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Photo Tip Of The Day

Today’s Photo Tip (#187)

A number of people have asked me to describe the way I use my camera on a shoot. If you’ve read any of my tips I mention on a regular basis the importance of putting your camera away set to the modes you usually use, in case you need to grab your gear and take a photo quickly you have a good idea where you are. So here is my put away camera set up. We’ll start here first.

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority (Av)
Exposure Compensation: Reset to 0
ISO: Set to 200 ISO
Aperture: f3.5 (with 15-85 IS)
Focus Mode: One Shot
Drive Mode: Single Shot
Metering Mode: Evaluative
Focus Points: All Active
File Type: Raw
White Balance: AWB
Highlight Alert: Active
Highlight Tone Priority: Active
Battery: Better than 50%
Camera: Off

Sounds like a lot but in less than 10 seconds and two button presses all these setting can be checked. Resetting may take 1 minute or so. The whole idea is to make sure when I pick the camera up next time I know I can take a photo reasonable fast and it will work. The odd times when I haven’t done this check and the camera is put away, I’ve either picked the camera up and the batteries are flat, or worse, taken photos with incorrect settings and they are not at their best. I recently got caught out with my camera set to low res Jpegs.

With the above set up, I can make certain assumptions when I pick up my camera next. At 200 ISO, with a wide open aperture on my favorite lens, in Av mode, AWB set and evaluative metering, it’s a safe bet with good light I will get a technically correct photo. Here is the logic behind my settings.

The aperture when set to f3.5 @ 15mm is the widest aperture my lens has. When I zoom to 85mm the widest aperture closes down f5.6. But for my first shot the camera is going to give me automatically the fastest shutter speed for the lighting conditions no matter where I zoom to, unless I zoom too far and come back the I just have to reset the aperture back to the minimum number.

With One Shot AF, Single Shot Drive and AWB, the camera will focus then fire. I have to let go of the shutter release in order to take another photo. With all my AF points active the camera will focus on the closest and highest contrast object. The camera will highlight the active AF points so I can see what the camera has chosen. AWB takes care of the white balance but with Raw files I still have the ability to make a change without compromise. Next step reviewing the first shot.

When I review the image any over exposed sections of my image will be blinking black. This is from the Highlight Alert mode being active. With my camera having the Highlight Priority mode switched to on the camera will automatically protect my highlights. So if I have any “blinkies” there is a problem. Depending on where the overexposure problem is or how much of the image is affected I decide on what I’m going to do. If it’s unimportant ( like a reflected highlight) I take no action. If however the “blinkies” are on a persons face, or clothing, clouds or anything that I decide needs to keep the detail, I will dial in some negative exposure compensation. I keep taking a photo checking and dial out more until I’m happy that the “blinkies” are under control. Once I’ve got the shot I dial the exposure compensation back out to zero unless I’m shooting the same or similar subject under the same conditions. But I keep checking back on the “blinkies” and dialing exposure compensation in and out as required.

If I get a moment to evaluate the circumstances I’ll decide if I need a higher ISO, to achieve a higher shutter speed, whether I need continuous shooting, a more precise AF point or zone, or a different metering mode and finally if the lens needs to be changed. Whatever changes I make are usually to improve on the settings that I have as standard to better suit what I’m shooting.

Once finished and before the camera is put away, I download my images, back them up, check to see if my batteries need recharging. I take care of all these things then reset the camera to the above settings and put it away for another time. Next time the camera is used the whole process starts again.

Happy Shooting

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