A Can Of Worms - Capturing Your Story (Part 2)


I’m one of those people that likes learning. It’s just how I was built. I always want to be better today than I was yesterday and I’m almost always open to learning something new. Maybe that’s you too. So, I’m going to share some information on Manual mode in the best way I can over the next few posts for those that want to pick up a camera, but don’t understand the technicalities...in bite-sized pieces. For me, understanding these principles opens the door to telling the best stories about my family and the families I encounter. Below, my most recent family story involves how my daughter gets fishing lessons from her favorite guy. :)


I’m hoping, on the days you don’t have a family photoshoot scheduled with me (;)), the principles shared in these posts on how to use your camera will do the same for your family too!

Cameras can get technical. We’ll start with baby steps...

If you read my last post, you saw the term exposure in bold. I’m going to briefly introduce the main players in that can of worms with this post.

The term exposure refers to the amount of light that is exposed to your digital film. That light is pretty important since the word photography actually has Greek roots…Photos literally means “light” and graphe means “drawing”. It’s largely the light that is able to make or break your photo. When you take a photo, you are in essence, drawing with light…and you are creating an exposure.

Now, there’s actually no film in your camera in the traditional sense. But, when I first learned manual mode, I was taking a black and white film photography class at the art school I attended for my BFA. For me, buying film, paper, and other equipment to keep up with that class was crazy expensive. Bananas. Digital was very accessible to me and didn’t break the bank quite as much. It was also extremely versatile considering I was able to switch back and forth between color and black and white at will. But I found that the digital process parallels film in so many ways. In a digital camera, the film is the camera’s sensor.

The amount of light that hits your camera’s sensor depends on how you’ve arranged your exposure triangle. Here comes a few more crucial terms:

• Aperture

• Shutter speed


If a lens was an eye…

The aperture would be the part that controls how wide your eye opens to allow in light.

The shutter speed would be the part that controls how fast your eyelid opens and shuts to allow in light.

The ISO would be the part that deals with how sensitive your eye is to that light-whether that’s highly sensitive, moderately sensitive, or not very sensitive.

When you dial in these settings, you are taking the power away from the device in creating your photo and telling the device what you want it to do instead of it being the other way around. When you understand how to manipulate these settings, you’re even able to get closer to any look you want to create. Try to remember these terms and what they do.

Next time, I’m going to cover a bit more about these settings, what role they play in final images, and the math behind them that makes your photos work.