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I've blown the dust off the old DSLR and taken some photos over the past week or so. I've found myself dissapointed after the event, because I've forgotten a setting on the camera, forgotten to reset a setting, missed something in the frame, and other avoidable mistakes.
It got me wondering if anyone has a workflow for taking pictures, similar to a proccessing workflow? I suppose I'm looking for tips for a methodical checklist when I look at a scene or subjext? I would imagine experienced photographers do this automatically, and it's a point I'd like to get to when taking photos, but I just seem to make so many silly mistakes when using the camera.
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I tend to check it before I set out for the day, such as making sure the ISO is 100 instead of a 1000 from trying to get something in low light last time etc. I've done that loads of times then looked at the shot and swore as the iso was way too high.
If I'm shooting stuff that constantly changing I use AV or TV that way I get to set the aperture or shutter speed and the camera takes care of the otherside to the setting I have chosen to use. If you keep forgetting the ISO then put it on auto ISO for a while if you camera has the option.
If your shooting something that is not going to change then use Manual aperture and shutter and check the ISO etc etc before plus you also get the option to look at the histogram and other info on the shot itself.
If it means getting the shot use any of the setting the camera has to offer there is nothing wrong with Full Auto, semi auto etc etc. Your better using whatever you need rather than miss an opportunity.
The more you use your camera and think about it the easier it gets I find.
I always take a picture before setting off. I check it back and make sure it's the only one on the card. I've still forgotten things like remote release cables. I could be more organised, if I use something at home I should always put it back in my camera bag.
If you're going out to shoot a particular subject it's worth spending five minutes at home making sure you've got the camera fitted with the best lens for the job and camera set to the appropriate settings.
It pays to take your time when you're shooting, I'd rather have five excellent shots than 10 average shots.
ISO setting is important, of course. Main problem I have is having the wrong White Balance. So, every time I want to take pictures this is my "work-flow":
1. Check light from environment
2. Set white balance
3. Be sure there is enough light for choosing AV
4. Speed is above 1/60sec? => go for it! (unless you have a focus of more than 60 mm)
5. Speed below 1/60? => change ISO
Only one thing: I have this 50mm 1.8. I tend to use it always at 1.8. Gives a beautiful DOF. But... if target is moving, it's a real disaster.
If you want to be sure the picture will be all right then between step 3 and 4: set aperture to 8.
It would be good to write down the things you need to check before you set off eg Focus, ISO, Memorycard, White Balance then get the initial letters F, I, M W etc and try to make a word or phrase from them.
The one's I do need to check - because I have a habit of leaving them on the last settings I use - are:
Lens on AF
Exposure bracketing off
Exposure compensation at zero
ISO at 200
Because I only shoot Raw, I never use white balance or any of the other Jpeg settings and I do tend to remember to set things like AE mode, shutter speed and aperture together with the metering and AF options because they are all part of the conscious "decision-making process" that I go through when deciding how to take a shot.
The four I have listed are the ones most likely to catch me out - such as pressing the shutter release and getting three exposures because I have forgotten I was bracketing for HDR the last time I used the camera or wondering why the histogram is skewed because I forgot that, last time, I had a couple of stops of compensation dialled in for a sunset....
I sometimes forget Exposure Comp from a previous session. Easily done.
Day before: Bag packed, Camera & Flash batteries charged, lenses cleaned, remote release, spirit level, tripod, notebook, backup camera, empty memory cards, waterproofs map, checked route to location, check weather report, checks sunrise/set positions. Anticipated camera set up for the shoot dialed in, RAW/JPEG, colourspace, ISO, etc.
At the location:
- What have I seen? i.e what catch my eye, and therefore what do I need to try and communicate - lighting, movement, pattern, etc.
- What does the scene require?
- Is this the best time of day/year for the image?
- Which lens will best represent the scene?
- Is this the best viewpoint?
- What lighting would improve the scene?
- How do I set up the camera to capture the scene
- Set up the camera for the scene (mode, white balance, exposure, aperature, shutter speed, ISO, focal length, focal point, depth of field, manual or autofocus, mirror lock up, multiple exposure,
- Check composition
- Check the edge of the frame for distractions
- how can I simplify the scene
- Take the shot
- Take the shot as a portrait or landscape as well
I normally get my kit ready for a cycle shoot the day before. Obviously batteries charged, lenses clean, memory cards in cameras and spares in bag. I then set the cameras up ready for what I think will be the right settings for the day, just in case I'm late and have to start shooting as I park the car in a gateway, has been known engine off and diving out of the car to catch 1st rider . Usually weather dependant ISO set, AV set & apeture if Time Trial to f5.6 & I'm ready to go & can then change settings as the day goes on and light changes.
I went on an urbex shoot a year or so back, it involved gaining entry to a pretty difficuly building. There were two of us and it was snowing and cold , we had travelled far to do it so were determined. Two hours of hard work later we had dragged a large wooden pallet up the side of a building via a few crumbly walls and perched it against a broken window pain , to do this meant walking across a blatently crumbling and falling apart tiled roof covered in two foot of snow. After eventually maneouvering through the window and facing a 5 foot drop onto a dodgy wooden floor we gained access and got to the part of the building we had come to see. Imagine then my horror after taking my camera out setting up the tripod for the hdr shot and turning on to see the sign reading ' no card ' , the picture in my head of the compact flash card sitting on my desk at home will haunt me forever. The moral for me , sometimes travelling light isnt right.
I think that's why I've got mine set to 'can't fire shutter if no card inserted' and I take a shot before leaving, usually in the car outside the house.
Thanks for all the useful comments.
LensYews, that's just what I'm looking for. I think I'll put something like that in a notebook for reference.
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