Up until a few weeks ago, my comfort level only allowed me to “master” the A-mode, or Aperture Priority mode. This allowed me to select what f/# I wanted (remember, the smaller the f/stop number the more bokeh you get!) while the camera picked out the rest. My dear friend, Audrey Michel, is an amazing photographer in the Denver area (check out her website) and had been nice enough to answer my texts here and there picking her brain. She went a step further and agreed to spend a morning with me to go over my questions about photography (what a fabulous friend I have, right?!)


While I had pinned things on Pinterest, like this cute chart [below] going over the triangle of exposure from berylaynyoung.com, I still didn’t fully understand how to make it all come together. Audrey and I talked about the big 3 components, AKA the trifecta, to exposure in a language I could understand and I started to feel like I could put it all together.

exposure trifecta

Audrey made everything finally click! I honestly think the big “ah-ha moment” for me was her simply pointing out my light meter and to use it. I’ve always seen it there in my viewfinder, but didn’t think to actually USE it because I had always let my camera meter for me. She gave me confidence to choose the right settings for the perfect photo.

When your meter starts going towards the +, you are overexposed, meaning too much light is getting in and your photo will be too bright.

overexposed ss

When your meter is in the middle, that means you have perfect exposure.


When your meter is towards the -, you are underexposed, meaning not enough light is getting in and your photo will be dark.

underexposed ss

Audrey and I went on a little walk and she had me take pictures along the way so that I could get the hang of manual mode. Isn’t she the best model you’ve ever seen?


I don’t think I would have had the confidence to shoot in manual mode without Audrey pushing me to be confident in my skills and learnings. With that being said, I’d like to push my readers with DSLRs to try taking a picture manual mode! Look at charts like the one above and find one that makes sense to you. Start out by picking your ISO. Where are you? Outside and sunny? Try an ISO around 200. Are you inside? Try starting with an ISO around 800. Are you in a poorly lit place? Try an ISO around 2000. If you’re not shooting an action shot, next choose what Aperture you want. Want a lot of bokeh? Try your lowest f/stop. Want the entire picture to be in focus? Use a higher f/stop. Lastly, pick your shutter speed. This is where I use my light meter to determine what speed will balance everything else out. Focus your lens on what you’re shooting and see what speed gets you the perfectly exposed picture. Just remember, you really don’t want to shoot in anything slower than 1/60 sec unless you have a tripod.

Let me know how it goes! Leave a comment if you have any questions or need help.

♥Always, Cynthia

p.s. Don’t forget to check out my girlfriend, Audrey’s, website. I highly recommend her as a photographer. She not only did an amazing job shooting my wedding, but also my son’s newborn photos. She’s also a coach, educator, and advocate for women with endometriosis. Check out her blog here. She’s currently working on writing a book. This girl has a lot going on and I’m so grateful she’s my friend! Thanks, Audrey!!!



  1. Pingback: NEWBORN SHOOT WITH MY BABY BO | Meet Cynthia

  2. Dear Cynthia,
    These are real good pictures. You’ve got the BUG (no pun intended..lol). I have a Canon and if you know Bill it has to be the best. Photography has always been in my blood. It actually started with my mom. Thank God there is a timer on these cameras, now mom’s can be included in the pictures. Digital is definitely the way to go. The only expense is when you want to have them developed. Enjoy your view finding skills. When kids are involved you’ll have a gazillion pictures! Advice….always keep an extra charged battery and your camera close by! I Love you and thank you for pictures of your family. Keep up the good work! Love Aunt May

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