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How I Shoot: A Closer Look at the Camera Settings I Use

The great thing about working with a DSLR camera is that I can always feel confident that some things will remain unchanged from camera to camera. For me, these are the Aperture Priority (Av) and Shutter Priority (Tv) shooting modes. Although I like to think of myself as a generalist in terms of my photography, I do tend to lean heavily on the landscape and urban photography genres. Working in these areas means that I am almost always going to be concerned with my depth of field. Whether it’s isolating my subject with a large aperture or trying to maximize the overall sharpness of a sweeping landscape, I always keep an eye on my aperture setting.

If I do have a need to control the action, I use Shutter Priority. If I am trying to create a silky waterfall effect, I can depend on Tv to deliver the long shutter speed that it requires. Maybe I am shooting a motocross jumper—I definitely need the fast shutter speeds that will freeze the fast-moving action. While the other camera modes have their place, I think you will find that, like myself and most other working pros, you will use the Av and Tv modes for 90 percent of your shooting.

The other concern that I have when I am setting up my camera is just how low I can keep my ISO. I raise the ISO only as a last resort because each increase in sensitivity is an opportunity for more digital noise to enter my image. To that end, I always have the High ISO Speed Noise Reduction feature set to Standard (see Chapter 7).

To make quick changes while I shoot, I often use the Exposure Compensation feature (covered in Chapter 7) so that I can make small over- and underexposure changes. This is different than changing the aperture or shutter; it is more like fooling the camera meter into thinking the scene is brighter or darker than it actually is.

One of the reasons I change my exposure is to make corrections when I see the “blinkies” while looking at my images on the rear LCD. Blinkies are the warning signal that part of my image has been overexposed to the point that I no longer have any detail in the highlights. The highlight alert will flash wherever the potential exists for overexposure. The only unfortunate thing about this feature is that it doesn’t work with the full-screen preview mode. You have to set your camera display to one of the Histogram modes and then you will see the highlight alert (Figure 4.14). If you see any area of the thumbnail blinking black, you are probably overexposing that part of the image.

Figures 4.14

Figure 4.14. The T4i’s highlight alert screen.

As you work your way through the coming chapters, you will see other tips and tricks I use in my daily photography, but the most important tip I can give is that you take the time to understand the features of your camera so that you can leverage the technology in a knowledgeable way. This will result in better photographs.

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