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Dial M for manual #photography

Some photographers always shoot in manual and in raw. This is the sign of a true professional and they can even denigrate other photographers who aren’t so clued up! Is shooting in manual better or necessary? This week, I dial M for manual and look at the possible uses. Most of the time, however, I shoot with my dial on aperture priority and I shoot in jpeg.

Dial M for Manual

Dial M for manual

This picture shows the screen on my Nikon D750. You can see the large M which means it is set on manual. The white balance is set on fluorescent and there wasn’t good light. There wasn’t enough light to shoot at 1/100 of a second without increasing the ISO; making the sensor more sensitive to light. There is more useful info on that display. My focusing is spot and my metering is centre-weighted. Notice that under the shutter speed and aperture readings is a scale with + at one end and – at the other end. This scale shows the exposure. A set of bars are indicated just below the line going towards the – side which means this shot will be slightly underexposed. To get the exposure just right, I could shoot slightly slower and perhaps try 1/80 of a second or shoot with a wider aperture. Both options would allow more light into the camera and increase exposure.

Under-exposed

At times you might want a shot under-exposed and so you can set the shutter speed on 1/100 of a second for a sharp image and then keep making the aperture narrower until you get the the exposure you want.  This can be useful when your taking pictures of the moon if it’s reflecting a lot of light. It can also be useful for shooting a picture where you want silhouettes against a fairly dark sky.

Over-exposed

There are times when you might want to overexpose your shot. If you are taking a photograph of something with the sun breaking through in the background. Your subject is in shadow so you meter your subject but you can simple blow out the background and make your subject lighter by changing the exposure too. In this case, centre weighted metering or spot metering works better.

Aperture priority

When you’re shooting on aperture priority that scale should be balanced. If it is showing with a negative bias then your shot will be underexposed so if you have set your aperture then your shutter speed is still too fast. You then have to increase your ISO setting until you have a fast shutter and the correct exposure. If the correct exposure looks a little dark when you preview your shot then you can use exposure compensation to slow the shutter speed between 1/3 of a stop and 5 stops.

Programmed auto

Your camera has a computer controlled light meter and so on programmed auto you can select a aperture/shutter speed combination that suits your shot and let the camera do all the work. That’s a great option at a fast moving event when you don’t have time to consider settings. Manual is useful when you’re trying to be really creative and the rest of the time either aperture priority or shutter speed priority should meet all your needs. I just dial M for manual for those really creative shots.

That’s all for this week. If you would like to subscribe to my blog just enter your email address at the top of the sidebar or follow me on Twitter for links to the latest post. Those links are also on my Facebook page.

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