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Sometimes people think that the further you get from Program mode, the more sophisticated you are as a photographer, or somehow you unlock all sorts of new potential in your camera, and really that's just not true. Program mode, Aperture, Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual mode, you can take the same picture with all of those modes. The differences are that some modes give you more control than others, and for certain situations you need that control. There is a lot you can do in Program mode in your D800. I'm here just walking around today.
Honestly, I'm not expecting to come out of here with any great pictures. I'm mostly just kind of looking at shapes and textures and things. I think this is a good seeing exercise. A lot of times if you just explore shapes for a while, one day something kind of changes and you see those shapes in a different way, and you start seeing pictures that you didn't see before. So I'm just kind of walking around, just looking at stuff and shooting. So I'm in Program mode, because Program mode makes that very easy. It's figuring out all my exposure stuff for me so I can really just concentrate on the forms that I'm seeing. That said, there are some great manual overrides in Program mode that I can use for those times when suddenly my mind might turn a little more technical.
So for example, I'm walking along here and I see this plant. I've got a kind of a thing for botany, so I can tell you this is a plant. And I stop here to grab a shot of it, and what I'm doing is I'm just getting in close here. I've got it right in the middle. It's a nice shape, and I'm taking pictures of it. And as I am here with it framed, and as I'm in here really looking at it, I realize, you know, I'd like some depth-of-field control. I'd actually like to sharpen up the background. Well, I can do that without taking my eye from the viewfinder, without breaking my composition. I can just, still while I'm in here, turn my main command dial to use the Flexible Program capability of the D800.
This allows me to shift through all reciprocal combinations that are going to yield the same exposure and get me up to an f11, which is going to give me more depth of field. Maybe I want to go the other day also, really open it up all the way and get myself some really, really shallow depth of field. I've done all of that without leaving Program mode, and because it's right here under my thumb, I can do all of that right while I am here framing in the viewfinder. Now, while I'm done here looking at the flower, I also see that there's this nice shadow being cast over about half the flower. I'd like to darken that some more. I think it would make the image a little more contrasty.
So I can easily do that with Exposure Compensation, which is right up here under my forefinger. If I just turn the subcommand dial, I can dial in some underexposure and take another shot, and now I've got the shadow part underexposed by about half a stop. So I've done three or four very different things. I've shot with several depths of field, I've done some exposure biasing to underexpose my image beneath what the camera thinks it should be metered at, and I've done all of that without leaving Program mode, without taking my hands off the camera, without taking my eye from the viewfinder.
It's an incredible amount of power. I have configured my D800 so that I don't have to press and hold the Exposure Compensation button, or even press it at all. I've simply got both dials going here. So under my thumb I've got Flexible Program; under my forefinger I've got Exposure Compensation. So I can really work quickly that way without having to leave Program mode. Now, that said, as I walk around here some more today and start realizing, boy, I'm really mostly shooting shallow depth of field all the time. I'm constantly flexible programming my way down to a shallower depth of field.
Now I'm going to change modes. Now I'm going to switch over to Aperture Priority mode so that I've got control of aperture. And then I might just dial the aperture up all the way and know that now I'm going to have the depth-of-field effect that I've been going for. But until then, Program mode is a really, really flexible way to go. So if you're listening to this and going, I don't know what he is talking about when he is saying Flexible Program or Exposure Compensation or Priority modes, you ought to go back and watch those sections of this course, because having a good handle on those three different features and how they balance each other is really going to make your use of Program mode a lot more flexible.
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