This morning I posted a very condensed guide to using manual mode on a DSLR camera on the Digital Photography School website, which I thought I would repeat here:
If the pictures are too bright, stop down the aperture, reduce the ISO or increase the shutter speed (vice versa if they are too dark). If the parameter you pick gives unwanted side effects (eg. you can’t hold the camera still enough if you make the shutter speed any slower) pick one of the other parameters. If you can’t get a decent exposure without hitting limits then you need to think about the overall lighting situation (eg. add flash or wait until a cloud passes in front of the sun).
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