Photography is not as simple as most of us think. There is more to it than just point and shoot. It’s an art and as such, it has its own rules and requirements. Personally, I am way more interested in its artistic side than I am into technical requirements. I’ve used my camera on auto settings for a long time before I got frustrated for the first time. I was frustrated because I couldn’t get my camera to capture the view I wanted the way I wanted. I didn’t know how to operate my camera in a manual mode. And that was the day I came home, found my camera’s manual (I tend not to read manuals) and read it; a few days after that I booked my first photography class locally that was strictly a technical class. No artsy stuff, just technical details. I loved it. After that I’ve realized that photography has a lot more technical details than I would wish for. Grasping and understanding the technical requirements allow me to capture the view I want the way I want.So, what is the benefit of shooting in manual mode? The control. It allows you to control your camera and direct it to take the photos the way you want them.
I love the control shutter speed gives me. Shutter speed is very easy to grasp. By adjusting it, you control the movement of your subject. Are you shooting your kids soccer practice? I am sure your pictures will benefit more from a faster shutter speed, for instance 1/800 of a second, which will freeze the action of the event. A slower shutter speed (e.g. 1/30) will blurry moving objects and generally requires a tripod. If you don’t have one handy you can use surrounding rocks or other available objects to support your camera. The faster shutter speed requires more light than a slower one. So, if you are shooting during a mid-day, a higher shutter speed may be a better option. A slower shutter speed may let too much light in. Check out these photos from Wikipedia. It shows the difference of shooting with different shutter speed: from crispy clear at 1/800 to a blurred dreamy effect at 1 sec.
I love the Zoom Burst trick described by Peter Bragh:
Slow shutter speed with a zoom lens: Zoom BurstA great technique, known as a zoom burst, will work with cameras where the zoom can be adjusted manually while the exposure is taking place. You need to mount the camera on a tripod and set the zoom to either the short or long end of the focal length range. Then, with the camera on a slow shutter speed fire the shutter release and rotate the zoom barrel so it moves from one end of the focal length range to the other during the exposure. A steady uniform rotation is necessary to ensure a smooth zoom burst.
Zoom Burst by Beholder.
You wonder where to start? I started with my manual. After than I googled and browsed common photography terms such as aperture, shutter, exposure, white balance, depth of field, ISO, f-number, auto focus, focal length, panning, etc. Kodak.com has a nice Glossary of Photographic Terms. Once I realized how much I don’t know, I knew I need to take a class and have someone explain it to my. Photography classes were just introduction to a long learning process.
What about you? How do you control your camera?
Next time: Aperture.