Camera exposure modes in Landscape Photography Tutorial

Nice day everyone, today I will help you to understand the DSLR Camera exposure modes and how to use this mode in Landscape photography.

Camera exposure modes in Landscape Photography Tutorial

Auto mode

This mode is like photographing with a Point and Shoot camera or a Smartphone. The camera selects aperture, shutter speed and ISO to suit the light condition. You have no control.

Program mode (P)

P mode is similar to the Auto mode above. The camera selects the aperture and shutter speed based on the scene and light conditions. O11 most cameras you can manually override the selected aperture and shutter speed. The overall exposure will remain the same.

Semi-Automatic modes

I like to think of these modes as Semi Manual because that is what they are. They are creative modes which you select based on how you want the Semi-Automatic modes

I like to think of these modes as Semi Manual because that is what they are. They are creative modes which you select based on how you want the photo to look. With P mode, you are in control of the camera. You set one parameter (aperture or shutter speed) and the camera sets the other parameter for a proper exposure.


Aperture priority A (Nikon and most other cameras) or Av (Canon)

“A” is the most common used semi-automatic mode in landscape photography. As you have already learned the aperture controls the Depth of Field in the image. In landscape photography being able to select a small enough aperture is essential. When you have set the preferred aperture, the light meter measures the light and chooses the correct shutter speed automatically.

Shutter priority S (Nikon and most other cameras) or Tv (Canon)

Shutter priority works the same way as aperture priority, but you select the desired shutter speed. The shutter control movement so if you want to freeze movement you select a fast shutter speed. If you want to blur moving water, you select a long shutter speed. When you have selected the shutter speed, the camera measures the light and set the correct aperture for the scene.

Manual mode (M)

In (full) manual mode you have the complete control. You set both aperture and shutter speed manually based on the light meter reading. Manual mode is useful in tricky light conditions like when photographing at night. If you let the camera decide the exposure when photographing the moon, you will get a completely blown out moon.

Other times full manual mode is useful is when you want a consistent exposure. One example is if you wish to shoot a series of images for a panorama. If you let the camera decide you might see slight variations in the exposure between each photo. Tins inconsistency will make it difficult to stitch the photos in your imaging software.

Scene modes (or icon modes)

Most consumer level DSLR and Point of Shoot cameras have a set of scene modes.


The camera selects a wide aperture opening to ensure a blurred background (out of focus). Some cameras recognize humans and will focus on the face.


The camera selects a Shutterto ensure a maximum Depth of Field. The camera enhances colors and contrast for best possible landscapes. The camera focuses on infinity.


The camera zooms the lens to the focal length it has the closest focusing capabilities. A small aperture is selected for maximum Depth of Field.


The camera selects a short shutter speed to freeze movements. Often the ISO is increased to keep the shutter speed fast.

Night landscape

The camera selects a long shutter speed because of the low light condition. The shutter speed is often in the 1-2 second range so you must use a tripod. The camera turns on noise reduction and turns the flash off.

There are many other scene modes available. Scene modes vary from camera to camera. Other modes might be Fireworks, Snow, Beach, Sun and Stars. For a full overview of what your camera does with the different scene modes, you must read the instruction manual. Scene modes are most common on Point and Shoot cameras and entry consumer DSLR and Mirrorless cameras.

You have no control over your camera in these modes. I never use scene modes on any of my cameras. I strongly recommend you to learn the Semi-automatic and the Manual modes as they give you full control over the result.

Blurry images

After exposure, the other challenge beginner landscape photographers struggle with is to take sharp images.

The most common reasons for blurry images are:

  • Motion blur – the subject is moving, and you have not selected a proper shutter speed
  • Camera motion – the camera moves during exposure. You handheld the camera and use a too long shutter speed. Use a shorter shutter speed or use a tripod.
  • Wrong focus point – you have chosen the wrong focus setting or the camera cannot lock the focus because of difficult light conditions. It is important to learn how to focus manually in such situations.
  • Too shallow Depth of Field – adjust to a smaller aperture

Above is the Camera exposure modes in Landscape Photography explain that help you to understand about each mode in a DSLR camera.

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