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What is a photography cheat sheet and why bother with Manual Photography?

A photography cheat sheet is a visual way of showing how your camera settings affect your images.

What is Manual Mode Anyway?

Manual Mode is a setting on your camera that allows you to have full creative control over your camera including full control over adjusting the exposure of your image using; Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. The benefits of shooting in manual mode are that you have full control over the exposure, the depth of field, and the colour adjustments required to take that perfect shot!

Photography Cheat Sheet from Adventure Art Photographer

Getting Started…

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is referring to how long the shutter of the camera is open for. The longer the shutter stays open the more light is let in and therefore the brighter your image will be. The quicker the shutter opens and then closes the darker your image will be.

A faster shutter speed is written with a higher number such as 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000 whereas a slower shutter speed is written as 1/20, 1/5 or even 0″3, which is a super slow shutter speed.

Fast shutter speeds are used to freeze something in motion such as a bird in flight, a bike rider or a soccer game. Slow shutter speeds however, are used to create motion blur and allow lots of light into a dark scene e.g. a night-sky or a waterfall.

This image was shot with a very slow shutter speed, 0″3


Simply put, the aperture is referring to the opening in your camera lens and is measured in F numbers. The lower the F number e.g. f3.5, the bigger the opening in your lens becomes therefore, letting lots of light in. The higher the F number e.g. f22, the smaller the opening in your lens therefore, creating a darker scene.

Aperture is also used for controlling the depth of field. The lower the F number the more blurry your background will be e.g. f3.5.

This image has a great depth of field (shot at f22)


The ISO controls how sensitive your camera is to light. The higher the number e.g. 500 the brighter your image will be and the lower the number e.g. 100, the darker the image will be. Bumping up the ISO is a good option in low lighting situations but it does have its disadvantages. The higher the ISO the more grain is visible in the photo. A good rule of thumb is to try and keep your ISO on the lowest number possible and still get the light you need.

This image was shot with a very high ISO (5000)
This image was shot with a much lower ISO (100)

Too much information to remember? At Adventure Art Photography we understand how you feel and that’s why we have especially designed a Manual Photography Cheat Sheet, included at the top of this article.

So why not get out there, take your photography cheat sheet, and put your new skills to play!

You never know where your next adventure is going to take you!

Hands-on learning is always best and joining a photography workshop or tour is a fantastic way to learn.

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