October 10th, 2013
I think it's about time that I start a blog. It's also about time that I start using the manual mode on my DSLR. (This is actually the second time I've written this post, Smugmug crashed the first time and I lost it all. This version is a bit shorter)
A few months after I received my Canon Rebel, having read a few books but still using the safe auto mode, a friend invited me to attend a one day workshop on using a DSLR. At the time, this was probably the best few hours I spent to improve my photography. I learned quickly never to use auto again, and how easy it was to use the program modes to control either the exposure time or the aperture. In the past few years I have gotten very comfortable using those modes, but was still afraid to venture into full manual. I learned how to create smooth waterfall shots with a longer exposure, and crisp landscape shots using a small aperture. I don't know why I was afraid of having full control, maybe I thought it would just take too much time and I would miss a shot.
I did it! I finally decided to take the plunge, and keep my camera on the M mode for one full day. It allowed me to be more creative, and I'm quite happy with the results. (I still think Av and Tv mode's will be used most of the time, but I will be less afraid to pop my camera into the M mode) My husband and I were waiting at the Hangzhou train station and our train was late. We sat on our bags in the hallway while watching people quickly running by to catch their train, somewith bags and some in heels. It was quite amusing. It took me a second before I realized wait! this would great to capture. I quickly pulled out my camera and placed it on Tv mode since I wanted to capture the motion with a slower shutter speed. Some shots were overexposed, some were underexposed. Crap. That's when I decided to switch it over to M, find the right aperture for the correct exposure, and shoot away. Every shot wasn't perfect, but I was satisfied with the results. I ended up converting them to black and white, because I wasn't too fond of the grayish greenish color in the train station.
It was already dark when we arrived at our destination, the Guodong Ancient Ecological Village. The village, close to the city of Wuyi, is described to have lots of barking dogs and even more character. After dinner, my husband and I decided to go for a walk through the narrow, dimly lit streets. Not sure if it would be possible to get any shots in the lighting conditions, I brought my camera with us.
When I turned it on, the camera was still on manual mode. I made the decision to keep it there, and I was glad I did. I was able to keep the ISO under 1600 and the shutter speed slow enough to capture what I wanted. It's not a perfect exposure, a perfect exposure would have been unable to create the silent mood of these pictures.
I definitely enjoyed venturing into manual mode. While I will still probably majorly use the Av and Tv modes, I will be putting my camera on manual mode more often from now on. I look forward to being more creative!