Make Manual Settings Work For You

That M on you camera or smartphone can be an intimidating option. Most of us never even bother to leave the auto mode and at the same time are wasting opportunities to take some experimental,  if not beautiful shots. OK,  I’ll admit it.  I rarely touch the M,  for manual,  settings on my standard camera,  but on my smartphone… that’s a whole other story.

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Manual focus on baseball, bringing stitching and leather into focus

Manual settings on a smartphone have been much easier for me to explore.  The touchscreen is the biggest reason manual settings are much simpler to work with.  I strongly suggest playing with focus first.  Auto mode doesn’t always capture the subject you had in mind in focus.  You may be taking a picture with a lot of things going on in it and the camera may decide that the background objects should be the focus,  when really you wanted that close up of your child’s reaction to the event.  That can be manipulated with manual focus.

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Bokeh effect makes an average suburban street look a little more intriguing.

Bokeh effects are another great reason to manipulate manual focus. You can make some very unique and interesting images by taking the whole shot out of focus. I love to use these images as backgrounds for my phone or desktop. One thing to remember is that manual shots take a tad bit longer to capture, so please don’t forget to have a steady hand or tripod. It will reduce blur from movement and leave you with a quality shot.

Another great feature to play with is the shutter speed. Shutter speed is a feature that definitely benefits from the use of a tripod. By adjusting shutter speeds you can adjust the amount of light the lens takes in. The slower the speed, the more light you can take in, the steadier the hand required to get the right shot. This is ideal in darker settings where you want to bring more light to the image.

I still have yet to capture my first light stream image, but I know that the secret is in the shutter speed. Actually, this is my next photography goal. I’ve had many unsuccessful attempts, mostly  because I didn’t use a tripod. You can also get a soft, flowing water effect with shutter speed adjustment. That’s on my list as well.

Lights on the freeway with a two second shutter speed
Lights on the freeway with a two second shutter speed. Photo taken by Richard Torres

Since I’ve mentioned a tripod a few times, let me recommend something small and simple like a Gorilla Pod. This is my go to for smartphone photography. I love that it is flexible so I can adjust it as necessary. I’ve even wrapped it around chain link fence to take shots of my son playing in a baseball game.

Please give these suggestions a try and feel free to tag me on social media to share your results. It was great seeing some of your shots after trying the tweaks from the last post. Don’t get frustrated with your manual settings. Keep at it and enjoy some really awesome shots you may have not thought were possible with your smartphone or camera.

 

 

 

 

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