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Shutters speed, aperture, ISO; hopefully by now you understand that these perimeters are what exposure is. You manipulate these three things in concert to control motion blur, depth of field, tonality, and to ensure sharp shooting. How much motion blur or depth of field or tonality is up to you. But there's really nothing more to exposure than these three values. You have also learned that your light meter makes it easier to choose values that are right for your scene. Your camera provides you with a lot of different ways of controlling your exposure settings.
But really whether you are in full auto mode, program mode, shutter priority, aperture priority, whether you are regularly using program shift and exposure compensation, however you are shooting, none of those controls change the fact that all you are doing is choosing three interrelated exposure values. So far, you have seen how you can let the camera choose those values for you in auto and program mode, how you can take control of either aperture or shutter speed in the appropriate priority mode. Now we are going to move on to the big M, Manual mode, wherein you have full control over all three exposure parameters.
Before we look at manual mode though, I want to reinforce that manual mode does not suddenly open up a huge range of new creative possibilities. It's still those three parameters, and for the most part any image that you can shoot in one mode, you can probably shoot it in another. The reason you have different modes is that for certain situations it's easier to work with a single exposure parameter isolated. Occasionally, as you will see, there are some images that can only be taken when you have full control of all three parameters. But there's no hierarchy to shooting modes. Don't think that as you get more advanced, you are supposed to be leaving program mode behind and graduating to priority modes and then one day ascending in a shaft of light to manual mode, wherein you are now a master photographer; it don't work that way.
You freely move from mode to mode depending on which one gives you the control you need for the particular shot you are trying to take. However, there are still a few things you need to know about manual mode, because once you switch to it, you will find that your light meter works quite a bit differently.
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