Photography is one of those weird arts, like music, that requires both creative talent and the ability to understand some math (ugh!). Don’t be discouraged just yet, because if this dyslexic can figure out how to shoot in manual, I know you can do it, too.
We ought to learn to shoot in manual and master these tricky little settings, as opposed to shooting in program with a hope and a prayer, because we can discern things like the difference between backlit scenes, or a run away toddler versus a racecar – the camera cannot.
Since our goal is a creatively composed photograph with appropriate exposure, there are three primary settings we must master. We’ll cover additional settings at another time. What follows is a quick start guide to demystify the complex settings of shooting in manual.
Let's think of exposure like this triangle.
The big three are: shutter, aperture and ISO.
Good exposure is generally defined as maintaining details in both the highlight and shadow areas of the photograph. It’s achieved by learning to manipulate each element based on your subject and surroundings (which we’ll look at next time).
Let’s take a brief look at each element.
Shutter – controls “how long” light is allowed in your sensor. Shutter speed is determined based on two things: 1) how much movement you want to be visible in the photograph, and 2) how much available light is present. Think of it like your camera blinking.
Aperture – controls “how much” light is allowed in to reach your camera’s sensor. It is determined by, again 1) how much available light you have, and 2) how much of your photograph you want in focus and sharp. This is similar to how your eye's pupil works.
ISO – controls how sensitive your sensor is to all this light coming in. You can loosely relate it to your eyes when putting on, or taking off, sunglasses.
Next time we’ll look more in-depth at how these elements and how they give you amazing control over your exposure!
Ready to learn more? Register for an online workshop today.
Excuse me, but I'm going to cough all over you in this post today (#sorrynotsorry). I want to expose you to the contagion of creativity right now because I was re-infected this weekend by an artist named Kiel Johnson. During his talk at the CCCA conference he said he was infected by creativity and so he wanted to cough on us, lick us on the cheek, and do whatever he had to do to see it spread. Watching him share his passion it was hard to not get drawn in and want to cue up to be "coughed on" like a blessing by this passionate innovator.
Below is a short video about a project that kicked off his recent series of work: creating art with others. In this case, Kiel was invited to create with a group of high school kids and they kind of ended up taking over the(ir) world.
What's amazing is that the original idea, reported Kiel, stemmed from a Halloween costume he'd made. Someone saw that, asked him to help their high school students do the same. They did it, got excited; then a large corporation saw it and had Kiel come and make cardboard robots for them. All this prompted Kiel to begin working in a new project, with some cardboard (a cityscape), which he shared on social media, someone saw it and invited him to a TED conference. There he turned it into a community art project, and other people invited him to their countries to help their people create art based on their cities. Just writing it out now I'm struck by how fitting the contagion metaphor truly is.
All this got me thinking about (well, a lot of things, but in particular) why I create and offer photography classes (as opposed to only teaching through other venues, which would be simpler). It's much easier to show up, teach, and go home. But when I craft a class for you I get to cough all over you. We have the time and space to stop what were talking about, go on a mini-assignment to capture something. We can break up into pairs so those who need a little more attention from me for a moment can get it. We can imagine together what we might photograph next. And because we go about learning this way, you get to cough all over me and everyone else there. We learn together.
Ah! I'm so excited. I can't wait for our next photo time together: Saturday, March 26 from 2pm-4pm, where we're going to explore the more creative aspects of photography. If you want to come get coughed on, dust your camera off and register today, or click below to learn more.
Today was amazing. You were amazing. You came to a room full of strangers, camera and flash in hand, eager to learn, uncertain of the outcome. And you showed up anyway.
We talked, shared, experimented with our camera flashes. I offered suggestions, you asked amazing questions. We tried new things; you were brave. Together we each left knowing more about flash photography. It was glorious.
And then, as if that wasn't delightful enough, your parting words were an unbelievable gift. Some of you said things like, "I learn so much from you!" Others said, "You have such a way of explaining things so I can understand."
I left filled to the brim with delight, and utterly exhausted, as it should be. I poured myself out and you filled me back up. Thank you.
I can't wait till next time.