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The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course

Lesson 6 of 24

Shooting Modes and Scenes

Khara Plicanic

The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

6. Shooting Modes and Scenes

Lesson Info

Shooting Modes and Scenes

Today we're gonna be talking about shooting modes. What do all those pictures and numbers and letters and things mean on our dials, and how they work. So, first of all, what is... Shooting modes and scenes, what is that? Sometimes they get used interchangeably a little bit, and it depends, of course, on your camera. Some cameras, we have the shooting modes with the dial on the top, right? We're a little more used to those. Sometimes they're also called exposure modes. They're different ways that the camera goes about making an exposure and letting you be in charge, I guess. Or not. So, those might be, like, auto-program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual mode, et cetera. Some cameras have some other ones, called creative auto, or, I dunno, program two? There's all kinds of different, but these are, like, the main ones. And then some cameras have things called scenes. Those are generally referred to as, like, portrait, portrait mode or portrait scene, landscape, night, sports,...

macro, et cetera. The way that I like to think of scenes is, they're like general exposure recipes. So we'll see how they compare to modes a little bit as we get into this, but just know that some cameras, they're very separate, so I've separated them out here. Oftentimes, on your camera somewhere, you will have a dial, usually on the top, and it will look something like this. So, this particular dial is one that represents the cameras that have shooting modes, represented by the letters here, and it has some scenes, also on the dial. So, this little person represents portrait mode or portrait scene, landscape is the mountains there, and then the flower represents macro mode. So, some cameras have some themes mixed in on the dial. Other cameras, the dial looks more like this. So, just a bunch of different letters and such, and you can find it at the top of your camera, on a DSLR, oftentimes. On a point-and-shoot, you may have a dial on top. You may have to go in through your function settings, or you may have a dial on top that, maybe, the modes only, like auto mode or program mode, but if you want, like, sports mode or something, those are gonna be scenes that you might have to go through your menu to get to. As I like to remind people, we are gonna talk about how the scenes work, generally, how the camera thinks about exposures in these different scenes, and how the different shooting modes work, generally speaking. It's pretty true straight across the board for most cameras, but there's always some outliers that do some weird stuff, or call things in a different way that's kind of funny, or put the function somewhere that it's a little harder to find, so if you can't find what we're talking about on your camera, then by all means, check your manual. Don't chuck those things. Some people like to be, like, I'm never reading this, and they get rid of it, but they are really great tools, and I always keep mine in my camera bag, because you never know when some situation's gonna come up that you're like, oh yeah, I know there's a function or a setting for that, and I don't use it enough to remember where it is, but with my trusty manual, I will find it. So hang on to your manuals, and check them when you need to.

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.