Manual ModeIn case you were wondering, nostalgia does occasionally come over me. So I was looking through some of my oldest posts on this blog and I came across this one about camera modes. And since it’s almost embarrassingly brief, I decided to expand on it here.

Sometimes it’s good to get back to basics. It’s easy to get caught up with issues like artistic vision, marketing, and business administration and forget that we have this amazing gadget called a camera that demands that we be smart about how we use it.

One of the first principles for shooting better photos is making sure they aren’t too light or too dark. Three equally important concepts work together here:

  • ISO: What used to be called “film speed” back in the day. In our modern digital age, it refers to how sensitive you camera’s sensor is to light. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive it is.
  • Aperture: Measures the “light gathering ability” of your lens (or how big the “hole” is to let light into the machine). Measured by the f-stop number, the higher the number, the smaller the hole. Think of it as a fraction (often written like “f/8” or “f/11”); the higher the number at the bottom of the fraction, the smaller the amount tends to be.
  • Shutter speed: How fast that shutter in your camera opens and closes. This controls how long your sensor is exposed to the light. The slower the speed, the more light your sensor gets bathed in.

When you set your camera to anything other than Manual Mode, your camera has to estimate some or all of these settings. That runs the risk of the machine “guessing” wrong. But with Manual Mode, you take complete control. Guess which mode I like best…? 😉

Next post, more on some short cuts to take the pain out of manual control. Stay tuned!

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Written by The Twilit Lens

Freelance photographer and ponderer of the unusual. I welcome the presence of mystery and the unknown. Wonder is not absent from the universe, and there is still room for the child in those who haven't yet allowed their hearts to wither to dust.


  1. I always shot manual, back in the day. Because I only had Manu Al cameras. Then I got my first digital, and became lazy. However, last year I St rated shooting manual again…and I am having so much fun! And, I think, boosting creativity…

    1. Lol, I think there’s a “Darn Autocorrect” t-Shirt out there somewhere. But yes, I know what you mean. I cut my teeth on my dad’s old Nikon (light meter and all), so it is possible to get a little pampered. But hopefully my next in this series will show an advantage or two.

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