Friday, May 21, 2010

Grab Bag Friday: I'm Just A Manual Kind Of Guy

Good Morning Everybody,

Well today, I take my non-3G iPad and make it work anywhere.  Heck, all I need to do is carry my own "hotspot" with me, then I can connect anywhere even in the car while traveling (LaDawn would be driving of course) - pretty cool. I headed to the Verizon store and picked up one of their very tiny MiFi 2200 portable "hotspots".

Verizon MiFi This thing is pretty cool.  It will support up to 5 devices connected to it.  That means 2 computers,  1 iPhone, 1iPad, 1 to spare. The beauty part of this solution is the fact that I avoid the high price connection fees at all the hotels as we travel the country. And, now everything I carry with me "connects"  wherever I am. I'm looking forward to seeing how well it works next week in NYC.

OK, that was a little "geek peek" at what's happening in my life for today. Time to get on with today's post. Here we go...

I'm Just A Manual Kind Of Guy

Many people email me with blog post suggestions.  The Skribit widget on the right side also gives you an opportunity to make those suggestions, too.  I read them - all of them - and file the suggestions in my on-line "suggestion box".  Today, I’ pulling out one of those suggestions to post.  The question our DPT reader wanted to know; Why do I shoot on Manual mode whenever I have a flash attached to my camera?  Well, here's why.

Program NOHave you ever been taking photographs with your camera on Program mode, had the flash attached and have gotten photographs that were washed out and just plan ugly? 

I remember having that experience in my early digital days. We were shooting a high school graduation.  My assistant was just shooting around to get a few candids of the graduates as they were milling around before the ceremony.  The area in which we were shooting was quite bright.  That's when the problems started.

With the camera on Program mode, it was trying to reach a combo exposure compromise with the available light AND with the on-camera flash. The images looked awful.  The camera was "seeing" the ambient, but because the light just wasn't bright enough to capture a good exposure, it automatically popped in a little flash - too little flash, by the way and the images were flat and muddy.

It was a good thing we discovered the issue early during the assignment.  I quickly switched the camera to Manual mode, selected a faster shutter speed, and he continued to shoot away. That quickly solved our problems.  I have occasionally switched back to Program mode to see if the exposure issues continued under different circumstances.  Every time, I obtained better results with the camera on Manual mode whenever the flash was attached. 

24-105 wed4So my personal FLASH RULE is this:  Whenever I have a flash attached to the camera, on-camera or off-camera flash, the camera is ALWAYS on Manual mode, NO EXCEPTIONS!  Think about it, with the camera on Manual mode, I now have complete control over how the ambient light is rendered in the scene - a slower shutter will allow me to pick up more of the ambient light in the room.  I do this all the time when shooting bridal images in a church or hotel.  The official term is called " dragging the shutter".  You can see how I used the technique in today's "Image Of The Day" post above.

An Easy Afternoon-0123_DAZ-PreCon FavsClrHR-2A1O4996-Edit Using a faster shutter speed will darken the surrounds which is just fine when you want the viewer's attention to not be distracted by background elements.  That's what I did in the example above of the bride in the art museum and the two accompanying examples in this post .  I needed to speed up the shutter speed to darken the painting in the background. That's also what we needed to do at the high school graduation ceremony and festivities.  Once we made the switch to manual mode, the problem of all the ambient light was solved.

So my advice to everybody reading this post today is to only use Program mode when you are shooting around with no flash attached.  Think of Program mode as a no worry "Vacation" mode. As soon as you activate a flash, get your camera in Manual mode right away.  Happy shooting everybody.


Hey gang that's it for me today. We've got a few things to wrap up before we head to NYC tomorrow. Hopefully I'll see a few of you at my program at B&H on Sunday.  Be sure to come up and say HI if you can make it.

Everybody have a great weekend, and I see you next week in the Big Apple.

Adios, David

1 comment:

  1. Good post. My "new year's resolution" for 2010 is to learn how to use my DSLR in manual mode. Not just understanding exposure and settings, but for adjustments to be a natural, instinctive action rather than having to think about it. I am chronicling my progress at and via twitter at manualdslr. Thanks for your instruction and inspiration.