The M-Word

I think to be a mommy blogger, you are pretty much required to learn to shoot in manual on your camera.  I’m so fancy that I don’t even own a camera with a manual mode.  My parents have a bridge camera (the happy medium between a point-and-shoot and a DSLR) that they never use, so I’m borrowing it to try to learn on to decide if I want to invest the cash.

I’ve read a ton of information on the Internet about how to shoot in manual.  While I don’t want to over-simplify the intricacies, it basically comes down to 3 components that need to be in balance – ISO, shutter speed, and f-stops (aka aperture).  ISO is how much light you are letting in, shutter speed is how long your shutter is open, and f-stops deal with how much of your camera is in focus.  All of these components work together to produce your photograph, so balance is key.

But… There is one quick, easy tip that I found that has made shooting in manual so much easier for me!  Want to know the secret?

The light meter.  It’s the little line at the bottom of your camera screen that the arrow is pointing to above.

You can adjust one of the key 3, and by checking the light meter, you’ll know how to adjust the other 2!  For example, I’m usually photographing a toddler, so my priority is usually a fast shutter speed.  That moves me lower down the light meter, so I have to compensate by having more lighting or by cranking up the ISO.  Basically, to get a decent shot, you want your light meter at around 0.  The negative side will produce dark photos, while the positive side will look washed out.  

In the photo above, I took a picture of my camera screen with my cell phone.  You can see the ticker in my light meter is all the way to the negative side.  This is because I was inside, it was night time (no natural lighting), and I didn’t have my ISO turned up or my shutter speed turned down.  If I had taken a photo with my camera in that environment without adjusting my settings, the resulting photo would have been very dark.  My photos are still not “DSLR quality,” in my opinion, because it isn’t a DSLR camera, but you can get a pretty decent picture on manual mode with a bridge camera.

And, don’t forget, practice makes perfect!  I have learned a lot by just being willing to play around with the camera!