Your Weekend Photography Project – Manual and SOOC

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This weekend’s project is designed to get you back to basics, and to break you out of your automated settings habits. We can sometimes rely too much on our camera’s auto settings, or on our post-processing skills, rather than concentrating on our photographic abilities to get the shot we’re looking for. Sometimes it’s good to break away from the “features” that bog us down – actions and program modes, gadgets and gizmos. It can be a little intimidating at first, as simple as it sounds to “get back to basics”. As a matter of fact, the very first article that I ever wrote for Beyond Megapixels was Manual Mode – Overcoming the Intimidation. I’m here to encourage you to advance your skills by, of all things, going back to your beginnings.

During this project, I want you guys to shoot in Manual Mode only. Not aperture priority, not program mode, MANUAL. I also want you to shoot in JPEG instead of RAW, so that you won’t be tempted to “touch up” your photos in the process of converting them. Every shot you take and ultimately share should be straight out of the camera, or “SOOC”.

Since it’s the end of the summer here in the US, I’m going to suggest that as a theme (our non-US-seasonal friends can choose whatever topic they want!). Are there any county fairs in your neck of the woods? Back to school activities? A final handful of cookouts before you wheel the grill back into the garage? Are you starting to drag out the Halloween and (yikes) Thanksgiving decorations? Are you soaking up the last few warm rays of sunshine in your backyard this weekend? Share your weekend with us!

Here are some Beyond Megapixels resources to help you out:

- Back to Basics: Exposure Explained
- Three Simple Tips to Instantly Improve Your Photography
- Five SOOC Tips

Please share your photos on our Facebook page or our Flickr group. Most importantly, have fun!!!

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  • Craig Mullenbach

    With all due respect, I only use (M)anual mode on the very rare occasion when my camera can’t figure it out on its own or I’m shooting star trails.  I’m not sure why there is so much emphasis on manual mode.  Lots of research and development has gone into the meters of new DSLRs and I find that camera nails the exposure I want nearly every time.  Why would I want to do all the manual calculations to set my aperture, shutter and ISO when I can decide on one of those and let the camera figure out the rest.

    Three of photography idols: Joe McNally, Moose Peterson and Franz Lanting all mostly shoot in Aperture priority mode.  I’m in A mode most of the time and sometime S mode when I want to control the back ground lighting when I’m using flash.  I use the EV +/- to lighten or darken as needed.  Perhaps if I were in a studio all day with a static lighting setup, I might go to manual, but probably not. 

    To paraphrase Joe McNally in his book The Hot Shoe Diaries…using manual mode now-a-days is like a little old lady slowly driving a Ferrari to church on Sunday.  ;-)

    My advice to those new to DSLR photography:  Use the technology in your gear and don’t get hung up on shooting manually.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Craig.  Well, sure, I myself shoot in Aperture Priority most of the time.  I’m just saying for the sake of the challenge this weekend to give Manual mode a try and see what you learn!

  • Craig Mullenbach