10 Steps to Manual Mode: Holding Your Camera

a man taking a photo with a DSLR camera
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Over the next two months, every Monday I will be teaching a new step to learning manual mode on your DSLR.

If you are wondering why shooting in manual mode is such a big deal, check out this post—> 6 Reasons Why You Should Learn Manual Mode in Photography

This first week may seem basic and boring, but it is very important.

Knowing how to hold your camera and use it properly can make a big difference when learning how to shoot in manual mode.

How do I hold my camera properly?

When holding a DSLR camera, you want to make sure it is secure and stable.

You need to use both hands, one on each side of the camera.

Keep you elbows in and your feet steady.

Lean against a wall or other steady object if needed to further stabilize yourself.

When you are holding the camera, you are the tripod. You want to keep your camera as still as possible so you don’t add hand shaking motion to the photograph.

This may seem trivial, but it will be very important to how clear and clean your photos come out.

Especially when you start using manual mode to take pictures with low shutter speed or wide open aperture. You will need a steady hand (or tripod) to make them the clearest they can be.

man taking a picture with a monopod and DSLR camera

How do I look thru my camera to take a picture?

A DSLR is not an iPhone. You do not hold it out in front of you to take a picture. You DO NOT use the screen on the back to look at your picture while taking it.

When taking a picture with a DSLR, you put your face up to the viewfinder and look in the hole.

Why do we do this?

When you look through the viewfinder, you are eliminating the other distractions around you.

This helps you focus on what you are shooting. It helps you see things in the photo that shouldn’t be there.

Maybe it is a tree branch sticking out of someones head or a rogue toy laying on the floor.

By looking in the viewfinder, you can find these distractions and remove them before you take the picture.

This helps speed up your workflow later and increases the quality of the straight out of camera shot.

So just pretend like the digital screen is not there when taking the picture and look thru the viewfinder the old fashioned way.

Why am I even talking about these things?

Don’t these things go without saying?

No, not really. These days, everyone is used to taking pictures with their phones.

With the phone, you have to look at the screen to take the picture.

It can take some getting used to to go back to the “old school” way of looking thru the camera viewfinder.

And, with a phone, you are in auto mode. This means that the camera uses a faster shutter speed for less camera shake.

Just doing these 2 things will make a difference when shooting in manual mode.

Action Steps:

  1. Hold your camera steady with both hands and feet firmly planted on the ground.
  2. Use a wall or chair to hold yourself in place if needed.
  3. Look thru the viewfinder, not digital display, when taking a photo.

This is the first lesson of ten that will be coming in the next 2 months.

Next week we will talk about ISO and how to use it properly for great photos. Click here to go to the next lesson —> 10 Steps to Manual Mode: ISO Basics.

So stick with me and we will work out the ins and outs of shooting in manual mode together.

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What would you like to learn about shooting in manual mode? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!

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