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What are Digital Camera Modes?

Digital Camera Modes give photographers the flexibility to gain control over the parameters like Shutter Speed, ISO and Aperture. It can be agreed to a certain extent that specific modes can make the camera exposure completely automatic. But there are also some other modes that allow the photographer to manually take control over some or all specifications of the exposure.
Before the rapid technological revolutions of today's world, there wasn't any particular thing as a camera mode. Everything had to be done manually, which led to many painstakingly slow processes that stifled the efficiency of the photographing processes. Photographers had to set the aperture, shutter speed and ISO manually and also opt for the exact kind of film for the cameras that could be deemed suitable when taking all the surrounding conditions into consideration. To check the intensity and the amount of light, they had the habit of equipping themselves with light metering devices and used them to gauge the intensity of light. These devices also furnished photographers with all the relevant information pertaining to exposure. They would then take all these facts into account while trying to make the optimal decision. In the year 1938 in the 20th century, Kodak heralded a change in the photography world by introducing to the world a top-notch film camera with an integrated light meter and in the year 1962, a Japanese establishment called "Topcon" gave the world the very first SLR camera that took readings of the light that came through the lens and then penetrated the camera with full vigour. What this implied was that photographers were no longer at the mercy of special light meters, and the cameras themselves had developed the ability and capability to do these jobs for them. One could say that this was one of the first instances of Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning and Machine Learning that the world witnessed. Brand New "Automatic" camera modes were flooding the market, and they started featuring on various cameras exciting the photography aficionados. These modes had the ability to evaluate the exact amount of light that passed through the lens with high precision and accuracy and would then automatically opt for the right exposure specifications to give rise to a properly-exposed image that was bereft of any of the shortcomings that used to plague photos previously. It is usually the norm for most point and shoot cameras to concentrate on automatic modes to ensure simplicity, more sophisticated cameras that have been introduced in recent decades are equipped with both automatic and manual exposure control, thereby giving photographers greater freedom and luxury to work with.

The following are 4 of the most crucial camera modes that can be seen in many of the digital cameras that are present in the market:

  1. Shutter Priority(S)or(Tv)
  2. Manual(M)
  3. Program(P)
  4. Aperture Priority(A) or (Av)


The Program Mode


In this effective mode, the camera just chooses the Aperture and Shutter Speed automatically for the photographers, and these features are contingent upon the amount of light that passes through the lens. This is the mode that you must employ when you want to try different types of shoots like "point and shoot" moments. These moments usually refer to miscellaneous situations that just require you to quickly snap a picture without giving too much thought about the surroundings and the postures. In these moments, you won't brood over the specifications too much, and will just go with the flow. The camera will automatically try to ensure that the shutter speed and aperture maintain optimal balance and the camera will accomplish this by also taking factors like the intensity of the surrounding light that tries to enter the camera into account. With such extraordinary features at the photographer's disposal, he/she is bound to be excited about the potential that this field holds. If the camera is positioned in a bright area that offers a high intensity of light, the aperture will be instantaneously increased, but the shutter speed will be kept fast. The camera does this very effectively and requires little to no human intervention. But if the camera is directed towards a dark area, the aperture will be decreased to maintain a fairly fast shutter speed. But if there isn't enough light to take proper photos, the lens aperture will be maintained at the lowest number (remember that a low aperture number implies maximum aperture), and the shutter speed will be decreased radically until the correct exposure is achieved.

This mode is generally not used by most photographers because it doesn't offer them control over the exposure, something which they desire a lot. There is indeed a way to somehow override the camera-speculated shutter speed and aperture by relocating the control dial. When you are using Nikon cameras, this dial is usually located on the back of the camera, and one must therefore be careful while searching for it. If the control dial is moved slightly towards the left side, the camera will instantaneously reduce the shutter speed while simultaneously increasing the aperture. But if the dial is rotated mildly towards the right, the camera will ensure that there is an uptick in the shutter speed while simultaneously decreasing the aperture. To put this succinctly for you to easily understand, I will employ brevity here. If you try to achieve a fast shutter speed for a situation that requires you to utilise freezing action, you should attempt to rotate the dial to the right, but, on the other hand, if you need a considerable depth of field, you should look to turn the dial to the left-hand side. To really ace the camera modes, you could take these online courses. These could give you an in-depth treatment if you want:

A free online course called Seeing Through Photographs

One can just go by the name and understand that this free online photography course needs the student to comprehend the photo, not merely take a gander at it. At the point when a photograph is made, there are various thoughts and approaches, which the course will enable you to gain understanding about. The course offered for free by the Museum of Modern Art additionally intends to assist you with understanding the various ways a photo is seen and utilised, regardless of whether as a method of documentation or as a method of imaginative articulation. It is extraordinary compared to other free online photography courses that should be possible in 16 hours and is proposed to be spread over a timeline of a month and a half.

Course by Adobe Photoshop CC for Essential training

One of the most genuinely outstanding and extensive courses out there, this excellent class featuring 87 exercises and more than 8 hours of instructional video! No past information on Photoshop or photography is essential, as prodigious educator Daniel Scott will give you all that you have to know. (In the event that you are already acquainted with the basics are confident in them, we fervently suggest Scott's next class, Adobe Photoshop CC – Advanced Training Course).

Here, hands-on experience is prioritised and valued. Banal, theoretical learning has the potential to stunt your learning experience and will make you a one-trick pony. To be an accomplished photographer, you must focus on mixing it up by incorporating projects into your learning too. This will encourage you to apply whatever you have learnt, and these applications of gained knowledge can fortify your self-belief. This will therefore focus on providing you with a project-based learning experience, with genuine models utilised as the premise to train the instruments and features needed to reach efficient results without any hassles. Some of the topics that are under the purview of the course are the achievement of image enrichment, amending light and colour to get optimal results, utilisingmaks(especially on the hair), including text and logos, making banners and advertisements, and obviously moulding your retouching aptitudes. If you are really mettlesome and are focused on gaining as much as possible from this course and your Creative Cloud membership, these perks are really significant.

These two courses can galvanise your necessary skills in metering even before you get knee-deep into photography.

We will now look at the Shutter-Priority Mode.

In this ingenious method that's customised for vibrant photographers who are looking to take photographs that brim with vitality, you can manually keep the camera's shutter speed at a number that you feel is most suitable for the style of photo that you wish to capture. The camera then looks at the shutter speed that you have chosen and automatically chooses the optimal aperture that will best serve you, which will be a corollary of the amount of light that passes through the lens. The camera, therefore, chooses the right aperture that's concomitant with the environmental conditions and the shutter speed that you have manually chosen. This mode is beneficial for those cameramen who want to take photos where the motion needs to be completely frozen or blurred deliberately. If there is just way too much light that even has the ability to blind you, the camera will notice that and increase the lens aperture to a much higher number. What this will eventually achieve is the reduction in the quantity of light that is allowed to enter the camera. If, on the other hand, there isn't enough light to take high-quality pictures, the camera will take the lack of light into account and decrease the aperture to the lowest number possible, as a consequence. This is done to offset the paucity of light. So, it's important to understand the fact that in the shutter priority mode, the shutter speed will always remain at the same level(what you initially decided to set it to), while the aperture automatically increases and decreases contingent upon the amount of light that's available in the surroundings. Besides, the photographer can't exercise control over the subject isolation, since you are always permitting the camera to wrest control over the depth of field that you require for the photos.

This method is also not very popular among photographers because there is always that looming risk of being presented with an overexposed or underexposed picture. Why is this so? Can we really avoid this risk? This is because if the ambient light is, in some rare case, plunged in paucity, and I add fuel to the fire by setting the shutter speed to a really high value, my exposure will just be at the mercy of the aperture/speed of the lens. Let's take an example. If the maximum aperture of the lens is f/4.0, the camera will struggle to use a lower aperture than the one that has been taken, and will still try to shoot at the fast shutter speed that has been manually set. The result will be a highly tarnished, underexposed image that can just be dismissed as drudgery. But, at the same time, if I choose to opt for pretty slow shutter speed, then there is just way too much light, and the image will be overexposed. Photographers usually call such photos 'blown out' photos.

Let's now look at the Aperture-Priority Mode.

In this mode, you go for a manually set lens aperture which essentially gives control over the aperture that you want to choose. The camera, though, has absolute control over shutter speed that it feels is right for the ambient conditions. It does this to ensure the image is adequately exposed. But the photographer is furnished with full control over subject isolation, and you can just safely play with the depth of field since you have been given the freedom to increase or decrease the lens aperture. In essence, the camera can just be your calculator. It can perform the calculations to measure the exact shutter speed that's optimal for the situation. If there is an inordinate amount of light that's just extraneous for the photo that you wish to take, the camera will automatically sense this surplus and will combat this predicament by increasing the shutter speed. But if you are present in a low-light environment and afflicted by the pangs of inadequate light, the camera will again sense the problem and will reduce the shutter speed instantaneously. There is virtually no risk of being plagued by an overexposed or underexposed image because the shutter speed can go as low as 30 seconds while simultaneously possessing the capability of reaching levels like 1/400-1/8000th of a second(which is contingent upon the camera that you use). This is typically sufficient for almost all lighting situations.

This is the mode that's most popular among proficient, professional photographers because they get to exercise full control over the depth of field and they are also cognizant of the fact that the image will always be adequately exposed under usual, general circumstances. Not achieving the right exposure can be an egregious mistake that's pernicious to your chances of climbing up the ladder of photography to be one among the top echelons. The metering systems in most of the modern cameras are good enough, and the photographers can just allow the camera to calculate and exercise control over the shutter speed.

Let's now get to the concept of 'focus' in photography.

It is imperative for a photographer, be it a novice or a professional, to be acquainted with the indispensable concept called focus in photography. If you don't direct attention towards this essential topic, you can't expect to shine in this field. To become a consummate photographer, I exhort you to become well-versed in this topic. Even if all other aspects are taken care of, lapses in focus could make the shortcomings of your photos conspicuous. The style and potential for focusing depend mainly on the subject. The focusing technique required to capture a nonmoving landscape will be vastly different from the technique used to catch a fast-moving bird that's already in flight. This guide that's going to be provided will be a great asset for anyone who is looking to improve their photography skills. To get better at focusing while wielding the camera, you could also refer to this online source if needed:


A professional diploma in Photography from Shaw Academy


One of Shaw Academy's expressed objectives is to toil hard to achieve their goal "reskilling and upskilling the world." Their professional diploma programs are licensed by the European Qualifications Framework. Their courses and projects span an array of concepts from photography and video to marketing, design and even wellbeing and health. Here are a couple of mainstream professional online courses:

The Wedding Photography course will expose you to sophisticated methods in addition to furnishing you with a comprehensive skill set that will make you adept at capturing wedding pictures.

The Professional Online Video Production and Cinematography Course offer fundamental aptitudes to make recordings, comprehend compositional methods and development, synchronising the sound with video, and shooting entirely manual for having total creative command over your recordings.

In particular, their Diploma in Photography comprises of five modules, each taking a month of study time. The main module alone incorporates a large number of the fundamental skills that many photographers may be hoping to ace, including composition, lighting, and hardware nuts and bolts. The initial seven days of participation with Shaw is free, and afterwards, every month is charged as an enrollment.

When you have aced the Basics in the Diploma Course, you can proceed to Intermediate and Advanced courses in photography, to find out more about the different varieties involved in photography and sharpen your abilities to make staggering pictures. Shaw Academy additionally offers Online Courses on Lightroom, Smartphone photography, and Photoshop.

Whenever you look to take a photo, there will always be a mandatory plane of focus. This is the region in space that has the maximum potential to achieve exemplary sharpness in any photo. For some people, this plane of focus is more like a window that intersects with the scene that they are looking to photograph with panache. Any object that's present within the confines of the photo and touches this aforementioned window is usually called an 'object in focus'. When you try to move the plane forwards and backwards to achieve the image that you always wanted to achieve, and also simultaneously ensure that your subject is as sharp and well-defined as possible, you are essentially performing the crucial act of focusing.

With the aid of modern and sophisticated equipment, focusing generally happens within the borders of the lens, which itself has many glass elements inside that have the ability to move to and fro with the sole motive of changing the optical path of the light. Extending this argument, if you physically try to move your lens farther from the vicinity of the camera, you will alter the position of the plane of focus. This principle is utilised by extension tubes when macro photography is performed by photographers.

Focusing can either happen automatically or manually, and it's completely up to the photographer. Automatic focus, also called autofocus, takes place when the camera system attempts to drive a motor that facilitates the movement of elements in the lens to effectively change the focus and thereby altering crucial aspects of the style and aesthetics of photography. On the other hand, if you wish to focus manually due to your aversion and dubiousness with respect to automated instruments, you will be required to just rotate a ring, or you may be needed to adopt a similar mechanism to achieve the result that you crave.

The clash of the titans! Manual Focus vs AutoFocus

In the days of photography when technological advancements hadn't yet gained the speed and vigour that were later seen, every single lens was classified as a manual focus lens. Even today, we see a number of manual focus lens, but they come with additional perks and specifications that enable the photographer to take better photos than what was possible before. Autofocus is a relatively new invention that basically coincided with the automation of many of the previously manual industries. It was first seen in the market in early 1977, almost 45 years ago. But it's still undeniably a very crucial arrow in any photographer's quiver, and that's something that's neither disputable nor debatable.

The autofocus systems employ a very complex mechanism to achieve the automation that's completely independent of human intervention. These systems use a motor in the camera that's bereft of any need for manual operations. Of course, automated mechanisms have that contrived essence to them, like any other machine that man has conceived and created. These motors aid the photographer in focusing on a subject that has been selected either manually or automatically. So, all that's required of the photographer is the pressing of a button on the camera, and then they must just wait for the magic to happen. It will just cast its spell on the motor, and the spellbinding magic will be demonstrated right in front of you. The camera will focus on your chosen subject if you like to retain control of the freedom to select the subject of your choice. But if you want to just discharge your duty without doing any work of your own, you can make the camera choose the right subject for you.

Unsurprisingly, photographers predominantly opt for autofocus more often than manual focus. Of course, the primary reason is convenience and the demand for minimal physical and mental work from the photographer. Drawing parallels with other automated machines, we can easily observe that the autofocus is far faster when compared to the manual focus. It's also way more precise and accurate, especially when the photographer is looking to focus on a moving object that's just zooming past him/her. That's why sports and wildlife photographers always tend to rely on autofocus to accomplish their goals. Still, the manual focus continues to somehow stay relevant. If the camera is finding it difficult to focus, such as in a dark environment, manual focus enables you to override any pitfalls or make precise adjustments that the camera may have somehow ignored. Also, if you set your lens to manual focus, you can keep the focus locked for multiple photos in a row. So, in conclusion, it's true that most professional photographers prefer autofocus over manual focus, but it's evident that both these types have their own share of advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, it's recommended to be proficient in both these types of focus.

The battle between heavyweights! Phase Detection vs Contrast Detection

In this stage of the discussion, it's important to note how the autofocus works at a technical level. You don't really need to educate yourself about the science behind it unless you are incredibly enthusiastic and are fascinated about it. Still, it's imperative that you are familiar with the two primary kinds of autofocus systems that exist in the market today:

Phase detection and contrast detection. Each of these two has its own share of advantages and disadvantages:

  • Phase detection bolts past contrast detection in terms of speed and is also adept at tracking moving subjects. It, therefore, doesn't demand inordinate levels of computational work from the camera. But, there is always a flip side to such extreme speed levels. This type is more vulnerable and susceptible to errors and internal misalignment problems. Some cameras do allow you to calibrate your phase-detection system to somehow lessen the impact of the mistakes.
  • Contrast Detection demands much greater data processing abilities from your camera, which basically implies that it takes longer for the camera to lock the correct focus. As a consequence, it is only mediocre when it comes to tracking moving subjects. But, it does have its own share of benefits. Contrast detection can be really precise in its measurements and other kinds of computational work. This benefit directly arises from the fact that the autofocus system is measuring raw data that's fed by the camera sensor. This can be particularly useful when your subject isn't moving fast. An example is landscape photography.


All this information is definitely useful to make a discerning decision about the best method to adopt, but how do you actually learn to set one or the other to take a particular photo?

It's much easier than what your preconceived notions might tell you. On many of the DSLR cameras that are present in the market today, phase detection occurs at any point in time when you autofocus by utilising the viewfinder. Contrast detection, on the other hand, occurs whenever you autofocus by utilising the rear LCD screen. So, the inference that you must draw from the previous two sentences is this: Use the functionalities provided by the viewfinder or live view. Many mirrorless cameras only possess one system that's typically a hybrid. If it's a hybrid, it implies that you can't keep switching between them. So, be careful when using hybrid systems because your decisions can't be informed by the mercurial nature of your vacillating mind. Also, bear in mind that there is always a perfect "plane of focus" in any photo that you wish to take and that usually intersects with the main subject. Both phase detection and contrast detection can guide you to this most valuable, precious plane of focus. It's just phase detection has a likeable habit of doing this task more quickly by hastening many processes while contrast-detection tends to do it with higher accuracy, especially for objects that are stationary.

Notwithstanding how rigorous the day may end up being, leave yourself some space to be somewhat inventive at every occasion you take photos. I suggest beginning with something extremely straightforward and progressively improving at your craft as you begin understanding your apparatus slightly more. In the event that you are shooting a wedding, you are most likely working a taxing day with whatever comes your direction. Since we can't foresee what may occur with climate, facilities and other impromptu stuff, you may not be keen on evaluating something new. However, I implore you to give yourself somewhat more credit and push your own limits. When photographers take up wedding assignments, they inspire themselves to improvise and achieve more with incentives and rewards to accomplish something somewhat unique with each wedding. It isn't something exceptional, yet it offers you an opportunity to learn and work while, at the same time, doing productive work and it definitely not the same as any other wedding. One must, as a rule, focus on one extraordinary look to capture. You could set a specific style of photo or a particular shade that you wish to apply to your photos as the primary goal and then work tirelessly towards achieving that monumental goal. Instead of building castles in the air and not accomplishing anything, you could break the herculean task into bits and pieces and then finish them one at a time progressively. One central, pivotal thought that is taken as the motivating goal is a lot simpler to fit into a frenzied day of the wedding and is also simpler to accomplish through some decent hard work. By executing such smaller than normal activities during periods where you are extremely busy and swamped with multiple assignments from various clients who come from diverse backgrounds, you realise what you are fit for the crunch times when you must be innovative on-demand without delay.

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