5 Reasons to Shoot in Manual Mode

5 reasons to shoot in manual mode

**If you are ready to learn how to shoot in manual mode check out How to Shoot in Manual Mode – The Basics for some photography tips**

Just a little over a year ago, I had no idea what it meant to “shoot in manual mode.” After seeing several pictures taken by one of my friends, I begged her to teach me some photography tips on how to achieve the same look. This is when my journey of shooting in manual mode began. I haven’t looked back since!

1. No Harsh flash.
When you shoot in “auto” your camera chooses all your settings for you. If there is low lighting the camera decides to pop up the flash and add more lighting. Unfortunately, this lighting is often extremely unflattering to your subjects and leaves you with a picture of washed out skin, closed eyes, or red eyes.
Auto Mode with flash

When shooting in manual you have control over everything. Since I am a control freak, this is a wonderful thing :O) I get to choose my shutter speed, aperture, and ISO (I promise I will explain these later) which affects how much light comes in. This allows me to get natural skin tones and expressions without that horrible flash. What is funny, is when I was taking these photos to show you as an example, Emma made the strangest face when the flash went off. It hit me, she hasn’t seen a flash since she was 5 months old.
Manual Mode

2. You choose your focal point.
I think this is one of my favorite features! When Kate was 5 months old, my mom gave me a book called Baby Photography Now! by David Nightingale. I loved this book! All the pictures were exactly what I wanted my pictures to be. Unfortunately, it was like reading a foreign language because I didn’t understand anything about photography. I held onto that book in hopes that maybe I could figure it out. One of my favorite pictures was a baby playing with a toy but the focus was on the toy not the baby. I loved it! Now, I realize that all you have to do is choose your focal point and have a low aperture and I, too, could achieve those photos!

3. Get wonderful bokeh and blurry backgrounds.
Bokeh? What’s that? A quick explanation would be the little circles of light in the blurry background of pictures. Photographers LOVE bokeh (pronounced bo-kuh – like mocha…at least that is how I say it :O) Besides bokeh, you can also get those professional looking blurry backgrounds. The amount of blurry background you get depends on your aperture. I love a photo that captures the child and everything in the background is blurred out, all your focus is on that adorable face :O)
Bokeh

Blurry Background

4. Control over the amount of light in your picture.
This is such a fun thing about manual. I just finished a workshop that taught me all about silhouettes and backlighting. Both of these seemed like the biggest challenges until I learned it was just a matter of getting your settings right and controlling the amount of light in your photo. If you want a photo with pretty backlighting you let in a lot more light. However, if you want dark silhouettes that pop against your backgrounds you are going to change your settings for your subjects to be underexposed.
Backlighting

Silhouettes

5. Play with your creativity.
The possibilities are ENDLESS! There is so much you can do with your camera when shooting in manual mode.

I hope you come along for this journey in photography! I am constantly learning new things each day and I hope you will too!!

Pin It
the unexpected everday posts
avatar
I combined my passion of teaching and photography to create this website. I invite you to take this 30 day challenge - The Unexpected Everyday
avatar
avatar

Latest posts by Courtney Slazinik (see all)

Comments

  1. I love this! All the reasons I want a DSLR! Especially the blurry background – my favorite.

    I was encouraged to read that you didn’t know a lot of these things just over a year before writing this post! Your pictures look great.

    I love photography, but don’t know all the ins-and-outs of using my camera. I have a bridge camera right now (Canon SX20), which can do a lot of great things. I figure if I can be disciplined enough to learn to use it, then maybe I can splurge on a real DSLR.

    This is my first visit to your blog. I look forward to reading more.

    • Thanks, Stacy, for stopping by!! Yes, just a year ago I started to shoot on manual! I love it and believe that anyone can learn to shoot on manual! I look forward to watching your journey :O) I hope you will submit your pictures on our Friday Picture Share so everyone can encourage you as well :O)

    • I am so excited that I have found you! I am really scared about using manual lol. I have been trying a few different things lately but I would love to learn what I am doing. I currently have a Canon Powershot S5 IS and have recently found out it can do more then just shoot in autofocus lol. Really looking forward to learning with you. Thank you so much

  2. Your beautiful girls make the perfect models. The photos are beautiful. Thank you for sharing all your helpful tips.

  3. Yay! I “stalked” you now and found your site easily! :) LOVE it. You are inspiring me to figure out how to really use my camera! Wow, you are an awesome photographer too!

  4. Hi

    I just started my own 365 blog and I am (rather late in life!) trying to take some good pictures. I love messing around with stuff and hope I can learn to use my camera and try out the manual mode. I will probably have to read the manual first though! I will read lots of your advice and hope that I too can produce wonderful photo’s. Love you site and have added you to my page.

    • Welcome Shirley!! You can definitely produce some great pics…I mean if I can do it, you can do it!!! Hope you will join in our Picture Share on Fridays! Looking forward to watching your journey…365 projects are the best!

  5. Courtney, my girlfriend introduced me to your website after I bought my first DSLR a couple of weeks ago and I am so excited to start shooting in manual mode!!
    I even signed up for the PS course you suggested through Kim Klassen – diving right in!
    Could you direct me to your 365 project? I wanted to look through it but I cant seem to find the project in its entirety.
    All the best!
    Beth

  6. I found your blog through my friend Emily. I have owned my Cannon Rebel for 3 years and have always shot on auto. About 6 months ago I decided to teach myself how to use it on manual. It has been tough! I have been getting better but still have so much more to learn. I love the blog and I am so excited to get caught up on all your posts!

  7. Loved this post Courtney!! What I love about your blog is that you don’t ramble on and on. You pick a topic, simplify it, and get on with it. Love, love, love it!!
    I liked this post as it highlights many of the reasons I love my DSLR and also reiterates to me what I need to practice!!! Keep up the good work, it’s inspirational!!

  8. ooh… I just read this whole page, what a world of help you are. I love how willing you are to share all your photography knowledge. So glad I found you. Looking forward to more of these wonderful crumbs from your photography table.
    All the best, Bobi

    • Thanks!!

      • Hey Courtney, I love your pictures. I to have a problem with reading instructions on shooting in manual mode. Can you help in laymans term. I am lost with my camera settings. I have a canon 20d and still shoot in auto. Can you help me?

        • I’ll shoot you an email and see if I can help :O)

          • I have a question about shooting in manual vs. aperture mode. I’ve been taught to shoot almost everything in aperture priority because it let’s you choose the aperture and the ISO leaving the work of shutter up to the camera. What are your thoughts on this? PS Your pictures are amazing! I hope to shoot this well one day!

            • avatar Courtney Slazinik :

              Personally, I like to have complete control. I don’t want the camera to choose anything for me. For example, what if I’m photographing my daughter playing soccer. If on aperture mode your camera may decide to put your shutter speed at 1/18 which would cause the image to be completely blurry. I don’t trust my camera to know what I am photographing and what I have in my mind.

  9. I am SO excited to find your site!! I think I found you from Selfie, but I’m not sure now because scrolling through the photos and reading the focus points and lighting I’m all YES I WANT to do this!! I want to learn, I can’t wait to start. I’ve tried Manual but I keep forgetting what some of the settings MEAN. I’ll stop rambling and get over to your “How to shoot in Manual Mode” page ;)

  10. Hi..accidently found this site. I was looking for something for lightroom. This website is easy and easy to understand. Thank you! I have been taking pictures forever. Now for the last year a stepped out and started shooting and learning, there is still so much I need to learn. I’m excited I found you. I think I will learn a lot from you!

  11. I would love to learn to shoot in manual but I am too scared to try I think,,as soon as I set it to manual and things dont work out for me I get discouraged and go back to auto,,sigh :(
    You pictures are beautiful,,I hope someday mine look like those :O)

    • Don’t give up!!! Feel free to send me a picture you have a question of with the settings and we can tackle this :O) Yours can definitely look like mine!

  12. Nice site. I have a Nikon DSLR and top get rear flash sync (preferred) one must use manual. Another reason. I often use aperture priority though as if I know what the shoot parameters are roughly then I can leave set at the lens sweet spot (say f/11) and take pics quicker.

    BTW pedantically you don’t need manual to get bokeh as once can use aperture priority with the lens wide open.

    I’ve also heard Asians pronounce boken as burka

    Oh and I’m a big fan of LR and the NIK plugins.

    Keep ‘em coming

  13. not that it really matters:
    Bo as in Bow as in Bowtie
    Keh as in Ke as in Ketchup.

  14. avatar Megan Morrison :

    I am so so happy I found this site. I’m loving it. I have just started learning photography, kind of teaching myself. I have a Nikon D90 with a twin lens kit & have bought myself a 50mm 1.8. REALLY want a 105mm Macro – next!
    I am doing the 365 challenge & it has certainly been a challenge so far. Lots to learn, but I’m enjoying myself. This site is just what I was looking for.
    Cheers
    Megan
    http://www.facebook.com/FindingMyPhojo

    • Welcome!! I’m so glad you got a 50mm for your camera! I loved my 50mm with my D90. Oh, and a 105mm is heavenly!! I just got mine about a month ago and I’m in love!! I’m so happy to hear you are doing a 365! That was one of the best things I did for my photography!! It is definitely a challenge. Do you have others that you follow and you can encourage each other? I know I wouldn’t have made it through mine without a few fellow 365ers pushing me along :O)

  15. Question: on my D90…would a 105mm make it too close being a crop sensorr?

    • That is a tough one! I didn’t have my 105mm when I shot with my D90. It would be closer but I’m not sure if it would be too close. Is there any way you could rent one or play with it before you purchase it?? I think one of my friends may have had it with her D90 before she upgrade to a D700. Let me check with her!

    • Okay :O) She said she actually liked it on her D90 since with the crop sensor it was fantastic for macro since it would get you that much closer. However, if using it for portraits you would just need a little extra space to back up! Good luck deciding :O)

  16. My age will be showing but I there weren’t any DSLR cameras or anything close to it when my kids were little. I now have a Canon DSLR and several lenses. I am trying to learn as much as I can so that I can take great pics of my grandchildren. I have a new little one on the way expected in June. Can’t wait to take some shots of him using what I’m learning from you. THANKS!
    Carol recently posted..A Weekend of Family Fun

  17. Hi Courtney,

    I found your website through googling “how to shoot on manual” and I just love love love your site!!! Just reading this post inspired me to hurry home and start practicing on my Canon :)

    Thanks!

    • Welcome!! That is fantastic to hear!! I hope you have been having fun shooting in manual! It’s amazing how much my images improved once I learned manual mode :)

  18. I`ve read through so many photography blogs and never came across one blog, that made me understand the basics of shooting in manual mode so easily as yours. THANK YOU!
    One stupid question though: when shooting in manual, do i still keep the switch on my lens on automatic mode or do i also switch it to manual mode?
    Lia

    • Hey Lia!

      Welcome and thanks for your kind words!! That isn’t a stupid question :O) You do not need to switch your lens from auto focus to manual focus to shoot in manual mode. I shoot on auto focus about 95% of the time. It is fun to manual focus every now and then but I don’t recommend it when you are just starting to tackle manual mode. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are enough things to think about and you don’t need to add manual focus on top of that. Good luck!! So glad to hear you are tackling manual mode :O)

  19. Okay…I’m inspired…and I have a gift card to take a class at a local camera shop…but I got a little overzealous and tried to switch on Manual Mode to test it out before really learning anything. Everything was black…the whole picture! I suppose I have a ways to go, but I’m glad I can visit here to get great tips and encouragement!

    • How exciting!! Hope you love your workshop!! So excited for you to start your photography journey!! Let me know if you have any questions!!

  20. avatar Stefanie Nordberg :

    Have owned every style of camera in the past 45 years, LOL. Growing up as a kid my parents allowed me to have and take as many photos as I wanted which I loved. (Disc, 110, Polaroid, auto 35mm (small type), and the larger 35mm). Since being an adult I used a SLR Pentax camera before my husband bought me a DSLR Canon about 8 years ago. Have just replaced that DSLR to a new version DSLR Canon T3i (not the top, but it works good for me). And this Christmas he got me a 50mm 1.8 lense that I am dying to try out! I took one class last May from a professional photographer learning about manual mode, and am happy to see your several articles about it also to help me remember all the tips. My question is, where would I find or how would I do this 365 photo challenge? I think that could really be fun and help me with my photos. Stefanie

    • avatar Stefanie Nordberg :

      Oops….my new lens is EF50mm f/1.4 USM that I hope is a good 50 mm. I hear so much about the ‘nifty fifty’ but have no idea if I was given the correct one.

    • I bet you will love your 50mm 1.4!! I LOVE mine!! It lives on my camera about 95% of the time!! I hope you decide to do a Project 365! It is so fun!! You can link up with others who are doing the project here and read some tips on completely it – http://clickitupanotch.com/project-365-and-project-52-link-up/

      • avatar Linda Nichols :

        I’m going to be photographing the birth of my first grandchild this August. I’m thinking a 50mm 1.4 lens is the best for this lowlight situation?

        • avatar Courtney Slazinik :

          The 50mm 1.4 would be a great lens for birth photography. I used that one for one of my friends. I love the fact that it can go to f/1.4. You may also consider a zoom. My friend who did my birth photography used her 24-70mm f/2.8 and loved it :) So many choices :) Congrats on your first grandchild!

  21. I would love to shoot more in manual mode, unfortunately my eyesight isn’t what it should be and looking through the view finder I often am unsure of where the actual focus is.. When I go to edit my photos I find the focus rarely is where I thought it should be, and whole batches of photos are little more than blurry messes.. Hopefully in time..

  22. I am so happy I found your website! I used to shoot in Program mode and was pretty happy with my pictures (mostly of my three kids) but thanks to your site I took on the challenge of learning Manual mode and I can see the difference in my pictures (and the comments I get from friends). I have a lot more learning to do, and it can be frustrating sometimes, but I love it. Your articles, tips, videos, and critiques are great. Thank you!

  23. I just stumbled upon this post again and cannot believe how young the girls look! Someday I will get a better camera and learn manual mode. I have my hands full now :).

    • I know! It is crazy to see old photos like this!! When you are ready I’m here to help :) Besides, now is the best time to learn when your subject isn’t mobile ;)

  24. Hi Courtney,
    I have been wanted to be a good photographer in a long time but there is always something and I just dont do it. I do not want to invest still in an expensive camera that will end in its box with no use. There is something I wanted to ask you, I have right now a non DSLR camera, it is a simple-user camera, it is a sony DSC-H20, it takes good pictures and it has a bunch of pre-defined settings. My question is , eventhough this is not a DSLR and the camera has already those pre-set options (Scene mode) do you think I still should use Manual mode?

  25. Hiya, just came across your beautiful blog! I am SAHM too and want to learn more about photography ESP manual settings etc…do looking forward to following your blog!

    Ritz

  26. great shots, thanks for putting this information together, good basics for the rest of us.

  27. great shots and good information, thanks.

  28. Lovely interaction captured

  29. avatar Linda Nichols :

    I am considering becoming a birth photographer but haven’t experimented enough with photographing in manual mode. I have looked at a zillion websites about learning aperture & shutterspeed. I have to say that yours is so easy to understand & really makes it less intimidating than it need be! Thanks!

  30. avatar Mayra Rivera :

    Courtney, I want to thank you so much for your website. I just read How to Shoot in Manual and Five Reasons to Shoot in Manual…..I have learned more in that half hour or so it took me to read that article than I have in the past 6 months reading over 100 books and blogs on photography. I can’t wait to read more:-) I’m going around the house shooting everything in manual and I finally see and understand what a difference it makes….Thanks again and God Bless.

    Mayra

    • avatar Courtney Slazinik :

      That is wonderful! Thank you so much for your kind words!! I love that you are tackling manual mode! Way to go!! Let me know if you have any questions along your journey!

  31. Hi Courtney,
    Your tips are sooo very helpful. I always wanted to click sharp, colorful and extraordinary pictures with a theme. I hardly knew how to use the manual settings in my Canon Rebel XS Digital SLR Camera. One of my friend in Facebook used to post AWESOME Clicks of her and I was so very inspired by those clicks that, I started reading many articles, web manuals and a lot many blog posts to click better pictures manually. I guess my interest was so intense that I kept experimenting and have improved with my clicks now. Please visit my Blog and let me know your opinion. This is the link to my blog. epsita.blogspot.com

    Last but not the least, your clicks, tips are so very helpful, and I wish to follow you and learn more from you. Thank you for sharing such beautiful information and guidelines. I landed up on your page while searching articles for Indoor Birthday Party Photography without Flash. My daughter’s birthday is day after tomorrow and I wish to click nice pictures this time. Hope I will…..!!!

    Thanks and Regards,
    Epsita

    • avatar Courtney Slazinik :

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so excited as you start your journey in photography. Best of luck!

  32. Your enthusiasm is catching – I have been trying M for some time now but still find it difficult: I hope reading your “words of wisdom” will help me along :-)! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and beautiful pictures!!

  33. So this afternoon as I was shooting in M my pics were so dark you couldn’t see the pumpkins I was shooting …what am I doing wrong??:(

    • I couldn’t say without seeing the photo and settings. If you would like to email me the picture and the settings I can let you know – clickitupanotch @ gmail.com

    • even when you’re shooting in manual you still have to look at the metering information. Most camera viewfinder displays will tell you if the shot is underexposed or overexposed. If the shot is too dark then you have to either increase the aperture (f-stop, make it a smaller number, say from f4 to f2.8), increase the shutter speed (say from 1/500 to 1/250) or increase the ISO (this determines hoe sensitive the sensor is to light).

  34. You can do all of these things without dropping into manual mode and you can do them quicker.

    Manual mode doesn’t stop the flash being harsh, it just allows you to make it less dominant in the shot.

  35. avatar Beverly McColley :

    <<>>

  36. Not a single one of these shots requires going into manual. There’s a huge misconception that beautiful shots are taken in manual mode. Nothing cold be further from the truth. Want to silhouette your subject? Simply focus on the bright background and select spot metering. Want bokeh? Shoot in aperture priority and open the aperture as wide as it will go (lowest f-number). Want light streaks in long exposure shots? Shoot in aperture priority again and make sure the exposure time is long enough to get motion blur. Shooting in RAW will give you further creative control in post.
    If you want to shoot in manual go right ahead, but don’t think that makes you a better photographer or lets you do things you couldn’t do in automatic.

    • For me it all depends on how much time you want to spend in post processing. Manual can really cut down the time in edits. I have been shooting manual for a year, and when I am forced to shoot Auto, I am disappointed in my shots. Also, manual lets the photographer have total creative control.

    • I agree! I have been seeing so many of these posts about shoot manual and I still can’t see anything that you can do that you can’t do in other modes. I usually use aperture priority because I am a fan of bokeh, change the iso if the shutter speed is too slow, and spot meter if there is a need. Though I would use shutter priority for long exposures.
      You would not need any more processing because you have the same shot! The advantage or using aperture priority as opposed to manual is that if the lighting conditions change, eg the sun comes out from behind a cloud, your shutter speed is automatically changed to achieve the same exposure.

  37. I’ve only just found you and I love your blogs. I’m a picture fanatic and after lots (and lots) of encouragement from friends and family I have ditched the auto and branching out into the scary would of manual. I have so much to learn but find your blogs so informative and easy to understand. Thank you. Xx

  38. I was searching for tips on baby photography and came across your website. I am new in this journey. I have a DSLR Canon Rebel 3i which i use only in auto mode. I have 5 month old son whom i want to click personally and he is the reason for me landing on your website. I hope i will be able to follow you and learn to use the manual mode. :)

  39. I don’t have a website so I put my flickr info in the website box :)
    A friend of mine is hooked on blogs. She found yours and shared with me. I have never read a blog before!? I’m kind of behind in the techy/social media world I guess. I LOVE taking pictures and have for years. About a year ago I bought a Canon Rebel t3i. I went from a Kodak Easy Share to this bulky monster that frightened me. It scared me so much I left it in the bag and lost interest in taking photos :(. One day in November another friend convinced me to leave in green mode and just start taking photos and I did….I’ve been hooked ever since and got my passion back! I still have a fear for manual mode but little by little I’m learning how to use it. I’m excited to read your blog and watch videos here and also on Youtube. Thanks for having this blog and helping me learn and get excited again – you’re officially my first saved blog!
    Jeanne

  40. In Aperture mode you can create the beautiful Bokeh by choosing the lowest f/# you don’t need manual mode. You’ll still have control of focus point and flash. You can also control the lighting.
    I used to think manual helped me achieve the best look, but then I fell in love with these priority modes because they always compensate for light even if you want a negative 2 ev.
    I get more accurate pics because if a cloud appears or we walk in the shade, it still acheives the lighting I intended. :)
    You take great pics!!

  41. Hi Courtney, I am just so confused about manual mode, well, more like any other mode that Tv mode! ^.^ I really need your help.

    P.S. I just bought a Vivitar Wide Angle Macro lens and a set of close-up filters for my Canon Powershot G9. I need to know what I can do with them!
    Thanks,
    Chapter

  42. I have a little bridge camera and recently did a basic course on how to take manual pics. I was SO excited to find your website because my main focus in all my pics are my kids. I’m still learning but could spend all day reading your posts and practicing. Sadly though I work a full day so the only time I get to take pics with my boys is in the evening or early mornings and the light is usually really bad. Is there any way to take decent indoor pics or can you only take with a flash?
    I look forward to practicing and learning more! I could give up my job now and start a new one in photography, that’s how keen I am!!

    • Hey Claire,

      Yes, you can definitely get great indoor pics. I never use a flash. I increase my ISO if the light is low. Often times I will shoot around ISO 1600 indoors on a sunny day. Hope that helps :) I love your passion for photography.

  43. Thank you so much. I have had a Nikon d3000 for 5 or 6 year. I’m not even sure how long, but I am just now trying to figure out how to shoot in manual. Your site is quite helpful. Only problem is now I wish I had a full sensor camera. Thank you so much for sharing what you know with the rest of us. This mom is going to give her self some time to learn more and more. I’m going to stop being envious of other peoples awesome photos and learn how to make my own. So Thank you again.

  44. Once again, thanks for helping me become a better photographer. I have a long way to go, but posts like this help me get there!
    Jodee Weiland recently posted..Delicious Baked Oatmeal with Peaches

  45. I just got a rebel Ti5 and my daughter play volleyball and I can not find the right setting for indoor gym with Florence’s and natural window lighting, I always try to have it on sports but they all seem blurry would manually be any better? Your pictures by the way are beautiful.

  46. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  47. Thank you from the bottom of my HEART for your lovely website. I have been taking wildlife photographs for the past 3 years. I am so “passionately in LOVE” with being able to capture those magic moments in time with my camera. Unfortunately I shoot only in automatic. I am trying other things and study each night . Your site has encouraged me to try shooting in manual. Your photographs of your girls are precious. Thanks again. Tracy

Trackbacks

  1. […] 5 Reasons to Shoot in Manual Mode. I just found the Click it Up a Notch website and I love it! This is a great article to show you what you can accomplish in manual mode. Anyone can do it! […]

  2. […] control over all your settings. Not sure you want to make the leap to manual mode? Be sure to read 5 reasons to shoot in manual mode. Manual mode may seem scary at first but I challenge you to put your camera on “M” for […]

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge