As I developed my interest in photography, I slowly learned how to take photos in manual mode, with the help of the YouTubers mentioned at the bottom. The three main variables to worry about when taking photos manually are exposure, aperture, and ISO.
Exposure: This is how long your camera’s shutter stays open to let in light. Exposure is measured in seconds. With a fast shutter speed, such as 1/500 s, less light is allowed to enter your camera’s sensor, making the image darker. Although, with a slow shutter speed, such as 2 s, taking pictures without a tripod may be difficult, because the sensor will detect even the slightest movement of your hands making the image blurry. Be careful with exposure because over-exposure can lead to losing details in objects such as clouds.
Aperture: This is how wide the opening for light on your lens is. Aperture is what gives a depth of field effect, also known as bokeh, which is often seen in portraits. Aperture is measured with a f/ number. The lower the f/ number the wider the opening. A low f/ number is used to create the depth of field effect, which is the blurring of the background, keeping a sharp focus on near objects. With a higher f/ number more objects in the scene are in focus. It may seem logical to use a low f/ number in any scenario because it allows more light to enter, but a high f/ number is often used to take landscape photos.
ISO: This is the amplification of light in the image. When taking photos in the dark, a high ISO is often used to bring light to the image. ISO is commonly used when photos are being taken in dark conditions and there is not anything to keep the camera stable while the shutter is open. ISO can be very helpful in providing a little more light to your scene without having to increase exposure or lower the f/ number, but can create noise/grain.
When I take my photos, the order I like to adjust these settings in are aperture, exposure and then ISO. I often take photos with only my hands holding the camera, which requires a fast exposure to avoid blur, therefore I try to keep my f/ number low to let more light in. I adjust exposure before ISO because I want to avoid noise in my image at all costs, but if I do need the light in my shot amplified, I adjust my ISO.