M for Manual Mode


Shoesmith - A second before   Shoesmith - A second after

These two captures of a shoesmith (a second before/after) reminded me how my photography all started from last year. It was all about personal exploration, experimentation, doing things that I’d not had thought of. Although the photos were shot out of the blue just when I thought my camera wasn’t awake, I hit the shutter release again; I see how much commitment I put into my photography. The magnitude might vary, I know it’s always there in me.

I once asked too many questions to myself. Here’s one: How could some photos be shot this way, with clear light and shadow? I knew it’s the exposure and I had no idea how to be done. Until I read about operating a camera in manual mode, that is not setting auto ISO, auto aperture, auto shutter speed on a camera. It indeed scared me at first.

When we were kids “Who wants to ride a bicycle when we know how to ride a tricycle!”

I’m stuck in-between not having projects of any kind. How about setting a goal and head for some challenges by putting my next photo at risk?

Well, that’s something new. I decided to learn by doing my exposure manually on a camera. I once read about by controlling the shutter speed, would allow more accurate exposure in difficult lighting situation. I was also advised to learn by doing it. It may seem difficult; but once get the hang of it, it’s a whole new world. It was at least three months already since I ever had thought about doing it. I had not shot one photo on the street in manual mode. I was so afraid I’d miss any potential shots so I kept shooting in A-mode until last week.

I found it NOT as difficult as I thought. I could always use the exposure meter on the LCD screen to keep myself in check WHEN I CHANGE MY ISO. It’s only done once or twice. The less I change the ISO the better. So It was really not bad at all. By memorizing the shutter speed I’ve set to, it’s only a matter of math. Any ups and downs are basically halved or doubled (ex. 2000 down to 1000, 250 raise to 500, etc.) I always wondered why is there a shutter speed dial anyway..By using my X2 this way, I feel I’m bonding even more with it. I’m smelling the love of Leica!

But why doing it manually? i think there are times when a photographer found the auto-exposure is too smart, too fast? As I walk into a shaded zone with some scattered light beams, would my camera be correcting exposure to the brighter side or darker side? If I knew ahead of time by manually adjusting the shutter speed, there could be hardly any strangely exposed shots. That’s precisely what I want to achieve in a long run. And it’s also a key to correctly expose the light on a subject (not the overall exposure photo which I usually found it done in auto). Let alone this worths my time and effort exploring this year.

Rather than worrying if I’d miss my next best shot with the wrong shutter speed, why not paying more attention to the light 🙂

My another challenge would be how am I going to develop the photos consistently. My next series for the month which I’m extensively working on would feature images (or results) from the M mode.

One thought on “M for Manual Mode

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