Adventures in Photography: Mastering Manual Mode

My father is a professional photographer, and ever since I was young he would drop little tidbits of photography advice for me here and there. He taught me all the working parts of a camera, the importance of good lighting, and the common mistakes most beginning photographers and models make. A few years ago, he gifted me a lovely Canon 30D camera for Christmas, and gave me a few lessons on how to use it.
Knowing all of that, it's pretty terrible when I say that I've never taken my camera out of automatic mode. For those of you who are new to the world of photography, every camera has an 'auto' setting in which all you do is take pictures, because the camera will adjust all the internal settings for you based on measurements/readings it takes of the surrounding environment Auto will produce good photos, but it doesn't allow you to create some of the awesome artistic effects and bokeh (blurred background).
This is where manual mode comes into play.
In manual mode, you are the one in charge of all the settings. You are constantly adjusting your exposure, shutter speed, ISO, and a slew of other factors in order to get that perfect shot.
The whole concept is quite daunting. I mean, the first few photos I took in manual were all black or all white. Not a good sign.
So, two nights ago, I took a stand to conquer my fear of working in manual mode. A good friend of mine, Hannah of Hannah Fine Photography, went out to do some sunset shots with me and guided me through the process of working in manual.
Like, I rocked it. I got some awesome photos, and I'm completely over my fear of manual mode.
So last night, Hannah contacted me because her older sister and soon-to-be-brother-in-law wanted to do some engagement shots at my lake property. I happily agreed to take them over and act as second shooter.
Let's just say, these photos are amazing. Hannah gave me a preview of hers, and they are drop-dead gorgeous. I was in the background shooting mostly, but I got some seriously awesome pictures too.
Here are the results of the engagement shoot, shot all by myself in manual mode:

Does this mean I get to add 'photographer' to my list of titles? ;)

PS - You should definitely contact Hannah for your next photoshoot. She did couples portraits and family photos for me, and they were amazing. You won't be disappointed!
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