How to make the move to manual mode

Stephanie Bryan Photography - How to make the move to manual mode

1. Learn the ins and outs of ISO, aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation.

You HAVE to start here! Study these babies and know how they work together. Learn what is effected when you change one of the settings. Read, research, google, watch videos and keep studying. The more you know, the faster you'll grasp manual mode!

Click on the images below to be taken to the corresponding blog posts and read, read, read! 

2. Set your camera to manual mode.

Now that you have a good understanding of what the settings are and WHAT they can do, put that baby in manual (or mode "M") and play around. Practice and practice some more. It's the best way to learn for sure! (Look - I can rhyme!).

3. Pay attention to the available light.

Always. Always pay attention to the light. Where it is. Where it's falling. Where you want it. How much there is. Light will make or break your photo. Promise.

4. Adjust your settings.

Everything you've read and learned about ISO, aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation is going to come into play here. Adjust your settings to maximize the light available. I recommend starting with your aperture first and adjusting your exposure and ISO as needed to keep your shutter speed high enough to prevent motion blur. 

Example: I have my aperture WIDE OPEN (f 1.8). ISO is set to 100, shutter speed is 1/20 and my exposure meter is showing my subject/focal point is underexposed by 2 stops (the cursor is at -2 on my light meter). In this case, I would incrementally increase the ISO the get my shutter speed to 1/200 with my exposure meter at either 0 or +0.5. I will likely have to bump my ISO up to maybe ISO 400 or 640 depending on my available light. 

5. Practice without an end result in mind.

I definitely don't recommend trying to figure out manual mode at a special event, family gathering or anything important you want to capture. Instead, grab a baby doll or a stuffed animal, plop him in a chair and practice in manual mode. Move around your house, go outside for a walk and practice some more. If you followed along with the blog posts, I suggested first trying out shutter priority mode (TV mode - Canon, S mode - Nikon) and aperture priority mode (AV mode - Canon, A mode - Nikon) before switching to manual mode. Trying out these modes will help give you a good grasp on WHAT each of these functions do and how changing them can change your available light and resulting image.


So are you excited yet? If you are snap happy, manual mode will CHANGE your life. I guarantee manual mode will make your photos 100% better. The freedom manual mode gives you as far as creativity and growth is concerned is amazing!! Promise!!  


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