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Hello IggleBugs! The 3 karma 100 days achievement code is now live, so if you’ve taken photos for 100 days in a row, message me and I’ll give you the code! The following milestones will be 150, 200, 250, 300, then 365. Each one will be worth one more karma than the one preceding it.

Tweet @IggleBugs for the 7, 30, and 60 day, and 100 day achievement codes if you need them! You don’t have to upload the pics in a row, but at least make sure you’re taking one every day.  You’ll also find another code in the forums.

For anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on here, if you haven’t checked out the IggleBugs lately, you should swing by and have a look at our Photo 365 Challenge thread in the IggleBugs Forum! Join us if you’re looking for a fun photographic challenge for 2014! You don’t need a fancy camera or anything, just a passion for taking pictures! Upload and share however you want, if you want. It’s entirely up to you! The best part about it is you can make your day one whenever you want! So feel free to jump in late, we won’t bite!

I will post seven themes and ideas a week as we go through the year. They won’t be strict assignments, just helpful ideas to get you through the week if you get stuck or feel like you need some inspiration.

Here is the list of helpful ideas for week twenty-two!

Igglebugsweek22

Now it’s time for part four of our little IggleBugs Photography 101. Now that we understand Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO, We’re going to take the lessons from the first three parts and put them together to take photos in Manual mode! This is kind of a quick and dirty introduction to Manual mode. There are lots of things you can do in Manual, and I’m just going to show you an easy way to get a good exposure in Manual, something to get you out of your comfort zone and trying something new!

The first step is to set your mode dial to M. If your camera doesn’t have a manual mode, you may still learn some fun things about exposure and how it works from this article!

Somewhere, either on a screen on your camera or when you look through your camera’s viewfinder, you should see something that looks kinda like this:

Exposure Indicatorblk

This is called the Exposure Level Indicator and it’s your new best friend when you’re in manual mode. Ideally, it’s great to be aware of no matter what mode you’re in, but it’s especially important in Manual mode. This tells you if your photo is going to be exposed properly. If you have all your settings right, it should look like this:

Exposure Indicator

When that line is right in the middle there, the light meter in your camera is telling you everything is good to go in order to get your exposure right. So how do you get a proper exposure?

When you’re shooting in Manual, you should already have a pretty decent idea of what you’re trying to achieve with your photo. First, are you in good light or bad light? Unless I’m taking a long exposure photo, I usually decide on my ISO and Aperture first. ISO is the easiest decision to make. If you’re in good, full light, you can use ISO 100 or another low number, but if you’re in poor light and shooting handheld or a moving subject, you might want to use a higher ISO. Once ISO is decided, what Aperture do you want? Do you want everything to be all in focus from front to back or do you want a soft background?

Once you’ve picked two of the three settings, check out your Exposure Level Indicator.

Exposure Indicatorover

If your indicator looks something like above, your photo is going to be overexposed. If you don’t want an overexposed photo, you need to adjust your settings. You might need to use a faster shutter speed. If your shutter speed is already as fast as it will go or if you don’t want to use a faster shutter speed, narrow the aperture or lower the ISO to get it to the correct level. The line should automatically move closer to the middle as you adjust your settings.

Exposure Indicatorunder

If your indicator looks like the above, your photo will be underexposed. If you do not want an underexposed photo, you will want to use a longer shutter speed, widen the aperture, or use a higher ISO.

Why go through all this trouble? Well, your camera uses the same light meter no matter what mode you’re in, and it’s pretty good, but it’s not great. You’ve probably taken a photo that your camera has underexposed or overexposed because it was just trying to do what it could. This often happens if the light is uneven or confusing to the camera or if your subject is backlit. To your camera, it thinks everything’s great. It’s gotten the Exposure Level Indicator to look like this:

Exposure Indicator

But you know that’s not what you want. If you want your subject to be brighter or if you want the photo to be more exposed, you can find that middle spot, then use a longer shutter speed or wider aperture or boost the ISO to get your photo a little more exposure. The line will move closer to the positive side of the indicator, and the more you play around with it, the more you’ll feel comfortable moving away from the middle.

Another useful tool you can use is called a Light Meter. Light meters are devices that measure the amount of light. They’re useful tools but unless you’re a professional photographer, there’s really no reason to pay money for one. But your phone can be a light meter. There are free light meter apps (for iOS. I don’t know about android), that work pretty well. It uses the camera on the phone to determine the amount of light on your subject. You can play around with the settings you want to use and lock in certain settings. It will tell you what adjustments you need to make to get the perfect exposure. Then you can set your camera to those settings and snap your photo and it should be nicely exposed.

Manual mode takes practice. I don’t suggest just going into manual mode and trying to shoot your whole vacation before you get some practice with it. You want to be comfortable in manual mode before you try to take important photos. It is easier to mess things up in manual mode, trust me. Practice with it, review your photos, and determine what you can do better next time.

I hope you’ve learned something today! Next week we’ll learn something new! Now, I’m not a certified expert on this stuff, so if you notice a mistake, or if something is confusing and needs clarification, let me know and I will fix it or answer any extra questions! If you have any suggestions, questions, or ideas for future tips, tricks, or tutorials, comment or tweet at me and I’ll address them in future posts!

Have a good week and don’t forget to follow @IggleBugs for updates and encouragement! If you use the hashtag #IggleBugs365, I will try to retweet a few photos every day!

Also, if you want to nominate someone for IggleBug of the Week, tweet @IggleBugs with your nomination!