Sunday, July 5, 2009

Phototip Quickie : Learn to use Manual Mode

Almost every camera I have encountered recently, including my old digital P&S, has a manual mode. Most of the people I know have never used it. Everyone should try at least once! If you have no other reason to use it, remember you paid for it, get your money's worth!

Why is this important? Am I some elitist snob who only uses Manual mode and thinks everyone else is Doing it Wrong? No, far from it!

But, learning how to set ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds independently of one another is helpful. It shows you how the camera meter sees things, shows you the intertwined relationship between those three settings, and will cause you to slow down, and hopefully think about your pictures in a different way.

Since this is suppose to be "quick" I cannot get into details on how to use your camera in manual mode. Instead, here is how I suggest you try it. First go to the library and get a copy of Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure, then go to your camera bag and scrounge out your camera manual. Understanding Exposure will show you the ideas you need for reading your meter and making settings, your camera manual will show you the details specific to your model of camera.

If anyone cares, I typically use aperture priority w/ matrix metering for ambient only shots. However, for flash work, I run full manual and use "guess" (i.e. shoot and look at the LCD) metering.

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