2021 Week 49: This Little Light of Mine- Manual Mode

“Golden Girls” by Tonya Bender (High key example)

We finally made it to our last “technical” challenge of the year! In my final challenge we are naturally going to combine all the previous technical challenges and photograph in full manual mode. Manual mode gives the photographer complete control over the camera settings allowing for full creativity over the exposure as well as the sharpness, depth of field, and image quality.

“Lindsey and Shawn” by Tonya Bender: f/4.0, 1/15s. ISO 800 (Low key example)

So what’s the best method for getting started in determining your settings when shooting in manual mode? Of course this depends on your subject matter and determining whether sharpness or motion blur (shutter speed), or depth of field (aperture) is most important. But first you must set your camera mode to manual, “M”… go ahead, it’s not too scary!! 😜

“Happy Day” by Tonya Bender: f/8.0, 1/30, ISO 400

Now if depth of field is most important because you either want your background blurred in order to isolate your subject, or instead you want to make sure the entire image is sharp and in focus then set your aperture first with an appropriate setting (click to access the past Aperture challenge). Next set your shutter speed for sharpness. Generally speaking if hand holding your camera, try keeping your shutter speed at 1/125s or faster. If your subject is moving then it may have to be increased to 1/800s or faster. If you choose to use a tripod and your subject is still, then a slower shutter speed may be set (click to review Shutter Speed challenge). The third and final setting of the exposure triangle is the ISO (click for the ISO challenge). Adjust the ISO to obtain your desired exposure but try keeping it as low as possible. If you find that you are having to set a higher ISO than what your camera’s sensor can handle due to “noise” then you may have to go back and slightly tweak either the aperture or shutter speed. You can determine the exposure by checking your camera’s light meter and adjusting your settings until the meter indicates the desired exposure (past Light Meter Challenge). Once you have the desired exposure set and you take your image you can check the final exposure of the image by viewing it on your camera’s viewfinder or more accurately by checking the histogram if you are familiar with it. You can review Jeanie’s past challenge on Histograms for an explanation if interested.

“Round Up” by Tonya Bender: f/22.0, 1/5s, ISO 500

If instead shutter speed is the most important setting because you want to “freeze” motion or show motion blur like the example “Round Up” (above), then set your desired shutter speed first then your aperture second. Your final setting will again be ISO as described above.

“Allegheny Mt. Sunrise” by Tonya Bender

“This Little Light of Mine”– Your challenge this week is to go out (or stay in) and photograph any subject as long as your image includes a light source and of course using manual mode to set your camera’s exposure settings. The light source requirement can be anything such as street lights, holiday lights, a lamp, the sun… really anything (all example images in this challenge contain a light source for inspiration). Be sure the light source is visible in your image and choose your camera settings to creatively expose for your subject (which may or may not be the light source itself). For example, you can set your camera’s aperture to create star bursts (above) or bokeh for a dreamy look (below). Or you could choose to set your shutter speed for high or low key lighting or motion of light to create light painting (see examples below by Eric Minbiole). Again, the light itself can be the subject or it can be something that enhances your subject or overall image, be creative!!

“A Cup of Bokeh” by Eric Minbiole: f/5.6, 1/25s, ISO 100
“NBC Studios” by Eric Minbiole: f/5.6, 1/40, ISO 160 (great example of low key)
“Spiral Glass” by Eric Minbiole: f/16.0, 0.5s, ISO 100 (light painting)

The Challenge Summary

  • Take an image containing a source of light and using manual mode to set your exposure settings.
  • Post your newly taken photo during the week of Sunday, December 5 through Saturday, December 11th.
  • In your write up explain your creative process and be sure to include your camera settings (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO).
  • Please remember to comment on at lease FIVE photo submission this week by answering the question β€œwhy?” in your comments. In other words, β€œwhy do I like (or not like) this photo?” or β€œwhy did this photo catch my eye?” Thank you!

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Take a new photo for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Post your photo each week to our active communities on Facebook or Flickr(or both). Tag the photo:  #2021photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2021 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

About Tonya Bender

I am a self taught photographer from Allegany County Maryland where I reside in Little Orleans with my husband. My interest in photography began 20 years ago when my husband gifted me with my first film camera, a Canon AE-1. I dabbled in nature photography as well as portraits for a few years until shortly thereafter I put photography on hold to pursue my education in laboratory science and Chemistry. Upon graduating I combined my passions of learning and photography while exploring, practicing, and fine tuning my artistic style. With the use of my creative eye, my camera, and my processing skills I seek to create images that inspire emotion, thought, and interest. I first joined and started participating in The Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge in 2014. From the moment I submitted my first photo I knew I had found a new home. The members were so accepting, informative, and encouraging. I spent the next 6 years participating, learning, and creating in ways I never thought possible. I became more confident in my work which encouraged me to enter photography shows and competitions in which images I have created as a result of The Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge have won top prizes. A few years into my journey at The Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge I became a Guest Contributor and have written several of my own photo challenges for the group. I am honored to now take on a more permanent role as a contributor and administrator in hopes that my story and my challenges help inspire others just like this group has inspired me! If you are interested in seeing more of my work please check me out on Flicker at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyajbender/