If you’ve missed any of the Move to Manual series so far, be sure to check it out!
We’ve spent the last several weeks covering all of the basic aspects of photography and how to use your camera. We’ve gone over the basics of composition and lighting; what aperture is; how shutter speed, iso and white balance can change your photos, and we’ve talked about metering. Now…it’s time to put it all together and start shooting in manual.
I set all of my shots up the same. Every single image that I take is set up the exact same, whether I’m indoors or out.
This tutorial isn’t that advanced or even all that detailed. But, as someone who learns by doing, sometimes, it helps just to know how someone else gets from point A to point B, so I didn’t want to leave it out. Keep in mind that no matter which way you decide to setup your shot, your photography won’t improve unless you practice. One of the biggest advantages that I’ve discovered with my 52 Faces project this year has been that I’ve had to shoot weekly. And in that time, I’ve seen my photography improve drastically. Because I’m practicing consistently.
Shooting in manual isn’t learned over night. It’s not something that you can perfect in just a few sessions. You have to practice. And practice. And then practice some more. Don’t get frustrated or discouraged. Just do it.
Set my Aperture
My depth of field and the bokeh that my lens creates is typically my top priority when I’m shooting. I want that creamy, dreamy effect in my images, so I always start out by setting my Aperture first. If I’m just shooting a single portrait, I start out at an f/stop of 2.0.
Set my Shutter Speed
Shutter Speed is the next thing I consider when I’m shooting. I know that if I’m shooting pictures of a moving toddler, that I’ll want something of at least 1/250 or 1/300. Noah’s quite the wiggle worm and is generally full of abounding energy. So, having a fast shutter speed that can freeze his movement is imperative.
Set my ISO
Since I’ve upgraded my camera, I don’t pay as much attention to my ISO as I used to. The capabilities of my lenses and the wider aperture paired with the quality ISO settings make shooting indoors or out fairly simple. I generally start my ISO at 200 and then I’ll work my way up a bit if I need to.
Set my White Balance
I use a Custom White Balance (the Kelvin setting) and change the light temperature according to where I’m at. Indoors, my Kelvin temperature usually ranges from about 4300-4600 depending on which room we’re in. Outdoors, I’m more likely to switch to one of the preset White Balance modes.
Test it Out
Once I get all of my settings adjusted, I take three or four test shots. When I’m doing test shots, I’m typically looking at four things:
- How the f/stop is impacting my picture: Is my aperture too wide? Are there any aspects of my subjects face that are blurry and not in focus because I’ve got my aperture set wrong?
- Whether or not the shutter speed is fast enough:Is there any camera shake or motion blur?
- How much noise in the image: Is there obvious and noticeable noise or grain?
- Is the color right: Are there strong tints of blue or red that need to be adjusted?
Once I check off all of these things and make my adjustments, I do another test shot. I repeat this several times (especially if I’m using a Custom White Balance and I’m having to adjust it accordingly) until I get the image that I want and see that my settings are good.
Meter & Shoot
Finally, I do my metering. Placing the metering spot on my subjects cheek, pressing halfway down, and then refocusing on the eye and click!
I do this same series of steps with every set of images. No matter where I’m shooting or who I’m shooting, the same setup occurs. The more you shoot (especially if you shoot in the same locations) you’ll learn to read the light and be able to guess your settings pretty spot on. I know almost exactly which settings I’ll use when I’m shooting indoors at our house. The light is usually the same, so most of my settings remain unchanged.
Again, keep in mind that shooting in manual comes more naturally the more that you practice!
I hope you guys learned at least a few things from this series! I’ve enjoyed all of your feedback and your comments here and on Facebook. I’m working on putting together and printable version of this series for those of you who have asked and emailed about it. It’s a few weeks in the making, so look for that to be released around the end of April.
I’m looking for suggestions for more series to come in the future! I’d love to know what you guys would like for me to share. Blogging? Blog Design? Editing? More photography tutorials? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!