How to Improve your Photography: Learning Your Camera

Reading Time Approx: 2 minutes

Over the course of this series of articles I hope to talk about lots of techniques and tricks to improve your photography skills. However, referring back to my first post, those skills won’t be of much use without practice.

Learning Your Camera

It would be nice if there was some sort of standard interface for cameras, and there are certainly common elements, but it seems that every manufacturer does things just a little bit differently. So the very first thing you need to do is something no one ever wants to do. You must… read the manual.

My Camera has buttons and dials on the front

As dull and tedious as that sounds, you will almost certainly learn some interesting features of your camera that you didn’t even know existed.

Now obviously you aren’t going to memorize every single function of your camera in one go so you want to focus on the basics first. In fact you don’t even need to know what they purpose of all these features is yet, just where to find them when you do eventually need them.

  • Where is the shutter button?
  • How do you adjust shutter speed?
  • Where are the ISO settings?
  • Can you set Shutter Priority Mode?
    • Usually marked with either TV or S on your camera
  • Can you set Aperture Priority Mode?
    • Marked as AV or A on your camera
  • Does it let you configure custom modes
  • Can your camera take bracketed shots?
And even more dials and buttons on the back

These are just a few of the potentially useful functions that your camera can perform. So study your camera manual. Read it multiple times and even more importantly follow the steps. Repeat them until you’ve built up some muscle memory.

I realize that this is about the least interesting thing that anyone could possibly think of doing and you’re just itching to actually take, you know, photos. But it is very important and by establishing a solid foundation like this you’ll be in a much better place to improve your photography skills.

Today’s Assignment Is…

Read and re-read your camera manual. Practice each function as you do so. Turn the actions you are reading into muscle memory so you can adjust the settings on your camera without having to think about it. You don’t even need to leave your chair to do this, you can’t keep practicing as you watch tv.


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