Did you get a camera over the holidays that you’re so excited to use and aren’t sure where to start? You've un wrapped the box and tried your best to read through the manual. But you still have some questions. Here are the 3 things that took me way to long to master starting out. Hopefully this is a shortcut for you to go out and rock your next photoshoot!

When I started automode was the best! (Automode where the camera decides what settings are supposed to be.) With any new toy its a great way to learn where the buttons are and get comfortable making it work. Very quickly into my photography journey I learned that if I wanted to get better at taking pictures I was going to have to learn to shoot in manual mode ( where I told the camera what to do). So that I could be the boss and not the camera. ;)

Here are 3 of the main features that I needed to learn before I could shoot in manual mode.

Shutter: This is the speed of the picture being taken. The faster the shutter the faster a subject can be in your pictures. Shutter also helps to balance light (and not make things to bright or dark). If you’re in a dark room you will need low shutter speeds (and a steady hand or tripod) or if you’re outside on a sunny day than faster shutter speeds are whats right for you. If you aren't ready for manual mode but want to set a specific shutter speed and then have the camera take care of the rest (this is great for action shots and busy little kids) try the TV mode. 

ISO: This mainly has to do with how light or dark an image will be. Originally this was set by what kind of film you would put in your camera. Now with digital cameras they’ve made this a feature just a click of a button. A high ISO is needed in specific settings like a wedding when you’re in a big church without a lot of light. A low ISO would be better when you’re outside and there is sunshine. 

Aperature: This mainly has to do with how blurry or focused your background is. This was one of my biggest trouble point. In the camera the aperture is controlled by F-stops. A low F-stop means blurrier backgrounds. This is great for portraits when you jut want to focus on the subject and let the background be there to compliment (usually 5 or bellow is good). High f-stops mean more will be in focus. This is perfect for pictures of a landscape. So if you want to see a whole mountain scene aim for higher numbers (8 on up). An added bonus to aperture is the lower your f-stop the more light there is in a picture. (Then you can also have faster shutter speeds.) The higher your f-stop the darker your picture will end up being and then you will need slower shutter speed. If you are looking for a happy middle you can also raise your ISO as well. Ready to try practicing your Aperature? You can use the AP (aperture priority).

My best advice would be this: If you're ready to try out manual mode but don't know where to start chose one of these three settings on the camera to play with. Set both of the other settings to something specific then "practice" raising and lowering one setting.

Hope this is as helpful to you as it has been to me over the years!

Happy Picture Taking!!