Thursday, January 9, 2014


by Linda

Happy New Year!

We made another trip around the sun! We're off to a great start in this new year! right?

January's theme-beginnings- is perfect, don't you think? Out with the old, in with the new! Start fresh! Do something different, stretch and learn, all great but what about all the stuff you already know? Should you just "forget about it!"  (insert gangster voice)

Well, I have decided to re-fresh some of the things I already know but am too lazy to do don't do, to re-start some of the things I have previously attempted but failed to complete. To re-energize myself in personal ways and in photography and the way I practice photography.

When I decided to participate in another 365, I remembered how energized I was in January and how deflated I was in March and how bored I was in September. What to do about that? Perhaps a year in B&W? A year of macro? A year of just using the DSLR?

I decided that this would be a year of using the DSLR in manual mode. Mostly. I say mostly because I know there will be a phone picture or two hundred and I know there will be a picture in a different mode but by golly, I'm gonna be in manual mode most of the year! Why? Because I can but I don't. Why? I dunno! When the camera is in manual mode, I become more aware of what I am doing. I really look at the scene in my viewfinder. I use my brain and think about what is before me, I make decisions about what to capture and how to capture it and I make decisions, based on my settings, of how it will look once I press the shutter button. It's amazing. It's creative. It makes me happy!

It also requires a bit of time and sometimes presents a bit of frustration but since I'm making this a habit, since I'm practicing this everyday, soon it will become second nature.  The settings required to get the look I am after will come more and more easily.

Have you ever tried manual mode? It can be intimidating to try to figure out how the "photographic triangle" works. The "photographic triangle" is Bryan Peterson's term for aperture, shutter speed and ISO. (Don't forget about white balance!) Bryan Peterson's book "Understanding Exposure" is an excellent resource for understanding the "photographic triangle".

The thing about photography that I love is the never ending learning curve. One thing I know about photography is that there is no magic formula to get the perfect picture. There are no rules. There are guidelines, suggestions as to what makes a correct exposure or a good picture. Finding the correct exposure is as individual as we are. Whatever setting we use to create a picture that makes us happy, are the correct ones.

What mode do you use? There is nothing wrong with any of them, it's really a matter of preference and sometimes a matter of necessity!


Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail"

~Ralph Waldo Emerson



Kim Stevens said...

Good early morning Linda, yes I'm in manual mode about 95% of the time. Because in order to get the look I want I have pretty much stopped listening to what my camera tells me is a correct exposure. In fact I learned in manual mode before I even understood the triangle, or what it all meant. I spun my dials and changed things getting what I wanted but I just didn't know how I was getting it...until I got Bryan's book and said, ahhhh that's what all those lines are for in my viewfinder, haha! I even shoot the football games at night in manual mode.

Jeanne said...

I only shoot in Manual, every since i went to my very first photography class. It makes your creative options so much more diverse, and is alot of fun practicing. And it does take practice.

AFishGirl said...

I still shoot a lot in aperture mode. I shoot some in manual mode. And I shoot some in shutter speed mode. Great post, Linda. And gorgeous shot. We all need to shake it up a bit, for sure. And try new things. It's so easy to get in a rut/pattern. This week I am going to try moving to different perspectives. With age, I get down on my knees a lot less. I need to get up high and down low and see how the world looks. Thanks for inspiring!

Cathy H. said...

I shoot in aperture mode most of the time. Manual is something I need to work on. I do have Peterson's book. I got about half way through it and then it got set aside. I need to pick it up and finish it!

Katie said...

I shoot primarily in manual, simply because i'm bossy like that and like being in control of my camera. what i want to learn to do better this year is shoot manual with moving subjects, like kim above who said she shoots manual at night football games. if i really want to get the shot, and the shot means more to me than the extra few moments of adjusting the focus ring (the hardest bit for me), then i'll back button focus in aperture priority. but yep, want to be full manual mode by football season next fall. oh, and also learn to use a tripod! wonderful post, linda!

Carol said...

Yes, I too have the opposite problem. I learned in manual and use it most of the time, but it was not until a year or two ago that I began to realize that the other modes have their place. Someday I want to step back and shot a month or so in each until I nail in my mind what their particular advantages are. Congratulations on once again challenging yourself - you are so goo at that!
ANd Cathy H. - May I just say a big thank you for your nice words about us on your blog ( That was si kind of you - and means so much to us!

terriporter said...

First of all, you've hit the nail on the head as far as staying inspired while doing a 365. To have a theme or something in particular you want to work on will keep you energized. Watching Leigh complete her "be" series in 2013 made me realize that. I have fallen in love with my iPhone 5 camera and have to talk myself into pulling out the big girl to shoot with. So I signed up for a class where you must use your 50mm lens and am having a blast! It has been a bit of an adjustment but I know I used to love that lens and want to again. Don't get me wrong, I will still be using my phone! I am envious of those of you who shoot in manual. I think I'm just too impatient that that's not a good trait for a photographer to have. I took a class on using manual and used it exclusively for that month but then went right back to Aperture Priority. I think I'm going to have to give it another try! Thanks, Linda, for another of your inspiring posts!

Dotti said...

First things first - that image in B&W is awesome! Such a classic camera but the B&W makes it vintage for sure. I usually start out in aperture priority but more and more I find myself going over to manual after scratching the surface a bit with aperture priority. I'm also in the 50mm class. My 50mm is on my camera 95% of the time from November until late February when the sun again begins to shine reliably. But it has been refreshing not to have to think about which lens I want to/should use for a shot. The 50mm will stay on my lens until the class is concluded. It's been a fun exercise and a very liberating experience. You can do this, Linda ... I know you can!

Linda/patchwork said...

I've committed to this 365. I'm hoping I can learn a lot, this year.
I'm trying to use the manual setting more and more. And, like Katie, I want to learn to use a tripod.
I have a LOT to learn.

kelly said...

after completing my first 365, i too am thinking of ways to continue to challenge myself. i think i am going to once a month shoot with my film slr, just to change things up a bit. i love that there are endless ways to continue to grow and of my favorite things about photography. gorgeous photo linda! thanks for the encouragement!!

Olivia Fulmer said...

I'm trying to motivate myself to start a 365 project. Actually, I'm trying to motivate myself to pick up the camera, period. I think perhaps doing a 365 in manual mode may be an option for me. Thank you for the suggestion.

susan said...

Manual…Aperature…just depends on the moment. If it's a shot that's going to be random quick, Aperature. For the rest I'm usually in manual mode. Your black and white image is fantastic!!!

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