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Master manual mode: A beginner’s guide


Understanding how to shoot in manual mode is essential to gaining creative control in your photography. This video covers the basics of manual and semi-automatic modes.

Coming to you from Pat Kay, this informative video sheds light on manual mode and its benefits. Kay explains that while automatic and semi-automatic modes have their roles, manual mode gives you maximum control over your images. Automatic settings can often introduce exposure errors, especially in difficult lighting conditions or when you’re aiming for a specific creative effect. Manual mode gives you precise control over shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, which is important when you understand the exposure triangle.

Kay revisits the exposure triangle, emphasizing its three components: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Shutter speed controls how long the shutter is open, affecting motion blur and exposure. Fast shutter speeds freeze the action, perfect for sports or street photography. Slow shutter speeds let in more light, which is ideal for landscapes but can cause blur if there is movement. Aperture, measured in f-stops, controls the opening of the lens. Larger apertures (lower f-stop numbers) let in more light and create a shallow depth of field, resulting in pleasing background blur (bokeh). Smaller apertures (higher f-stop numbers) let in less light but increase depth of field, preserving more of the scene.

ISO effectively adjusts the sensor’s sensitivity to light. Lower ISO values ​​(e.g., ISO 100) produce higher image quality with less noise, while higher values ​​(e.g., ISO 12,800) increase sensitivity but can introduce noise and reduce noise. image quality. Kay emphasizes that while shutter speed and aperture have a direct impact on creativity, ISO is often used last to adjust exposure without affecting these creative choices.

In practical terms, Kay suggests prioritizing different elements of the exposure triangle depending on your subject and shooting conditions. For street photography, where freezing movement is important, start with shutter speed, then set aperture and final ISO adjustment. For portraits that need to blur the background, start with the aperture, then set the shutter speed and adjust the ISO as needed. For landscapes with a tripod, start with ISO at the lowest setting to maximize image quality, then set aperture for depth of field, and finally adjust shutter speed for exposure. suitable light.

That’s just the beginning, as semi-automatic modes like aperture priority (A or Av) and shutter priority (S or Tv) are also very useful. Watch the video above for Kay’s full rundown.

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