My Single Best Piece of Advice to Improve your Photography…
Written by: Susan Keller from Susan Keller Photography
[Important note: I must apologize. The photos I’m about to subject you to are for illustrative purposes only. They are not artistic. They are not pretty. They are so NOT Wow. God blessed me with boys. And in the historical realm of things, boys are not renown for their great love of posing patiently for their photographer-Moms who are trying to demonstrate tutorial concepts. There. I feel good about getting that off my chest.]
My exhortation and encouragement today is a simple one: Shoot Manual.
That’s it. Not simply, “Get off the Green Box.” Not, “Use Aperture Priority for greater control.” Just SHOOT MANUAL. Just do it. It will transform your photographic experience. It will take your images to a whole new level of excellence. It will save you HOURS of editing time.
Let me show you.
Technical detail –
- all images SOOC
- shot in jpg mode, not RAW
- first image is aperture priority
- second image is manual
- both AP & Manual are shot with spot metering on the skin (trying to give aperture priority it’s best shot).
First up is the granddaddy problem for aperture priority: back lighting.
Yes, I know. The sky isn’t as pretty in the manual image. But what are you trying to capture? The face or the sky? AP will rarely work in backlit situations – it will almost always give you a silhouette-ish image.
Indoor-near-window example, utilizing my son who is completely sucked into his latest novel, Mockingjay. I thought if he was otherwise occupied, he might not mind me snapping away ;-).
Hmmm, apparently my snapping was distracting. So I turned to my dog. You know I’m desperate when I try using my squirrely, nervous, not-still dog for photographic fodder. I gave my dog my favorite lighting scenario: covered porch, early evening glow, Northern exposure. And aperture priority did a quite decent job. Tho, I still think manual affords me greater detail in his fur.
I think we should always be pushing ourselves to get the exposure right IN CAMERA. Shooting Manually allows us to do this. And not only does this make for better images, but it really truly saves tons of time when editing. Case in point, and I want to end with a pretty picture, so I’m going outside the confines of my own home (smirk) … here is an image from a recent session I shot.
The top left image is SOOC. Editing this image was a dream. Nothing needed to be “fixed.” All I did was simply click on 3 of Jessica Paige’s gorgeous .jpg presets (Golden Shimmer, Tatum II & Vintage Lace) and Voila! Quick, easy, very pretty.
Now go shoot manually!
I totally love a great roadtrip adventure with my dudes, or a cozy afternoon curled up with a good book. “Reality” tv totally sucks me in. I prefer my chocolate to be semi-sweet and my Diet Coke to have a squirt of root beer in it. Photography makes my heart sing and waterskiing leaves me sore & limping but deeply satisfied.
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