Blogtography Tips Vol 1: A Beginners Guide To Using A DSLR

I decided through many Twitter conversations it’s time for me to start a ‘Blogtography’ series. A lot of bloggers are into photography but don’t know where to start in learning how to use more professional equipment.

I completely support bloggers that choose to use iPhones or point and shoot cameras for their posts and social media, but for those wanting to up their game, I’m here to help!

In this first post I will be discussing the buttons on the camera that allow you to control your settings. I will be using my Canon 600D as an example to show where the controls are on the camera and I’ll be running through what they mean and how to utilise them to achieve your desired image.


There is a dial (pictured above) on the top of the camera where you can find 14 different settings;

A-DEP (Auto depth of field)

M (Manual exposure)

Av (Aperture priority)

Tv (Shutter priority)

P (Program – auto setting of shutter speed and aperture)

A green box with A+ inside (Scene intelligent auto)

A white box with the flash symbol with a line through (Flash off)

CA (Creative auto)

An image of a woman’s head (Portrait)

An image of a mountain (Landscape)

An image of a flower (Close-up)

An image of a running person (Sports)

A box with an image of a person and a star inside (Night portrait)

An image of a video camera (Video)


But I’ll go into further detail about those in another post as they are quite self explanatory I’m focusing on the manual settings today!



The Canon 600D has a flip out screen which I find so useful as it shows on the screen how the changed settings will look on your photograph, the 1100D (the other Canon DSLR I use) doesn’t have this feature. On the display screen is where you’ll find the selected shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, image quality and battery level among some other bits and bobs.


The shutter button (the one you press to take a photo) can be located exactly where your index finger on your right hand would rest on the camera, easy part! Just behind that is a wheel that you can scroll to the left or right, this is used to change your shutter speed. The shutter speed is how much time the camera let’s light in, basically how quickly the camera takes the photo. If it’s bright and you want a sharp image, choose a fast shutter speed such as 1/60 or 1/60. However if you’re painting with light or shooting in the dark, choose a slow speed but be sure to use a tripod as camera shake will become an issue and your image will be blurry.

And behind that is where you can find two buttons labelled ‘DISP’ and ‘ISO’. ‘DISP’ is where you can turn the display screen on or off and ‘ISO’ stands for International Standards Organistion, it’s a standarised industry scale for measuring sensitivity to light. This button gives you an option of choosing 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 or 6400 and these numbers indicate the amount of light you’re exposing your camera to, the higher the number, the brighter the picture, although it does decrease in quality.

Above the screen on the left of the viewfinder there are two buttons, ‘MENU’ and ‘INFO’. Menu is where you can find the quality settings, image review settings, flash control, and a lot of features I doubt you’ll use as I only ever used it once to change my quality settings from shooting large JPEG files to shooting RAW files. The ‘INFO’ button is similar in the aspect of that I never use it, it shows how much free space you have left on your SD card and a few other bits that I don’t really use.

On the right of the viewfinder there’s a button displaying an image of a white camera with a black box inside, this indicates that it’s the button that allows you to switch between being able to see out of the viewfinder or the display screen.

Where your right thumb would naturally sit on the camera, the controls for zooming in and zooming out can be found with the usual symbols of the magnifying glass with the + and – signs.


To the right of the screen (I’ll go from top to bottom and left to right) are the controls that allow you to change the aperture (along with the scrolly wheel bit – the same that is used to change the shutter speed – at the top next to the shutter button), this button can be identified by the Av +/- sign. Aperture is measured in f/stops, on a 50mm lens the highest to lowest f/stops go from f/1.8 to f/22 – the smaller the number, the bigger the hole created in the camera to receive light therefore creating a brighter picture. In the dark I’d select something around f/1.8 and on a bright sunny day I’d choose an f/stop around f/22.

Beneath that is a button with a Q in a box, this is a shortcut to change the quality (e.g. JPEG to RAW) by using it with the scrolly wheel just like changing the aperture!

Then there’s a ‘SET’ button with four crescent shaped buttons surrounding it, ‘WB’, ‘AF’, one with an image depicting six small rectangles in an odd pattern and one with the self timer image and a rectangle.

‘SET’ is the button that you press to select and apply or approve of the changes you have selected in changing your settings.

‘WB’ stands for white balance and you can choose from AWB (auto), an image of the sun (daylight), an image of a house (shade), and image of a cloud (cloudy), an image of a light bulb (tungsten light), an image of a rectangle emitting light (white fluorescent light), the flash symbol (flash) or a custom setting.

‘AF’ stands for autofocus, please ignore this, autofocus is the devil and you should know better than to use it.

The six small rectangles organised into an odd shape is used to change the picture style the options are: auto, standard, portrait, landscape, neutral, faithful and monochrome.

Self timer is quite self explanatory! That button also allows you to select single shooting, continuous shooting, a 10 second remote control timer (if you have a remote shutter device), a two second timer and a continuous self timer which you can select between two and ten shots.

And the two controls nearest the bottom of the camera are the play button and the bin button which allow you to view your images and then delete them if you wish to do so!


I hope this post has been helpful, let me know if you have any requests or questions and stay tuned for ‘Blogtography’ Vol 2!

sign off



  • I saved this post quick because I know I’ll need plot once my DSLR arrives. I’m currently using my iPhone 6s. This was so great, detailed & simplified!! Thanks for putting it together

  • You have no clue how helpful this was for me! A few years ago, I was lucky enough to get a DSLR for xmas. Having no experience with a camera, I used it just as I would any other camera. Then I started uni and that included a photography module. This only served to confuse me moreee! But your post is so simple and easy to understand – love it!

    Em x

    • I’m so happy it helped!!! If you ever wanna talk photography I’ll happily natter away for hours about it 🙈💕

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