Hello dear friends! If you landed on this page you probably got stuck with your camera setup and settings while attempting to shoot in manual mode… so How To Set Up Your Camera for Super Manual Pet Photography Shootings? in this post I’ll try to be helpful in setting your DSLR to shoot in manual mode for the pet photography.
How To Set Up Your Camera for Super Manual Pet Photography Shootings
There are a lot of possibilities to shoot in manual, but let’s investigate how to set up your camera for super manual pet photography shootings!
People usually ask me the following:
- how do you take your pictures in manual mode?
- what settings should my camera be on for pet photography shots?
- how do you capture animal photography?
- how do you shoot action (animals in motion) shots with a DSLR?
- how can I make my camera shoot faster?
- what mode do professional photographers shoot in?
- what are the best manual settings for outdoor photography with pets?
These questions, and others, will have an answer in this article, so if you want you can pin this for later!
Before digging into the matter, I have to tell you a story…
I was out with a friend of mine and her dog, a poodle mix, super active and never-stopping cutie. Her name is Lexie (the doggie, Loool).
I had my bridge camera with me, so a decent camera but not a professional one at all… Lexie was running up and down and I tried to shoot at her while running… using auto mode!
My bridge camera lens was a kit lens, a basic one, that could not be removed or replaced with a better one, so no possibility to work at all with that kind of camera.
The one and only option I had was to switch to “Sport Mode” on camera to try to capture with faster shutter speed.
I ended up with a messy image and a blurry dog… obviously will not post that horrendous picture, as you can imagine I’m not proud of it at all!
And this is the reason why I finally decided to improve my setup and switch to a professional one. If you are just starting in pet photography, you can find a detailed guide on how to choose the proper setup for pet photography in this detailed article of mine.
📣 Please note that this post is about tips on how to improve pet photography through properly setting a camera in manual mode, and in it there could be some affiliate links to products you may want to buy (at no additional cost for you). By clicking on those links, you accept my disclosure and recognize that I can have a profit from my affiliates.
How To Set Up Your Camera for Super Manual Pet Photography Shootings
After that experience with the little fool Lexie, I not only went to my local store to search for a better camera and lenses but decided to invest a small amount on enrolling a Photography Masterclass that I recommend to anyone starting in the pet photography business.
This one is the best I could find and recommend for the quality of its contents and comprehensible tutorials.
Photography Masterclass is an online video course for beginners and intermediate photographers. The 12-hour course covers the essential core information that every photographer must know before calling themselves a “photographer”. The information inside the course is divided up into the following four modules: Mastering the DSLR, Equipment, Composition, and Post-Production.
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Still undecided? Well, if you skip this offer right now you can always subscribe to my Newsletter and be notified when a better opportunity jumps on!
So, let’s dive into the subject of this post…
So you’ve finally purchased a fancy new DSLR camera—you’ve seen a noticeable improvement in the quality of your images but you’re blown away by the content some people are able to produce with the same hardware on sites like Flickr or on Instagram. What are they doing differently? If you’re like most beginners you probably shoot using auto or standard icon modes, but in order to truly get the most out of your camera, you’re going to want to learn how to shoot in manual mode.
Why Shoot in Manual Mode?
Two words: total control. There are no real surprises once you’ve truly mastered manual mode, as you’ll have full control of the three major points of the exposure triangle like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. We’ll go into detail on each of these points later in this article, but for now here’s a brief list of the situations where knowing manual mode is a big plus:
- Bokeh – those artistic photos with blurred backgrounds filled with circles of light.
- To avoid unexpected flash when shooting in low light conditions.
- Incorporating motion blur for artistic reasons.
- Anything that requires a creative angle, focal point or shot.
While you have total control over your images, it does take longer to prepare a shot with manual mode, as you have to specify each setting. The best pet photographers know when and where to rely on autofocus, pre-programmed settings, or preset modes. As a general rule, if you have time to take the shot, shoot in manual if you have a need for speed, another mode may have the settings you need ready at the press of a button.
How to Shoot in Manual Mode
Now let’s return to the exposure triangle – aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. The general process of shooting in manual mode might look something like this:
- Check the exposure of your shot with the light meter visible through your viewfinder.
- Pick an aperture.
- Adjust the shutter speed.
- Pick an ISO setting.
- If the light meter “ticker” is lined up with 0 you have a “properly” exposed picture.
- Take the Shot.
You’ve probably noticed the little number line at the bottom of your field of view when you look through the viewfinder that looks something like this: -2…1…0…1…2+ (Canon) or +2…1…0…1…2- (Nikon). This is the light meter, and when aligned with 0 you know that your photo will come out properly exposed. Of course, if you are going for a certain effect, it may be necessary to be a little over or underexposed and you can use the light meter to help you achieve the desired effect.
The aperture is the hole at the center of your camera’s shutter or iris. If you’re aiming for professional blurred background or the artistic Bokeh, it helps to set your aperture (also known as f-stop) and can basically be thought of as a means of adjusting the amount of your picture that is in focus. The lower the f-number, the more light reaches your sensor, and the more of your background is blurred. The higher the f-number, the greater the field of focus and the more of your picture will be in focus. In other words, low f-number gives more light with a blurrier background; high f-number gives less light and a sharper background.
Your shutter speed can be thought of as the amount of time your camera’s shutter is open allowing light to hit your camera’s light sensor. Typically denoted as a fraction of a second (e.g. 1/125), your shutter speed will have an effect on the sharpness of your subject. Lower shutter speeds let in more light, but make your image susceptible to blur and requires a steady hand or tripod. Faster shutter speeds let in less light but can give you a sharper subject and an image less susceptible to unsteady hands.
ISO can be thought of as your camera’s sensitivity to light, with typical ranges on DSLR’s today being 200-1600. The lower the ISO number, the more light is required to get a good exposure on your photographs and the less noise you will see in your resulting images. Higher ISO numbers allow you to shoot better quality photos in lower light conditions, but the more noise you may see in the background of your images. DSLRs can produce better quality images at higher ISOs because of the larger size of the pixels in their image sensors. They also often feature noise reduction to further assist in maintaining quality at higher ISO numbers. As a general guideline, shooting outside under the sun, ISO 100-200 is a safe bet, but if you’re shooting indoors under low lighting you want to be in the ISO 800-1600 range.
💡 PRO-TIP: if you're happy to accept my suggestion, I am going to share my camera body with you - it has super sharpness and a high tolerance to noise, also at a very high ISO value: this is the Nikon D7500, for beginners, and it is a APS-c camera; her FULL FRAME sister is the Nikon D500. For your reference, I am showing you both of them here below!
The Best Way To Learn
Just Do It!
When you’re starting out, developing an intuitive understanding of how the different points of the exposure triangle play off one another may seem overwhelming at first, but shooting in manual gets easier over time. Since you have to consciously select your settings, you’ll develop a feel for how much exposure you need and what combination of ISO, aperture and shutter speed is required to achieve the desired effect. Go wild, get creative and practice shooting in manual mode – you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll improve once you master the exposure triangle.
Buy Some Pet Photography Books
Reading good books never is a bad idea: here it’s a collection of the best books about pet photography I personally selected for you to read.
Don’t forget to take a look at them and let me know if you have any more suggestions for me to add some new items to this list. Do this by commenting here below! You’re always welcome to do so.
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