Making Manual Mode Less Back-Breaking
Making Manual Mode Less Back-Breaking
The question that is probably swirling in your mind after having read the chapter’s name is why shoot in manual mode anyway. The answer is quite simply that when you shoot in manual mode, you will have complete control over everything that is going in the picture. In order to completely master the manual mode, you will need to become an expert at combining the three elements of the exposure triangle i.e. ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. While each of the individual elements has been covered in a previous chapter, we will still touch on them again in this one. Along with that, here are some situations where being adept at shooting in the manual mode will be an advantage:
- If you are planning to take a photograph that is a silhouette
- In cases where you want to end up with a Bokeh. These photographs are a combination of circles of light on a blurred background.
- In order to take a picture that will need a creative shot, focal point, or an angle to come out perfectly
- When you are shooting in low light, then knowing how to operate the manual mode will prevent unexpected flash from ruining your pictures
- If you want a picture that makes use of artistic blur to represent motion
One of the biggest drawbacks is that is associated with shooting in manual mode is that it is a time consuming process. Since you have to specify each setting by hand, it will take you much longer to take a picture in manual mode, even if all the settings are under your complete control. If you are to be the best at your craft, then you will have to balance the pros and cons of shooting in each mode for every shoot. Know when it will be the right choice to take your time and get every detail right by shooting in manual mode and when it is okay to rely on preset modes.
As you have already read and probably knew before that, ISO refers to how sensitivity your camera’s sensor is to light. That means, if you are shooting outside on a bright sunny day, then the ISO setting in your camera should be as low as 100. If it is a cloudy day, then your sensor will need to be exposed to more light and the ISO setting will need to be increased slightly. For situations where you are shooting indoors or are in a darker place, then the ISO setting might have to be as high as 800-1600. The same goes for any shoots that take place at night. Remember that with high ISO settings, the pictures will come out grainier.
As mentioned before, the aperture is the lens’s diaphragm’s opening and its settings work backward. The higher settings for the aperture will mean a smaller number and vice versa. The range of distance at which the subject in the photograph appears sharp is known as the Depth of Field. The aperture of your lens determines the Depth of Field.
If the value of the aperture has you consider, try to keep this simple example in mind: if the aperture setting is small, then the subject you’ve focused on will be sharp. This is because a smaller number means a larger aperture. If you want to focus on the subject, as well as, the things in the background, then choosing a small number won’t work. A large number meaning a small aperture would make all the elements of the picture sharp, regardless of their distance.
The aperture values are measured in f/stop values. If the f/stop value is small, then a large part of the lens has been opened. What this means is that more light will be entering the lens and falling on the sensor. Consequently, the background will be blurry due to less depth of field. The opposite is true for higher f/stop values.
The last setting that you need to know how to handle happens to be the shutter speed of your camera. The simplest way of describing shutter speed is the duration for which your camera’s shutter will stay open. If the shutter stays open for longer, then the camera sensor will be exposed to light for a longer time. A longer exposure time can mean you will be able to photograph the stars with your camera, and blur people and waterfalls. Yet another use of long exposure time is that it comes in handy when you are shooting in low light.
Conversely, with an exposure as short as say 1/5000, capturing of an object on the move becomes possible. That means, you can photograph a cyclist who passes by and yet end up with a clear, sharp picture. If you are shooting outside on a sunny day, then you can also use a short exposure to take pictures that require large aperture.
The one caveat that comes from a short exposure time or faster shutter speed is related to you and not your camera! The smaller the time of exposure, the more likely that your camera will be recording the movement your hands make. In order to avoid that, you can use a tripod. For a good picture, you should try to support yourself against a wall and stop breathing for a second or two. The next thing is to make sure that your face is not touching the viewer before pressing the shutter.
When you shoot in manual mode, as its name suggests, you have to set everything yourself. While this gives you complete control over the photograph, it also means that the settings of your choice complement each other. Try to visualize the combined effect of the trinity of the exposure triangle before taking a photograph. One way of lessening the confusion that is likely to result from trying to manage all three things at once is to prioritize. Think which of the three is the most important and spend some time getting that element right. Think if you’d rather focus on getting a shallow depth of field or the right light. If you choose the former, then you need to pay attention to the camera’s aperture. The ISO should be your priority for the latter. On the other hand, if you want to capture a subject in motion and/or avoid motion blur, then you will need to concentrate on shutter speed. Thus, it depends upon your objective.
The lower part of most cameras will include a little meter that lets you know whether you are over- or under-exposed when shooting in manual mode. Your goal should be to avoid both extremes and get the pointer to stay in the centre.