September 3, 2010

Photography Tutorial: A Quick Guide to Understanding Your DSLR Camera

Hi guys! With Labor Day weekend coming up, I know a lot of us are going to be out there taking pictures! :) Since we have a long weekend to practice, I wanted to share with you this basic intro to SLR photography. If you have an SLR camera and are nervous to take it out of auto mode, this is the tutorial for you. You may have heard words like aperture, exposure, and shutter speed and wondered just how on earth they come together to give you a better photo. I’ll give you a brief introduction on what they do and how they affect your photos turning out too bright, too dark, too blurry or JUST RIGHT. :) This guide will show you how to get the most out of your SLR camera and give you confidence to take it out of auto mode in no time!

Photography Tutorial
Left: Canon T2i. Right: Nikon D40.

To start, let’s put your camera in Aperture Priority mode or Shutter Priority mode. On a Canon, this is AV or TV. On a Nikon, this may be represented as A or S.

Photography Tutorial

1. Aperture Priority

Let’s talk a little bit about Aperture. On both cameras above, the aperture is set to 5.6.

Photos taken with a low aperture let in more light, allowing you to take pictures in situations where there is not much light (like indoors and at night).

A low aperture will also give you a shallow depth of field. You know, the photos where one thing is in focus and the background is blurred?

Photography Tutorial

Canon 50mm f/1.8
1/200 sec
ISO 800

In the photo above, the aperture was set to 1.8, a low aperture. One earring is in focus, the rest is blurred.

Top of the Rock NYC Skyline

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
1/60 sec
ISO 100

In this picture, the aperture was set to 16, a high aperture, allowing everything to be in focus. However, when you take pictures with a high aperture, you need to have a lot of light, like outside during the day.

Note: Depending on what lens you have, you may not be able to set your aperture much lower than 3.5. And at 3.5, you may not be able to achieve much of a blurred background. If you like the blurred background look, you might consider purchasing a lens with a low aperture.

Now you try!

Turn the dial on your camera so that you are shooting in Aperture Priority mode. That means that you will be setting the Aperture, and the camera will automatically adjust the shutter speed. The camera will attempt to give you a correct shutter speed so that your photo turns out just right- not too bright, not too dark.

Set your aperture. In most cases, you can change the aperture by turning that little black dial on top of the camera, but double-check your manual if you can’t find it.

Set it to a low aperture if you want a blurred background, or a high aperture if you want everything to be in focus.

Photography Tutorial
Left: Canon XSi. Right: Nikon D40.

Look on the LCD screen of your camera for a grid that looks like the image above. That’s your exposure. The exposure determines if the picture is too bright or too dark. Usually when it’s set to 0, that’s just right. In Aperture Priority mode, it will always stay at 0 unless you specifically tell it to move. (Check your manual for setting the exposure compensation.) If you tell it to move higher (to the right of the 0) the picture will be brighter. If you tell it to move lower (to the left of the 0), the picture will be darker.

Try taking a few pictures in Aperture Priority mode with the exposure set to 0. If the pictures need to be brighter, move your exposure to the right a few notches, until it looks right to you. I like bright pictures, so my exposure is usually set above 0! :)

Photography Tutorial

Note: Be sure to keep an eye on your shutter speed as you do this. See the number 125 in the picture above? That number represents the shutter speed. As a general rule of thumb, you don’t really want to let the shutter speed get below 50, unless you have an extremely steady hand. If the shutter speed gets below 50, the camera cannot take the picture fast enough to compensate for the shakiness in your hands, so the picture will be blurry. If the shutter speed is getting low, try using a tripod or table to steady the camera, or lean against a wall, door frame, or tree to steady yourself.

If you find it difficult to get a high enough shutter speed when trying to take pictures inside, you can try setting your ISO higher…

2. Let’s talk about ISO real quick

The lower your ISO (100-200), the smaller amount of light your camera will use. So if it’s a really bright sunny day and you’re taking pictures outside, set your ISO to 100. The higher you set your ISO, the more light your camera will use. So if you’re trying to take a picture inside without a flash, and need more light, you can try setting your ISO to 800 or higher to see if you can get a high enough shutter speed to hand hold your camera. The catch with using a high ISO is that it makes your pictures pretty grainy, and it shows up REALLY bad in reds and oranges, so I always try to use the lowest ISO possible.

3. Shutter Priority

Now turn the dial on your camera so that you are shooting in Shutter Priority mode. That means you will be setting the shutter speed, and the camera will be adjusting the aperture. Shutter speed is how fast the camera records the picture.

Photography Tutorial

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
1/4 sec
ISO 100

In the photo above, the shutter speed was set to 4. That’s a slow shutter speed, allowing me to capture the movement of the water. A tripod was used to take this photo.

Photography Tutorial

Canon 70-200mm f/4L
1/640 sec
ISO 200

In this photo, the shutter speed was set to 640. That’s a fast shutter speed, allowing me to stop my boston terrier (and the water!) in his tracks!

To change your shutter speed, you will probably use the same little black dial you used to change your aperture. When set in Shutter Priority mode, the dial will control your shutter speed. Turn it to the left for a slower shutter speed and to the right for a faster one. I generally keep my shutter speed around 125 when taking portraits of something that’s going to be relatively still. If there’s movement, you might want to go higher.

Note: Be sure to keep an eye on your aperture as your change your shutter speed. If your aperture number starts flashing, that means that the shutter speed you selected is too high to or too low to correctly expose the picture.

If it’s too high, that means you don’t have enough light, and the aperture can’t go any lower to allow in more light and your image will be too dark. You need to lower your shutter speed until the aperture number stops flashing. That means the picture will be correctly exposed again. (You can also try increasing your ISO to compensate.)

In rare cases, your shutter speed may be too low (say you’re trying to take a picture of a waterfall in bright sunlight). That means you have too much light, and your image will be too bright. You need to set your shutter speed higher until the aperture number stops flashing for the picture to be correctly exposed. (You can also try decreasing your ISO to compensate.)

4. Focusing

Photography Tutorial
Canon 85mm f/1.8
1/250 sec
ISO 400

If you’re having trouble getting your camera to focus on exactly what you want it to focus on, you might want to take a look at the AF Selection. If you’re shooting with a low aperture, this can sometimes be a real problem. Have you ever taken a picture and the camera focused on the background, and not the subject?

Check your manual on how to set the AF Area or Auto-Focus Area. If your camera is set to “auto selection“, your camera will attempt to “guess” what you’re trying to focus on, and automatically choose what it thinks you want. I get a lot of out-of-focus shots that way! Sometimes I like to change my camera to “Manual Point Selection“. That means the camera will always focus on one spot. I set mine to focus right in the middle, but you can change it to any point, whichever one you feel most comfortable with.

When set to Manual Point Selection, your camera will always focus in that one spot. If you press the shutter button halfway down and look through the viewfinder, the focus point you selected should highlight, and you will probably hear your lens focusing. That means your lens is focused on that one spot. Now sometimes, just because it’s focused in that one spot, doesn’t mean the picture is framed exactly how you want it. Just keep the shutter button pressed halfway down and move your camera until the picture is framed the way you want it. (Just don’t move any closer or further away from the subject! :)) Then press the shutter the rest of the way to take the pic. With practice you will be able to do this very quickly, and you’ll always know exactly what you’re focused on.

5. Manual Mode!

You’re almost there! Get a lot of practice shooting in Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority. Some people will say that Aperture Priority mode is better than Shutter Priority mode and you should never use Shutter Priority. I disagree- they are both there for a reason and can be very useful in their own ways in different situations. With practice, you’ll learn which situations call for which shooting modes. Is a nice background blur or having everything in focus more important? Use Aperture Priority. Is capturing speed more important? Use Shutter Priority.

After mastering Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority, it’s not that much of a leap to go to fully Manual Mode! To shoot in Manual mode, turn the dial on the top of your camera to M. Check your manual to see which buttons now control you shutter speed and aperture.

Photography Tutorial
Left: Canon XSi. Right: Nikon D40.

After all your practice in Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority, you are probably familiar with what shutter speeds and apertures you prefer. Now you can put them together! When changing the shutter speed and aperture, be sure to keep an eye on your exposure. You normally want to keep your exposure right around 0. Again, most of the time, I keep mine between 0 and 1 because I like brighter pictures. :)

6. Recommendations

Any number of shutter speeds and apertures will get you a “correct” exposure of 0. Which one should you use? The book Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson is a great resource. After you’ve mastered Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes, get this book and read it cover to cover. It gave me a deeper understanding of my camera and SLR photography, and explained everything in small words that I could understand! It also gives real life analogies that just made things I had previously heard, but not yet grasped, *click*. I noticed an overall improvement in my photography from day one.

One of my all-time favorite lenses is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. It’s a prime lens, which means it does not zoom in and out at all. This was hard for me to understand until I got my first prime lens. But it doesn’t move at all! :) If you want to zoom in or zoom out on your subject you have to move closer or further with your feet! :) It’s a great lens for taking pictures indoors, because the low aperture (1.8) will let in a lot of light. The low aperture will also give you a beautiful blurred background.

Photography Tutorial

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
1/500 sec
ISO 100

7. What’s in my camera bag?

Photos taken on use the following equipment.

Canon 7D. My camera. I upgraded from the XTi and I couldn’t be happier. The white balance is excellent! And the auto-ISO feature is so convenient. It can also take 8 pictures per second, which is fun when taking pics of our two boston terriers.

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. This is what I call my “go-to” lens. It’s the lens I take with me when traveling. When I can only have one lens, and I’m not sure what kind lighting or space situation I’ll be up against, this is the lens I want in my arsenal.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 and Canon 85mm f/1.8. I normally use these two lenses for portraits and food photos. The low aperture gives me that super-blurred background, and allows me to take pictures in low-light situations (like my kitchen!). The 85mm zooms in a little closer than the 50mm, which means I have to be farther away from the subject than I do when shooting with the 50. So if space is an issue, I use the 50. If space is not an issue, I use the 85, because it gives a slightly blurrier background than the 50.

Got it? 50. 85. Okay.

So, those are my favs, but I do have a few more. :) See our Amazon Store for my complete Camera Lenses & Equipment Info. The most updated equipment info can always be found there!


Have a great Labor Day Weekend! :) We’re going white water rafting with some friends… it’s my first time. Wish me luck!! I’ll be back on Monday with a follow-up to our Chicago pics.. where we ATE! :) Including my favorite place we ate all weekend.

Give this tutorial a try over the long holiday weekend, and show me your pictures when you get back! :) Talk soon!

See More Posts About: Photography TutorialsTutorials


Trina December 31, 2010 at 2:31 pm

This is a WEALTH of information! Thank you so much! I just got the T2i and have ordered the 50mm f/1.8 lens. Can’t wait to get it!


Kari January 3, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!! This has been extremely helpful. I bought the Canon Rebel xsi 2 years ago and haven’t fully taken the time to learn what all of the settings are, etc. so therefore while my pictures have been better than the camera before, I knew it had a lot more potential. For christmas this year I used some money I got as a gift and purchased the 50mm f 1.8 as I’d heard so many raves about this lens. I just sat and went through this tutorial and was SUPER excited to actually learn something. Thank You!


Mary January 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Awesome. I have a Fuji S100FS (sophisticated point & shoot). It’s a great camera but I haven’t taken the time to switch out of “auto” mode. Thank you. I’ll reserve some time with this excellent tutorial and my camera.


Mary January 8, 2011 at 10:49 pm

By the way, your Bostons are kissable. I have two of them myself :)


Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker January 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm

This is so, so, so helpful for someone who just got their first dSLR. Thank you for putting all of this information together!


bridget {bake at 350} January 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Really helpful…thank you! I bought my first dSLR last year and reading this post helps. :) I’m still learning, but I’m so glad I finally bought one.


Lexie's Kitchen January 23, 2011 at 8:46 pm


SUPER TUTORIAL. Thanks for putting it out there.



Vicky February 15, 2011 at 10:23 am

Such a helpful tutorial. I just bought my first grown up camera – by that I mean the Canon XS and am super excited about learning how to use it!


Aditya February 18, 2011 at 1:23 am

Thank you for simplifying this so much. Extremely helpful.


Peggy cCurcio February 23, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Loved this….spent 5 boring weeks in a photography class with my new Canon 7-D. I knew it was a bit Ready to pitch it & go back to point & shoot!! Learned more reading this than in the entire 5 wks!!! Thank you, I actually think I can handle it now!!:)


Stephanie February 28, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Hi Amanda! Sorry to be commenting on such an old post, but as a beginner in photography, I had a quick question for you. I recently bought a Nikon D3100 – it came with the 18-55mm lens f/3.5-5.6 – it has been great, but the main thing (like you, I think) I like about photography is that blurred background look. I was wondering if there is a specific lens you would recommend? I was looking at the Nikor 50mm f/1.8 lens – but as you said, I am having a hard time with the fact that it does not zoom in or out at all ! Just thought I would get your 2 cents when you have a moment! :) Thanks so much for your help.


Kelly @ Featheredflower March 16, 2011 at 8:12 am

Thanks so much for this, I plan to study up as I’m clueless on using my new Canon SLR.


Steph Ruud March 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm

THANKS i’m definitely going to use these tips/instructions.

QUESTION: Where was your last picture taken, the one of the ocean?


Savvy in San Francisco March 25, 2011 at 2:07 am

Fantastic tutorial! Very detailed and great straight forward explanations!


Carolyn March 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Wonderful tutorial! I just purchased my first SLR, the Nikon D40. The manual has a wealth of very techical information all good. But I needed some good basic information to get started without being overwhelmed. This does that! Thank you!
I have been taking “snapshots” (some very good!) for 45 years. It is time to learn more and move on to great photographs!


Nemesis March 26, 2011 at 2:10 am

Thxs a lot for this nice article kevin and amanda…you both rock!!


christina April 13, 2011 at 5:26 am

Thanks so much for a clearly written tutorial. As a primary teacher I can appreciate a well structured lesson.


Lindsay April 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm


I STILL reference this tutorial on a regular basis. Your way of explaining things is PERFECT. :) I’m still learning, but with the help of your tips I’m a lot further than I would have been without help!

Thanks again!


Wendy April 18, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Hi there Amanda, this tutorial is brilliant! I’ve been lusting over a DSLR for ages but a bit afraid because I don’t know what all those extra knobs and functions mean… just a little overwhelming. But I’m definitely bookmarking this to come back to after I’ve gotten my first DSLR. :) Keep on posting more!


Nicky April 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Thank you so much for a great tutorial! I’m very interested in purchasing my first dslr. But I have no idea how to use it! I’m familiar with your typical point and shoot cameras so when I went searching for a good how-to guide it was quickly overwhelming. Your explanation is very well done. Thanks again!


This Good Life May 5, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Thank you for this useful tutorial! I already knew most of the basics but it’s nice to get a refresher course… I am sure I’ll integrate your tips to the advantage of my photography blog :)

This Good Life


Shibu Lekshman May 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Thank you, great effort, nice info for students. Stumbled here from another link.


Joanna June 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

THANK YOU! I just got a Canon Rebel t3 and dreaded driving into the instruction manual and trying to interpret their language, this was perfectly dumbed down for me : )


Savanna June 14, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Gosh I love you for doing this! Just spent some quality time with my DSLR and now feel SO much more optimistic about my photography. Thank you for explaining in a sweet and straight forward way.

Also, the recipes on your blog are so inventive and unique (and delicious-looking!). I can’t wait to try so many of them. Thanks for everything you do girl!



Juliette July 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm

You have exlained everything so well! Thank you. Now it’s practising time!


amanda July 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm

This is an awesome post… I have been wanting to get out of manual mode, but didn’t know where to start. Thank you so much!


Sarah Baker July 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Thank you so much! I just got my first “big girl” camera. Canon rebel T1i. I love it so far. I’m offically obsessed with taking pictures! Your tutorial was awesome. Thank you so much!!!!!


Angi July 10, 2011 at 2:36 am

Thank you so much. This is a great tutorial. Simple & to the point. Also lots of info without a lot of technical talk.


Helena July 20, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Thank you very much, Amanda! I’m starting to use my new DSLR camera and I was so confused! You helped me a lot! :)


Mindy July 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I have read so many tutorials on using a camera and I get SO confused SO fast. This was so easy to understand!! I love my camera and i’m so excited to finally learn how to use it! THANK YOU!


FangFang August 20, 2011 at 12:24 am

Thanks so much! I just got my Canon camera this week, this tutorial helped me alot! :)


Sara August 22, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Thank you! I just recently got a cannon rebel t2i and love it but I haven’t taken a photography class since I was in high school and couldn’t remember what all the little symbols meant. This was a fantastic quick refresher.


natalie September 3, 2011 at 4:31 pm

thank you so much for this! this weekend is all about me and my new d300. i feel like i’ve moved into the grown-up world of dslr’s and this post is a great (simple to understand) reminder of all the basics!!


Katja of Skimbaco September 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

Thank you Amanda! It was great to see you in Mexico, and see you soon in NYC!


Mrs Ergül September 8, 2011 at 9:42 pm

This is such a wonderful tutorial. I currently use a Canon 550D with the Kit II lens (18-135mm) and a 60mm for portraits and food shots. We are travelling next month and I’m looking for one that will serve us good throughout the trip. For my cropped body camera, which lens will you recommend as I understand the 24-70mm f2.8 will work differently on my mine. Thanks loads!


Kelly September 10, 2011 at 10:06 am

thanks so much for this post. it really helps with understanding all those buttons!


Cristiana September 11, 2011 at 11:30 am

This was such good tutorial, it definitely helped me understand my camera so much better, and be able to take some more great pictures!! I can’t thank you enough!!


Morgan Abraham September 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Thank you soooooooooo much for doing the tutorial in relation to the Nikon D40. I have the D40 and have never been able to find a tutorial for a Nikon, most all tutorials I’ve found before are using Cannon cameras. I’m a very visual learner and the photos of the display screen helps understand what to look for. Your photos are beautiful and I’m excited to know more about my camera. I’ve posted a link to this tutorial on my blog and shared your website link with my readers!


Nomi September 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Hey Amanda – I just wanted to say a big thank you for this tutorial. I recently bought a DSLR camera and read this tutorial before going on vacation. I have taken so many photos on my trip and this post helped me SO much. Your blog is awesome and I absolutely love visiting to see if you have posted anything new.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!


Brandi September 22, 2011 at 8:10 pm

thanks so much for the tutorial (actually all of them are excellent). i would have no idea how to navigate my dslr out of manual mode (or maybe even in) without them!


Christen Allen September 24, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this! I have had my camera for a year and have had no idea how to use it or what anything meant. I know feel much better and confident I can take better picture.


Deise Harner October 1, 2011 at 10:37 am

Thank you so much! You really made it simple and easy to understand.


Lynn Weber October 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Kevin & Amanda,
I am almost 57 years old and I was introduced to your website by a former high school student whom I met at my work. I love FB. The first introduction was to your Oreo, Chocolate Chip, Brownie Bars. Mercy! Best thing ever! So I started checking out your webpage and fell in love with it! I haven’t seen it all but love what I have adventured into so far. I don’t even know who you two are but can’t wait to find out more. Anyway, just wanted to say thank you! This camera information was great can’t wait to apply some of it and I will difinitely be sharing this with others!!!


Emma Clark October 4, 2011 at 9:39 am

This is WONDERFUL! I’m only 19 years old and fairly new to the world of photography, though I’ve fallen in love with it. I have a Canon T1i that I got a little over a year ago (before that I played around with my Dad’s old 35mm film SLR!) and I love it and I take some beautiful pictures that I’m completely happy with, but I definitely need a little bit of work understanding and fine tuning the different features that my camera offers. This was so helpful! And plus, I just bought the 50mm f/1.8 lens, thanks to your recommendations! :) It’s great and I’m very happy with it. Again thank you so much!


P.S. **Shameless promotion** Check out the blog! It’s brand new and features my own photography, along with many other aspects of my artsy life, including dance, theater, travel, and food!


Beta October 8, 2011 at 8:19 am

Great tutorial, thanks for sharing!!! :)


Chayanne October 13, 2011 at 2:27 am

Hi Amanda,

Just posted a comment on your other page.. I’ve been reading and rereading your settings again and again because I can never get the combo connection AV TV… but having to refer to your page is awesome refresher always..

You mentioned you used AI-Servo.. was thinking maybe that would be useful if I take pics of my active . Where can I find AI-Servo for my D90?


Jessy (squeezetheday) October 16, 2011 at 6:04 am

Thank you so much for this post! It’s very well written! Although I do wish you mentioned white balance (that you mention when praising your lens), as I have no idea what to do about it, haha. I’ve had my DSLR (Canon EOS 1000D) for more than 2 years and I’m still shooting in automatic mode … sad, really! I’m very interested in photography, but I admit I haven’t practiced enough. Besides landscape photography and shooting people, food photography is my favourite, so I think I should get macro lens … But first I need to get to know my camera better!


Amanda Dawn October 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I have been scanning the internet for just such a post. I recieved a new DSLR Canon Rebel T3 for my birthday this year and was completely clueless on how to run it. Naturally, I signed up for an Adult-Ed course on Photography to learn but unfortunately more effort is put on editing in Photoshop Elements then actual camera knowledge and getting the shot right the first time. So this post was perfect and so easy to understand. Thanks again!
Amanda Dawn


Christophe October 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Thanx, very good blog.
Hugs from France.


Emilie Duncan October 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm

THANK YOU! This is perfect!!!


Liz October 29, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I have a Canon Rebel. Can you give me advice on what lenses and external flash to buy?


Ronda October 30, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Just read your article and just love it. It made everything come together as easy :)


Bree October 31, 2011 at 9:55 pm

You are the COOLEST PERSON I KNOW for putting this in a post!!! Thank you so much! Now the Cannon DSLR camer I got 2 mother’s days ago will actually fulfill it’s purpose!



Heather November 7, 2011 at 8:36 am

HI! I found your blog via Pinterest. :) This is so so so helpful! I recently got my first DSLR & hadn’t braved manual mode until I read this tutorial! I still have a long way to go but this post got me going in the right direction! :0) I featured a link to pin that led me here on my blog:


ggsbigfan November 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm

is there a PDF of this for printing I could locate?


Jessica November 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Flipping amazingly awesome/helpful tutorial. You guys own!! =)


Litsa Jackson November 12, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Thank you for these tips, Amanda! I’m looking for a new camera. Maybe for Christmas….so I’m really interested in getting the best camera for my specific needs. What can you tell me about the lens: 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Standard Zoom Lens? In comparison to your favorite: 24-70mm f/2.8?


Abhijeet November 12, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Hi Amanda,

Aperture = Operning on Lens!!
So it is more intutive to call High Aperture means more light and Low Aperture means Low Light. Just from the terminology point of view …

f = focal length (mm)
= fstop number
F = Aperture


But I really got your tutorial and the science behind photography … Thank you so much!!


Abhijeet November 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Oh my formula’s got HTML tags.

f = focal length (mm)
~num (like 1.8, 4, 8) = fstop number
F = Aperture


Angie November 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Thank you so much for putting that all out there. I actually just found a really good book that I have been reading and that I could understand but this is great!!!! I am really into photography and have just started up on my own doing photos on the side. This will be great!!


Jessica November 20, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you so much for posting this. I just recently bought a Canon DSLR and this will help me to understand more about my camera. THANKS A BUNCH


clydene November 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I will be back…often!


ChiWei November 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Thank you for a lovely tutorial. I can’t wait to go home and play with my camera!


Karen December 3, 2011 at 8:13 am

This is great! Thanks!


Raquel December 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

Thank you…


Samantha December 12, 2011 at 10:32 am

What a BLESSING you are! Thank you so much for sharing your know-how for us beginners. I don’t even have a camera and this made sense! Looking forward to getting started someday :) Can’t wait to see more from you guys!


Christine December 14, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Thank you so much! I had so many “ah ha” moments while reading this! Now I understand why some of my pictures turn out the way they do! Thank you again!


Jessica December 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm

this is just what i was looking for! thank you so much!


Jerry December 15, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Nice job, I don’t think I’ve seen a better more practical tutorial. Way to go.


Barbi Labb December 22, 2011 at 6:45 am

OMG I learned more from you than all the photography and “DUMMY” books…you broke it down setting by setting and giving examples (which for a visual learner helped me understand things so clearly)>>>THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES OVER for taking the time to educate on a level a layperson can understand and apply.


Lesly Lozano December 28, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Wowsers! This is a great tutorial for me and my new D5100 {eeek!}, very well put together and easy to understand! Thanks sooo much!


Erin Eberhart January 3, 2012 at 7:03 am

This tutorial has been wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to do this and breaking it down for K teachers like me to understand. ;-) Sometimes, even we need things in 5 year old terms. I am wanting to purchase a lens that allows for lower aperture. You were right, mine doesn’t go below 3.5. :( However, I was wondering if the lens link you attached from amazon would work for my camera? I have a Cannon Rebel T3. If not, where can I find one that would? I did some googling but some of the terms and abbreviations are still foreign to me. And before I buy, I want to be certain. Thank you, Erin


beth January 8, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Wow, finally after searching the internet, you finally made it make sense to me! I think I can play with these settings and really know what I am doing. I will re-read these over and over. You put it in such a simple way. I wish I had started here! I can’t wait to take my camera with me tomorrow and begin on a setting besides AUTO!


Shannon January 8, 2012 at 10:31 pm

THANK YOU!! This was by far the easiest to read and understand article on photography. I have been struggling with how to use my T2i and you have given me the info I needed to finally take it off Auto!


Barb January 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

This is such a easy to understand tutorial and exactly what I was looking for!!! Just found out about your site from Pinterest…thanks for the tutorial!!!


kelly January 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

I cant get the menu off my screen. I have to look through the eye hole to take pics??? any tips?


Nikki February 7, 2012 at 11:59 am

If you have a Canon the button just to the right of the eye hole of a camera should get the view on your screen. I don’t know where the option is for a Nikon or other brand of camera. I also know that if you do the view through your screen it drains your battery pretty substantially. Hope this helps.

Katie January 17, 2012 at 7:54 am

Thank you so very much! Just print and starting a photography “Help Me” notebook…XoXo


Jimmie Durant January 23, 2012 at 8:16 pm

thank you so much for this. i will try some of your settings ideas and see what happens. im trying to figure out how to get pics from camera to post on facebook. you have any ideas forward them on. thanks again.


Becky January 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Seriously…I love you. HA!!! THANK YOU! This has been UH-MAZING!


Lois February 4, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Wow! It really makes sense now – Thanks so much for explaining it with examples!


Fatima February 4, 2012 at 10:48 pm

This is a really great website and tips im so happy i found this thanks so much for sharing!!!


Nikki February 7, 2012 at 11:47 am

Holy moly! This was awesome! I have a Canon T2i and got the Canon DSLR book for Dummies and what you just described was way easier to understand than trying to find it in that book! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge it is greatly appreciated!


Monica Smith February 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm

You aree my hero!!! thanksssssssss so muchhhhhhh what a great way to teach us!! love itttt cant wait to go and practice!!!!


Nancy February 21, 2012 at 9:58 am

I was woundering what would be your suggestions for photographing high school basketball games I have a cannon rebel xt with a efs18-55 .28/.9tf


Kris February 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm

This has been the easiest to undertand tutorial I’ve seen yet. Thanks so much for putting things in easy to understand language.


Ashley Beolens February 25, 2012 at 2:34 am

Excellent article, if you ever feel like contributing something to my site please get in touch we are always after photographers who can write adding to our pages :)


Leilani Scholtz February 28, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Hello Amanda,

Can I say you are amazing! God Bless you…I arrived at your site looking at your FREE FONT downloads and got hooked. I LOVE your tutorials especially the Photo ones! Your Photos are very attractive! It really help me out…Your also very ORGANIZED! Your Scrapbook room is 2 DYE 4! Your story about your weight loss is very encouraging and helpful as I embark on those journeys all the time. Watching calories was never my thing and now is…

I’ve been looking at other blogs to reference my “Soon to be Blog…hopefully God’s gracious with my time :) I have three children (MY CANDIES) so they take up most of my time…

I just want to THANK YOU for your site. Your gracious to share your life with us and I certainly will be checking in every now and then.

God Bless,


Vicki February 29, 2012 at 12:52 am

Just found this post and it is so incredibly helpful. I am about to be new to SLR photography and I feel like I will be going into it with a small amount of confidence. Now to decide between the Canon Rebel T3i or the Nikon 5100 so I can buy it and get started. So excited to get going. Any advice on camera choice totally welcome.


Cooking on a Dime March 3, 2012 at 9:20 pm

You are the best! This is the best overview I have seen! Thank you.


Wendy March 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

Thank you so much for teaching this. I cant wait to put it into movement :)


Kelly March 7, 2012 at 8:21 am

Thank you so much for making this tutorial. I took a lot of photography in college, oh so many years ago now! But haven’t touch a SRL in years, until last month when my husband bought me one for my birthday. I’m so out of practice and forget the basics. This tutorial has helped me so much to better understand my camera and be able to take beautiful photos of my baby daughter. Thank you so much!


Tandy March 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm

thanks for all your great info…tutorials, fonts, recipes, etc.


mitch March 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm

k so I am a beginner and I have an Olympus DSlr and I was wondering what I am doing wrong. Every time I try to take pics indoors with pretty good natural lighting in manual mode, I follow the directions with the iso, ap. shutter speed and it’s still blurry to me? This keeps me in my auto mode cause I always end up getting nice clear pics that way? what am I doing wrong? I’ll take a pic…no its too grainy…no it’s to blurry…no it’s not bright enough…ahh auto…just right??????


Amy March 9, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I’ve read a lot of DSLR tutorials, and this is no doubt the best and easiest to understand that I have come across. Thank you so much!!


cortney March 11, 2012 at 3:48 am

thank you so much.. i have read other sites to help with understanding photography and never really got it down.. but coming to this site really worked for me thank you very much!


michelle March 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Hi! I just started a new permanent linky on my blog for photography tutorials. I added this one to my linky! If you have any other photography tutorials, please feel free to link them up!


Enid March 14, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Very nice post! I like that you dont use a bunch of complicated lingo…you just put everything out there in basic, clear form and did a great job! Wish I had this a few years back! :-)


margs March 15, 2012 at 8:01 am

wow! this tutorial is one of the easiest i’ve seen on the internet to understand! thanks so much!


Lindsay March 19, 2012 at 3:23 am

This is great! I have been trying understand Aperture and Shutter speed for so long…but it’s like parallel parking for me: if I think about it too hard, I can’t figure out how do it. You’ve explained how to use Av and Tv in a way where I feel comfortable adjusting them based on what I want to capture…without obsessing over numbers too much.



Olivia March 21, 2012 at 6:50 pm

What a great tutorial!!! I’ve posted it on all of my social networking sites… I think I’ve learned more here than I have in the three days I’ve spent searching the net for info on my new Canon D60. Thanks again for the great content! :) – Olivia -


lunaticg March 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm

I want to share this post for my readings later but look like they come with warning.

“Photography Tutorial: A Quick Guide to Understanding Your DSLR Camera Warning: file_get_contents( [function.file-get-contents]: failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.1 503 Service Unavailable in /home/kevinandamanda/ on line 761 via @kevinandamanda”

Just want to let you know.


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