Learning How to Shoot in Manual Mode

Learning How To Shoot In Manual Mode

Taking The Plunge

About 2 months ago I decided that I wanted to learn how to use my DSLR camera in manual mode vs. auto mode. I’m not financially able to enroll in any classes at the moment so I took it upon myself to scour the internet to figure out how to do this.

I was extremely nervous because I didn’t want to screw up this expensive piece of equipment that my family had gotten me for my birthday last year. The second that I turned that dial from the cute little pictures to the dreaded I became so overwhelmed and anxious that I took 1 picture and it was black so I immediately turned it back to the cute pictures and decided that I needed to learn a little more because I was going to ruin this camera.

I’m sure that if you’re here you’ve probably experienced the same type of situation! I wanted to put together a post with some of the resources that helped me figure out that dreaded M in hopes that it can help some of you too.

If this is your first time here and you’d like to follow me on my journey to learn photography you can check out this post!

How To Create Stunning Digital Photography

I searched Amazon for some beginner photography books and came across Tony Northrup’s How To Create Stunning Digital Photography in the Kindle edition. I was hesitant at first because it was $10, which isn’t much money but I’d never really read a book on my (sons) Kindle before, but it had a great rating and around 1,800 reviews that were nothing but good. I took the leap and made the purchase.

I am now one of those 1,800 who have nothing but positive things to say about this book. You can also buy a physical copy for $20 but I totally recommend the Kindle version because it comes with over 12 hours of video training as well! It’s really nice for people like me who are visual learners, I can read a chapter and then watch the video which essentially reinforces what I just read.

You don’t have a Kindle? That’s ok! Did you know that you can get a Kindle app on your iPhone? You can choose to have it sent to the app through Amazon. If you want to learn how to do this please leave me a comment or contact me through Facebook or Instagram and I will do my best to help you.

*If you choose to order a copy of this book from here I will get a small percentage of the purchase, however, I want to make it clear that I truly believe in this book and have not included it only because I can make money.

Click photo to order your copy!


After I searched on Amazon I went to Pinterest. This post from audryannphoto.com really helped me understand what each setting is and when to use them. She walks you through each setting and helps you understand why and when you want to use each one. She also gives examples of each, which is really helpful for me because as I said before I’m a pretty visual learner.

Learning How to Shoot in Manual Mode

Manual Mode Cheat Sheet

I created this image to help you remember what each setting is for and when to use them. I almost always start by setting my Aperture first, that way I can control what my background looks like. I like to shoot objects very close up so I typically use a low stop, that way I can achieve the blurry background.

I will change the Shutter Speed first if I’m shooting water or moving objects, like I was this week. I’ve yet to master getting the shutter speed correct when taking photos of my boys when they’re playing (not that I’ve mastered anything yet but still… lol). I’m going to be working on that this week!

I'd love to see your Manual Mode photos on Instagram with #mymessylittlepics Click To Tweet

Learning How to Shoot in Manual Mode



While I was searching I came across Photography Starter Kit Classes at CreativeLive. They have all kinds of different classes from beginner to advanced but obviously I’ve focused on the beginner courses. There are paid courses which give you lifetime access to the class, bonus content, both streaming and downloadable files which are available on your phone, tablet or computer and they also come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

There are also “On Air Now” classes that are free! There are all kinds of different classes each day. They usually run for a couple of days and then the classes get switched. It’s nice if you ever have some alone time and you’re able to watch for a long period of time.

This website is not just for photographers but for all types of creative outlets! I’ve only ever watched the photography courses though.
Learning How to Shoot in Manual Mode


I hope that this gives you a bit of a starting point to switch that dial from the cute little pictures to the dreaded (or not so dreaded anymore) M!

As always…I’d love to see your Manual Mode photos on Instagram with #mymessylittlepics

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