How to learn the manual settings on your SLR camera

Ticking something off one’s “bucket list” doesn’t happen all too often (unless you have a VERY long list) so when I was able to do just that recently I was really excited!

Since purchasing my SLR digital camera 5 and a half years ago I have been meaning to learn how to use all the manual settings… I think I’m not alone in this as so many people I know who own beautiful SLR camera’s keep them set to AUTO!! I did, for way too long, the main reason (excuse) being that I bought the camera just before the birth of my eldest child and since that time, well, you know – there has been no time!!

Now that my youngest is 2 I am slowly rediscovering the things that are important to me and that I love and want to spend my time doing, creating, enjoying – hence the start of this blog in fact!! Photography is something I love and have always ensured I haven’t stopped altogether, but it is a time-consuming process learning all the settings, buttons, methods and then having time to actually USE them. I have found many books and websites on the subject but as many times as I read the information on the page I could not take it in. Aperture, shutter speed, ISO, White balance…. it was a foreign language that my baby brain was not absorbing.

But, I digress… this year I made it my mission to finally tick the “Learn how to use my SLR camera on manual” off my bucket list and that’s where the wonder called Groupon saved the day. I had initially been keen on attending a weekly course over a couple of weeks through a photography school or similar but realised that my budget was not going to extend that far. I decided to keep my eyes peeled on Groupon and signed up for the daily email so I wouldn’t miss out. The emails arrived first thing every morning and I scanned the various offers for restaurant discounts, tooth whitening, spa treatments, photobooks, amazing travel deals for accommodation around the world and vouchers for various extreme sport experiences… Many times I could have spent the money set aside for my intended purchase – the deals were certainly tempting!

Finally after a few months the deal I was after came up – a one day intensive photography course teaching the basics of the manual settings and I took the gap and signed up – even though it meant travelling to the unfamiliar territory of Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs. I then headed out early one Saturday morning to discover what I had been missing out on all these years. I felt like I was back in college and my brain took a while to warm up but finally it did and all the little bits of experience and knowledge I had gleaned over the years was all pulled together by a great teacher who took the time to show each attendee the workings of their own camera and answered all our many questions while still explaining in a very clear way how to use each setting. Finally someone who was easy to understand and could show me in person what to do! The various sessions were all helpful and by the end of the day I was confident enough to move the dial onto “M” and so far, I haven’t looked back! Obviously there is still so much I can learn about shooting in manual and I would love to attend a more comprehensive course or maybe learn how to use Photoshop in the future so I will be scouring Groupon for another great deal shortly!

images: Kathryn Rossiter (in manual!)

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

  1. Are you sure you’re still learning? Looks like you are already a professional photographer! I love your photos here.. You already know how to get the right angle of your subject.

  2. Hi Kathryn! It takes time, effort and interest to learn and i’m glad that your doing the right thing. Thanks for sharing lovely photos with us!

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