Have you ever been confused about how to do manual photography? With these easy tips you can be shooting in manual in no time. So let’s get started.
Manual photography is simply a term to describe photographing things using the manual setting. You’ll find the “M” setting on your dials, located at the very top of your camera. (See photo).
Every single camera that has “dslr” or “slr” has one of these. Manual photography demonstrates that the manual setting is the big “M” on your dial.
Once you turn the dial to M, your manual photography starts. And once you learn how to do it properly, manual photography becomes so much fun and enjoyable. You can then control the way the camera lets light in to the lens. You lens, by the way, is a bit part of manual photography, but learning about your lens is for another time. Right now I’ll teach you some basics about getting started in manual photography.
Firstly manual photography is the best way to control the lighting in your camera. You can control your shutter speed, your iso and your aperture, otherwise known as F stop. These are all really important things in manual photography because it means you can adjust what you see fit, all all situations.
In my experience (having done manual photography for many years), manual photography is like the central control from which the lighting is controlled by. In other words it’s the central hub of your manual photography operation. When manual photography is done properly, you can get the most stunning photos of your life.
When you change your camera from auto to manual, you will notice your internal light meter begin to display in the camera itself. It looks like this photo.
Your internal light meter
The small symbols you see are the first thing to be aware of in manual photography. They are your internal light meter. The two black squares and the black arrow indicate how much light is being let into the lens. When the black squares and arrow show more towards the negative – , it means there is not enough light. When it moves more towards the positive +, it means there is too much light coming in.When there is only one black square sitting under the circle in the middle, it means that there is just the right amount of light entering your lens and your photo will be properly exposed. Manual photography depends very much on your ability to watch what this small indicator is letting you.
Manual photography is the key to understanding what shutter speed to use, and what f stop is best for the scene you are shooting. However, manual photography won’t tell you how fast something is going. Your internal light meter can only judge what is in front of it, not how fast that car is whizzing by you.
This is where manual photography gets beyond the camera. Your ability to know your camera like a best friend and understand how your camera interprets light is where the “manual” in manual photography come from. In other words you will have to determine the most accurate shutter speed for a fast moving object without help from the camera. This takes time and is able to be learned without any problem.
Manual photography teaches us that as good as the camera can be, it cannot tell you everything. And sometimes when you place the camera on the most perfectly exposed setting, the photo may be a little under exposed. Why is this? Not all cameras understand what “light grey” means or what “charcoal grey” means. Sometimes, depending on your camera, your light reading will tell you that “light gray” is really white. So too can it tell you that “charcoal grey” means black.
By knowing manual photography well, and knowing how your camera interprets colour and tone, you’ll be able to know that in order to get sharp, crisp whites, you must increase the aperture by one stop. My camera thinks that when it see’s white, it is actually light gray and will tell me this. I know different however, so I always move the aperture one stop. The internal light meter will tell me the white picture is overexposed but I know better. When I shoot the image, out comes a perfect exposed white scene, even though the internal light meter told me different.
You can see that manual photography is a little more complicated than normal! But do not worry, manual photography can be learned.