PHOTOGRAPHY

Shooting on mobile phones takes more effort | Auditya Venkatesh Answers | In Frame with Gorky M, Episode 5

Shooting on mobile phones takes more effort | Auditya Venkatesh Answers | In Frame with Gorky M, Episode 5

Auditya Venkatesh debunks the legend that taking pictures with your smartphone is easier than shooting with a professional camera.

Nikon Firmware Update Enables Raw Video, Eye AF And CF Express Cards On Z7 And Z6

Nikon Firmware Update Enables Raw Video, Eye AF And CF Express Cards On Z7 And Z6

Nikon just dropped this news. This is going to change the mirrorless game.

5 Wildlife & Macro Photography Tips For Beginners By Photographer Yuwaraj Gurjar | In Frame With Gorky M, Episode 3

Wildlife photographer Yuwaraj Gurjar shares some important tips for those looking to get into wildlife photography and macro photography.

Why is the 50mm 1.8 lens the best lens in the world and why should you buy it!

Why is the 50mm 1.8 lens the best lens in the world and why should you buy it!

It’s been a while since you’ve had this DSLR but your photos just don’t stand out. They seem to be missing something. You can change that today.

How To Capture Milky Way In India | Astrophotography Basics For Beginners

9 years back when I started with photography, photos of Milky way always fascinated me. A device (D-SLR) invented by humans which has the power to capture the great Milky way excited me even more. It always made me think that Milky way was not visible in India, but when I started studying about Milky way photography I got to know that our Earth is a part of Milky way Galaxy and it is visible from everywhere. It is true you cannot shoot milky way all year around, there are certain time slots when the “Core” of Milky-way is visible in certain parts of Earth. In Maharashtra, the best time to Shoot Milky way starts from March and ends after May as it get cloudy.

GMAX STUDIOS_GREG_MILKY WAY_PHOTO 1

 

As I started to explore Milky way Photography I realized that shooting Milky way was not as easy as I thought. There is a strict workflow you need to follow if you want to capture Milky way. At start it was all Rocket science for me but as I started to explore I realized any one can capture Milky way if you follow the workflow. So I have tried my best to list down the workflow and techniques to capture Milky way in India.

 

Equipment

Camera

GMAX STUDIOS_MANUAL MODE_MILKY WAY

Milky way Photography is categorized under long exposure photography, which simply means, you need a camera which allows you to open the shutter for longer duration. Thus you need a camera which allows you to shoot in Manual Mode, giving you 100% control on your camera settings. We personally prefer using 25 to 30 seconds shutter speed to get good details of Milky way.

Lens

GMAX STUDIOS_WIDE LENS_ CANON_MILKY WAY2

 

A fast super wide angle lens (f/2.8 or lesser) with infinity focus is a great equipment to capture the fine details of Milky way.  If you are not able to find a fast lens with infinity focus you can always shoot with your kit lens at f/3.5. You simply have to auto focus on a far distance light source and then convert it into Manual Focus. If you keep your lens on Auto Focus mode it won’t be able to focus, thus always keep it on Manual mode. Always zoom in the photos and check whether the stars are in sharp focus or not.

Tripod

Any good sturdy tripod is suitable for Milk way Photography. As the shutter is going to be open for more than 20 seconds we have to make sure there is no camera shake.

Shutter Release Remote/Cable

Wired or wireless shutter release cable is used by many Night Sky photographers as it helps to reduce the camera shake when you press the shutter button.

GMAX STUDIOS_INTERVALOMETER_MILKY WAY3

If you don’t have shutter release cable you can switch your camera to self timer mode and press the button which will help to avoid the unwanted shake. There are two types of gear available in market one is called Intervalometer and another is shutter release cable which is cheaper compared to intervalometer.

GMAX STUDIOS_ASHISH KAMBLE_MILKYWAY4

Weather

Always look for clear sky. In cloudy conditions, the Milkyway will get covered by the clouds. We use http://www.accuweather.com/en/in/india-weather to check the weather conditions and confirm the date accordingly.  

GMAX STUDIOS_WEATHER_MILKYWAY5

Location

When it comes to Milkyway Photography a Dark Sky is the most suitable place. Dark sky is a place which is away from Light Pollution. Lesser the light pollution clearer the sky looks. We shoot a lot in Naneghat which is close to Ghatgar. You can go on this website http://www.blue-marble.de/ and type your location, if your location is not on the website type the closest known location and you will be able to see the dark sky in the map. The Map is divided into two different color patches, i.e. grey and black patch. The grey patches represent the light polluted areas which you have to avoid and dark patches represent the Dark Sky. With the help of this map you can find your own Dark Sky.

GMAX STUDIOS_DARK SKY_BLUE MARBLE_MILKYWAY6

Software

With the advancement in technology you have many different apps and software to locate the position of Milky way. We personally use ‘Stellarium’ as it is very precise and free. You can download this software for free from http://www.stellarium.org/. The moment you type your location the software will align according to your location. You can change the Date and Time and see the position of Milky way on that given Date and Time. It usually rises between South and East from Naneghat.

GMAX STUDIOS_STELLARIUM_ASTROPHOTGRAPHY1

 

Camera Exposure

Aperture

f/2.8 with infinity focus gives best result. Bigger the aperture opening more light will enter. Thus always keep the widest lens opening available on your lens. If you are using your kit lens use f/3.5.

VISIT THE GMAX STUDIOS STORE ON AMAZON

ISO

As we will be shooting under Dark Sky we have to boost our ISO to minimum 1250 or 1600 depending upon the sensitivity of your D-SLR sensor. The Maximum ISO we used till now is 6400 on Nikon D7000 with Tokina 11-16mm shot at f/2.8.

Shutter Speed

There is a calculation rule called ‘500 Rule’ which means you have to divide 500 by the focal length of your lens and you get the required shutter speed. This Rule is followed to avoid Startrails in your Milkyway Photos. We personally prefer the trial and error method to get the best result for our photos. We use a shutter speed of 25 or 30 seconds for our photos.
 

White Balance

We always shoot in Auto Mode and then finalize the colors in Post processing.

GMAX STUDIOS_MILKY WAY_PEXELS

Depending upon the feedback we will be working on a video on How to capture Milky way in India. Please write us back if you guys want a video on how to capture Milkyway in India. If you have any doubts please feel free to mail or leave a message. Please register yourself on our website for updates on our Milky way Photography Workshop.

Download GMax Studios apps for iPhone and Android

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Now you can download GMax Studios apps for iPhone and Android.

While you have been looking to learn photography, we have been looking at ways to be in touch with all the wonderful photographers who are a part of our community and engaging with them while giving them easy access to our content.

So, we decided to launch apps for GMax Studios - both for the iPhone and Android operating systems.

With these apps, we hope that we can stay closely in touch as the apps will have the forum features, you will get  notifications about important events like live chats, photo walks and workshops etc. The apps will also have content and articles exclusively available on the app.  

GMAX STUDIOS APP FOR ANDROID

This app is for all Android phones like Samsung, HTC, Nexus etc. If you have a smartphone running Android OS you can download the app from the following link:

download link: http://gmxs.in/android

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GMAX STUDIOS APP FOR iPHONE

This of course is the app for the Iphone. You can click the link given below or click on the the screen shot.

Download link: http://gmxs.in/ios

Download GMax Studios apps-iphone
Download GMax Studios apps-iphone

We would really love it if you share this with all your friends and and family who are interested in photography.

Wildlife photography with wildlife photographer David Yarrow

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Wildlife photography as art

For most people making a living off photography is a dream and quite a few people keep chasing their dream and shooting all kinds of photographs without relooking at the philosophy behind their photographs.

Yes. Learning photography is just not enough - there is a philosophy that needs to shine through the pictures and only then will there be a value to them. This applies to any kind of photography - wildlife photography, portrait photography, wedding photography or any other.

Learn photography wildlife photography with David Yarrow

Learn photography wildlife photography with David Yarrow

David Yarrow is a photographer whose photographs sell for as much as  £ 14,000 (Source: The Daily Mail) How did he do this? By rethinking the way he took photographs! He thought of Robert Capa's quote "If your photographs aren't good enough, you are not close enough!" and changed his way of shooting. He says that if you are into wildlife photography and you are "looking down" on your subjects - then they are nothing but snapshots that you can show to your children.

Wildlife photography with GMax Studios

Wildlife photography with GMax Studios

To turn his photographs into works of art that sell for astronomical amounts, he really gets up close and personal to his subjects. He takes photographs by placing his cameras really close and triggers them via remote.

Wildlife photography interview with wildlife photographer David Yarrow

Wildlife photography interview with wildlife photographer David Yarrow

In this interview given to YouPic, he talks about all this and much more that defines his photography. GMax Studios is proud to be associated with YouPic in bringing you this interview with David Yarrow.  Watch it to truly get inspired. We guarantee it will inspire you - no matter what kind of photography you do.

Subscribe to GMax Studios YouTube channel

Subscribe to GMax Studios YouTube channel

TRANSCRIPT OF THE VIDEO

[SOUND] [MUSIC] We bring together for you, the best photographers in the world. [MUSIC] >> Andy Warhol said, my favorite color is white and my favorite color is black. So use the whites, use the blacks, don't have fifty shades of grey. We'll have that as well, but use the blacks and use the whites.

[MUSIC] I got fascinated in sharks because I felt that sharks hadn't been photographed well. After about 30 hours dedicated in the water to this, I got the big shot of the shark and a seal. And I still think it's the strongest picture of shark predation that I know, and it's pin-sharp.

[MUSIC] And then someone said to me, do you see that picture in the Daily Telegraph, can I get a big one for my office? Because I want anyone that comes into my office to be very scared of me, and the best way of doing that is to have a big shark eating something behind my desk.

And he said, how much would it cost? I said, I don't know, but we'll put in a nice frame may be for 5,000 Pounds. And he said, okay, I'll have two. And that was when the penny dropped that the way to make money from my kind of photography was in fine art. Producing limited edition fine art prints that were aesthetically strong enough, or evocative enough that people would put them on their wall.

[MUSIC] I think the mistake a lot of photographers, wildlife photographers make is that they go on a trip without any specific idea of what kind of African animal they're gonna be shooting. And for me you go, you choose the animal, and then you know where you're gonna go to photograph the animal.

And by far and away, the best place in the world to photograph elephants is Amboseli. Wildlife photographers, many of them use telephotos far too much. If you're gonna be photographing a beautiful woman, you're never gonna shoot her with a 400 millimeter lens or even a 200 or a 300.

You'd shoot her with a standard lens or a wide angle, and it should be the same with animals. It's then just the logistical issues, how you get yourself in a position to do that whilst remaining safe. [MUSIC] The great beauty of elephants is there's no animal where their predicted path can be determined with greater clarity and assurance than an elephant, they tend to walk in straight lines.

So if you see a herd walking across a dry lake, you get 200 yards ahead of them, and you know probably where they're gonna, within a yard, where they're gonna come. You got the peak of Kilimanjaro peaking out over the top of the clouds, and the light's getting better every five minutes, these are probably not bad circumstances.

You can see the big guy with that big tusk over there on the left, sadly that's about 8 grand in the local market, and that's 60 grand in China. You put the remote down, and you prefocus and then you get the hell out of there, so that they're in no way detoured by you. And they probably don't see the camera until they're about a foot and a half away from it, which is perfect because that's what you want.

So you want proximity and a ground level perspective. Okay, so I'm gonna get out of the car, I'm gonna set up the remote. [MUSIC] I walked into a little bit of elephant manure. Okay, let's get out of here. [MUSIC] Okay, let's go and grab it. [NOISE] There's nothing I wanna do less than photograph with blue sky and sunshine.

I want moody, almost sort of impending doom in the skies, and you get that in Amboseli in October. It's the best canvas on which to paint with light, and take pictures of anywhere in the world I think. [MUSIC] The behavior of elephants has changed because of cattle. Because the Maasai brought their cattle in, in big numbers into the park, and that's resulted in more humans and more lions.

So the elephants don't behave in the way that they used to, and lake crossings are rarer. [MUSIC] I position scouts on the hills overlooking Amboseli dry lake, and as soon as they see the beginnings of a herd crossing the lake, we'll find out. And on this occasion it was the middle of the day, which doesn't tend to suit my style because the sun's too high, but gratifyingly there was quite a lot of cloud cover, and it was a big herd, it was 25 elephants, and I didn't even have my photographic clothing on.

I was just hanging around in swimming trunks and loafers, but we charged there to the lake, and must have been going goodness knows what speed. And this series is about 15 minutes, but there was one lovely moment where I was lying on the ground, and the elephants were about 60 yards away from me, and they just didn't know whether to go left or right of me.

They don't tend to charge there because there is no vegetation, so they're not surprised, they know the human is there. The time you gotta be careful of an elephant is when you surprise it, but in Amboseli you're quite safe, relatively. And they just huddled together, and I knew as soon as when I pressed the trigger, I thought this composition is coming together rather nicely.

And then when I got back, I knew I'd got a very big image. [SOUND] My approach is two-fold. Firstly, that you have to be close, and borrowing from Robert Capa, if the pictures, if they're not good enough, you're not close enough. Ansel Adams also said that the lens looks both ways.

It's truer and truer as the lens gets shorter and shorter. I don't think the lens necessarily looks both ways with a 400, it's more likely to look both ways with a 50 or a 35, just staring right back into your soul. I think also if you're photographing a dangerous animal, if your line of sight is higher than the eyes of the animal, that immediately hints at an artificial encounter.

It hints at the fact that you're higher than the animal. No more so than Polar bears, and I've wasted so much time photographing Polar bears. Because normally if a Polar bear comes up to a boat, and you photograph it from the deck looking down at the Polar bear looking up at you, that's just pulp.

There's nothing interesting in that photograph, other than for it to show your kids when you get home. So we did a lot of research as to the best place in the world to photograph Polar bears, and for me to get close and be safe. And we found a place where for about a week, there's very strange behavior in that the Polar bears seem to be in collaboration with the humans because the Inuits are whaling, and they bring whales in.

And the bears now know that the humans are their friends because they can feed off the whale carcasses, and for about two weeks you can get very close to the Polar bears. And there's one picture I've got which was printed in the Telegraph recently and sells very well, where I actually managed to take a selfie of myself in the Polar bear's eyes because I was a foot and a half away.

And I had an Inuit fisherman behind me saying, I think you're okay with this one, and it was almost the ultimate example of putting trust in someone else because the Polar bear was two feet from my lens. [MUSIC] I think with lions, again I want to photograph lions from the ground up.

But a remote control is very much the way that I like to photograph dangerous animals, I can't really see any other way to do it. You gotta be a bit careful because the cameras can be eaten. Or Nikon are fed up with me because whenever I bring it back, a damaged camera, normally you've got all these boxes to tick like dropped it, or it fell in the water, and I have to fill in new things like kicked by elephant.

[NOISE] Or eaten by a lion. So they find it quite, [LAUGH] Whenever I go down to see them in Richmond they go, which box are you gonna tick this time? But they quite enjoy it because I guess it's a different experience for them trying to mend a lion-eaten D4S, or whatever. The key to strong photography of the kind that I do, not doing a fashion shoot for Vogue, is access.

It is about putting in the spade-work logistically and research-wise to find yourself in the right position at the right time, to then use that conduit, and use your heart and your brain and your eye. But those things are all secondary to getting yourself in that position, whether it be with an individual, whether it be with a dangerous animal, whether it be in a scene.

And so I think the actual art of pressing the trigger is maybe 5% of the job, 95% of the job is finding yourself in the position where you want to then go and take the trigger. I'm just trying to get the silhouettes with the dust flying up, which is quite scary. [SOUND] Nearly, bloody nearly.

Not quite, I think nearly. And I also admire photographers who understand that if they come back from a trip with 200 good photographs, that's too many. I think plurality is the bane of many photographers. I think I've taken this year, this year, I think maybe 4 good pictures, and maybe 2 really, really strong pictures that will stand the test of time.

So that's 6, 6 in 12 months. I know people will look and say, [LAUGH] Well, that's not very good. [LAUGH] But the whole point is that's what you're looking to do. If it was that easy, then how on earth could you be selling a picture for a huge sum of money, if you can just leave Heathrow on Monday, and take a picture on Tuesday? You can't.

[MUSIC] [SOUND] Be inspired, be better, be great. [BLANK_AUDIO] [SOUND].

Mastering metering modes on Canon and Nikon

What are metering modes?

 To get a proper exposure and to avoid underexposing or overexposing your photograph, the camera meters the amount of light hitting your subject and makes a quick calculation based on it to tell you the reading of a certain scene. It is pretty much like how we see with our eyes. The light hitting the subject is reflected into the lens and the camera makes a judgement based on it to tell us our exposure value. To evaluate this, the cameras usually have three or four metering modes built into them.

How is light measured?

The amount of light falling on the subject is called incident light and the light bouncing back off, after hitting the subject is called reflected light.

Reflected and Incident Light

Reflected and Incident Light

Traditionally, light meters like the one shown below are used to measure the amount of light falling on a subject. So technically, they are often referred to as Incident Light Meters. Though some of them also have the capability of  measuring reflected light.

Incident Light meter

Incident Light meter

 Cameras on the other hand measure reflected light - the light bouncing off the subject and entering the lens.

What is Incident and Reflected Light

What is Incident and Reflected Light

The problem with metering reflected light is that not all colours reflect back the same amount of light - though the amount of light falling on them might be the same.

It is for this reason that most cameras have more than one metering mode. Though the camera meters are calibrated to compensate for reading reflected light, they are also calibrated to done one more thing, if they are left to their own - expose everything properly.  Your camera will likely get fooled under these three conditions

  1. Strong whites

  2. Strong blacks

  3. Backlight

Fool-the-meter3.jpg

What are the different metering modes?

Usually, every camera has three metering modes, whether it is a Canon, Nikon, Fuji or Sony. They just call it by different names to confuse us.

Mastering metering modes on Canon and Nikon Sony and Fuji

Mastering metering modes on Canon and Nikon Sony and Fuji

Matrix metering, Evaluative or Multi metering mode

As you can see from the chart below, different camera companies refer to this metering mode by different names. It is an extremely complex and advanced metering mode  and is accurate 90% of the time.

Nikon Matrix Canon Evaluative metering

Nikon Matrix Canon Evaluative metering

In this mode, the camera analyses the entire frame and then,  based on very complex algorithms and calculations gives you what it thinks is the perfect exposure for that scene. The algorithms and calculations used by each company are different and are top secret because this is the metering mode that 90% of the camera users use 90% of the time. In other words, this metering mode actually decides the reputation of a camera in the minds of the common user. To give you an example, Nikon describes the Matrix Metering mode as follows:

Matrix metering evaluates multiple segments of a scene to determine the best exposure by essentially splitting the scene into sections, evaluating either 420-segments or 1,005 segments, depending on the Nikon D-SLR in use.

The 3D Color Matrix Meter II takes into account the scene's contrast and brightness, the subject's distance (via a D- or G-type NIKKOR lens), the color of the subject within the scene and RGB color values in every section of the scene. 3D Color Matrix Metering II also uses special exposure-evaluation algorithms, optimized for digital imaging, that detect highlight areas. The meter then accesses a database of over 30,000 actual images to determine the best exposure for the scene. Once the camera receives the scene data, its powerful microcomputer and the database work together to provide the finest automatic exposure control available.

30,000 images! Imagine that! I suspect that the other camera makers have similar complex technology working in their cameras as well - they just haven't shared it with me yet!

The image below shows a camera in Matrix, Evaluative or Multi metering mode where the yellow overlay represents the entire frame being covered and analysed.

Metering viewfinder matrix Nikon Canon Evaluative Sony Fuji

Metering viewfinder matrix Nikon Canon Evaluative Sony Fuji

Centre weighted metering mode

In this metering mode, only the centre reading is taken as depicted by the yellow overlay in the photograph below. In some cameras, you can control the size of the centre which gives you more control over your photographs.

Metering viewfinder Centre

Metering viewfinder Centre

Spot metering mode

In this mode, the camera takes the reading only from the spot that you have selected and practically ignores the rest of the frame. Spot metering mode is an extremely precise mode and it can give some fantastic results under some conditions.

Spot metering

Spot metering

For example, in the photograph above, I was only worried about  exposing the face of the actor correctly because it was meant to be a dark mysterious scene. So I switched the metering mode to spot metering. (Click on the file to be taken to the larger version or click here)

In addition to this, some cameras might have a partial evaluative or some other nonsensical metering mode which I don't bother with and I suggest you don't either. The reason I say this is, the more you stick to the basics of photography and master them and rely less on proprietary technology, the better photographer you will be. In addition to this to this, you will also be able to switch camera models, makes and brands at the drop of a hat. This eventually leads to great freedom - if as a photographer, you can be free of model or brands. You should definitely aim for that.

In conclusion, the right metering mode can help you translate the photograph that you have in your mind into reality. I recommend starting with the Matrix metering mode on the Nikon or the Evaluative mode on the can Canon and then slowly start experimenting with other modes to see which one you prefer under what circumstance.

 To learn photography, we recommend you read The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Photography

Watch the video on metering modes below to understand more about metering modes and please share this article with your friends if you liked it.

Subscribe to GMax Studios YouTube channel

Subscribe to GMax Studios YouTube channel

Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch more videos like this by clicking the banner above. You can also register and join our forum to share photographs, ask questions or seek advice or critique from us or other fellow photographers.

Fieldwork - Shooting Swanand Kirkire

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Fieldwork  - Shooting Swanand Kirkire

It is not every day that you are woken up by a phone call from a two-time National Award Winner.

I picked up the phone. It was Swanand Kirkire who has got a cult following for his song Baawra Man. If you have not heard this song, please hit the link now!!! He has also won the National Award, twice - once for Lage Raho Munnabhai and the second time for 3 Idiots.

Swanand Kirkire
Swanand Kirkire

He was headed for an interview and needed a picture really quickly. 15-20 mins is all he had to stop by at my place.

"I don't want it to look like a photograph-photograph, you know... like it has been shot!" he said."Now, how on Earth could a photograph look as if it had not been shot," I wondered. Before I could muster a reply, he asked, "What clothes should I carry?" "Uh... A white shirt and a black shirt and maybe...." I barely managed to say before he said "See you!" and hung up.

The process

What aspect of a personality can you encompass in a photograph when he is a actor, director, writer and lyricist all rolled into one? I was still contemplating the "setting of the shot" but I was sure of one thing - I wanted to shoot him using just natural light. This was because he did not want the picture to look as if it had been shot.

We tried a few settings, like the one pictured above, sitting at a piano but we were not happy with it. He said it made him look "false" since he barely knew how to play the piano and I was not happy the way the warmer light was blending with the daylight. Both were different colour temperatures and they were not looking good. Though, I must add that there are no such hard and fast rules for mixing colour temperature or white balance.

Then I noticed he was wearing a red bracelet made of beads and that gave me an idea. I mustered up all the red coloured things in the house which could be at writer's table and made him sit on my dining table. I even got my goldfish bowl as a prop. There was natural light coming through the window (my favourite light source!) from the right side of the camera and I asked my driver (the only help available at that time!) to hold a small reflector from the left side of the camera.

Then I asked Swanand to write something, really write something and forget that I was there! He said, "How can I do that early in the morning?". I said, "The same way, I am shooting your photograph!" He smiled and set pen to paper and started writing something.

Swanand Kirkire
Swanand Kirkire

He got a phone call in the middle of the session and I asked him to take it, resulting in the above picture. He loved it but I knew that the magazine/newspaper would not.

The result

The final shot that satisfied us both is the one pictured below. Here, satisfaction is the key word. I don't know if  I could have shot a better photograph that day (I would like to believe, I could have!) but he and I, both were satisfied with the outcome considering the amount of time, I had to plan the shot, take it and actually deliver it to him right then and  there. Also, I made him adjust the time in his watch to make it look like it was some time later in the day. Somehow, it just felt better to me. I look at this photograph often, planning what all will I do if someone walks in my door under similar circumstances with a similar request. I have made quite an exhaustive list - but that is material for another post.

Swanand Kirkire
Swanand Kirkire

The first picture at the piano became the profile picture of the Swanand Kirkire authorised Facebook page.

The real bonus was that he actually wrote a beautiful poem on my goldfish while he was sitting there. That was really a wonderful surprise.

Have you shot any portraits using only natural light recently? Share them with us. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.

UPDATE: If you really love his work, you might want to click here to see an informal video recording I shot where he is singing Baawra Mann with Shantanu Moitra

Subscribe to GMax Studios YouTube channel
Subscribe to GMax Studios YouTube channel

How to shoot in program mode

How to shoot in program mode? The question that is more likely be asked is  - why shoot in program mode? What is the big deal? The P mode is for beginners, right? Well, nothing could be farther from the truth. The Program or P mode is a very powerful mode that can really make the difference between a good picture and bad - or not getting a photograph at all.

Well let's sort this out first - Nikon calls this the Programmed Auto mode while Canon calls it the Program Mode. So all of us Nikon users have been all saying it wrong all these years and now that we have admitted it  - let us move on.

The program mode is denoted by the letter P and you have to press the mode button on a Nikon and turn the command dial until the P appears on the screen like in the photograph below.

How to shoot in program mode Nikon Canon
How to shoot in program mode Nikon Canon

Some cameras have a dial (like most of the Canon cameras) which are marked for different modes so it is just a matter of turning the dial to P as shown in the photograph below.

How to shoot in P mode on Canon
How to shoot in P mode on Canon

Now let's see what happens when we switch to the P Mode. According to the Canon website:

The camera takes a meter reading from the scene, assigns an exposure value, and then uses internal algorithms to select a suitable shutter speed and aperture.

In simple terms, the camera itself chooses the best setting for the scene, in terms of shutter speed, and aperture while you do nothing!  Yes. That's true. You do nothing and that is why most people think that shooting in the Program Mode is just for beginners - which is just a polite way of saying "idiots"!  But as we shall discover in a while, nothing can be farther from the truth.

In fact, the Program Mode, is a very powerful Mode in which the camera takes all the decisions related to aperture and shutter speed and you, as photographer, focus on the two most important things in photography. One which is

focus

and the other one which is your

composition

.

Learn to shoot in program mode
Learn to shoot in program mode

Now it might sound easy but to hand over the controls of the two most important settings, that is aperture and shutter speed to the camera is a very scary thought. Changing either one could have a big impact on the final photograph. Enter - The Flexible Program Mode! Tada!!!

What is the Flexible Program Mode?

The Program Mode also has an extremely powerful setting called the Flexible Program Mode.  Canon calls it the Program Shift mode.  Since I am a Nikon user and I do cherish my sanity and yours - I will continue to refer to this mode as the flexible program mode but the explanation will (hopefully) apply to both Nikon and Canon.

According to the Nikon website:

In mode P, the camera automatically adjusts shutter speed and aperture for optimal exposure. You can, however, choose other aperture and shutter speed combinations that will produce the same exposure: this is called "flexible program".

To get into the Flexible Program Mode all you have to do is turn the command dial while in the program Mode on a Nikon. On a Canon you have to turn the wheel at the back of your camera.

 You will see a star sign * appear next to the P when you are in the Flexible Program mode.

Flexible program mode photography
Flexible program mode photography

What the Flexible Program Mode does that it locks the exposure value of the scene. This means that you are free to change your aperture or your shutter speed and your exposure value will not change. Now that is an extremely powerful thing to have at tip of your fingertips because you can decidein an instant, whether you want to shoot the scene at a wider aperture or at a faster shutter speed.

To change either the aperture or shutter speed you turn the respective dial either clockwise or counter clockwise.

Given below are the two extremes of shooting in flexible program mode.(See the * next to the P?)  The first photograph is at f1.4, resulting in a shutter speed of 1/40 of a second.

The second photograph is at f11, resulting in a shutter speed of 1.3 seconds. As you will notice, the settings have changed drastically but the exposure is still correct. Both the photographs are neither underexposed nor overexposed.

Flexible program mode
Flexible program mode
F11 at flexible program mode
F11 at flexible program mode

When to use the Program or Flexible Program Mode?

The Program Mode or Flexible Program Mode is usually used when we don't have time to mess around with the settings and to take decisions regarding whether to shoot in the Aperture Priority Mode or on Shutter Priority Mode.

For instance, I know a lot of wedding shooters who shoot in this mode because very often they want to decide in a second what they want to give priority to - the shutter or the aperture.

So that moment when the bride throws the bouquet of flowers in the air? You want a high shutter speed to freeze the action. Similarly, you don't want the father of the bride to be completely out of focus if he is standing slightly in the background. This time you will want to control your aperture.

 Also read:

How aperture affects your photographs

and 

How shutter speed affects your photographs

I even know some sports shooters who shoot from the sidelines, who are more comfortable in the Program Mode than in Shutter Priority, as you and I would like to think.

Tip

I usually don't shoot in situations that require me to shoot in the Program Mode, but what I do is when I keep my camera in the bag, I switch it to the Program Mode. I do this in case I need to take my camera out and shoot something at a moment's notice. It has never happened so far but it makes me feel like a cowboy with his gun cocked and ready to fire! Yeah baby!

If after all this reading, you have still not managed to understand the P Mode, here is a short video to help you out.

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How to set custom white balance on Canon cameras

Canon-white-balance.png

What is custom white balance?

Please read: What is white balance if you need to understand the concept of white balance in detail.

In this article, we will see how to set custom white balance on Canon cameras.  If you need to see how to white balance Nikon cameras, please click here. balance Every camera has various settings to shoot photographs under different kinds of lighting conditions. If this was not the case, the colour of the light falling on the subject would influence the colour tones of the subject. You might have noticed a warm tone to some of your photographs like the one below.

Warm tone in a photograph

Sometimes there appears to be a bluish or cold tone to the photographs that you take - like the one below. These two differences (warm and cold)are most evident when you shoot photographs indoors under lights of the bulbs or in the evening.

Cool tones in a photograph white balance

The bulb casts its's warm light on the subject making it warm and the evening light renders a blue tone on the subject due to its "cool" nature. In order to get absolutely neutral or true colours under any lighting situation we have to set custom white balance so everything appears neutral - neither warm, nor cool like the photograph shown below.

neutral white balance

How to set custom white balance on Canon cameras?

When you set custom white balance on your camera, it means that you tell the camera what is white and the camera makes adjustments accordingly to all the colours, making them appear neutral - without any tone or cast. This is done by showing the camera a simple white sheet of paper under the same lighting conditions that you are taking your photograph and then you take a photograph of the white paper. The white paper should fill the frame fully. You then go to the menu and choose the custom white balance setting  and press ok. The camera will show you the photograph that you have just taken and ask you whether it should use this photograph for the custom white balance setting. Confirm this by pressing ok again. Then go to the white balance setting and choose the custom white balance setting which is denoted by the symbol of two triangles and and a square. This symbol is shown in the photograph below.

Canon custom white balance symbol

You have just successfully set custom white balance for your camera and now when you take a photograph all the colour cast will be gone and your colours will appear true and neutral. This whole process is explained in this short video below. If you like it please do not forget to subscribe to our channel for more photography tips and techniques. You can subscribe to the channel by clicking here. Please feel free ask any questions in the comments below.

https://youtu.be/x6BgZFxZG6k

Important

  • The white paper should fill the entire frame – it should be all that you can see in your viewfinder/monitor.
  • If you are shooting a wide shot, zoom in to the white paper or move closer to the paper.
  • Do not get the paper close to the camera as the light falling on the paper has to match the light falling on your subject. Get the camera closer to the paper instead.
  • If the camera is having a problem focusing on the white paper, switch to manual focus. It does not matter even if the photograph is out of focus for taking a white balance reading.
  • Sometimes the will NOT display the photograph of the paper that you have just taken which means that the photograph was not suitable for taking a white balance reading. Check if your exposure is correct and take another photograph of the white paper. Underexposure or over exposure might cause a bad reading.

Please leave a comment if there is a question that you would like to ask or would like us to make a video on a specific photography topic.