Saturday, December 17, 2011

Learning to Shoot in Manual Mode- Lesson 4 (Putting it all together)

Okay we've gotten through the technical stuff, so now we've arrived at the fun part. . . actually doing it!  And just in time for Christmas so you can get some great family shots.  You'll want to make sure you're good and ready for this post by reading the last three posts in the series carefully and commenting with any questions.

When you are shooting in manual mode and you look through your viewfinder, you will see something like this at the bottom:

This is your meter.  Your camera tells you how it thinks your image will be exposed based on your current settings, the zero being correctly exposed. 

For me, I usually keep my ISO around 200 unless I find myself needing to raise it (which you may need to do more often if you don't have a lens with the ability of a wide aperture setting like 2.8 or lower).  When I'm going to compose an image I choose what I want my aperture setting to be based on what depth of field I'm looking for.  I usually shoot between 1.4 and 2.8 unless I'm doing groups of people who aren't on the same plane. 

Once I've got my aperture setting where I want it I look through my viewfinder and see what my camera tells me.  I adjust my shutter speed however I need to get my meter (as seen in the picture above) at the zero.  If my shutter speed falls too low I will raise my ISO or open my aperture more so I don't risk blur.  If the shutter speed is acceptable I go ahead and take a shot.

The next, very important step, is to look at the image and see what you think.  Your camera can very often be fooled by lighting and backgrounds so you may need to adjust your shutter speed (or one of the other settings if you would like) and try the shot again. 

And that's pretty much it.  Sounds so easy now, huh?  Well give it a try and start playing around.  It's all about practice.  And of course comment here with any questions. 

Things to remember:
- Always set your white balance.  So important!
- Use spot metering when shooting people.  I talked more about that in one of the previous posts so look back if you don't remember. 

Thanks for reading, I hope to see some pictures and hear some success stories!!!


  1. Ok thanks Jill - I'm not sure I can be ready to shoot manual by Christmas but we'll see... this has been great though and I thank you for getting me started in manual mode!

  2. I could tell that we’re on the same interest and obsession. Good to know someone I could share my ideas. Looking forward to know and learn some more from you. I'll be glad to share my own thoughts to you soon. Thank you for sharing such valuable articles. More power!

  3. I was a follower of Women who do it all and now I am excited about your new adventure and learning more. I've been learning my camera forever (it seems).
    Question, tried to put it all together and I couldn't get my meter back to 0. Do you have to do your settings in a certain order? I was trying to keep my iso at 200, and my lens doesn't open wide for the blurry (i so wish it did). I'll stop now, I don't want to put too much in my comments :)

  4. Craftedbymama,
    Were you inside? If you were inside (where there isn't a ton of light to work with) it is very likely that you will have to crank the ISO up around 800 or invest in a lens that lets in more light (look into Tamron lenses, maybe one that opens to a 2.8 as that should be sufficient without totally breaking the bank). You could also try moving right next to a big window. I am almost certain that you're problem of not being able to get your meter to zero is because your settings were not letting in enough light. Don't be afraid to crank up the ISO if you need to. Let me know if that helps!


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