Saturday, August 6, 2011

manual mode

I will be the first to admit that shooting in manual mode is daunting. I never know where to begin and I'm always afraid of missing my shot because I'm fidgeting with settings. When I'm shooting something that matters, I shoot in aperture priority mode and use exposure compensation to get the exposure the way I imagine it. In theory, I could shoot manually and adjust the RAW file in post-production, but that doesn't feel right to me. So I don't shoot manual often. But the only way to get better at something is to do it. Practice, practice, practice.

It was drizzling outside but the light was lovely. Raindrops were dripping off all the leaves and as soon as one fell, another took its place. There was no stress because I was shooting for myself.
I took a walk around my house, playing with the manual settings on my camera. I started in program mode and many of my shots were keepers because Kaylee (my camera) knows my taste well. But there were some that were just bleh. The lighting conditions fooled the meter and I couldn't get satisfied with those shots. I looked at the settings Kaylee had chosen and used them as a starting point for a manual exposure.

For ease of comparison, all shots were processed using the same action (Color Flare from MCP Actions' Quickie Collection), sharpened, and resized. I had to resist the urge to adjust them otherwise. And yes, I know the composition isn't exactly the same for all of them. I fidget a lot, remember?

top: P, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 500, 55mm
bottom: M, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 1000, 55mm
rainy walk manual comparison 1
I liked the exposure that my camera set but I wanted to freeze the water droplets running off the roof so I upped my shutter speed and ISO to compensate.

top: P, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO 1600, 53mm
bottom left: M, f/5.6, 1/64, ISO 1600, 53mm
bottom right: M, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO 1600, 53mm
rainy walk manual comparison 2
I loved the top shot and wanted to keep the settings to get a few more. I walked closer to the tree so I could keep the same settings and focus on the leaf. Then I stepped back to where I stood for the original shot and slowed the shutter speed a smidge to let in just a little more light.

top: P, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 400, 55mm
bottom: M, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 800, 55mm
rainy walk manual comparison 3
This one is like night and day. I loved my composition but the original shot was so dark. I bumped the ISO up a lot to let in a lot more light and suddenly, I was in love with the shot.
I kept the f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 800, 55mm and managed to get these lovely shots, just pulling back slightly to change the composition.
rainy walk manual diptych

top: M, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 800, 55mm
bottom: M, f/5.6, 1/64, ISO 800, 55mm
rainy walk manual comparison 4
I kept the settings from the previous photos but it was a little too dark so I slowed down my shutter speed a touch and it was perfect.

While I am nowhere near proficient with shooting manually (yet), I have to admit that those shots have a quality to them that I love.


  1. I swear, if I ever have a wedding, you will be my photographer. You're very talented.