camera, photography, travel tips

How I get my photos: Camera Settings

So you have all your gear now. How do you set up the camera?

I almost always use manual mode on my D3300. I can be way more specific and have much greater control over the outcome this way. I find that auto tends to overexpose things.

I do use the Auto setting for my White Balance quite often, especially if I’m having trouble getting the correct balance with the presets. However, play with this, because sometimes the Auto setting doesn’t get things quite right you will end up with an overly red or overly blue photo.

The manual mode has 3 primary functions you can adjust: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

I try to use the lowest ISO possible (100 for my camera) to reduce the amount of grain in a photo. Sometimes I go higher if I need a quick shutter speed in a darker situation.

Aperture basically determines whether you are focusing on a very narrow and specific depth of field (lower numbers) or focusing on a larger range of distances (higher numbers). Lower aperture lets in more light (thus you can use lower ISO and fast shutter speeds) and is good for focusing on one specific item while keeping the background and/or foreground blurry.

For a standard landscape photo I use an aperture somewhere between 8 and 11. This allows me to keep the ISO at 100, keep the shutter speed fast enough that I don’t need a tripod, and still get the entire landscape, both near and far, in focus. When trying to get a long exposure I will turn the aperture up to 22 to reduce the light coming in so I can decrease the shutter speed without over-exposing the photo.

Shutter speed determines how long the photo absorbs light. I like long shutter speeds to blur water, take in stars, and give a dreamy soft light feeling to my photos. However, this requires a tripod or something sturdy to set your camera on, much more time, and compensation if it is bright out (a dark filter for example). Quick shutter speeds (1/400) are good for motion that you want to stop in mid-air (my classic jumping photos on my Instagram are taken like this).

I have recently been using an extra dark filter, 30+ second exposure, 100 ISO, and an aperture of 22 to capture some fantastic dusk photos with soft ambient lighting and blurred water (see the photo featured in this post).

Keep up with my latest adventures and photos 🙂

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Check out the Equipment I use

Nikon D3300
Nikkor 18-140mm Zoom Lens
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II


13 thoughts on “How I get my photos: Camera Settings”

  1. This is great advice, thank you so much for sharing. I’ve been playing around lately with my camera settings to get some great shots. I’m also looking into some professional camera apps for my iphone. Sometimes it’s easier just having my phone on me because my camera feels like a burden to lug around. How do you feel about that when you travel?


    1. Yeah a camera is a large device to carry with you all the time. I just find that when it comes to editing photos, the ones from my phone don’t edit nearly as well as the ones from my camera


    1. I’d recommend going all the way and getting a really nice camera if you can afford it. If not the D3300 is good and is really cheap, can’t really comment on the other one you are looking at as I’ve never used it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We went with the d5500 and really love it. I think that the lens is way more important than the camera though so maybe go a little cheaper on the housibg and get the best lens you can. Amazing photo on this post MyWorldWanders and great advice. I find aperture hardest to get right so I’ll use your tip.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. To be perfectly honest I don’t know enough to recommend one to you. It really depends on what you’re going to use it for. If you’re doing a safari a decent telephoto is where I’d look first tamron do some nice 18-200 zoom lenses which would be way better than the ones nikon bundle in.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah I’ve been using either f11 (without a filter for point and shoot) or f22 (with a tripod, filter, and long exposure for blurred water or clouds). Glad you are happy with your camera. I agree, the lens is super important, although I do believe the processing factor of better cameras is with taking into consideration


  2. I love the long exposure photo at the top of your post :). I think I use similar camera settings to yours, although my filters give photos too much of a cast to use them. I’ll have to consider paying for some decent ones.

    Liked by 1 person

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