So you finally got that fancy camera, but now you're staring at it like a deer in headlights? Believe me, I've been there. When I was gifted my first Canon DSLR a decade ago, I set that thing on Auto and got real comfortable there. The timing of that gift coincided with my firstborn becoming a toddler. I hired a dear friend to take his Birthday pictures when he turned two and the images she gave me are priceless. She accomplished beauty with her camera that I knew I would never get from mine if I continued living on Auto (<---that is a character trait of mine as well). I immediately asked her if she would share some simple tips to help get me shooting in Manual. It is a daunting task at first and it's a lot of technical information. If you're more creatively minded (like me), the info gets jumbled up really quick. My friend gave me some great simple hands on tips to get me started, but then we both moved to different states and I was left to my own devices. Thus began countless hours online reading and playing with buttons on my camera and shooting my pen jar on my desk to see the effects. In my search, I came across a few really awesome books that helped me figure things out. They are easy to read and the language was just my speed - direct and simple. I thought I'd share a few of my favorite books here in case any of you are wanting to get off Auto. These cameras are $$ - use them to their full capability!
1) The Manual. Okay, okay - this one is not so simple and direct. I know it's totally boring. But, believe me - if you want to know where to find something on your specific camera, you just have to read the manual it comes with. I still have to reference mine for features I don't use regularly. This is an invaluable resource. I recently purchased a Canon 6D MkII and am loving it.
This book was SO helpful in helping me understand all the photography lingo and how to make my backgrounds have that awesome blurred out effect (aka bokeh). It also helped me throw caution to the wind and remember that my images don't require perfection because, well, life isn't perfect. Photography is about capturing memories. If you're just wanting to use your camera to document your family, you will definitely want to pick up a copy of this book. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Okay, this one is actually a series and I strongly encourage you to read the entire series. He starts with the basics and then goes a little deeper into technical issues later on. Plus, Kelby's personal work is splattered throughout and his images are so inspiring!
While this one is definitely more technical, it's a must read for helping understand the outcome of your images. You need to understand exposure in order to create properly 'lit' pictures. You can even use the information in these pages to understand photography with your iPhone. Exposure isn't a camera snob.