Clicks Gone Wild offers two exciting options to learn how to get the most out of your digital camera. We have our popular
Clicks in Your Home Program or One-on-One instruction of our beginner, intermediate and advanced level courses which are taught throughout Arnprior, Renfrew and the surrounding area. More information about us and our courses can be found in the links above. Send us an e-mail at clicksgonewild (at) gmail (dot) com to book your course with Clicks.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Using Manual Mode In the Low Light of Winter

Picture this.  A woman purchased an entry-level SLR last September and proceeded to shoot on auto mode.  For the most part, the pictures from her new camera turned out okay and about 1/50 were fantastic.  She was pretty happy with her purchase, and could see a noticeable difference in the quality of her pictures since the upgrade, but she really wanted most of her pictures to be fantastic.  Fast forward five months, and she was ready to throw her camera out the window.  How could this beautiful new camera not be working properly?  It felt slow, wouldn't always grab focus, and every second picture was blurry.  The woman was at the height of frustration, as she had paid $700 for her new gear.

Sound familiar?

Photography is all about light.  Simply put, in September, there was more daylight, and the weather was nicer, so the woman took more pictures outside.  Then came along our Canadian Winter, the season of short days and the bitter cold that drives you indoors.  She began to feel frustrated when Auto Mode just wouldn't cut it in lower light.  There wasn't enough light for her camera to grab focus and her camera was slow to recycle on-board flash.  Because here's the deal - Auto Mode may take a decent picture outside the odd time, but you need to be able to control settings yourself, manually, to expose in indoor or lower-light situations.  

Tonight, while I was spending time with my children in their favourite evening hangout spot (the basement craft center), I took a few images to help illustrate the differences between Auto and Manual Modes.  Now think Winter evening, it is completely pitch dark outside, with no overhead lights.  But warm and cozy!  There were only two desk lamps shining on to their work area and collection of papers, stickers, and markers. 

Take a look at the first two images.  Which one do you think best illustrates what I likely saw on the table, the first or the second?  The second; you're right!  If you said the first, that's completely understandable, because you are so used to seeing hundreds of these flashy photos every day; they just seem bright and normal.  The first image was taken in Auto Mode, but that's not what the scene looked like.  :(  The second image would be much more likely to remind me of the evenings I sat down in the basement and made creations with my children.  You can expose properly with available light and avoid flash by learning how to shoot in Manual Mode.  In Auto Mode, the camera chooses all of your settings and you have to take what it gives you, even if the picture is not representative at all.         

Think of the possibilities with low-light photography.  Without your flash lighting everything up unrealistically and your camera choosing focus, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc., etc. for you, you can start to take pictures and have scenes look as they actually do.  (And I guarantee you that less people will run away from your camera when you stop firing flash in their eyes!  ;) )

And now this last image should be self-explanatory.

Once you learn how to shoot in Manual Mode, you will never want to give back control of the settings to your camera, because you are smarter than the $700 piece of equipment in your bag.  In fact, you are priceless.

Embrace the Winter and the low light.  Clicks Gone Wild's next Magic of Manual Mode course is coming up in just over a month.  What are you doing in the afternoon on Sunday, March 3rd?  We'll be teaching, discussing, demonstrating, and watching the light-bulb moments for participants in our advanced course, as they learn Manual Mode for the first time or take the course as an opportunity to fill the missing gaps.  We hope to see you!  Send us an email to register for this course.  

Now, to draw a cartoon or two and consider finishing the basement ceiling and installing some overhead lighting.  :)


No comments:

Post a Comment