Today’s brands of cameras rely extensively on auto this and auto that. For HDR photography, one of the consequences of this is that many amateur photographers don’t learn how to use their cameras like they should.

Don’t be one of them. You’ll enjoy yourself more and take better pictures if you learn how to use your camera. Think of yourself as an engineer operating a complex piece of equipment — because you are.

Take any dSLR camera and look at all the buttons, displays, knobs, and ports. More likely than not, that camera has a plethora of handy controls that are totally useless to you as a photographer if you don’t know how to use them.

The best way to learn what all the buttons and controls are and what they do is to read the manual. Learn every mode, switch, menu option, knob, and button. Learn how to use everything, and make sure to practice.

Read the manual in chunks. Don’t try to go from front to back in one sitting and expect to remember everything. Get the basics down and start adding bit by bit. Before you know it, you’ll have it!