Monday, July 5, 2010

MANUAL vs. AUTO??????

FINALLY taking that big step......turning your camera dial to Manual...YIKES, WHAT HAVE I DONE!!

Today I got a great email from a new photographer friend.  Here is her note:  "I ran across your blog a couple of months ago.  I have since been following it and I really enjoy your pictures and the information you share.  I have a question.  I have taken pictures for fun for a long time.  But I have always just stayed in auto.  At Christmas I took the plunge and bought a Nikon D90.  I love it and have so much to learn!!  Do you have any advice for me as to how to start shooting in manual?  I have been reading about aperture and shutter speeds.  But when I am out and trying to take pictures I struggle with getting out of the programmed modes because I get overwhelmed with knowing where is a good stating point and what should I do from there.  Is there a standard place to start and then change things accordingly?  I know I can do this if I can just get past the overwhelming feeling of where in the world do I begin?  Thank you for caring enough to allow us to ask questions.  I look forward to your reply."

 As I was thinking about how to respond, I decided that probably 90% of 'photographers', (rather than snap shooters), could have written this same thing.  We all buy cameras, usually for the purpose of recording family memories and vacations.  We may even decide to snap some beautiful flowers or a friend's new baby.  We find the little green square that means 'auto',  and start snapping away.  Most people are content with this and are using their camera as anticipated.  But some of us look at our snaps and think, "humm, how come my photos don't look like the ones in the magazines", or "I wonder how so-and-so made her flower pics look so much better than mine??"   And that's how the addiction starts.  It's all so innocent in the beginning.....I'll just read my camera manual and see what it says....  Well, maybe I'll stop by the library on the way home from work and see if they have any photography books....  I'm only going to spend ONE hour on the internet reading about photography instruction, then I'll get dressed and clean the house!  And before you know it, you begin carousing the streets in front of your local dealer, and finally come home with a $2,000 habit, (in my case a Canon 5D Mark ll).  But, you rationalize, I can stop at any time!  Yeh, right says your family and friends.

I'm sorry, I just got carried away, and chuckling so hard to myself I couldn't stop.  (They say the first step to recovery is to admit one has a problem.  But if my husband is reading this, I'm NOT admitting to anything!)

Back to the purpose of this post.  At some point, most of us who call ourselves 'photographers' were probably casual point and shooters who became fascinated with taking pictures and wanted to learn how to do it better.  From then it doesn't take long before you learn that most great photographers learn to shoot in 'manual' modes, because often, this is the secret for getting your camera to record an image the way you actually see it or want to see it.  But shooting in manual is a BIG leap for many of us. 

I thought this would be a great topic for a Tech Talk Tuesday, so I asked my new friend if I could quote her email, and then we will have a discussion on how to make that leap from auto to manual tomorrow.  So tune in tomorrow for this discussion, and please join in by telling us how you made, or are in the learning process of making this transition!! 


Robin said...

Karen, Thanks for the comments on my site. You have led me here, and it's absolutely wonderful. Your images are incredible. I will be a frequent flier with you from today on!
Look forward to tomorrows tech talk.
I've got to the point where I feel guilty if I don't shoot in Manual. Like it's cramping my style. But I'm still learning!

diane said...

What a great topic. I will be tuning in tomorrow. I don't use the green rectangle but I don't use full manual either.(too scared) I use "P" and adjust settings to suit me but still have lots to learn. I also use Tv, Av and have had a little success. But I often forget what to to do in the heat of the moment when a good shot appears in front of me.
I have a Canon EOS 100D with a sigma 18-250mm lens.
Looking forward to learning more from you. Thanks so much for these posts.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Karen, Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you return often... I am enjoying yours. My hubby and I 'bit the bullet' this past year and bought new cameras. His is a Canon Rebel T1i and mine is a Canon Rebel XSI.

We have been learning more and more about our cameras. In fact, I am publishing some great pictures in tomorrow's blog taken Sunday night at our fireworks display. In that blog, I tell you what the settings were.

I got a 300 mm lens as an extra when I got my camera since I am a backyard birder --and needed the longer lens for my bird pictures.

We have Picasa and Photoshop Elements. I personally like the Photoshop Elements better --but still enjoy seeing pictures which look natural and not too 'doctored'...

Hope you will come back to my blog often.

Scott said...

Karen. I think this is going to be a great topic to discuss. I do think - and I won't be surprised if you've already planned for this - we need to define out terms. What does "manual" mean? For example on my camera if you leave the "Auto" mode you can go into P for "Program", A for "Aperature Priority", S for "Shutter Priority" or M for "Manual". When you use the term "manual" are you referring to any/all of those other modes?

I'm really looking forward to this and I hope you don't mind if I kibitz just a little.

S. Etole said...

Looking forward to tomorrow's post.

Ginny said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog and welcome!! How did you find me?
I've been loooking through a lot of your posts and photos and they are truly unbelieveable! Especially Lake Powell and the volcano. I've never seen photography that looks quite like yours, your pictures all have a certain look that sets you apart, and I might be able to tell yours in multiple choice. Yours is one of those blogs that make me feel like my pictures are really bad! But you also teach us a lot. I do have a manuel phobia!! I stick with auto, macro, and sports. I don't see where you have a place for followers to sign on, or your profile, I'm wondering where you live. I like to know a bit about my followers, so if you feel up to it, you can e-mail me, no big deal if not. I am a pathological picture taker. It takes me an hour to drive ten minutes to the grocery store, because I snap everything!!

Rick said...

Good post Karen and glad to see you're going to tackle this for newbies. I think you're right that most of us start off with P&S but then want to go beyond.

I followed the path you mentioned (read the manual, read some books, search the internet ...). But I wanted to learn some more also about techniques and getting beyond 'snapshots'. I found a couple of creative photography courses at the nearest university - 100 miles round trip - and took them over 4 months. The best learning that took place was doing (many) assignments, having them critiqued in class, and viewing and critiquing other students' work. There was little technical content.

You very quickly discover the limitations of auto, and you rarely go back to it. While various settings may seem to take a while to absorb and use successfully, they quickly become second nature. And the overriding key learning tool is shoot, shoot, shoot !!

Stacey Dawn said...

I'm sooooo looking forward to your response. I struggle with the same thing. I shoot in manual focus mode but the I, too, get overwhelmed with "what shutter speed, what aperature" do I try HERE and NOW???!!! Thank you for helping us out with this!

Sandra said...

I am printing your post so i can use them to look back when i forget. thanks a lot.