First of all, why should you be shooting in manual mode?
- If you’re shooting in manual, you’ll be able to get the correct lighting or exposure in your image because you can adjust all three of the settings.
- You can get more depth of field (aka bokeh) vs if you’re shooting in auto, you don’t have full control of the aperture — which is what allows you to get that blurry background in your photo.
- You won’t have to rely on auto or another setting that isn’t as customizable for your specific image and style.
- If you’ve already invested in a DSLR camera, you’ll want to use it to it’s fullest potential, right? (Otherwise you might as well shoot with your phone.)
So what is manual mode?
When you shoot in manual, you’ll adjust these three settings in order to get the correct exposure or lighting:
- Shutter Speed
All are equally important in getting the correct lighting and style of image you want. So what do they all do?
- Aperture controls how much light is coming through your lens, so it helps determine how light or dark your image will be.
- It also controls the depth of field in your image. For example, if you’ve ever seen a picture of a person who’s in focus but the background is blurry — that would be a shallow depth of field since they were the only thing in focus.
- Shutter speed controls how bright or dark your image will be based on how fast or slow your camera’s shutter is. The faster it is, the less light comes in because it’s open for less time. Likewise, the slower the shutter is, the more light comes in so it’s brighter.
- Shutter speed also controls whether or not your image will be blurry or crisp. So let’s say you were at fashion week and someone walked by you quickly on their way to a show — if you’re shooting at a slow shutter speed, they’re going to be blurry. But, if you’re shooting really high, they’ll be crisp and clear.
- ISO is how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. ISO controls how bright or dark the image is. The higher the number, the brighter the image — and the lower the number, the darker.
- It also controls the amount of grain in an image. If you’ve ever seen an image that was taken in a darker location, and see little specs in the picture, you can assume it was grain. When you’re adjusting ISO, it’s important to remember not to shoot too high or you’ll see grain start to appear in your image. Every camera is different, and the higher quality your camera is, the higher ISO you can shoot without grain appearing.
When I shoot:
- I usually adjust the aperture first (with a shallow depth of field so there’s lots of bokeh)! Usually, I start around f/2 for a blogger shoot.
- Then I adjust the shutter speed depending on if she’s moving or still. I shoot at least 1/200 shutter speed (faster if possible) to avoid blurriness.
- Lastly, I adjust the ISO until the exposure is correct. This number will depend on the lighting conditions.
I hope this helped to simplify manual mode and break down the three settings you’ll need to create the correct exposure!
If you’d like to learn more about shooting and focusing in manual mode, you’re invited to join my online photography class for bloggers called the Basics of Shooting for your Blog.
I’ll go even more in depth and literally take you behind my camera to see exactly how I focus and adjust my settings while I’m shooting with bloggers. See exactly what’s in the class and join immediately here!
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