Homework Assignment No. 5 — Manual Mode.
The fifth homework assignment I give students in my digital photography class at the Delaware Art Museum is to explore shooting in Manual Mode.
Why Manual Mode?
Many, perhaps most, professional photographers shoot in Manual Mode. While cameras in automatic and semi-automatic modes get better all the time, the camera cannot guess what you want. If you want to control the exposure, especially if you want the image darker or lighter, shoot in Manual Mode.
In three other posts, I discuss shooting in Program, Shutter-Priority, and Aperture-Priority modes. Those are good, but they still let the camera decide at least one of the three exposure variables and lets the camera decide how light and dark the image will be.
Usually, shooting in Manual Mode means you will use the camera’s built-in light meter. That meter can be set to meter the light coming from a point, from the entire scene, or from several key points. You can get a good exposure by changing the camera’s sensitivity to light (ISO), the shutter speed, and the aperture until you center the light meter. If you know you want a darker image, do not center the light meter but put it on the negative side of center. For a brighter image, put it on the positive side.
To make the image lighter, you can do three things: make the camera more sensitive to light by dialing in a higher ISO setting. Or, make the shutter speed longer (slower). Or, use a lower aperture number.
To make the image darker, you can do three things: make the camera less sensitive to light by choosing a lower ISO setting. Or, make the shutter speed shorter (faster). Or, use a higher aperture number.
Remember, changing the ISO controls noise, changing shutter speed controls motion blur, and changing aperture controls focus blur.