Understanding Your DSLR Settings – NO Thinking Allowed

The best photography advice I ever read or hear. Know your gear intuitively. Understand the exposure pyramid fluently. If you are consciously thinking of your settings you're not there. A sushi chef does not think how to cut the fish. He looks it over and his hands go to work. The brain is not much…

The best photography advice I ever read or hear.

Know your gear intuitively. Understand the exposure pyramid fluently. If you are consciously thinking of your settings you're not there. A sushi chef does not think how to cut the fish. He looks it over and his hands go to work. The brain is not much involved in the process. His mind is considering all the presentation possibilities. The creative aspects of the dish, not the mechanics. The same can be said for the creative photographic process. If your mind is busy thinking of all the mechanics of taking the image, chances are good that you will not have the “time” to be as creative as you might otherwise be. As with most things the key to fast learning is having an interest in the subject.

Try to dedicate at least 10 minutes everyday to put the camera into your hands. Make sure you are on a setting other than GREEN automatic of course. First and foremost, get a basic understanding of the Exposure pyramid. It's really not as complex as you might assume. Aperture, ISO, Shutter speed. It's actually quite a lot of fun to play around with all the variables once you understand the basics.

1. Read the manual. I know this is not fun … but actually, it kinda is. Try it!

2. Visual learner? Hit YouTube. There are LOADS of videos on your new camera I'm certain. Surely you will learn all kinds of new stuff about your new gear there.

3. Pick up a book that specifically your new camera. I own these two for my bodies.

  • David Busch's Nikon D800
  • David Busch's Nikon D4

4. After you have a good grasp of how your camera operates get out and shoot.

5. Assign yourself some basic assignments. Create a list of photography projects that you have a specific interest in. Make sure you set a time frame and limit as well. Set deadlines. I have no idea why, but it makes all the difference.

6. Join and participate in photography forums and especially ones that will offer member feedback and critiques. Get some think skin, and take the harsh comments for what they are.

7. Submit your best work to photography contests. You can literally do this everyday and not run out of contests to submit to.

8. Ask friends and family to let you give them a “professional” photo session. Take them out to a local, scenic location, preferably in late afternoon.

Stop by our blog to read our super short but helpful daily blog and archives of DSLR photography tips, tricks and lessons learned from a professional wedding and event photographer. I literally blog from my iPhone. Ensures I keep it short and sweet. Are you a Pro? Great! You'll still get some useful and applicable nuggets. Promise!