Tips For Manual Photgraphy

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Sudhakar, Jun 1, 2004.

  1. Sudhakar

    Sudhakar Guest

    Hello Experts,

    I have Canon 10D camera with me. I m new to photography and wouuld
    like to master it. Till now most of the time I shoot in Av or Tv mode.
    I m planning to learn to USE the manual mode and need your help in
    this regard. I would highly appreciate any tips....excersises from

    Thanks in Advance.
    Sudhakar, Jun 1, 2004
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  2. Have Manuel work in the shade to even up the contrast.

    But seriously folks! You want us to write here everything it took us a
    lifetime to learn? By the time we have learned it we are to old to share it.
    Maybe we can suggest some sites and classes may help...don't
    know what they teach about digital. Join your local camera club...they are
    crap for artistic expression...but they get in to the hardware. And they
    will tell you the rules of thirds and odd numbers.
    Gene Palmiter, Jun 1, 2004
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  3. Sudhakar

    BG250 Guest

    In Tv or Av, you are selecting the shutter (Tv) or aperture (Av) and the
    camera adjusts the aperture in Tv or the shutter speed in Av mode for you.
    In manual, you'd have to adjust both for proper exposure. It is just extra
    effort. You use the Av or Tv modes so that you are in charge of the aperture
    or shutter speed, so why complicate it?

    You can use manual to set the exposure the way you want. The camera will
    show the recommended exposure and shows you how far off you are. For me, I
    use Av and dial in exposure comp when I don't like the camera's suggestion.

    BG250, Jun 1, 2004
  4. Sudhakar

    Ivan Guest

    I remember quite clearly when I bought a Cannon AE1, my first 35mm camera.
    I remember thinking that working in total manual mode was mysterious. Like
    Sudhakar I was of the impression that a couple of tips would unlock the
    mysteries, but I didn't expect it to make me a professional photographer
    over night. And I don't think Sudhaker is expecting that either. Maybe
    some basic rules of thumb would be best. More appropriately these rules
    should be called "starting points", a suggested place to start (especially
    exposure) because we all know that creative photography cannot happen when
    you're confined to a box. Every bit of basic information I read was put to
    good use. They didn't make me a professional photographer on the spot, but
    they DID open up a whole new world for my creativity. I applied every new
    thing I learned over time. I'm still learning. It's a never ending

    Sudhakar, it's really not necessary to take college classes, or even join a
    camera club. So if those two options are not easily attainable for you
    don't worry about it.

    25 years ago I bought a very basic book published for the absolute beginner
    in 35mm manual photography. Most of it would still apply today even for
    digital photography, although I'm not digital yet so I can't say for
    certain. An occasional magazine that had an article on a subject I wanted
    to learn about also helped a lot.

    The first thing a basic book will tell you is the theory behind photography;
    the process of recording light. Back then the only method of recording that
    light was exposing a film which was capable of reacting to the amount of
    light it received when the shutter was open. Now we can also record that
    same light as a digital file.
    Either method of storage we use, we are RECORDING LIGHT.

    I shot a lot of film. I experimented. I did comparison tests. And that was
    back when developing and printing was expensive. I think beginners now
    have a great advantage if they choose digital cameras. The higher prices of
    equipment are more than offset by the convenience of a digital film card
    that is endlessly re-recordable. So my advice is to learn some basics and
    then experiment experiment experiment. (GEE-WHIZ), I think I just convinced
    myself to finally buy a digital.

    But what are the basics? EXPOSURE! Learn exposure. Demystify the exposure
    in your head first and you'll relax and start being creative.
    When I first began photography I thought that altering the exposure by one
    f-stop would result in a ruined exposure. I was under the impression that
    there is only ONE correct exposure setting for each lighting situation. MAN
    was I happy to learn otherwise. If you don't have light meter, or if you
    want to ignore your cameras built in light meter and determine the exposure
    with your wits, there are helpful guidelines that have you covered. Shutter
    speed and aperture can be determined by observing what kind of light is
    falling from the sky. Do a "google" on the "f-16 rule". or try this one for

    It is quite possible to get perfect exposure manually without a meter, but
    it takes practice. Take your time, think it out, put all that you've
    learned into calculating the exposure you need. Make notes of the settings
    you use and the type of lighting that was around you. There are scientific
    formulas behind the technology of photography, but you don't have to know
    them, few photographers do. Changing the exposure one stop ( one f-stop of
    aperture OR one shutter speed ) will double or "half" the amount of light
    that falls on the film or sensor depending on which direction you go. One
    tactile method I used very early on to burn into my head that smaller
    f-stops on the lens barrel actually mean a larger aperture opening was this:
    I opened up the back of the camera, locked the shutter open and watched
    while I twisted the aperture. The smaller the number on the lens barrel,
    the larger aperture opening and the more light comes through. There is a
    scientific calculation behind the f-stop number designations, but again you
    don't need to know the science behind it....( until much later IF you
    I did the same thing with shutter speeds although it is obvious that 1/125th
    of a second is shorter than 1/60th. But still, while I had the back open on
    the camera, I would trip the shutter and watch the quick flash of light
    through the lens change as I changed the shutter speed dial. It sounds very
    simple and unnecessary, but this was part of a process that eventually would
    make the camera an extension of my brain. Being able to make adjustments
    without looking at the camera while you assess the lighting and subject
    matter is priceless when you can get to that level. For me it took years to
    be able to do that subconciously. A good exercise is to go for a walk with
    your camera and change the exposure settings at every subject you look
    at....even if you don't intend to snap a picture. This sounds strange, but
    eventually I was able to put 99% of my attention into the composition,
    angles, and lighting conditions without even looking down at the camera
    settings. I'm just mentioning this to make it clear to you that
    understanding exposure is the key starting point if you want your
    imagination and creativity to have full reign. I guess that exercise isn't
    as easy with digital equipment as it was with a camera with a shutter speed
    dial on top of the camera. Too bad! In some respects digital users are
    loosing one level of learning.

    There is another rule of thumb which is useful. You may already be using it
    naturally as I did, without even knowing it.
    "The rule of thirds". It's got nothing to do with science. It's the
    process of composing the subject matter within your frame.
    The rule of thirds suggests dividing the scene into thirds. Again,
    "google", or try this site...

    Personally I think learning the basics with a simple prime lens (non-zoom)
    is logical. You can have a lot of fun with a prime lens and take excellent
    You will produce many many excellent images while you burn the basics into
    your brain. Mistakes create some surprises too!

    I'd write more, but I'm itching to go shop for a digital now.

    I hope this helped some,
    Ivan, Jun 1, 2004
  5. Sudhakar

    Ivan Guest

    Oh yeah, learn about focusing. Learn about "depth of field", which is the
    area of distance that is reasonably focused. When you focus on a subject
    there is an absolute plane that will be perfectly focused. There is also a
    certain amount of area in front and behind the perfect plane of focus that
    is reasonably focused.

    The "depth of field" is determined by two things:
    a) by the aperture that you use. The smaller the aperture, the greater your
    depth of field.
    b) the distance from the focal plane inside your camera to the plane of
    absolute focus. In other far are you from the subject you have
    focused on?

    As the subject gets nearer to YOU, the depth of field gets narrower. If the
    subject itself is very close to you and it has a lot of depth to it, part of
    the subject will be out of focus. An example would be taking a close up of
    a persons face. If you focus on their eyes, the back of their head might be
    out of focus. The same applies to scenery and architecture etc...

    The depth of field can be used to your advantage. If your back ground is
    cluttered and distracting, you would use a large aperture to BLUR the
    background and focus carefully on your main subject. This makes the main
    subject pop out and appear even more sharp.

    But if you want as much of the scene to be in focus as possible, you will
    choose a small aperture. Of course then you must slow down your shutter
    speed so the same AMOUNT of light falls on the film or sensor. Less light
    coming through the lens means you have to use a longer shutter speed. If
    you use f-11 instead of f-5.6 ( a difference of two stops less light ) you
    have to slow your shutter down by two stops. So you see, even after you
    have determined an exposure value ( combination of f-stop and shutter
    speed ) you can still choose other combinations and achieve the same
    exposure. Changing your aperture will affect the depth of field. Changing
    your shutter speed has many effects as well. Faster speeds will FREEZE
    action. Slower speeds will result in some blur because of either camera
    shake or because the subject is moving. If you or your subject is moving,
    then the image is streaked across the film, creating a blur. Don't confuse
    this blur with being out of focus.

    Blur is cool sometimes, it has an effect that is often desirable. Panning a
    subject ( following a subject with your camera as it moves ) creates an
    image of motion and speed.

    There is another element that affects the Depth Of Field: the focal length
    of the lens you are using. A shorter lens, or smaller magnification has
    more depth of field than a long focal length lens ( greater magnification ).
    You could use a 50mm lens set at f-8 or whatever and push / pull your depth
    of field around to have the entire scene in focus. If you used a 200mm lens
    on the same subject and same f-stop, some of the scene will not appear to be
    focused. You can select the area you want to appear focused by adjusting
    your plane of absolute focus. Here's a primer on Depth Of Field

    The lens experts in this News Group will be able to tell you WHY these
    things affect the depth of field. But again, it's not necessary for you to
    know why. Just try it out for yourself and see that it's true. Some of the
    very best photographers never bother to learn the science and formulas
    behind photography. Knowing the science does give some people a critical
    edge in some fields, and I know I'll get flamed from them and many others
    for telling you this. You will know when and IF you need to study the
    science behind photography and lens construction.

    I stress that I'm not a digital photographer. I hope what I've told you
    applies well to digital photography. I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm
    Ivan, Jun 1, 2004
  6. Sudhakar

    stan Guest

    Get a good book on basic photography. This will explain the concepts
    of shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, and so on. Bookstores and
    public libraries are full of such books. You do not need a book that
    is specific to the 10D in order to learn about the basics of photography.
    stan, Jun 1, 2004
  7. Sudhakar

    YoYo Guest

    With a 10D you need tips??
    Just try!! Take Photos in M mode and test away thats the best way to learn
    and it does't cost anything!! other than time :+) Good Luck
    YoYo, Jun 1, 2004
  8. It's amazing how much I learned switching to digital after futzing with
    a film SLR for so many years. I'm lazy - I don't want to take notes on
    each photo. The EXIF data on the 10D has improved my skills
    considerably as I could immediately compare the final result to the
    settings I used.
    Brian C. Baird, Jun 1, 2004
  9. Sudhakar

    Paul Cassel Guest

    Gee, you have a digital camera with instant feedback. I taught my daughter
    the elements of panning in one digital session where it took me months in
    the old days of shoot, process and then try to remember what technique
    produced what effect.

    Just put the thing on M and shoot away. Reveiew your results and then

    Here's a starter tip. On a normally sunny day the proper exposure is f/ 16
    and the reciprocal of the ISO. So if you shoot ISO 400, the proper exposure
    is (about) 1/500 at f/ 16). Then start playing from there. That is, move
    the f stop to f/ 11 and then what do you think the shutter should be? Test
    and then correct.

    Paul Cassel, Jun 1, 2004
  10. A basic photography instruction manual will give you the best
    information available. National Geographic's Photography Field Guide
    is excellent. Since there are books written on the topic, this venue
    will not provide you with sufficient information for learning. Check
    your local bookstore.

    street shooter, Jun 1, 2004
  11. Sudhakar

    Chieh Cheng Guest

    I have Canon 10D camera with me. I m new to photography and wouuld
    A quick advice . . . learn exposure and exposure compensation. When
    you understand both, you will have mastered the manual mode of your

    Chieh Cheng, Jun 2, 2004
  12. Sudhakar

    Lisa Horton Guest

    I think that the key question is not how, but why. Why do you want to
    use manual mode, or to put it another way, what do you hope to
    accomplish with manual mode that you cannot with Av or Tv?

    The answer might just guide your studies in a productive direction.

    Lisa Horton, Jun 2, 2004
  13. Sudhakar

    Ivan Guest

    Ah, it took a woman to find the core issue and bring it to light.
    Ivan, Jun 2, 2004
  14. Sudhakar

    Chris Brown Guest

    Well put; I think this gets straight to the heart of the issue.

    Answering the question from my perspective, as someone who uses M a lot, I'd
    probably include the following (and this is mostly from the perspective of
    taking landscape photos):

    1) If you're trying to expose for the highlights (usually a good idea with
    digital), setting your exposure in M, then taking your time to compose
    and focus, assuming the light isn't rapidly changing, is a much better
    way to handle the camera than setting exposure compensation, metering off
    the right thing, then hitting AE-Lock and hoping you take the picture
    before it forgets the lock.

    2) If the light isn't changing much, you can set an exposure in M, and just
    forget about it (within reason - you still need to keep an eye on the
    local illumination levels). This allows you to go round shooting multiple
    frames just by lifting the camera to your eye, focusing and shooting,
    giving you a perceptually accurate rendition of the scene (dark things
    look dark, bright things look bright), without having to remeter each and
    every scene.

    3) Neither of my film cameras have any kind of autoexposure modes, and using
    M on the 10D feels more familliar. ;-)

    Having said that, if I need to capture something where the subject isn't
    static (such as an animal, which is likely to do unpredictable things),
    autoexposure (usually Av) can be dammned handy (there's a reason I don't
    tend to do such shots on either my 35mm rangefinder, or my new toy, the 6*6
    TLR ;-)).
    Chris Brown, Jun 2, 2004
  15. Sudhakar

    Sudhakar Guest

    Thanks very much for sharing your knowledge. I would like to thank in
    particular IVAN and Chris Brown for their detailed explanation.

    These few replies from you all, explained things in simple
    way....which took months for me to learn from National Geographic
    Photography book and from artciles from various internet based

    As Ivan rightly read my mind, My consfusion was not in understanding
    the basics....or using the AV,TV, 1/3 rule, f16 rule.....and other
    creative modes but in understanding exposure. I do understand the
    basic relationship between various attrributes which can have impact
    on exposure.

    Your suggestions and tips are valuable and I will keep taking pictures
    to improve my understanding and skills.

    Sudhakar, Jun 2, 2004
  16. Sudhakar

    Tom Monego Guest

    When using M mode you only have 2 controls to worry about while shooting speed
    and fstop. Once you get used to this you are much faster. Bracketing comes
    easier etc. BTW to all those who use f16 at film speed, you'll do better using
    f11. It has been perfect on slide film for me for 30 odd years. The only time
    I'd use f16 is if there is a lot of glare, ie blond hair people in white
    I agree with all of you that say just do it and eventually photography will
    make sense. One of the big things to remember is each fstop
    2,2.8,4,5.6,8,11,16,22,32 let in 1/2 as much light as the one number before
    it, the one below twice as much. Same with shutter speeds. My Nikon digital
    drives me crazy because the fstops are not evenly spaced, generally not a
    problem on an SLR lens.


    PS Both Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind told me f11 in noon sun.
    Tom Monego, Jun 2, 2004
  17. Sudhakar

    Sudhakar Guest

    One More Confusion.

    Say I m on full manual mode. Now, I have a well framed subject. I m
    using smaller aperture(say f11-f16) to get longer depth of field. I
    also use depth of field preview button to make sure that all my area
    of interest is in focus. Now, How do I determine that what shutter
    speed would yield me good exposure? I do understand the relationship
    between the f stop and the shutter speed and film speed or equivalant
    in Digital. From my readings, here my f stop is going to be fixed so
    is my ISO speed say at 100. Now, How do I determine the shutter speed
    for various lighting condtion. Is there any trick...short cut....rule
    of thomb for this?

    Sudhakar, Jun 3, 2004
  18. There are some kind of standard settings for various lighting
    conditions, but when I were a lad the camera manuals that quoted them
    had a single Fstop lense, or were very limited in the capabilities or
    said "this is what should kind of work, but you should get a light
    meter" (obviously the camera has one built in :)

    One good idea is to fiddle, if the 10D eye piece is like the 300D it
    should show when it thinks you have the manual settings wrong by a
    sliding scale pointer showing over or under (in its opinion) as its
    quite easy to dial the shutter speed while (in the case of the 300D)
    half pressing the shutter button the scale will show. I personaly
    prefer this method to using AV and exposure compensation or bracketing
    as I find that usualy I want to bracket at different +/- stops... so
    all i'm really doing is a manual bracketing.

    With digital there is no expense for mucking up a shot while
    experimenting, use the exif data to show the settings and memory or a
    note pad to remember the conditions, after a while it comes
    instinctive which will work for a given condition.

    I find that with the greater scope of the slr lenses that i've not
    gathered a "feel" for the f-stops/ISO/Shutter speeds. On my old G2 I
    tended to only use iso50 and knew fairly well which other manual
    settings to use, rattle a pic of, check the results, compensate

    All that said, I do now find myself using AV more often when in
    non-studio environments where I'm not sync-ing to studio strobes
    [flashes] which the camera cannot meter for. The joys of digital is
    that you can use it for the end product, and also as a replacement for
    a poloroid back to take a couple of test shots.
    Jonathan Wilson, Jun 3, 2004
  19. That's what light meters are for. If you use the in-camera meter, you
    adjust the shutter speed until it indicates that the image is properly
    exposed, and then make any additional adjustments you judge are

    If you have an external meter, it probabaly is set to a particular ISO
    and shutter speed and then reads f/number. For aperture priority use
    like this, you just need to adjust the shutter speed setting until the
    f/number given by the meter matches the f/number you want to use.

    Some cameras have a feature that simultaneously changes shutter speed
    and aperture in equal but opposite directions, keeping exposure the
    same. You set any correct exposure combination (using the light
    meter), then adjust aperture and shutter speed simultaneously to get the
    combination you like best.

    Dave Martindale, Jun 3, 2004
  20. Sudhakar

    Ivan Guest

    Light meters, either hand held or in-camera will give you an exposure value
    ( f-stop and shutter speed combination ) for a given film speed. BTW, hand
    held meters can be switched and be used two different ways. If you point
    the light meter towards the subject, it will meter on the light that is
    REFLECTING off your subject. That type of metering is called REFLECTIVE
    metering. You can also slide the white dome over the "eye" and point it
    towards your light source. In this case, if you were photographing a cow
    standing in a field you would point the meter in the direction of the
    camera, because that is the direction the light is coming from that will
    illuminate the side of the cow that will be photographed. This type of
    metering is called INCIDENT metering. Theoretically both would give you the
    same reading.

    Light meters try to render every scene to look 18% gray. And guess
    what!!!! can buy special 18% gray cards to carry with you to meter
    off. If you point your light meter at the 18% gray card in REFLECTIVE mode
    and use that setting, it should give you a pretty good exposure value. BTW,
    grass is very close to 18% gray. You can also meter off Caucasian skin, if
    you remember skin is twice as reflective as an 18% gray card, and will fool
    your light meter. That just means your meter will see all that white and
    think "oh crap I either gotta close the aperture 1 stop, or shorten the
    shutter speed 1 stop". So if you meter off the back of your hand on a sunny
    day at 100ASA the light meter will suggest you use
    f-22,@1/125th seconds or any equivalent
    combination..(.f-16,@1/250th...ect ) So now you think to yourself...."I
    remember my bud Ivan telling me that skin is one stop brighter than 18% I will alter my meter's suggestion and make it
    f-16,@1/125th second.....but WAIT!!! my hands are shaky today so I need
    a faster shutter speed. How about 1/1000 second? That's threee shutter
    speeds faster than 1/125th, so I have to open my lens aperture three
    stops...( f-5.6) "
    So now everything in your viewfinder will be perfectly exposed....AS LONG AS

    Anything that is darker than 18% gray will be underexposed. Anything
    lighter than 18% gray will be over exposed. If the difference is only 1 or
    2 stops it isn't that critical depending on your expectations. But if your
    main subject isn't 18% gray reflective you would do well to get in close and
    meter off the areas that you want perfectly exposed. A good example would
    be a person standing in a shadow while the rest of the scene is a bright
    wall or brightly lit tree. You will loose your model in the shadow. You
    will loose DETAIL in your subject. The general key to metering is to expose
    for details where you want to see details. You may have a perfectly exposed
    background of sky, trees, buildings.....but your model or any other main
    subject could be totally lacking detail.

    Something you might want to google and read up on is the "Zone system".
    While the zone system is intended for exposing and developing b+w film, it
    will give you a good idea of how important well planned exposure is to a
    good photograph.

    Ivan, Jun 3, 2004
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