f+ss+ISO = exposure
Now that you know what the three main parts of a camera are, the next step is to begin to understand how they work together. This is where the magic happens! It's up to you, Miss Momotographer, to find the combination of these three numbers (f-stop, shutter speed and ISO) that equals the most pleasing exposure in any given situation. Sounds scary, we know, but we have full faith that if you've read this far, you are up for the challenge!
To get you going in manual, we want you to try out this method that works great for us when we turn on the camera and try to find our happy exposure place!
THREE EASY STEPS:
1 - Assess the light. Is it bright and sunny? Dark and cloudy? Are you indoors or out? Based on these answers, set your ISO first. Let's assume it's a bright sunny morning out in the backyard - so set your ISO to 100.
2 - Next, look at your lens. What focal length are you shooting at? (You can either look at the numbers on the lens to figure this out - or some cameras will tell you in the viewfinder). Okay, whatever the focal length is, double it and set your shutter speed one notch above that number. Let's say you're using a nifty fifty (a 50mm prime lens). Set your shutter speed to 125.
3 - Lastly, ask yourself what it is you want to capture. Just your tot sititng in the flowerbed eating soil? Or the whole yard - dog and child in it. Once you've decided, set your aperture accordingly. Let's say you want the whole shebang in clear focus - pick a "safe" closed down aperture like 7.2.
Now CLICK! What do you see? A perfectly exposed picture? A bright blob of nothing? A dark abyss of black? It's likely something in between.
Above we picked our ideal settings, but now we need to work with our environment from that starting place. If it's too dark, either bump up your ISO or open up your aperture. Then try again. Keep doing this until you are pleased with the result. It's hard at first and you will lose a LOT of shots - so spend plenty time practicing on things that it's okay to miss. TRUST US - over time this becomes easier and easier to gauge and you will be able to adjust settings in seconds to get the shot you desire!
TAKE A DEEP BREATH!
We can hear you now - "WHAT?!? I thought this was supposed to be photography made easy." It is, it's just going to take some time to get you there. The reality is this - when shooting in manual or half-manual, every location and situation will require a different set of settings depending on the light available and what you're trying to accomplish creatively. That's why we offer our Learn By Looking section, so you can begin to absorb what kind of settings may work in different situations. Shooting on the kitchen floor? Take note of the settings on THIS SHOT and see if they work for you. You may be just an ISO or shutter adjustment away from the same look.