How to shoot in manual, without the stress

If I could back in time, perhaps four or five years ago, I would tell myself that it’s ok to make up your own rules!!! Well, at least when it comes photography. I was so focused on getting the rules and getting them right that it made my photography journey extremely stressful. Who says there’s a right f-stop for every shot, if you like it it’s right!!! Except this took me way longer to learn than to write. I once asked my girl friends to model for me and after lining them up as a potential wedding party, I photographed the same frame at every single f-stop to see the difference!!! That was tiring, but it narrowed my options for me, because I seemed to really like 2.0 and so I stuck with it for a few years, except now I’m more of a 2.8 girl ;). So, this post is for someone who is familiar with ISO, f-stop, white balance and shutter speed . . . and for someone who wants to use these without minimal stress ;).

Last night I met up with my friend Laura and taught her a few basic things I do at every shoot, these are tips based on how I like my photos to turn out, but definitely are not rules!

1. Set your camera in Manual mode
2. Set f-stop to 2.8 (or your favorite number ;), whichever one you like shooting at most of the time)
3. Set your ISO. 100 for a very bright sunny time of day. 400 for a sunny time of day. Over 500 hundred for a darker shooting area, but most of the time I’m never past 640 unless I’m indoor in a super dark church.
4. Set your White Balance to a picture corresponding to your light source, or to the warmth you like on the back of the screen (I sure have the best explanations ever!). I never let my camera decide the white balance on every shot, because I like to edit my photos in a batch and choosing one temperature for my photos really speeds up the process.
5. Set your shutter speed! Now this you can do by trial and error (well unless you shoot film). As one photographer once told me it’s all about making your picture lighter or darker and since he’s pretty good, I’ll take his word on this. So take a few trial shots and see which shutter speed gives you the amount of light you like!

Basically the only thing I constantly change throughout the shoot is the shutter speed, this makes it very easy for me to shoot and always be ready for any shot ;). Sometimes I might have to adjust steps 3 and 4 because the light changes, but other than that, it’s a great way to narrow down manual shooting! Laura, I hope this is helpful and if it helps another person, even better!

And since we love weddings and pretty things around here, here’s are two shots f-stop 2.8, ISO 100, shutter speed 1/500

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