I had a DSLR for a long time before I learned how to shoot manually by taking classes and seeking out knowledge. Now, I can’t imagine shooting auto. Still, I know I waited a long time to learn because I was intimidated. I’m a writer and numbers were involved (eek!). A few people have asked where and how I learned. I definitely recommend taking a class. A great one can be found through Nicole’s Classes (where they also often have sales) but if a class isn’t in the cards, check out a book like The Busy Girl’s Guide to Digital Photography.
My goal here is to make this a simple series–Photography 101 for shooting manually with your DSLR. It won’t be exhaustive because I want to focus on the basics in order to keep things as clear as possible.
First things first, turn your camera to M for Manual. If you’ve been playing around with other settings (I was always fond of Macro), you probably have taken some great photos. The issue with these presets is that they use Auto Exposure for each setting which may not be correct for the light, the depth of field, or the photograph.
Let me break it down the best I can.
So what is Exposure?Exposure: the actual process of capturing light with the camera to produce an image. It is the combination of the F-Stop or Aperture (the same thing) and Shutter Speed.Aperture or F-Stop: literal opening of the camera lens. It also controls the depth of field.* Annoyingly because it is opposite of my intuition, a large F-Stop gives a smaller opening while a small F-Stop give a larger opening. A smaller opening offers less light a darker exposure and a larger opening brings more light into the image and a brighter exposure.
Shutter Speed: It is the duration that shutter is open and exposed to light, measured in seconds. For example, if I am photographing sports, my shutter speed is going to be fast. If I want to take in a lightening bolt, I will have an extremely slow shutter speed so my shutter is open for longer in order to hopefully capture the bolt. A long shutter speed requires a tripod because one cannot hold a camera still long enough for that lightening both. Fast or slow, the shutter speed will affect the Aperture and vice versa.
ISO: This number is how sensitive the sensor on your DSLR is to light. A low ISO number means less sensitivity to light and a high ISO number means more sensitivity to light. A higher ISO also means more grain or “noise.” When possible shoot with as low of an ISO as possible. Change the ISO last after you have tried to adjusting the Aperture and Shutter Speed so you don’t lose quality. Like Aperture and Shutter speed, these all effect one another.
I have a Canon Rebel T2i so you may have to check your manual but this is where I am able to determine my exposure, change my aperture, shutter speed, etc. You’ll also see that I tried to take a picture with my phone of what you can see if you look through the viewfinder and press the shutter down slightly.Was this helpful? Feel free to ask me any questions but keep in mind this is a series of Photography 101. At first, this was so overwhelming me. Take a lot of photos. Put your camera on manual and play with the aperture and shutter speed.