I’ve been at this photography thing seriously for about three or four years now and, in all that time, I have relied almost solely on priority modes, usually aperture priority. I always felt somewhat intimidated by shooing manual. And my 20D, 40D and 50D have done quite well, for the most part. But I was always missing shots for various reasons. Not missing like not getting the shot, but missing in that the camera was guessing wrong. But all that changed a couple of weeks ago.

I was shooting an air show, and the camera was struggling. For the first half of the show I just couldn’t get anything I liked. No matter how I jiggered the ISO or the aperture or the shutter (each in priority mode) everything was a mess. So I took the plunge and started shooting manual, really for the first time. And most of my problems went away.

Even in full manual, the camera still helps out some. It will tell you if it thinks that the final image will be too dark or too light. But once I got familiar with quick adjustments, I was rolling. Now, I’m shooting almost entirely in manual, and I feel like I’ve got so much more control over all aspects of the shot (which, of course, I do). And while I still use priority modes, and even auto, for a quick shot now and then, I have become completely sold on manual.

The other thing I learned the hard was is not to wear sunglasses when you’re shooting outside. Every picture that you look at on the screen is darker than it really is. You’d think I’d have figured that one out a long time ago.