Friday, November 18, 2011

The final chapter for your checklist!
By Hal Schmitt. Embellished by Victoria Schmitt

Select Desired Aperture
Do you want a shallow depth of field to isolate your subject or do you want as much of your scene in focus as possible? Remember the bigger the hole (smaller the number f4.5) the more shallow your depth of field, the small the hole (larger number f22) the more depth of field you will get.

Compose the rough scene
Look into your viewfinder and start to compose your scene. You can scan left right, up and down see what you want included or centered in your frame.

Meter and set exposure
Hopefully at this point your back-button focus is going to be your primary meter and focusing button. Depending on what exposure your aperture is giving you adjust the shutter speed to compensate for your exposure. If you are having a hard time getting a fast enough shutter speed, you will have to either change your ISO or your aperture to get the desired focus and exposure for the scene.

Make sure the primary subject is in focus.

Fine tune composition
If you now have to move your composition so that your subject is not smack dab in the middle, make sure your focus is set and move accordingly.

Fine tune your exposure

Shoot! (Or just take a photo, picture or snapshot if your lingo does not include a shooting reference)

Review as necessary
Look at the back of your LCD. Make sure you are looking at your histogram!!! You don't want your histogram piled high on either side, but don't worry if there are parts of you scene that have a black point and a white point built-in. If you have a large amount of 1 "gray" tone (Blue sky, red rocks) you may have strange peaks and valleys in your histogram. What you're looking for is a balanced exposure. Do not depend on the picture you see on your LCD and always refer to your histogram. Remember, these are pixels. It's information being captured on a sensor, so rely on the information it gives you and not how pretty the LCD picture is.

Happy Shooting and Fiat Lux!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Last week I started with a checklist created by Hal to help you set up your inner camera settings before going out to shoot. Here I have another great checklist to help you start getting your camera working the way you want it to work.

Camera Setup Checklist - Part 2
Checklist by Hal, embellished by Victoria

Select Mode– We recommend Manual- Always. Yes, there are those out there who want the "P", "professional mode" because life happens fast, right? Well, yes, but do want to capture life the way your camera brand wants, or how you want to capture it? Your camera doesn't know that your subject is back-lit and running quickly. But you can make your own adjustments in order to accommodate what you want exposed properly, in focus etc.
AV and TV is nice, but the camera is still making those critical decisions for you. Practice in Manual now so that later on you know how to control your camera quickly. If you have a camera that can create custom functions then you can set those to help you quickly change from your custom portrait settings into action settings as good starting points. But never assume that a camera should or can think for you.
Set White Balance- Cloudy? Sunny? Are you using a strobe? Yes, you can kind of "correct" this later in RAW, but there are more than a few reasons to save yourself a step or a few steps before you even take the photo.
ISO- We recommend starting at your lowest ISO that your camera will give you for the cleanest noise-free image possible. If you're in lower light see if you can adjust your aperture (smaller number, bigger hole) to get a fast enough shutter speed to hand-hold your camera. If you're on a tripod then there's are very few reasons to be on a higher ISO. You don't want your stars to be dots of noise from your sensor. 
Metering modes- Try to stick with Evaluative metering, or Matrix metering. 
Auto focus- Set correct mode for the scene you have. A simple guideline:
If you are photographing a moving object you will want Ai Servo, if you are shooting a non-moving subject/object then put it in "one shot" mode. 
Drive mode- You have single, continuous, or timer. Single (one square) is 1 shot per press of the shutter button. Good for portraits or slow moving scenes etc. Continuous mode and Continuous mode "H" for high speed (multi-squares and a multi square with an "H") is awesome for the soccer mom/dad, shooting horses on the beach at the California Photo Festival, or birds etc.
Select Auto Focus point/points: If there is a moving object you may want to set these point on one of the sides of your focus choices. if the object is running from Left to right, I will set my primary focus point on the far right side of my viewfinder. That way as I follow the object the front of the object is always the point of focus.
Lens modes: These are for the larger lenses and lenses that have these options. not all lenses have these options available.
-IS/VR: Image stabilizer/Vibration reduction- This send out a small vibration to counter the vibration you are giving your lens while holding it.  We recommend you turn it on when hand-holding and turning it off when you're on a tripod.
-Mode 1 or 2 for IS/VR? Mode 1 is better if you are simply hand-holding your camera. Mode 2 is better if you are panning or moving while you're shooting.
-Focal Distance? On my 100-400, for instance, it has a choice of either 1.8m to infinity, or 6.5m to infinity. This is setting your minimum focusing distance on your lens.

I hope this helps you during your next adventure or local photo-shoot!
Fiat Lux!
Victoria Schmitt

Here is a sneak peak to next week's list:

Select Aperture (which one and why)
Select your shutter speed
Is your Shutter speed or Aperture more important?
Compose the scene (how and why)
Review as necessary (where, why and what to look for)
...and more...