Its all to do with the dreaded MANUAL MODE (dun...dun) on my camera. Its a big deal to me to get the most out of things I have and for the 2 years that I have had my prized DSLR I have been pretty much stuck in the safe auto/preset modes. About a year ago I did venture into the uncharted territory of the A, S and P modes and had a fairly successful and pleasurable experience, but I have never quite had the courage (or ability) to go "commando" and try M mode. I have read so many blogs that say once you go manual you'll never look back, so I figured hey what the heck I can do this........ha little did I know this meant I had to use what little knowledge I had about photography to get photos AHHHHH!
For weeks (well months actually) I have been clicking away in manual mode, adjusting aperture, tweaking ISO and fiddling the shutter speed to achieve the perfect portrait or landscape only to be faced with either hideously blown out over exposed shots or completely black photos with no recognizable shapes in them what so ever. Why? What am I doing wrong? This is not what the other bloggers describe when they said the using manual mode was the best thing they ever tried (I am hoping this was photographically speaking and not in general or else they must live fairly sheltered lives?!)! I was at a loss and had resigned myself to only ever being able to go as far as semi-auto- a place I was not happy to stay!
Then I stumbled across this site this morning and I finally had the "Ahhhhh...." moment I had been searching for. http://cameras.about.com/od/Advanced-Camera-Modes/a/Using-Manual-Mode.htm the most informative section for me was not to do with f-stops, shutter speed or ISO but to do with exposure compensation...who knew it could be that simple?
Achieving the Correct Exposure
Fortunately, knowing whether you have the correct exposure is not completely reliant on guesswork. All DSLRs have metering and an exposure level indicator. This will be represented both in the viewfinder, and either on the camera's LCD screen or the external information screen (depending on what make and model of DSLR you have). You'll recognize it as a line with the numbers -2 (or -3) to +2 (or +3) running across it.
The numbers represent f-stops, and there are indentations on the line set in thirds of a stop. When you've set your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to what you require, press the shutter button halfway and look at this line. If it's reading a negative number, it means your shot will be under-exposed, and a positive number means over-exposure. The goal is to achieve a "zero" measurement, although I tend not to worry if it's one-third of a stop over or under this, as photography is subjective to your own eye.
So, if your shot is going to be vastly under-exposed, for instance, you'll need to let some more light into your shot. Depending on the subject of your image, you can then decide whether to adjust your aperture or shutter speed ... or, as a last resort, your ISO.
It all seems so simple now, I had wondered for a while what that little line of numbers was for and how it would effect my pictures, now I know. I have had a bit of a play this morning and I am starting to get the hang of this manual mode thingie and have gotten some reasonable results. I will post a few photos soon to show the results of my M mode experience. Feeling pretty happy with myself now and not a moment too soon really as I am taking photos at a friends wedding (eeekkkk) in 2 weeks and I had hoped to be out of auto by then!
A couple of other sites I have visited on my M mode quest that I have found helpful.
I have started a 365 photo project on Instagram #oskandoly365. I'd love to hear from anyone about what you think about my photos, it's always nice to get a little critique from people (be it good or bad).
I hope you are all having a lovely Tuesday and happy snapping.
xx P xx