[practice] manual mode

For all of my photography excursions to date, I’ve put the camera in auto mode, trusting it to determine the best settings for the given moment. This has allowed me to snap photos far beyond my actual knowledge and abilities, while practicing composition and training my eye.

However, there is no art in auto, and to become the photographer I aspire to be, it is essential that I learn more about the intricate functionality of the body and lenses, and put more of myself into the practice. So I searched around the internet and found Skillshare, a phenomenal open source educational platform with lessons on everything from photography to leatherworking to computer networking (and more). In just a couple of hours with professional photographer Justin Bridges, I learned all about the exposure triangle – in a way that made sense to a novice like myself, no less.

Then, at home on my dining room table, I set up a still life with objects at hand, and began to play with the intricacies of exposure, applying the three elements in turn. Doing so, I saw, in real time, how the F-stop changed the depth of field, and how the ISO added to or lessened the digital noise. In each photo, I applied the third element, shutter speed, last, bringing my exposure meter back to center – discovering that, at times, my own eye was more trustworthy than a meter, and allowing myself to intentionally push the camera beyond its “ideal” to create a better, more balanced image.

The results are not perfect, but they are part of a journey to good photography, and there will be much more of this in the coming days and weeks, as I dive into the nuance of photography and practice my eye and my skills. This post may or may not be interesting to others, but it’s for me more than anyone else. Next year, as the summer begins to slip into fall, I’ll be in Scotland, and my goal is to take photos worthy of display on my travels. This is how I’ll get there.

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