This Mama is Going Manual: Shooting in Manual the Easy Way

Today is our first lesson on shooting in manual the easy peasy way.  We will start with shooting in Aperture Priority Mode or AV which is one of the easiest setting to shoot in manual because your camera automatically adjust the shutter speed for you depending on what aperture and ISO you choose.

First, find your control dial on top of your camera. Switch it to AV mode (Canon) or A mode (Nikon). See diagram below for Canon camera setting.

canon dials photo

You will need to adjust your aperture. Aperture or f stop is basically, a hole in which light travels. I love the diagram below from Kitty and Buck because the white space represents the light coming in. So if you notice the lower the f stop the more light comes in. Aperture also determines background clarity. The lower the number, the less background will be in focus. Higher numbers mean more of the background is in focus.

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aperture diagram

So an easy way to remember this is to make a zero with your fingers,  shown below, you can see there is light shining in. The closer the F stop is set to 0 the more light is shining in (I believe the lowest setting is 1.4 but it varies depending on your lens).


I will touch on ISO in-depth at another time but briefly I will explain it here since you will be using it to shoot in AV mode. ISO is basically the pictures sensitivity to light.  If you  have lots of light, from either the sun or its bright, you don’t need your ISO to aid your  lighting much, so you can set your ISO low.   ISO can help your camera absorb more light.

Try to remember that typically if you are outside shooting then you can have a lower ISO such as 100 or 200.  If you are indoors with low lighting you may want to increase your ISO to around 800.

Remember: Lower ISO = less light / Higher ISO = more light

The best way to get this down is to just take a ton of pictures and try out different speeds and apertures. Shoot the same object in different Fstops. Start off with the lowest setting. My camera lens is an 18-55mm and the lowest f stop setting I can set it on is f3.5 when it’s on 18mm. Once it’s on the lowest f stop shoot the same object changing the settings f4.0, f4.5 up until  f16. Note in diagram above, the dial will help you quickly change aperture instead of doing it manually.

These pictures were taken with these settings: ISO 400, and at 18mm (see lens info at the end of article).

Shooting in AV mode

Do you see how my first few pictures the background was blurry? As I mentioned by lens won’t let me go lower than a 3.5 F stop so my background in these pictures aren’t that blurry. I did a first round with an ISO of 200 but because it was in the evening on a cloudy day they turned out too dark. Remember ISO comes to the rescue when you have low lighting situations. So you set it higher. An easy way to remember this is ISO to the rescue.

super hero letters

And what does a super hero do when they rescue you? They whisk you, up, up and away. So your ISO needs to go up and be set higher when you have a low lighting situation. I know cheesy but the cheesier the easier it’s to remember. ~super hero alphabet via TecheBlog

Tip: If you need the best possible picture, you need to keep ISO at 200 or lower so that the picture doesn’t turn out too grainy because the higher the ISO the granier the picture turns out. And either adjust lighting or adjust your lens opening (f-stop) so there is more light coming into the picture.

canon lens 18-55

Tip: While in AV mode your Aperture setting will change if you zoom in and out unless you have a Prime Lens with a fixed aperture. When I took the above pictures I had it on the 18mm and didn’t zoom in out so my setting would be the same since I was trying to do a comparison.

Last weeks lesson: Getting to Know Your Camera

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