Photography cheat sheet helps you take better photos

Illustration shows the back of a camera with Auto White Balance selected

You might have the best camera possible, but if you can't use it to its full potential, it isn't much good. Feeling confident enough to photograph your print projects or other designs to a standard that will do them justice in your portfolio – or photograph things while you're out and about to add to your collection of assets – is a skill that many creatives can benefit from.

Enter the Manual Photography Cheat Sheet – Reloaded, an infographic from The London School of Photography designed to help novice photographers explore the manual settings in their DSLR with confidence. So if you’ve always wondered what aperture means or how to stop your photos appearing grainy, scroll down to see the full infographic, and check out the useful tips shared.

“The Manual Photography Cheat Sheet – Reloaded is a clean-cut, visual way of showing you how to step up your photography game from automatic to manual shooting,” says Antonio Leanza, owner of The London School of Photography. “Not only does shooting in manual mode enable you to produce sharp, well composed imagery – but you’ll also gain a stronger understanding of the inner workings of your camera.”

Star trails over a busy road

To shoot star trails like this, manual settings are essential (Image credit: Getty)

If you own a decent camera, it’s worth exploring what its manual features can do. For example, if you feel like taking a mesmerising photo of star trails, the infographic points out that a long exposure – achieved through the right balance of ISO, shutter speed and aperture, plus a tripod – is essential.

“By shooting in manual mode you have full control of your shutter speed, ISO and aperture, amongst an array of other settings that can further fine-tune your images. By manually controlling aperture for example can help you achieve those beautifully aligned portraits with blurred or bokeh backgrounds. It’s also highly useful for changing shutter speeds, enabling you to achieve those fast moving subjects like cars or cyclists in crystal clear motion without sacrificing quality.”

An illustration shows a man taking a photo, and text says to use the rule of thirds, leading lines and cropping in photography

Just like design, there are some key rules to remember with photography

Designed by London School of Photography, the infographic also shares some tips of a more creative nature. These include a brief explanation of using the rule of thirds and shooting in the ‘golden hour’ – the minutes just after dawn or just before sunset, where the natural lighting is a flattering warm hue.

There's no time like the present: try out some of these tips to elevate your photography. (Remember to click the icon in the top right of the infographic to see the full-size version.)

Click the icon in the top right of the infographic to see the full-size version

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Ella is a writer/sub-editor on creative and photography titles. She tried teaching for a while, but her immune system couldn't cope!