Photography Friday: Shooting in Manual Mode

Dear blog readers. I love you. I must really really love you. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t DREAM of posting this video tutorial in which I thoroughly embarrass myself and have a totally blond moment (please don’t take offense if you are blond, clearly I’m just jealous!)

So hopefully you will take the good with the bad because I think this is a pretty straightforward explanation of how to use your DSLR’s built in light meter to shoot in manual mode.  I think.

But then again, I do things like try to take pictures with my lens cap on, so you never really know now do you?

Without further ado, said video:

Damn, I should have gotten a manicure before shooting this, there’s some pretty extended footage of my fingers doing nothing.. exciting stuff people, exciting stuff.

Have a great weekend!

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Natalie says:

ok.. i am so bad at leaving comments(usually because i’m nursing/holding a baby) but i HAVE to tell you how helpful this video was! i was feeling so frustrated with not knowing how to work my new camera and your video made total sense!!! my hubby even looked over my shoulder and was like oh wow that is awesome. and we both got a kick out of the camera lense. awesome. thank you so much!!

Anna says:

I am loving your blog!
I am a beginner. I have a rebel T1i and 18-200 lens
after reading your blog i went out to attempt manual
I think I got 3 out of 200. I enjoy shooting my moving children – that is the only thing they do at ages 2-6. Is this possible in Manual?
any tips?

nikki says:

Oh my goodness…just tested this on my camera and got perfect shots every time, without having to fumble around and take 50 shots adjusting my settings. Thank you so much…such a simple thing that i never knew. Your tutorials are amazing, please keep posting!

Kristine says:

thank you so much for this tutorial. i have been reading a ton of stuff trying to learn how to use my camera manually and this video tutorial taught me more in 5 minutes than all the reading I did in 5 hours. thanks for sharing your talent and knowledge with me.

Ashley says:

Thank you thank you for doing this! :) I switched to Manual about 2 months ago & i love it…now I just need to nail down metering!

stephanie says:

Thanks for the great tutorial! I’d love to hear how this would work with an ettl speedlite! =) That is where I am now. Does the meter automatically reflect the speed lite settings when on?

Jessica says:

You don’t know how much this helped me. You probably felt like it was a silly video. But I just took my first picture in manual mode and it turned out PERFECTLY. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

ariana says:

That’s great Jessica!! Maybe a little comic relief is a good thing ;)

Lindsay says:

Thanks! This gave me some confidence to actually try out manual mode. Here goes nothing!

Jill says:

I finally had a chance to watch this without a baby to try to grab both the computer and camera. This was so helpful (especially since I have the same camera, ha ha)! Thank you so much for the great tutorial! I have been so scared to use the manual settings (even though I used to shoot with a 35mm SLR using manual settings), but no more!

Tessa says:

Very helpful video. Thanks for posting.

Linda says:

Thank you for this video. Ive watched many online videos, but they go into to much detail that I either loose interest or have no idea what there talking about. You think you were ditzy, but in fact your just like everyone else, which is why we relate & are able to learn. Thank you!

ariana says:

Aw, thanks! Makes me feel kinda guilty that I haven’t done one in so long!

Katie says:

Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve just kindof been scrolling around with my camera until something looks good. I’m serious. I thought it would come to me after a while but it really hasn’t so I’m learning I need to hunker down and watch some tutorials or read the manual. This was delightful. Thanks

Georgia says:

If you want great exposure and not have to futz around with taking several “test” shots, pick up an 18% grey card (Kodak makes one and then there’s the awesome Photovision Calibration Target). You can move to spot metering, aim at the middle grey section of the card and meter off that. You’ll get perfect exposure without the added risk of blowing out highlights. It makes Manual mode SO much easier.

I meter for exposure on middle, 18% grey, and then leave it alone from there. I never adjust again until I move to another area with different lighting or need to adjust for sunset.

Kate says:

That was so helpful! I feel like I just learned so much more about my camera!

DC Gal says:

Lurker here…THANK YOU so much for posting this. It was sooo useful for a beginer like me!

Kimberly says:

Really nice tutorial – made it nice and clear… but I’m curious what the real difference between shooting the way you’ve demonstrated here in Manual and shooting in AV mode is… seems you’re still relying on the camera’s light meter to determine shutter speed… wouldn’t AV mode be about the same result?

BTW, I made a decision re: post-processing software. I asked the guy at my photography store what he thought… apparently Elements 7 DOES have layers, mask, curves… so I think I’m going to go that route for now… I can get it for right around $50 at Costco when they have their rebates. :) Meantime, I’m downloading 30-day trials.

HamiHarri says:

Great video – you are so cute and KNOWLEDGABLE! Thank you and happy weekend!

kari says:

did you make that video just for me???
loved it! I am going to go play now!

have a wonderful weekend!
ps – i do the lens cap thing all the time!

Chrissy says:

LOL, you did! I plan on bringing all of them and playing with it really. I’ll let you know how they turn out, thanks again.

Rachel says:

You are too funny! That lens cap was great. I learned a lot from this video so I’m glad you decided to post it, thanks!

Chrissy says:

I was driving to work this morning thinking I was going to email you to ask 1. What resources (books, online, etc) did you first use to learn to shoot manually and 2. I am going to Disney with my 2 nephews (ages 20 and 5 months) what lens would you suggest using as my primary lens (I have just ordered a “nifty fifty” have the kit lens and a lower end 75-300mm f/4-5.6)?

I’m still hoping you can help me answer those questions but I also wanted to say THANK YOU so much, this short video has just helped me tremendously! I can not wait to go home and play with that new info! Thank you again and hopefully you can answer the other questions.

ariana says:

Hi Chrissy, glad it was helpful!

I honestly don’t remember when I first learned to shoot a camera in manual mode because it was back before digital photography (20 years ago or so!)
But I’d bet a google search or youtube search would yield many helpful articles and videos.

As for the primary lens question, that’s so tricky.. will you be shooting outdoors in the park? If so, maybe the kit lens because of the wider angle. But if you want to do any indoor shots your kit will be pretty useless. I would bring both with you the first day and see which feels right. Its a tough call because your 50 is better glass, but a zoom is really handy in these types of situations. I don’t think I really helped much, sorry!