Learning How To Photograph Using Manual Settings | Landscape Photography

I’ve had a few questions from you saying that you’ve got a new camera for Christmas, and you’re wanting to get more into landscape photography so you’re wanting to know some tips for getting started and want to know any equipment I recommend. I’d recommend learning with the equipment you have first so let’s cover the settings. I will cover the equipment in a different blog.


Learn how to shoot in manual

This is daunting at first. Lots of numbers that don’t make any sense, but once you get used to them you will control them without even thinking about it

What do the setting control?

Shutter speed
How long the shutter is open for e.g. on a waterfall
A long shutter speed = Water smoothed out e.g. 20 seconds
A fast shutter speed = Everything is crisp e.g 1/1000

The depth of field (varies photo to photo) E.g.
F2.8 – A flower in the foreground is in focus, the mountains are blurry
F8-F11 – Everything in focus
F22 – Diffraction starts and you will lose a little bit of focus

Image quality seems to peak in the middle on most lenses

How sensitive the sensor is to light. The higher the ISO the grainier the image so you want to keep it as low as possible
100 – Lets in less light, better image quality.
12,600 – Let’s in a lot of light, grainy image.


A Herdwick sheep watching over Great Langdale

1/125 . Seconds . F8 . ISO 400

Understanding the settings | Light and Dark

To begin with, try and think in terms of light or dark. The camera is just a light recording box and you have to fine tune setting the create the images you want.

Shutter speed
Faster shutter speed makes the image darker and slower shutter speed makes the image lighter

Making the aperture wider (smaller number) will make the image brighter e.g F5.6 lets in more light than F16

The bigger the number the brighter the image will be


This is where your options come from and it will be based on what you’re willing to compromise on. In my experience, a little bit of a grainy image is better than a blurry one

How do I know when the photo is properly exposed?

If you aim for getting the dial in the bottom of your viewfinder to line up with the middle, your image should be properly exposed. Bear in mind that you can’t always get a properly exposed image without accessories like an ND Grad filter e.g. photographing sunsets where the sky is bright and the foreground is dark but adding accessories whilst your learning can over complicate things.

Understandingexposure Gettingtherightexposure

Autumn on the river Brathay. The Lake District

1/125 seconds . F8 . ISO 50

How do I choose the best settings?

There are a lot of factors that go into it. What are the lighting conditions? How windy is it? Do you have a tripod? And many more

Ideally, you want to have the ISO as low as possible – ISO 100 on most cameras

In my experience landscapes suit being in focus front to back so choose an aperture between F8 and F11, focus about 1/3 of the way into the image and everything should be in focus

Shutter speed
Are you shooting handheld?
1/200 is a good place to start. It’s usually fast enough to avoid getting camera shake (blurry photos). Play around with different shutter speeds to find what you like

Start with 1/200 seconds. F8 and choose the ISO that fits


Are you shooting on a tripod?
You can use a slower shutter speed – keep in mind of things like the wind as if the wind blows the trees you will get blurry bits in your photos. Maybe you like that. I don’t, so if there are blurry bits increase the shutter speed.

Start with ISO 100, F8 and choose the shutter speed that fits


Let me know if you find these tips useful and share your photos around

Tag me on Twitter @adamkappaphoto

and Instagram @adamkappaphotography




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