The Magic Lantern – A Few Tips For Shooting in Manual Mode

I believe there is something magical about a camera.  Whether it be the light it captures and how it frames the subject, or  the way it translates what it sees to what is seen after the photo is taken……the camera in and of itself is magic.

A few months back, I challenged myself to 30 Days of Shooting in Manual Mode (TV and AV).  There were a few days when I was in a hurry and only had time to shoot a lamp or some books on a coffee table……but, I did it!  Some shots were similar from one day to the next, some I failed at and into the trash bin they went. But, others were different and magical because I took the time to stop and adjust my settings. Since then, I’ve been consumed with only shooting in manual mode.  So what did I learn?  A LOT!  And, I continue to learn every time I pick the camera up.

Here are a few things I have/am learning by taking control of my camera (note, my settings for each photo are included in the captions):

1. Use That Tripod —- Photos will be sharper….especially when shooting early morning sunrises or night time city lights.  In the photo on the left I was in a hurry and while I like what I captured with the settings, the city lights are not as crisp.  While, in the photo on the right I used the tripod and the clouds and buildings are a little more crisp.

2.  Change your perspective — The same subject can have multiple personalities…….move around a little to see what it tells you.  In these photos I played around with the exposure too!  I took these photos of the Sidney Lanier Bridge (Golden Isles in Georgia) from different angles, but on the same side of the bank.

3.    Keep that camera with you — Ok, so your family and friends may get a little irritated with you always schlepping your camera around, but trust me it’s worth it when those unexpected moments occur.  Plus, it’s a great way to practice shooting in Manual Mode.  My husband and I were out on a jeep ride when he spotted this Georgia Brown Eagle sitting on a rooftop.  If I didn’t have my camera (and the big lens) with me I wouldn’t have been able to catch this guy hunting and eventually eating his dinner.


4.  Magic Lantern — Use your camera to get the look you want instead of waiting to edit in Lightroom or Photoshop.  It’s truly amazing how you can control what your camera captures. With just a few adjustments up or down you can transform the visual completely.  Both photos below are nice, but with the one on the right I slowed down the shutter speed and opened up the aperture just slightly to show more of the city lights (and, yes I used my tripod)!


When you’re ready to try your hand at Manual Mode here’s a great Photography Cheat Sheet I found over on Pinterest.  It’s very easy to follow.



I’ll admit, shooting in Manual Mode can be daunting and it’s not something you want to try your hand with during a special event like weddings, birthday celebrations, etc.  But, you will find (just as I have) that understanding “manual mode” will open up a whole new world of photography.


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