Nikon Created and Maintained by: The Photoimaging Information Council


Three insignificant letters. RTM - they make up eleven percent of the alphabet.  RTM - on their own they have no meaning. RTM - grouped together they can stand for many different things.  RTM - in relation to photography their meaning is narrowed. RTM - “Do I have to?” I’m often asked. RTM - “Yes,” I respond - RTM - Read The Manual!!!!! Some people would rather pay weekly visits to the dentist than endure the pages of their little white book. But if you’re missing out on many of your camera’s features because you blow it off, why did you spend all that money on that great body? RTM.


You just got that new camera and understandably, it’s intimidating. You bravely take it out of the box, charge the battery, insert the memory card and press the shutter. Up pops the image on the LCD - voila, it works. You try the different program modes and the exposures are good. You spin the dial to aperture priority and make another image and of course, everything looks fine. But then the thought of pressing the Menu button enters your mind and you break out in a cold sweat. That’s why the manual is included! Let’s take a look at a few scenarios of image capture where reading the manual enables you to take your photography to the next level.


Time to Get Creative: Your old camera was very limiting so you bought the brand new one you’re holding in your hands. You always wanted to be able to make a double exposure and this is one of the reasons why you bought this particular model. By simply referencing the index under Multiple Exposures, you’re directed to the pages to find the information. You read through that section and begin to think to yourself, “Now that wasn’t so bad!” Hopefully it will be enough motivation to get you through the next chapter. The way I made the accompanying image was to use a feature called Image Overlay - a variation of the multiple exposure technique found in the same section of the manual. Had I not read it, I would have never known it existed. Let the words resonate: RTM.


Double Exposure Photography

© Russell Burden


Nail The Exposure: The metering systems in today’s cameras are extraordinary. They consistently provide excellent exposures in difficult situations. But even the best technology can be fooled if the light throws it a low, outside curve ball. You look at the LCD and the image is either too bright or too dark. You then check the histogram which confirms it. Rather than walk away frustrated, you remember back to the section in the manual that discussed Exposure Compensation. You hold down the button with the little plus and minus sign and adjust the exposure by spinning the command wheel and the result is an image with a perfect exposure. All of a sudden, the manual is your best friend. You get so excited, you run home and read it from cover to cover.  Let the words resonate: RTM


Exposure Compensation Photography

© Russell Burden


All Those Autofocus Settings: The number of autofocus settings leaves the casual photographer scratching his or her head why there are so many. After all, the camera is only going to be used to make some really nice snap shots of the kids on vacation or maybe at a local weekend event. Given the fact it requires time to learn all those settings and the camera will be used casually, why bother learning them? So the next weekend soccer game arrives and finally, little Billy plays lead forward and you want to capture all the action. Here’s where reading the manual would have been good. You would have switched the camera to Continuous mode, set the switch on the back to Dynamic, changed the number of focus points, raised the ISO setting, turned on the image stabilization, etc. In other words, knowing what should be done to increase the number of keepers would have been beneficial. Let the words resonate: RTM


Action Photography Tips

© Russell Burden


The moral of the story is reading the manual is a good thing. You’ll never find it on Oprah’s recommended reads, but then again, if you don’t read it, you may not get that shot that could appear on the front cover of your favorite magazine. Let the words resonate: RTM


To learn more about this topic, join me on one of my Photographic Nature Tours. Visit and click on the NATURE TOURS button for more information. Also, pick up a copy of my book, Amphoto’s Complete Book of Photography. You can purchase a signed copy directly from me or visit your local book store or Amazon. Contact me at to order your signed copy.


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Take Great offers you Photo Tips and Techniques from Master Photographers, the latest news on new products, events, and artists, photo contests, reviews of photography books for your coffee table, columns on digital photography, taking a digital picture, scrapbooking, a calendar of photogenic events and destinations throughout the world, a place to share your own images with others, and helps you in taking great pictures. Brought to you by the PhotoImaging Information Council, Take Great Pictures aims to inspire, inform, and educate those with an interest of photography regardless of picture taking skill level.
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