Site Intro

This site is designed to teach the most basic elements of DSLR photography in the most simple way possible with examples to illustrate. The goal of the site is so that photographers new to DSLR photography from either proper point-and-shoot cameras or cell phone cameras are able to begin to maximize what DSLRs are capable of beyond their full-auto and pre-program modes (which are not covered here).

I am a Canon shooter, but you should choose whatever DSLR you use based on your personal preference. I will reference Canon and Nikon specifically as they are the most widely used, but everything here is applicable to every DSLR on the market today (as well as advanced point-and-shoots and mirrorless cameras that allow these adjustments). Please note! As this is not a "How to Use [X] Camera" site, I cannot possibly cover how to change each of the functions below on your particular camera. This site is best used in conjunction with your instruction manual, so that you can see how to make the adjustments below on your own camera.

Please see the labels right above this text to skip to various aspects of DSLR photography such as ISO, Aperture Priority, Etc. I have lettered these labels in the order that I believe they should be covered (although F. and G. could be switched) - so it's best to start with A. and go down the line.

Thanks for reading!


Program Mode (P)

What you control:
1. Making the exposure lighter or darker
2. Flash or no flash (on cameras with a built-in flash)

What is the range?
1. For exposure: Either -3 to 3 or -2 to 2 depending on the camera. The lower the number, the darker the exposure. The higher the number, the lighter the exposure
2. Either the flash is turned on or off

Program mode is one step beyond full AUTO mode (the green box on Canon cameras): the camera is still controlling the shutter speed and the aperture, but you'll tell the camera if you'd like the image darker or lighter than the exposure you just took. This is a matter of personal preference.

                         -3 (-2) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 0 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - (+2) +3

How to use P mode:
Choose your ISO
- Turn the control knob to 'P'
- Take the photo that you'd like to take
- Review it on your camera's LCD
- If the image is too light, lower the exposure compensation (lower numbers) (Check your camera's manual to see how to do this on your camera)
- If the image is too dark, raise the exposure compensation (higher numbers)

- Additionally, if your camera has a built in flash you can decide if you'd like to use it or not. More is said below about flash here, but for the moment always default to no flash indoors, and flash outdoors: this might seem a bit counter-intuitive but it's explained in more detail below. If you don't like how the photo looks, try the opposite of what you just tried flash-wise.

Learning photography is all about experimenting around: there's not really a "right" way or a "wrong" way to photograph. The point is learning the functions of the camera so that you can get it to do what you want it to do - whatever the style or look that you're going for. In the example above, I would prefer something between 0 and 2: for a different photo I might have a completely different preference.

- "My photos are coming out blurry!" You probably don't have enough light for the ISO that you're using. Either switch over to using a flash (assuming that you're not) or choose a higher ISO (for more on flash see above). Even on AUTO ISO cameras have an upper limit that might come below your camera's actual ISO limit on the high end. If this is the case, either allow your camera's AUTO ISO to go to higher ISOs, or choose a higher ISO manually

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