Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The lesson last week was the manipulation of the exposure triangle. Now, some of you might still be confused. It’s okay! Relax! Going manual on a DSLR is like becoming a vegetarian. It’s normal to have a hard time at first. That’s why there are PRIORITY MODES in a camera. Basically they are like the “VEGE-MEATS” of the photography world. They are the bridges that help you in your transition from auto to manual. But don’t get me wrong. Priority modes are not only for newbies okay? Even professional photographers use them for pictorials where they don’t have too much time to think (e.g. events)

“Okay! Sounds good to me! What are they exactly?”

Priority modes are actually semi automatic since the camera still does a bit of thinking for you. There are 2 types of priority modes: APERTURE AND SHUTTER PRIORITY MODES.

Aperture Priority is a mode in the camera where you control the aperture and the camera selects the shutter speed based on the aperture of your choice and the lighting on the scene to achieve a well balanced exposure. So for example, you’re at a party and you want to have a shallow depth of field. If you’ll do it in manual, it’s fine. But you have to do a test shot first to test if the combination of your exposure triangle is okay. But if you change rooms and the lighting in the room is different from the first one, then you’ll have a hard time adjusting your cam. It’s too much hassle and can result in a lost “moment”. But if you put it in aperture priority mode, just select the aperture that you want, and VOILA! You don’t have to think of the shutter speed anymore.

Shutter Speed Priority is the opposite of Aperture Priority. You set the shutter speed that you want and the camera sets the aperture to help balance the exposure of the scene you want to take. So if you want to take a picture of a dog running, you set your desired shutter speed and the camera will choose a fitting aperture for you.

Easy right? Yes. It’ll help you tremendously. But if you think about it, we still have a missing component of the exposure triangle. The ISO. You can set it on auto but you can also control the ISO if you want to. I personally set mine manually so I can control the noise in the photo.

Here’s how I do it:

1. What I do first is set my ISO based on the ambient light. I won’t give you my formula here so you’ll be forced to read back on my previous blogs. Hehehe. 

2. Choose the priority mode that you want and set it accordingly.

3. Take a picture. Review your photo. If it’s underexposed or over exposed, I usually adjust the ISO.


Because the only concern of the camera is the aperture and the shutter speed.

For example: You are in aperture priority and you noticed that the shutter speed is too slow. All you pictures are a bit blurred due to camera shake. The aperture is already wide open to let in more light to the sensor but it isn’t enough. What to do? Increase the ISO to help the camera adjust to a higher shutter speed. Remember, you can’t adjust the aperture since it is wide open already but if you increase ISO, you increase the sensitivity of the sensor. And if we all know that the more sensitive the sensor is, the faster the shutter speed is right?

I guess I can talk on and on about exposures but you won’t learn them until you do it yourself. So try it! I know it’s confusing at first but once you get used to it, you’ll get it immediately. Little puzzles like this will help you a lot and using priority modes surely won’t overwhelm you. And remember, when shooting using the priority modes, try to observe the settings that the camera used so that next time, you’ll have an idea on how to work those settings in manual.  See you later classmate! =)

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