Monday, November 30, 2009

Take It Off Of Auto Pilot!!

This is a long needed photography tip for all you DSLR users! I have noticed lots of photographs I come across through blog hopping are well, lacking something! Many times I cannot put my finger on it and then other times I can see that the ISO is way to high and the photo looks grainy and that tells me one of two things! 1. You forgot to check your settings before shooting or 2. You are shooting in auto mode, in which the camera chooses the ISO for your conditions and if the lighting is poor it will boost it through the roof!

So my solution is to take it off auto and take creative control of your camera because it is NOT all about the pose, you need to make sure your settings are correct in order for the portrait to turn out and look good! I hear the panic in your voice! You are trembling with fear at the thought of stepping into another dimension! You can work your way up to 100% manual be setting your camera on A (Nikon) for Aperture Priority in which you choose the F stop you will be using f8, f1.4 etc, the camera will then choose the shutter speed. Or, you can set your camera to S for Shutter Priority where you set the shutter speed 1/125, 1/30 etc and the camera chooses the f stop. This is what I like to call co-pilot because you only choose one or the other and the camera does the rest! The camera may not always choose the best either but it is a starting point!

Then there is the band aid (quick and with little pain) method in which you just switch your setting to M for manual and start playing! The letter M really is the most feared by newbie photogs and with good reason but it will make your life so much better when you switch! Today I am going to give you some tips on letting the letter M back into your life! Keep in mind that these are starting points that are no fail BUT, you will need to experiment with your camera and different lighting situations and your lenses!!

OK, here we go! Let's start with the outdoor rule of thumbs! First, 100 ISO is equal to a shutter speed of 1/125 sec.! Set your ISO to 100 and let's go outside. Now if it is sunny set your aperture to f16 and start shooting!

If it is a cloudy day set your speed to 1/125 sec. and set your aperture to f8 to let more light into your lens.

For sunsets, sunrises and low light conditions set your f stop to wide open to let the maximum amount of light in! Remember, the lower the f stop, the more light that is let in. Set your speed to 1/30th sec. and shoot! These types of shots require a tripod to avoid camera shake.

Did you get all that? Now we need to move onto the indoor stuff! Just take notes! Remember we are still M mode and we are now ready to head indoors for that Christmas photo by the fireplace!

Set your aperture as big (the lower the f number the more light that gets in)as it will go (according to the lens you are using). So if I am using my 50mm f1.4 lens then I will set my aperture to f1.4. For your shutter speed you will choose somewhere around 1/60 sec. Keep in mind that it is hard to hand hold the camera much below this! Something else to keep in mind is that you never want to shoot lower than the focal length of your lens. So if you are using a 50mm prime lens than you do not want to shoot lower then 1/50 sec. Most likely you will need an external flash for these shots! A flash that can be bounced (off a wall or ceiling is ideal). Next take a few test shots and if they are not bright enough then you may need to boost your ISO! Start low boosting a little at a time until you get the desired look for your photo. ISO is one of those things that you do not want to overdo because you may get some noise (that grainy look) in your photos which may require a program that helps reduce noise!

So now you know how to take it off of auto pilot! The only thing left to do is grab your camera and go play!! I hope this helps!


Lola said...

If only I could wrestle the Kodak Digital I bought for Anastasia a few Christmases back to try this. Ooh! I just had a Christmas gift idea for her...a new lens.

Lin said...

Thanks for the help! I'm gonna print this to keep handy! I have a friend who has the same camera as us and we are forever comparing notes. I'm gonna send him the link to check this out.


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