The Beginner’s Guide to Photographing in Manual Mode

The Beginner’s Guide to Photographing in Manual Mode

Ready to take your images to the subsequent degree? The greatest technique to step up your recreation is to learn to shoot in Manual Mode. I do know it could sound extraordinarily daunting if you hear technical phrases thrown round like “bokeh, aperture, ISO, and studying the meter,“—in order that’s why I’ve created this newbie’s information!

Trust me, it’s not as scary because it appears! You simply need to take it step-by-step.

Shooting in Manual Mode offers you considerably extra management over each shot. When I first made the soar to an interchangeable lens digital camera, I used to be WAY too intimidated to study technical images and wasted a few years settling with Auto.

While photograph enhancing is a giant a part of the method, turning into a greater photographer is crucial.

Want to step up your images recreation? Here’s my newbie’s information to taking pictures in Manual Mode together with your digital camera!

amman jordan photography

Camera Settings Tips

Shoot in RAW

Shooting in RAW generally is a lifesaver, particularly when you’re a beginner. This will assist you to edit your pics and make vital modifications if it is advisable to. Shooting in JPG takes a bit much less area however that’s about the one profit.

Heads up, should you shoot in RAW—you have to to transform it to a JPG earlier than transferring it to your cellphone/sharing on-line. RAW normally can’t be transferred on to cell phones.

If you need to share immediately, snap a fast shot together with your cellphone. You truly can get good pictures in your cellphone if you realize what you’re doing (take a look at this information).

Watch a Tutorial

I can’t stress this sufficient—take the time to discover a high-rated video that goes over all of the settings of your digital camera so you may find them extra simply and know what options the digital camera has. You’ve invested within the digital camera so it’s best to learn to use all of its settings!

So a few years glided by the place I missed out on cool pictures I might have taken, just because I didn’t know my digital camera was able to taking them! Heads up, a number of the movies will be fairly lengthy (about 45 minutes to an hour, however they’re effectively value it).

Tutorials will usually present you learn how to change the format from JPG to RAW as effectively!

Camera Gear

Body and lenses fluctuate relying on the digital camera you put money into. When you’re taking the leap from a degree and shoot digital camera to 1 with interchangeable lenses, I might suggest investing in a mirrorless digital camera and there are some things to think about: full-frame or crop sensor.

Full-Frame: basically there are extra pixels current in photos shot on full-frame cameras, which is able to end in larger decision and higher high quality photos (nice for should you’re blowing up pictures and making prints).

Crop Sensor: usually crop sensor cameras are inexpensive, however you may nonetheless snap attractive pictures!

I like to recommend investing in a package lens. You’ll usually see these lenses bundled with the digital camera physique of your alternative. It’s normally a zoom lens—for instance, a regular Fujifilm package lens is the 18-55mm F/2.8; which implies that it could possibly zoom from 18 to 55mm and the widest aperture out there is 2.8.


Prime lenses are nice for style images and portraits. If you foresee your self doing lots of this type of images, it’s a terrific lens to have in your arsenal.

For panorama photographers, a wide-angle lens can be fairly helpful. I shoot with the 10-24mm f/four with Fujifilm. The good factor about this lens is that it’s wide-angle at 10mm, however once I zoom in to 24mm it’s now not extensive, so it makes the lens slightly extra versatile.

If you’ve gotten particular questions on a lens or your digital camera, going to a neighborhood digital camera store or B&H are nice locations to get tips about which lens is best for you.

Curious about my images gear? Find my necessities for journey images right here!

Cape Town, South Africa

The Best Lighting for Photography

Your optimum hours for images are going to be daytime as there’s extra gentle out there, and you’ll mainly set your ISO and never fear about it the entire day. The trickiest instances to shoot might be round daybreak, nightfall, and after the solar goes down…or in a spot with lots of shadows.

In the world of images, there’s something referred to as the “golden hour” that happens simply earlier than and after the instances of dawn and sundown. The “blue hour” is when the solar is under and the oblique daylight creates a blue shade.

I’m not the kind of one that solely shoots throughout golden hour as that doesn’t normally work for my schedule. There are instances when I’ve to take care of actually tough lighting however you make do with what you’ve received!

However, as a normal rule of thumb, if you’ll be able to plan issues round good lighting (early morning or simply earlier than sundown) the sunshine might be softer and is conducive to a “dreamy” feeling in your pictures.

Camera Settings: The Holy Trinity

You know how auto-correct never seems to know what you want to say when you’re composing a text? Your camera operates in a similar way when you shoot on Auto.

You can’t trust the auto settings on your camera to read your mind and capture exactly what you want.

When you shoot in Manual Mode, you have complete control over all of the camera settings. You can fine-tune your images and figure out the best settings to capture what you want. Say goodbye to blurry and overexposed images!

To get your head around using Manual Mode, there are three core ideas you need to know:

Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed.



Aperture controls how wide the lens is open.

This is a crucial aspect because it affects two things: how much light enters your lens and determines how much of the scene you have in focus.

Aperture is commonly referred to as F-stop (not really intuitive, I know) and you’ll sometimes see this written as “F” followed by a and number, like F/2.8.

This is the setting you need to master to nail the depth-of-field you want!

That dreamy blurry background of a portrait that so many folks love? That’s called bokeh—and by learning how to play with the aperture, you can achieve just that.

A low number aperture (F/1.4 – F/5.6), gives you more depth of field and it’s what you want for a bokeh effect in the background. The lower the number, the more the background of your subject will be out of focus.

If you are shooting a landscape shot and you want the whole scene to be in focus (your subject and background), you want a higher numerical aperture (ex. F/10 – F/22).

The lower the number aperture, the more light will be let in, and the higher the number aperture, the less light will be let in. While it’s easy to think of aperture as the depth of field, it works directly with ISO and Shutter Speed, which we will touch on later.

When you’re first starting to play with different settings, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. So why not just try one thing at a time? Your camera actually has a setting just for this!

We’re talking Aperture Priority.

Lion photographed at F/2.8; less depth of field. Elephants photographed at F/5.6; more depth of field.

Aperture Priority

Using Aperture Priority, your Shutter Speed and ISO will be set automatically. This way, you just control aperture and can focus on depth of field.

Your camera will display the Aperture Priority as A or Av.

It’s helpful to take the same photo at different apertures to see how it really changes a photo.

manual mode iso photography


Now that we’ve covered Aperture, let’s talk about ISO! ISO controls your camera’s sensitivity to light and affects the graininess of your photo.

Here again, you’ll just need to learn the right number for certain lighting situations.

The brighter it is outside, the lower you can set your ISO. For super sunny days, you might get down to 200-400 ISO. If you are shooting in low-light conditions, you might need to bump your ISO higher to something like 3200.

However, a higher ISO will create a grainy effect—so most of the time it’s best to stick to a lower ISO (if possible).

Typically, I keep my ISO at about 400 and don’t need to touch it until dusk/sunset .

shutter speed manual mode photography

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed controls how long or short your camera is open to expose light. This determines if your photo is crisp or blurry (think cars blurring on the street or water in motion).

When it is bright outside, you will want a faster shutter speed so that the scene doesn’t get washed out.

Aperture and Shutter Speed work together—think of it like your eyelids and pupils. The Aperture works like a pupil to control how much light enters. Meanwhile, the shutter comes down like an eyelid blinking.

PRO TIP: A general rule of thumb for the slowest shutter speed you can use without a camera is to measure 2x the length of your lens. For example, if I’m shooting on a 35mm lens, 2×35= 70. The slowest I would shoot without a tripod is a shutter speed of 125 instead of 60, because I know 60 is too slow and would result in a blurry photo.

You will need a faster shutter speed if you are trying to capture a moving object (a horse, fast car, trying to capture a jumping shot) and for very bright lighting situations.

If you’re using a tripod, go wild with sluggish shutter speeds! This is what you’d use for evening images and intensely low-light conditions.

PRO TIP: If you might be taking pictures in low gentle with a tripod, additionally use your timer in order that your digital camera has as little motion as doable earlier than the shutter is triggered.

light meter balance

Using Your Light Meter

You may need heard the phrase “reading the meter” earlier than. When folks say this, they’re speaking in regards to the little bar contained in the viewfinder. This will inform you in case your photograph is correctly uncovered to the present settings or if it is advisable to make an adjustment.

Why would you like a photograph correctly uncovered?

If it’s too vibrant, you’ll lose lots of the small print. On the opposite, if it’s too darkish you won’t be capable to brighten or carry up the shadows sufficient.

Either case might depart you with a photograph that you just’re not proud of.

Remember that images is an artwork. Some photographers prefer to shoot slightly underexposed whereas others go for an overexposed fashion. It’s only a private choice. However, when you’re beginning out—I’d extremely suggest aiming to correctly expose your pictures (zero on the meter) and uncover your private fashion within the enhancing course of.

This ensures you’ve gotten an excellent base photograph to play with and don’t have to fret about rescuing it.

PRO TIP: If you might be taking pictures in combined lighting (ex. backlight topic or a scene with shadows) you won’t be capable to belief your meter. In this case, you’ll need to belief your eye. I personally select to shoot barely underexposed in these eventualities to seize higher lighting of the brightest a part of my photograph. It’s simpler to raise shadows than to repair overexposure.

TBA Lightroom Presets

Master the colours of your pictures and create a constant aesthetic as you grasp the necessities of images. I created these customized Adobe Lightroom Presets for Desktop and Mobile that can assist you add a ravishing pop to your pictures.

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Rule-of-Thirds photography composition

Helpful Tips


When it involves composition (the place of objects/folks within your body), the very first thing to study is the Rule of Thirds. Turning on the grid view will assist you to use this. In truth, your cellphone most likely has these grids so you may flip them on proper now to do a fast observe.

The thought of the Rule of Thirds is that you’re breaking your picture down into thirds to create 9 components.

With your view damaged down into 9 components, you may spot the 4 key factors of the photograph that ought to function the centerpiece. Rather than inserting your topic lifeless middle, you would possibly need to put it/her/him at one of many 4 intersections of the strains.

The rule of thirds performs into the steadiness of what our eyes naturally discover interesting.

With or with out gridlines set, make certain that all the things in your photograph is degree. If the horizon or some other line is seen, make certain that it’s straight throughout in your shot.


I usually shoot images with Auto Focus on. Most trendy cameras have nice AF and you’ll depart this setting on auto. However, it’s helpful to know the place to modify from auto to handbook focus do you have to want it.

If your digital camera says the shot is in focus however the scene appears blurry to you thru the viewfinder, it’s time to examine your diopter. Your diopter dial is normally situated close to your viewfinder and will be turned clockwise or counterclockwise to regulate the main target of your eyesight. Be positive to look via it whilst you modify it so you may inform when it’s in focus.

White Balance

The white steadiness units the temperature of your photograph to find out if it’s extra blue or yellow in tone. Having a constant tone in your pictures will begin the enhancing course of on the proper foot (or simply provide you with an immediately attractive shot!). You’ll discover “White Balance” choices for daylight, cloudy, and different circumstances.

Typically, I depart mine set to auto, however there are eventualities the place I’ll swap my White Balance from Auto to match difficult circumstances.

Congrats for taking this big step in studying a brand new ability. When you first begin taking pictures in Manual Mode, it’s going to really feel tedious BUT it will get simpler! Like studying a brand new language, the extra you observe, the extra pure it turns into.



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