Face Your Fears & Shoot in Manual

Sarah is another fellow alum from the Meagan Francis writing classes I took a few months ago. She is one of the Sarahs of the popular Salt & Nectar blog. If you haven't heard of it check it out right away. There is something for everyone and Sarah is doing big things in the blogosphere.

Her guest post is about overcoming fears of shooting in Manual mode and how I was part of her inspiration to do so. *tear* Seriously what's better than that?

I own a Nikon D40x camera. A wonderful (and expensive) DSLR camera I owned for five (FIVE!) years before I took a single photo in manual mode.

I’m so ashamed. I can’t believe I’ve been treating my fantastic camera like a point and shoot for all this time. I took photography in college AND I got an A from a notoriously picky and difficult grader. I loved it. I took to it like a duck to water.

And then I promptly forgot everything I learned.

I made up for my handicap by buying more advanced technology and using it as a curse. But eventually I got increasingly frustrated by the pictures I wanted to take and the ones I was capable of taking.

So, how did I finally make the move?

Don’t worry. I’m not going to start talking ISO and aperature...mainly because I’m just barely beginning to understand it myself. What I am going to do is give you some tips for how I finally started learning about those words myself and finally rotated that little dial to M.

Be inspired. If I’m being honest, Veronica was a huge reason I was brave enough to try manual. I saw her gorgeous images and thought, “I want to do that!” More importantly, I was inspired by her honesty and how far she’d come in a short amount of time. It made it seem doable.

Find some great tutorials. I’m a big fan of My 3 Boybarian’s 31 Days to a Better Photo series. I know Veronica will soon be writing an ebook of her own on the subject. The web is chock-a-block full of amazing photographers who desperately want you to get in manual mode and succeed. Heck, just go on Pinterest and search “manual mode.” You’ll have a pinboard full in no time.

Buy a 50mm prime lens. I know! Everyone says it’s not about the equipment, it’s about the skill. And that is true...to an extent. But the truth is you’re going to get frustrated fast using a kit lens. A 50mm will make it so much easier and it’s not even that expensive...as lenses go anyway! I am so very, very glad I took Veronica’s advice on this.

Just do it. Of course, all these tips will get you a whole mess of nowhere if you don’t just dive in and start taking pictures manually. I can read the best photography book on the planet. Heck, I could have Me Ra Koh coaching me one on one but if I don’t hold that camera up to my eye and start trying it myself I’m never going to get anywhere. You’re pictures will look horrible...at first.

It’s not like you are learning on real film. Being scared to try something on a digital camera is about as crazy as you get. You might have to delete a hundred pictures but when you get that first perfect shot, you’ll be hooked. Promise.


~ Sarah Stewart Holland lives a big life with her husband and two boys in a tiny town in Kentucky. When not mourning the loss of The Oprah Winfrey Show or knitting, she blogs at Salt & Nectar.