The Photography Starter Kit for Beginners

Lesson 11 of 17

Exposure Modes

 

The Photography Starter Kit for Beginners

Lesson 11 of 17

Exposure Modes

 

Lesson Info

Exposure Modes

So we're gonna move right on in to the next section, exposure modes. So on the top of most cameras these days is this exposure mode dial, and this is gonna set up how your camera selects shutter speeds and apertures. Most of your cameras are gonna have a number of manual options that look like this with little letters. They'll also likely have a bunch of automatic options that are available that will automatically set everything else for you. Now the auto modes are gonna set up your exposure, which means they're gonna take control of your shutter speed, your apertures, your ISO, and most of your cameras are just gonna dive in and start taking control of your focusing system, your flash and it might limit what you can get to in the menus of your camera. I consider this the child safety locks on the camera. You're not allowed into those particular features. And so even though we've talked about changing the focusing points in your camera, and you may wanna do that. If you have it in that...

green simple auto mode, your camera may not let you do it. And so for anyone who has taken one of my classes, I would hope that you don't use the auto mode anymore. It's perfect. The reason why it's on your camera is so that you can hand your camera to a friend who doesn't know about photography to take your photo or to take photos for you. And so once you learn how to start taking control, it's a little intoxicating, you wanna take control of everything in your camera. And here, it does limit you. It's great, as I say, for people who aren't familiar with these subjects that we're talking about here in this class because it will just do it in a nice general simple way. But it doesn't really dial in the exact settings that you as a photographer might wanna have, and that's why they're ultimately not gonna be the best. They'll get you a good, simple exposure but it won't be exactly what you want. Let's look at the program mode because the program mode is actually pretty similar to the full camera mode. The two big differences that I can think of is number one, the child safety locks have been taken off on all the features of the camera. So if you wanna get into the metering system, the drive mode, all those sorts of things, you can get into and make your adjustments. The second thing is that the cameras that have built-in flashes, the flash won't pop up, which can be really, really irritating because the flash system in most cameras is really, really dumb. The flash pops up when it's dark. And flash should really only be used when there is a subject fairly close by. Because if your subject is like a city that's way across the river or the bay, it's not gonna be able to fire that flash and fill the city with light. And so we'll talk about flash in an upcoming section. And so the flash won't pop up automatically in the program mode. Now the program mode means the camera is still in control of shutter speeds and apertures. And it's gonna recommend what it thinks is a nice, healthy combination of those two things. And so the program in the program says try not to have too slow a shutter speed. It assumes you're hand holding the camera, which may be right or may be wrong, because you could have the camera on a tripod or you might have other things in mind about what you would like the camera to do. And in the program mode, pretty much all cameras will have available something that is generally known as program shift. And that allows you to change shutter speeds and apertures simultaneously with one dial or one control on the camera. So if you did not like the f/5.6 at a 60th of a second, you could turn that dial and say I want more depth of field of f/11, and your camera would just say, okay, well I'll give you a different shutter speed but the result is that you still get a proper exposure. If you said you know what, I want a shallower depth of field at 1.4 or a faster shutter speed, you could just dial that setting over and have that set up. The thing that you have to be careful with in this shift mode is of resets. Some cameras reset, some cameras don't. With a Canon camera, if I set it up and I was gonna do someone's portrait and I wanted shallower depth of field, I could put it in the program mode, dial it down to 1.4, it gives me the appropriate shutter speed and I'm fine-tuning the photos. I put the camera down, I let it rest for about six seconds, the camera resets back to 60 at 5.6, depending on the lighting, those numbers can vary a little bit. But it resets every time I leave the camera alone for about six seconds. And so if I'm doing a bunch of portraits, I'm gonna keep dialing the settings back in, which is really irritating. Nikon cameras on the other hand are kind of sticky. They stay in that mode. So you put it in the portrait mode, you shoot all your portraits, you put your camera down, you kind of forget that you were shooting portraits. You go over to shoot a landscape shots, your camera is still in the portrait mode. And so they both have their problems. Neither one is perfect in my mind. But if you wanna use your camera real quickly and simply, you can put it in the program mode, you can make a quick dial adjustment and get it set up for almost any situation that you can encounter. So it's not a bad mode, but it's not my favorite mode. Next up is shutter priority or time value. This is where you get to control the shutter speed and the camera's gonna go in and figure out the aperture. And this is not my favorite mode. In fact, it's one of my least favorite modes and let me explain why. So you get to choose the shutter speed and the camera will figure out the aperture. And so if you want a faster shutter speed, 1000th of a second, great, you can select 1000th of a second. But what if you don't have a lens that goes down to 1.4? What if you decide I want 2000th of a second and your lens doesn't go down to 1.0, which pretty much hardly any lenses do? It means you're gonna be able to take a photo at a 2000th of a second, your camera will do the best job it can but it's gonna be too dark and you're not gonna know about that until after you look at the photo that you just took and you realize, uh-oh, I just took a whole bunch of photos that are way too dark. And the problem is, is that there are way too many shutter speeds for how many apertures are on a particular lens. And this can happen at the other end. You could choose a really slow shutter speed but there's not a small enough aperture for it to work. And so it has a limited range that it can work. I'm not saying it's a bad mode that you should never use, you just need to be very careful about it because you have 18 options but only about eight of them are gonna work with a matching aperture, which means most of the settings in this mode are gonna give you bad results if you're not paying attention to your camera and the warnings about not having the right aperture lens on or your image is gonna be too dark. And so shutter priority can be a mode that is used in particular cases where you've kind of checked it out and you've made sure that you are in the right range. But I think it's a little bit of a scary mode to give a novice because if you set the wrong setting, you're gonna get dark pictures and you won't know about it until after you shoot the photo. All right, next up is one of my favorite modes, which is aperture priority or aperture value. This is where you get to choose the aperture, the camera will figure out the shutter speed for you. And so choose an aperture in the middle, f/5.6 might give you a 60th of a second. If you want shallower depth of field or faster shutter speeds, just dial it over down to 1.4, 2. or whatever your lens happens to have. And so anything in this 1.4 to 2.8 region is gonna give you shallow depth of field and give you faster shutter speeds to freeze motion. That's pretty easy to do. Dial it to the other extreme, which isn't that far away, down to f/22 or in that range and you're gonna be able to maximize depth of field or get slower shutter speeds for blurring the action. If you leave it in the middle of the range, well that's just kinda good for generally good, maximum sharpness, and so if you think about your exposure settings over here, there's really not that many. What do we get? Just nine choices, a few clicks back and forth and we can do really everything there is in the world of photography. And so it just makes it very, very quick and easy to work with. When I'm doing travel photography, I'm leaving to tour in Cuba and we're walking down the Cuban streets, I don't know what I'm gonna shoot next. There could be a guy selling bread on the corner, there could be a car driving down the street. And so my needs for shutter speed and depth of field are unknown until I get to that scenario. And in this situation, boom, I can turn it with just a few flicks of that thumb and I'm in the right setting. And so this is what I like to have my camera set up in when I don't know what my next photo is. It's my ready-to-go mode, ready for the next photo, whatever that happens to be. And I generally leave it kind of wide open in case something really quick happens. And then all of the modes that we've just talked about, aperture priority, shutter priority and program, have something in common. They are auto exposure modes, which means ultimately your camera is in control of how bright and dark your photo is, which can be a problem if you recall back to the metering part that we talked about just a few minutes ago. So let's talk about this auto exposure mode. Generally, the camera wants an even exposure. Not too dark, not too bright. And so it's gonna have an indicator right here under the zero, the way it shows up in most cameras. And so you will have an option for exposure compensation on your camera. Look in your cameras and find that little plus/minus button and you will see that this is how you can go in and change your exposure compensation when you are shooting in those modes. So let's like take a look at a couple of examples. So these doors are white. They are reflecting a lot of light to the camera, and the camera says woah, hold on there, nothing is white, everything is gray. And so it's darkening these doors down. And so the way I need to correct for this is I need to go over to my exposure compensation dial and I need to tell the camera hey wait, this is brighter than average. And I might be up one stop, I might be up two stops, it really just depends on the subject itself. And this is something that really a lot of people get hung up on. It's confusing, they say wait a minute, wait a minute. It's a bright subject and you're telling it to be brighter? That doesn't make sense. Well it does because remember, it's a bright subject, the camera doesn't understand bright subjects so it's trying to make it darker and you're just letting the camera know this is indeed a bright subject. And so if we dial in a brighter exposure setting on this, it'll brighten up those doors to the nice bright white that it's supposed to be. Now the opposite scenario is when you have kind of a dark scene that you're focusing on and your camera is gonna say woah, this is really dark, let's brighten this sucker up, and it wants to make it brighter. But you're telling the camera no, no, no, this scene really is dark. Brighter isn't better, darker isn't better, it's whatever is right for that scene. And so in this case, I wanna darken it down because our subjects on this particular photograph, they're in a bright area and the camera doesn't understand that this dark area is throwing off the exposure for where my main subject is. And so in this case, I might need to dial my exposure down to -2. And so in some cases, we need to dial up the brightness. In some cases, we need to dial down the brightness. But there is one thing for sure. If you dial this in on your camera, be sure to reset it. You don't wanna leave your camera at -3 or + for a long period of time as this stays. This is a sticky mode. This stays in there whether you turn the camera off, you change modes or anything else. This is permanently in there's so this should normally be set on zero until you get into a situation where you need to bump the exposure and make it brighter or make it darker in those three modes we talked about, program, shutter priority and aperture priority. All right, my favorite mode, manual. I get to be in full control of shutter speeds and apertures. I know a lot of people want to get into shooting manually, and often their first question is, is what do I do first? Which one should I set first? It really depends on the scenario. And so it can be shutter speeds, it can be apertures. It's probably one of the two, not ISO, but that's kind of the third setting that we've already talked about. And so if we were to set our cameras at 5.6, let's just say that was the aperture we wanted, what we would do next is well, in choosing these, which one do you choose first? Well, I guess the answer that I was trying to get to was whatever one is most important. Something has gotta be most important, either your shutter speeds or your apertures are the most important thing, set that number first. Let's say I wanted an aperture of 5. and that was really important to me. I would set that, and then I would start adjusting the shutter speed, but I would be looking at my exposure indicator and getting that over towards the center zero setting. And this is probably where I would shoot a test photo. And then I would check to see if it's too bright or too dark or if there's anything else that I need to adjust as far as the exposure goes. But this is the concept in how to manually expose your scene. Choose one of these two settings, set it wherever you want it and then adjust the other to see if you can get a proper exposure and then you can kind of go from there. But that's the first step in getting the process right. Now the reason I like manual exposure is that my shots are consistent in their brightness from image to image. All right, so we're in Cuba. Does it feel like Cuba? It's great to be in Cuba. All right, and they got all these old cars. And so as the car is driving down the street, I'm shooting a series of photos because I'm not sure exactly where I want the car, I wanna shoot a whole series of photos. And if you could look over my shoulder at my camera as it's shooting photos, this is the way the exposure would look on the camera. Now I wanna ask the class, I want somebody to answer this, why is this reading over here on the plus side for this image here? What is different about this photograph than the others? I think we have someone over here, if we can get a microphone? You have like a larger open lighted area showing. There's more light here than there is in this left-hand photograph. Exactly right. Now the camera doesn't know the difference between that and the car. And so it's just reading all of the light. I know much better, you know much better, and so the camera is just saying there's more light coming in this scene, all right? So what happens if we had our camera in one of the automated modes? Well, here's what would happen. It doesn't really matter which one of the automated modes, it would happen in any of the automated modes. The camera would think it's the correct exposure. And what it's doing is it's darkening down this scene here. Even though the light on the car hasn't changed, the camera's gonna darken this down. And so in the automated modes, it's gonna change from image to image as you pan from side to side with that subject moving around. In so if you know what your subject is and the lighting is not changing, a manual mode is a great mode to be in. Because in manual exposure, it doesn't matter what happens in the background. Once you've dialed in the correct exposure settings, they're gonna stay there. Now your light meter might tell hey, there's a little bit more light or less light, and you can ignore this at that point, or you can just note it and say okay, the camera reads there's more light when I point the camera over here. And then I would say oh, yeah, well I don't really care about that, that's normal, that's what's gonna happen because that's much brighter than the building. So this is my favorite part about the class right now, all right? This is exposure values, this is where we really dial in how we get the right numbers. Because I think of photography as a bit of a puzzle. It's a game, and I wanna try to get the right answer, all right? And so we have broken our studio audience into three different groups and we're gonna go around and I'm gonna be asking you questions about what are the best settings for a given scenario. So we're gonna start with freezing motion. So we're doing action photography, sports photography, wildlife and action, and so we're trying to freeze the action of his eagle coming into the river. Okay, so we're gonna go with group number one over here on the far left. So somebody pick up the microphone and as we get into this, it's a little bit of a game and we're trying to guess what the right numbers are. And I'm gonna actually do the first step for you. The first thing that I would set on my camera is I would have the ISO set at because I'm going for what do I think would be the best here. And I know that ISO 100 is my lowest setting. So my question to group number one is what should we set next on the camera? So call it out, call it out to the leader and tell him what you think and... The shutter speed? Shutter speed, we're gonna say yes on the shutter speed. But I'm gonna go back to you and I'm gonna say what shutter speed? So let's call out, see if you can come to a consensus about what you think a good shutter speed would be. So we've got an eagle coming in, we're freezing the legs and the water moving and the wings, what do we have? 2,000? 2,000th of a second. So that's a pretty fast shutter speed and let's see what I said. Wooh, nice job, yeah! So very good job, very good. So yes, we need a good, fast shutter speed. It might be 1,000, it might be 4,000, but that was a good call right in there. Okay, so group number two. We know you're gonna set the aperture, right? The question is, is what aperture would you want to set? Now there's a lot of things that you could choose for reasons you could choose for choosing an aperture, but I'll just give you one thought before you guys come up with an answer. How important is the background in that photograph? So having that in mind, give our mic master here some input on what you think would be a good choice in aperture. 4.0? 4.0. And I said 4.0. But I wanna know why you said 4.0. Does anyone in that group, why did you choose 4.0? Because it's a shallow depth of field? It's a shallow depth of field, very good, and the background is not important. We want your eyes to stay on the eagle. Very, very good, okay. Now this is fantasyland. This is where we would like to be to shoot this photograph. We need to check the light meter because this is just where we wanted things to be out here. Now group number three, we do not have the right exposure. We are, as I can see over here, we are underexposed by two stops, but the red indicates we are more than two stops underexposed. So we need to let in more light so that we have a proper exposure. The question is, is which one of these settings can we adjust to get a proper exposure? So group number three, what should we change to get a proper exposure? Think about it yourself, don't just watch them struggle to get an answer. What would you choose? You have to remember what our overall goal is in the photograph too. And so who's got the microphone? Who's gonna be our spokesperson? You change the ISO? You're gonna change the ISO. What are you gonna do with it? You're gonna do a smaller fraction? Yeah, change it to 800. Change it to 800. Wow, look at that folks! Perfect all three groups here. Did I make this too easy on you? And so yes, so let's go back to, okay, back to the point where we were underexposed. We need to let in more light. Do we have any aperture to let in more light? No, we're maxed out at 4.0 so that's not even an option. So that would have been a dumb choice. Shutter speeds. Well, we could go to a slower shutter speed but that would defeat the purpose of the photo that we were trying to take. And so kind of by default, that was really the only answer that you could possibly go with but you didn't know how far, you might've had to go up to 1600 or because you don't know when you get that little red arrow that you're way off the edge. But very good, very good. So we're gonna go back to the next photograph. And just to keep things mixed up, we're gonna go with group two to start with now. So now we're back in the Slot Canyons, this is down in Utah, and we're trying to get maximum depth of field because we wanna show all the little bits. This is called Zebra Slot Canyon. I don't know why they've called it Zebra but we wanna get everything in focus. And once again, I'm gonna give you the first step. Of course we want ISO 100, so group number two, what's our next setting? And I don't just wanna know which one, I wanna know a number. So let's hear where you think we should have next. Aperture at 22. Aperture at 22, why? To get a deep depth of field. All right, let's see what I said on this. F/22, very good. Yes, we have lots of depth of field, that's the whole concept. I basically told you f/22 by saying maximize depth of field. Okay, we're gonna come over here to group number three and we're gonna need to figure out what shutter speed. And let me see, I'm gonna be very careful about the words I use here. What shutter speed would you like to use? What would be convenient? Do we know if we're on a tripod or not? Oh, stop talking like that right now. Just for right now, what would be a convenient shutter speed? Microphone? Throw out some numbers back and forth. Think about it. What number are you gonna choose? (indistinct chattering) It's good to think about these things, folks. What would you choose at home? What are you gonna do at home? What's a convenient shutter speed to use? Okay, this is not the UN, let's have an answer. Probably 1/30th. 1/30th of a second? Well, I think for handheld photography, you should be at a 60th, and I like to have one for safety. So I think 125 would be a safer setting for doing a handheld shot. All right, so now let's take a look at the exposure and the exposure says uh-oh, we are well underexposed, okay? Now group number one, we need to fix this problem. You guys need to fix this problem. How do we fix this problem of underexposure here? What can we do? And we will open up the grounds to using all sorts of devices if you need to. Any sort of consensus over there? So there's not much of a consensus but we were thinking either shutter speed or ISO. Shutter speed or ISO. Okay, so we could bump up the ISO. That's kind of the cheap solution because we're always trying to keep this as low as possible. If we're gonna use a slower shutter speed, what do we need to use? A tripod. A tripod. So if we have a tripod, is there anything moving in this photograph? Nothing. No, which means we can use a tripod and use any shutter speed possible. And so in this case, we actually needed a one second exposure on this case. So shutter speed is the correct answer here and using a tripod. That was kind of the key thing. If you don't have a tripod, well that is gonna limit you in what you can do. And now you have got the ultimate photo because you're at the lowest ISO setting, you've got your maximum depth of field and who cares about shutter speeds because there's nothing moving and you're on a tripod? All right, so now we're gonna do shallow depth of field. I think we're gonna jump over to group three to start with so that you each have kind of a different thing to work with here. And so you want your person in focus, you wanna blur the background because that is less important. We're gonna give you the ISO of 100 to start with, and so group number three, what's our first setting? And I don't just want categories, I want numbers. The aperture would be 4.0. Okay, and what's special about 4.0? You get a short depth of field? Shallow. Shallow depth of field. Short would be acceptable as well. So very good, yes. That's the whole intent of this photograph right here. All right, group number one, we're going back to choosing a shutter speed. What shutter speed do you wanna have your camera? What would be convenient, what would be good for portrait photography? Now people are going back in their minds going through the shutter speed section going, okay, what did we need for fast human, casual human movement, things like that? So anywhere from like 60 to 250. It'd be probably 260. 60 to 250. And so as I like to say 60 is probably good but I like going one more for safety. So I think 125, right in the heart of what you said, would be a good choice there. But now we need to look at our exposure indicator and in this case, we're overexposed. This is a rare problem in photography. Too much light. It's like having too much money. It's an easy problem to solve. Okay, so group number two, we've got one stop too much light coming in, how do we fix this problem? So they're gonna figure out what they need to do here. So increase the shutter speed to 250? Increase the shutter speed to 250 is the right answer because if we need to let in less light, we can't do it with ISO. We could do it with aperture, but that defeats the whole purpose of the photograph. And what's the impact of having a faster shutter speed? Well, it just freezes the action the same way as 1/25th, does it only a little bit better. And so it actually helps us because now we have a little bit faster shutter speed for stopping their motion or our motion. So you guys did a very good job at coming to those conclusions. Now I like to slow things down like this so that we can analyze each step. And you might be wondering, well, how do you make these decisions when the eagle is coming in to catch that fish right out of the river? It's like, you don't do it right then, you'd do it two minutes ahead of time. This is why you set your camera up and you think about what do you want to do, you dial that in. And in reality, in the real world, once you get good with photography, this whole process will take about two to three seconds. You just know that you're boxed in here, you go to the next one, you know what that one is. You look at the light meter and you figure out third one, and it happens very, very quickly. But it doesn't happen quickly at first. You gotta take your time, and this is why it's really good for beginners to go out on casual photo walks where they have no pressure from people saying get on the bus and hurry up! Just take your time, figure things out and you'll learn this faster and faster and faster all the time till it becomes just instinctual and you could just turn your camera on, flip a couple of dials and you are right in the correct manual exposure spot. So that is the exposure section. And hopefully, that is where we kind of start bringing all of these things together that we talked about earlier in the day. And congrats to the studio audience, you guys did fantastic on that, nice job. So one question that had come in, in the beginning of this section was from Michelle. When you're talking about 18% gray, is the 18% gray equivalent to the 50% gray in the Photoshop lingo? Is that the same concept? I believe it would be. 18 is more kind of from a technical aspect. And so that 50% gray is in the middle, halfway between light and dark. Cool. And this is not a question but a comment from Peter who says awesome examples, very easy to understand based on those three examples, perfectly presented on the slides. So thank you for that feedback as well. Question from Michelle. Can we use a filter to reduce light? And I know that's not the topic of this segment, but is that another tool for your exposure setting? Yes, you could use a filter for darkening the exposure. That would be a neutral density filter, and that is used sometimes by landscape photographers to let in less light so they can use slower shutter speeds with waterfalls and rivers. There's a lot of people, when you get into the world of video, I like the world of still photographs for a number reasons, but one of the reasons is, is because I have the world of shutter speeds to play with. From 30 seconds to 8,000th of a second. When you shoot video, you're generally locked in to one shutter, maybe a 50th of a second or 100th of a second. And if you need to control the exposure shooting video, you don't have that element. You still have apertures and you have the equivalent of ISOs but then you have to start using filters for video. And so video and landscape users are the main users of those neutral density filters. But for general photography, you're not gonna need them at all.

Class Description

“This is a great starter class. I thought I understood how shutter speed and aperture worked together, but this class made it come together in a matter of minutes. I'm already taking better pictures and this is just the beginning!” -Jennifer Manley, CreativeLive Student


Learn how to take the kind of photograph you’ll want to print and pass on to the next generation. John Greengo is back to teach this updated photography for beginners class. You’ll learn the principles of good beginner and intermediate photography and get the skills necessary to create amazing photos. 

Advanced cameras are available at modest price points, but learning how to use them takes an investment.

  • Learn the the most essential functions of your camera 
  • Gain confidence in putting new functions into action 
  • Get the swing of basic photographic terminology 
  • Feel prepared to move on to more advanced classes 
  • Gain a solid understanding of must-know lighting and composition techniques 
  • Lean to position yourself and your subject to capture the best photo possible with the camera you have – no additional gear needed 
If you want to take more memorable and inspiring photographs of your travels, your friends and family, or the great outdoors then this photography for beginners class is for you. Learn how to make average pictures amazing photographs and gain the ground necessary to continue your photography education.  

“This is a super introduction to photography for anyone who really wants to learn how to understand and begin to use the camera to its full extent. John is an excellent teacher, very easy to follow, with great graphics and examples.”  -Sarah, CreativeLive Student  

Reviews

Kanoelani Patenaude
 

I am a pro photographer in my dreams, where I know the in's and out's of my camera; however, reality proved differently, as real life would tell you, I was a deer caught in headlights just looking at my new 7D Mark II. I am a photographer enthusiast without the skills, but a lot of love for the moments one, or the profession/hobby of it can capture. I mostly shoot my husband, friends, and community surfers in the lineup, and of course, my children, who rarely sit still. Thus, I switched from Nikon to Canon, venturing on the 7D Mark II for the grand reviews of how stellar of camera it is for action shots (surfing, and kids, this was a no brainer). That said, and overwhelmed with the way beyond my skill set, but noted desire and aspiration to grow, I made the purchase, and sought help rather quickly as I wanted to feel confident with what I was utilizing to capture the best memories possible. I came into this John's courses knowing the "on/off" button, and "auto" shoot mode. I came out of the course feeling like the pro in my dreams, and ready to shoot manual. John's teaching style is on point, and his detailed visuals are a huge plus. My first shots post this photography kit course, I thought were great for my first educated shoot, and shockingly, I even received and email from one of the sponsors of the surfers I captured, asking if they could use my image for their sites and publications. Not bad for a newbie. Though, my intent was never a business purpose, I did not know if I should charge a small fee, or give it for free. I don't mind free as it's not my business, yet I don't want to ruin it for any professional photographers in town doing the same thing that are charging. Perhaps another course to help me with that. I highly recommend courses by John Greengo! Thank you so much, John!

Megan Wagner
 

John is extremely articulate and is a great teacher with lots of visual aids and metaphors to help understand photography. I have been doing photography for a few years now and this class was a tremendous help in boosting my knowledge and refreshing my memory in multiple aspects of photography. The graphics that John uses are helpful and he even goes through images and asks which settings would be best to use and will go through the why. He makes things easy to understand and is very clear about the information he provides. I am so glad I took this course and I would highly recommend it even to an experienced photographer. Thank you John Greengo!