Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday Tips for Photographers: Adjusting your camera settings.

Welcome to Tuesday Tips! - Free weekly advice and HOW TOs for photographers. Be sure and stop by our blog each Tuesday & please share this resource with your photographer friends as well!

So, you just picked up your first DSLR. You don't know much about photography or the camera, so you start with the little green square (auto). What's wrong with auto? Well, if you're shooting on auto, the camera is making all of the decisions for you, and has to guess what is best for the situation. Since every situation is different, your photos are inconsistent and may not turn out like you'd want them to. So you start messing around with the different camera modes.... but you still want MORE, right? Shoot on manual mode!! I went straight from auto to manual so quite honestly when people are talking about other modes, I'm not always sure which settings each mode allows you to change. I love manual because then I can be in control of it ALL. :) 

My shot process: (shooting with natural light)
  • 5D mk ii constants
    • Metering mode: evaluative
    • White balance: auto
    • Single shot (not continuous)
    • Flash Exposure Comp = 0
    • Center focus 
    • RAW images only
  • 5D mk ii variables
    • shutter speed
    • aperture
    • ISO
When I go to take a photo, I first think about aperature. What should my Fstop be for my subject(s)? In normal outdoor scenarios, I usually stay right around 3.2 - For a larger group I'll bump it to 3.5 or 4.... in low light situations or for more DOF I'll make it 2.0-2.8 (depending on the lens obviously.) Also, with each lens I've found there to be a "sweet spot" - with my 2.8 lenses, my sharpest images are at 3.2. With my 50mm 1.2L lens, I can get away with a sharp 1.8 or 2.0 photo.

Then I think about my ISO. Though the ISO is helpful artificial light in some circumstances, I don't want to use it unless I have to. During the day in the shade my ISO is always at 100. If we're in a lot of shade or as it gets closer to sunset, I'll bump it as high as 1600 if necessary. Indoors, I take full advantage of the ISO to give me light, and may use it up to 2500 or 3200 - (be careful though, the 5D is much better with noise than a Rebel, for example)

Finally, I'll adjust my shutter speed accordingly to create the right amount of light for the photo. Ideally, I like to keep my shutter speed between 1/125-1/250 if possible. I find that this range produces the sharpest images.

There are times that these "steps" will happen out of order. Sometimes I'll put my shutter speed at a higher priority than the ISO. For example, when the subjects are walking or moving, then I want to make sure I have the right shutter speed FIRST, and then adjust the other settings. If my shutter speed is too slow, then they'll be blurry for sure. As you become more familiar with your manual settings, you can start prioritizing the order you change them as well.

 ^^^ let me walk you through my shot process with this example. We're in Seattle, it's the afternoon, cloud cover. {my ISO stays at 100} I'm shooting with the 70-200 2.8L, so my favorite "sweet spot" is at 3.2 {because of the range of this lens, there is still plenty of DOF even at 3.2 - see behind the popcorn stand} To nail the exposure, I adjusted my shutter speed to 1/320, which works out perfectly for their fast moving poses that they're doing.

^^^ Here is another example from last weekend's wedding. This time I was indoors in a church that had some light coming through the windows. I knew that I had a lot of light to compensate for, so I started with ISO-2000. I brought the shutter as slow as I felt comfortable with for more light {1/100} and then brought the aperture to 2.5. Even with these settings, I had to drastically change the image during post processing. :) Here's the picture SOOC, I can't even believe I'm showing you this! At least it shows the power of good post processing, right??

If you need more help with your camera settings, consider one of our mentoring sessions where we can work with you one-on-one.

Do you have a question that you'd like answered in a future Tuesday Tips post? Email your questions to Amy: info@memorymp.com - Thanks! Pin It Now!

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