Mountain Biking Nepal. Manual Everything! (No help with the horizon ;) Taken with a Nikon FM2, 24mm, exposure unrecorded, scanned from Fuji Provia 100.
Last week, I received an urgent text message from a friend. Her ‘brand new’ used Nikon D70s would not shoot. I went down to meet her and quickly discovered that the reason it would not shoot was because the camera’s autofocus was not working (the D70s will not allow you to take a fuzzy picture with the AF on). After more investigation, I found out that the camera’s AE-L/AF-L function had been inadvertently set to AF ON. This function removes the autofocus function from the shutter release button, and moves it to the AE-L/AF-L button next to the viewfinder.
Cameras are becoming increasingly smarter; allowing most of us to shoot faster, better, and with more ease. At the same time, this has the effect of increasing the camera’s complexity, and requires more input and technical knowledge from the photographer, and increases the chance of something not working the way the photographer thinks it should.
The solution to any problem that you come across while shooting is to go back to basics. This usually means putting the camera in manual mode so that you can keep on shooting. That means that if the camera fails to autofocus, use manual focus; and if the auto exposure is not giving you what you want, use manual exposure.
For some photographers, there is a fear of shooting manual, simply because they’ve never done it; or perhaps because they think that the camera is capable of taking a better picture than they are. That brings us back to the topic for this post: going back to basics. You have to know how to use your camera in manual mode. It is fundamental to understanding how your camera works, how to keep shooting when the things go wrong with it, and ultimately, improving your photography.