How to Start Shooting in Manual Mode?

Manual mode in the only way to have complete control over your camera

If you truly want to get the maximum out of your DSLR, you need to learn using the manual mode. This is perhaps the only difference between your pictures and the ones that you see on Flickr and other sites that make your jaw drop. If you are using the automatic mode, try your hands on the manual mode and you will be able to notice a difference in the quality of your images right away as long as you know what you are doing of course. This is why seasoned photographers don’t the use automatic settings on their camera as it does not give them the control over their photography as they desire.

If you are the beginner photographer and you are not very knowledgeable about the various modes you can choose in your camera, this post is for you. The next few paragraphs will help you learn all about manual mode and why you should use it over automatic modes.

how to shoot in manual mode

Manual Mode – Total Control

With the manual mode, you get complete control over your photography. It allows you to control the major three features necessary to capture amazing photos: shutter speed, ISO, and the exposure triangle aperture. The following are some of the situations where using the manual mode can let you take control of your photography.

Bokehs: Do you love capturing bokeh? Using the manual mode in your camera is the best to create those artistic photos with backgrounds blurred and having circles of light.  To do this all you have to do is shoot at your lowest aperture setting otherwise known as your F-Stop. Make sure you are at 1.4 or 1.8

Shooting in Low Light Conditions: Are you shooting in low light conditions? You will have to make use of the manual mode to get the right exposure and shutter speed. This can be accomplished by making sure your ISO is a high number 1000 and up. This in combination with your shutter speed and aperture will get the perfect shot.

Silhouettes: Nothing captures silhouettes better than a camera set in manual mode. You can get this done by exposing for your background, or simply put by putting your subject in front of the light source. Most commonly used in front of the sun.

Motion Blur: If you want to include motion blur in your pictures, using the manual mode is a must to get amazing shots. To do this all you have to do is slow down your shutter speed. Try this on a tripod to make sure you do not get camera shake. A good shutter speed to start is 1/50 of a second and below. 

While the manual mode allows you to take control of your photos, it takes you a long time to process and prepare for the shot. This is because, as the name suggests, manual mode requires you to set everything manually. If you have time to capture amazing shots, working with the manual mode is the best idea. On the other hand, if you are in a hurry, an auto mode will work for you unless you are a seasoned pro.

manual mode for beginners

Shooting in Manual Mode – The Process

As we mentioned above, you need to control the exposure triangle to shoot amazing photos. This includes setting the camera for the ISO, the shutter speed, and the aperture. Here is the general process to be followed when taking photos using the manual mode.

  • There is a light meter visible through your viewfinder. Use it to check the exposure of the shot
  • Pick an aperture-the lower the aperture the more focus the entire image is.
  • Make adjustments to the shutter speed- use the shutter speed to compensate for the rest of your settings. 
  • Set the ISO to the right setting-most cameras have a native ISO of 100 try to stay there whenever you can. 
  • Don’t overexpose the picture-adjust your settings according to your light meter. 
  • Shoot-remember that practice makes perfect. 

It Lets You Deal with Tricky Light Situations

Learning to shoot in the manual mode is ideal when you have to shoot in tricky light situations. The auto mode of the camera cannot handle all kinds of lighting situations. Thus, learning to use the camera in manual mode is a must. Shooting in manual mode is truly the only way you have complete control of the light. And, if you don’t like to shoot with flash, you must learn to use the manual mode. This is because the automatic setting of the camera triggers the flash to open up in low light situations.

This was an introduction to the manual mode for beginners.  Did you start shooting manual mode yet?