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Back to the Basics

So I've had a lot of people request that I make posts on my suggested exposure and editing techniques. In this post I will go over my progression from Auto to Manual mode and why it's important to do it in that order at your own pace. In the next post I will go over editing suggestions (regardless of what program you use).

When I started photography, I had a fully automatic point-and-shoot Kodak camera (yeah I'm old enough to have had a Kodak what up) and it gave me the opportunity to focus on composition and styles before really taking full control of the process. Once you've shot auto long enough and do research on other photographers and techniques, you naturally want to emulate those photographers by exploring the capabilities of a more legit camera body.

My dad got me my first DSLR in 2013 when I was going into high school and I took that thing to all of the 96 National Parks he and I traveled to around the country. You read that right: 96 National Parks and counting. We're just built different I guess.

Cue slideshow of National Park pictures...

I set my camera to Program mode because I wanted a little bit more creative freedom. My dad, who still shot film at the time, recommended I stay at 400 ISO most of the time and Program mode sets everything except ISO on auto. I set my speed to 400 and spent the rest of the time trying to learn my way around his old lenses that he gave me and the Canon Rebel t4i he bought me. I had that thing for years and used the absolute crap out of it.

I grew distant from photography somewhere in high school but for some reason fell back in love when I reached sophomore year of college. I wish I could remember what the reason was but regardless, I bought a new more modern camera in the same vein as my first: the Canon Rebel t7i. It had a touchscreen, wifi and bluetooth, more megapixels, and a bunch of other things I didn't understand or appreciate yet. I then tried to watch YouTube videos and read books on the exposure triangle which describes how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO relate to each other.

The above diagram looked like a foreign language to me, so allow me to explain. Aperture blades are in the lens and the higher the number, the less blurry the background is and vice versa. The higher the shutter speed, the better you can freeze action. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive your sensor is to light making the image brighter. The way this translates into the act of shooting for me is I set the ISO and aperture to auto, and the shutter speed based on whether or not I need to stop motion.

Don't listen to "pros" who say always shoot in manual. It's always bitten me in the ass because I can't keep track of all three when in a shoot.

I primarily shoot in shutter priority in most situations, and aperture priority when photographing people because shallow apertures are pretty visually pleasing and clients love the look. But yeah, everything else is on auto because I need to be able to shoot on a dime when working.

I shoot in full manual mode when there is no pressure to be fast and I want complete creative control in a specific situation. I've learned to use this process from shooting film like I mentioned in my last couple of posts. Film, or at least videos and articles about shooting film have been extremely handy in learning how to effectively work in an actual photoshoot.

Hopefully this post helps you all understand where to start when getting into this beautiful art form, how to progress at your own pace, and know where to go for the best information. In a future post I might make a list of recommended websites and YouTube channels that I regularly keep up with to learn new techniques and tricks.

In the meantime, thanks for reading and get out there and make something!

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