#922 Manual Exposure Mode Madness

On Friday I taught another session of Photography for Communications Professionals – a course to help people get better workplace photos.

I met my client and she was nervous about shooting in manual exposure mode. This is normal!

People are often afraid to shoot ‘Manual’ – clinging to any of the auto settings – because learning to meter the light and set three variables – iso, aperture and shutter speed – can be a daunting task. And the consequences of a mistake in a high pressure event are too much!

The beauty of manual mode is that once you have set the exposure for a location the exposure usually remains the same and allows you to ignore the light level until it changes – see bull rushes, below.

Exposure - photo training

Exposure - photo class

In auto mode the camera resets the variables every time it encounters a different tonal element within the evenly lit scene (bright snow, dark trees with bullrushes) even though the correct exposure for the elements is the same exposure. (The two bull rush photos have same exposure but the different backgrounds would fool auto exposure mode!)

Exposure - photo training

Exposure - photo training

And, with practice, you can figure out the correct exposure for a scene in, oh, about 5-15 seconds…

With some training, reading, and/or practice you can get consistently better exposures easily in manual mode.

Remember my nervous student clinging to an auto mode?

By the end of the day she was nailing challenging exposures in tricky lighting scenarios using manual mode. She was smiling – some simple photo training went a long way!

exposure photo training

Photo training for communications departments - here students learn to take advantage of exposure possibilities to create better photos - dark background, well exposed foreground - to bring attention to the speaker (erm, me) in the test scenario photo!

A while back I posted a newsletter on exposure and manual mode. One of our students recently commented on the newsletter and the difference between shooting manual and auto:

Après une semaine à faire des photos d’hiver pendant la relâche scolaire, je peux définitivement dire que le mode manuel est 100% mieux. Malheureusement, les gros appareils sur les pistes de ski alpin, c’est peu recommandé…surtout avec mon niveau d’expérience dans ce sport!!!
Exposition manuelle 
Exposition appareil automatique


What do YOU use?!

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