This piece of content is a part of the free e-book Photography for Beginners (E-book with Videos): The Easiest Way to Learn DSLR Photography From the Comfort of Your Home. To see all the contents in this e-book, click here.
5. Learning How to Shoot in the Manual Mode
You saw how easy it was to shoot in the Automatic mode. All you had to do was to half-press the shutter button, lock focus and then press the button all the way down to take the shot.
Everything else was handled by the camera.
Manual mode is slightly different.
The initial process of taking a shot remains the same, i.e., you still have to half-press the shutter button, lock focus and then press the button all the way down to take the shot.
But this time there is no guarantee that the shot will be of the right brightness, sharpness, etc.
This is because the camera is no longer helping us in producing the correct image.
All the settings that go into making a shot are completely under our control now.
The first thing you should do is to use the mode dial to switch to the manual mode, which is represented by M, as shown in the image below:
Don’t confuse the manual mode with manual focus (MF). Manual mode is selected using the mode dial.
Manual focus and Auto focus are just focusing methods as seen before, which are selected by using the switch on the lens.
Right now, you should be on Manual Mode and Auto-Focus.
Alright then, we’re all set. But before we proceed, it’s important to know why we need to learn shooting in manual mode.
Shooting in the automatic mode is easy but it will restrict you as a photographer.
For instance, let’s take a look at the two shots below:
The picture on the right looks much better even though it’s of the same waterfall.
That’s because the shot on the right has been shot in the manual mode where the photographer was able to change the shutter speed of the camera.
What shutter speed is and how it functions is something that is a part of learning the manual mode which we will cover later. That’s when you will be able to understand what those numbers on both the shots mean.
Basically, in the manual mode, there are three main settings – Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, which come under your control.
And once you know how to use these settings, you can create ANY kind of shot that you ever wanted to.
The silky waterfall shot above can NEVER be achieved when shooting in the automatic mode. In the auto mode, you will always end up getting the image on the left.
Similarly there are other types of shots that you can only get when you know the manual mode, like the shot below:
Here, you can see that the image on the right looks much better as the photographer has been able to blur the background effectively and hence there are no distractions.
Again, this may or may not result in auto mode.
But in manual mode, using the aperture setting, you can get this shot 100% of the times because you know exactly what you have to do.
These are just two examples. The possibilities of using the manual mode in creating artistic shots are endless, as we’ll keep on learning.
In the video ebook, we’ll go through all these settings, one by one, so you can master the manual mode in no time.
Now fasten your seat belt because it’s time to really get started!!
How the Manual Mode Works
The Manual Mode of the camera depends on four things:
- Shutter Speed
- The Light in the Area
Out of these four, the first three are related to the camera and this is where our focus will be.
We will be going one by one and learning all these three settings.
But before we do that, it’s important that we learn how to change the value of these settings in the camera.
Once we know how to change these settings, we’ll start the process of understanding them.
So first of all, make sure you are on manual mode by using the mode dial to select ‘M’ as shown before.
Next, I want you to switch OFF your live-view so all the settings come on the screen, like the image below:
Now I want you to pay attention to the three values that you see on the screen as shown in the image below:
Keep an eye on these three settings.
Now it’s time to use the command dial. The command dial is a small black coloured wheel, located on the camera body, as shown in the image below:
Note that the location of the command dial can change from camera to camera. On some cameras, it can be on the top too.
Let’s see how we can use the command dial to change the different settings.
Changing Shutter Speed
The first value that you see is called as the shutter speed, like shown in the image below:
Right now you don’t have to know what shutter speed means. We’ll be covering that later on.
Right now we’re just learning how to change the value of shutter speed.
To change the shutter speed, all you have to do is to rotate the command dial, like shown in the video below:
Video 6: How to Change the Shutter Speed Using the Command Dial
The middle setting you see, i.e., the alphabet ‘f’ and a number (like f3.5) is the aperture setting, like shown in the image below:
Right now you don’t have to know what aperture means. We’ll be covering that soon in detail.
To change the aperture value, you again have to rotate the command dial but before rotating the command dial, you have to press a button which has the symbol +/- on it (called as the exposure compensation button).
See the images below to see where this button is located:
Once you locate this button, keep it pressed and then rotate the command dial. You’ll see that the aperture value changes. See the video below:
Video 7: How to Change the Aperture
ISO is the third settings and changing it is very easy. For Canon cameras, you just have to look for the ISO button and then press it to select the ISO value you want. See the image and video below:
Video 8: How to Change the ISO value
For Nikon cameras, you can press the ‘i’ button and then access the menu, select ISO and then select the value you want. See the image and video below:
Please note that different models may have the placement of the ISO buttons done a little differently. So I would advise you to look into your manual. But to be frank, it’s very easy to find out yourself.
Now that we know how to change these settings, let’s get started with learning what they actually mean. We’ll start with Aperture.