Mastering Manual Mode | Photography Tutorial for More Professional Photos

Shooting in Manual Mode! - Welcome to Day 1 of Mastering Manual Mode!

I haven’t ALWAYS shot in manual mode. When I bought my first DSLR camera, I started by learning what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO were (the exposure triangle) and how they all worked together to achieve good exposure.

I knew a little bit about how to use manual mode, but I figured that was the “old school” way of taking photos. After all, my new camera had lots of fancy buttons so why not use them.

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The problem with that way of thinking came when I took a look at all of the photos I had taken with my fancy new camera and the exposure just was NOT what I had envisioned through the viewfinder. After those less than pleasing results, I challenged myself to keep my camera on manual mode and “force” myself to get comfortable with that “old school” way of taking photographs.

That challenge totally changed my photos, and after almost 11 years of experience, I still use manual mode most of the time.

Shooting in Manual Mode

Why Use Your Camera in Manual Mode?

Why on earth would you use manual mode with a state of the art camera at your disposal? Shouldn’t your fancy (and expensive) camera be smart enough to take great pictures without any additional input from you?

The simple answer is “No!” Cameras are not smart enough to take great pictures all on their own ALL the time.

The truth is that your camera and all those high-tech formulas that are used by your camera can get tricked VERY easily. Your camera does not have a brain and it does not know what to expose for unless you tell it.

Photo Shot in Manual Camera Mode

Then Why Did I Pay for All Those Fancy Buttons?

I am not saying that there isn’t a place for some of the other shooting modes and camera settings. What I am saying is that in order to get the BEST POSSIBLE PHOTOS, you will need to know how your manual camera settings work and be IN CONTROL of what they are doing when you are taking photographs.

Let me put this a different way. To consistently get a great outcome, you will need to know enough about your camera and what goes into a properly exposed image, so that you will know when to take control yourself and when you can let your camera take over.

What I Hope You Learn From Our Mastering Manual Mode Series

My goal for this series mastering Manual Mode posts is to help you take matters into your own hands and teach you how to better control that beautiful piece of equipment you spent lots of money on!!

Where are Your Manual Camera Settings? 

Until the next post, I am giving you a list of buttons to locate on your camera. They are listed below with photos to help you find them.

Exposure Dial:

This is how you will turn on your camera's Manual Mode, so you need to know where this is. The "M" on the dial stands for Manual Mode!

Nikon and Canon Exposure Dials: Why shoot manual mode

Command Dial:

You will use this important dial to manually adjust your camera's aperture and shutter speed settings.

Manual Camera Settings

Camera Manual:

You may need some assistance from your camera manual in order to learn how to manually adjust your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings. Dig it out and have it on hand before you continue on to the next part of our blog series.

Using your Manual to learn to change your camera's dials

Congratulations! You've just completed Day 1 of Mastering Manual!

But Don't Stop Now!

Make sure to read the rest of our series to help you Master Manual Mode. If you’ve missed any of the posts, you can read/review them at any time by clicking these links!

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