Yay, we have now worked our way through from full auto mode to using the partially automated modes and now we’re going to look at Manual mode.  It was important to be able to see the effects of changing the main individual components which can be altered in Manual mode, so this challenge will be a coming together of the last 3 challenges.

We are actually going to repeat the subject matter of the challenges from challenge 1, except that this time you will need to set the aperture, shutter speed and ISO yourself in order to achieve the desired effects.

Firstly, find a pleasing landscape to take a photo (or more) of.  *Hint* the key lesson here was found in the aperture challenge.

Secondly, find a willing portrait subject to take a few photos of.  *Hint* the key lesson here was found in the aperture challenge.

Finally, find a willing moving subject to take a few photos of. *Hint* the key lesson here was found in the shutter speed challenge.

One thing that you will need to know is that in your viewfinder you should be able to see a series of small lines in a row with either an arrow or a 0 in the middle.  It should also have a – to the left and a + to the right, and may or may not have a -2, -1, +1 and +2 above it (this will depend on the camera, for example Canons have this setup, but Nikon appear to think that numbering is for wimps!).  The purpose of this is to show you how well exposed your photo is – as you half press the shutter button there should be a larger line superimposed to show whether the settings will overexpose (bleach things out) or underexpose (things will be dark).  If the line is to the left of centre it will be underexposed, and to the right of centre it will be overexposed.  If it’s off the charts then the – or + sign should flash as appropriate to indicate from which direction you need to adjust.

To use the viewfinder guide, set your preferred value from either Aperture or Shutter Speed, then adjust the other until the line is in the centre.  Start at ISO 100, and if you can’t get the line into the centre with your chosen combination because it is going to be underexposed (eg with a certain aperture the shutter speed would be too slow to hand hold, or with a certain shutter speed the aperture can’t go wide enough), then increase your ISO until it is possible.

If you find the photo a bit dark when the line is in the middle and you don’t want to change your metering setting (bonus post 2), move the line a little to the right by adjusting your aperture or shutter speed as appropriate to brighten it up a bit.  Note that the value that you should be moving is not the fixed one you need to achieve your chosen effect, but the opposite one, so if you want a fixed aperture, adjust your shutter speed and vice versa.