Use Your DSLR Camera Like a Pro with Full Manual Mode
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Use Your DSLR Camera Like a Pro with Full Manual Mode

We make it easier to start taking stunning pictures with your camera! The perfect Beginner's Guide to awesome pictures.
3.5 (1 rating)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
2 students enrolled
Created by Bethany Sell
Last updated 9/2016
Current price: $10 Original price: $20 Discount: 50% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 37 mins on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Take stunning pictures with your camera using manual mode
  • Take better photos indoors without harsh flash or grainy images
  • Get those clean white images indoors instead of yellow toned images
  • Have a clear focus on your subject instead of the background or motion blur
  • Feel comfortable enough with your camera to get professional pictures in any lighting situation!
View Curriculum
  • You don't need to know anything about your camera before you begin, we make it easy!
  • You don't even need to own a camera yet, we have a full section that will help you decide which camera would be best for your situation
  • If you have your camera, keeping it with you during the course will help you do the excersises to get you comfortable changing the settings without having to think about it!

Still shooting in Auto? This is the video for you!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about taking your camera off auto and learning how to change all the different settings your camera has to offer, you’ll love this step-by-step guide to learning how to use your camera to its full potential, with interactive assignments to get you out there to get some hands on practice after every topic.

In just 40 minutes you'll learn How To:

  • Get your subjects clearly focused and brightly lit
  • Capture that beautiful background blur
  • Avoid the dull cloudy day colors
  • Say goodbye to yellowish images indoors
  • Take awesome pictures in difficult lighting
  • Use harsh sunlight to your advantage, get amazing sun flare
  • Capture the ambiance in dimly-lit rooms & weddings!
  • Control motion blur and avoid grainy images in low-lighting
  • Use flash in the most natural way possible
  • Stop deer-in-the-headlights or harsh shadows from flash
  • Easily determine which lenses you'll love!

Course Sections Include:

  • How to control the light coming into your camera with Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO 
  • Camera Modes: When you might use the different modes on your camera (ie. Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority)
  • White Balance: How it affects your picture, when to use each setting, and how to create a custom white balance
  • Raw vs. Jpg: What's the difference, and how to have more control over your editing while maintaining quality
  • Lenses: Learn how to understand lenses and which kind of lens you’ll need
  • Flash: Learn how to use a mounted external flash to control and diffuse light
  • Taking Photos Outdoors & Indoors: Tips and tricks to get the best photos both outside and inside
  • Common Photography Equipment: Learn about memory cards, batteries, lens filters and more
Who is the target audience?
  • This course is perfect for anyone who just bought a new DSLR camera and has felt overwhelmed about learning how to use all the different settings
  • If you're still throwing your camera into automatic mode because it's easier, this course will help you get comfortable enough to use Manual mode every time and the difference in your images will astound you!
  • Still deciding which DSLR camera to buy? This course has an entire section to help you decide which camera is best for your needs
  • If you've learned the basics of shutter, f-stop, and ISO, this will teach you which settings to use in any lighting situation to get the most professional and amazing results!
  • If you're not sure what white balance is, or how to capture the motion of a waterfall, this course goes beyond the settings with tips and tricks for different styles of photography
  • Works with any brand of camera that has the option of using Manual Mode (the M on your camera dial!)
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Curriculum For This Course
14 Lectures 36:31
Hi! I'm Bethany, and this is a quick introduction video that goes over:

  • Why should you learn to use your camera in Manual Mode 


  • How the camera's automatic mode works much like a cell phone (not why you bought a nice camera, right??)

So let's grab your Camera and User Guide that came with it and start using your camera to it's full potential!!

Preview 02:21

There are three settings you’ll need to learn about to control the light getting into your camera: 

  • shutter speed
  • aperture (also called f-stop)
  • and ISO (or light sensitivity)

Each of these has a different effect on your picture, and we’ll go over the pros and cons of letting in more light with each one.

Your shutter speed refers to how long the shutter is left open to let in light when you capture your picture. 

Longer shutter is open = more light, more blur

  • At a fast shutter speed like 1/6400 of a second, your camera freezes the motion of a moving subject.  
  • At a slower speed, the camera captures the full motion of whatever passes through your frame during that time, giving you a motion blur effect. 

Remember: When you’re shooting indoors with low lighting, make sure you have your shutter speed fast enough to freeze the motion to keep out unwanted motion blur.

Now let’s get out there and put this into practice!  For this first assignment we’re going to switch your camera to Manual mode, which is usually indicated with an M on your camera dial.  We’ll go into more detail about the different camera modes in a minute, but for now we’re going to practice taking pictures of a moving subject at different shutter speeds.  Now you’ll notice the picture getting brighter and darker at different shutter speeds, but don’t worry about the exposure just yet.

So go ahead and turn on the water on your kitchen faucet or find some other moving subject, and take a few different pictures at slower and faster shutter speeds.

Preview 04:28

Remember shutter is only one of the three settings that changes how much light you’re getting in your picture.  The second way to control the light getting into your camera is with the aperture

Your camera’s aperture, (measured in f-stops) is the term for how wide the opening of your lens is. 

  • At a low number like 2.8, the aperture of your lens is wide open, letting in more light.  
  • A higher f-stop number like 22 means the opening of your lens is smaller, letting in less light. 

In the same way your shutter speed affects the motion blur of your picture, changing your f-stop affects your depth of field.  Your depth of field can best be understood as different distances from your camera, and how much of them you want in focus.

  • Higher f-stop = more of your picture in focus, 
  • Lower f-stop = less of your picture in focus.

Higher f-stops should be used when you’re shooting things like family portraits because people are standing or sitting at different focal lengths and you want to have them all in focus.  

But if you’re going for that creamy, blurred background look that’s popular in modern photography you’ll want to use a lower f-stop. This blurred background is referred to as bokeh, and is accomplished by having an f-stop around 2.8 or lower so that only a small point in your depth of field is in focus.

Your next assignment is to assemble a few household objects and practice changing your f-stop to get more or less of them in focus.  Get one picture with all of the objects in focus and one with only one of them in focus.  We’ll talk about getting a perfect focus in a minute, so for now don’t worry about where your camera is focusing.  So go ahead get familiar with changing that depth of field!

Preview 02:51

The third component you’ll use to change your exposure is ISO.  This basically determines how sensitive the camera is to the light you’re letting in.  

  • Higher ISO = more sensitive to light, more grain
  • Lower ISO = less sensitive to light, less grain

While raising your ISO higher gives you a brighter image (most useful indoors), the downside is that it creates more grain or noise in an image.  

When outdoors in broad daylight, you can generally keep your ISO as low as possible for your exposure.  As a rule of thumb, you can usually leave it at ISO 100 whenever you’re shooting in broad daylight.

So let’s recap the three components to controlling your exposure: 

  • Shutter speed (how long the shutter is open)
  • Aperture (how wide the lens is opening)
  • ISO (how sensitive your camera is to the light you’re letting in)  

Any of these three can be used to let in more or less light, so remember how each setting is affecting your picture and when to use them to your advantage.

Preview 01:25

Let’s talk about the different modes your camera has and how much control you’ll actually have over your picture in each mode.

  • Automatic -The easiest and most basic mode, your camera chooses f-stop, shutter and ISO for you, automatically focuses for you, flash will fire automatically 
  • Aperture-priority (AV) - You choose the f-stop and the camera will choose the shutter speed to go with it.  ou can also change the ISO, and you’ll be able to use the focusing dots to focus your image.
  • Shutter priority (TV) - You choose the shutter speed, and the camera will choose the f-stop to go with it. You can also change the ISO, and you’ll be able to use the focusing dots to focus your image.

You’ll find that shooting in these modes is pretty restrictive and can cause several problems in low-lighting conditions. 

The only mode in which you can have full control over your picture is Manual Mode.

Manual Mode - Usually indicated on your camera’s dial with the letter M.  You can change your f-stop, shutter and ISO to any number you want.  Allows you to setup your exposure once for one setting so you can keep a consistent exposure.

Shooting in full manual may seem daunting at first but after a while it will become second nature.  The best way to learn full Manual is to get out there and practice, practice, practice. 

Your next assignment is to grab your camera and take a picture in Manual mode where you adjust the f-stop, shutter, and ISO for the best exposure possible.  Take a picture both inside and outside.  

Lesson 4 - Your Camera's Shooting Modes: AV, TV, Auto and Manual

Now that you’re familiar with controlling your f-stop, shutter speed, and ISO in manual mode, let’s talk about white balance. 

White balance affects the color cast in your picture. 

  • Shooting in the shade or cloudy day, your pictures are all going to have a blue cast to them.  
  • Shooting indoors, your pictures are all going to have a yellow cast to them 

Your camera's white balance settings correspond to the type of light you’re shooting in, for example: 

  • sunlight
  • shade
  • cloudy day
  • incandescent 

There is also an option for Auto white balance, but it’s similar to shooting in auto mode in that different colors in the room can throw off its measurement, so you can end up with several different white balances from a shoot.  

If none of the settings are looking quite right, you can create a custom white balance that’s specific to the setting you’re shooting in by taking a picture of something white that fills up the entire frame.  It may be useful to bring a white card along with your gear for this purpose.

Your next assignment is to grab your camera and practice taking the same picture with different white balances.  Then take a picture of a white card and take the same picture with a custom white balance based on that card. 

Lesson 5 - Getting the Best White Balance

Now, after everything we’ve learned, if your exposure or white balance isn’t perfect, you can easily adjust nearly everything about your picture with editing software if you shoot in RAW. 


A RAW file stores much more of the picture’s information than a JPG file, which allows you to dramatically change the picture even after it’s been captured.  When you’re camera shoots in JPG, on the other hand, it will compress the image before it even gets written to the card, making it much more difficult to make changes after it’s been captured. 

The only downside is that RAW files are much larger, so you will need bigger memory cards if you’re shooting in RAW.

Using a RAW editing program like Adobe Camera RAW or Lightroom, you’ll be able to change several things after the picture is taken: 

  • white balance
  • exposure 
  • highlights & shadows
  • vibrance
  • sharpness 
  • and much more!

These changes can also be applied to a whole batch of images at once to save tons of time in your editing.  Assignment: Find out where you change from JPG to RAW on your specific camera model.

Lesson 6 - Shooting in RAW for Easier Professional Edits

Getting to Know Your Lens

There is a huge selection of lenses out there from several different manufacturers, but let’s go over the basic terminology you’ll see to classify them.   

Millimeters - the distance your lens can zoom in 

  • Lower mm = less zoomed in
  • Higher mm = more zoomed in
  • A range between two MM has an adjustable zoom range (meaning it will be able to zoom in and out to those distances)
  • Lenses with one set number of MM are called “fixed lenses” = zoom range is at a fixed distance, not able to zoom in and out.
  • Fixed lenses are normally less expensive, smaller and lighter, usually can have a lower f-stop.  
  • Adjustable zoom lenses a little pricier, able to zoom in and out, heavier, f-stop won’t usually go as low

The other number you’ll see to describe a lens is an f-stop number.  What that means is that’s the lowest f-stop that lens can have, meaning the widest the lens can open.  

Some lenses will have an f-stop range, for example a 28 – 35 mm lens that has an f-stop limit of 3.5 – 5.6.  That means the lowest the f-stop can go is 3.5 at the smallest millimeter, but as soon as you zoom in, the lowest f-stop you can have is 5.6.

The last thing you might see describing a lens is whether or not it has image stabilization. Image stabilizers help keep out camera shake when you’re using a slow shutter or zooming in a far distance.  The only downside is that a lens with image stabilization will usually cost around 30-60% more than the same lens without it and some lenses just don’t offer it.

Lesson 7 Choosing a Lens


Flash allows you to generate more light when there’s not enough light to get the proper exposure.

There are two types of on-camera flash.  Your camera might have come with a built in flash system and for some cameras you can purchase an additional mounted flash system.

Benefits of a mounted flash:

  • Has its own power source
  • Higher output without draining the camera battery 
  • Gives off more light 
  • Adjustable swivel allows you to aim your light in any direction, 
  • Ability to diffuse the light more evenly, avoiding harsh shadows

If you’re shooting indoors with really high ceilings, your flash will have to travel a much further distance to reach the reflective surface.  When the bounce flash isn’t getting scattered by the ceiling, a diffuser can do the job. 

For more natural and professional looking pictures in low-lighting it’s best to use your aperture, shutter and ISO to maximize the light getting into your camera so you can use your flash as a backup source of light to be used sparingly.

Assignment: Now that we’ve learned about the best practices for using flash, your next assignment is to consult your user guide about changing the output of your flash, and take a few pictures with different levels of flash.

Lesson 8 Using Flash Properly

Outdoor Lighting

The best outdoor lighting you can get during the day is when it’s overcast because the light is being softened and diffused by the cloud cover.

If you’re shooting outside in harsh sunlight, your best options are:

  • Find some complete shade where there is no patchy, uneven sunlight on your subject.  
  • Face your subjects toward the source of light (while being shaded) 
  • If no shade is available, put the sun behind your subjects for nice glow or sunflare
  • If you’re shooting toward the sun and don’t want the glare on your lens, use a lens hood.  
  • Avoid shooting mid-day when the sun is directly overhead creating under-eye shadows on your subjects.  
  • Use a fill flash directed at your subjects to counteract the shadows on their faces 
  • Boost the shadows with a fill light in post processing

The best time of day to have the sun directly on your subject’s face is a just before sunset because the light is being softened and diffused by the atmosphere.  Another great way to capture a sunlit face is from the side.

Shooting at sunset also gives you the opportunity to capture silhouettes.  This is done by facing your camera toward the setting sun and lowering your exposure until your subjects are black but the sky is still bright. 

Your next assignment is to go outside and take a few pictures in different lighting.  Try and get some in the sunlight and some in the shade.  

Lesson 9 Getting the Best Picture in Outdoor Lighting

Indoor Lighting

If you’re shooting inside, find the nearest windows and have your subjects face them.  Natural window light makes for beautiful pictures. 

To maximize your lighting indoors, open up the blinds, turn on the lights, and use your camera to its full potential.  

  • Lower your f-stop as far as your lens will allow, 
  • slow the shutter to 1/80 of a second - or slower for still subjects, 
  • Raise the ISO as far as your camera will allow without getting to gritty.  
  • If you still need more light, then use a flash that’s getting diffused or redirected somehow

Using these simple techniques for indoor lighting will make the biggest difference in whether or not your pictures look like they were taken with a professional camera or not.  By using your shutter, aperture and ISO to maximize the light in the room, you’ll be able to capture more of the ambiance and less on-camera flash.

Your next assignment is to practice shooting with indoor lighting.  Try to use your shutter, f-stop and ISO to their full potential to have minimal flash.

Lesson 10 Getting the Best Picture in Indoor Lighting


Composition is essentially deciding what to put in the frame of your picture, and where each object will be within the frame.  

  • Rule of the thirds - The photograph is cut into 3 pieces from top to bottom and left to right, and where the 3rds meet is usually a good place to put your subject, or draw the viewer’s eye.  Parallel lines pointing in that direction are ideal, drawing additional attention to the subject.  
  • Try different camera angles - Move around your subject to shoot from a different direction.  Try climbing up higher than the subject to shoot from above, or getting down on your knee to shoot from below. 
  • Try zooming in for close-ups, and then zooming out to take in the whole scene.  
  • Try to get a variety of both horizontal and vertical mages.  

Picture composition really is an art that you’ll continue to improve with practice.  

Now that you know all the elements of getting a good picture, your last assignment is to put everything you’ve learned into play.  Grab your camera and get creative with your angles, subject, and lighting to get the perfect composition. 

Lesson 11 Photography Composition

Other Equipment

Now that you know the basics of getting a good picture, let’s talk about some additional camera equipment that you might want for your digital SLR. 

  • Batteries to power your camera along with their chargers
  • Memory cards for your camera to store your images on.  
  • Lens Filters - Thin discs that twist or clip onto the front of your lens to create a certain effect
  • Tripods for getting a perfectly still shot or when taking two identical pictures of the exact same scene, or when using a timer so you can be in the picture yourself.
  • Remote trigger - Allows you to step away from the camera and still take the picture wirelessly.  
  • Mounted flash systems or stand-alone flashes you can trigger wirelessly.  
  • Diffusers, Soft boxes, Bounce flashes
  • Different lenses - always check for lens compatibility with your specific camera model.
  • Camera bag to carry around all your gear

Lesson 12 Useful Camera Equipment

Now that you’re familiar with all the gear and know how to capture a good picture in any lighting situation, get out there and put it all into practice!  

If you become a pro with your new SLR, and are interested in learning how to make a career in photography, check out our guide to Starting a Photography Business at  We go over everything from registering your business and getting a professional website, to  getting more clients and making a steady income doing something you love.  

We wish you the best in your photography endeavors! If you liked this video, come see more training videos at  

About the Instructor
Bethany Sell
3.5 Average rating
1 Review
2 Students
1 Course
Wedding Photographer

I've been a wedding photographer for six years and love helping people understand how to get the most from their new digital SLR cameras or take it a step further with a successful career in photography!

With a YouTube following of over 113,000 subscribers and 6 MILLION video views, people have really loved my easy-to-understand teaching style, and I think you will too!  I've saved the very best lessons for this Udemy course to get people taking amazing pictures without the difficult learning curve.

So whether you're just learning how to take better pictures with your camera or want to turn your passion into a thriving business, I have the perfect courses to take you there!