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, my fallback mode. It’s not really a fallback; it’s more like the right tool for the right job. If I am trying to create a silky waterfall effect, I can depend on Tv to provide that long shutter speed that will deliver. 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. This is always a priority for me because a low ISO will deliver the cleanest image. 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 Noise Reduction feature turned on (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. To get to this function quickly, I set up my Function button to quickly bring up the Exposure comp/AEB setting. To do this, I use the Custom Function IV menu shown in Figure 4.15 (I’ll discuss this topic later in the book).
Figure 4.15 I set up my Custom Function IV menu to have easy access to the Exposure Compensation feature.
One of the reasons I change my exposure is to make corrections when I see the “blinkies” in my rear LCD. Blinkies are the warning signal that part of my image has been over-exposed to the point that I no longer have any detail in the highlights. When the Highlight Alert feature is turned on (Figure 4.16), the display will flash wherever the potential exists for overexposure. To turn on this feature, go to the second Display menu and enable the feature.
Figure 4.16 Enabling the Highlight Alert, or “blinkies,” feature allows you to see when a part of your image is blown out.
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 to understand the features of your camera so that you can leverage the technology in a knowledgeable way. This will result in better photographs.