Newbie photographers probably always hear other experienced photographers rave on about how great manual mode is. Well, it really is great- and here’s what you need to know about shooting in manual mode.

Manual Mode: The basics

Firstly, manual mode allows you to have more control over your camera. You can fully control shutter speed, exposure and even manipulate the lighting of your environment. This allows you to take clearer pictures and you will notice a big difference in the quality of your work. In this post, we will be focusing on ISO, aperture and shutter speed. These settings make all the difference in the world when shooting. Here is a quick breakdown of what you need to know.


ISO basically means how sensitive your camera is to light. If you raise the ISO in a camera the pictures will have more light in them. This could also lead to your pictures having a grainier look, which isn’t always ideal. So be wary when adjusting this setting.


manual mode

Picture aperture f/5.6s

The term aperture means how much light gets into the opening of your camera. With aperture, you will be able to control what is focused and what is blurred in a shot.

Having a small aperture will keep the background of your picture in focus, which will result in a much darker photo. Technically speaking, this means that the picture will have more depth and will, for example, be set to f/14.

A wide aperture is the opposite of a small aperture. The background of the picture will be out of focus because it has less depth. Pictures taken in wide aperture are also a lot brighter and usually, are set to around f/1.8.

Shutter speed

The shutter speed simply refers to how long your camera shutter is open and exposes the camera to light.


The higher the shutter speed the less light is allowed into the camera; this results in a darker picture. Furthermore, if your shutter speed is lower, more light gets into the camera sensor and this produces more lighting.


Motion is used for when your subject moves around, for example, if you’re shooting a model that is dancing or jumping. In order to get the shot of the model while they’re jumping, you will have to bump up your shutter speed. This will give you a clear picture without any blurriness and the setting would be on 1/400

manual mode

This is an example of a motion picture; the person on the bike is completely blurred out.


If you’re someone who doesn’t have sturdy hands, you’ll know all too well about the struggle of taking clear pictures. Having shaky hands is easily visible in the pictures you take because it affects the quality. Here are 2 quick fixes to preventing future shaky, blurry pictures from ever happening again:

  1. Use a tripod- Once your camera is placed on the tripod, there literally is no shake. It’s sturdy and secure and you will be able to take better pictures.
  2. Increase shutter speed- Increasing the shutter speed isn’t only used for lighting purposes. It can be used to take a picture at a faster rate so that shaking isn’t captured.

Shooting like a pro

manual mode

Well, frankly speaking, the best way to master this will require you to try out different things. Practice a few different settings when you’re shooting. As you photograph different images you will slowly learn and notice what works and what doesn’t. This might take some time but the end results will be well worth it!

Try switching from manual mode to automatic mode to see the difference you get in pictures taken. This will allow you to technically differentiate each setting. Another great way to improve is by shooting different things such as objects, animals, and people. You will have a basic understanding of what settings to use for each subject.

The more mistakes you make along the way the more you will learn. Try to focus on each setting individually so that you have a simple understanding of what it’s all about. Once you feel confident enough, move on to the next setting. This will slowly allow you to improve your photography skills while teaching yourself the basics of shooting in manual mode.