Photography Cheat Sheet: Manual Mode Camera Settings (Infographic)

April 10

4 min. to read

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This photography cheat sheet will give you good starting points for almost any photography technique in manual mode.

Have you always wondered how to blur or freeze motion, create a soft background for a portrait, and capture bokeh? Have you always wanted to take an incredible shot of the night sky or learn how to paint with light? Maybe you’ve wondered how to take that perfect golden hour, sunset, or sunrise photograph. Perhaps you’ve wondered what the perfect lens is for shooting landscapes and cityscapes, or what the proper settings are for food photography and concert photography.

With this Photography 101 cheat sheet, you can easily master all of these photography techniques. It’s important to remember that these exposure settings won’t work in all lighting conditions, but they’re a good jumping-off point. By learning the exposure triangle, you can easily adjust your settings in manual mode. If one variable changes, at least one other must change as well. Experimentation is such a fun way to learn photography. 

Let’s start by defining the three points of the exposure triangle. ISO measures the sensitivity of the camera sensor to light. The sensor doesn’t need a lot of light at a high ISO and needs a lot more at a low ISO. The aperture measures how wide the lens is open. Lower numbers mean a wider aperture; higher numbers mean a narrower aperture. The shutter speed is how fast the shutter opens and closes. A shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second is very fast, while a shutter speed of 1/15 of a second is much slower. You can always look at your light meter when adjusting these variables to determine the proper exposure.

Photography Cheat Sheet: Manual Mode Camera Settings (Infographic) Image1

Learning manual camera settings is one of the best ways to master different photography techniques. Once you understand the exposure triangle, you’ll never go back to automatic mode. This Photography 101 chart is designed to help you get on your feet and start shooting. Keep in mind that it’s only meant to guide you in the right direction; only practice will give you the results you desire.

Whether you’re looking to capture the beautiful blur of moving water or are interested in staying up late and shooting the stars, mastering the exposure triangle is the best way to learn photography. Try picking either aperture or shutter speed to start and see how one affects the other. Before you know it, you’ll have mastered many different photography techniques. The next time you’re interested in shooting landscapes or taking a beautiful portrait with a blurred background, refer to this photography cheat sheet.

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