Program Mode Assignment

Hua Lamphong Station

Hua Lamphong Station

Michael Willems set another assignment on his blog here. This was to do a day’s photo shooting entirely in Program Mode:

Here’s an interesting assignment for pros, emerging pros and enthusiasts: Shoot in Program mode for a day.

That way, for once you are not thinking about Aperture, DoF, drag, motion blur, and such. For one day, you will be thinking about your subjects, instead of about technology. And this makes some sense. One famous wedding pro even shoots in “P”mode, I am told.

I went to my favourite Bangkok location for photography: Hua Lamphong Railway Station during a quiet weekday afternoon.

Google Map

I used the Nikon Coolpix P6000 set on “P”. I’ve taken over a thousand pictures (1,249 according to Lightroom) at Hua Lamphong over the last year. I decided to try and take a slightly different approach from my normal documentary and panoramic shots.

I put another constraint on myself. I set the camera’s ISO sensitivity to “Fixed Range Auto: 64-200”. That means it will never use more than ISO 200. That way I avoided the excessive noise I see at ISO 400 and above. In the station it was always using ISO 200 and many times the calculated shutter speed was too low for a decent shot, even with an image stabilized lens.

The station has many details that are straight out of the 1930s. A lot of the motive power seems that old too – but it’s more from the 1970s and 80s.

I also took some “street” shots of workers and passengers. I passed a train about to depart. Every window framed a character dying to be photographed.

One thing I noted was that the uniformed railway staff were shy about being photographed. Maybe that’s because of the recent controversy about safety and labour unrest. Everyone was friendly and I didn’t push it when people were unwilling to be photographed.

On the other hand an old cleaning lady who spoke not a word of English was eager to see a picture of her jumping nimbly from a moving train holding a big trash bag. Sadly the photo wasn’t in focus. Darn program mode!

The sun was already sinking in the sky and a lot of the shots of the trains were not usable as I would have had to use some exposure compensation. But closeups and details were fine.

I posted the best pictures to an album on PicasaWeb:

Let me know what you think.


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2 Responses to “Program Mode Assignment”

  1. Michael Willems Says:

    Excellent. I really like “long wait for the train”, the wheel, the locomotive closeups, the window, and more.

    You gave yourself an extra constraint, eh? Two, in fact: I did not actually say “do not adjust ISO” and “do not use exposure compensation” – but I guess I did have those in mind – certainly that was the spirit of the thing. So you saw the drawbacks of not using technology – but I think also got to do some extra “seeing” as a result!

    No time for more detailed reviewing now – 15 hour day about to start. Teach all day, and shooting two events for the newspaper immediately afterward, including shooting the leader of Canada’s Green Party (only with a camera I assure you).

    • BKKPhotographer Says:

      Thanks for the feedback. Yes, it was fun, albeit frustrating at times. The P6000 needs careful setting to get the best results. But when it is in its comfort zone it gives good results.

      I hope you have a successful day.

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