10 Photography Tips for Beginners: SLR in Non-Auto Mode

Tips for Photography Beginners

Buying a new SLR camera can be a very rewarding experience, but as tempting as it is to stick with auto mode, you will find that you often take your best pictures when you dare to step out of your comfort zone.

Reading a few photography tips for beginners or looking at a photography blog may help you to shine. Follow these simple photography tips for beginners to take your best shots ever:

1. Adjust the size of the Aperture

Photography Tip: Aperture Value
Small Aperture = Maximizes Depth of Field
A Wide Aperture = Focus is on one Area of the Shot

The aperture is the hole in the lens that allows light through to the sensor. The size of the aperture will be displayed with an “f-number”. The higher the number is the smaller the aperture. A small aperture maximizes depth of field, a wide one will help you to focus on one area of the shot.

Related Post: Examples of Small Vs. Wide Apertures

2. Change the Shutter Speed

Change the Shutter Speed
Use Slow Shutter Speed at Night and to Capture Motion
Use Fast Shutter Speed to Capture Sports Events and Freeze the Moment

If you are shooting in the dark, use a slow shutter speed for more clarity in your pictures. Using a slow shutter speed also allows you to imply motion in daylight shots. Really fast shutter speeds are best for capturing fast action shots.

3. Invest in a Good Tripod

Tip: Use a Good Tripod for your DSLR Camera
Use a good quality Tripod to Avoid Camera Shake

If you are using slow shutter speeds, it is worth investing in a good quality tripods, because even the smallest movement of the camera can cause blurriness in long exposure shots.

Related Post: Best Budget Tripod for your DSLR

4. Shoot in RAW

Shooting in RAW Format is better than JPG Format.
Shooting in RAW Format is better than JPG Format.

Shooting in RAW can be cumbersome and fill up your memory with large files, but once you get them on your computer, you will have a huge amount of control over any modifications that you may want to make.

5. Discover the Quiet Mode

Shoot in Quiet Mode
Shoot in Quiet Mode

Most cameras have a feature which allows you to stop the camera from beeping and can help to reduce the noise from the mirror return. Silencing your camera can prevent you from disturbing your subject.

6. Change the ISO

High ISO
Use a High ISO to avoid Blurry Pictures, especially at Night!

The ISO setting alters how responsive your camera’s digital sensor is to light. Higher numbers are more responsive to light; therefore, they are better for taking night shots. Be careful, though, as the higher the setting, the more noise will appear in your photos.

7. Use the Spot Meter

Spot Meter
Use a Spot Meter for Your DSLR

This allows you to choose which element of the photo you want to focus on in terms of brightness balance so that you don’t end up with the blurry compromise that you would normally see if tried to take a shot of both dark and bright elements.

8. Focus Properly

Beginner Photography Tip: Focus Properly
Focus properly with Your DSLR: Press the shutter halfway first to lock the focus, then compose.

Pressing the shutter release halfway down to help you to focus. Only press the full way down when you are ready to take the shot.

9. Don’t Zoom Your Kit Lens to the Maximum 

Tip: Do Not Use zoom if not needed
Do not use the Zoom. You can always crop your Image later in you Photo Editing Software.

As tempting as it is to use the manual zoom of your kit lens, don’t!

Pictures which are zoomed into the maximum focal length with your kit lens often end up being unclear and full of filler pixels. Of course, there are exceptions like sports photography or bird photography, were you really have to get as close as possible.

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This tip doesn’t apply if you use high-end zoom / telephoto lenses.

10. Practice

PhotoWorkout Tip: Practice Photography on an ongoing basis
Practice Photography on a Regular Basis!

You can read as many photography tips for beginners as you like, but only practice can really make perfect.

Recommended Download: FREE eBook: 10 Common Photography Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Please leave a comment below, because we would love to hear from you (comment here).


6 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t zoom??? Is this referring to digital zooming or increasing the focal length of your zoom lens? What about telephoto primes?

    • Hi Big Mike, That’s a good point you are making there. “Don’t Zoom” is a harsh statement. And we are going to update the title.

      What we wanted to say here is that you should not push your DSLR kit lens to the maximum focal lengths. E.g. if you have a 55-200mm kit lens don’t unnecessarily shoot at a focal length of 200mm as your image may lose sharpness.

      Digital zooming should be avoided completely as it is better to crop the image later on your computer.

      If you can afford a telephoto prime lens, that would definitely be the best option. Especially if you are into sports or bird photography.

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