Mastering Manual Mode (Free Video Webinar)

Master Manual Mode & Getting It Right in Camera Video Tutorial

Have you been wanting to learn how to use your camera in manual mode?  

If you answered "Yes", that was a great decision!  To become a better photographer you NEED to learn how to do this!  

To help our awesome Pretty Presets community learn how to become better photographers we put together a fantastic free webinar on Mastering Manual.

You can watch the replay of our Mastering Manual Webinar by clicking play on the video just below. There are also written notes below the video - as well as notes available in pdf format linked at the bottom of this page. We also put together a great downloadable Mastering Manual Cheat Sheet for use on the go!

Mastering Manual Class: Webinar Replay


Notes from Master Manual & Getting it Right In-Camera Webinar

The Exposure Triangle

This “exposure triangle” is really a balance or formula that gets utilized every time a picture is taken. Like the three sides/angles of a triangle, there are three components of the exposure triangle.

1. ISO—how sensitive your camera is to light

2. Aperture—how open/closed your lens is

3. Shutter speed—how fast/slow your lens opens and closes

ISO: International Organization of Standardization

For film cameras, ISO was how sensitive a particular film was to light. For a digital camera, ISO  is how sensitive our camera sensor is to light.


  • Outdoors in sunshine = ISO 100
  • Outdoors in overcast light = ISO 400
  • Indoors = ISO 800 or higher

When a film photographer when outside to shoot, she would have to change film to suit the light. With a DSLR, if you want to shoot outside in broad daylight, you would change your ISO to 100 or 200. If you walked back inside, you would simply change it to 800 or 100.

Baby Photo from Free Mastering Manual Workshop Video

ISO and Noise

ISO can affect how much “noise” your image has.

Noise is the graininess in digital images. Noise comes from two things:

1. High ISO: the higher the ISO, the more noise you will have.

2. Underexposed images: pictures that are not exposed correctly in camera, but later improved in post-processing, will have noise in them, due to the underexposure.

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Aperture is how wide the opening of your lens is at the time of the picture.

  • A smaller f number (like 1.8) means your lens is wide open, allowing in lots and lots of light.
  • >A larger f number (like f16) means the lens is more closed down, allowing in much less light.

How does aperture affect your image?

Aperture has two main purposes:

#1 Controls light allowed in through lens

  • Large apertures (small f numbers) have a very wide opening to allow in the most light possible.
  • Narrow/closed down (large f numbers) have smaller openings, preventing much light from entering in.

#2 Controls the depth of focus when picture is taken

  • Wide open (small f numbers) give you a shallow depth of field, meaning just the subject is going to be in focus and most everything else behind it will be blurry.
  • Shooting with wide apertures is great for portraits, florals and other subjects you wish to isolate focus on.
  • Narrow or closed down apertures (large f numbers) give you a more focused, detailed images. Your subject plus everything around it and behind it will be in focus.
  • This is great for landscapes, architectural photography and large groups shots.

Colorful Child Photo from Free Mastering Manual Workshop Video

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is how long your shutter is open.

  • Shutter speed will be a fraction like 1/200th of a second.
  • In your viewfinder it will just be a number: 200 (for 1/200th) or 1400 for 1/1400th or 20 for 1/20th of a second.
  • If you have lots of light, your shutter will be fast.
  • If you have low/poor light, your shutter speed will be slow.

How shutter speed affects your images:

  • Fast shutter speed can freeze action, like water spraying or jumping kids.
  • Slow shutter speed can show motion, like a car driving.
  • Slow shutter speed is one of the main contributors to out of focus images.
  • If you have a slow shutter speed and you are hand-holding the camera or having a busy subject, you are likely to have some motion blur which will prevent the image from being sharp.

Helpful tip: To ensure sharp pictures, keep your shutter speed at twice the focal length of your lens.


Metering is getting your image properly exposed by balancing the ISO, aperture and shutter speed.

Types of metering:

  • Spotspot metering is taken from one particular, chosen area (use focal points to pick your spot).
  • Center Weighted - bases the exposure on the intensity of the entire frame, but with most of the emphasis on a circular area in the center.
  • Matrix or Evaluative – reads the light over the several different spots in image. I almost always use spot metering, but there are times matrix and center weighted work better.
  • Landscapes – matrix / Group portraits – center weighted

Silhouette Photo from Free Mastering Manual Workshop Video

Would you like to download the notes for future reference? 

Just click on the download button below!


Do you have any questions or comments about our Mastering Manual Mode Webinar?  Just leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

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