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


Olga March 25, 2012 at 12:04 am

So glad I found you! I’m a proud owner of a Canon Rebel T3. I just got it and only have the EFS 18-55mm lens. My question is how to take action photos in dark settings without getting the blurred images. Recently went to a Hawaiian Luau and most of my pictures were blurred.



Peter June 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Hi, try:
- increasing your ISO (sensitivity to light) setting to allow a higher shutter speed
- use a flashgun (speed light) to add light
- use a larger aperture lens like the affordable 50mm 1.8 this captures far more light than the kit lens

hope this helps

Donna March 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I have needed a tutorial on the use of a camera. I just got one and I am trying to figure out the camera. Thank you!!


Amanda Stone March 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Thank you for this! It is very helpful. You “broke it down” in a way that this “newbie” understands. So glad I stumbled upon your blog via Pinterest. It’s my favorite!


thank you , nice tutorial !!!!!!!!! Nikon d 90 na eiste kala gia tis sumboules pou htan polu endiaferon March 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm

thank you , nice tutorial !! new Nikon d 90
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Cher@Mom and More April 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm

This is amazing! I can’t wait to try all of this when the kids go to bed!


Arie April 12, 2012 at 3:31 am


Love the tutorials! It’s a very basic SLR tutorials that I know by heart but still I find it very well done and a joy to read. Love the photos you used for illustration/examples as well.

Thank you!


Kimmy April 14, 2012 at 9:28 am

Thanks so much it finally “clicked” for me. I think I can finally figure out what I’m doing now.


sally @ sallys baking addiction April 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Amanda, I’ve read a lot of posts, blogs, books, and websites to better understand DSLR photo taking for my blog. FINALLY, i found something simple enough to understand since I am a beginner. I can’t thank you enough. I feel like i know it all now. Thank you so much for the photo examples as well.. SO very helpful. :)


Kylie April 19, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Thank you so much for posting this! I have always wanted to learn more about my camera, just never really had the time. This has helped me an incredible amount. I have a Nikon D90. It’s supposed to be hot and sunny tomorrow, so this has really inspired me to go outside and play with my camera!


Hadas April 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Thank you so much!! This is amazing, it’s probably the first website I have seen that gave a really quick overview of a dslr without going into confusing territory. I was wondering what Nikon you would recommend for a very beginner student?


Jessica Sideways April 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Thanks a heap Amanda! I’m taking a Digital Photography I course in the Fall and I’m picking out my DSLR (in case anyone’s curious, I’ve chosen the Sony Alpha A77 with it’s well-reviewed kit lens) and a couple of lenses (I’ve settled on one for telephoto, I’m thinking the Sony 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Compact Super Telephoto Lens) and I was curious about what that f/x number is… Your post helped me answer that and more. ^_^


Kalei April 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm

OK this is exactly what i needed I just got a canon SLR and I am starting a new cooking blog so this will help me tremendously ! Thank you soo much ! ;)


Kalei April 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm

OK this is exactly what i needed I just got a canon SLR and I am starting a new cooking blog so this will help me tremendously ! Thank you soo much ! :)


jojo April 25, 2012 at 11:37 am

canons aree really cool


Pam Petersen April 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

I just bought my first DSLR and I want to thank you so much for this easy to understand tutorial. Thank you for your time and sharing your expertise. You take amazing photos.


Vicky April 26, 2012 at 11:14 am

Great post. I just finished reading hte Understanding Exposure book and also found it incredibly helpful. I’ve been trying to improve my photos and am looking into purchasing a new lens (I currently have the 50mm prime and the 18-55 kit lens). I would LOVE to have the 24-70 but am afraid it’s out of my price range : /


Michelle April 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Amanda – Love this site! Because of you, I am determined to figure out my Rebel T1i camera (not just the auto features). I’ve been playing around a bit with Photoshop Elements 10, too. Lastly, that Tamron lens is now on my Amazon wish list! You have successfully triggered my new obsession!


Lee May 2, 2012 at 3:38 am

I can’t thank you enough for such a meaty blog here. I learned a lot. Took note a lot. And would love to read more a lot from you. Thank you so much..


Nicole May 2, 2012 at 9:41 am

Thank you so much, easy to understand!


SHIRLEY May 3, 2012 at 7:39 am



Marla Sonsel May 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Thank you for this! I have been working with aperture for a couple of days & couldn’t figure out why all of my pictures were overexposed. It turns out I needed to adjust my exposure compensation. THANK YOU!!!


Christa May 5, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Thanks for this! I’m relatively new to photography and blogging. Will refer back to this time and again, I’m sure.


Tonie May 10, 2012 at 7:12 am

Thank you very much, for taking your time to share these great tips. God bless you!


Regina May 10, 2012 at 7:17 am

Thank, thank you so much. I’ve got a Canon for Christmas, and I’m still so nervous to use it.
I can’t wait for tomorrow (I don’t work on Fridays) to start follow practicing this tutorial.
Thank you again so much :)


Shannon T May 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Thank you soooo much!!!!


misty May 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Love these helpful tips…. the most helpful and easiest to understand!!!!!!!


Catherine May 25, 2012 at 9:18 am

Thanks for this!
I’ve spent a year poking around websites and photography books, and this is, hands down, the most useful information I’ve seen yet. Very well presented, and a great combination of theory and practical tips about what works for you.


Beckie Hall May 28, 2012 at 8:41 pm

You guys are so amazingly generous. Thank you so much for taking the time to write these tutorials. I can’t believe how much I just learned. I made note cards that I plan to keep with me. Thank you so much!


Robert Korn May 28, 2012 at 11:43 pm

Nice beginner tutorial, my only beef is with some of your terminology. Since aperture describes the size of the opening allowing light to pass through the lens it is not HIGH or LOW, it is referred to as LARGE or SMALL

LARGE aperture is a large opening or smaller F number, where a SMALL aperture is a smaller opening or larger F number.


Pam May 29, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I just wanted to thank you for this tutorial. (I get that Large aperture is a smaller F#, and a small aperture is a larger F#) But I have to tell you. I paid for a class where I didn’t learn as much as I have with your tutorials.

Thank you for taking your time to share your knowledge. It has helped me immensely, especially since my daughter just graduated high school last Thursday. I got some wonderful pictures, thanks to you!!! I am in your debt!


Angie June 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I am new to the DSLR world and honestly couldn’t be happier! I have the Canon Rebel T3, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!! I couldn’t help but comment when I read your paragraph about your 50mm lens. This was the first lens I purchased (roughly 2 months after receiving the camera for Christmas) I read the reviews on Best regarding it and after a friend said she wanted a 50mm, I knew I needed one as well……..I LOVE this lens!! I am such a fan of blurred back grounds and such, and all my lenses have helped me learn in so many ways! I have the 18-55mm that comes with the camera, the 75-300mm and the 50mm, they are all FANTASTIC lenses and I LOVE them all! My next will be a fish eye lens, but until then I am having soooo much fun with the ones I have!

And your blog about understanding your DSLR is amazing! I have bookmarked it so I can refer back to it often!


Diana June 9, 2012 at 10:38 am

Thank you sooo much for this!! I just got a new Nikon p510 and was totally clueless about how to use everything! This is a huge help!!


Emily June 9, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Great tutorial! Thank you for including Nikon.


Susan Leda June 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Thank you so much. This blog really helped me analyze what I was doing wrong while shooting! Thank you! You have an eloquent way of ‘breaking the issue down Barney style’. ; )


Faune June 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Thank you for posting this tutorial, very helpful. I am in the midst of camera shopping and would love to know why you chose Canon over Nikon if you don’t mind.


Aussie Girl June 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Thanks so much! A great read! I found your blog tonight and I’ve been loving it!


Noelle June 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Just found this post on Pinterest and I’m so glad I did! Thank you for the easy to understand tutorial, just got my first DSLR camera last week, can’t wait to play with it! :-)


Alex June 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Thank you thank you very much until I read this tutorial I’ve been intimidated by my new Nikon D3000 now Im extremely excited to go out and take some pics!


of July 5, 2012 at 9:15 am

Nice “dslr 101″ article. I would add a brief paragraph on the Composition & Rule of Thirds. Although composition is not specific to DSLR, it is a very useful concept for beginners.


Vicki July 6, 2012 at 10:51 am

Thank you so much for posting up these DSLR tidbits! It was much more interesting to read your post(and see illustration) than the manual (:


Caroline July 14, 2012 at 7:30 am

This was really, really helpful. Have been reading a lot of beginner’s guides to DSLRs and a lot were really useless. This summed up really good basic info to get me started on my Canon 600D. Thank you!


Jennie July 21, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Thanks for the information. My hubby just bought me a Canon Rebel, and I am learning slowly. You put it in terms that make sense to me. Your pictures on your website are beautiful! Thanks again!!


Ajay July 22, 2012 at 12:47 am

it really help me to take some exciting snaps


Sue July 26, 2012 at 9:31 am

This was an awesome and thorough tutorial for beginners like myself! It was really easy to understand. Thanks!!!


Chelsea August 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

This is well written. I just got a DSLR a few days ago and have read a lot of photography “quick guides” in the past couple of days and this one made the most sense as I read it. Thank you!

P.S. WAR EAGLE! (I’m a current Auburn student)


Sean August 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Hi Amanda! Thanks so much for this tutorial, I think I have a little understanding as to how dslrs work now. I just got the entry-level Nikon D3100 for my birthday, along with 5 of my grandfathers old lenses so this is a lifesaver. (I had an epiphany every very few sentences That I read from your guide haha)


Karen August 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm

You rock!! Your tutorial was so unbelievably helpful -THANK YOU!

Now, my biggest struggle right now is how to make my pictures look good like this:

What camera settings and photo shop settings were used in the photos, can you tell?



(Mostly) Happy Homemaker September 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Thank you so much! I just found your blog and you are adorable! You are so kind to take the time to share about all of my favorite topics! Photography, food, blogging, etc. Many thanks!!


(Mostly) Happy Homemaker September 1, 2012 at 10:23 pm

P.s. I have the Canon 7D and Photoshop, too, so keep the tutorials coming! Thank you!

sir jorge September 3, 2012 at 9:57 pm

this post makes me want to purchase a new camera


Alex September 5, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I got an amazing Canon for Christmas and I have spent tons of time practicing with it but really needed some good teaching on it! This was perfect for a beginner & it didn’t cost me $600 to take the class :)
God Bless,


Dan September 7, 2012 at 3:49 am

Thank you very much!!! this is very helpful and clear to understand with examples… I am a beginner but I got a canon from my sis cz I need to take photos for a university project and it’s crucial for me to have high quality photos… Thank you so much


Lori September 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Amanda, this is such a wonderful tutorial! I had pinned it long ago and finally got a beautiful DSLR and read this last night and again today – I took UBER detailed notes – this was absolutely WONDERFUL you explained everything so well and with such detail THANK YOU! HOpe you have more photo tutorials already or in the near future!!!


Paeden September 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I know with all of these comments, it must have been said time and time again, but thank for this. :D A couple weeks ago, my mom passed down her Nikon D40x to me since she barely used it, and I went from just messing around with it, to actually taking really nice pictures of our pets.

Thanks again! \/ (^3^)


Keisha walker September 16, 2012 at 7:10 am

This is Awesome! I’m so ready to try these tips! After my attempt to try & figure out things on my own (see my post on my blog… It’s a hoot) a friend suggested your site to mE. I’m so glad that she did! Thanks for sharing these great tips!


Nomadic Samuel September 16, 2012 at 8:28 am

This is a wonderful overview! So many just take shots in auto but a whole world of creativity is available when you understand your dslr.


betsy September 19, 2012 at 10:54 am

thankyou sooooooo much!!!! thankyou for putting it so simply! i don’t like to read instruction manuals because they are so complicated. this is a lifesaver!!


The islander September 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

what happens if my picture is to dark i know what i have to change, if you changed RAW would it help?


Jzin September 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Thank you so much for this beautiful and simple tutorial. I went ahead and bought BOTH the book AND the 50mm f/1.8 lens you recommended. Can’t wait to show the world some awesome photos on my blog!!!! CastleofCostaMesa.Com


Susan September 27, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Wow Thank You so much for this lesson. I really did not know anything about my camera and this was just amazing. I have learned so much. thank you again..


Amanda October 5, 2012 at 12:07 am

This was awesome! Thank you so much! We got a Cannon as a gift before my son was born and I’m still trying to figure it all out! This was a huge help and I can’t wait to play with the camera now after reading this! Here’s to capturing some great pictures! Thanks!


Claudia October 8, 2012 at 11:33 pm

I don’t own a slr, I’m the proud owner of a canon sx40 hs (point and shoot) but your post helped me a lot too! I don’t even know the difference among dslr, slr and bridge cameras. But thanks for explaining everything so well .


ashlynn spence October 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm

I was wondering if there’s such a thing as a little cheat sheet where people could bring a little booklet out to a photoshoot… and if you forget setting.. people can just glance in their book…help!


Betty October 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Hi Kevin and Amanda,
Thank you for your great tutorial. I have a Nikon and when I took pictures using A or S modes, all the pictures turned very dark. i can’t even make out what the images are no matter what the #’s are on A or S are. Help!


FrugalPatti October 13, 2012 at 8:12 am

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I now have the confidence to move away from the manual mode on my DSLR! Thanks!


Amanda October 15, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Thanks so much for this great tutorial. Very informative and concise enough that I can print it out and use it as a cheat sheet in my camera bag!


Heather October 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Thank you so much, you did a great tutorial that was easy to understand and follow that wasn’t filled with technical terms. I loved how you included pictures with each example so we can see what the result is when you change the settings. Fantastic job I re-pinned it and forwarded it to my friends too.


Ivette October 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Thank god for this guide! I had been looking for exactly this for a while. Seriously, I appreciate the time it took you to write this.


Lynne Knowlton October 22, 2012 at 11:01 am

Excellent tutorial !!!! Thank you thank you thank you ! I can’t wait to give it a try. I have been trying to take photos in our treehouse & because it is dark in there (all those trees !!), I have had NO LUCK. You saved me ! Thanks so much ! Cheers for that !
Lynne xx


marina October 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I’m definitely going to try this. Thanks for sharing!


Mohit October 23, 2012 at 7:43 am

THANK YOU SO MUCH for putting up such a helpful article. I have understood a lot from this and would definitely use the tips to capture some better pictures..:)


Girish.M November 1, 2012 at 9:39 am

Dear Author .. THANK YOU SO MUCH .. but i just struggled for days together go through all manual and experiment and understand these concepts 60% but your post gave a 100% feel of these basics in just ten mins .. Amazing .. thanks for sharing your knowledge in mostly importantly simple terms ..


Luong November 5, 2012 at 10:32 pm

OMG…I’m so glad I found this tutorial. I just got my T2i; first DSLR. It’s still in the box because I’m too scare to take it out. Anyway, the tutorial is easy enough to follow. I’ll give it a shot this weekend – well, more than one. Thanks you so much.


Tiffany S November 8, 2012 at 6:47 am

can you share with us what your camera menu settings are set to? I shoot a 7D as well, and I am just curious what you have chosen to use in the menu. Love your site!


Roberta November 14, 2012 at 11:29 am

I love this post. It has taught me so much more since i started using my camera a year ago. I took photography classes in High 6 years ago and forgot all this and had to re teach myself but this has def help and I plan on printing it out and putting it in my New Camera bag this year come Christmas. In my bag is my Canon Digital Rebel XTi EOS i love it. Along with my EFS 18-55mm lens. Along with that is my 58mm hard tulip lens hood, 58mm 3 piece filter kit , Fotodiox Canon EOS marco ext. tube set kit. Oh and my brand new bag Case Crown Digital SLR :)


Jihun November 18, 2012 at 8:37 am

Thank you for this great tutorial!


Paul November 19, 2012 at 11:13 am

THANK YOU so much for this tutorial! It’s incredibly helpful!


Sinea Pies November 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Thank you SO much for this tutorial. I have a very nice Nikkon camera that I barely know how to use. My husband bought it so that I could take high speed photos of our dogs and I haven’t known how to do it. Now I have hope that I can figure this out! :)


Lindsay November 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Thank you so much for writing this!!! I have had my Nikon D5100 for a year now and I haven’t tried The M mode yet cause its all been to confusing for me until I read your blog!! I just ordered back drops and I’m going to use the M mode to take my kids pictures for Christmas


TJ Conwell November 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I just purchased the Canon EOS Rebel T3 and I’ll admit it … I’m a MAJOR n00b at this. Thanks for taking the time to post this article … it was very well written (and very easy to follow)!


Kumar December 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Thank you for spending in preparing this tutorial. It is very very helpful for beginners like me.


Andrea December 17, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I’ve tried to read tutorials over and over and none of them have made sense, until now. Thank you!


Karena December 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Thank u the book is so confusing and this was Awsome !! I hope everyone is having as much fun as I am and enjoying great pictures !!


Diane December 30, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Your information on how to use a camera was very helpful to me. Do you know anything about a Sony AX55 ? I purchased one last year. I am older, and wondering if this is too much for me! I love photography! I always play with a camera! Had friends on either the Cannon side or the Nikon, and the dealer talked me into a Sony! Did I make a mistake?


Jennifer January 2, 2013 at 8:10 pm

I been reading the helpful hints on taking pictures in Manual mode. I just purchased a 50mm 1.8 lense. I just tried taking a picture of an earring as you show in your demonstration. I seem not to get the one earring in focus can you tell me what I am doing wrong. I used the same settings that were used.


Tracy January 4, 2013 at 4:10 am

Great tutorial I have a EOS and always use auto, I’ve just tried using your settings and whamo perfect pics. THANKYOU so much. Sydney Australia


Kaat January 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Thank you! Just what I need.


Ralph Marcuss January 20, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Thank you for this wonderful post! It helps me to understand better my Nikon Camera! Keep Sharing!


Jo January 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I could hug you right now. Thank you so much for this tutorial, beautifully written,well explained and just what I needed!! Thank you, thank you, thankyou :0)


Kathi January 24, 2013 at 9:08 pm

What fun!! I committed to taking a photography class at the beginning of the year and then found you on Pinterest! Your 30 Photography Tutorials are now my weekly class that I soooo look forward to! Thanks…off to practice what I just learned!



michael aco January 30, 2013 at 1:16 am

YES!., i’m so glad to found YOU on this tutorial, your the best and I sharply apply your tutorial if ever i have my own camera., thanks a lot.


Nuza January 30, 2013 at 11:14 am

Thank you so much. I have been trying to understand my camera for a long time now. But I simply never find anyone that actually explains it simle, until now! So thank you very much! This was so helpful! xx


Leah February 1, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Wow! I’m a beginner photographer and have read tons of tutorials, but yours has been by far the best. Not only is it very informative, but it’s super easy to read and understand. Thank you so much! :)


Jen February 8, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! This is by far the best tutorial I’ve seen. I got my first “big girl” camera – a Canon T3 with the 18-55mm kit lens – for Christmas and have been a little overwhelmed. I had just given up and have been shooting in Auto mode. This explains everything so well without being to “techy”.

Thanks again!!


Gianna February 11, 2013 at 11:40 am

I’m intereseted in purchasing the Canon 55mm f/1.8 lens, but I have a Nikon. This may be a really dumb question, but are the lenses interchangeable? Or, do I need to purchase a Nikon lens? If so can you provide the Amazon link for the Nikon version of this lens. I already went to your Amazon store and didn’t see it. Thanks so much. Your tuturiols are always the best. You make everthing so easy to understand!


Mel February 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Your are a photography hero. You have rescued my photos from the hands of this photography newbie. My kids will have heads, un-blurry bodies. their memories will be saved from blacked out faces, red eyes:) hehehe
Thank you for breaking it down and making it simple, making it fun. And even encourage me to try, discover and play around with my new camera. Your awesome


Bethany February 17, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Oh my gosh – I’ve had my new Canon T4i for a month. It’s my first DSLR and I have been SO frustrated trying to learn how to use it. This article started helping everything click! Thank you for posting! I’ll be stalking the rest of your site now, thanks. :)


Kerri Gates February 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I just read your tutorial . Thank you I


Jenna February 20, 2013 at 7:14 am

This is such a great post, thank you for simplifying!! Will the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens you have in your amazon store fit on the Canon EOS T4i? And is it about the same as the stock 18-55mm lens that comes with the T4i? The reviews on this lens are awesome and for the price, I don’t think I can pass it up! But I was curious on how similar the two are and if it would be beneficial to purchase the 50mm. Thanks!


Ray February 21, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I am really lucky to have found this within a month of buying my first DSLR (actually a SLT in my case–Sony A57 with the 18-55 and 55-200 kit lenses). My wife, family, and I have loved my pictures so far (blindly using aperture mode), but with this tutorial, I am positive that I can take my pictures to another level. I am going to keep this tutorial in my camera bag for a quick reference. Like everyone else has said, THANK YOU. This tutorial should be issued with every first time purchase of a DSLR.


Profesor Yeow February 24, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Great tutorial! I bought a Canon T3i and I love it (and I make little review of it ) but your tutorial is very simple for people who don’t understand all the world of DSRL. Well Done! And thanks for share.


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