21 January 2014


Hello Cocorina readers! I'm so happy to be back sharing the second part to "shooting in manual mode" post from last month. If you missed it, I suggest clicking over and reading through it since it covers the basics that you need to know for choosing your settings and getting a proper exposure with your DSLR. I also gave some definitions to some key words like aperture, ISO, and shutter speed, so the original post would be great to reference if you need a refresher! Let's dive in!

This isn't a tip just for shooting in manual, but for taking any photo in any setting. The best photos always have the best lighting. When you are taking photos outside, the best lighting is found during the last two hours before sunset and this is referred to as the golden hour. It doesn't cast as harsh of shadows on your subject. 

The two hours after the sunrise are great times to shoot as well, especially if you want cooler tones in your photos. But, if you must shoot during the harsh hours of the afternoon, look for open shade! With that being said, on overcast days, anywhere is fair game  when shooting. Those grey days might not be the most inspiring, but they are some of the best days for shooting- especially portraits! I can't emphasis enough how well your photos will improve by seeking out great lighting! If you only remember one thing, remember this! 

In a nut shell, live view is where you can see what you a shooting in the LCD screen, instead of looking through the viewfinder. The biggest benefit to this is being able to see what your shot is going to look like before you take it. This allows you to make any corrections to the aperture, ISO, or shutter speed to get the proper exposure before you click the shutter. It takes almost all the guess work out! Since I made the switch to shooting in live view 75% of the time, the amount of editing I do in post processing has gone down drastically. I don't even remember the last time I had to mess with the exposure of my photos! I wish someone would have introduced my to shooting this way sooner! 

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark iii, and for me to get into live view, I have my camera set to regular shooting and press the same button that I press to record when I am in video mode. Every camera is a little different, so a quick google search will allow you to figure out how to get into "live view" with the camera you own. There are a few downsides to shooting in live view that I should point out. Normally the camera takes photos a little slower, so in cases when you need to take a photo as fast as possible (think sporting events), traditional shooting is the way to go. Also, since you are looking at a LCD screen, it will be very difficult to see on bright days, so I always shoot looking through the viewfinder for those situations. They are very rare though, because like I said above, I try to shoot in good lighting whenever possible. 

I'm in my comfort zone when I am behind the camera, but one of the biggest things that has helped me switch to shooting in manual mode is getting in front of the camera. It might sound counterproductive, but I promise it isn't! I'm lucky that my husband is into photography almost as much as I am, so I call on him for this, but a tripod and timer will work too. 

To get the most out of this exercise, I hand the camera to my husband, and then tell him what to set the settings at and a basic idea for the composition. He then takes the photo, and I check it out after. Stepping out of my comfort zone forces me to have a plan for the photos and gets me away from the things that I might use as a crutch from time to time, like live view and the light meter. Being in front of the camera has also taught me a lot about posing and how to make my subjects feel more comfortable as well. It really is a win-win!

I know I gave this as a tip in the last part, but I can't emphasis this enough. It's the only way that your photography will improve. Practice really does make perfect.

So that's what I have for today. I hope you learned a thing or two, and if it left you with any questions, leave them in the comments and i'll make sure to answer them. You can always send me an email at hello@lovecourtxoxo.com too. Thanks for having me, Corina! Have a good day, everyone! Happy manual shooting! :)

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hejjuni said...

amazing tips, Court!

Kyla said...

Another great read - thanks, Court! I'm trying to get more into photography this year, so any tips are super helpful to me. I'll have to grab a friend next time I want to go out shooting!

julia said...

practice is the best tip you could give. haha seriously. i can read how to's until my eyes bleed, but it wasn't until i actually picked up my camera and started taking pictures and messing with the settings that everything started clicking.

also...seeking out good light. amen and amen.

Quyen Nguyen said...

Great tips, Court! I love the idea of getting in front of the camera yourself.

Victoria | Oh So Pretty said...

So happy to see you on here again, Court! Yes to lighting - soo important! I always wanted to figure out how to shoot in live view. I did it once on accident but had no idea how I got there! I have a 5D Mark ii so I wonder if it's the similar process as the mark iii - I'll play with it :)

Laicie Heeley said...

Great tips!! It's funny how much you can learn when the camera is in someone else's hands. I started out almost entirely that way, directing my husband for the blog haha... and over time I've learned so much. :)

Danielle Marshall said...

Wonderful tips!! I have definitely learned how important lighting is over the past year or so. I have never shot in live view, but have always wanted to. I must give it a try! Thanks so much for sharing!!

nancy @ adore to adorn said...

such great info!! =) I appreciate it since I would love to be on manual more!



Kristyn @ Milk + Crown said...

Great tips Court! :)

Kate Amunrud said...

Great, great tips. Thanks, Court! I'm trying to improve my photography this year and these pointers will certainly help me out.

Nathan | YEOBO said...

This is definitely coming in handy. Becka and I just got our first camera this weekend and we have no idea what we're doing yet! This post couldn't have come at a better time. Thanks court!