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In auto mode your camera will automatically decide if you need to use the flash or not. If it thinks you do it will activate the flash power it up and calculate how much flash to add to your scene. On a lot of cameras though if you don't want flash and you're shooting in auto mode then you're simply out of luck. On those cameras the only way to not have flash In that situation is to switch out of auto mode, other cameras offer a special flash off setting when they're in auto mode. On most cameras program mode works just like auto mode, but you have to activate the flash yourself.
In other words, program mode gives you the option of whether or not you want to use the flash. If you do want it You have to activate it on your own. When you have TTL mode activated on your flash, and your camera is in Auto or Program mode, the camera and flash make decisions in a very particular way. If the camera meters and finds that your scene has a lot of light in it, a bright outdoor scene for example. Then the camera will assume that you want film flash. And so we'll calculate ambient and flash exposures that will give you a nice fill. In most situations it should do a pretty good job of this.
Though, as with any automatic system there will be times where you'll find something that can confuse it. When shooting flash in program and auto modes, your camera will not be allowed to use a shutter speed below a certain amount. For example with flash attached in programmer auto mode Your camera may limit itself to shutter speeds of 1/60th of a second or faster. Now, the idea here is that, if you're shooting a portrait. Your flash will illuminate your subject nicely. And keeping the shutter speed to at least 1/60th of a second will guarantee that you won't have a problem with camera shake.
Now, as you saw in the last chapter, ambient light is controlled by your shutter speed. So if the camera is limiting your shutter speed choices, you may not be able to get a long enough shutter speed. To get good ambien light. In other words, if you are shooting in a dark environment. A shutter speed of a 160th of a second will likely mean that you have no ambien exposure at all. So your subject will appear on a dark, limbo background. Your flash will be serving as a key light only. Now different cameras have different minimums. Some might go as slow as a 30th of a second and some cameras might provide a custom function that lets you change that minimum shutter speed.
Still those may not let you go slow enough to get your ambient light back if you are in a very dark background. So, in auto and program mode, you should automatically get good fill flash results most of the time. If you don't It's because you're shooting in a situation that's confusing the flash's metering system. If you're finding that your background is completely underexposed, then you most likely encountered the shutter speed limitation that is imposed by auto or program mode. At that point your only choice, if you want more ambient background, is to change modes and take more control.
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