Shooting Manually - For Newbies

I remember when I shot my first time exposing the image manually and noticed the richness of the images compared to the middle grey look of the automatic setting. Previewing the image through the lens before I clicked was how I decide the setting for the shot. I could view the scene, move the F-stop or shutter setting and see the changes in the viewfinder.

Violist Hand on the Fretboard

Shooting manually is great when it is FULL manual. Both F-stop and shutter are independent settings. You can start with the settings that the camera wants on the fully automatic setting, then change the shutter up one setting (faster) leaving the aperture the same. Or you can raise the f-stop to a higher number, leaving the shutter speed the same. Either way the picture will be darker, more saturated.

Droplets on Leaves

If you shoot on Shutter priority or Aperture priority, you are not in manual mode. The camera is adjusting the alternate setting to get to middle grey. any change in shutter and the aperture changes.

You will need to check the exposures as your light changes. The camera will not do that automatically for you in full manual mode.

Photo credits: Circe Denyer.

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October 13, 2015


Your stuff on manual is really good and something more photographers should be doing. Learn about photography. Make the effort to do photography right. You have so much more control with manual. Also, consider manual focus. The old style split image focus found on 35mm film cameras was a dream and should still be here. I agree with Atonio1962.

September 27, 2015


Congratulations for your blog article,is usefull.Excelent images!

September 24, 2015


I usually shoot in an aperture priority setting trying to keep the "sweet spot" aperture for a lens I am using. Then, I compensate the automatic metering with EV compensation settings. I also try to keep the noise level down by selecting the lowest ISO possible. Next time, I’ll try to experiment with full manual mode. The fun is when I have little time to set the exposure. That’s what makes me feel exited connecting my camera to the subject.

September 22, 2015


It is great if we can decide the f-stop and the shutter speed. That way we learn and understand what real photography is. I used to shoot transparencies with manual cameras such as Hasselblad and Nikon on locations using my intuition for the exposure and I could produce some of my brilliant images at that time. I was able to shoot exactly what I want. On auto or P mode, the modern cameras will decide how they want to shoot. If anything in the picture is too bright or too dark, the picture will be a disaster on auto. My uploads are discrete in Dreamstime. May be that is the reason why out of my 166 uploads, I have 159 sales. Your article is very helpful Circe

September 22, 2015


I always start on the P mode. Then I look at what the camera is suggesting. If I like it then I press the button. If not I can shift the aperture shutter speed, keeping the same exposure. If the exposure does no seem right one can always up it or reduce it according to your wish overriding the automatic measurement.
By the way the camera's default for exposure is Center Weight, meaning the exposure is determined by the general lighting but the emphasis is on the center. If one wants to correctly expose a certain small area of the picture, it can be done by moving to Spot Metering and moving the spot to the right place.
And since "film" is cheap it is a good idea to bracket.

September 22, 2015


I enjoy the full Manual settings, its so much more rewarding

September 21, 2015


I failed too. LOTS! It was in the failing that I learned. The joy is in the doing and the learning. Good luck.

September 21, 2015


I tried manual but failed many times but I will try with your tips. Thanks

September 21, 2015


Thanks for your post. :) I started with manual 'cos my first DSLR was kind of bumbling with the A and S settings. Took me a long time and lots of errors (and Dreamstime rejects) to get everything right. Nowadays I shoot everything in manual and I can't do otherwise.

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