Nikon D7000, Bracketing Exposures

So what if you are doing everything right in terms of metering and mode selection, yet your images still sometimes come out too light or too dark? There is a technique called bracketing that will help you find the best exposure value for your scene by taking a normal exposure as well as one that is over- and underexposed. Having these differing exposure values will most often present you with one frame that just looks better than the others. If I am in a tricky situation when I have to get the exposure right, such as an outdoor wedding, then I’ll use bracketing. I’ll start by spacing my exposures apart by one to two stops and taking three images: one normal exposure, one underexposure, and one overexposure. (Figure 11.7).

control panel shows you just how much bracketing
Figure 11.7 The control panel shows you just how much bracketing is being applied on an over/under scale in the upper right corner of the screen. The number and letter to the left tells you how many frames you’re shooting; here, it’s three frames, shown as 3F.

As you are viewing the control panel and holding the exposure button, you can decide how much variation you want between bracketed exposures. You can choose from one-third of a stop all the way to two full stops of exposure difference between each bracketed exposure. If I am in a particularly difficult setting, I will typically bracket in two-stop increments to help zero in on that perfect exposure, and then just delete the ones that didn’t make the grade (Figures 11.8–11.10). Remember, your lighting will dictate how many stops you want between exposures.

Two stops of exposure below normal
Figure 11.8 Two stops of exposure below normal, creating a much darker image.
Normal exposure
Figure 11.9 Normal exposure, as indicated by the camera meter.
Two stops of exposure above normal
Figure 11.10 Two stops of exposure above normal, creating a much lighter image.

Setting auto-exposure bracketing

Setting auto-exposure bracketing

  1. You can quickly set your bracketing by holding the BKT button (on the front of your camera directly below the flash button) while rotating the Command dial to 3F (three exposures).
  2. Next, continue holding your BKT button down while rotating your Sub-command dial to the 2.0 setting (two stops between each exposure). For more information on bracketing, please review pages 109–110 of your manual.
  3. If you are in Single Frame shooting mode, you will have to press the shutter three times, one for each exposure. If you are in continuous shooting mode, you will press and hold the shutter button and the camera will take all three exposures with one press of the button.

When I am out shooting in the RAW file format, I typically shoot with my camera set to an exposure compensation of –1/3 stop to protect my highlights. If I am dealing with a subject that has a lot of different tonal ranges from bright to dark, I will often bracket by one stop over and under my already compensated exposure. That means I will have exposures of –1 1/3, –1/3, and +2/3.

Another thing to remember is that auto exposure bracketing will use the current mode for making exposure changes. This means that if you are in Aperture Priority mode, the camera will make adjustments to your shutter speed. Likewise, if you are in Shutter Priority, the changes will be made to your aperture value. This is important to keep in mind since it could affect certain aspects of your image such as depth of field or camera shake. You also need to know that AE bracketing will remain in effect until you set it back to zero, even if you turn the camera off and then on again.

Nikon D7000, Manual Mode

Probably one of the most advanced, and yet most basic, skills to master is shooting in Manual mode. With the power and utility of most of the automatic modes, Manual mode almost never sees the light of day. I have to admit that I don’t use it very often, but there are times when no other mode will do. One of the situations that works well with Manual is studio work with external flashes. I know that when I work with studio lights, my exposure will not change, so I use Manual to eliminate any automatic changes that might happen from shooting in Program, Shutter Priority, or Aperture Priority mode.

This image (Figure 11.4) was taken in my home studio using a simple portable shooting table and two external flashes. One flash was used underneath the transparent table and the other flash was used with a small soft box. Manual mode allowed me to avoid changes in my setup.

Since I knew the light was a constant, it allowed me to take the time to make adjustments manually to expose the image exactly how I wanted it. Manual mode gives you ultimate creative control.

I used manual mode
Figure 11.4 These tulips provided a nice subject for a studio still life. In order to expose the flowers correctly and get the look I wanted, I used manual mode.

Bulb photography

If you want to work with long shutter speeds that don’t quite fit into one of the selectable shutter speeds, you can choose Bulb. This setting is only available in Manual mode, and its sole purpose is to open the shutter at your command and then close it again when you decide to. I can think of several scenarios where this would come in handy: shooting fireworks, shooting lightning, capturing the movement of the stars at night, and any other very long exposure.

If you are photographing fireworks, you could certainly use one of the longer shutter speeds available in Shutter Priority mode, since they are available for exposure times up to 30 seconds. That is fine, but sometimes you don’t need 30 seconds’ worth of exposure and sometimes you need more.

If you open the shutter and then see a great burst of fireworks, you might decide that that is all you want for that particular frame, so you click the button to end the exposure. Set the camera to 30 seconds and you might get too many bursts, but if you shorten it to 10 seconds you might not get the one you want (Figure 11.5).

image I had in mind
Figure 11.5 It took me several attempts to get this exposure right, but using my Bulb setting allowed me to capture the image I had in mind.

To select the Bulb setting, simply place your camera in Manual mode, press the shutter release halfway to activate metering, and then rotate the Command dial to the left until the shutter speed displays Bulb on the control panel.

When you’re using the Bulb setting, the shutter will only stay open while you are holding down the shutter button. You should also be using a sturdy tripod or shooting surface to eliminate any self-induced vibration while using the Bulb setting. Pressing the shutter button down opens the shutter, and releasing it closes the shutter.

I want to point out that using your finger on the shutter button for a bulb exposure will definitely increase the chances of getting some camera shake in your images. To get the most benefit from Bulb, I suggest using a remote cord such as the Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Switch or the Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote.

 

Nikon D7000, Smooth Water

There’s little that is quite as satisfying for the landscape shooter as capturing a smooth waterfall shot. Creating the smooth-flowing effect is as simple as adjusting your shutter speed to allow the water to be in motion while the shutter is open. The key is to have your camera on a stable platform (such as a tripod) so that you can use a shutter speed that’s long enough to work (Figure 7.14). To achieve a great effect, use a shutter speed that is at least 1/15 of a second or longer.

I sat my tripod right in the middle of this creek downstream from these small rapids. This allowed me to get the right point of view while using a slow shutter speed to show the movement in the water.
Figure 7.14 I sat my tripod right in the middle of this creek downstream from these small rapids. This allowed me to get the right point of view while using a slow shutter speed to show the movement in the water.

Setting up for a waterfall shot

  1. Attach the camera to your tripod, then compose and focus your shot.
  2. Make sure the ISO is set to 100 or 200.
  3. Using Aperture Priority mode, set your aperture to the smallest opening (such as f/22 or f/36).
  4. Press the shutter button halfway so the camera takes a meter reading.
  5. Check to see if the shutter speed is 1/15 or slower.
  6. Take a photo and then check the image on the LCD.

You can also use Shutter Priority mode for this effect by dialing in the desired shutter speed and having the camera set the aperture for you. I prefer to use Aperture Priority to ensure that I have the greatest depth of field possible.

If the water is blinking on the LCD, indicating a loss of detail in the highlights, then use the Exposure Compensation feature (as discussed earlier in this chapter) to bring details back into the water. You will need to have the Highlight Alert feature turned on to check for overexposure.

It is possible that you will not be able to have a shutter speed that is long enough to capture a smooth, silky effect, especially if you are shooting in bright daylight conditions. To overcome this obstacle, you need a filter for your lens—either a polarizing filter or a neutral density filter.

The polarizing filter redirects wavelengths of light to create more vibrant colors, reduce reflections, and darken blue skies, as well as lengthen exposure times by two stops due to the darkness of the filter. It is a handy filter for landscape work. The neutral density filter is typically just a dark piece of glass that serves to darken the scene by one, two, or three stops. This allows you to use slower shutter speeds during bright conditions. Think of it as sunglasses for your camera lens.

Nikon D7000, Taming Bright Skies with Exposure Compensation

Balancing exposure in scenes that have a wide contrast in tonal ranges can be extremely challenging. The one thing you should never do is overexpose your skies to the point of blowing out your highlights (unless, of course, that is the look you are going for). It’s one thing to have white clouds, but it’s a completely different, and bad, thing to have no detail at all in those clouds. This usually happens when the camera is trying to gain exposure in the darker areas of the image (Figure 7.8).

With this feature, you can force your camera to choose an exposure that ranges, in one-third-stop increments, from five stops over to five stops under the metered exposure (Figure 7.9).

The one way to tell if you have blown out your highlights is to turn on the Highlight Alert, or “blinkies,” feature on your camera. When you take a shot where the highlights are exposed beyond the point of having any detail, that area will blink in your LCD. It is up to you to determine if that particular area is important enough to regain detail by altering your exposure. If the answer is yes, then the easiest way to go about it is to use some exposure compensation.

The sand and the grass are well exposed but the sky is totally blown out. Whenever I’m shooting into a sunset this is a potential problem. I solve it by using exposure compensation to get the entire image exposed correctly.
Figure 7.8 The sand and the grass are well exposed but the sky is totally blown out. Whenever I’m shooting into a sunset this is a potential problem. I solve it by using exposure compensation to get the entire image exposed correctly.
I compensated my exposure by two stops (-2 on the Exposure Compensation adjustment) and was able to bring details back into the clouds, sky, and water. You will notice the image itself is darker as a result of this compensation.
Figure 7.9 I compensated my exposure by two stops (-2 on the Exposure Compensation adjustment) and was able to bring details back into the clouds, sky, and water. You will notice the image itself is darker as a result of this compensation.

Using Exposure Compensation to regain detail in highlights

  1. Activate the camera meter by lightly pressing the shutter release button.
  2. Using your index finger, press and hold the Exposure Compensation button to change the over-/underexposure setting by rotating the Command dial.
  3. Rotate the Command dial counterclockwise one click and take another picture (each click of the Command dial is a one-third-stop change).
  4. If the blinkies are gone, you are good to go. If not, keep subtracting from your exposure by one-third of a stop until you have a good exposure in the highlights.

Adjusting Exposure Compensation

Adjusting Exposure Compensation

  1. Press the Exposure Compensation button (which has a +/- symbol on it) on the top of the camera to adjust exposure by -5 to +5 stops.
  2. Hold the Exposure Compensation button while rotating the Command dial to the left to increase exposure and the right to decrease exposure. Each right click of the Command dial will continue to reduce the exposure in onethird- stop increments for up to five stops (although I rarely need to go past two stops).

It should be noted that any exposure compensation will remain in place even after turning the camera off and then on again. Don’t forget to reset it once you have successfully captured your image. Also, the Exposure Compensation feature only works in the Program, Shutter Priority, and Aperture Priority modes. Changing between these three modes will hold the compensation you set while switching from one to the other. When you change the Mode dial to one of the automatic scene modes the compensation will set itself to zero.

 

Nikon D7000, Portraits On the Move

Not all portraits are shot with the subject sitting in a chair, posed and ready for the picture. Sometimes you might want to get an action shot that says something about the person, similar to an environmental portrait. Children, especially, just like to move. Why fight it? Set up an action portrait instead.

For the photo in Figure 6.12, I used the Portrait picture control and set my camera to Shutter Priority mode. I knew that there would be a good deal of movement involved, and I wanted to make sure that I had a fairly high shutter speed to freeze the action, so I set it to 1/320 of a second. I set the focus mode to AF-C, the drive mode to Continuous, and just let it rip. There were quite a few throwaway shots, but I was able to capture one that conveyed the energy and action.

A high ISO allowed me to use a fast shutter speed to stop the action, along with a small aperture to increase depth of field.
Figure 6.12 A high ISO allowed me to use a fast shutter speed to stop the action, along with a small aperture to increase depth of field.

Nikon D7000, A Sense of Motion

Shooting action isn’t always about freezing the action. There are times when you want to convey a sense of motion so that the viewer can get a feel for the movement and flow of an event. Two techniques you can use to achieve this effect are panning and motion blur.

Panning

Panning has been used for decades to capture the speed of a moving object as it moves across the frame. It doesn’t work well for subjects that are moving toward or away from you. Panning is achieved by following your subject across your frame, moving your camera along with the subject, and using a slower-than-normal shutter speed so that the background (and sometimes even a bit of the subject) has a sideways blur but the main portion of your subject is sharp and blur-free.

The key to a great panning shot is selecting the right shutter speed: too fast and you won’t get the desired blurring of the background; too slow and the subject will have too much blur and will not be recognizable. Practice the technique until you can achieve a smooth motion with your camera that follows along with your subject. The other thing to remember when panning is to follow through even after the shutter has closed. This will keep the motion smooth and give you better images.

Panning can take a lot of practice before you stumble upon the correct shutter speed. During the Chicago Marathon I was able to take several practice shots of the wheelchair division as they crossed my path. The speeds achieved by the athletes were incredibly fast, so it took several test shots before I was able to dial in the appropriate shutter speed. Aided by continuous mode and Shutter Priority, I was able to achieve the perfect shot (Figure 5.9), albeit through trial and error.

Following the subject as it moves across your field of view allows for a slower shutter speed and adds a sense of motion. Panning takes practice, so it’s helpful to seek out plenty of opportunities to hone your skills.
Figure 5.9 Following the subject as it moves across your field of view allows for a slower shutter speed and adds a sense of motion. Panning takes practice, so it’s helpful to seek out plenty of opportunities to hone your skills.

Motion blur

Another way to let the viewer in on the feel of the action is to simply include some blur in the image (Figure 5.10). This isn’t accidental blur from choosing the wrong shutter speed. This blur is more exaggerated, and it tells a story (Figure 5.11). In Figure 5.10, I wanted to capture the strumming of the guitar player’s hand. I felt that the motion of the hand told a better story than simply freezing the motion.

The movement of the hand strumming the guitar coupled with a slower shutter speed conveys a sense of motion.
Figure 5.10 The movement of the hand strumming the guitar coupled with a slower shutter speed conveys a sense of motion.
You haven’t seen traffic until you’ve been to India. Here a couple is trying to cross a busy intersection. The speed at which the couple was moving contrasted well against the speed of the passing traffic.
Figure 5.11 You haven’t seen traffic until you’ve been to India. Here a couple is trying to cross a busy intersection. The speed at which the couple was moving contrasted well against the speed of the passing traffic.

Just as in panning, there is no preordained shutter speed to use for this effect. It is simply a matter of trial and error until you have a look that conveys the action. I try to show an area of the frame that is frozen—for instance, in the shot of the musician above the guitar may be frozen, or still, but the hand is moving. In the shot of the couple in Figure 5.12, the couple had paused momentarily. This helps lend visual contrast and adds to the story of the photo. The key to this technique is the correct shutter speed combined with keeping the camera still during the exposure. You are trying to capture the motion of the subject, not the photographer or the camera, so use a good shooting stance or even a tripod.

Due to the very slow shutter speed I was able to capture the motion of the bikes on both sides of the couple. What made this shot work is the fact that the couple had to pause before continuing to cross.
Figure 5.12 Due to the very slow shutter speed I was able to capture the motion of the bikes on both sides of the couple. What made this shot work is the fact that the couple had to pause before continuing to cross.

 

 

Nikon D7000, Using Aperture Priority (A) Mode to Isolate Your Subject

One of the benefits of working in Shutter Priority mode with fast shutter speeds is that, more often than not, you will be shooting with the largest aperture available on your lens. Shooting with a large aperture allows you to use faster shutter speeds, but it also narrows your depth of field.

To isolate your subject in order to focus your viewer’s attention on it, a larger aperture is required. The larger aperture reduces the foreground and background sharpness: the larger the aperture, the more blurred they will be.

The reason that I bring this up here is that when you are shooting most sporting events, the idea is to isolate your main subject by having it in focus while the rest of the image has some amount of blur. This sharp focus draws your viewer right to the subject. Studies have shown that the eye is drawn to sharp areas before moving on to the blurry ones. Also, depending on what your subject matter is, a busy background can be distracting if everything in the photo is equally sharp. Without a narrow depth of field, it might be difficult for the viewer to establish exactly what the main subject is in your picture.

Let’s look at how to use depth of field to bring focus to your subject. In the previous section, I told you that you should use Shutter Priority mode for getting those really fast shutter speeds to stop action. Generally speaking, Shutter Priority mode will be the mode you most often use for shooting sports and other action, but there will be times when you want to ensure that you are getting the narrowest depth of field possible in your image. The way to do this is by using Aperture Priority mode, or A.

So how do you know when you should use Aperture Priority mode as opposed to Shutter Priority mode? There’s no simple answer, but your LCD screen can help you make this determination. The best scenario for using Aperture Priority mode is a brightly lit scene where maximum apertures will still give you plenty of shutter speed to stop the action.

Let’s say that you are shooting a soccer game in the midday sun. If you have determined that you need something between 1/500 and 1/1250 of a second for stopping the action, you could just set your camera to a high shutter speed in Shutter Priority mode and start shooting. But you also want to be using an aperture of, say, f/4.5 to get that narrow depth of field. Here’s the problem: If you set your camera to Shutter Priority mode and select 1/1000 of a second as a nice compromise, you might get that desired f-stop—but you might not. As the meter is trained on your moving subject, the light levels could rise or fall, which might actually change that desired f-stop to something higher like f/5.6 or even f/8. Now the depth of field is extended, and you will no longer get that nice isolation and separation that you wanted.

To rectify this, switch the camera to Aperture Priority mode and select f/4.5 as your aperture. Now, as you begin shooting, the camera holds that aperture and makes exposure adjustments with the shutter speed. As I said before, this works well when you have lots of light—enough light so that you can have a high-enough shutter speed without introducing motion blur.

 

Nikon D7000, Using Shutter Priority (S) Mode to Stop Motion

As discussed there, the mode that gives you ultimate control over shutter speed is Shutter Priority, or S, mode, where you are responsible for selecting the shutter speed while handing over the aperture selection to the camera. The ability to concentrate on just one exposure factor helps you quickly make changes on the fly while staying glued to your viewfinder and your subject.

There are a couple of things to consider when using Shutter Priority mode, both of which have to do with the amount of light that is available when shooting. While you have control over which shutter speed you select in Shutter Priority mode, the range of shutter speeds that is available to you depends largely on how well your subject is lit.

Typically, when shooting fast-paced action, you will be working with very fast shutter speeds. This means that your lens will probably be set to a large aperture. If the light is not sufficient for the shutter speed selected, you will need to do one of two things: Select a lens that offers a larger working aperture, or raise the ISO of the camera.

Zoom in to be sure

When reviewing your shots on the LCD, don’t be fooled by the display. The smaller your image is, the sharper it will look. To ensure that you are getting sharp, blur-free images, make sure that you zoom in on your LCD display.

To zoom in on your images, press the Playback button located below the mode dial on the left and then press the Zoom In button to zoom (Figure 5.4). Continue pressing the Zoom In button to increase the zoom ratio.

To zoom back out, simply press the Zoom Out button (the magnifying glass with the minus sign on it) or press the Playback button again.

Zooming in on your image helps you confirm that the image is really sharp.
Figure 5.4 Zooming in on your image helps you confirm that the image is really sharp.

Working off the assumption that you have only one lens available, let’s concentrate on balancing your exposure using the ISO.

Let’s say that you are shooting a baseball game at night, and you want to get some great action shots. You set your camera to Shutter Priority mode and, after testing out some shutter speeds, determine that you need to shoot at 1/500 of a second to freeze the action on the field. When you place the viewfinder to your eye and press the shutter button halfway, you notice that the f-stop has been replaced by the word “Lo.” This is your camera’s way of telling you that the lens has now reached its maximum aperture and you are going to be underexposed if you shoot your pictures at the currently selected shutter speed. You could slow your shutter speed down until the Lo indicator goes away, but then you would get images with too much motion blur.

The alternative is to raise your ISO to a level that is fast enough for a proper exposure. The key here is to always use the lowest ISO that you can get away with. That might mean ISO 100 in bright sunny conditions or ISO 3200 for an indoor or night situation (Figure 5.5).

While in India I had a chance to photograph a Kushti wrestling match, which is a traditional style of wrestling performed in a dirt ring. This particular match was being performed in a poorly lit room, so I increased my ISO to 800 and shot wide open at an f/1.2 aperture in hopes of freezing the fast movements of the wrestlers.
Figure 5.5 While in India I had a chance to photograph a Kushti wrestling match, which is a traditional style of wrestling performed in a dirt ring. This particular match was being performed in a poorly lit room, so I increased my ISO to 800 and shot wide open at an f/1.2 aperture in hopes of freezing the fast movements of the wrestlers.

Just remember that the higher the ISO, the greater the amount of noise in your image. This is the reason that you see professional sports photographers using those mammoth lenses perched atop a monopod: They could use a smaller lens, but to get those very large apertures they need a huge piece of glass on the front of the lens.

The larger the glass on the front of the lens, the more light it gathers, and the larger the aperture for shooting. For the working pro, the large aperture translates into low ISO (and thus low noise), fast shutter speeds, and razor-sharp action.

Adjusting your ISO on the fly

  1. Look at the exposure values (the shutter speed and aperture settings) in the lower portion of your viewfinder.
  2. If the word “Lo” appears where the aperture normally is, then it’s time to increase the ISO (A).
  3. Select the higher ISO by observing the control panel while pressing and holding the ISO button on the back of the camera and rotating the Command dial to the right. Once the desired ISO is selected, simply release the ISO button (B).
  4. If you now see an aperture setting in the display, shoot away. If you still see the word “Lo,” repeat steps 2 through 4 until it is set correctly.

Adjusting your ISO on the fly

 

Nikon D7000, How I Shoot: My Favorite Camera Settings

I’m generally a landscape and travel photographer, but like many of you, I enjoy photographing everything. There’s very little that doesn’t interest me. I have found throughout the years that I primarily use the Aperture Priority mode. Why? Often when I’m traveling and photographing streetscapes I don’t have time to worry about every single variable, and I’ve found focusing on aperture has given me the control I need for 75 percent of my photography. If I want an image to have a shallow depth of field, then I’ll use a large aperture such as f/2.8, or if I’m shooting a landscape and I need a greater depth of field I’ll use a smaller aperture such as f/16.

However, sometimes Aperture Priority just doesn’t work. Maybe the lighting is tricky or it’s close but not quite right. In those cases I’ll switch over to Manual mode. Almost all of my landscape photography that I’ve shot during the golden hours was done in Manual mode because the light changes very quickly.

Each photographer has a different way of doing things. No one approach is necessarily better than the other. In the end, it’s about creating your own system so that you’re consistent. When you’re consistent, you can measure results and then make changes accordingly.

When I first started out photographing in Aperture Priority, the biggest mistake I made was shooting with much too slow of a shutter speed. I would get blurry pictures and I would ask myself, “How did this happen? They looked super sharp
when I took them.” I would then look at the metadata (image information) and see that I shot the blurry image at 1/30 of a second, way too slow for hand-holding. So I learned my lesson and started shooting a little faster, and my results improved immensely.

Doing things consistently and measuring results is a great way to improve your photography. Don’t ignore the metadata; it’s very helpful in understanding why an image looks a certain way and learning how to change your setting the next time to make the image stronger.

While the other camera modes have their place, I think you will find that most professional photographers use the Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes for 90 percent of their shooting.

The other concern that I have when I am setting up my camera is just how low I can keep my ISO. This is always a priority for me because a low ISO will deliver the cleanest image. I raise the ISO only as a last resort because each increase in sensitivity is an opportunity for more digital noise to enter my image. To that end, I always have the
High ISO Noise Reduction feature turned on.

To make quick changes while I shoot, I often use the Exposure Compensation feature  so that I can make small over- and underexposure changes. This is different than changing the aperture or shutter; it is more like fooling the camera meter into thinking the scene is brighter or darker than it actually is. To get to this function quickly, I simply press the Exposure Compensation button, right next to the shutter button, then dial in the desired amount of compensation using the Command dial. If you can’t get the exact exposure you want with aperture and speed alone, make little adjustments to the exposure compensation.

One of the reasons some people change their exposure is to make corrections when there are “blinkies” in the rear LCD. Blinkies are the warning signal that part of the image has been overexposed to the point that there is no longer any detail in the highlights. When the Highlight Alert feature is turned on, the display will flash wherever the potential exists for overexposure. The black and white flashing will only appear in areas of your picture that are in danger of overexposure.

Setting up the Highlight Alert feature

Setting up the Highlight Alert feature

Setting up the Highlight Alert feature

  1. Press the Menu button, then use the Multi-selector to access the Playback menu (A).
  2. Once in the Playback menu, move the Multi-selector to the Display mode option and press OK (B).
  3. Move the Multi-selector down to select the Highlights option, then press OK to place a check mark next to the word Highlight (C).
  4. Now move back up to select Done, and press OK again to lock in your change.

Once the highlight warning is turned on, use it to check your images on the back of the LCD after taking a shot. If you see an area that is blinking, try setting exposure compensation to an underexposed setting like –1/3 or –2/3 stops and take another photo, checking the result on the screen. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to get rid of every single blinking area. It is easy enough to add some black back into your photo later using post-editing software, and you don’t want to underexpose the rest of the image because there is one blown-out highlight.

Sometimes, such as when shooting into the sun, the warning will blink no matter how much you adjust the exposure because there is just no detail in the highlight. On the contrary, if you’re shooting a white wedding dress and the entire dress is blinking, then you have no detail in the dress and the bride will not be happy. Use your best judgment to determine if the warning is alerting you to an area where you want to retain highlight detail. If you are not sure what the perfect exposure is and you have to get a good shot, try bracketing your exposure.

As you work your way through the coming chapters, you will see other tips and tricks to use in your daily photography, but the most important tip I can give is to take the time to understand the features of your camera so that you can leverage the technology in a knowledgeable way. This will pay off in better photographs.

Nikon D7000, M: Manual Mode

Manual mode is all about control. Keep in mind, this mode was not designed for those of us who want to go on autopilot and shoot to our heart’s content. This mode was designed to allow the photographer to take complete control of shutter speed and aperture (Figure 4.16). The camera doesn’t do any of the work for you.

Figure 4.16 For ultimate control of shutter speed and aperture, use Manual mode.
Figure 4.16 For ultimate control of shutter speed and aperture, use Manual mode.

When you have your camera set to Manual (M) mode, the camera meter will give you a reading of the scene you are photographing.

It’s your job, though, to set both the f-stop (aperture) and the shutter speed to achieve a correct exposure. If you need a faster shutter speed, you will have to make the reciprocal change to your f-stop. Using any other mode, such as Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority, would mean that you just have to worry about one of these changes, but Manual mode means you have to do it all yourself. This can be a little challenging at first, but after a while you will have a complete understanding of how each change affects your exposure, which will, in turn, improve the way that you use the other modes.

When to use Manual (M) mode

  • When lighting and exposure get tricky (Figure 4.17)
  • When your environment is fooling your light meter and you need to maintain a certain exposure setting (Figure 4.18)
  • When shooting silhouetted subjects, which requires overriding the camera’s meter readings (Figure 4.19)
Figure 4.17 Shooting indoors can be tricky. The wonderful thing about your D7000 is that it has an incredible ISO range with relatively low digital noise. I took this image behind glass and wanted to avoid having my flash trigger because that would have left a nasty reflection. I decided to bump up my ISO and use a large aperture to get this shot.
Figure 4.17 Shooting indoors can be tricky. The wonderful thing about your D7000 is that it has an incredible ISO range with relatively low digital noise. I took this image behind glass and wanted to avoid having my flash trigger because that would have left a nasty reflection. I decided to bump up my ISO and use a large aperture to get this shot.
Figure 4.18 Beaches and snow are always a challenge for light meters. Whenever I’m shooting something in snow I find myself switching over to manual mode. A good rule of thumb in snow is to bump your exposure up +1 or to +2 if it’s really sunny. That should get you closer to the correct exposure.
Figure 4.18 Beaches and snow are always a challenge for light meters. Whenever I’m shooting something in snow I find myself switching over to manual mode. A good rule of thumb in snow is to bump your exposure up +1 or to +2 if it’s really sunny. That should get you closer to the correct exposure.
Figure 4.19 The camera’s meter will do a great job most of the time, but when you want to get creative sometimes you need to use the Manual mode. Using Manual mode allowed me to silhouette the buildings while maintaining the warm glow of the sun.
Figure 4.19 The camera’s meter will do a great job most of the time, but when you want to get creative sometimes you need to use the Manual mode. Using Manual mode allowed me to silhouette the buildings while maintaining the warm glow of the sun.

Setting up and shooting in Manual mode

  1. Turn your camera on and then turn the Mode dial to align the M with the indicator line.
  2. Select your ISO by pressing and holding the ISO button on the back left of the camera while rotating the main Command dial with your thumb.
  3. The ISO will appear on the top display. Choose your desired ISO, and release the ISO button on the left to lock in the change.
  4. Point the camera at your subject and then activate the camera meter by depressing the shutter button halfway.
  5. View the exposure information in the bottom area of the viewfinder or by looking at the display panel on the rear of the camera.
  6. While the meter is activated, use your thumb to roll the Command dial left and right to change your shutter speed value until the exposure mark is lined up with the zero mark. The exposure information is displayed by a scale with marks that run from –2 to +2 stops. A proper exposure will line up with the arrow mark in the middle. As the indicator moves to the left, it is a sign that you will be underexposing (there is not enough light on the sensor to provide adequate exposure). Move the indicator to the right and you will be providing more exposure than the camera meter calls for. This is overexposure.
  7. To set your exposure using the aperture, depress the shutter release button until the meter is activated. Then, while holding down the Exposure Compensation/Aperture button (located behind and to the right of the shutter
    release button), rotate the Command dial to change the aperture. Rotate right for a smaller aperture (large f-stop number) and left for a larger aperture (small f-stop number).