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Photography Basics Part 3: Shooting in Manual


I hardly ever shoot in Manual, because there are just too many variables to measure. However, it does have its benefits and if you want to become a true pro, you’ve got to be able to understand how the trinity of aperture, shutter speed and ISO come together as one.



Credits: Photography Life

This is the first thing you should grasp as a photographer because Av (Aperture Priority) is one of the best modes to shoot in. It allows you to control not only the amount of light your camera takes in, but also manipulate the depth of field effect you often see with absolutely stunning photographs.

Aperture is measured in f-stops. The number you see is inversely proportionate to the diameter of the hole. So if you have a smaller number like f/2.0, you have a wider aperture as compared to a larger number like f/10.0, which has a narrower aperture.

The wider your aperture, the more light you let in, which is good for most cases, unless the scene is already too bright. It also allows you to create the depth-of-field effect by focusing in on your subject whilst blurring away the background much better. This is ideal for portrait or macro photography.

When you use a more narrow aperture, you allow in less light. So pictures shot might turn slightly less bright. However, it keeps everything in focus, subject and background alike. This is best for shooting landscapes if you want to see everything in your end product.

Shutter Speed


Shutter speed is the speed at which the aperture blades close when you hit the shutter button on your camera. A longer shutter speed allows in more light whereas a shorter shutter speed allows in less light.

You might be wondering why you would choose a longer shutter speed over a shorter shutter speed if the former lets in more light. It’s because a longer shutter speed makes your photos more prone to motion blur. If your shutter speed is say 1/15s, it will be capturing the image over a longer period of time, so if your hand shakes or if something moves, it will end up blurry. This can be good for artistic purposes, but if you are capturing a “moment”, say in the F1 Grand Prix or in sports, it might not be ideal. Generally, if you are not going for an artistic effect, it’s best to keep your shutter speed between 1/300 to 1/30.



Credits: Shoot Help
Credits: Shoot Help

ISO is a little bit harder to understand, it’s something known as the film speed and it affects brightness or exposure the most.

When you choose to use a high ISOs, you get brighter and more well-lit photos, which are useful for low-light shots. By using a higher ISO, you can increase details in a dark photo without having to reduce your shutter speed or increasing the aperture more than you need. The downside being the fact that some parts look unnaturally bright, or even over-exposed. You might also get a little bit more noise and distortion within the photo too. Lower ISOs give you less noise, but less brightness at the same time.



Honestly, going pure manual isn’t exceptionally useful. It would serve you best to stick to your priority shooting modes, like Av and Tv. If you know you want to manipulate depth-of-field, go for Av, if you want to capture a fast and fleeting moment, go for Tv. If you need to manipulate lighting conditions, alter your ISO.

About the Autv-modahor

A Dentist-To-Be Dabbling in Tech Journalism:

Zayne is a writer who reports for VR-Zone, Stuff Singapore and The New Paper on all things tech-related. Follow this geek on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

Zayne Seah
A tech geek going beyond specs.

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