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Photography tips for using Program Mode

June 30, 2011

A challenge with your camera is always a great way to improve your photography. While here in Cambodia before our tour officially begins, I’ve been challenging myself to shoot mostly on P Mode and get it right in camera.

What is P Mode? P stands for Program Mode though some joke and call it ‘Professional’ or ‘Pissed’ Mode. It allows you full control of your ISO and flash as well as white balance and under and over exposing in camera.With my camera set on spot metering I am finding as long as I take the exposure reading off a part of my scene that is approximately the same tone as 18% grey then the image is usually close to correctly exposed. If the scene does not have this then I usually do a quick calculation in my head – will the camera’s metering tell me exposure should be more or less and then I exposure compensate to that side. 90% of the time this is working.

Take note that once you take your meter reading using your focus point and then regain your focus off another area in the image that the camera re- meter reads the scene. Pay attention to the first meter reading and just adjust your exposure compensation accordingly.

Problems arise in images where there are contrasty lighting conditions. One quick way around this is to use flash. Again I am often flash exposure compensating more frequently to the negative side to make the flash light look as balanced to the natural lighting as I can.

Other problem areas can include too slow a shutter speed for the ISO chosen and associated subject movement, lack of appropriate depth of field for the scene and noise from having to use a high ISO.

However, I am finding it is a great mode to use while travelling when I want to have a fair amount of control over my image making while having fun with my family.

All images below straight out of camera.

The first two images demonstrate how the focus point on spot metering can radically affect your exposure.

Image 1
Nikon D3 28-300mm lens

Shutter Speed 1/400; f10; ISO 800
Focus Point on man.

Image 2
Nikon D3 28-300mm lens

Shutter Speed 1/800; f14; ISO 800
Focus point on the statue

The two images below demontsrate how flash can be used to balance contrasty lighting situtations. In Image one the sky is blown out while the statue looks correctly exposed.
In Image 2 the flash was fired and the meter reading for the image set from the blue sky in the background.


Image 1

Nikon D3 with 24-27mm
Shutter Speed 1/200; f7.1; ISO 1600

Nikon D3 with 24-27mm
Shutter Speed 1/200; f7.1; ISO 1600
Flash fired.

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