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Once a year, my grandmother used to go down to a local photo studio to have her portrait taken, but she didn't refer to this is having her picture taken. She always said she was going to have her picture made. As a kid, I always thought that sounded little weird, but now I understand that there is an important difference between those two words. Taking a picture implies that the image is just sitting out there in the world, yours for the taking if you can just get a camera trained on it. But the fact is good photos are more often made. That is you can't simply point a camera at some scenes and walk away with a good shot; instead, you have to make the shot.
You have to come up with answers to a lot of questions, and make quite a few decisions: from composition to where you're going to stand to your exposure settings. Some images will require more decisions than others, but photography is largely a process of working your way through a lot of options. In the old days when cameras were all manual, you have to make every single one of this decisions yourself. But with the automatic features on today's cameras, you can choose which decisions you want to make and which you want to leave up to the camera. Now somewhere on your camera is a mode control. The shooting mode you choose controls which decisions the camera makes and which will be left up to you.
For example, this Canon camera here simply has a mode dial here on the top. I can turn it to change shooting mode. All cameras these days have a full auto mode. In this mode the camera makes every single decision and offers you very little control, or override. Most cameras also have a program mode, which is marked with a P. This affords you a little more control then auto mode and is usually a nice balance of automation and manual control. If you're using a smaller camera, like a small point-and-shot camera, you may not have a mode dial, simply because there may not be room on the camera for a dial.
So you'll dig out your mode there from the menu. Throughout the rest of this course, we'll be discussing the other modes that you might see on your mode control. What you need to do now is to identify your camera's mode control, learn how to use it, and figure out how to get your camera into program mode. Your cameras manual should walk you through how to do this. Remember, program mode is mostly going to make all relevant decisions for you, but as you'll see, you'll also have some powerful manual overrides at your disposal.
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