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The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course

Lesson 8 of 24

Shooting Mode: Program

Khara Plicanic

The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

8. Shooting Mode: Program

Lesson Info

Shooting Mode: Program

P is for program mode on many cameras. Of course, not all of them. But many, it's program mode. So program mode is basically, it's still auto, meaning you can just point and shoot. You don't have to think. Point and shoot. But, if you want to tell the camera, you can like whisper some things to it, like, hey, shut the flash off. You can say that in program mode. Some cameras won't even let you do that in auto. So, some will, but some will not. Like in auto mode you are like handcuffed, there's nothing you can do. But program mode will let you turn the flash off. It might let you tell the camera you want a brighter or darker exposure. We'll talk about that in the next segment when we talk about exposure compensation. It might let you change the white balance. We'll talk about that in the next segment too. We'll talk about all the cool functions that you can do when you're not in auto mode. So program mode is like auto mode but it lets you do cool stuff. So, people like that. So sometime...

s I joke that the P stand for paradise because its automated, so if you're still like biting your nails and a little bit scared, it's not so scary but it still lets you try out all the cool things we're going to be talking about. So here's just some random examples that I shot on a camera in program mode. There's really nothing special about the way that I took it. I just had the camera in program mode and I canceled the flash, which is pretty much how I would always operate. With a point and shoot, it's still always have the flash off, unless I really need it. But, this was in New York. I had just bought this camera. I was literally walking from the camera store to the show we were going to go see and I was like oh let me see how this camera works. And it's a little point and shoot so I had it in program mode and just canceled the flash and got this shot. Got a great shot of Rockefella Center. You know, and these were night time environments so those can be pretty tricky and they were great. But the key was being able to cancel that flash and you can't do that in auto mode. So, program mode is a great place to be if you're really just freaked out but you're like I want to be able to use all these cool functions I paid for with my camera. If you are in auto mode, you are not getting your money's worth out of your camera. I'll just tell you that right now. So, get your money's worth and get out of auto mode. Okay. So you have a little more control in program mode. So I put that to the right a little bit. And then just lets just pause on the modes for a minute and we're going to jump down and talk about what I call scenes, what a lot of cameras call scenes, even though on some cameras these scenes appear on your mode dial. So, go figure, right. But you'll find them. They're there somewhere. So, the first one here is portrait mode. So we're going to focus on that first. Knowing what we know, what we talked about in the previous segment, about exposure and how we can control shutter speed and aperture and ISO and make a creative use of a photo. If you're shooting portraits, what type of settings might you generally be interested in? Shutter or aperture wise to achieve a traditional portrait look. Jose. I think if I remember right, if it's a group I want lower f-stop. And, I guess for shutter speed I probably don't want it too slow cause it might move. Then you'd need a tripod. Yeah, a tripod. So generally, when it comes to portraits, your focus would generally like you said be on the aperture. Often. So the shutter speed, eh, as long as we're not needing a tripod and you know people aren't blurred because they moved or something then we don't have to worry too much about shutter speed as long as it balances the equation. So our priority in that situation would be on getting an aperture that's going to give us whatever kind of blurred background or not that we need. So if we're taking a portrait of just one person generally you would want a more open aperture. So that would be the lower numbers, right? So like an f/4, f/2.8, f, depending on your camera lens what you can get away with. So you'd want a wider aperture is basically the goal.

Class Description

A new camera is an adventure waiting to happen. It’s an invitation to explore and a tool that opens doors to awesome experiences. Learning your way around a DSLR for the first time doesn’t have to be daunting. With a little guidance, you’ll be confidently calling the shots in no time.

Pro photographer and educator Khara Plicanic will help you understand your camera like never before (whether a dSLR, compact point-and-shoot, or even a phone! ) and get you taking better photos fresh out of the box. Join Khara for this class, and you’ll learn:

  • How exposure works and how each setting creates a different effect
  • The basics of different shooting modes (Auto, Program, Shutter/Aperture Priority, Manual, etc.)
  • How to make use of your camera’s functions - flash, white balance, exposure compensation, timer, and focus points.
  • How image size and resolution work, and why it matters (or doesn't)
  • How to choose and use different lenses.
  • The best resources to download, backup, and share your images. 


Kate Ambers

Khara is awesome! She really breaks down how the camera works, photography terminology, and technique. She does it all with a fun and entertaining personality and really makes it easy to understand what you are learning! I love this course!!! So worth it!

Holly Cooper

Loved this course and have recommended it to a friend who is looking to purchase his first DSLR. This course is perfect for beginners or someone who is self taught and who has picked a few bits up along the way; Khara then puts all these little bits of information together. I feel like the pieces have come together for me and I have taken my best/favourite photographs after watching these videos. Thank you CL and Thank you Khara x


I’ve taken a number of excellent courses from Creative Live, and this very thoughtfully organized, well taught class took me from “I love photography but I’ll never get how to do it” to “wow I get it!” It created a huge shift (finally!) for me. There is an intelligent simplicity that really does make for lightbulb moments. I’m extremely grateful for this class. Now I can go back and watch the others courses again and they will make much more sense and I can apply what I learned here.