One of the biggest misconceptions in photography, especially amongst novices, is that you must always shoot in manual. This, of course, is not true. In fact I’m convinced that the vast majority of photographers I know that shoot images for a living, are using aperture priority for nearly all of their work. It’s only when you are either using flash/strobes, or are looking to create a specific look (motion blur, long exposure etc) that manual is really required.
So why are we making things more difficult for ourselves when we don’t really need to ?
A lot of it is overspill from the plethora of bad information that’s floating around the internet, and in particular, social media photography groups. There’s a lot of “blind leading the blind”, which causes me enormous frustrations hence my decision to write this series of blog posts, to put some truth out there.
One of the challenges is to get new photographers to think beyond the technical. It’s the final destination not the journey that’s important. Your work should be technically informed not technically controlled. And at the end of the day, not one of your viewers or clients will EVER look at your work and say, “I bet you used manual mode for that shot”. It will never happen ! It’s only inexperience photographers that will tell you it matters.
As most of you will know, when shooting in AP, the photographer will set the ISO and aperture, and the camera will choose the appropriate shutter speed to meet the requirement of a good exposure. This gives you one less thing to worry about, which in turn allows you to concentrate more on what you are leaving within the frame. (Which arguably is the most important part of the photo)
I will normally shoot at ISO1600, at f8 during the day on a full frame, and ISO800, at f5.6 on a crop frame. Now before I get lots of comments saying shooting at that high an ISO will only give you lots of noise, let me say one thing. We’ve moved on from the days of Ansel Adams who always shot at the lowest ISO possible, and camera manufacturers are now producing the most advanced sensors we have ever seen, so shooting at these ISO levels will give you no noise problems at all. Anyone that instructs you to always shoot at ISO100 will normally be someone that shoots landscapes on their own and is over the age of 60.
Another positive is for those that suffer from “camera shake”. Because we are using a higher ISO, the camera will choose a faster shutter speed to compensate for the amount of light being let in, which will result in crisp, sharp, and perfectly exposed images every time.
So don’t listen to those photographers in social media groups that tell you you must only shoot in manual, let them fumble around for the right settings while you take your time and get the images they only dream of.