The benefits of manual settings

Have you tried to photograph with manual settings, but given up because the result did not get close to what you expected? Or have you never tried to try this creepy setting where everything is left to yourself and where you get the least of help from the camera? Do not fear! It’s not as scary as you would think, and with some general information about how this works, and a little bit of clarity, you’ll see that you’re also fine manually photographing, so it’s you who takes control and not the camera.

When I got my first SLR camera, a Nikon D40, I started on auto. All I had with me was that the indoors were much better by shooting the flash right up in the ceiling because I had heard this from others, but otherwise I had very little knowledge about photography. I took (as everyone else guess) very many pictures at the start, and some of them became as I hoped. But it also happened quite often that the camera did not fully understand what I wanted and I soon began to read up on how the camera worked to get as good photos as possible.

One of the first things I discovered was how the shutter, blender and ISO work together. If you do not know these terms, it’s an advantage that you read about it in this article first: ” What is shutter, blender and ISO? ”

Shutter and blender priority

When you know a little more about how shutter, blender and ISO work, it’s a little easier to move away from auto and into other modes. Although I did not go directly to manual, but started with a blender priority. It works to set the blender you want to use, it’s also the camera that determines the shutter speed to get the correct exposure. There is also a mode called shutter priority, which then works opposite. Here you choose shutter speed, even the camera will find the right blender.

The reason I chose a blender priority at the start is because I mostly took pictures of people and often the children in different activities. In most cases, I would have a big blender to get as much light as possible, so I could have a quick shutter to freeze any movements, and that’s usually a lot of when photographing children. Another reason for this choice was because I preferred to have a blurred background on my photos so that there was more focus on the subject.

For example, if you take some pictures of sports or other things that move very quickly, it may be a good idea to start shutter priority instead, because you are sure that the shutter gets fast enough. Then you choose shutter speed yourself, eg 1/500, the camera will also choose the right blender for you.

Keep in mind that using the shutter or aperture priority, the ISO will not change. So, for example, if you need as fast shutter as 1/500, you may also need to set up ISO for the image to be properly exposed.


The light gauge tricks your camera

Shutter or blender priority works as auto, good in some situations, but the major disadvantage of photographing this way is that the camera remeasures the light every time you take a new picture. This means that if you have taken multiple pictures from the same place and / or the same angle, but moving a little bit or just pointing the camera in a slightly different place, the camera may give you too bright or dark images because the light has changed a little. The camera will never know what you want to photograph, so the light meter in your camera tries to reproduce everything in 18% gray, which is in the middle of black and white.

If you used manual settings and still used the settings from the previous image, this image would be too bright. But then you could take a quick look at the image on the screen of the camera and then adjust either the blender (to a larger number to drop in less light) or the shutter (for a faster shutter, eg 1/250) your mate properly exposed. It may seem difficult to have a look at the pictures and then adjust before taking a new photo, but once you get a little bit photographed in manual, this is pretty good at your fingertips, and it is better to take two pictures one of which one gets very good, versus taking only one picture, but coming home with an “useless” picture.

The problem I mention here can also be avoided fine even if you shoot in shutter and aperture priority using spot spotlighting, but I have taken the starting point in photographing with matrix / evaluating measurement of light, which is very common to use at first.

The transition to manual

After taking some photos and experimenting with a blender or shutter priority, the road to manual settings is not very long. If you are out to photograph, you will soon remember that, for example, an ISO of 100-400 works very well. If you also know that you want a blurred background on your photos, you know that you need a big blender. You set the blender to f / 4, so you only have the shutter you need to adjust. Should you shoot indoors, you know that you need a large blender (low f / tall) and a shutter speed of eg 1/30 – 1/60. You also often have to go up to ISO 400-1600 because for a camera it becomes dark indoors.

Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll quickly learn a few “rules of rules” that make the camera no longer become a guess leak, but something you’ll get in just a few tries. You will then have full control over your camera and avoid changing settings for you when it was not really necessary.

The example of shooting first in the shade and then in the sun is a rather extreme example, often it will be much less before the camera gets fooled, thus changing settings and giving you worse pictures than you could imagine yourself with some exercise.

Good luck!

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