M is for Manual
As I mentioned in my first blog, my action photography journey started in 2006. For the first few events, I relied completely on others setting the camera up for me. I didn't have any idea how to adjust the settings. Because I didn't have my own DSLR camera, I relied on generous friends who allowed me to borrow their equipment.
After a while, my mentor and friends started explaining the basics of ISO vs. aperture vs. shutter speed, so that I could better understand how they all worked together. They never refused to set up the camera for me, but they helped me help myself by determining go-to start settings and how to make the changes in the camera menu. No matter what venue I was in, I started with the same settings and adjusted them based on test photos. I think my beginner settings were 800 ISO, 2.8 aperture and 500 shutter speed. My main photography mentor was always available to give me suggestions based on the starting point and test photos. Over time, I learned from her guidance and was able to make changes based on her prior recommendations.
When it was time for me to purchase my first DSLR camera there wasn't a doubt which brand I would select. In December 2009, I ordered my Canon 50D as I was already comfortable with changing the settings in Canon cameras. The general consensus of the people that I've talked to is that unless you're already comfortable with a DSLR, you start learning any new camera while keeping it in auto mode. In my case, I feel like I've gone through the process somewhat backwards. I always start in manual mode and have only used auto mode a handful of times.
While what worked for me may not work for everyone else, I wanted to share this piece of my journey so that anyone who is teaching themselves photography can see that you don't have to be afraid of manual mode. In some ways, I was more nervous about what I considered to be the unpredictability of setting my camera to auto, which is always my last resort. I always want more control over the focal point and how my camera captures the subject.
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Until next time,