Learning Your DSLR:Manual Mode

When I began learning to shoot in manual mode all the time it took a lot of practice. The information provided in posts What is Aperture?, What is ISO?, and Figuring out Shutter Speed will help you to move on the full manual mode. It is a scary thought I know but you can do it! I learn best by doing and looking at examples so I hope this helps you as well.

I gathered some photographs taken with different lenses and in different lighting situations all with a special purpose. The first image I took while my family went on a walk. We had just adopted our dog from the Bella Vista Animal Shelter and was enjoying a warm fall day. I wanted to capture the dog as the focal point of the image and show what was going on in the scene. I needed an ISO of 100 because it was bright outside, an f-stop of 4.5 because I wanted the background blurred but still visible and the shutter worked at 1/100 sec to balance the lighting. If I needed a slower shutter due to strong shade cover I would have bumped my ISO up.

Camera: Canon EOS 7D; ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/100 sec
Camera: Canon EOS 7D; ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/100 sec

 

In this next photograph, I wanted to blur the background completely. I used aperture as my priority to get right for what I needed to accomplish. I set the camera to f/2.8 and focused on her right eye and used ISO 400 since the sun was bright but beginning to go down. Lastly, my shutter was 1/640 of a second much faster than it needed to be for a still image but fast because I was letting in so much light using f/2.8. I ended up changing my white balance on this one because the setting sun made the image too warm for a summer day.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark II; ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/640 sec using a 200 mm lens.
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II; ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/640 sec using a 200 mm lens.

 

This next image is framed as a square metal print in my bedroom. I love this picture because it represents new beginnings. This was the first bloom of spring from the magnolia tree in our yard. I don’t have a true macro lens so I used my 85 mm prime lens. My settings are very similar to what they were in the previous image. I prioritized my f-stop to 2.8 so I could get a creamy background blur so that the flower would pop. ISO was 400 because it was somewhat overcast and I had a fast shutter mostly due again to the aperture I prioritized but also I needed a super sharp image.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark II; ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/1000 sec using an 85 prime lens.
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II; ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/1000 sec using an 85 prime lens.

 

For this photograph I had to use a high ISO due to the darkness and balance the shutter speed so that I could get the lights coming from the spot light and the building in the background. My f-stop needed to be 8.0 so I could get as much visible as I could. I wanted to get the design of the Crystal Bridges building across the water. At concerts I use 1600 ISO and f/2.8 so I can use a faster shutter. In this situation a fast shutter wasn’t necessary since the subject was relatively still.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark II; ISO 4000, f/8.0, 1/125 sec using a 24-70 lens at 41mm focal length.
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II; ISO 4000, f/8.0, 1/125 sec using a 24-70 lens at 41mm focal length.

 

I have to throw in a picture of my new nephew who is two days old in this photograph. I placed him in front of a window and unfortunately it was severely overcast and very little light was coming in so I had to bump my ISO much higher than I wanted to at 4000. Babies should be photographed softly so I used 3.2 as my aperture and 1/160 sec shutter. Even at this setting I had to brighten the photo through exposure and because the photo was taken in a house my white balance had to be adjusted for the tungsten lights.

 Camera: Canon 5D Mark II; ISO 4000; f/3.2, 1/160 sec using an 85mm prime lens.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark II; ISO 4000; f/3.2, 1/160 sec using an 85mm prime lens.

 I hope this helps you get started playing with your manual setting! Have fun and share your photographs with me!

If you want to schedule a photo session where you can relax and have someone else take your family portraits, give me a call.