A Manual Photography Guide For Dummies

Digital cameras come with all kinds of settings and most photographers tend to prefer to auto setting when taking pictures. However, the manual setting allows you to have more control over what the final result will look like. You can switch to the manual mode via the main menu of your camera and adjust different settings to capture a unique photograph.
manual photography for dummies
It is important to familiarize yourself with the different settings you can manually adjust. You need to have a basic understanding of how these settings will impact your photograph but you need to do some tests with these different settings to gain some experience and learn to determine which settings need to be adjusted to get the effect you are looking for.


Aperture is a concept that can be difficult to master for beginners but you will learn to work with this setting as you gain more experience. The aperture of your camera refers to the size of the window through which the light gets in. A wider aperture will let in more light and a narrow aperture will only let in a small quantity of light when you capture the photograph. You can adjust the aperture to create different effects. A wider aperture will let in more light but will also create a more shallow depth of field while a narrow aperture will let in less light and will create a deeper focus for your photograph.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is a very important concept, especially if you are taking pictures of people or objects in movement. The shutter speed is the amount of time for which the aperture will remain open. A lengthier shutter speed means more light will have time to be captured and a blurry effect will appear if you are taking pictures of objects or people in movement. On the other hand, a shorter shutter speed will allow you to capture movement without this blurry effect.


ISO is a setting that was created to mimic the effect of film speed in traditional cameras. Adjusting the ISO will impact how crisp the photograph looks like. A higher ISO, or higher film speed means the film is more sensitive to light and will capture more details and brighter colors. On the other hand, a lower ISO will capture less light. Increasing ISO is not necessarily a good thing since the photograph will pick up more noise, which can result in a grainy effect. Higher quality cameras tend to pick up less noise when you increase ISO. The ideal ISO setting really depends on current light conditions.

These are the three main settings you can adjust when taking photographs in manual mode. In most cases, you can get interesting photographs without adjusting the ISO as long as your default ISO setting is adapted to the light conditions. You can create many different interesting effects by adjusting the aperture and the shutter speed.

The best way to get used to manual settings is to experiment. The best settings really depend on the time of day, exposure to light and on whether or not the object or person you are taking a picture of is in movement. You should test different settings to see the different effects you can create and find your own style. Testing different settings is the best way to learn about them and to understand how they impact what the final result will look like. You will find that switching to manual mode can be challenging at first but you will take some photographs that are a lot more artistic.

Brought to you by Paul’s Photo Equipment

Direct Sunlight Photography Tips

Direct Sunlight Photography

Shooting photos in direct sunlight can lead to pictures that have lens flare, blown out highlights, high contrast, and colors that seem overly saturated. What is a photographer to do?

The following are some quick direct sunlight photography tips.

1.    Moving Into The Shade

In the case of some objects, you may have to move them along with yourself into the shade. This is especially useful in portraits whereby your subject is quite portable. Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones.

2.    Making Your Own Shade

In case your subject is not movable then you can create your own shade. Use your shadow or someone else’s shadow to block out the sun.Direct Sunlight Photography

3.    Using Fill In Flash

Most people know that you should always put the sun behind you when taking photos so that the subject is well lit. Lens flares or dark subjects are a common consequence of shooting into the sun but you can improve this by using a flash to fill in shadows creating by doing so.

4.    Using A Reflector

You can also fill in the shadows using reflectors. The reflectors
bounce light into the face of the subject and are wonderful since they let you to shoot into the sun as with when you are using fill in flash.

5.    Changing Your Perspective

Sometime it is not possible to move your subject. However, if you move it around, it can make a huge difference. This may involve shooting from directly above, moving to the opposite side, shooting up and getting down low. If you do so then you will change the angle of the sun hitting both the camera and your subject and give your photo a totally different feel.
Photography Theory in Historical Perspective

6.    Using A Lens Hood

If you are suffering from lens flares then you should start using the lens hood. If you do not have one then make one out of a card or you can use your hand to shield  the lens from the sun. Just ensure that the shot is free of your hand so that you do not ruin it.

7.    Using Filters

Sometimes filters can be quite handy when doing direct sunlight photography. You can carry with you Neutral Density and Polarizing filters always. Both filters reduce light getting into the camera to let you use smaller apertures and slower shutter speeds while the polarizing filter helps to reduce reflections. Polarizing filters have the additional benefit of giving you control over some colors especially when you have a blue sky in your shot.


Direct Sunlight Photography

8.    Playing With White Balance  Settings

Today, most digital cameras have the ability to choose different white balance settings. Even though it is possible to make adjustments later, choosing the correct settings during shooting is worth experimenting with. Some people prefer to shoot in RAW and edit the white balance settings later on the computer while some people prefer to do it in camera.

9.    Metering

Direct sunlight photography makes correct metering hard. In such conditions, it is advisable to select spot metering mode on your DSLR and select the main subject of the scene you are photographing to meter off. If you want everything to be exposed relatively well pick a mid tone area to meter off. Check your shots at once to see if you need to modify your technique. Alternatively, you can take multiple shots and meter off different parts of the scene so that you may select the best ones later.

10.    Choosing The Time Of Day To Shoot

If you have the luxury of waiting all day for the perfect lighting conditions then you can dramatically affect your shots. Dusk and dawn are especially good times to shoot since the direction and color of light is more usable than direct overhead light of noon.

11.    Shooting Silhouettes

If the bright light of the sun is causing you problems then you can use this to your advantage and make your subject into a silhouette against a bright background.

In conclusion, this article has been a discussion about some direct sunlight photography tips. If you are ever shooting in direct sunlight then consider the tips discussed in this article. Follow the advice herein to ensure that you take the best quality shots that you possibly can.

Presented by Paul’s Photo Equipment