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The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course

Lesson 10 of 24

Shooting Modes: Shutter & Aperture Priority

Khara Plicanic

The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

10. Shooting Modes: Shutter & Aperture Priority


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:07:20
3 Exposure Triangle: Aperture Duration:13:22
4 Exposure Triangle: ISO Duration:07:15
5 Exposure Q&A Duration:24:07
6 Shooting Modes and Scenes Duration:04:05
7 Shooting Mode: Auto Duration:05:06
8 Shooting Mode: Program Duration:04:48
11 Shooting Mode: Manual Duration:23:41
12 Flash Duration:21:43
13 White Balance Duration:12:35
14 Exposure Compensation Duration:08:22
16 Focus Points Duration:08:27
17 What is a Pixel? Duration:04:41
18 Print Vs On-Screen Resolution Duration:17:26
19 Cropping Duration:11:14
20 Image Size & File Settings Duration:23:59

Lesson Info

Shooting Modes: Shutter & Aperture Priority

Now we're gonna pop back up to that dial. To what is more traditionally thought of as shooting modes, not necessarily scenes. Scenes are like they sound. They're like, hey I'm at the beach. What setting should I use? I don't know, you can see if you have a beach scene, you probably do. If you're going snorkeling and you're like, what should I do underwater, that's tough, I don't know. You might have a snorkel mode, I'm not kidding, it's probably in there. So there's all kinds of scenes. So we'll now we'll go back to the shooting modes. They're a little bit less, colorful and a little more like straight forward. So, on the dials you probably have something that is either labeled with a tv or an s, depending on your make and model, but it's the same thing. The tv stands for time variable because in shutter, the shutter speed controls time, right, in the photo. It's what determines how much time you're photographing. So tv does not stand for television, it's time variable. The s then stan...

ds for shutter. So in this mode, it's called shutter priority, and what that means is, you are choosing the shutter speed and the camera's doing everything else. Awesome, right. That is a great place to hang out if you are caring about your shutter speed, if you're trying to do a long exposure or you really need to make sure you have a fast exposure. Be in shutter priority mode, don't worry about the rest. So, the camera will nail, you'll nail that down, nail down the shutter speed that you want and then the camera will balance out the rest of that wobbling triangle. So that's really useful. Like here's an example. So this is another, a slower shutter speed. I wanted to capture some motion blur. This is also with that point and shoot that I drag around with me everywhere. But this is a little bit of a newer one, the older one finally bit the dust. So, the point and shoot has manual mode but it's not as convenient to work it as it is on like a DSLR. So I have this in shutter priority, and I played around until I found a shutter speed that gave me a good mix of motion and blur and then the camera would deal with the rest. Great, super easy. Sometimes, I will just point out, I always like to mention it when I show this image, in photography and in life, there are limits to things, right. Sometimes we just think anything should be possible at any moment, at any given second, just because we want it, it should just be that way. And it's a lesson to be reminded that it's not. So, for example, when we shot this photo, we were having some Moroccan mint tea on this balcony and nightfall was coming. And I had been trying to get this longer exposure but it was really bright out there, and this little point and shoot in the maximum aperture that it has, is f8, which is not very squinty, right. It's like half of what my DSLR lenses can do. So, it was way too bright to have a two second exposure, even with the lowest iso, even with the squintiest aperture, if I made the shutter speed too bright there was just, it was too much light. So, we had to, we had to hang out and drink more Moroccan mint teas and spend all this time just like chilling, relaxing until it started to get dark enough that I could pull off the shot. So, I just say that because I think it's a good reminder that sometimes you do run into, and I knew that, I knew when I bought that camera that it only could squint down to f8. And I was choosing between this one and a different one that had a built in neutral density filter, which is like sunglasses for your camera, and I was like, am I gonna want that, I don't know. But I chose this one and I knew this would be a limitation and I just ran right up into that wall. And thankfully the wall came with Moroccan mint teas and we could just chill for a bit. But it does happen. Yes Jose. I notice in the picture you get little starburts around the lights. What's that all about? Yeah, how'd you get that? How did that happen? Yeah, so some of the light points have these little starbursts. That is a function of squinty apertures. So if you take pictures of light sources like that, points of light, with a squinty aperture, you can get that effect. That does not happen at f8 on my DSLR camera, I will say. So it's all about the optics of the lens and your camera but on my point and shoot, it's a thing that happens. It was in that other photo too, of the Trafalgar Square, it was the same thing, but yeah. And you can do that, like with my DSLR I've actually shot like to get the sun to do that, if I shoot it at f22 I can get that starburst from the sun too. So, yeah all these funny little tricks it's really cool, right. So you can also buy filters that you can put on the lens that will also do that, but you can also get it from a squinty aperture. It's kind of like if you squint, you know your eyelashes might blur the light a little bit, you could do that with your eyes. Okay, all right, so that was shutter priority mode. Of course there's a similar mode for controlling aperture. So shutter priority and now we have aperture priority. So if you're like whatever the shutter speed is, I don't care as long as it's not so slow that I need a tripod, I care about aperture. Then you can operate in aperture priority mode. So I sometimes think of these, these modes as, I don't know, I don't wanna say like training wheels 'cause for some reason that's sounds childish or something but it's just less to think about. You can focus on what you want and not worry about, now I've adjusted the shutter speed, what do I have to do to my aperture to make this balance? You just pick your aperture and go. Or your shutter speed and go. So aperture priority's the same thing, it lets you control your aperture. So in a scene like this I care about the aperture because I get this yummy blur behind it. I don't really care what the shutter speed or the iso are doing unless they're causing a problem. That's about it. So it's just a convenient, nice thing. And I will point out, 'cause I don't think I have a slide to show you, but in those two modes, just like we talked about when we went through the exposure and I showed you like, here's how you change your shutter speed, here's how you change your aperture. When you're in these priority modes, many cameras, the DSLR's, that same dial will do one or the other. So, the dial that's near the shutter release, when you're in shutter priority mode, it controls your shutter speed, when you're in aperture priority mode, it controls your aperture. So you only have to do that push the button and hold it and turn the dial if your in manual mode. Just as a little note, okay. So that's how that works. So you can be in one of those modes, turn your little dial, pick your setting and you're off.

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.