Photography Guide: A Cheat Sheet


No matter how happy someone is with their photography, I feel like everyone is always looking for ways they can improve (or at least I always am). When I first started The Sunday Mode I luckily already had a really nice Canon DSLR from back in my university days, but did I know how to properly use it? Nope. Manual settings? Oh I had no bloody clue what I was doing.
Since then I like to think that I’ve come a long way with my blog photography (see my first ever blog photos here and have a laugh) so I thought I’d share some basic DSLR knowledge I’ve learnt over time and my best tips for improving your photography and understanding your camera:


LIGHTING- the basics.
Are your photos too dark or light? Juggle your Aperture and/or Shutter Speed.

Shutter Speed is how fast your camera takes the photo. It’s the length of time between you pressing down the button to take the photo and your camera actually taking the shot. If you have a low shutter speed number, you’re allowing more time before the shot is taken which lets more light in. So a low shutter speed number (i.e, 1/30) is often good for low light situations where you need to let more light in. Depending on how low you go, a very low shutter speed can require a tripod or a very steady hand to avoid getting a blurry image so be mindful of that.
A fast shutter speed on the other hand (1/1000) will take your shot quickly. It’s ideal for capturing things like sports games or pictures of animals because you’ll be wanting to take the shot quickly before your subject moves. You’re usually able to capture a crisper shot with a fast shutter speed as well because the shot is taken so quickly. So by this logic, a fast shutter speed isn’t usually ideal for low light situations.

Aperture, often referred to as ‘f-stop’ is easiest to grasp if you think about it backwards….
The lower your aperture number (i.e, f.2.5) the more light you’re letting in to your camera and the higher your aperture number (i.e, f.11) the less light you’re letting in (weird logic, I know).

So if your photos are too dark, try letting more light into your camera by lowering your aperture number and lowering your shutter speed.



Need more light in your photography space? Get a light reflector (find my favourite one here).

A light reflector makes me feel super fancy but it’s also the best purchase I’ve made for my blog photography to date. When the sun has gone down or if I just don’t have enough natural light to work with, I use a silver light reflector to ‘bounce’ whatever light is in the room into my camera’s frame and it’s extremely helpful.

Are your photos coming out grainy? Adjust your ISO.

ISO is how sensitive your camera is to the light, so raising your ISO number (i.e, ISO: 400) can be great for low light situations to bring more light into the shot. It’s a juggling game though because the higher you raise your ISO number, the more grainy your photos can look so you have to toggle around your ISO number until you find something you’re happy with.


DEPTH OF FIELD -explained. 
Want a blurry background? You’re looking for a narrow depth of field.

Depth of field is a term usually used to refer to what is or isn’t in focus in any given shot. So if you want your subject in focus and a blurry background that’s called a narrow or ‘shallow’ depth of field and if you want everything in focus then you would be aiming for a large or ‘wide’ depth of field.
To achieve a narrow depth of field (which tends to be super popular for product photography) you want to ideally have your subject as far away from your background as you possibly can and set your aperture as low as you possibly can (i.e, f.18). For a wide aperture you want to do the opposite and set a higher aperture number. Basically-

Smaller aperture number or ‘f-stop’ = narrow depth of field and blurry background. 
Larger aperture number or ‘f-stop’ = wide depth of field everything in focus.


EDITING- a cheat sheet.


Want your image to look more dynamic? Try adjusting the saturation, contrast and image exposure levels.


Although I’m learning how to use Photoshop, for now to edit my photos I literally just use the ‘Preview’ app that automatically opens when you double click on an image on an apple computer…

So on ‘Preview’ to edit my photo I go to: Tools -> Adjust Colour.
Everything you need will pop up and you can adjust all your image levels to your liking just by toggling the bars to the left or right. I have a little bit of a formula now for how I like to edit my photos but it’s all down to personal taste so literally just play around with your settings until you like what you see.

TIP: Before you start editing a photo, save a copy of the un-edited original file so that if you mess up when you’re editing and end up creating an over-saturated mess (like I used to do when I first started) then at least you can start from scratch again!

If you’d like a post talking more about what cameras I use and why or if you’d like any more details about anything for a future post, just let me know in the comments below!