I have been experimenting with shooting in manual mode. With this mode the camera does no thinking for me. So, what does that mean? First, I have to set the aperture which tells the lens how big an opening is required and how much of the picture is in focus when I press the shutter (that little button that takes the picture). Second, I have to set the shutter speed which tells the camera how long to keep the lens open (short shutter speed like 1/1000 second is great for freezing action). Third, I have to set the ISO (sets the sensitivity of the sensor) so that I get a proper exposure based on the first two settings. I set the aperture, shutter speed and ISO and “hope” I get a good shot. Or, I could use an automatic mode and let the camera come up with its own setting based on the scene. (By the way, that’s how the point and shoot cameras work – like your iPhone).

It seems that many professional photographers use manual mode exclusively. Either they like the full control over all aspects of the photograph, or they are mildly arrogant. Or, maybe it is a combination of both. Since I have the mild arrogance down pat, all I need is to do is to shoot in manual mode, and I too can be a professional. Oh, you have to make money too? Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

We recently have increased the number of shoots to allow us to master manual mode. By the way, why did Nikon (and Canon) include all these automatic modes in their professional cameras if the professional won’t use them? That’s a rhetorical question so you don’t have to answer.

We were running out of interesting places to shoot near our home in Northborough, MA, so this weekend we expanded our search and found Griswold, CT. Who ever heard of Griswold and where would it be? It’s tucked into the southeastern part of Connecticut, just north of Norwich. And there in Griswold, fields and fields of sunflowers call Buttonwood Farm their home. Known by botanists as Helianthus Annuus, they can grow to 12 feet with a large yellow flower on top.

At the end of the shoot, I felt sorry for all these sunflowers. They had to put up with me saying, “hold that pose, please, I’m getting all my settings just right.” This was often followed by, “Oops, wrong settings, hang on while I shoot another.” After an hour or so of that, I came up with a few decent shots.

This sunflower held its pose for me just long enough!

This sunflower held its pose for me just long enough!

One sunflower waited long enough and decided to leave - before I got the perfect shot.

One sunflower waited long enough while the other decided to leave, before I got the perfect shot.

A captive audience - where could they go?

A captive audience – where could they go?

What do you think? Aren’t sunflowers great? And patient??

One last thing: All proceeds from Buttonwood Farm Sunflowers go to the Make a Wish Foundation. More information can be found at: Buttonwood Farm.