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Manual Mode Here We Go!

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

It was a disposable Kodak camera that got me into photography all the way back in elementary school sometime in the early 2000s. My parents bought me one of the little box disposable cameras to take on a school field trip and I was hooked on the shoot and roll.

Over the years I collected an array of photography gear that I had no idea how to use but because of the price tag, I thought my photos would be next level. When that didn't happen I became disillusioned with photography.

Fast forward like, I don't know...many years but not that many because I'm not that old, I read a book on using a DSLR camera (the fancy big ones with all the settings), on manual and I was back at it.

Obvs I still have lots to learn but what I do know, I want to pass on to you! So here are my quick tips on using your camera on manual mode and getting creative.

1. ISO Is Your Friend

This setting tells your camera how much light it needs to let in based on how dark or lit (hey!) the environment is. Simply remember this: the darker it is the higher the ISO number needs to be, the brighter it is the lower the number needs to be.

But--because there is always a but-- don't take it too high because then you will get grainy photos. Unless that's what you want!

2. Aperture and Bokeh

Don't you just love those photos that play with the focus? I think we love it so much in fact that Apple had to add that feature to the iPhone camera app. On an actual camera the effect is achieved through the aperture. The bigger the aperture number the more focused everything in the frame will be and the smaller the number the more blurred objects you will get in your shot. This is also what people refer to when they talk about depth of field.

Keep in mind however, that the bigger aperture number means there is LESS light coming into your camera and vice versa.

3. Shutter Speed

This is basically how fast your camera blinks. Fast shutter speeds are great for sports and other fast action shots. For slower speeds then you'll want to use a tripod or you'll get fuzzy photos. Generally, with a fast speed you want a wide aperture (low number) so your camera can get enough light in during the "blink" and the opposite is true for a slow shutter speed.

Yes, I know that's all kind of annoying to remember which is why I usually like to keep shutter speed on auto and just focus on aperture and ISO. This is helpful if you're shooting an event and don't have time to readjust your settings between shots. It also makes the photoshoot process more enjoyable when I don't have to do a whole algebra equation to figure out the best shot. I invite you to try this!

4. Shoot RAW

This format captures more light information giving you more freedom when it is time to edit. When your editing software has a wider range of information on the shadows, highlights and colors in your shot then you can edit those further without your photo losing quality; looking grainy or fuzzy.

That's it! I hope this inspires you to shift that camera dial from auto to manual and run wild and free in your photo creativity.

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