Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Manual Mode

If you have not yet discovered this yet, I am really loving photography and everything about it.  I could shoot pictures all day if there wasn't a real life for me to live.  I have always loved taking pictures, but until recently it was always in auto mode.   My old camera would have let me shoot in manual, but with f/2.8 maxing out at f/8, shutter speed from 1/1000-8, and ISO of 80, 100, 200 or 400 the range of what it could capture wasn't too spectacular.  The biggest issue was figuring out focus on the tiny, low resolution LCD screen--trust me I recently tried.  With f/2.8 it technically should have been able to capture a smaller depth of field than my kit lenses which is a look I love, but after an aggravating hour trying this is the best I got.
1/1000    f/2.8     55.2mm    ISO 80     On a Panasonic DMC-FZ3 3MP
That isn't to say I don't like this picture or several others from that day BUT I went back inside completely frustrated at the difficulty with focus and really not knowing if any of them were actually focused.  I felt no joy at the experience.  If I was still limited to this camera, I would still be stuck in auto mode and considering myself lucky when a photo came out great (my little camera did capture great photos--so it did happen for me).

But then in February we were able to purchase a Nikon d3100 with two lenses--28-55 and 55-200.  I was not going to waste my fancy camera on auto mode--I am frugal that way.  So I started to learn what the settings meant, etc.  In mid March I switched everything to manual and have stayed there ever since.  I have lots of mistakes, lots of photos I delete because I didn't check my histogram and shot 42 photos of daffodils outside in ISO 1600 when the sun was shining.  My biggest difficulty currently is getting the focus and exposure right on the eyes so I practice, practice, and take lots of pictures of flowers so I have pretty things to look at, practice some more and beg my husband for a new lens which is making my focus even more difficult but my light and skin colors oh so much better!

Okay, I've talked enough.  Here are my most recent photos in manual mode (or a few of them--I never take less than 50 and usually more than 200 when I get my camera out; why all that work of unzipping the bag and removing the lens cap for only 2 images?)
1/400  f/2.2    50 mm ISO 100   on my new 1.8 50mm
This plant didn't really lend itself well to selective focusing and narrow DoF, but it is about the learning and I love the colors it captures.  I plan to try again with a narrower aperture but it is raining...again.

1/500   f/2.2    50mm  ISO 100
I got a little closer to what I envisioned with this one, but there is still some detail that I would have liked missing.  Still so fun to be practicing with an f/2.2 and not f/4.5! 
1/500   f/1,8    50mm  ISO 100
I tried to get her to let me try again with her standing on the rocks so I could get a little wider DoF on her hands, but she was having none of it.  This was taken in the 4 seconds she held the flowers out to me and before they fell (love my faster focus on this lens).  I did get one more flower pose from her I also love.
1/500    f/1.8    50mm  ISO 100
Then I practiced some more on the eyes which is what will take my photography from good-ish to great-ish, but she really doesn't have time to look at me when she is busy.
1/800   f/1.8    50mm   ISO 100
This is a time when I could have and possibly should have switched from manual mode to aperture priority mode.  I wanted to play with my aperture wide open--1.8, but she was swinging back and forth from shade into less shade and the sun was peaking in and out of clouds causing me to switch shutter speeds in between almost every shot and sometimes just not having the right one at all.  But I was able to focus on her while she was swinging, so I was still really pleased.  Who knew photography and learning was so much fun?

I am linking up over at Finding Serendipity for Photo a la {M}ode.  It is a fun way to meet others shooting manual and get tips on how to do so.


Susan said...

Oh what great photos! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the one with the hand and the rocks.

missing moments said...

Great pics ... I agree ... camera out and I end up taking hundreds. Then comes the pain sorting and elminating!

Ashley Sisk said...

Makes a huge difference doesn't it. Once you go manual, you'll never go back. Great work.

Sarah C. said...

Beautiful photos!! I'm using the d3100 as well - bought it in Nov. Used it on auto for a while (still do occasionally!) and finally took a class a few months ago to learn more. Still lots of practicing here too and wanting a new lens (I only have the one it came with). For this week I settled on finally getting a lens filter. :)

Anonymous said...

WOW!! These are awesome! Manual is great.

patty said...

cedar! so sorry it's taken me all week to get here and thank-you SO much for joining us at photo a la {M}ode. i made that same switch in january and am loving it. you have some beautiful captures here-love the flowers in her hand, and the swing shot. hope you will join us again this week!

Jennifer said...

It is so fun to me to peek in on others blog when they have taken the time to visit mine!!! This post is exactly where I was a few months back! I have also begun to only shoot in Manual and delete...a lot!!!
I have a canon rebel xs and am currently (slowly) saving to move on up in the world.
My 50mm prime is my newest and best friend, glad you made the acquaintance as well!!! Looking forward to seeing more of your work and keeping caught up!!

Oh and I bet you noticed I am good at messing up!! such is life!