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M is for Manual Control

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Don't get nervous. Manual mode is NOT a mythical mode only for the professional photographer. Manual mode lets you have more control over exposure using your ability to change aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to create a good photograph. The link I will give you at the end of today's article will describe in detail how to use Manual mode. For now, I would like to tell you about a couple of subjects I use Manual mode for. Again, I apologize for having to use non-Walt Disney World images.

The photo you see below was taken last summer as some boaters were cruising on Lake Ontario at sunset. To get a proper exposure without overexposing or blowing out all the bright colors of the sky, I metered the sky just to one side of the setting sun. Metering means I read my camera's exposure using Program mode which gave me an exposure of 1/125s at f/8 for the camera's ISO setting of 200. Once, I got this, I put the camera into Manual mode by moving the Mode Dial to the M position and set the exposure. Being in manual mode, I knew those settings would not change and were correct for the sky. This technique will make anything between the camera and sky into a silhouette which is what I wanted for this picture.

Evening cruise at sunset on Lake Ontario, Oswego, New York
Evening cruise at sunset on Lake Ontario.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/125s, f/8, 200 ISO, -0.3 EV, 200mm Focal Length

Another time I put my camera in Manual mode is for capturing images of fireworks. For this technique you need a tripod and a remote shutter release. I set the shutter speed to B which is the Bulb setting. This means once I press the shutter, it stays open until I press it again. This is why you need to use a remote shutter release so as not to shake the camera when pressing the shutter button. I set a small aperture of f/16 to get a large depth of field and keep everything in focus. When I hear a rocket being launched, I press the remote to "trip" the shutter open (means to press the shutter button) and leave it open until the colored streams reach their peak. Then, I trip the shutter closed. In the photo below, this took 5 seconds and I got a couple of other smaller explosions of color as an added bonus.

Fireworks, Baldwinsville, New York
Fireworks during a festival in Baldwinsville, New York.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 5s, f/16, 200 ISO, 0 EV, 38mm Focal Length

Manual mode is not hard to use. It takes some practice and checking your LCD monitors to see if you need to change any of the settings. The histogram is very useful here as well to let you know if you are getting a good exposure.

This link covers in more detail about how to use Manual mode and is a good review for both Aperture and Shutter Priority modes: Master Your dSLR Camera: Manual Mode and More.

The previous post in this blog was Flying Elephants.

The next post in this blog is Nikon's Composite Function.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 30, 2008 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Flying Elephants.

The next post in this blog is Nikon's Composite Function.

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