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.


Watching the Storms Roll In

My husband and I live in a condominium which has a panorama skyline spanning from Buckhead to Mid-town to Down-town to the Atlanta  Airport.  It is a spectacular view that changes daily and often times with each passing moment.

Depending on the time of year, you can experience some of the most amazing sunrises and sunsets, each one unique in their own beauty.

The cooler temperatures of the Fall bring some of the most mesmerizing sunrises with vibrant colors of the sky and  mist hovering over the Chattahoochee River which seems to almost mirror the brushstrokes of the clouds.


Sunrise coming up behind Buckhead

In the Summer, the shifting angle of the sun oftentimes will paint the city with a soft, muted pallet as it begins to set.

IMG_3192 Pink Sunset over Atlanta copyright

Pink Sunset over Atlanta

But to me, even more unique and spectacular are the storms as they roll in.  In a matter of minutes the weather and the view can change:

Sunny skies turn dark and gloomy; IMG_8454 081814 copyright

Or,  showers and rainbows will cover a portion of the city while the rest of the skyline shines brightly;IMG_2853 072212 Rainbow Shower copyright

The dry, humid summertime weather can also bring heat lightening dancing across the city;IMG_3292 Lightening Strikes copyright

One weekend morning, I was up early and decided to have coffee on the balcony to watch the sun come up.  Looking Eastward (towards Buckhead) as the sun was beginning to make its appearance the sky was turning a pinkish/orange color.   When I looked West (behind me) the clouds were starting to build and I could tell we were in for a little rain.  In a matter of minutes this was my view……..a sunrise rain shower:IMG_9742 101114 Sunrise Storm

“When life seems to be so ordinary, I step out on my balcony to see what I can see; And, take in all it’s beauty whether sun or brewing storm may be.”

Zoom Photography by Donna Robinson

I started this blog a few months ago as a place to share my photography with others and to also sharpen my writing skills.   You see, I’ve been in Corporate America for a long, long time so I’m a little rusty when it comes to “creative writing” or finding the time to do something with my passion for photography.

A friend of mine and fellow blogger, Janet Berridge (check out her blog at Spanish Moss Series) gave me the inspiration to try my hand at it.  So, here I am a few months into this with a personal commitment of writing one blog per month.  I was doing fairly well until June came around and I just couldn’t quite get one completed (although I have several drafts started).  I’m hoping that through Blogging 101 I can learn a few things which will help me to improve my blogging experience.

With that, thank you for stopping by and checking out my site.  Here, you’ll find my bio, a few blogs I’ve written about St. Simons Island, Ga and a glimpse into some of my photography, of which the following are a few of my recent favorites.

Dusk on St. Simons Island with Sidney Lanier Bridge in the background

Dusk on St. Simons Island with Sidney Lanier Bridge in the background

Walk on the beach at low tide

Walk on the beach at low tide. East Beach,            St. Simons Island

Sunrise over the St. Simons Island Lighthouse

Sunrise over the St. Simons Island Lighthouse

I still have some work to do in building out my site and blogging skills, so please pardon “the dust.”

Until next time……..Donna