About Ludwig

Lending a helping hand where I can. . . My motto: If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

What is Mode P on a Camera?

Cameras typically have a “Mode” dial, although on some the modes are selected on the display. The mode control selects how exposure is set and looks similar to the illustration here.

The mode control has two areas, except for the professional models that have only one, more on that momentarily. One area, shown here with the icons on the dark background, has the automatic exposure modes. From AUTO to the tulip. In any of these modes the camera makes all the decisions. Pretty much all of the time that results in a fine photo. The icons let the photographer tell the camera what the subject is so the camera can make even better choices.

The other area on the exposure mode dial, here with the white background, shows the modes that put the photographer in control – with the camera helping. These modes are typically labelled M, A, S, P. On Some cameras the settings are M Av Tv and P. These are the modes found even on professional models.

M is manual mode. The photographers sets everything, aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity. The A (Av) mode is aperture preferred. The photographer set the aperture and the camera picks an appropriate shutter speed that gives “correct” exposure. In S (orTv) mode is shutter preferred. In this mode the photographer picks the shutter speed and the camera chooses the aperture.

That get us to mode P, or “Program” mode. This is a somewhat automatic mode. The camera picks both shutter speed and aperture, but the photographer can vary the settings, usually with the control wheel.

So what does the camera pick? – That depends on the ISO sensitivity setting and the scene brightness as measured by the camera. Most manuals are not very informative and neither are many of the training tutorials. For my old Nikon D800 the manual contains this graph (I have added the blue line and the ISO label.

What this tells you is that the camera works along the heavy black line. This is when the camera is set to ISO 100. It will pick a point along this line as determined by the scene brightness. Scene brightness on this chart is represented by the EV scale, shown with diagonal lines labeled from -5 to 23. Each increment on this chart is an EV step or stop, meaning a difference in brightness by a value of two, just like the steps on the aperture and shutter speed controls. An EV of 15 corresponds to bright sunny daylight. In your living room with the lights on you probable would have an EV of about 5.

So by this chart in daylight, EV 15, the camera picks an aperture setting halfway between f/8 and f/11 and a shutter speed halfway between 1/250 sec and /1500 sec. That is where the blue line crossed the heavy black line. If a cloud comes over and it gets a little darker the camera will pick a spot along the black line toward the left and the top. For half the light, that is one stop less light, the camera will open the aperture one half stop and increase the exposure time by the equivalent of one half stop.

The heavy black line goes horizontal at the maximum aperture that the mounted lens provides. It is drawn here for an lens that is f/1.4 at the widest. It will increase the exposure time by one stop for each stop less available light.

Similarly on the other end, at high levels of light, the camera will not stop down below f/16 and compensate for the change in light with shutter speed alone.

But wait, there is more!

In this P-mode, the camera control wheel will let the photographer vary the aperture and shutter speed, making the compensation in one for a change in the other.

Look at the blue line, the one I added to this graph. This is the EV 15 line, for a typical sunny daylight scene. The camera picked the point where the heavy lines cross. The control wheel allows moving up and down along the blue line. Notice that the aperture and shutter settings along this line all give the same exposure. So the photographer can pick either the aperture or shutter speed needed while the other parameter is set to maintain the same exposure.

There is still more. Many cameras allow “auto-ISO” and can also set the slowest allowed shutter speed. When that limit is reached at low light levels – along the heavy black line – the camera will increase the ISO to maintain the exposure.

P-mode is a semi-automatic mode freeing the photographer from fussing with the camera and concentrating on the subject being photographed. It can thus lead to better results. So P-mode is “pretty professional”. Use it. You will grow to like it.

.:. © 2021 Ludwig Keck

How do I speed my PC back up?

The Slow Computer Syndrome

A reader writes, “My computer speed has slowed dramatically. What can I do to increase the speed back to normal?”

Sound familiar?

Yeah, sadly that is the plight of most of us. Our computers seem to get slower and slower, and we all want them to run as perkily as when they were new. I don’t have a silver bullet, but I can offer some thoughts about why computers slow down and what you can do about it.

There are multiple reasons, let’s go down the list.

Computers accumulate detritus

Over time we add programs, apps these days, files, pictures, videos, documents, and much more. These don’t necessarily contribute to the slowing down, but many cause update checks, statistics reporting, and some might even be malware. The first step is to do some “spring cleaning”.

Step 1 — Remove programs no longer needed

Get a notepad and pencil to jot down things to do. Press the Windows key and take a look at your start panel. Anything there you don’t use anymore? Jot down items to remove. Scroll down the apps list. Anything there you can do without? Jot it down.

You can also right-click on the icon or listing of an unneeded item and click the Uninstall option. Or you can finish your review, make your list and then proceed to get rid of the junk.

When you have finished your review and have a list of things to remove. Click the Settings wheel. Click Apps. Go down the list. Be very careful, there are apps that your computer needs to function. If you recognize it as something you no longer use, click on it and click Uninstall.

Step 2 — Remove any unneeded files

Cleaning out your own files, documents, pictures, videos, music, and more is the hardest part of the “spring cleaning” chore. It is easy for us to say, “I’ll come back to that another day”. Well, this is that day. Do don’t have to be totally thorough with this chore, but do make an effort.

Step 3 — Scan for and remove any malware

When you have removed the major unwanted stuff it is time to check for malware. You may have Windows Defender running and taking care of things all along. Open Defender and do a Device health check. There may be some recommended action for you to do. Do NOT be tempted to do a Fresh Start – that removes way too much of what you have worked hard to add to your machine.

You may also use a tool like Malwarebytes. Do make sure that you have only one malware defending program running. Having more than one tends to be more trouble than it is worth. The programs may even fight each other. Definitely multiple defense programs will slow your machine!

Step 4 —  Do a cleanup

There are many files that have accumulated on your PC that you can’t see such as cached images, temporary files, error logs and more. The Cleanup tool can take care of much these.

Type cleanup into the search box (lower left of the desktop). The Disk Cleanup app will be highlighted. Press Enter.

WARNING! Running this tool will likely remove passwords stored by your browser and other remembered settings. Be sure you will be able to sign back into sites and to set up your browser again the way you want it.

This chore may take a long time to finish. Let it do so while you don’t need the machine, maybe overnight.

Step 5 — Defrag your hard drive

If your PC uses a solid state drive, SSD, do not defrag it. If your drive is a rotating disk type defragging may be helpful. Type defrag into the search box to bring up this utility. Typically your machine will run this chore automatically. You can see the settings when you bring up this tool. If the defrag percentage shown is over 10% or so you may wish to run this utility. It will take a long time to finish. Time for lunch? Time for bed?

That was the easy part

After finishing the chores above your PC will function almost as well as it did when it was new, but you may still find that it is dreadfully slow. That is not your fault or your PC’s, it may well be due to external causes.

In the last few years much progress has been made in every nook and cranny. New machines have become amazingly more competent, the internet speeds too have gone up, your ISP may have upgraded your access speed. But hand in hand with that your “apps” have become more dependent on internet services. The websites too have loaded up many more images, videos, music tracks, tons of advertising. All that requires more downloading time and more resources inside your machine.

If your PC is an older model it may not have as much memory as all this churning demands, it will make up for that by using your had drive to store the temporary data, images, sound, video etc.

Here is what Task Manager shows when my little old laptop is working its heart out. The hard drive is working 100 percent of the time almost continuously. Finding the needed stuff and writing new stuff causes the access time to become long and that makes the PC dreadfully slow.

To make matters worse, Microsoft releases updates very frequently. Your machine may be trying to catch up and is downloading and installing stuff while you are trying to do other things.

So what can you do?

Several things in the way of changing your work habits.

Action 1

Give your machine time to do its chores like installing new software. Let it idle evenings or during lunch. Don’t turn it off or close the lid when you don’t need it. Let it run.

Action 2

Have only one browser running at a time. Have only one or two tabs open at any one time. That is probably the hardest to do. Having a dozen tabs open makes it easy to go from Facebook to your bank, your mail, to Twitter, to the many other websites you want ready at hand. Don’t keep them open. They communicate with your machine and all that takes resources and time. Instead set up you Favorites bar with the links to places you frequent, then visit them one at a time.

Try it. Even you will be more relaxed and your machine may just seem that it can still keep up with the world.

.:.

© 2017 Ludwig Keck

How do I set a shortcut for a website?

There are several ways to set a shortcut to a favorite website. Let’s answer this for users of Edge on Windows 10. Users of other browsers, please, ask in a comment for details.

Setting a Favorites Bar tab

The easiest is to create a new tab on your Favorites Bar right in your browser.

Click on the star at the end of the address bar.

In the dialog window you can change the name to whatever you want to call it in the new tab. The URL will be already filled in. If “Save in” shows Favorites, click it and select Favorites Bar. Then click Save and it will show in your Favorites Bar – at the end of other tabs.


If your Favorites Bar is not showing turn it on by clicking the “starrish” icon – see the illustration here. Then click Settings.

In the Settings dialog look down just a bit and you will find Favorites Bar – Show the favorites bar and a slider control. Set the slider to the right – ON. Your Favorites Bar will be shown with your tabs.

Placing the Shortcut on your PC

If you want the shortcut on your PC, even when you don’t have the browser open, there are two easy places – In the Taskbar or in the Start area.

With the website loaded in your browser, click the three-dot icon at the top right. The drop-down menu provides two options: Pin this page to the taskbar and Pin this page to Start. Click whichever you like. Of course, you can set both. You will see the website icon on the Taskbar and/or in Start when you click the Windows icon or Start.

Shortcut on the Desktop

Most of us old-timers are used to having shortcut icons on the desktop. Getting one there is not quite so simple.

Go to the site in your browser you wish to set a shortcut for. Click in the address bar. The site URL will be shown as selected. Copy the URL with Ctrl-C.

Then right-click on an empty spot on your desktop. Click on New and then in the next drop-down menu, click Shortcut.

A Create Shortcut dialog window will open. Place the cursor in the field for the location of the item and use Ctr-V to paste the URL that you copied in the browser. Click Next.

In the text window replace the default text with the name of the website as you want it on the desktop.

Click Finish. You will now have a shortcut to the website on the desktop. When you double-click it it will open the browser and go to the site.

Unfortunately the image used for the desktop icon is not the identification icon of the website. You can change to some other image from the selection of shortcut icon images.

.:.

© 2018 Ludwig Keck

How do I insert an image into a blog post using its URL?

Part 1 – Using the WordPress.com online editor

Photos in blog posts enhance the appearance, convey information that couldn’t be said in a thousand words, and act as magnets to pull the attention of readers to the story. All blogging editors provide a means of inserting pictures. When the item to be inserted is an image that resides already somewhere on the internet and its web address, properly termed its URL, the procedure it not so obvious.

Bloggers know that to embed an image in a post requires a bit of HTML code. Few of us are fluent and can just switch over to “Text mode” or “HTML mode” and type away.

If you are a WordPress blogger and use the online WordPress editor, I have good news for you. The WordPress editor provides the simplest possible way: Just paste in the URL where you want the image. Yep, it is that easy.

When you paste in the URL it shows as the text that it is, but a moment later the text is replaced with the image. I did this here, the URL on my clipboard was this:

askludwig-170129-03

Less than a second after pasting the URL it was replaced with the photo:

WARNING:

askludwig-170129-05If you are using the online editor at WordPress.com clicking the circled-plus, “Insert content”, option brings up the Media Library to permit choosing an image from the pictures there. On that page there are also to other options, Add New and Add via URL. Add New provides the process for uploading from your device.

You would think that Add via URL is used for embedding an image, the process we are talking about here. Not so! Add via URL places a copy of the image into your Media Library.

You may not want to store a copy of the image, indeed, you might not have permission to copy the image, just to use it in your blog.

Let me repeat the procedure to insert an image with the URL

  • Get the URL of the image into your clipboard. For how to do that see: How do I get the URL of an image in my WordPress blog?
  • Click on the place in the post where the image should go.
  • Paste the URL. On a Windows machine pasting is done with Ctrl+VCommand+V on an Apple device.

Next it gets a bit sticky

The image inserted by pasting the URL will be content-wide, that is the full width of your blog. What if you want it smaller and to one side or the other, like the illustration above?

Click on the image in hope of getting edit options and all that appears is a delete-X.

askludwig-170129-06

If you are happy with the full width picture, you are all set, but if you wish for more options you can switch to the more powerful Dashboard editor.

Save your draft, if you hesitate WordPress does it for you. Click My Sites, scroll down in the left pane and click WP Admin.

Part 2 of this mini-series covers Using the WordPress Dashboard editor.

.:.

© 2017 Ludwig Keck