How to Use your DSLR // Part 1 Program Mode

Hey guys so today we'll be discussing how you use your new DSLR (even if you don't have one yet it's still good knowledge) now.....

Hey guys so today we'll be discussing how you use your new DSLR (even if you don't have one yet it's still good knowledge) now.. I've been roaming around the Internet for quite some time and it seems that in every photography blog no matter how much they explain there's still that one person who still doesn't get it or sometimes the writer left out some stuff. But don't worry, I'm here and being a beginner myself we'll slowly enter the world of professional photography.

In this post I'll be sharing a few posts that have helped me over the time to master my craft. I will also be passing down notes that my photography teacher once have to me (for free! And I had to pay to get these tips humph!)
So let's get into it! 

What is a DSLR

Some of you may be wondering "what the hell is a DSLR?!!" Well.. DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. 

The basics of the camera. 

I'm sure when you read many photography blogs you see the words aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, dept of field and a wide number of lens. What these authors don't realise that most times it's beginners who read their work and most beginners don't know what half these things even are. How can you explain how something is used or how it works without explaining what exactly it is? 
Aishhh... The human brain =_= 

Program and Manual Mode 

First let's separate these two modes (settings on your camera ). 
Some amateurs are so frighten to try these two modes that they forever stay on automatic. Nooooo sweetheart as of right now you have graduated from automatic! Tell that baby goodbye and turn your dial to 'M' or 'P'

Unfortunately my pictures (I took with my iPhone 5s so don't judge the quality ) are limited to only Cannon cameras since my rebel t3i is the only DSLR I own but don't worry, all these tips are for any DSLR! Cannon or Nikon! 

Anyhow back to the topic. The modes Program and Manual is similar but still very different. In Program your camera only allows you to change the ISO and exposure compensation and it decides from these things how fast your shutter speed should be and aperture. (Yes I know I'm using the big words ) 


Your ISO (International Standards Organisation) is a unit for measuring the sensitivity of the image senor to light. 
Basically this means, the lower the ISO (100-400) the less noisier and less grainy the picture will be while the higher the ISO the picture will turn out more grainier and noisy. 
A high ISO is used when the area a dark and there is no tripod. It brightens the picture and freezes a shot so that their is no movement though as said before, your picture would be a bit grainy 

A standard ISO (in my opinion ) would be 400. This setting works for almost all situations (both in manual and program) 
To use a lower ISO be sure to use a tripod with it or place the camera on something sturdy because if your ISO is on 100 or 200 the smallest shake could mess up your sharpness of the picture and also cause movement or "camera shake" 

How to change your ISO 

On a cannon camera this is how you change your ISO. 

You first press the button that I'm pointing at and on the screen one of the boxes will be highlighted in green. If it didn't highlight the ISO box like mine did just use you fail panel (arrows) and move it to that box. Click enter when your ISO box is highlighted 

When you enter your screen will look like the picture above use your arrows and select the ISO that you want. When you select it the screen will go back to the previous.  (Remember that the ISO works the same way in both manual and program mode )

Exposure compensation (this is only in program mode ) 

This is a method of over-riding the automatic camera exposure in steps of plus or minus. 
Now, there is no correct exposure for every situation you are in. So I can't sit here and tell you to always use 0.5 something every time it's cloudy, this is something you'll have to test and test to figure it out yourself. I will however tell you some general knowledge on it and how to work it. 

On the picture above you see two sides, Darker and lighter or negative and positive. It is very straight forward, if you move your dial on the negative side your picture gets darker and on the positive side it will get lighter. 


Always have your exposure compensation on '0'  and work with in the 0 first before deciding to pick a side 

How to change your exposure compensation.

Click the button I'm pointing to and move the highlighted box to the box I have highlighted on the screen. As you read the screen you can see that this box is called "Exposure comp. /AEB setting"

Click the box and you'll see this screen, this is how you set your exposures.

Press this button,

And turn this dial (at the same time) at the front top of the camera to change the exposures. 

It's a bit hard to show in pictures but stop now and try it. For Nikons I remember that the dial you turn is not found in the front but in the back.

Did you see the lines move? I hope so if not read the instructions again and try it again. You'll get it eventually. 

(If you have something you'd want me to speak about in program it manual mode then please comment it down below) 

In program mode this is all you set and change. It gives you some control but not all this is why most professional photographers choose to work on Manual rather than program because in manual you have to set everything yourself. Donny let that discourage you tho because it's not much to set in manual either. I think both program and manual has it's Pros and Cons.
In program because you basically only set your exposure compensation, this save a lot of time while in manual, yes you have control of everything but! In the time it takes for you to set everything that bird you wanted to photograph has already flew away. This is why it's great to master both modes don't you think? 

((Sorry guys but this blog post is turing out longer than I expected, my post about manual mode will be posted soon. It will be labelled part two ))


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  1. This was very interesting, I can't wait for the other post about Manual mode!

  2. You shouldn't apologize for writing a lengthy post especially if it's informative. ;) I loved this Stephanie, I learned a lot.
    Olive Needs Popeye

    1. Thanks so much, glad you learnt something!


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