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