Photography Basics

Finally! You have secured yourself a good quality DSLR camera and your pictures are looking noticeably better. But, it seems that other people are still taking higher quality photos. What could be the difference between your skills and theirs? If you are asking yourself this question then chances are that you are still new to the DSLR camera and you are not familiar with manual mode. Truth is, if you want to maximise the use of your new DSLR camera, you are going to need to familiarise yourself with the basics of manual mode. But first, let’s ask the important question:

Why is shooting in manual mode better?

The most important reason to switch to manual mode is control. ISO, triangle aperture and shutter speed, those are the three main components you will have total control of which in turn, guarantees better quality photos and enhanced creativity. It is worth noting, however, that shooting with manual mode takes more time than using automatic mode but, once you have mastered the basics, it’s worth the extra effort.

Getting started with manual mode

As mentioned above, shooting with manual mode can be tricky if you are new to the game. In general, it is beneficial to understand the following basics:

  • Aperture

A camera’s aperture is essentially the hole in it’s in iris. It is located in the centre and can be tuned to adjust the sharpness of your picture’s background. In general, the lower your aperture, the greater the blur in the background of your image and the higher the aperture, the more your subject will be in focus.

  • Light meter

Take a quick glance through your camera’s viewfinder and you will find a line of numbers written like: (Canon) -2…1…0 and so forth. This line of numbers is your camera’s light meter and lining it up on 0 ensures that your image comes out clearer and sharper. The line meter can always be adjusted if you want a different effect.

  • ISO

ISO describes the camera’s light sensitivity. It ranges between 200 and 1600 on modern DSLR cameras. High ISO lets you take pictures with less lighting while lower ISO requires a great amount of lighting to make your pictures sharper. In general, DSLR cameras work well with a high ISO but many experts recommend you keep your numbers between 800 and 1600 if you are taking pictures indoors or between 100 and 200 if you are taking pictures in sunlight.

  • Shutter speed

Shutter speed affects the overall subject’s sharpness with a low shutter speed making your picture prone to blurriness if you don’t use a tripod stand or steady hand. If you want clearer images, it’s best to use a fast shutter speed but overall, it’s a feature you have to regularly adjust to suit your needs.


Starting out with manual mode is daunting if you are not familiar with it but trust us when we say the more you practice, the better you get. Having greater control of the settings on your camera is worth it at the end of the day and will help you ensure that your pictures come out looking clean and sharp.