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.

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