Mastering Manual Mode

I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to use this post to pat myself on the back just a little bit :).  I am a person who doesn’t like change, and it is not unusual for me to do things the same way time after time without any variation.  It’s that “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” type of mentality.  What I mean by that is that I have been quite pleased with my photos taken in Auto mode over the last few years, so I just kept the dial in the same spot every time I took my camera out.  Lately though, I have been really determined to learn more about photography because what’s the point in having a beautiful DSLR camera if you don’t use its many creative features?

So, this weekend while my parents were visiting and we were driving around to see the Fall colours, I was adamant that I would take every single photo in Manual mode, or at least in Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority modes.  Obviously I am just learning, and it will take quite some time before I will feel like I really know what I am doing, but it was a lot of fun experimenting.   I still have many landscape photos to post which showcase the beautiful countryside at this time of year, but today I want to share some of my close-up shots with you.  I have been to many seminars in the past where they have explained about aperture and how it affects the depth of field, and I understood it at the time, but because I didn’t use that knowledge on a regular basis, it didn’t sink in.  I would be successful initially, but then I would go back to Auto mode and forget how to manually change my depth of field.

Now that I am forcing myself to use Manual mode every time, I really feel like I am starting to “get it”.  Here are a variety of close-ups that I took this weekend, all shot at very small f-stops.  You be the judge :).  Do you think I’m getting the hang of it?

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31 Responses to Mastering Manual Mode

  1. Great photos Cindy!! What a great decision!!! These photos are super!!! Manual mode – watchout!!! 🙂 **

  2. by jove, I think you’ve got it! beautiful photos!

  3. Rick Diffley says:

    Seeing the title of your article made me smile!

    Personally, and I write about this often, shooting in manual mode allows you more control and to be more artistic. Your images show this!

    Congrads and you can always drop me a question.

    • Oh, you are such a sweetheart :). Thank you! I do actually have a question that has been bugging me. First of all, you have to understand that I have only just learned how to correct the exposure in Manual mode by pressing the shutter halfway and adjusting +/- to get the right shot. However, let’s say I’m taking a landscape shot which includes a waterfall and I want the foreground to be in focus too, but I also want that dreamy look to the waterfall. I know I have to have a high f-stop to get the large depth of field and that I need a slow shutter speed to get the dreamy waterfall. One day I was trying this on Manual mode, but when I set the f-stop to 22 and the shutter speed to 2 seconds, it was not exposed correctly at all. In a situation like that am I correct in assuming that I can’t necessarily have both worlds – that I have to pick which is more important to me and then set the exposure accordingly? Does that make any sense at all? LOL Be patient – I’m a newbie 🙂

  4. Dor says:

    I dunno anything about modes or f-stops (sounds slightly risque). I do know you take great photos – never mind the modes. These are your usual spectaculars. 🙂

  5. Fantastic shots Cindy. I’d say you’re getting the hang of it.

    • Slowly but surely I’m getting there :). I’ve wanted to learn more about photography for years, but it was just too hard to find the time when the kids were little. Now that they are older, it’s easier to find a little “me time”. Thanks so much Edith!

  6. zannyro says:

    These are just outstanding! Wonderful!

  7. sayvan says:

    Great shots… so now I am curious about your lens… what are you using?

  8. TBM says:

    Nice work. But I’m having a hard time believing you don’t like change. Here’s a challenge, don’t organize your house for a whole week.

  9. zelmare says:

    Beautiful pictures. That second one is so very pretty! 🙂

  10. krikitarts says:

    I like your Closeup 3 especially well, Cindy. Not only is the DOF just right to pull the eye straight into the center of the brightest flower and tickle it with tantalizing, diminishing detail in those below it, but the way the focus fades in the leaves and stems on the right is very well done. Also excellent composition–there’s nothing in your frame that distracts from the overall impression. This is very nice work!

  11. Jeff Sinon says:

    Great shots Cindy. Manual isn’t as scary as most people think. The hardest part I think is that most people don’t take the time to actually learn how to operate the controls on their cameras, therefor making any attempts at using manual mode frustrating. But honestly, I only use it about 20%, or less, of the time. Mostly I’m an Aperture Priority guy. I shoot virtually 100% of the time on a tripod, and I know what f-stop I want, to get the DOF I’m looking for, the shutter speed, unless I’m shooting a moving subject, is almost irrelevant to me. Even when I am shooting moving water, I can still often get the shutter speed I want by using my circular polarizer, which is always on if I’m shooting water anyway, or adjusting the aperture.

    • I’m certainly not as intimidated by Manual mode as I used to be, but now you have me confused LOL!! I thought for sure you would be a “manual” guy. I guess I will just have to try all of the different settings and find out what works best for me :).

  12. Great photos! You did a wonderful job.

  13. You did great with these shots in full manual, your photos are beautiful !
    I always shoot full manual. Before, I would use aperture priority but with full manual my photos are much better.

    • Thank you so much :). Now that I have tried Manual mode, I don’t know why I waited so long! I think I was just intimidated by all the settings, but it’s not near as hard as I thought now that I understand the basic concepts of photography a little bit more.

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