From Auto to Manual, a Challenge set at Cybher

As soon as I read the agenda at Cybher, I already knew the one session I just couldn’t miss was by the awesome Jay Mountford. I’ve stalked, I mean casually followed Jay on twitter for a while. She is someone who’s heart beats with the passion of photography, which is something my hearts done since I was a child. I always thought I wasn’t good enough, but as an adult I’ve decided to pursue this love I have.

From Auto to Manual, a Challenge set at Cybher -


Seeing Jay pursue her passion, has been quite inspirational. If you don’t follow her blog or have never heard of Silent Sunday, A) you have been living somewhere incredibly remote without wifi, or B) you have no interest in bacon. Go check out her sites and Jay Mountford Photography.

When I found myself walking in to her session at Cybher, I knew I had to be at the front. I didn’t care if I looked like the class swot, I wanted to absorb as much information as I could. With notebook open and camera in hand, I was ready for anything she threw at us and boy can she throw.

Instantly Jay’s personality comes bursting out across the room, everyone hung on what she said as she combined practical with theory. I’m a lover of visual learning and Jay had this covered. There were a few minor technical issues, when the Mac wouldn’t talk to the screen. But once they had been resolved we were able to see an example of shots as Jay explained how they were achieved.

 From Auto to Manual, a Challenge set at Cybher -

Prior to attending Cybher, I had been messing with priority modes on my camera for a few weeks and had started to work out which settings did what on my DSLR. But it wasn’t until Jay explained the full concept to me, that I was able to switch to manual. I haven’t switched back since. Now I’m not saying its for everyone and I’m not saying you’re not a photographer if you use Auto. But I am saying it’s made me think a lot more before I take a shot and I love that.

The great thing about the way Jay taught us, was the way she interacted with everyone. She didn’t just talk at us, she asked us questions and got us thinking. I was very chuffed with myself when I managed to answer a couple of questions.

I won’t go in to too much detail on what Jay taught us, as she knows her stuff far more than me and I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. But what I came away with was more than enough for me to go out into the big beautiful world we live in and shoot away manually without fear of awful dark, grainy shots.

My interpretations of the masters teachings, (in basic points and from my scribbled notes) If you have questions, go ask the master:

  • It’s all about the light.
  • Think of your settings as a triangle, you need to balance all three, ISO, Shutter speed and Aperture.
  • Aperture is all about the size of your hole. It’s measured in F stops and is totally backwards. Smaller the Aperture=larger the whole which = more light in the lens. This is a tricky one for me to explain in brief, there are lots of online guides that can explain Aperture a lot better than I can, Jay explained it incredibly well.
  • ISO is all about how sensitive your camera is to light, don’t be afraid to wack up the ISO when indoors, but be prepared for your images to become grainy the higher the ISO
  • Shutter speed is how fast the shutter clicks shut and back open, it controls how much light enters the lens. Slower shutter speed=more light, faster shutter speed=less light. The shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, try not to go below 1/125 of a second. The slower the shutter speed, the more blur in an image (unless on a tripod with a remote shutter).

We learnt lots more, but I really can’t do the session justice with one post. Practice is the key to mastering your camera and that’s only if you wish to master the manual settings. I still take photos with my point and shoot and iPhone but at least now I know I can snap a semi decent pic on manual. Which pleases me lots.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Lauren Reply

    Reading through the tweets on the day everyone seemed to LOVE this session. And I wished I was there.
    I went off Auto a while ago,I tend to just twist, click and push buttons without understanding what I’m doing. I personally think my auto photos aren’t as good as photos taken using manual.
    Great post xx

  2. lucy at dear beautiful Reply

    Jay’s session was by far my favourite at Cybher, he’s teaching style was fab.
    I had spent months fiddling around with priority settings too, and whenever I went over to full manual I either lucked out with a good shot, or I took photo that were a pile of poo. I decided I would persevere with manual for the month of June and if I still felt lost by the end of the month then I’d go back to priority settings. After Jay’s session I think I’d cracked the basics within a week.
    No looking back now….. x

  3. Carley Reply

    I’ve just bought a dSLR, and I’m trying to not use the auto modes at all… Not because they’re no good (the auto photos look far better than my manual ones at the moment!) but if I can learn the basics of my camera now, I’ll be able to use the auto modes so much better when I do need them! Thanks for this – it looks like Cybher was awesome! Cx

  4. Coombemill Reply

    I am still marvelling over the mug shot you showed me at BritMums, no surprise to find the lovely Jay behind the knowledge. I’m still trying to take a good manual shot but for now they are not as good as priority settings for me. Great post.

  5. Mrs Teepot Reply

    I was lucky enough to go to one of Jay’s workshops at CyberMummy and she was fantastic! I’m glad you learned so much!

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