Manual Shooting Made Easy(ish)

I truly believe the (not so) secret to getting images that WOW from your DSLR camera is to force yourself to learn how to shoot in manual. It is amazing the kind of power you have once you master that magical exposure triangle.

If you have absolutely no idea how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO work with each other, then this isn’t going to do you much good. If you have never even seen those words before? I’m sorry. Come back tomorrow and I’ll try to have something fun up that won’t hurt your brain or have anything to do with photography.

IF you have heard those words before, and you DO know what they do..ish… and you know how to set them on your camera, then THIS IS FOR YOU! (Tiny little segment of a fraction of my readers, you!)

A simple trick to make shooting in manual easier | BabyRabies.com - never fumble with settings and miss your shot again!

This is how I shoot outdoors 99.5% of the time. It makes it so much easier to get the shot when I’m chasing kids around outdoors and through various lighting situations.

This tip can also work indoors, but you have to make some sacrifices and be mindful of some things. I’ll talk about them more at the bottom of the post.

A simple trick to make shooting in manual easier | BabyRabies.com - never fumble with settings and miss your shot again!

1. Set your aperture, and leave it. Since you’re going to leave this alone after your set it, set it just narrow enough to get all of your subjects in focus most of the time. 3.5 is usually pretty safe for me.

A simple trick to make shooting in manual easier | BabyRabies.com - never fumble with settings and miss your shot again!

2. Set your ISO, and leave it. I tend to bump my ISO up a bit here because I’m shooting with a narrower aperture than I usually do (3.5 isn’t as wide open as I’m used to, but essential for nailing focus with moving kids… at petting zoos, of all places). 800 ISO works most of the time. The grain isn’t even detectable once I run slight noise reduction in Lightroom.

A simple trick to make shooting in manual easier | BabyRabies.com - never fumble with settings and miss your shot again!

The KEY is to get your aperture and ISO to a place where you have the freedom to control exposure simply with your shutter wheel. By keeping your ISO high enough, and your aperture wide enough (or just narrow enough), you’re not risking having to take your shutter speed too low (in outdoor, well-lit situations, at least).

A simple trick to make shooting in manual easier | BabyRabies.com - never fumble with settings and miss your shot again!

3. Control exposure with the shutter wheel.Β With each new lighting situation, meter off your subject, and adjust simply by rolling your shutter wheel one way or the other. Be aware of the shutter speed going too low, though! Nailing focus isn’t going to do much good if you wind up with blurry photos from a low shutter speed. (Unless that’s what you’re going for, of course.)

That’s why it’s important to keep the aperture just narrow enough and your ISO high enough.

A simple trick to make shooting in manual easier | BabyRabies.com - never fumble with settings and miss your shot again!

Indoors- You can certainly use this tip indoors, as well, but I suggest upping that ISO even more, and opening up the aperture even more so that you don’t risk bumping your shutter speed too low in low-light situations.

I hope this little trick works for you! I don’t claim to be an expert, this is just something I’ve adopted as habit, and it seems to be working for me. Let me know if you have questions! (Besides what is the Exposure Triangle and how do I learn my camera settings because then you just need to buy Understanding Exposure and read it, okay? And also probably your camera manual.)

  • Jennifer Lindell - I love this post because that’s what I do. It’s nice to know I’m doing something right!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Peters - I have slowly been realizing the power and convenience of what adjusting the shutter speed can do. This is a great tip and makes so much sense. I get all frustrated sometimes because there are so many great shots of my son that I can’t get because it takes so freaking long to change the settings. Kids move fast and constantly.ReplyCancel

  • Friday Randoms V.10 (missed 8 and 9) - […] article about how to use your camera. I am seriously struggling so reading this gives me a push to find a […]ReplyCancel

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