Reasons to shoot in manual mode were not on my radar when I got my first DSLR 8 years ago. Like so many of us, I was convinced the problem with my pictures was the camera itself. Surely, if I had a better camera, I would be taking the same beautiful pictures I had seen all over flickr.
Christmas morning, I opened a shiny, brand new Pentax. I loved the idea of being able to freeze time with my oldest, and a new baby due in just a few months. My walls would soon be plastered with all of my gorgeous images, and I couldn’t wait!!
Except, that’s not what happened.
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I quickly threw my camera into auto and was completely disappointed with my shots. What’s worse is that I, once again, blamed it on my camera. I assumed the problem must be that we had gotten the cheapest DSLR we could find.
Sound like somebody you know?? I can’t tell you how many times I have been told that my camera is so nice, it must take really good pictures… I’m sure my hairdresser would be appalled if I told her that her “really good scissors” must be the reason she cuts hair so well.
Learning how to shoot in manual mode is key to getting the pictures you are hoping to get. I’m, most definitely, not here telling you to ditch your professional photographer, I happen to think having your pictures taken yearly is super important—especially if you don’t get in front of the camera once in a while!
But I also think it’s super important to know how to use the camera you have. It will mean the difference between getting the pictures you had in mind, and the pictures you are currently taking. (by the way, this is not just for DSLRs, I have a point and shoot that allows me to shoot in manual mode as well, and an app on my iphone that allows me to use it basically manual mode, as well!)
6 reasons to shoot in manual
- Being able to freeze motion. Often times when you are using your camera in auto and there isn’t a ton of available light, your camera will compensate for that by slowing your shutter speed.This means lots of blurry pictures, that have nothing to do with where your intended focus was. There are times when you want to show that motion, but this is one area most parents struggle when taking pictures of their wild things.
- Getting a blurry background. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me how I got my background blurred out…. Before I learned to use my camera in manual mode, I would squeal and jump up and down when one of my pictures turned out to have a blurred background.Now, it is my go to way to shoot.
- STOP using your camera’s flash. It’s harsh, and very rarely produces anything you will be thrilled with. There are ways to play with the on camera flash, but ideally, it’s just best to figure out how to work without it. I mean you get red eye, harsh, dark, unflattering shadows, need I say more?
- Be able to photograph in tricky lighting situations. One good example of this is snow on the ground, or lots of bright sand in your image. Often times in those situations, your camera will compensate for that, and the result will be a very dark subject. Learning to use your camera in manual mode is the perfect solution to this.
- Control over everything. I happen to be a bit of a control freak, being able to choose my focal point, the creative aspect I am trying to accomplish, and how much light I want to let into my image is important to me. Manual mode is the absolute only way to accomplish this.
- Capture your family the way YOU see them. Once again, I say, I’m not suggesting you ditch your family photographer. I mean, I’m a family photographer, that might be considered bad business… Unless your photographer is following you and your family around though, you may not be happy with the shots you’re getting with your camera.You are likely disappointed your images aren’t portraying things the way you hoped they would, and you aren’t getting the most out of your camera—and, like most technology, you likely paid a pretty penny for it!!
Now go forth, my friends, and learn to use your camera— read your camera manual, take a course, read some books. Do what you can when those kids are sleeping, or miraculously occupied, you will be so happy you did, when you start taking amazing pictures of your amazing wild things!!
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30+ pics to take of your kids every year!
By this time next year, your kids will be completely different. The only way I have found to freeze time is to take pictures. This is a great list to help you remember to photograph the things you want to remember forever!