Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 18/08/2011

In Absentia – Day Six (The Revenge of Absentia)


I’ve always liked this image, yes it’s an okay photo, it’s another one of my stitched panoramas but I remember this as it was the first time that I decided to use my own skill and knowledge over exposure etc and move from Av mode to M on the Canon 5D mode dial I was using at the time. Whilst on holiday on the Isle of Wight, I got to thinking about my beloved old film SLR (Fujica STX-1N if you’ve not read my previous missives on the subject) and how it didn’t have any such modes, just a couple of lights, which indicated whether the exposure was sufficient to take a photo. By setting the f-stop on the lens, and then moving the shutter speed until the light turned green you could ensure a correctly exposed photo. This wasn’t difficult stuff, and I decided when visiting the Needles, that I would employ the same principle with the 5D.

So not only was the f-stop, the shutter speed set to manual, I chose the correct ISO as well as manually focusing whilst taking 5 or 6 images of the view of Allum Bay. As you can see – the scene has some stark areas of contrast, with the dark of the hill and the white of the cliffs, if I had simply left the settings the same, I would have some very different exposures – with darker skies in some parts etc. So as well as remembering key landmarks to overlap each photo with, I had to monitor the exposure meter and change settings accordingly.

When the stitching program had finished putting all the frames together, and I saw the final results, well.. to say I was happy and proud was a bit of an understatement. I think also it gave me more confidence with what I was doing, re-emphasising what I had learn and found via experimentation was on the right lines. I do have to admit, that whilst I mostly shoot in manual mode, there are times when I have been known to go back to using Av mode (though I have to press buttons to do it these days, rather than having a mode dial on my camera) – usually when I’m photographing fast moving subjects (birds… wildlife… kids football (don’t know which is the more vicious of the three)) and I don’t want to have to keep checking the exposure levels. Everything has a time and a place.

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