• Alejandro Medina III

3 Things You NEED to Know to Run Your Camera on MANUAL. Shoot Like a Pro. It’s Easy.

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

Look automatic (or as my buddy Sam Crabtree calls it, “A plus mode”) isn’t the end of the world. At the end of the day it’s all about what you capture more than the way you do it. But I do think these 3 things are the cornerstones of operating any camera.

Learn these. These are you bread and butter. Literally 3 things. Don’t be lazy. Learn this.

Know what your exposure meter is and try to keep it at 0 or sometimes I go -.3 to -.7. I’ll share a link to a post on that soon.

Manual mode is a combo of these 3 things working together to get you the right exposure and artistic style. Exposure can be measured with exposure meter. Artistic style, well that’s up to you.

1. ISO

ISO is the first and easiest to remember. ISO is your cameras way of controlling the sensitivity to light on your sensor. High ISO will leave you a grainy image. Low ISO will leave you much more clear, not grainy footage.

I just leave it at 100 (that’s as low as my camera goes) then when I adjust other settings and still need more light bump it.

ISO at it’s lowest isn’t always right and grain isn’t bad but for my style i like really clear, crisp images and try to keep it as low as possible.


This part depends on your lens. Some cameras can go pretty low into the 1.2’s and such, others only go to about 4.0 and such. F-stop is how open the lens can get. The more open, the more light. The more closed, the less light. This will do two things, affect light and affect depth of field.

Ever see that perfect blurred background and think wow that’s cool! I’ll share an article more on just that soon. Basically, f stop affects style as well as light. Want to brighten up your images and blur the background a bit? use a lower f-stop.

More closed will leave less depth of field and be darker. Figure out what you prefer and move other settings accordingly to get exposure and style where you want it. Here’s an article just dedicated to aperture if you want to read more or come back to it!



Last but not least, your shutter speed will control how fast your shutter opens and closes. Open longer, means more light. Close faster, it doesn’t have as much time to let in light so it’ll be darker.

Pretty simple right?

I like to use quicker than 120 at least when shooting people. Just to be safe... you can shoot slower and be fine if they’re not moving but just depends on your situation.

Shooting concerts? Maybe try and have it at least 400 so drum sticks don’t look like they’re just completely blurry OR purposely slow it down so you can get the streaks of movement. It’s up to you.

Outdoor and sunny and there’s more light for your athletic photoshoot? Shoot high shutter speeds to capture the still movements and not have to bump your f stop way high and have a flat image. Or have flat images. It’s really up to you.

Shutter speed and all these other cornerstones are just tools. It’s your job to use them together to create your own style. Next you’ll just have to learn white color balance. I got you though.

If this was helpful make sure and share with your photography buddies.

See more of my work at @3rdlionphotography on Instagram or Facebook.

More photos, videos and music at www.3rdlionproductions.com.

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