So many buttons and dials…
Hopefully you enjoyed my multi part series on understanding exposure, if you missed it you can read it HERE
The most common question I get from you is what camera should I buy… the second most common is usually after this, and you have brought your new piece of time capturing technology home and realise it has a stack of buttons, dials and modes… the instruction manual is thick, your patience is thin, and you just want to take great pics, you decide it can’t be that hard and you throw the manual to one side, turn that bad boy on and start shooting like a mad man in a gun fight!
To your surprise, everything looks pretty good in the preview screen… so you keep shooting away and fill up your memory card, it’s not until you download your 2867 new images to your PC you start to realise that maybe you should have studied that manual for a little longer!
It’s about now that you will ask me “Ben, what mode should I be using for….”
If you have read my Bermuda Triangle of Photography multi part series you will have learnt about Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. If you haven’t read it, go back and do it NOW… it will help you!
Here are my top 7 tips for getting the most out of your DSLR…
1. Turn OFF auto and learn how to use your camera, if you’re using auto you have wasted your money!
2. Turn off auto ISO, in fact the only thing ‘auto’ you should have switched on is auto-focus(AF) and auto-white balance (WB), set your ISO to 100 or 200 (whatever is the lowest your camera will go to) for outdoor and flash and crank it up to 400 for outdoor sports and try 800 or 1600 inside with natural light (ie. no flash), you can also set your WB for the conditions if you’re comfortable with this, but make sure you change it when the conditions change.
3. Use either Aperture Priority (AV) or Shutter Priority (TV), in Aperture priority your camera will decide the best shutter speed and in Shutter Priority it will decide the best Aperture. Use Aperture Priority for portraits, and use a lower f number, this will give you a faster shutter speed and blur the background (amount of blur depends on lots of factors, so play around). Use shutter priority for anything that is moving so you can control how you freeze or blur motion.
4. Check your histogram after each shot and get used to using it as your exposure guide, if your image isn’t exposed properly adjust your metering mode and use exposure compensation as required.
5. Stick with a single point AF mode, there are a lot of fancy AF systems out there, I think mine has 51 point 3d tracking super whizz bang auto focus… and I still use the single AF mode, why?, it gives me complete control over the exact focus point.
6. Think about each shot as you take it, look through the viewfinder and make sure you’re happy with the composition before you hit the button, sure, it’s free to shoot as many pics as you want when shooting digital but you still need to sift through them to find the ones you want, a little care and you can half the sifting job. For example, make sure there are no poles or trees growing out of peoples heads, make sure that there are no unwanted rubbish or clutter in your shot, don’t be afraid to move things/people around to suit your shot!
7. Have FUN!
The Daily Pic – Treemaze
I am not sure what they’re growing on this farm, but it is definitely a crop of something, I snuck onto their land to take this, and although they probably wouldn’t care, I am always on edge when I am sneaking around somewhere like this, I get these thoughts that maybe some old farmer will come chasing me with his shotgun… ha ha, stupid I know… I am just glad not to be there at night, imagine trying to find your way out at night…