How to use "Manual Mode" with you Camera

When it comes to driving a vehicle, it is either you drive using automatic or manual shift. However, if you learn to drive an automatic drive first, you will not be able to drive the manual type. If manual comes first, then you will be able to drive both. This is similar to manual mode in photography.

The photos taken by beginners (Camera "Beginners Guideline") are not always the same with professionals despite using similar cameras. Here is what takes us to manual mode.

shooting modes

Reasons to Shoot in Manual Mode

There is tendency to allow camera to use any settings. The camera will take a picture as it likes and not what you desire, when you allow it to control the settings. However, you can control the settings in the manual mode.
Settings simply refer to the exposure triangle. A comprehensive detail will be provided as we go on here. There are three settings in the exposure triangle.

They have direct impact on the amount of light coming from your scene. Not just that, there are additional unique techniques like differential focus and subject freezing.

Capturing Bokeh requires the knowledge of differential focus and a wide aperture. Likewise, there is a need to understand long or slow shutter speed usage for capturing motion blur.

The function of the triangle is working out the appropriate light for your scenes using ISO, aperture, as well as shutter speed. Your camera will not have the inkling that you are about to take motion blur, hence it will use any random settings.

Shutter Speed

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Experienced and expert photographers have the knowledge of the situation to depend on certain shooting modes like Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority. They have the opportunity to aim at a specific setting, while the camera controls other settings.

The benefit of manual mode lies in allowing you to utilize the camera’s abilities, giving you the opportunity to change scene settings. Anyone can do it. It’s only about learning.

Shooting in Manual Mode

How do you go about shots in manual mode? On your camera dial, simply set it to the ‘M’. This is all you need to be in control such that there will be no changes in the settings except you do.

The following are likely steps required to capture your scene:

Have a view through the viewfinder after raising your camera. Press the capture button halfway to obtain a light reading from the in-camera. The goal is getting the light meter‘ticker’ lined up with the ‘0’ in the middle.

Choose an ISO setting. ISO 100 is good for a scene outside on a sunny day. ISO1600 or higher is good indoor. Following the choice of ISO is the choice of selection of aperture according to what you intend capturing. f/5.6 as a good base is good for a potrait.

As regards the choice of a shutter speed, it is either you use a tripod or select a shutter speed above your lens size.
For instance, a 50mm lens should go with a shutter speed not below 1/60th of a second, due to picking up camera shake.

To have a good base, select 1/250th of a second. It is also necessary to change your aperture. Due to the constraining by ISO and shutter speed, changing of aperture is part of the last things to do.

You need to increase or decrease this based on the light meter recording on the light meter built in your camera. You can take a shot after you have the correct light reading.

shooting manual mode

Light Meter

There is a line of numbers you will observe looking through the viewfinder. They are similar to the following: 2…1…0…1…2+ (Canon) or +2…1…0…1…2- (Nikon).

You have seen a light meter. Aligning with ‘0’ will make your photo come out with appropriate exposure.

This is applicable to that particular effect. Assuming that there is a detail on the shaded part of the building you are appropriately exposing on due to the sun rays. However, you don’t want any detail.
Reducing the exposure will make the part reached by the sun to remain adequately lit. You will have a darker image with this.

You have the opportunity to use the light meter according to your desire. It provides great guidance.

light meter

Exposure Triangle

We obtain additional understanding of light with the exposure triangle. There is mathematics in the underlying parts of photography. Little wonder the numbers appear weird, and they even increase in a more strange manner.

Apertures start at f/2, moves to f/2.8, then reaches up to f/22. As for shutter speeds, you can have 1/8, 1/15 and up to 1/1000 (luckily). Likewise with ISO, it leaps from 200 to 400 and increases till 25600.
(This numbers can be different with you camera/lens)

Aperture, shutter, iso pyramide

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The value of ISO normally is between 100 and 1600 and stands for the light sensitivity of your camera. You can have 50 or 64 for some cameras, and up to 25600 in camera bodies that are quite costly.

When the ISO value is low, less light is getting to your sensor, and otherwise when the value is high.

When the value is within the lower range, there is need for more light to have appropriate exposure. When within the higher range, the light required is more than in the lower range. Images of high quality and good resolution are produced from lower value.

When it comes to low light conditions, you need higher ISO value to take a shot. However, images produced have more grain.

It is possible for DSLR cameras to adapt to high ISO values due to their sensors, processors and large pixel sizes capable of coping with the digital noise. Notwithstanding, let the ISO value be low.

The best ISO value for taking shots on a sunny day is between 100 and 200. When indoors, a value between 800 and 1600 will suit your shots. 

ISO explained

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The aperture in your camera functions similarly with the iris in our eyes. It is within the lens of a camera. With a wide aperture comes a small focal length.

That is, you will only see a small part of the object that you focus clearly.

When the aperture is narrow, you will have the whole scene in focus, based on its large focal area. Narrow aperture is used to display background and foreground clearly and sharply in landscape photography.

More light goes into the lens to hit the sensor of the camera when f-stop is lower. When shooting live music artistes, I use a wide aperture to ensure that my ISO value is low and maintain quality. I obtain adequate light with this.

The consequence of a high f-stop value is less light, with the tendency to need a longer exposure. A wide aperture is necessary for the creation of images with a bokeh background.


Shutter Speed

The time it takes the shutter of a camera to remain open can be considered as the shutter speed. The time it remains open determine the intensity of light that enters the scene and hence the image. That is, longer time means more light.

The representation come in numbers (fractions of a second), usually 1/250 of a second.

The sharpness of the object you take is influenced by the shutter speed. More light enters with slower shutter speeds; however, it gives room for more blur, mostly when the object is moving.

Less light enters with a faster shutter speed, but produces a sharper image due to the object being ‘frozen’.

Based on my recommendation for a sharp image, do not use a setting less than 1/100th of a second when there is no tripod. The only exception is if you are considering a creative motion blur.

Combining The Settings

The numbers come with a pattern. For instance, take a look at aperture to see if you are able to locate it. The normal range are f/1.4, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/16 and f/22. Every value is about double the preceeding value. As for f/4 and f/22, they are a result of the addition of the two preceeding numbers.

ISO numbers are likewise double the preceeding the value. 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and then 3200. As regards shutter speed, it is similar with the values 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000.

The numbers work with one another such that the addition or subtraction of any of them will affect the light of an image. This is why they are shown in a triangle.

Let us consider this. You have an appropriate lighting scene at ISO 100, shutter speed at 1/125 and an aperture of f/16. However, what comes forth when there is no sun anymore?

This results in the scene getting two steps darker. This calls for the addition of two more stops of light into your settings to have an appropriate exposure.

You can have the addition with ISO (a change from 100 to 400). This compromises image resolution and quality. Images are characterized by grain and digital noise with higher ISO.

You can achieve a high-level camera shake in an image by changing the shutter speed two stops from 1/125 to 1/30. Please note that this affects the image. For this situation, the aperture will be changed from f/16 to f/8.

motion blur camera

This is all you should know concerning manual mode and the way to go about taking photographs with it.

The basic goal is to have an appropriate exposure from your scene, and you have the three settings in your camera.

You have the opportunity to capture a scene in numerous ways using these three settings. You only need to be familiar with it and soon, you will prefer using this mode to shoot.