• Welcome to the blogsite of award winning photographer, Samantha Alday. Samantha is also a boutique-style photographer commissioning a limited number of wedding and portrait events each year delivering the most in personal customer service, detail and the specific needs of each client. Her work has been featured in ALABAMA WEDDINGS Magazine, The Knot online Real Weddings and has been awarded by the Wedding Photojournalist Association.

Photography 101 | FAQ | Shooting in Manual Mode

Another great question regarding this week’s lesson…(thanks, John).

John asked, “When shooting in manual mode, how do you know where to start?”

Look at your subject, look at the light.

Look at your subject and set your aperture according to the light. Remember when we talked in a previous lesson on aperture?  Your aperture controls the exposure or how much light reaches your subject, so the first thing you’ll do is set your aperture in relation to how much light you need.

Simply, dial your aperture up or down according to the light.

Once that is set, adjust your SS dial also dependent on your light needs.  Do you need a faster SS or is it okay if it’s a little slower?

If light is not an issue, but your priority is your SS, then set your SS first before adjusting your aperture.

Remember, it’s all about balance and compensation…all according to your light needs.

Also remember, this is not a quickie lesson to learn.  This is more for the advanced readers, but you can get there.

Keep practicing, keep reading the previous lessons, and keep shooting!

I’m so proud of you all!

Happy Thursday!

And just because a post is better with a picture……

Rachel’s Bridal Portraits taken at the beautiful Stewartfield, on the campus of Springhill College.

Photography 101 | Shooting in Manual Mode

Whoaaaaa!!  Wuh!?

Because of Brenda’s question last week, I thought it best to go ahead and address this.  Thanks Brenda for pushing yourself and thinking ahead…for thinking outside the box.

Stay with me.  You can do this!  You’re ready!  Hopefully you’re already adjusting your shutter speed, aperture and ISO accordingly, so it’s time to take the plunge and put it all together.

I know right now you’re asking me “why do I need to shoot in manual mode”.

Well, the one thing we’ve talked about for all these weeks is creating a well exposed image that you control….taking control away from your camera and putting it totally in your hands.

Your camera does not see what you see.  Your camera is not near as smart as you are.  Your camera can only read shades of light…light…gray…dark…and tries to expose the best mid-tone image it can.

When you shoot in manual mode, you control your exposure, your image….you create an image more true to what your own eyes are seeing.

So, without further ado, turn that dial to M, get your subject ready and look thru that viewfinder.  If you have an SLR, you should see a bar-looking graph somewhere along your internal screen.  It will probably be on your external LCD screen as well.

It looks like this:  2…-1…0…+1…2

We’ve talked about this graph before for controlling your flash output…this works the same way.

Set your aperture and shutter speed for your ambient light and image needs.

Roll your dial to the minus side and you’re underexposing.  Roll your dial to the plus side and you’re overexposing. Move it to the 0 and you’re image should be correctly exposed.  It’s not everytime, you’ll always be on “0”; sometimes you’ll intentionally underexpose and other times overexpose….based on your needs for you image.

Not only simply roll your dial to the left and right, but watch your numbers (shutter speed and aperture) are doing.  That’s what’s changing, not just a line on a graph.  Before you know it, you’re thinking will move from adjusting the graph to adjusting your numbers.  Go you!

On my camera, I have a dial that controls my shutter speed and a dial that controls my aperture.  I roll each one accordingly based on my needs for the shot.

I know this is a major move; conquering this does not happen overnight.  It took me years to master this.  And not all professional photographers shoot manual and that’s okay.  I don’t shoot manual 100% of the time; sometimes I’ll shoot in aperture priority.  I try not to have rules when it comes to my photography.  My goal is to create a great image regardless of how I get there.  And we’ve talked about that-shooting in aperture priority is still a great way to learn exposure and your camera.  But when you’re ready, give it a try and see what happens.  One thing I do know is that shooting in P mode will always keep you in the box and limit you and your potential.

That’s it for today!  Now go out and shoot someone!

Photography 101 | FAQ | Shutter Speed, Aperture and Yellow Lights

Shortly after posting this weeks Lesson, I received this question from Brenda. She had several great questions to ask, I wanted to post it here hoping it may help anyone else with the same thoughts.

I just want to thank you for taking the time to teach all of us about photography. I have learned a great deal and it is so much fun! I always look forward to Mondays.

I do have a question for you. When I turn my dial to TV mode I can change the shutter speed, but I think my f/stop is automatic in this mode. I can’t figure out how to change it and I have read the book. Does this happen on some cameras? I have a canon rebel xs.

One more question…I take a lot of sports pictures and the one place I have trouble with is our basketball and volleyball gym. The walls are brown so pictures tend to have a yellow tent. How do I get rid of the yellow tent? I probably need the flash you were talking about in one of your lessons. Also would the 50 mil. lens work in a sporting event..the only thing you can’t zoom. I know I have lots of questions..I’m sorry..but thanks so much for your input!


First of all…THANK YOU Brenda.  Thank you for your kind words and I’m thrilled that you are benefiting and learning from these lessons!

Now…on to your questions.

When I turn my dial to TV mode I can change the shutter speed, but I think my f/stop is automatic in this mode.

Yes, this is totally possible and I’ll actually be posting a lesson on this soon.  If you turn your dial to M or Manual Mode you control both your shutter speed and your aperture to whatever settings you need dependent on your situation and image you’re needing.  Your camera should have the option to shoot in Manual Mode.  Manual Mode is a great way to have total control of your image to create the exact look you’re wanting to achieve.

While shooting in Tv or Shutter Priority, you set the shutter speed and your camera determines your aperture accordingly.

I take a lot of sports pictures and the one place I have trouble with is our basketball and volleyball gym. The walls are brown so pictures tend to have a yellow tent. How do I get rid of the yellow tent?

Another great question and also another lesson I’ll be addressing.  🙂  What is actually happening here is due to your White Balance.  The yellow tint you’re referring to is caused by the warm temperature of the tungsten lighting in the gym.  (Notice the same yellow glow given off by the typical household light bulbs).

To correct this in camera, turn your White Balance dial (which is set on auto right now) to the tungsten setting which is probably represented by the light bulb symbol on that particular setting.  You’ll need to check your instruction manual for the specifics of your camera but changing this setting should balance out that warm, yellow color to a nicer, cooler, bluer temperature/color.

Also would the 50 mil. lens work in a sporting event..the only thing you can’t zoom.

While the 50mm is a great all purpose lens and is a great faster lens with a lower aperture; therefore letting lots of light in your darker gym, you’re just not going to get those close action shots you’re going for….because it’s only a 50mm.  You’ll need a longer focal length lens (to pull them in closer) plus the speed of the lower aperture.  A great lens to start out with is the 100mm f/2.8 lens.  It sells for around $400.  If you’re not able to go that route, you can use flash, but you’ll definitely need to go with an on camera strobe as your pop up is not going to give you the range you’ll be needing to light up those players at that distance.

I hope that helps!  Keep ’em coming and I’ll post answers as I can.

Thanks again and keep shooting.

JennaGrace Chamblee - July 22, 2010 - 3:56 pm

I am very glad you asked these questions too! I have been running into the same issue mentioned in question 1!! Thanks Samantha for sharing your photog wisdom! 🙂

Photography 101 | Flash Samples

I’m giving you a break today.  Today I’m only posting some examples to culminate everything we’ve been talking about adding light or flash or strobe or whatever.  I hope you’ve been playing around with your own camera and putting into action what you’ve learned this far.

As I was all alone in the house and had no subject to photograph so this pitcher of dried flowers was the lucky candidate.  But, do keep this info in mind with any subject you’re trying to photograph.

The first thing I did was intentionally turned out the lights in the room.  I know you’re wondering why and how crazy, but listen to the why.  Adding the overhead light blew out my subject just too much.  It also added that yucky yellow color that your typical light bulbs are guilty of doing.  I wanted to have the picture look almost as I was seeing it with my own eyes.

The second thing I did was move my subject closer to the window.  Why?  To add a better light source…there’s more than one way to skin a cat, ya know (sorry, Zack).  Look how these images turned out.

For all three images the settings are the same:  ISO 1000, Shutter Speed 1/60, f/stop 1.8

Image #1:  No flash at all, just the window light.  This is really just how I was seeing it.  Think about how nice this would look if I were using a real person.  😉

Image #2:  Pop up flash.  I definitely lost contrast and the image flattened out too much…also look at those shadows on the wall back there.   Now, if this is all you had available to you, remember what we’ve talked about?  Dial your flash down to decrease the brightness.

Image #3:  On camera flash/strobe-turned upward to bounce off the ceiling and dialed down to -1. This is also not bad at all.  I still have abit of contrast where you can see the light and dark areas of the image and notice how the shadows on the back wall improved.

Now, let’s move outside.

It’s actually late in the evening when I took these shots with no sun out, but it’s still shows the point I’m working on here.

Image #1:  ISO 400, Shutter Speed 1/500, f/stop 1.8 and no flash.  Notice how she’s dark and muddy and her eyes are way too dark.

Image #2:  ISO 400, Shutter Speed 1/250, f/stop 2.0 with on camera flash dialed up +1/2. Her eyes open up and her face is brighter.

This works the same way when the sun is bright overhead and casts those ugly shadows on the face and eyes.  The ideal situation is to move your subject to an open shade location, but if you can’t, turn on your flash and dial it up or down accordingly.  If you just need a bit of fill to brighten up their face just a little, you may need to dial it down some.  But if you’ve got that bright sun overhead, then your flash is going to have to be brighter than the sun, so dial it up!

Happy Monday!  Go out and shoot someone!

Photography 101 | Strobe

Hahahaha!!!  I’m busting out laughing at myself right now……  bare with me…..

I’ve often said that I can type faster than I can write and almost faster than my brain can think sometimes.  This happens when I’m typing and other words just happen on the page and it’s not what I was trying to type.  My fingers are just so used the keyboard, they have a mind of their own sometimes.

Case in point.  While typing in the title to this post, I typed in Photography 101 |Stroke rather than Strobe.

It’s lame I know, but I’m giggling at myself.

Okay…moving on……

More about Strobe.

This is a long lesson, so stay with it.  I considered dividing it into two lessons, but I actually wanted to keep all this info together.  You don’t have to read it all in one day.  Break it up yourself so you can get a clear understanding of all this stuff.

Let’s first address why adding a strobe to your camera bag it important:  1.  It gives you more light power to your image.  2.  It gives you more control of the exposure of your image.  3.  It can decrease your shadows cast off your subject from your pop up flash–you know those big ugly monster shadows on the wall behind your subject.  4.  It makes you look cool like you know what you’re doing.  😉

Anytime you can also raise your light source higher than your camera, it will widen your light source in your image and will therefore, decrease your shadows behind your subject.  Think about what the Sun does.  I’m not going to break it down here, but think about where your shadows are in relation to the Sun’s position.  Your strobe functions in a similar way.

Let’s now look at the strobe flash itself.  When you’re purchasing one, look at a few specifics:

1.  How much power does it have?  Think about what you’ll be using it for.  How much do you need?

2.  Is it manual (meaning you determine your own settings)?  Is it fully auto (meaning it works together with your camera settings and puts out the power it thinks it needs)?  Or does it do both..work in manual mode and auto mode?

3.  Does the flash head swivel?  This is important for reasons I’ll address in a minute.

Here’s a look at a a couple of strobes I have:

It’s a strand of thread, not hair.  Gross.

These work in manual mode and fully automatic mode.  I can adjust the power settings how I need them or I can let it do the work for me and allow it to work with the camera settings accordingly.

Read your strobe instruction manual on how to increase or decrease your output.  This is also determined by your own specific image needs.  Do you need more light or less light?Swivel and tilt heads.  Very important.Now.  What about the swivel and tilt strobe head is important?

One reason.

So you can determine which direction your light source will come from.

Re-read that.

You may not want your light pointing directly at your subject.

How else do you point it, you ask?

You bounce it.

Re-read that, too.

That’s right, bounce your light from another target point: a white wall, ceiling, reflector, or even someone else’s white shirt.

Why would you do that?  Crazy!?

To soften your light source and avoid that bright spot of light directly on your subject. Remember it’s all natural and keeping your image as real as you actually see it with your own two eyes.

Okay, I just changed my mind.  I’m stopping here.  This is just too much for one lesson and it’s such an important lesson, I want you to really get it.

Next week, I’ll touch on this abit more and post some examples of different lighting situations and the use of strobe in different ways.

But for now, go out and shoot someone!

Happy Monday!

Just the Two of Us

Clark and I enjoyed going to Gulf Shores a few weeks ago.   Alone.  By ourselves.  Without the kids.  A couple of reasons we went really.  First, we just needed a few days to get away.  Ya ever have those times when you just need silence and nothing-ness for a time.  We needed that.  Even though we were together, we just needed silence.  Silence to sit and enjoy our own thoughts,  as well as silence to have conversation with each other.  Does that make sense?

Secondly, we wanted to see the oil for ourselves.  I could post lots of pictures here, but it’s nothing you haven’t already seen or heard about.  Yes, it’s real.  It’s there.  Pray for those families who live in it and once thrived by the oceans abundance.

Lastly, we thought it would be fun to attend the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival.  What a treat.  It was something we’d never been to before and it was way cool to see 45-50 hot air balloons all together.  Because of the weather conditions they were not able to take off while we were there, but it was still fun just to see them all.

Here are a few images I took with my handy, dandy iPhone.  Don’t even ask why I only took pictures with my phone….let’s just say I’ll remember to fully charge my camera battery next time.  😉

Hilary and Josh | The Engagement | Alabama Wedding Photographer

Wow!  Thank you Hilary and Josh for such a great afternoon.  You totally rocked the session and made my job easy.  I can’t wait until your wedding.  This is a favorite for now, but I’ll have more to share and a slideshow up abit later.


I’ve added a slideshow of more of their E Session!  Enjoy!

You can see all of Hilary and Josh’s Engagement Images by clicking on the Proofing link on the above menu and using Hilary’s last name as the access code.

You’ll also be able to easily find their slideshow as it will be listed as a Featured Gallery on the above menu as well.

Summer Buchanan - October 25, 2010 - 9:29 am

I cant wait to see the wedding photos, Ive been checking everyday! You looked beautiful!