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Use A Grey Card to Master A DSLR's Manual Mode

The purpose of upgrading from a point and shoot camera to a Digital Single Lense Reflex (DSLR) is usually to improve the quality of photographs that you can take and the ability to be more creative. However, quite a number of people end up getting frustrated after seeing no change in their photographs after the upgrade. In this article I write about one important tip you need to  try to start enjoying taking great photographs again, that is the use of a grey card.

A DSLR camera when operated in automatic mode rarely brings changes to your photography. Though you might benefit from the ability to capture more details due to the increase in pixels, it will not be long till you start to view your DSLR as cumbersome and therefore not ideal to carry around when you travel. This happens when you have not mastered operating the  camera in manual mode. There are a few things you need to learn first before you can be comfortable using the manual mode but the most important concept is that of light metering.

I will try to use a few photography jargon as  possible as this article is not intended for professional photographers but for those who take photographs as a hobby.

The light meter in your camera helps you select the appropriate shutter speed or lens aperture or even the ISO depending on what you want to achieve with your composition. If you slightly press the shutter button, your camera will evaluate the amount of light that the subject is reflecting. The type of evaluation that the camera will use depend on the  metering mode. For the purposes of putting what I am writing here into practice , I recommend that you change your camera settings to center-weighted metering.

The light meter reading will be shown on the display of your camera after you slightly press and release the shutter button. The meter is in the form of a range of numbers from - 3 to +3 depending on your camera. The objective is to adjust the shutter speed or aperture until the meter reading is on zero. That is when the subject is deemed by your camera to be reflecting 18% of light and therefore the correct exposure. This is done automatically in the auto mode. You might now wonder why use the manual mode when I can achieve the same goal in auto mode?

The answer is simple. To capture your subject clearly you need to adjust your exposure settings and this is not always achieved correctly in auto mode. You also need what is called a grey card to take readings from in order to be more accurate than the auto mode otherwise you might find yourself struggling to get the correct exposure. However, you can eventually do away with grey cards as you gain experience with tones. If you do not have a grey card you can improvise. T
This article will show you how to do that based on my own personal experience.

If you try the manual mode using the technique shown above along with a grey card, you shall definitely start to see your photography improve. You will start to appreciate your DSLR camera even more. I believe you are now eager to go out and explore with your camera. Happy shooting!


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