How do I start

When I shoot, I usually have my camera in manual exposure mode.

Easy, of course, just watch the meter, and there are only three ways to make a picture brighter (lower “f-number”, higher ISO, slower shutter), and vice versa – but I am often asked: “but where do you start“?

There are three answers to that.

One: experience, and the Sunny Sixteen rule. But that is not the most usefu answer, by itself.

Two: Put the camera into “P” or “A/Av” mode, and read the camera’s suggested settings; then enter those into “M” mode as a starting point.

But three: my algorithm is the following:

  1. Set ISO to what is needed. Outdoors bright 200, indoors 400-800, and “difficult light” 1600-3200.
  2. Set aperture to what I want/what is feasible. Depending on the lens and what I want as sharp depth of field area.
  3. Set shutter to the right speed for a good exposure reading.
  4. If that shutter speed is too slow, increase ISO, or if possible open the aperture. Then adjust.

You will find that if you do this a lot, it gets easier. And you will be a good photographer: being in charge is better than letting machines decide, however good those machines are.

Tomorrow, my signature flash course at Vistek in Toronto. Early night tonight!


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