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Find your camera manual | Day 2

Nearly every photo tip and tutorial on the planet says, ‘read your manual. Read it again. Read it until it’s dog earred.’

But some of you haven’t, have you? Awww, c’mon. Admit it.

And I totally get ya’. It’s a dry read. A bit like a VCR manual, right? But there’s something you need to know: It will unlock the mysterious secrets of your camera. So why do we tend to avoid it like the plague?

It’s the #1 resource you have to getting to know your camera better.
Nothing will spill secrets like your manual.
I promise you will learn something.

To be successful with your camera, you have to know it. When you made the investment in your camera, you did it with the intention of making the most out of it, right? Many of you have amazing machines that you feel you’re simply not making the most of. You’re in good company.

To be successful in this series, it’s important you know how to adjust settings on your camera. Please try and find the follow things in your manual:

camera modes

  1. How to change the mode of your camera – auto / program, aperture priority, shutter priority.
  2. What do the icons on your camera mean? The flower, the running man, a face, mountains, stars, etc. What does each symbol represent?
  3. Which wheel controls shutter speed, which wheel controls aperture?
  4. How to find the white balance menu, and change it.
  5. How to change ISO. These numbers will usually start at 100 or 200 and go as high as the camera allows.

Tutorials I recommend reading about camera modes:
Digital Photography School – Digital Camera Modes
Empty Easel – Camera Modes 101: Understanding the Different Modes on Your Digital Camera

So – go curl up with your manual. Then come back here and let us know something you learned!

There may or may not be a pop quiz tomorrow. 😉


  1. Ashley Ebersole says:

    I read my manual and am trying to practice shooting in the different modes (M,A,S,P)
    But most of the time my photos come out white…what am I doing wrong??
    I have tried adjusting the ISO, the aperture, and the shutter speed.

    • Turn your ISO down to 100 or 200, turn your shutter speed faster – like 1/250s, and see where that places you. if you’re only seeing white, it’s too much light. You need smaller aperture, lower ISO and faster shutter speeds until the exposure is right. Read the tick marks on your internal light meter.

      If you’re not sure what that means, finish reading the 31 days and you should! 🙂

  2. krystal hill says:

    I just found this through pinterest!! : ) and i’m so excited!!! I am a stay-at-home mom with such a passion for photography and not really understanding my camera makes me not want to even use it : ( ….i cant thank you enough darcy for sharing what you’ve learned to help people like me. Im on baby #2 and due in about 2 months and want to be able to have the best pictures i can get with both my boys (not using auto! lol) I know im very late to finding this but i am still just as excited about it!!!!!

  3. WOW! I am super thrilled to find this blog! I became so interested in photography recently, but I am so lost with my manual and camera. I don’t have a fancy camera, but I’ll see if I can take the most of it with the help of this tutorial 🙂 Thanks so much for this blog!

  4. I’m very late coming to this party! BUT…I’m super excited. I’ve had my Nikon D60 for about 2 years now…I’m just now learning how to use some of the functions. White balance…ummm…not so much. I haven’t read my manual but I did buy Corey Hilz’s Nikon D60 and it’s a much easier read. I do have all the dials located and the little figures learned…Let’s go!

  5. just found your site! im so excited! im adoptive mom of 3 and paper pregnant with a 7 y/o waiting somewhere in colombia! cant wait for us to get the call and i get to go back to colombia and really take more photos. i was too scared to take my camera out before, and i missed so much… wanting to soak in as much as i can to learn more about photography to help me catch the something beautiful in everyday life and the life of these beautiful children! thanks for all your help!

  6. I’ve had a camera my dear husband spent a few hundred dollars on sitting in our bay window gathering dust. We are in the process of adopting 4 kids all under the age of 10 and I find myslef always wanting to capture everything they do. I’m thrilled to have stumbled upon this website!
    Tonights mission after making dinner and tucking the kids into bed is hunting down that manual. 🙂

    Thank you for a spark of inspiration.

  7. Found this via pinterest. I actually HAVE read my manual- did it after I got my camera. One of my goals for the new year is to become a better photographer. I have huge white balance issues with my Olympus DSLR and never know when I’ll get a whole set of yellow or blown out pictures.

  8. Clarissa Shannon says:

    Hi!! I just recently found your website and I am loving it so far. I am actually in the market for a new camera, I have been online and in stores. It is so overwhelming. Are there any certain SLR cameras that you would recommend? Thanks in advance!!

    • I recommend picking a reasonable budget, then buying the most camera you can afford without accruing debt. 😉 How’s that for specific??

      That said, I’m totally a Nikon girl.

  9. Hi Darcy,

    Found your blog via Pinterest. I love cooking and taking pictures of my food. I just purchase an Canon DSR in July, and stilling learning to use it. Thank you for sharing such great information.

  10. I am already amazed at what I’ve learned in 30 minutes (I’ve had this camera for several years!). Who knew you could get such wonderful shots indoors without a flash just by changing the ISO! I can’t wait to find out what else I don’t know! I also found my camera manual online which makes it easy to view while operating my camera. Now I’ll download it on my iPad so I have it with me all the time!

  11. Hi, some am trying to play around with my camera and when I’m in aperture or shutter speed mode, my camera just keeps taking pictures! It won’t let me change settings without either turning it off or switching modes. I have a Nikon Coolpix P510. Any suggestions? I want to scream!

  12. BOY! Did I learn a lot about my camera from the manual! Thank you so much for making me read it! There were buttons that I didn’t even know were there! Plus I learned how to take a picture of a waterfall and make it look soft! Thats one the things that got me to buy this camera! Again, thank you!

    By the way, I’m blogging about this as well!

  13. I just bought my first “real”camera… a dream come true for me. It’s a Canon, and I love it but am overwhelmed with all the buttons and material… I stumbled across this on Pinterest…and am so grateful to you for sharing your knowledge without costing me an arm and leg…since i spent the other 2 appendages on the camera… you are a godsend to me right now! I have 3 grown boys, but hope to have little ones running around again soon, and i want to capture their growth and spirit. Nature is my love though, especially macro nature shots… i can’t wait to keep moving forward with your help. THANKS AGAIN for your time and willingness to share. You are MY heroine!! 🙂

  14. I’m gonna label myself a newb here, but I learned what aperture is, as well as what each mode of my camera does. I’m ready for my next lesson! Thank you. =)

  15. this is amazing! i’ve just started and i hope i learn lots!

  16. Just found your site and look forward to learning how to use this camera I got 8 months ago! So today I learned that my camera can take pictures in many different colors- shades of purple, blue, red, orange, etc. plus sepia which I’ve been missing.

  17. I am going to try and do this every day and to participate with the comments. I knew 1,3,4,5 but 2 I had forgotten. I was trying to learn A,M more that I just forgot what they other could help me with. I remember taking pictures of just flowers in my backyard and was using Aperture Mode and had some struggles but never thought about using Macro. Another example was trying to take a pictures of my cat and upset that he kept moving. Forgot all about Action/Sports Mode. Being reminded might (If I don’t forget again) of the other modes my camera has to offer.

  18. Sharla Matlock says:

    I have read my manual twice but I liked the article that I found when I followed the link above. It really explained all the modes of my digital point and shoot. I am going to retake my LinkedIn picture in portrait mode tomorrow!

  19. Ann Davis says:

    I carry my manual with me on my ipad now. I never lose it anymore:)


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