If you’re like most people, you’ve undoubtedly heard over and again that you should use manual mode on your camera.
How does manual mode differ from automatic mode, and why is it so vital for your photography?
Let’s see if we can figure it out!
Manual mode is one of the most important settings on your camera, and it allows you to manage the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO manually with the camera.
In conjunction with one another, these three settings operate to determine how bright or dark your shot is (often referred to as exposure), as well as to alter the overall appearance of the image.
This is really crucial! Now, if you’re just getting started in photography, you might not even be aware of the functions of the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, so exerting control over these variables can be intimidating at first. But don’t let it deter you from getting out there and shooting!
The following is an important secret that I’m not sure I should share with you… It is not necessary to understand how to shoot in manual mode in order to obtain excellent photographs. Gasp! Yes, it is correct.
The automated settings (Auto, Program) and semi-automatic modes (Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority) on your camera are excellent locations to begin learning how to take photographs.
Information: Manual mode will provide you with a great deal of control over the appearance of your photographs.
Then, why bother learning to shoot in manual mode when your camera can make all of the necessary adjustments?
Because manual mode will provide you with far greater control over the appearance of your photographs. And that, my friend, is a monumental achievement.
Consider some of the most significant advantages of shooting in manual mode, as well as how it may help you improve the appearance of your photographs.
1. Take Creative Control
The most significant advantage of shooting in manual mode is that it allows you to exercise complete creative control over the aperture and shutter speed, as well as the overall brightness of the image.
Increasing the depth of field in your photograph may be achieved by manually changing the aperture on your camera. (How much of the image is in sharp focus, to put it another way. When capturing portraits, this may be really beneficial. A big aperture (smaller f/number) will assist you in creating shallower depths of focus, which can greatly aid your subject in standing out from the background – not to mention allowing you to produce some stunning bokeh.
On the other hand, if you want more of your photograph to be in focus, you might choose to use a narrower aperture (a higher f/number) instead. This may be advantageous in a variety of circumstances, such as landscape photography, when you want to capture both the foreground and backdrop in relatively crisp focus simultaneously. Shooting in manual mode allows you to make decisions based on the outcome you desire.
When it comes to shutter speed, having the ability to modify it might allow you to capture motion in more creative ways. Slower shutter speeds allow you to obtain images in which your subject appears to be moving, which is called motion blur. Consider those beautiful nighttime cityscapes with automobiles leaving trails of light behind them, or waterfalls with smooth, flowing water. You were able to capture that because of the slow shutter rates.
Alternatively, you could wish to entirely freeze a certain motion, such as a youngster jumping in mid-air. Using a quick shutter speed can assist you in capturing that fleeting moment in time. When you have the ability to pick your shutter speed, you can choose how movement is depicted in your photograph.
There will also be occasions when you’ll want to use your imagination to manage the overall brightness of an image (by manually adjusting shutter speed, aperture, and ISO).
Creating silhouettes, for instance, is a good illustration. Having your subject stand in front of a bright background and then purposely underexposing your subject so that they seem fairly dark is required for this effect.
Another example is the photographing of celebrities. In this case, you will most likely need to photograph with a big aperture (small f/number), keep the shutter open for a lengthy period of time (10-30 seconds), and use a higher ISO setting than usual.
To get the appearance you desire in these two instances, you must approach the settings selection process in a unique way for each one. Not only do unusual scenarios such as silhouettes and star photography benefit from exposure management, but so do a variety of other types of photography. A more general statement is that the brightness of your photograph is a matter of personal preference as much as aesthetic judgment. Being able to control the exposure of your photograph is critical to effectively communicating your message!
2. Handle Difficult Lighting Situations
Here’s another compelling incentive to learn how to shoot in manual mode: Some lighting conditions are simply too challenging for the camera’s automatic functions to handle! Attempting to shoot these circumstances in automatic mode would almost certainly result in incorrect exposure and be a frustrating experience.
Information: In some lighting settings, the camera’s automatic modes are just unable to cope with the scenario!
The most difficult circumstances are those in which there is the backlight. If the light behind your subject is significantly stronger than the light shining directly on your subject, your camera will attempt to modify the settings in order to catch the brighter light behind your subject. Your subject will be completely underexposed and difficult to perceive as a result of this mistake. This is not good.
This circumstance is similar to that described above in that it might be difficult for the camera’s auto-exposure setting to appropriately expose it. If your subject has a lot of strong light shining on it, but the background is quite dark, your camera may opt to expose for the darker background rather than the brighter subject. Your subject will be completely overexposed in this situation.
If you’ve ever shot in automatic mode, or even simply with a camera phone (which virtually always shoots in automatic mode), you’ll understand how aggravating these scenarios can be! Personally, they make me want to hurl my camera out the window, or at the very least pout for a few minutes…
Fortunately, for grumpy photographers like myself, there is a workaround. You guessed it: it’s true. Manual mode is available. Being able to manually alter your camera settings will allow you to ensure that your subject is correctly illuminated, rather than battling with your camera to get it to comply as you would otherwise.
Another common issue is photographing in low-light conditions. It appears that the auto settings of most cameras are programmed to trigger the camera’s flash if there is even the smallest suggestion of darkness in the environment. The problem is that the on-camera flash is a complete disaster! If you’re shooting in manual mode, you have the option of adjusting the ISO setting on your camera (increasing the sensitivity of the sensor). When shooting at a higher ISO, there is more image noise, but we would rather have more noise (which can frequently be adjusted in post-processing) than an unsightly camera flash.
3. Get Consistent Exposures
Using Auto mode means that you are allowing your camera to choose how bright or dark the shot should be for each and every photo you take. The trouble is that every time you hit the shutter release, it’s a little like taking a chance on something.
In essence, your camera has a light meter, which measures the amount of light that enters through the lens and records the results. As soon as the camera detects light, it goes into auto mode and calculates the best settings for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO based on what it feels is the best exposure for the situation. This should result in a nice exposure when you shoot the picture in auto mode. It is possible that the exposure will vary when the frame changes (because you have moved the camera, your subject has moved, or the lighting has changed). The result is that two images taken one after the other in the same scene may have significantly differing exposed values from one another. It has the potential to produce an extremely inconsistent group of photos.
In contrast, if you’re shooting in manual mode, your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings will remain constant between shots unless you make a manual adjustment to them. You may rest assured that you’ll receive regular exposure to the elements.
Getting consistent exposures may not appear to be a significant concern at first glance, but consider how it may affect your photography in the long run. If you are able to get predictable and repeatable results, you are no longer taking a chance – you are simply winning every time!
When shooting for a living, it is very crucial to have consistency in your output. When the brightness of a succession of images in an album or gallery is irregular, the result might be aesthetically unpleasant. Fortunately, some of this can be addressed with editing (particularly if you’re filming in raw), but in most cases, it’s a waste of time to spend your time attempting to fix problems in post-production that you could have easily avoided in the first place.
Tips for Shooting in Manual Mode
If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ve realized how amazing it can be to shoot in manual mode! You may get greater control over the appearance of your image and avoid having to battle the camera in order to get your shot to look the way you want it to! So, let’s talk about some pointers for becoming a master in manual mode operation.
All it takes is time
The first thing you should know is that it may take some time before you feel completely comfortable shooting in manual mode, especially if you are just starting out in the world of digital photography. You have so much to consider, such as composition, lighting, subject interaction, and so on, that it may be difficult to remember to keep your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO under continual consideration as well.
We really avoided using manual mode for a lengthy period of time when we initially started out filming. It just seemed to be too difficult! We used to shoot in Aperture Priority for a few years until we recognized that learning Manual mode was essential if we wanted to have complete creative control over our images.
But the most important thing to remember is that it will ultimately seem natural and intuitive! It just takes a few hours of practice until your settings become quick and easy to alter. So don’t give up on it!
Get Started With the Program Mode
If you’re just starting started with photography, you may wish to start with the automatic option and gradually go to manual mode. You can begin by shooting in the Program mode (which is typically designated by the letter “P”). This mode is similar to Auto mode, except it also allows you to adjust the exposure compensation. To put it simply, exposure compensation allows you to instruct the camera to make a photo brighter or darker than the automated settings (by adjusting a dial-up or down while shooting). When shooting in Program mode, if the shot appears to be too dark, you may raise the exposure compensation and then take another photo, which will be brighter. It’s a pretty simple technique to begin exerting greater control over the appearance of your photographs.
Move Up to Aperture Priority Mode
Once you’ve gotten a feel for Program mode, you may progress to Aperture Priority mode and beyond. When shooting in aperture priority mode, you may choose your aperture and ISO, but the camera will choose the shutter speed for you. Once you get the hang of Aperture Priority mode, you’ll find that you have a lot more control over the depth of field in your photographs. With Aperture Priority, you also have access to exposure correction, which allows you to adjust the brightness of your images. You’re now in command of a couple of things! Take a look at how far you’ve come! Once you’ve become used to shooting in Aperture Priority mode, it’s only a short jump to Manual mode!
Aperture Priority Mode Vs Manual Mode
In fact, I now believe that there are some instances in which it is preferable to utilize Aperture Priority rather than Manual mode! While light conditions change fast (or when you’re traveling through a variety of lighting situations), it’s possible to miss a photo if you try to modify the settings on your camera manually. When photographing photos journalistically in environments with a great deal of variation, this is frequently the case. Don’t believe the myth that Manual mode is the only option. The goal is to feel at ease in every mode before selecting the most appropriate one for the scenario at hand!
Note: The trick is to become familiar with all of the camera’s modes before selecting the most appropriate one for the circumstance.