Meagan Musing: Manual Mode - The Scary "M"

Meagan Musing


Manual Mode - The Scary "M"

My friend Courtney is writing a photography series on moving to manual. She's doing a great job explaining the fundamentals of learning your camera.

Reading her posts got me thinking about when I started shooting in manual over two years ago, so I thought I'd share with y'all how it worked for me.

I can precisely remember the first photos I took in manual mode on my Canon Rebel XSi. It was the end of January, a few months before Andrew's first birthday, and we were playing in our den.

It was cloudy so we didn't have too much light in the room, and I couldn't get anything I was happy with in aperture priority mode (Av) which is what I'd been shooting in for months.

So I switched the camera over to that big M and got this:

The first ever manual mode photo I posted to my blog.

Wow! I've come a long way!

This is a photo I took the other day in very similar lighting in the same room:

Fenway photo bomb! :)

I'm showing you this to encourage you to experiment with your camera's settings. (And to read Courtney's Move to Manual series if you don't know where to start!).

Often in aperture priority your shutter speed will be too slow and your camera won't crank up the ISO enough to get a proper exposure. (This was what was happening to me the day I took that photo of baby Andrew with funny hair!)

As a general rule you should keep your shutter speed faster than 1/160 when you're shooting kids. But if you're in a low-light situation, inside your den for example, and shooting in Av your camera will often drop your shutter speed to 1/60 or 1/80 to get the right exposure.

This is way too slow for shooting moving kids. You'd be much better off upping your ISO to 800 or even 1000. And if you're shooting in manual you can make that happen! But in Av your camera makes most of the decisions for you.

I know there are some lighting situations that are trickier than others and you're scared to miss a shot, but...

I'd encourage you to start easy: playing in your backyard, hanging out in the playroom. If you miss a shot due to a terrible exposure it won't be the end of the world. But you might just end up with a real winner.


Also this week,

I talked about photographing your kids while on vacation over at Ana's Bluebird Kisses. Go check in out! Ana's whole site is lots of fun!

Questions about manual mode? Let me know! Be confident - if I can do it, you can do it! :)

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  • thank you for posting this. I need to practice! going to check out the other links : )

    By Blogger Colleen, At March 28, 2012 at 9:24:00 AM CDT  

  • Great post! I always love seeing how far other photographers have come, too. I used to shoot in Aperture Priority, too. And then I started getting blurry shots because Noah won't sit still long enough. Haha. Thanks for the links, love!

    By Blogger Courtney K., At March 30, 2012 at 12:10:00 PM CDT  

  • Every time I try to switch to manual, I get frustrated and go right back to av. It's just too much to think about! I adjust exposure with the exposure compensation setting and I've learned the hard way to watch the shutter speed. I really should try again. Maybe with enough practice I'd be able to do it without having to think so hard and taking so much time!

    By Blogger deb duty, At March 30, 2012 at 1:35:00 PM CDT  

  • Firstly .. I friggin' love your header it's so cute!
    I have tried switching to manual so many times that I have kind of given up at the moment. I only tend to really hate my pictures when I am at home because I have really poor lighting in my house :(
    Luckily though we have had some amazing weather the past weeks or so and so I can be outside and take lovely pictures :)

    New Follwer btw x x x

    By Blogger Kelly-Marie, At March 31, 2012 at 5:23:00 AM CDT  

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  • hi! i just discovered your blog and love it. Since you asked for questions, here I am with one. I have recently switched to Manual and am getting the hang of it slowly. My only frustration is what do with focus points. I mainly take photos of my children at home and by the time I've decided where in the picture i want the focus, I look up and they've gone! lol. So basically I'm wondering, how do you do this quickly with kids? Do you miss a lot of shots like I am? Or is there some trick to it? Thank you for such a helpful blog!

    By Blogger Kelly Polizzi, At September 30, 2012 at 7:02:00 PM CDT  

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