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How to shoot manual photography
Bookmark these must-know camera settings for your next shoot.
Mon 24 Jul 2023
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Photography is all about timing, so if you want to run a successful photography business and build a stunning portfolio, you have to be ready to capture that perfect shot at a moment’s notice.

That’s why we’ve crafted a quick, go-to reference within the Unscripted App that covers the camera settings for every lighting scenario, so you practically have a cheat sheet in your pocket.

This is just a quick camera settings guide, so download the app for a full rundown, so you can take control of your camera and shoot in manual mode like a pro!

Download the Unscripted app for more tips and tricks from the pros.

Full sun

Ah, the dreaded full-sun lighting situation. Awkward shadows, squinty eyes, you know the drill. It’s definitely not ideal, but thankfully knowing the best camera settings will help you make the most of it.

Set your f-stop to 2.0, shutter speed at 1/2000+ and ISO anywhere from 50-200. You’ll also want to keep your white balance anywhere from kelvin 5000 - 6500 to match the external light.

After you’ve dialed in your camera settings, hold your hand up to the light. Are there shadows between your fingers? Is there a color reflected in the highlights? This can help you get accustomed to the slight changes. It’s best to keep the sun behind your subject as much as you can and don’t forget to spot-expose for their faces.

Shade & natural indoor light

n taking photos indoors, the way the light pours in through windows can make for some pretty incredible and intimate images. The subtlety in difference between front-light, side-light, and back-light can be hard to perceive.

When it’s overcast, shadows on the skin can tend to look murky. Indoors, front-lit subjects look luminous. Set your camera to an f/stop of 2.0, shutter at around 1/350 and your ISO between 200-600 to capture that perfect shot.

Setting your white balance to around 5000-7000 will also help match the cooler gray of an overcast day or light bouncing in through an open window.

Golden hour

There’s something about this time of day that tugs at the heartstrings. Maybe it’s magic, or maybe it’s biology, but what we do know is that it triggers nostalgia, happiness, and all the warm fuzzies.

Take note of the golden-hour camera settings above, and be sure to download the Unscripted App to take advantage of the Sun Tracker feature, so you can nail those golden-hour shots on the Big Day.

Blue hour

Blue hour is the period of twilight in the evening just before dark or in the morning when the sun is below the horizon. The result: a soft sunlight that takes on a predominantly blue hue, casting a wonderful luminosity onto your subjects.

It often lasts for less than an hour, so if you’re hoping to capture these dreamy, ethereal qualities, you’ve gotta be savvy and quick.

Candlelight

Shooting in low light can be a daunting undertaking for new photographers. But the warm, flickering light of hundreds of candles during a wedding reception is everything, so you have to get it right!

Turn off your flash, eliminate as many other sources of light as you can, and steady your hand – shooting in this lighting scenario requires patience, practice, and a dash of courage.

Dancing/dragged shutter

Having a boogie late into the night with the happy couple? Dragging your shutter can be just the technique you need on the journey – it’s great for capturing movement and fun on the dance floor whilst still preserving some of the background details.

Don’t forget to slow down that shutter speed, so you can shake your camera for some fun creative light swirls!

Sparkler exit

After you’ve made it through alllll of the other wedding photo moments, it’s time to close it out with the sparkler exit! Take note of the camera settings above and use natural ambient light to capture the natural glow of the sparklers, but if you have to push the ISO or the shutter speed to the point where everyone in the crowd becomes a blurry ghost, use a lume cube pointed at the couple or bounce a flash off a nearby wall.

Download the Unscripted App for endless wedding photo poses and prompts.

Download the Unscripted App for the complete rundown

Remember: these are just the ideal settings for each situation. Download the Unscripted App for the full camera settings guide – it includes important adjustments, troubleshooting tips and more!

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FAQs

How do you photograph a wedding in low light?

Use prime lenses in low light situations. They have wider apertures, allowing more light into the camera's sensor. This doesn't mean that you should only shoot with prime lenses in dark wedding venues like a church, but if you are struggling to find light, a prime lens can help.

What is the best ISO for sunset wedding portraits?

When shooting a sunrise or sunset, you'll generally want to use a low to mid-range ISO setting, like 200, 400 or 800.

What is the Sunny 16 rule?

The Sunny 16 Rule is a way to meter for correct exposure during daylight without using the camera's meter. So for example, if your ISO is 200 at f/16, then your shutter speed will be 1/200 seconds. If your ISO is 100, then your shutter speed will be 1/100 seconds.

Do I need additional light sources during blue hour?

No, just set your shutter speed and ISO according to the scene and how much light is available. You can also set your aperture as wide or narrow as needed.

What type of flash is best for wedding photography?

Wedding photographers may want at least two flash lights in their arsenal – a speedlight and an off-camera flash.