elective course

Good-Bye Auto. Hello Manual. | with Melissa Ortendahl

take FULL creative control of your images

in this course you’ll learn

We all start somewhere when we first pick up a camera. For many of us, we turn it on, leave the dial on auto, and start shooting – leaving the camera in complete control of what our final image will look like. And that’s fine, to start with, but let me ask you a few questions…

  • Do you want to have more creative control over your images? 

  • Do you want to be able to understand the technical foundation of exposure and how to make sure your image is properly lit every time? 

  • Do you want to know how to shoot in all different kinds of lighting, and create sun flares, silhouettes, and motion blur? 

  • Do you want to nail focus every single time?

If you answered yes to even one of those questions, then it’s time to learn how to shoot in manual!

This course is going to go in depth into the foundations of exposure (ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed) what each of them do, how they work together and when, why and how to adjust them to achieve proper exposure when shooting.

  • I will cover how to meter in-camera, the different metering modes, and how to use them to help you adjust your settings properly.

  • will teach you how to read a histogram and why it’s a crucial tool to ensuring your image is properly exposed.

  • I will go over white balance and demonstrate how different lighting situations will affect the color of your image as well as how to get your photos as correct as possible in-camera and how to fix them in post processing when you don’t. We will discuss the focal plane and why it (along with aperture) are the most important aspects to nailing the focus of your subjects.

  • I will also discuss different types of lighting (backlight, direct light, open shade and artificial light) and how to shoot in each of them to achieve the type of image you want.

Course Requirements:

  • This course requires a DSLR/Mirrorless camera and preferably a prime lens (with a low end aperture of 2.0 or lower).

  • A desire to learn and a willingness to practice. You will not learn how to shoot in manual without practicing. Learning the information is one half of this course, but consistent practice is crucial to becoming comfortable and proficient in adjusting your settings on-the-go.

  • I ask my students to commit to shoot in manual at least 20 minutes a day, every day, for three weeks. 

  • We will not be covering editing in this course, but will cover a few post processing items in Lightroom, so if you have Lightroom, that would be helpful.

At the end of this course, (and with consistent, continued practice), you will be able to leave auto behind and have FULL creative control over your images and a solid foundational understanding of the elements of manual exposure!

This course includes a 45 page e-book and 13 videos. The videos provide not only a behind-the-scenes view of how to shoot, but also go in depth into each of the topic areas for those that are more visual, hands-on learners.

During the mentor live run, you will have access to an exclusive Facebook Group for the full week, led by Melissa, where you will be able to ask questions, see live instruction, as well as submit an assignment and receive instructor feedback.



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learn any time – any where

lifestyle & documentary photographer

lifestyle & documentary photographer

melissa ortendahl

Melissa is a full-time professional wedding (www.melissaortendahlweddings.com) and family photographer (www.melissaortendahlphotography.com) located in Central Massachusetts. She started her business five years ago after deciding to leave her 10+ year career in Higher Education. Her business has continued to grow exponentially every year since it began. She is also the VP & CFO for Hello Storyteller as well as the co-host and lead interviewer for the Hello Storyteller Podcast. In addition to her career as a photographer, Melissa is also a mom to three wild and crazy boys (including a set of identical twins) and wife to her college love. You can find her chasing after her boys, re-heating her coffee and dancing in her kitchen while she bakes.



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