How To Use Manual Exposure – Mike Browne

How To Use Manual Exposure – Mike Browne


Setting your exposures manually isn’t rocket science once you understand it and no longer are afraid of it, it’s really simple. Exposure is simply how bright or how dark your pictures are and they are two main controls to help you achieve that, you’ve got your aperture that’s a bit like the pupil of your eye a big aperture let’s in more light and a small aperture let’s in less light. Then there’s the shutter speed, that’s how long the shutter is open for, a very long slow shutter speed obviously let’s in tonnes of light and a short shutter speed very little light. and by balancing these two you get it to control your exposure. There’s also a third element to this and that’s your iso settings, that’s how sensitive your camera is to
light now i’m not gonna go in depth about any of these three because in the
camera control section there are videos about each of them
individually to explain what they do. The first thing you need to do is to get your camera and take it out of an auto mode and set it onto fully manual. It’s very beautiful isn’t it, i think the best way to explain how to set up a manual exposure is to take a photograph of it, and i’ll talk you through what I’m doing as I do it. Over here i have a composition that i prepared earlier in true blue peter fashion. Notice I’m using a tripod, the great thing with a tripod is that you can set up a composition you
can lock it off on the tripod and never have to think about it again, now all i have to do is concentrate on my camera settings. I will however have to change my focal length because I did just fiddle with the lens as i walking then steps.
Right let’s have a look and see what’s going on, the first thing i want to point out to you are these numbers at the top, this whole number here it’s forty five at the moment that’s the shutter speed and it’s a fraction it’s one forward slash then the number so that’s one
forty-fifth of a second it’s set to at the moment. You could set it to almost anything you like. If you see two little speech marks after that number it means it’s whole seconds, so it could be one two speech marks and it’d be a whole second if you still twenty into the space marks, if you saw twenty and the two little speech marks that’ll be twenty seconds. The number next to it with an f in front of it that’s the size of your aperture, again i don’t wanna go into long winded explanations about apertures all i will say is that the numbers go back to front, if you have a big f number you have a
very small aperture, if you have a small f number you have a big aperture, go down and watch the apertures film and it will explain that to you. Right now as you can see the exposure is set to a forty fifth of a second, at f eleven, now beneath here we’ve got the light meter, that’s this little line of dot’s, this sort of bar chart. To the right there’s a plus symbol
that’s the bright end of the light meter and to the left is a minus sign that’s
the dark end of the light meter. In the middle is the zero, underneath the zero is a little line of dot’s going off towards the plus is telling me that in a forty fifth of a second at f eleven that shot is going to be very overexposed, it’ll be much too bright and to prove it, i’m going to take it. It’s hopeless isn’t it. So what are we going to do about that, well we’re going to set our exposure
manually, it’s too bright so we need to remove some light, we need to make the shot a bit
darker. The easiest way to do that is with the shutter speed is with the shutter speed, so let’s say we’re gonna speed up the shutter speed so that it’s only open for a tiny tiny fraction therefore less light can hit the sensor. As i change the shutter speed control you’ll see this number here the forty five is starting to rise we’ve
gone to sixty as this numbers rising so the line of dots is creeping along on the bottom and at three hundred and fiftieth it’s on the zero smack in the middle, that is telling me that that is the correct exposure for
this shot, now all i have to do is take it. Great it’s with a tripod ay, you don’t even have to look through the camera. Perfect, a lovely exposure. That is all there is to it, now could you change that exposure well yes of course you could, let’s just go back a bit let me just
mess this up because you can also change the exposure by using your aperture. I’ve just said it so it says it’s overexposed a but, it’s now on a ninetieth of a second. suppose i want to cut some light down, well what i can do is make that aperture a little bit smaller so less light comes in, it will have the same effect as the shutter speed lasts for less time, here we go let’s make that aperture smaller , it’s so hard to see on a sunny day isn’t it? Remember the f number get’s bigger as the aperture get’s smaller, I’ve gone from eleven to nineteen, now my row of dots are in the middle, take the picture and as you can see it’s exactly the same exposure as we had before. To set up a manual exposure that’s all we have to do, you juggle these two, the shutter speed and the aperture together until you get the little line of dots on your light meter smack in the middle once it’s in the middle you have the correct exposure and you
can take the picture now obviously have two exposure controls
they’re a little things that come into play here with things like camera shake
there’s a movements of the camera you might want to use a faster shutter
speed for certain circumstances therefore you need to use a bigger
aperture and that’s why you have two different controls because
if you want to use a fast shutter speed you need a big aperture to let more light in, to compensate for the short amount of time the
shutter is open. I don’t wanna go on too much about that because i don’t wanna fry your brain at the moment what i would say is go and practice. so that they want to tell you about that
is the light nato just very briefly no camera doesn’t know how bright or
dark the subject is organizes what he’s programmers have
told it and that is that if you convert a scene
into black and white and then makes all those different
black-and-white times together you end up with something called need gripe that is this color batteries made gray that is
amid great photographic card that is what your camera thinks the
world looks like and the picture are just taken does that
nicely but it will be occasions when you go to
take a shot in the dark areas and the brighter areas assembly extremely far apart you can
recall record detail in both of them that’s when you’re going to have to step
in and choose which part of the picture you
want to make the exposure for and you know how to do that this is a classic case of rediff record
tricky lighting the sun’s coming straight towards me back lighting these houses which is a great look but it means that the house is around
one sort of like plus the background in the other side of the writer in a
different an out of light let me talk you through it. If i come and stand over here soon as i turn my back to these cottages i’m in the same light as them and I’ve gone really really dark haven’t i? whereas the sky in the background is not too bad even though the sky is a little bit misty, Jayne could you just brighten that up for me please, what Jayne’s doing is changing the exposure from what’s going on in the sun to
what’s going on in the shade and that’s what’s brightening up now if you can see
the cottages look about right but the sky and beyond has pretty much
burnt out. so how do you do that, how do you control that on your camera? Let’s go and give it a go. There are various options open for you. You could go out and get yourself a grey card, you could fill the viewfinder of your camera with
with grey over there in the shade, and manually set that exposure that will give you an exposure for the
cottages but it doesn’t help much with the distance, you could go and get an
ambient hand-held light meter they’re brilliant tools but again there is a quicker and easier way. and is definitely in the realms of
digital that makes it so easy. so I’ve set up my composition, I’ve already manually set up the exposure let’s just take a quick picture and see what the cameras light meter is going to tell us. Because there’s a lot of sky in the shot it’s confused it and it’s made the shot a little bit dark. The houses are a bit dark and the skies a bit washed out, it’s a bit neither one thing nor the other. So let’s say we’re going to expose for the cottages, well we know that we need to brighten
the picture up if we’re going to expose for the cottages, that means the whole picture will get brighter not just the cottages. You have to choose which area of the picture you want brighter and which you want dark, let’s put this into practice. Right now I’ve got a hundred and sixtieth of a second shutter speed at f sixteen i don’t want to change the aperture because i want lots of depth of
field so i’m gonna change the shutter speed i wanna brighten the picture, so i’m gonna make the shutter stay open longer, so we’re gonna go from a hundred and sixtieth we’re gonna slow it down, we’re gonna go to an eightieth, the light meter says it’s over exposed ignore it because that’s what we’re trying to do because we’re exposing for the cottages and take the picture can’t. As you flick between the two you can see there’s a big difference between the cottages in one and the other look, but they’res also a difference in the sky, the skies kind of whited out a bit, but the cottages the cottages look great. Suppose you wanted to do it, let’s put this back to where it was, a hundred and sixtieth at f sixteen. suppose we wanted space for the sky and not the cottages, just let the cottages go dark then what you’d have to do is to darken the picture because the
sky was too bright. To darken the picture we’re gonna make the shutter speed last for less time, we’re gonna speed it up and we’re gonna go to a three hundred and twentieth of a second. This time it says it’s underexposed and again ignore it because we wanna darken the whole sky thing down, take the picture. Straight away you can see the cottages have gone really dark, but the skies about right so you have to choose what it is you
want to have in the exposure for, is it the sky or is it for the cottages, you’re the one who’s in control. The reason digital is so great is it’s so much easier to just try an exposure, check it and if it doesn’t work throw it away and brighten it a bit more, or darken it a bit more accordingly rather than running around with light
meters and grey cards . Now if you’re out shooting a landscape like this i strongly recommend you use fully manual mode because it’s great practice and it will give you experience, if you’re shooting something a bit more
lively like say a family event or a wedding the semi auto and auto modes are obviously really really great help because you can move quickly, and if you’ve been practicing with manual mode, you’ll know how to control it if your camera gets it wrong

100 thoughts on “How To Use Manual Exposure – Mike Browne”

  1. I usually take 2 pics, under and over exposed, then use a mask in photoshop to being the darkened sky back in, Helps preserve the clouds and colour.

  2. Hello Mike, I really really love your videos. They are excellent work. I am wondering though, why should I use fully manual mode if I still have to rely on the camera's meter for correct exposure? Why not use Aperture or Shutter Priority and if I don't get the result that I am looking for, why not use exposure compensation?

  3. Mike , i'm a newcomer to the world of photography and i 'd just like to say that your videos are great , they have helped me to understand the basics and some of the more advanced things. Most afternoons ( weather permitting ) i go out armed with my shiny new DSLR and practice , practice , practice.  Super work you are sharing 🙂

  4. New to photography and appreciate your detailed explanation and hands on use of the camera. I have increased my basic understanding of using the shutter speed and apiture. Appreciate you knowledge and teaching.

  5. Thanks Mike, I just starting entering to the world of photography, and this had me confused. You are very interesting and knowledgable, Thank you for sharing, I have learned a great deal!! I hope you continue teaching us.

  6. I am watching all your videos starting from the oldest up to the newest sir @Mike Browne and I am enjoying every minute … 
    Now that I bought my Nikon D7000 im gonna watch all your videos 🙂

    thank you sir soo much 

  7. Nothing short of brilliant 🙂
    By far the best video "series" I've found, explaining the effects of short vs long lens.
    Thank you so much @Mike Browne . You just gave a beginner, a whole new set of tools to work with 🙂 And got yourself a new follower

  8. Fantastic video on Manual exposure. I had been having some issues understanding the balancing act that takes place between the shutter speed, white balance, and the aperture for quite some time. This explanation made it a lot easier to move away from other semi-automatic modes and understand my camera better.

    Mike is awesome.  

  9. i have seen lots of dslr related videos on youtube being watched your video i have no more doubts watching the next one simple and clear cut explanation thank you very much sir

  10. Wonderful explanation on how to shoot in manual mode. Lots of folks get intimidated ; this video takes the fear out of it. Great.

  11. Thanks Sir i am a great fan you !!! i ve been digging in the youtube and watched many but everything was useless but your is just Awesome ANd now everything is clear for me 🙂

  12. Thank you so much for this video!! You explain everything so well. I have an old Nikon D40 I have used as a PS camera for years, In the last year I have started to explore how to use it "properly". Your videos are the most helpful info I have found anywhere. Very well done! Thanx a million

  13. After watching this, I feel like my brain aperture has got a great depth of field and more light went in. Other videos or studies I've done really made my brain feel like a cheap lens. So thank you for that beautiful tutorial.

  14. Haha, in the old day we had it easier. You put the film in and whatever ISO the film was, you selected on the ISO dial. From there it was just changing the shutter or aperture dial until your little light meter needle was in the center. Really, not rocket science.

    We often used the "sunny 16" or similar rules to help with exposure.

    Today's new photographers are overwhelmed with buttons and menus.

    But the screen on the back of the digital cameras is a great feature. Have to admit that 🙂

  15. I would have thought that scene with the cottages was a textbook situation for exposure blending – expose one shot for the foreground, one for the sky and put them together in photoshop.

  16. Fantastic videos Mike. I've had my Canon 400D for a few years now and only since watching your videos have i had the courage to go out and start using the semi auto and full manual settings of the camera. It has rekindled my love of photography now I know what this camera can do. Thank you. Please keep up the good work. Ps I'm telling my friends and family about your videos. Once again Thank you.

  17. Hi Mike.
    Been loving your videos, very personable and non confronting, great delivery.

    In this one something is weird about your light meter.
    At 2:21 it shows + to the right,
    At 10:07 it shows + to the left.

    Surely it doesn't do this unless you ask it to?
    It would drive me insane if it kept me guessing like that 🙂

  18. Why is it the negative and positve on the light meter are left to right, then in the second example, its opposite Positive to negative? Isn't that the same camera?

  19. Flipping awesome video at last I finally found someone who clearly explains exposure.  Thank you so much – I've trawled through so many videos and was starting to loose faith but your video totally puts the exposure triangle into perspective   – I'm so excited right now – thank you soooooooooooo much!!!! Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy !!!

  20. I have seen a lot of videos about photography but honestly yours are the best. Very  informative and easy to understand. Thank you!!!

  21. Great tutorial Mike. You definitely nailed it and got right into my head with what you wanted to get across, especially with the light meter. Also the tip of taking landscape some shots outside and playing around with the settings is a really good piece of advice to help hone in your exposure skill set.

  22. Now i can have respect for my DSLR. Starting photography on fully manual (dinosaur pratika nova.) Digital bells and whistles, was the cause of my greying temples. Thanks to your helpful instruction, I'll can say goodbye to Auto.

  23. Can't tell you how many videos I've turned off.  YOU have the gift of teaching.  I've taken pictures for 4 years and have been stuck in A or S modes.  Finally used manual yesterday and took some decent wildlife photos in bright sun and deep shade. (while in a sneak boat no less).  Have several friends who are at my level of learning/frustration (ha) and will definitely pass your videos on to them.  If you can explain manual to a blonde,60 yr old….you can teach anyone! Sincere thanks.

  24. Hi Mike, had a DSLR for the past 5 years… always fiddling but rarely getting those good pics. Starting watching your vids and I am astounded at how much of the features I never even knew I had. Love the Charisma, and learning a lot.

  25. Iv had my dslr only a few days and iv been totally lost on where to start. Im a really fast leaner but i just need the good resources to get me on the right path and i can say that im on a good start now. Your videos have helped me in so many ways. So i say thank you so much. 👍🏻

  26. for years I tried to learn this on my own..and in just one viewing of your tutorial I aced it! This was years ago and probably one of the most important lessons I ever learned…thanks for being so giving Mike…Best Wishes and travels for your New Year!

  27. Great video, I wish you would have included exposure compensation in the tutorial. I have been experimenting with it and have found that when the camera meters for the subject that you are photographing the sky ends up overexposed and blown out. I have found that by using exposure compensation I can darken the picture so that the sky actually appears blue and you can see detail in the clouds and I just adjust for the subject during post using lightroom. Now I just have to practice with using a graduated nd filter when taking a picture in bright sunlight and see how that does in knocking down the over exposed sky in relation to the actual subject. Great video as always.!

  28. Manual exposure may not be difficult, but I do wonder why anybody would want to bother, except for where some special effect is desired. It is not as though there is more than one technically correct shutter speed for any given aperture, or more than one technically correct aperure, for any given shutter speed.

    ISO I increase only as a last resort.

  29. I have been struggling with exposure of late…..Since the weather has brightened up, I have had to resort to bracketing on many occasions, as it's been simply impossible to get the right exposure for my subject, without leaving the sky blown out……Bracketing is great for those situations…….well, apart from the fact that more time in post is needed. I have had to just accept that the perfect exposure in some situations, is not available and understand that it's not my fault
    Great videos Mike! They have been of great help to me over the last year.

  30. Great videos . just taking photos at the moment and trying different things on the same subject really liked the white balance video

  31. Thank you Mike from you I understand the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and Exposure composition. Now all my pictures look fabulous. 🙂

  32. Sir, why did the light meter showed a different scale between plus (over expose side) and minus (under expose side) in 2 different scenarios you shot?

  33. In the beginning film came wit fix ASA and a sheet telling you about your exposure , it was limited and when you started to deviate the ratio of missing pics was to big in comparison to the price of film so then companies made Light meters and great Photographers started to use them, then the system was incorporated in cameras and the ratio of bad pics was very little .

  34. Great explanation of exposure. I've heard others say, I've exposed for this or I've exposed for that and I never knew what they were talking about. Finally! a clear and detailed explanation. You're the best Mike! Thanks for your tutorials.

  35. Thank you again Mike. Making life that bit easier for me. Since I started digital format, I have become lazy, relying on auto for the most part. Back in the day, ' sunny 16.' was the rule of thumb. Would the, 'Sunny 16 rule', work with digital format, equally as well ?

  36. Just bought a used canon 400d to get into DSLR photography. Been watching a few of these tutorials, but this is the best one I've seen so far. At last I understand my light meter! Thanks

  37. I've just discovered you and I'm so grateful! You are fantastic, I'm an old time film shooter struggling to adapt to the Digital age. I've watched so many videos on youtube that I've considered a waste and was getting so frustrated. Now I've found you and you teach so well the same way I was taught when I was in Photo School. I'm so excited, I'm learning again. Thank you so much for what you are doing. If I could give you a big hug I would!

  38. Great video! I'm going for my associates degree in photography so I can be a photojournalist. My professor can be very technical with his explinations. He had me watch one of your videos (Apertures / F Stops) and I was hooked! You explain things in a way that's easy to understand. Even for a chowder head like me. Lol! I think you're brilliant!

  39. Why did the light metre flip around. The first shot the + was to the right, but on the second shot the + was on the left?!?!??

  40. Hi Mike, another great video, really clear and precise. Thanks.
    Question: whilst the video is primarily about exposure could you please say what the ISO settings were for each shot , especially the night time one, as getting that wrong at the start is going to make a big difference, I assume. Cheers. 👍

  41. Mike M mode use only in still shots or we can use while we are taking pictures of a moving objects like spotting at airport.

  42. aaaand you got dark underexposed and bright overexposed. PERFECT ! Put them together on each other in Photoshop and you got a nice depth of field ! Does it make sense?

  43. Alan……. Unless I am doing aviation photography, where the background is pretty constant, I use manual mode all of the time. I find this necessary especially when doing wildlife photography, where the background is changing all of the time. My camera just isn't clever enough to know what I want, and you can only do so much in Lightroom.

  44. Hi Mike, I've been watching your videos just for few days but I've learnt so much, you are a great teacher thank you! My question is: how about balancing the exposure? In your example I want sky to be darker but cottages to be brighter. Is it a matter of metering mode? Do you have any video for that.

  45. Hi Mike, Great video, well explained, but, could you use Spot metering in this instance ?? Or expose compensation??? Thanks 🙏🏼 Paul.

  46. Moving to fully manual mode is the best bit of photography advice I have ever been given and this is a great demonstration as to just how simple it really is.

  47. I have seen a lot of videos on manual exposure and trying to understand what is going on…this was the simplest and most impactful. Thank you👏👏👏

  48. Mike is 100 iso the lowest on a digital camera as i can't get mine to go any lower that is one thing i loved about my minolta 7000 you could buy rolls of film right down to iso 25

  49. Took me a long time to start using any of the auto settings and in most cases I only use shutter priority when I do use anything auto. yeah, I guess I'm still old school…but I love the control over the exposure.

  50. Thank you for your video! Unfortunately, it is only geared mostly to Nikon cameras. Yes, the principle is the same.

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