Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Forgotten Techniques - The Snapshot Setting


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Forgotten Techniques - The Snapshot Setting

2 Jan 2021 4:08PM   Views : 468 Unique : 342

Not forgotten by all of us I'm sure, but forgotten or never thought about by many perhaps? The snapshot setting hails from the era of manual focus prime lenses and is basically how the camera can be set up ready to take a shot immediately without further thought. This is the setting for when something dramatic unfolds in front of our eyes - shoot first, refine things afterwards, so the camera is set up to give that initial picture a fighting chance of being good enough. Usually this means the subject is likely to be fairly close and if you mess around with settings you'll miss the shot. Equally usually this might apply to street photography, where the camera can be pre-set and those definitive moments can be caught.
This one was such a moment, but under more difficult conditions than usual in a concert setting. I've shown it before, but what do you do if Frankie Valli walks out into the audience and serenades your pal's little girl. Well you take the shot or you dither and fail, so the snapshot setting means that you have a head start at the very least.

The essence here was only the focus point had to be changed as everything else was set up for the stage spotlighting.
For street photography, a snapshot setting would usually be something like this:

The aperture is the ubiquitous f/8, the focus distance about 10 feet or 3m and the shutter speed as appropriate for the correct exposure. No focusing is then necessary for subjects between about 7 feet and 15 feet, give or take, so that first shot is in with a chance. Pentax standard and wide angle manual prime lenses used to have 3m and f/8 marked in red to remind us that this was an initial setup position.
With a DSLR it means your viewfinder image might look out of focus, but we leave it for that first shot at least and then for subsequent shots we refine things as we wish. Of course, this applies to prime lenses when used with manual focus and when we have ultra-fast AF with face detection different considerations might apply, but before the technology people still shot fantastic images, so there are plenty of techniques that they used.

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