6 METHODS FOR LEARNING TO USE YOUR SLR CAMERA IN MANUAL MODE

If you ask me, the biggest attraction of a SLR camera compared to other (compact) cameras is that SLRs allow you to achieve real photographic wonders, thanks to the absolute freedom they offer when configuring the settings . The picture you get will be different depending on the settings you put. This is called manual mode. That said, all SLR cameras have an “automatic” mode, which configures the camera settings for you. His intention, in the beginning, is to succeed. My opinion is that automatic mode is something to avoid at all costs.

IF AUTOMATIC MODE IS SO INADVISABLE, WHY DOES IT EXIST?

Even in equal light conditions, same character or landscape, same time of day, colors, composition, same camera and same objective, you and I could get 2 totally different photographs using the manual mode. On the contrary, to shoot in automatic mode is to give the camera the decision on how we want the photograph to be. Most cameras will make similar decisions. People, on the other hand, have different occurrences, decisions and tastes. Normal that the result is different and above all .. “personal”, very personal.

DOES THIS MEAN THAT AUTOMATIC MODE IS BAD?

Absolutely. Automatic mode has its usefulness at certain times:

  • You witness something that is hardly going to be repeated and you don’t have time to walk around the chamber. You need to react quickly if you want to get the picture. Automatic mode, and ready.
  • You are at a party with friends, or a family reunion, and have been asked to take a picture to remember. People are impatient, you are not going to throw yourself all afternoon adjusting the camera, shooting, and adjusting it again until you get that artistic photograph you are looking for. People want a photo to immortalize the moment and point.

They are not more than two examples but you understand me, the automatic mode has its utility , but they are very specific moments and they are photos that you could take perfectly with any compact camera. If you have disbursed significant money in the purchase of a SLR camera ( my favorites here, by the way ), you will want to take advantage of the possibilities of use that it offers, and that is called «Shooting in manual mode» .

What makes it difficult and complex to use a SLR in manual mode? That you had tried it before and it turned out to be a disaster?

In the next lines I will tell you some methods that will allow you to learn the manual mode in an easy and almost unconscious way. Believe me, photographing in manual mode is extremely easy , anyone with desire and passion to get good pictures can get it. Everything is based on 2 or 3 very basic elements that must be adjusted in the camera, with that one already has to start. From there, the photographic possibilities are endless.

Today, with the intention of making it easy, I bring you 6 ways with which you can learn to use your SLR camera in manual mode . Listen to me: with just one of these 5 methods it would be enough, but I recommend consulting and using more than one because you “re-learn” the method from another point of view and consolidate the theory.

1) READ «YOUR FIRST STEPS IN SLR PHOTOGRAPHY»

One of my main objectives with the Photographer’s Blog is to bring photography to the amateur photographer on foot. For me to “bring” something is to make it available to everyone. In terms of photographic learning, the language used and the complexity of the explanations are usually the main barrier.
«Your First Steps in SLR Photography» is a humble contribution with which I try to demystify the photograph, take away that apparent complexity (only «apparent», seriously, deep down it is not at all complex) and thus infect many of my readers With the passion of being a photographer.
«Your First Steps in SLR Photography»It is a digital book, in PDF format, which I distribute completely free of charge among the VIP Readers of this blog. Becoming a VIP Reader is free. You can subscribe using your email address below.

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2) USE THE CAMERA IN SEMI-MANUAL MODE (APERTURE PRIORITY OR SHOOTING PRIORITY)

To be able to master the manual mode and use it completely independently, you can use the trick of observing the behavior of the camera itself in automatic or semi- manual mode .
Put your camera in automatic mode, frame and focus an area with low light, observe the aperture settings and shutter speed that the camera automatically chooses. Finally shoot.
Repeat the test again, but this time framing a lighter area, and compare the settings that the camera has decided this time with those of the previous time.

The manufacturers of SLR cameras, when assembling the automatic mode, strive to program the automatic mode with the same logic that governs the manual mode. The principle is the same. You, as an apprentice photographer, can rely on that “programmed” behavior to draw conclusions about the basic rules of how to use manual mode. Obviously, once you have learned the basic principle, you can deviate from it and innovate everything you want.

3) OBSERVE THE EXIF ​​PHOTO DATA OF OTHER USERS

There are two ways to read a photograph: observing itself as a photograph; and reading your EXIF ​​data.

Most of the photos include a series of data that tell us the brand and model of the camera with which the photo was taken, the focal length of the lens, the ISO value, the aperture of the aperture, shutter speed, among other settings . Actually, the photo itself is telling you the “exact” manual settings that the photographer used to get it. In other words, they are the manual settings that you should apply if you would like to get a picture exactly the same.

The EXIF ​​data of the photographs can be read in various ways:

  1. Saving the photo on your computer first, and then right-clicking on it and choosing the “Properties” option and then “Details”.
  2. Using some EXIF ​​data reading program. There are programs that do it online, such as exifdata or  verexif .
  3. On pages like Flickr , adding the meta word at the end of the address of a photo. For example if you want to find out the EXIF ​​data of the photo https://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/6087918639/
    you should add the meta word  at the end of the same address, which is like this: https://www.flickr .com / photos / aigle_dore / 6087918639 / meta

4) USE AN ONLINE SIMULATOR

Can you learn to use manual mode without even having an SLR camera?

Yes.

At least the theoretical part, which usually seems the most complicated, can be mastered without the need for an SLR camera. CameraSim is a free, online service that allows you to scroll with the same manual settings of the SLR cameras, allowing you to control ISO, shutter speed, aperture, among other settings. The curious thing about the invention is that it offers you a moving image, in real time, and it is about getting the best combination of settings that allows you to capture a sharp and correct photograph. Here you have it .

5) CONSULT THE USER MANUAL OF YOUR CAMERA (AT LEAST IN A TIMELY MANNER)

Okay, I admit, it’s not easy to read a user manual from a camera. I hate instruction books that come with photo cameras. Manufacturers write them in the most incompatible and bland way possible. It seems they don’t want us to read them.

But we must also be fair: we cannot complain about not knowing how to use something while we refuse to even open the instruction manual.
That said, you don’t need to read the manual from end to end. If it’s any consolation I’ve never done it (confession). Yes I recommend, at least, that you have it on hand. If you have a hard time keeping the physical copy on paper, the one included in the box along with the camera, at least get the PDF version ( here you have a good database with user manuals for many cameras ).

The first days of using your camera, try to check the pages you see relevant, those that are related to the manual mode.

6) TAKE PICTURES

Believe me, if you did not read or consult any of the 5 options above, just taking photos in manual mode, one after the other, it does not matter if they are not correct, you are there taking photos every day, on any occasion that is given, give it to you paste, observing your results and changing some adjustment again to see the difference between one result and another, believe me, only with that after a while you would master the manual mode perfectly. Actually, the principle behind manual photography mode is very intuitive, and discovering yourself practicing photography every day is usually a very rewarding experience.

CONCLUSION

Remember that taking pictures is what makes you a photographer. You are not a photographer for having a camera. You are not for reading a photography blog. Taking pictures is what makes you a photographer.

Taking photos makes you great.

Happy photography

Postscript 1:  If you are starting in photography I would like you to select one of the 6 ways that I recommend above and carry it out in a disciplined way.

Postscript 2:  If you have found this article useful, please give it the dissemination or recommendation that you think it deserves.


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