Clicking that button over to Manual Mode can be daunting! It means you are throwing all the camera's "help" to the side and taking full control.  Whoa! It might feel a little daunting at first but trust me, it's truly exhilarating to be in command of your camera and the photos you create with it!  Here are my top 5 things you should know about Manual Mode that'll help you on your way to mastering your camera!! 

Let's go!!

1. Aperature (f-stop) controls how much light comes through your lens.  The lower the f-stop (like f1.2) the more light is let in.  The higher the f-stop (like f16) less light is let in.  

Aperature also controls bokeh (background blur). A lower aperture results in more bokeh.  

2. Shutter Speed controls how fast or slow the camera shutter opens and closes. That means it also controls how long the image sensor is exposed to light. 

A low shutter speed (like 1/20) will let more light in and result in motion blur if the subject or camera moves since the shutter is open longer. 

A fast shutter speed (like 1/200) will let less light in and result in freezing motion since the shutter is open for a very short period of time. 

3. ISO is an important setting that deserves your attention. You might be wondering "What is ISO?" so let's answer that first; ISO is a standardized industry scale for measuring sensitivity to light.  It controls how sensitive your camera's digital image sensor is to light.  ISO is measured in numbers. The lowest numbers are the least sensitive (ISO 100) and the highest numbers are the most sensitive (ISO 6400).  

That means when you're photographing in an area with a lot of light you'd want to use a low ISO. If you are photographing in an area with very low light you'd want to use a high ISO.

Something to keep in mind is the higher the ISO number the more "noisy" (grainy) the image will be.  The lower the ISO the less "noisy" the image will be.  There is no right our wrong way it is completely a stylistic choice! 

4. White Balance or WB is used to get the right tones in an image.  Different lights result in different color casts on skin tones and white objects; For example, a tungsten light (table lamp) can make things appear very orange or yellow. Knowing how to control WB can correct this.  

5.  Manual Focus this is one I like to be a rebel on!  Let me start by saying I think it is extremely important to know how to focus on your own (I suggest practicing it); however, Manual Focus is not required to shoot in Manual Mode.  Some photographers are all about manually focusing each image, but not me.  As a matter of fact, I'd recommend using auto focus and mastering the previous 4 settings because they are what play the largest roll in having control over your camera.

Manual focus requires a few extra seconds each shot to adjust the focusing rings in order to capture a sharp image. Using auto focus (and choosing your focusing points) will allow you to capture moments quicker and ensure they are sharp while allowing you more time to focus on the Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, and White Balance.