This is page 4 of 4. "Manual Mode" begins here.

The next picture... was somewhat of a challenge. The challenge was in having two subjects. The foreground, including the truck, and the background. The truck is dark, the background bright. The trick is to shoot a bright fire truck while not washing out the ocean and island completely.

In any program mode you do not know... what the camera will do until you playback the picture. You do know that you can expect it to attempt to balance out the exposure. This, as we already discussed, will cause the truck to be dark and the background to be light. Neither satisfactory.

In manual mode YOU make the decisions.

Then you'll get the result you're after. Not what the camera chooses. On one hand I could have the background washed out to the point of being solid white. In that case the fire engine is at its optimum. (Above)

On the other hand I could slightly underexpose the engine and the fireman so the ocean and island would show. I prefer the underexposed shot and I corrected the truck and fireman as much as possible in post edit. (Below)

There is one more way to shoot this picture. It requires a tripod and two shots, each with a different exposure. Still using manual mode, one exposure would have the truck and fireman exposed correctly. The other would have the ocean, sky and island exposed correctly.

Then in post edit you would combine the two in order to create one photo with both the foreground and the background properly exposed. More work and a little more complex, but not out of reach. And well worth the effort when you consider photos that will last your lifetime and you will be proud to display.

One final easy shot

Whoops, remember, as long as only one subject is to be properly exposed, there is no such thing as a hard shot when you know how to use manual mode. Your subject will come out beautifully every time; provided you did your setup right. In this case I say it was easy because I could have gotten away with just using aperture priority.

Why? Because my subject and the background are approximately the same brightness. A program mode would have exposed closely enough whereby it would be easily fixed in Photoshop. If you are asking why use Photoshop anyway, go here for the explanation.

I carry my camera in aperture priority mode... (my default mode) so I am always ready for split second shots. Never the less, when I am shooting wildlife, especially birds, I always use manual mode.

The exception is when one comes up on me so fast I don’t have time to check my lighting and switch from aperture priority to manual. It generally takes 30 seconds to 1 minute to check the lighting and make the switch.

The first few times you set up manual mode this way... it will take what seems like for ever. After you do it for a while it becomes second nature. Once again, practice when the outcome doesn’t matter so when it counts you can be ready at a moment’s notice.

Birds have a tendency to fly, don’t cha know!? That being the case they will have a light background one instant and an extremely dark background the next. Kinda like football players in high school or your 4 year old at the park.

Shooting these instances in aperture priority mode… well you saw the result near the top of this page.

My manual mode system works miracles... when there are extreme lighting differences between your subject and the background. And any time you are active and/or things are changing, so does the lighting. That is why I use this system so much.

In any program mode your results will vary and you have no way of predetermining what those results will be. In manual mode you make the choices and you know what to expect. Then it is merely a matter of verification.

Once again I find even with center or spot metering it is impossible to follow a moving target closely enough to consistently expose it correctly.

That makes more work for me in Photoshop. There are many more wasted shots. By that I mean shots that even Photoshop cannot correct.

Whenever you use program modes to shoot people, expect a good number of those people to turn out very dark. The only way to be sure is practice manual mode.

I like manual mode. I use it whenever I can.

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