I am just starting out on my journey to learn photography. The first thing most blogs, tutorials, classes, and online forums tell you is to turn your camera into MANUAL mode. I have never even used any other button other than AUTO so this completely freaks me out.
I am currently reading Mamarazzi, which came highly recommended by a few beginner photographers that said it really helped them, in taking better pictures of their kids.
This week, I am testing a few MANUAL modes out, trying to get the hang of ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture. In Mamarazzi, I like the fact that she puts what ISO, SS, Aperture she had her camera set to, under each picture. Although this still doesn’t get me any closer to understanding when one is high or low, how that really affects the pictures.
This is what I found:
ISO – 100-400 Lower sensitivity to light, produces cleaner, smoother pictures, 800+ Higher sensitivity to light, more grainy (noise) shots.
Shutter Speed – Slower speeds- use in dark situations, or moving object effects, Higher speeds 1/125+ product sharper images, can freeze motion.
Aperture – measured in f-stops. Smaller number the less in focus, use for bokeh or blurred backgrounds, f 8+ Larger number more in focus.
I read this and think, yes, that all makes sense, then I attempt to apply this information to my MANUAL mode on my camera. I was practising on Missy Moo if I use a low ISO according to this it will produce cleaner, smoother pictures. Then I thought well my living room isn’t lit up very well even at the window, I will do a middle shutter speed. At last I changed my aperture to f4.5 because I wanted the background to be blurred but this is the lowest my camera goes. I took a few snapshots, nothing that I wanted to happen, happened. Instead I got a dark, sharp picture of Missy Moo, no blurred background. I attempted to move the aspects around, like the ISO higher to put in more light but with no luck I quickly ran back to AUTO mode. Grrrr. Failed attempt one! Maybe when I read the above, I am not truly comprehending what it is saying.
I can’t move forward and practice my photography if I can’t first understand MANUAL mode! Or maybe I should take a class, instead of trying to teach myself because these days my brain just doesn’t work like it used to.
In the meantime, at least I can learn the art of angles, heights, and locations. I am becoming more aware of where I stand before I snap. I try to choose well lit areas such as the front window or the back sliding glass door areas. You can now find me standing on top of chairs, kneeling in the mud at the park or lying on my back underneath my daughter’s bouncer to get a different perspective. These things are fun and easy to practice.
My subjects, Buba and Missy Moo, are not very happy about Mommy’s new found journey of photography. I have always been snap-happy with my iphone or pocket camera but when I pulled out the DSLR and started pointing it at them, at first they didn’t know what to think. Now, they down right hate it. I have decided to get a little friend to help practice instead, his name is Henry the Giraffe. Henry is the best test subject I have ever known. He stays when I place him where I what him, looks the way I want him to look, he doesn’t close his eyes, or have a runny nose at the wrong moments, he doesn’t cry, through tantrums, or run off. Henry and I will be working closely together until I get a better handle on this MANUAL mode.
I was trying to take pictures of Henry in my living room, where my children usually play. See how dark they are above and my living room isn’t that dark, it has a chandelier with five bulbs. I tried various combinations on MANUAL mode. I didn’t want to create a fake setting, like a really bright part of our kitchen with spot lights and a white wall in the background, even though that would make the best pictures, that’s not where my children play and where most of my pictures are taken. For a product review, definitely, but not for natural photos. I am trying to figure out what my camera should be set to, so I can take the best snapshots of them playing in their normal environment. So far, my pictures still come out too dark but at least I have the various angles down.
I did try another round, in the chair, in the living room, but this time pulled it closer to the window. You can see just with a little extra natural light the pictures are a little better.
I took Buba and Missy to the park last week, the only afternoon it wasn’t raining. It was still freezing though so we didn’t last long but I wanted to test out some outdoor shots. I thought, it’s overcast isn’t that suppose to be the best time to take outdoor pictures? Yes, but yet my pictures still are not what I was hoping for. Practice makes perfect, and I clearly have A LOT of practice ahead of me.
Do you have any tips for me? Do you notice something I am doing wrong or have a better way of explaining ISO, SS, Aperture, please comment below. Would love any and all advice on my journey to learn photography.