P (Program) mode on your camera

A little while ago I was taking pictures and at the end of the session, I realized I made a HUGE mistake (well, at least HUGE in my world)! I had shot the entire session in P mode. How did this happen? I NEVER take my camera out of  M – Manual mode…so I’m guessing it was a ghost…or my boyfriend playing tricks on me!

I started to panic- when I checked out the back of my camera the pictures looked fine, but I was terrified at the thought that I had ruined the entire session and would have to re-shoot it, and be totally embarrassed! What does P Mode even mean? All my settings that I THOUGHT I was setting during the session might have been overridden by this P Mode. This is one of those things that as a beginner I can’t wait until stuff like this doesn’t happen to me anymore. I can’t wait until I remember EVERYTHING that I am supposed to do before even pressing the shutter down. But, for now, I’m still just a human…not yet a super human. I think I’m well on my way though!

Anywho – here is what I found out about P Mode after freaking out and calming down enough to truly explore it, and not by accident this time! P mode is very similar to Auto Mode, it appears that the main difference is that you do have the ability to control ISO and Shutter Speed OR Aperture. So let’s say you put your camera in P Mode, press the shutter button half way down and look through the viewfinder. You will see the meter at the bottom of the viewfinder – it should be perfectly metered right now with the camera’s best “educated guess” on how to expose the scene in front of it. Now – if you decide you want a different Aperture, you can move the top wheel and you will see that the Shutter Speed will change with it. If you want a faster shutter speed, you can move the back wheel and you will see that the Aperture will change with it.  So in a sense, it’s a combination of the AV and TV mode.

In P Mode you can also set your ISO to whatever you desire. So you can choose how sensitive to the light your sensor will be. You can change your ISO by using the ISO button on the top of your camera and turning the wheel on the top of your camera. This can help you set desired Aperture/Shutter Speed in the long run. You can also set your White Balance in this mode…but that’s a trickier subject for later.

So there you have it! My “In plain English, for people who know what Aperture and Shutter Speed are”. Hopefully this helps you – I’ve had too many people tell me they didn’t know what it was and I’m glad I was forced to look into it! I would suggest using P mode if you will be in a sun/shade situation and don’t know how to use Manual, or don’t have enough time to deal with setting the Aperture or Shutter Speed on your own. While I don’t think I’ll be using this mode in place of the usual Manual Mode, it’s good to know what it means.

I will leave you with a picture that I took at the Indiana Dunes on a cold winter morning! -Abby

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