“I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.” – Ellen Von Unwerth

Manual Mode

October was a huge month for you guys! Pat yourself on your back and congratulate yourself, because learning shutter speed and aperture is not an easy task. It is a huge learning curve, you made it this far and I’m very proud of you! I promise you, this first month is the HARDEST month. Once you get through all of that, it’s much easier!

This month, I want you to focus on shooting manually. Take your camera with you everywhere, and take photographs as much as you can! Learning to photograph manually is going to take some time, learn it, submerse yourself in it, and love it!



So, I promise you, this is the last technical thing you will need to learn. So far, I put a heavy focus on shutter speed and aperture because of the artistic abilities they provide, but I’m going to quickly introduce ISO. You know that shutter speed and aperture both control how much light is coming into you cameras sensor. ISO controls how sensitive your sensor is to light. Imagine the light coming into your camera is balanced like the three legs of a tripod; aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Shooting manually means you have control over which part of this triangle you want to lean toward.

Before the days of digital cameras, photographers would buy film depending on what their lighting conditions would be. If they were shooting outdoors on a sunny day they would purchase a slow speed film ( 100 – 400) that required more light to expose it. The benefit is the photograph would be sharp, clear and crisp. If the photographer was going to shoot in a low lighting environment, he would purchase a fast speed film (400 or higher). This would allow him to take photographs in these conditions, however the images would be more grainy. This is a great video that explains it well.


To sum it all up, this video is great! Take the time to really watch this video, maybe even watch it twice, or three times. 

Use your camera’s light meter to figure out the overall exposure needs to be. The goal is to get the bar on the center 0 line. Some of you have noticed that your photographs are too dark. If your camera light meter shows you are at the proper exposure, but it still is darker than you would like, you can adjust your shutter speed and aperture to compensate and let more light in. 

If you are having trouble with all of this information, schedule a time to meet with me this month! Please don’t feel like it’s an inconvenience! I will put my available times on the CALENDAR. If you would like me to meet up with you, let me know!

WEEK 6 ASSIGNMENT #1 – Portraits

When we were at Lewisville Park, we discussed tips for taking portraits.

1. Focus on The Rule of Thirds (and other compositions) that we learned last week. Try not to center your subject/focal point in the middle of the frame unless your are focusing on the golden rule. If you do this, try to angle your subjects shoulders to prevent the “Mug Shot” look.

girl, woman, model, brunette, long hair, smile, smiling, happy, beautiful, pretty, people, face

2.Use The Elements of Art to strengthen the scenery in your portrait. Anytime you find interesting shapes, texture, lines, etc. use them to your advantage!

girl, woman, balloons, high heels, dress, legs, redhead, hair, walking, country, road, grass, fields, trees, green, sky, clouds

Shape (balloons) / Rule of Thirds (road)

old, man, fedora, sitting, chair, street, cobblestone, stones, city, town, people, lifestyle

Texture (brick wall) / Color (pop of yellow in the chair)

3.Photograph at eye level or above eye level. Never photograph your subject looking up at them from below eye level.

guy, man, pipe, smoking, eyeglasses, river, water, nature, outdoors, people

4.Try to avoid and eliminate any distracting features in the background, make sure flowers are not sprouting out of your subjects head!

5. Take advantage of those Leading Lines to guide your viewer!

guy, girl, man, woman, people, couple, trail, path, rocks, plants, nature, grass, grey, cloudy, clouds, foggy, outdoors, hat, coat, jacket

6. Use a reflector or your fill flash to fill in the shows on our subjects face.

girl, portrait, wall, vines, city, people, lifestyle, fashion

Looks like she has a black eye…

7. Guide your subject to make several facial expressions, get a shot of them laughing, pouting, looking up or looking off to the right. Don’t just stick with one single shot, take several.

girl, woman, smiling, happy, eyeglasses, fur, hood, people

8. Try for 3 strong images when taking portraits: FULL, 3/4 & CLOSE UP

girl, woman, model, people, lipstick, nail polish, face, brunette, long hair, forest, woods, nature

Close up – Focuses tightly into the face. It can even be tighter than this photograph!

young, girl, people, long hair, red head, model, pretty, cute, fashion, necklace, clothes, blazer, sunshine, summer, sunny, trees

3/4 – Traditionally a 3/4 is from the hip, up

model, woman, summer, fashion, girl, heels, dress, sunglasses, brunette, people

Full – The entire subject is view-able in the frame. You can zoom out even more if you like.

So, for your assignment this week: I want you to take portraits of family, friends, etc. Choose individuals that will be patient with you, because I want you to shoot manually! Shooting manually is time consuming! Send me your 3 strongest images!

Remember, if your image is too dark or too light, adjust either you shutter speed, aperture or ISO. Think about weather you are willing to sacrifice depth of field for lack of image graininess or maybe speed. For portraits though, I would not shoot slower than 1/80. If you are able to, keep it faster than 1/100.

I added the reflector to the SHOP section of our website if you were wondering where to get those.

WEEK 6 ASSIGNMENT #2 – Lewisville Portraits

When we were at Lewsville Park, we took several portraits of our peers and the adorable children Larissa,  Kirsten & Leila brought with them. Send me your (3 to 5) favorite portraits from our time at Lewisville park.



DUE: Thursday November 12, 2015