1. Manual White Balance

Basing your exposure and white balance on skin tones is the best way to get consistent and beautiful results when photographing wedding or portraits clients. I like to use manual with balance when shooting my events. I use the Kelvin Scale, which goes from 2,000k to 10,000k. It’s easy to remember because it’s just like regular temperature, warmer skin tones equals a higher kelvin number, cooler skin tones equals a lower number. Common kelvin settings I use when I am shooting natural light are as follows; (Daylight 5200K), (Overcast 6000k), (Shade 7000k). For indoor lighting I use the following settings; (Tungsten 3200k), (Fluorescent 4000K), and for flash shooting, I tend to shoot around (5,500k). Remember that these numbers are approximate numbers, and can be adjusted up, or down, based on personal preference. Adjusting that temperature and basing it off skin tones will provide you with realistic looking people and consistent results which means less time in the front of the computer editing and more time in front of clients with the camera.

2. ISO
ISO measures the sensitivity of your image sensor in your camera. The lower number means the less sensitive your camera is to light therefore less grain. The higher number means your camera is more sensitive to light and more grain. Low light situations will call for higher ISO values. Going above 1000 ISO will not produce successful results in portrait settings as they will be much to grainy. By keeping your ISO as low as possible and learning the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture, you will get consistently beautiful results in even the toughest of lighting situations. Get a real understanding of how the three work together and watch your shooting ability change and be able to take on the most challenging of shoots with the utmost confidence.

3. Shutter Speed
Shutter represents the time that the shutter remains open when taking a photograph. Short shutter speeds can be used to freeze fast moving objects. It also doesn’t allow as much light in, therefore you should have lots of light to make this work. Long shutter speeds can be used to blur a moving object or also let more light in. When shooting weddings or portraits, it’s always best to keep your shutter speed as fast as the light allows. 1/60 second is a safe number to not go below as your subject will become out of focus and blurry due to camera shake. By not going below 1/60, and then adjusting your ISO and lower aperture, you will be able to get the correct exposure and still keep your subject “tack sharp” which in the end is what you need to sell professional prints.

4. Aperture or “F-Stop.”
The aperture can be adjusted to control the amount of light reaching the image sensor, and how much depth of field(blurry or sharp background) in your photo. If you want to separate your subject from the background of a image, a larger aperture(smaller number, F2.8) is required. To add more depth of field use a smaller aperture(higher number, F5.6) Again, taking the time to learn and also experiment with Manual White Balance, ISO, shutter speed and Aperture will result in you taking better, more consistent photos. There is a learning curve to shooting in manual, so don’t give up, and be patient. Mastering this shooting style will give you the confidence you need to be a successful professional photographer.

Written by Mike Adrian

Specializing in photographing destination weddings worldwide, Mike Adrian works with clients to capture the best moments on their wedding day. His work has been featured in national wedding publications, and he has worked and taught alongside some of the industry’s most talented wedding photographers. In a few short years, he has become a leader within the professional photography community. Mike Adrian is based in Hawaii.


You can learn more from Mike in one of his two upcoming workshops at PartnerCon in New Orleans:
1) Manual Shooting: Learning How to Control Your Camera (ParterCon workshop)
2) Mike Adrian: 5 Tips to Put You On Top (Private Workshop) Thursday, November 11th, 1-7pm W French Quarter Hotel.  You can win a free seat here!

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