Manual Exposure Modes – Av/Tv/P/M

Manual and Automatic Exposure (AE) Modes

On most digital camera mode dials, you’ll find a variety of exposure modes, and are divided into two categories; one is preset modes like – sports, night, landscape, portrait, macro etc; other are the creative modes where the Exposure control is in your hand not on the camera.

Here will discuss about the four creative modes to control exposure as we want.

  1. Aperture priority AE mode (Av)
  2. Shutter priority AE mode (Tv)
  3. Program AE mode (P)
  4. Manual mode (M)

Aperture Priority (Av)

The aperture priority mode enables you to set the f-stop (aperture) and the camera will then automatically adjust the shutter speed to give the correct exposure. This mode is particularly useful in low-light conditions, where you want to set the brightest, widest f-stop in order to get the highest shutter speed and the minimum amount of movement. If more depth of field is needed, you can use a small f-stop to get as much of your picture in focus as possible.

Shutter Priority (Tv)

Using the shutter priority mode, you can set the shutter speed, and the camera will automatically selects the f-stop (aperture) to give the correct exposure. This can be especially useful when you’re shooting action pictures and you want to freeze the motion by setting a high shutter speed. By the same way, if you were photographing a waterfall and you wanted the water to blur, you could set a slow shutter speed and the aperture would adjust accordingly.

Note: These both modes Av and Tv assume that you have enough light to expose your pictures within the range of shutter speeds and apertures you’re using. And if you are not having very proper light or a wide aperture lens then you will have to master the Manual mode and take control of every parameter in your hand.

Program (P)

This setting leaves all the decision-making to the camera. The camera sets a combination of shutter speed and aperture so you don’t have to think about exposure at all. The other fine tune settings are still in your hand but this is moreover an Auto mode from creative zone of mode dial.

In some cameras this may be set up as subject programs such as “portrait,” “sports,” or “landscape.” If there’s not enough (or too much) light to achieve the effect you want then your camera won’t be able to work miracles on this mode. Even on this setting, check the LCD to make sure you are getting the images you want. And remember that you can still use auto exposure compensation to override the camera’s decision.

Manual (M)

This mode allows you to manually set the shutter speed and the aperture independently of each other, referring either to the camera’s built-in exposure meter or to a handheld exposure meter. Professionals prefer to use manual exposure and handheld light meters. Once you will start playing with this mode, you will also enjoy this mode to make some creative photographs. This allows you to take multiple meter readings in various points of the subject frame. In this method the photographer has total control over the pictorial effects that various shutter speed and aperture combinations can achieve. When film was dominant, this method tended to be the exclusive to the professionals or the advanced amateur.

Auto Bracket Settings

Today, the immediate results of digital photography allows you to shoot test frame, have a look, make various adjustment to fine tune the final  output and get the right exposure. Most advanced D-SLR cameras have an auto-bracket setting or the HDR(High Dynamic Range) settings. This clever little feature sets the camera to take three pictures automatically, in rapid succession: one at the “correct exposure,” one overexposed, and one underexposed. I find this very useful when working quickly because I know it will give me a choice of exposures after the fact. By setting the camera to shoot one picture at the “correct” exposure—as the camera sees it—and two frames perhaps one f-stop either side, I’ll always end up with one frame that I consider to be the perfect exposure. You can change the increments of the brackets so that they are 1/3, 1/2, or 2/3 stop to either side of the “correct” exposure, depending on the camera model. On most cameras this facility works on all the automatic settings and in manual mode.

Exposure Compensation

If you find that your images consistently look better by underexposing by one stop, or by overexposing by half a stop, then use the exposure compensation setting to build this factor into the camera’s light metering. This you will come to know when you analyse your pictures on the computer screen that your all the images are over-exposed or under-exposed. So, accordingly you can cheat with the camera’s light meter to get your perfect exposure.

This  facility enables you to under- or overexpose by up to three f-stops or full shutter speeds. This is normally indicated on your camera by a scale from +3 to -3 with one/third stop increments. Most professional photographers I know use the exposure compensation feature to fine-tune the camera’s light meter. When you have time and the subject permits, vary your exposures so you don’t miss an important shot. Check the images on your computer screen and delete all the bad ones before you show anyone your work.

Controlling Light and Exposing Right

In the last post we came to know about What is right exposure and the factors affecting the exposure of a picture. To register a perfect tone image on your digital camera sensor, one must allow the correct amount of light to reach the digital sensor. The three factors that control the path of light are sensor sensitivity (ISO), shutter speed(SS), and aperture(f-stop).

When the film photography was dominant, exposure was an really important subject. The digital era has brought us light-years forward because we can now see the result instantly. Just as with film cameras, the DSLR takes into account the brightness of the frame, the contrast, the color of the picture and the area in focused. When automatic exposure is set, the camera calculates all the settings accordingly and much more instantly.

You can now review your pictures immediately after exposing, on the LCD screen on the back of your digital camera. If you are a beginner to photography, there are many other different aspects that have to be considered before you take each picture. How do I compose the picture? Is it in focus or not? What should be the background? Until all these elements start to become second nature, it’s good to keep your camera on auto-exposure. This will give you one less thing to worry about while you concentrate on all the others parameters. Then gradually, as you become more technically strong and have learned to hold the camera the right way, you’ll start to adjusting the small adjustments that are possible on your camera to get a perfect exposure as per your learning and experience.

On most of the DSLRs and high-end compact digital cameras, you have the option of setting the exposure manually(M-mode). This is time where we begin to play with the camera’s settings to get perfect exposure. Moreover we now start overexposing and underexposing the photograph as per our need.

  1. Camera Sensor Sensitivity(ISO)

In Film photography you need to change films if you want to change the ISO. Eg. If you are shooting at ISO100 film and suddenly the weather changed now you need ISO400 to get your desired image, So you need to change the other film of ISO400.

On the other hand in Digital photography, DSLR allows you to shoot a group of pictures, or even a single picture, at one ISO setting, then change the ISO setting on the same memory card and keep shooting. You can change the ISO as many times as you need.

  • Shutter speeds(SS)

Here are some basics about shutter speeds to begin with:

• If the light is really bad, try not to go below 1/60 second. If you must, hold your camera very still and don’t expect to freeze any action.

• For everyday pictures such as portraits and views, use speeds of 1/60 second to 1/250 second.

• To stop a racing car, or someone riding a bicycle, start with 1/1000 second.

NOTE: To avoid the camera shake, your shutter speed should not be less than the focal length of the lens you are shooting with.

  • Aperture (f-stop)

Here are some basics about Aperture/f-stops to begin with:

• As a general rule, f/5.6 gives a little bit of depth of field, provided the lens focal length isn’t too long, and is still wide enough to enable high shutter speeds.

• If it gets really dark, don’t be afraid to open your aperture to its maximum available aperture, for example, f/1.2 or f/1.8.

• If you need loads of depth of field, or you want a slow shutter speed, stop down to f/11 (when using a short lens) or f/16.

If your picture looks a little bit lighter or darker than it should, take another parameter to adjust the exposure. You can make your image lighter by increasing your exposure, or darker by decreasing the same. NOTE: f/8 can be used as a universal aperture perfect for any genre of photography.

Note: Your most of the lens usually gives the best sharpness at one stop down to the widest aperture available at your lens. eg. Lens with f/1.8 will give its best sharpness at f/2.8 not at f/1.8. anyone can experiment this and visualize the difference.

Types of Camera – Roll Film

Roll Film Cameras are basically categorized into 4 types depending on their need and working.

  1. Box Camera
  2. Folding Camera
  3. Reflex Camera
  4. Miniature Camera

1. Box Camera

This is the simplest form of camera, with a lens and two viewfinders to view the portrait and landscape mode separately. These camera came with very few shutter and aperture settings.

2. Folding Camera

These were also the most prevail camera of their time because of the quality and portability they offer. In this type of camera the Lens the the film chamber was connected through a bellow. These camera have compound lens and have a no. of aperture and shutter settings. Their negative or image making medium was as large as 20″ x 24″ negatives or as small as a 35mm film. So, this kind of model is being used for making any size of camera, these camera were used for making photos for big prints also.

3. Reflex Camera

This is a TLR camera. As its name defines that Twin Lens Reflex Camera consist of two lens of same focal length, upper one to view from the viewfinder and lower one to capture the image on the film. These camera were remain in trend for long time and gave birth to Candid photography, which was very easy with TLR Camera as subject was not much aware of the camera. These camera were remain in trend for a long time.

This is a SLR camera. As its name defines that Single Lens Reflex Camera in which the same and the only lens is used to view through the optical view finder and to capture the image on negative film. These camera have more customization of Aperture and shutter speed so used for a long time by professional photographers. The above camera was the latest launched negative camera when digital camera era was started. This Camera lens can be changed as per requirements. These Camera have advanced Shutter and aperture system.

4. Miniature Camera

Miniature camera were the cameras in which the 35mm film is used are called miniature because in the roll film era the 35mm film was very small/miniature as compared to other film and plate size. These were also called the rangefinder camera, Small in size and easy to use just point and shoot. These camera were famous among the hobbyists as there were almost no setting to customize just look into the camera, focus and shoot.

Miniature Spy Camera
Its Size is the 2/3rd of a normal human finger.

These are the spy camera, comes under the miniature category too. these were also having the negative to shoot the image and having a very small sized film rolls but were excellent for spying work and this camera has easy access to any security area as well.

This was all about the roll camera types.

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Start capturing stunning images

Now as you are well known to the history of photography and basic functions of the camera, you can now start capturing stunning images by using your DSLR or a point & shoot or with just a Mobile Camera. So just take out your camera and start capturing with whatever mode of camera u like, with Creative or Auto or Preset modes.

Auto – In this mode camera optimizes all the functions as per its software guide. No setting can be done manually. Flash will auto fire if needed.

Preset Scene – There are various preset scene modes with which you can directly set the mode to the desired preset and click the image better than that of full auto mode. eg. – Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports, Night, Night landscape and Flash off mode.

M/Av/Tv/P – This is the Creative zone of photography, Most of the stunning images are taken in this part of Mode dial. In M-Manual mode the Camera leaves its total control on a photographer. Any setting can be customized in Manual Mode.

Manual Modes Explained

P Mode – In this mode Shutter, Aperture and ISO will be automatically set by camera software as per scene requirement. And rest other Settings like White Balance, Metering, Picture style, Auto Focus functions can be customized.

Tv or S Mode – In this mode along with all other settings Shutter speed can be customized, Aperture and ISO will work automatically. We just need to set the shutter speed as per requirement.

Av or A Mode – In this mode along with all other settings Aperture can be customized, Shutter speed and ISO will work automatically. We just need to set the Aperture as per requirement

M Mode – Manual mode is the real creative mode as all the settings can be customized in this mode and we can get the desired results as we want. all the creative photography and professional photography is done with this mode only. Photographer have all the control in hand to get the desired result or to manipulate the exposure as per his artistic vision. Once you will understand to operate this mode, you will never leave it again or set the dial to any other mode. The Mastery of photography begins here…

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Photography – Introduction

‘Photo’ means “Light” & ‘Graphy’ means “Writing or Drawing”, So, ‘Photography’ means “Writing or Drawing with Light”.

Photography is an art form in which light is a medium through which an artist can paint on canvas of roll film or an electronic sensor. With a light tight box photographs can be taken if this box has a lens, Shutter and a film chamber {used to place a light sensitive material on which image is formed}. These three parts are called the principal parts of a camera.

  • Camera Obscura – dark room with a pin hole, this is the simplest form and the basic principle of a camera and generating image.

Aperture, Shutter & ISO

These three factors are the main form factor of a photograph. In other words the exposure of a photograph is controlled with these three – aperture, shutter & ISO.

Aperture is basically the opening in the lens through which light reaches to the medium(negative roll frame). Aperture is denoted by “f no.” which is denoted by 1:(f no.). eg. we have a 50mm lens with f no. 1.8 then it will be denoted on lens as “1 : 1.8”. The Larger the f no. the smaller the opening, and smaller the the larger the opening. Aperture at f 1.2 has the larger opening when compared to f 4, 5.6, 8 or greater. This can be better understood with the help of an image.

Aperture is also used to control depth of field

Smaller f no. = shallow depth of field (Blur background)

Larger f no. = sharper depth of field (Sharper background)

Shutter is the mechanism by which the time of light going into the camera is controlled. It is placed just before the Negative film or the Electronic image sensor. Shutter works with two curtains, the first one goes up and then second will follow that depending upon camera shutter speed.

Shutter speed is also used to show the moment of subject in a photo.

Higher the shutter speed = Motion freeze

Lower the shutter speed = Motion live

ISO. After many innovations took place and the negative system was more developed the concept of film speed was also came into trend. The film speed was denoted by ASA or ISO both the terms were used in traditional photography films but now is digital era ISO is used only. ASA or ISO denotes the ability of a film to capture the light faster or slower. Films are available from ISO 50 to ISO 400 in the market. These are used as per requirement of the light where a photograph will be taken or a ISO100 or ISO200 film can be purchased to solve all the purpose and rest will be controlled with shutter speed and aperture.

So these three factors are very important to take a perfect exposure of a photograph or the exposure can be controlled with these free factors. a image will be shown describing the relationship between Aperture, Shutter and ISO.

To shoot a stunning image we are to master this combination of these three basic factors of photography. So Start using the Creative Modes on your Camera Dial which we will explain shortly.

You now able to understand the basic terms used in photography and familiar to their function also, Now we will guide you in near future posts to use the camera to take stunning photographs.

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Brief History of Photography – 2

There were various processed invented to get a color photograph. some of those techniques with example are described below.

The first color photograph made by the ‘Three-color method’ suggested by James Clerk Maxwell in 1855, and is taken by Thomas Sutton in 1861. The subject is a coloured ribbon, usually described as a tartan ribbon.

The whole system of taking photographs was then being change with time and various processes were discovered to get the good quality photo, so as now, with time the digital photography techniques are also changing with time in race of capturing better photographs.

Some processed which were being used to generate first color photographs are explained below.

1. The Three-color process

The above photograph is of The Emir of Bukhara, Alim Khan, taken in 1911 by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, a Russian Chemist and Photographer. On the right side there is triple color-filtered black-and-white glass plate, shown as a positive on the left side. In each slide it can be observed that the first slide is of red filter, second is of green and third one is of blue, and can be compared with the final output as well. eg. the color of the cloth is blue which is darkest in the third slide(Blue slide) and lightest in the first slide(Red slide).

2. The Substractive Color method

An 1877 color photographic print on paper by Louis Ducos du Hauron, the foremost early French pioneer of color photography. The overlapping yellow, cyan and red as subtractive color elements are apparent.

In photography, the dye colors are normally cyan(absorbs red), magenta(absorbs green) and yellow(absorbs blue). When the three dye images are superimposed they form a complete color image.

Note: All the printing work done on principle of CMYK Color Model. (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & K-Black). And all the digital (eg. phone screen, monitors, TV’s) work on RGB Color Model (Red, Green, Blue)

3. Additive Color Method

Mixing colored lights (usually red, green and blue) in various proportions is the additive method of color reproduction. LCD, LED, plasma and CRT (picture tube) color video displays all use this method. Any digital image on a display is the best example of this method. as with time there are digital photo frames also which look like the printed photos placed on a corner table.

New 7 Wonders of World(2000-07), Taj Mahal, India

The above image is the first color image taken of The Taj Mahal in 1914, which was later published in National Geography Magazine in 1921 issue.


As we came to know about that the techniques of generating photographs is changing with time, but the art of capturing and aesthetics and perspective will always remain dependent on an artist and his vision.

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Brief History of Photography – 1

The First Permanent Photograph (Circa, 1826)

View from a window is the above photograph. This above image was the first successful permanent Photograph taken by French inventor Joseph Nicephore Niepce in 1826. This photo was taken with a Camera Obscura focused on a sheet of 20 x 25cm oil-treated bitumen(a petroleum derivative). This above picture was taken in 8 hour exposure, sunlight illuminated the buildings on both sides.

The discovery of Photography was not an overnight miracle, it was the collection of efforts being made from centuries by some eminent people working independently. The history claims that there were some photographer and photographs being made from 4th century B.C. some more prevalent proofs are of 16th and 17th century but the artists couldn’t get those photographs permanent and those techniques documented.

Photography gets completed with two steps, one is taking the image and other is fixing the image on a medium where it can be kept for record. Johann Heinrich Schulze, in 19th century discovered that the silver nitrate darkened upon exposure to light, which results in production of Photogram. These photograms were made by placing objects on paper soaked in silver nitrate and exposed to light. However, this image does not last for long on paper.

It was Aristotle who in 4th Century B.C. observed, that a narrow beam of light entering a dark-room projected an inverted image of an outside object. In 1490 A.D. Leonardo da Vinci realized that it could be used for accurate draught(drawing) and perspective. Principally a group of four man in the 19th century contributed more to the above said basic principals of photography. Those were…

Joseph Nicephone Niepce, a French Physicist, made first photograph on metal in 1826 which was called Heliograph.

Niepce in association with Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, a French Painter, who invented a method of making direct positive image on silver coated copper plate – known as Dauguerreotype. His method was taken by French Government and made public on 19th August 1839.

Now 19th August is celebrated as World Photography Day.

An English scientist, William Henry Fox Talbot, had also evolved a method of making a negative from which numerous positive copies could be made. He invented he salted paper and Calotype Processes. He had also found out a method of fixing images, but could not announce his work in time.

In 1819, Sir John Herschel discovered the suitability of Hyposulphite of soda (Hypo) as fixing agent of the sensitized paper images.

Photography became more famous and affordable when in 1888, when Goerge Eastman introduced film roll and a simple Kodak box camera. As basic concept was clear and made public now more experiments were carried out and with time camera & lenses get more precise. The Dark room Processes also became more precise, adding depth and sharpness to photographic prints.

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The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining us.

Welcome you on new journey of learning Photography techniques to stand alone in the crowd, You will get very unique content and your queries solved with us.

Meanwhile you will also enjoy some photo tours and along with description of the photo with special emphasize on Photography and story of that particular image content.

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