This one simple photography tip from our affiliate Beryl Ayn Young (creator of the online Momtographie course) will transform your photos FOREVER. Click here to see if registration is currently open for her FREE mini-class! Click here to get the full Momtographie details and save your spot.
I have an embarrassing secret to share with you about my photography journey:
It took me an astonishingly long time to understand how to use my fancy DSLR camera in manual mode.
I remember how excited I was the day I brought my new DSLR home. Before getting a DSLR I was trying to achieve professional results with a point and shoot camera but knew I had ‘grown out of it’ in that I wouldn’t be able to use it to achieve the sharp focus and beautiful background blur that my professional photographer friends could.
So I took the leap and bought the DSLR. I thought the ‘big girl’ camera was the ticket to amazing photos. Only, when I took that camera out of the box and began snapping my photos were still falling short of my expectations and they weren’t nearly as beautiful, vibrant, or crisp as I thought they would be. I knew a bit about technical photography. I had a basic grasp of settings like ISO and Aperture, and Shutter Speed. But, I had no clue how to put the settings together. I was guessing and then hoping the numbers I selected would equate to beautiful photos. (oftentimes they didn’t..)
Then a friend showed me the light meter…
Just like that a lightbulb went off. The meter was the missing link in my system for choosing settings.
It may be your missing link too, so today is all about giving you the knowledge I wish someone had shared with me a lot sooner on my technical photography journey.
Where is the light meter on your camera?
First of all you’ll need your camera to be in M mode. (Not AUTO. Not A/Av. Not S/Tv.) You need to be in full manual mode. Next, look through your viewfinder, and then push the shutter button down halfway to activate your viewfinder display. Your meter probably looks like a series of vertical lines, with + on one end and – on the other.
What does light meter telling me about my photos?
The +and – symbols that make up your light meter are extremely important. As you work with different types of light, the indicator light on the meter will move between + and – depending on your exposure settings (ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed) and how bright or dark the light is.
- If your meter highlights a value towards the + sign, it’s telling you that your picture is going to be overexposed, or too bright.
- If your meter highlights more toward the – symbol, then your meter is telling you that your image is going to be underexposed, or too dark.
How do I use the light meter?
The meter it there to support you in balancing your exposure settings. You need to know a bit about the other technical settings, setting your ISO, aperture based on the light and your creatve goals — then observing the meter and moving it to the middle to set your shutter speed.
I’ve worked with a lot of moms and a lot of cameras and, unfortunately, the way to change each setting is different on just about every camera model.
Here are a few tips to get you started though:
First you’re going to want to locate the command dial on your camera (the one that scrolls). Some models have two command dials: one dial to control aperture, the other to control shutter speed. Other models have only one command dial. When the camera is in Manual mode, using that dial without pressing any other buttons will adjust one setting (typically shutter speed).
To adjust you aperture setting, you will have to simultaneously push a button on the camera and operate the command dial at the same time.
Take a few minutes now to figure out how to change ISO, aperture, and shutter speed while in Manual mode for your specific camera model. Then go grab a subject to practice with, snap some photos, and give the light meter some practice!
WANT MORE SUPPORT? Join me for a free class!
Using the light meter and mastering it for good takes time, patience, and practice. It also requires having a solid grasp of the technical foundation of photography: ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. These are all topics covered during my 6 Week Momtographie Online Class (click here to see when the next session begins).
Meet Beryl Ayn Young
Hi I’m Beryl. Mom, photographer, and teacher who wants to help you beautifully capture the life you love. I remember how excited I was the day I brought my first DSLR. I thought I’d take my camera out of the box and it would take amazing professional quality photos. After months of trying to figure out the camera on my own I was still frustrated with images that were blurry, dark, dull and out of focus.
Now, I’ve taken my expertise in teaching and my passion for photography to develop a system that breaks down technical photography in a way that will quickly build your confidence behind the lens. My goal with Momtographie is to help as many women as possible learn to love using their DSLR cameras in manual mode and love the life they’re living too. Learn more about the course here!