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Shot preparation

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by photoloco, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. What are your steps?
    Being fairly new to photography, sometimes when I turn on my camera my head gets full of thought about settings. I can actually paralyze my thinking wondering what to do first, and by the time I'm ready to shoot, the subject or light has changed. I realize that this is a direct result of being an in-experienced amature photographer, and I could switch to auto-mode, but I don't want to do that for stubborn reasons.
    So I am wondering. Those of you who have been shooting for a while now, what are your initial thoughts as you approach a subject? For example, do you first think about lighting, ISO, WB, manual, aperture, shutter priority etc. Do you you use the same method most of the time?
    I think that your comments could help me considerably to get ready before I make simple mistakes.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. rsprouse


    Jan 25, 2006
    Encinitas CA

    It can certainly get confusing. One thing that helps me is to remember that if you are shooting RAW, you can change/fix almost everything except composition, exposure, focus and ISO.

    So, I tend to shoot in RAW, setting the ISO to the lowest setting by default (only adjusting it upward when necessary and hopefully remembering to reset it afterward), and concentrate on nailing the composition, exposure and focus. I actually use manual focus a lot, because I have not always gotten great focus with autofocus, and I am used to focusing manually from several decades of shooting non-autofocus SLRs and film.

    The other settings (white balance, sharpening, etc.) do affect the image you see on the LCD after shooting, so it is good to have them set properly, but if you goof those up, you can correct in PP. In fact, most non-Nikon RAW converters ignore those settings. I prefer Capture NX, but I am not a high-volume shooter.

    Hope this helps. Of course it will all get easier the more you shoot.

    -- Russ
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2007
  3. PAReams


    Apr 4, 2007
    San Diego, CA

    Thanks for sharing your process. As a new photographer, I'm just starting to experiment with the M mode on my D70. It's helpful to know that I can limit the things that I need to pay attention to in the moment of the shot. Thanks!
  4. Good question.

    Several things I consider early are listed below.
    Everyones ideas are a little different, these are just some of mine.

    ISO - use the lowest possible
    Color Mode I for people, Color Mode III for nature
    S focus for static images, C for moving subjects
    set White Balance - custom Preset for difficult ligting
    lens choice

    A, S or M priority
    A in most cases
    S when shooting sports or fast moving objects
    M when using flash

    Matrix or spot metering
    Matrix for landscape
    Spot for people and flash
    Matrix for fill-in flash

    F/stop to control Depth of Field
    Shutter speed at least as fast as focal length: 50mm = 1/60, 200mm = 1/200 sec or faster unless using a tripod or VR
    Focus area select, I'm working on using this more often

    When shooting Micro/Macro I working on using shutter priority and bracketing exposure.
    I'm using this to take three shots at different f/stops and getting three different DOFs
    It's just to hard to judge DOF from the LCD

    There are other things to consider, but for me this is a good start
  5. tonywh

    tonywh Guest

    when going for a walk and just looking for shots I start with the camera set for action. They will mostlikely need the quickest response. Camera is on centre weighted (if its quick I want the reading from the main subject) , aperture priority F4, AWB, C, dynamic focus, higher ISO than whats exspected, .(seems silly to start low ISO if you are pressed for time, noise is repairable motion blur & lack of dof isnt) EV +0.3, Histiogram showing on back of camera, Has I know where the camera is its easy to adjust to what I meet, normaly by changing Aperture, EV, ISO, metering, WB, mode. Composisition at speed tends to be experiance, I generaly know where the dominant light is and roughly what shutter speed F4 will give without having to check.Tend to only use shutter priority when I want to slow it down for motion effect. If there is more time for developmment or its static which normaly allows more time for preperation, then its a study of subject, light and composition first, then the camera is set to its requirements. Normaly in order of selecting DOF, ISO to meet required shutter speed, point of focus,Metering, EV, normaly for that degree of care either raw and leave in AWB or get white balance from grey card. Thats for just toddling around where I normaly have one lens, a grey card and possible a flash and 50mm prime. If I know what I am setting of to do its fundamentaly the same but you think about it a lot more before starting and pack a range of lenses, cameras, lighting etc that you can reasonably get there that will cover just about all possibilities. Camera will still have the action set up to start. Difficulties arise when you dont know where you are starting from.
    In the end its like most things though, going out and making the mistakes to learn by. I should think everybody has missed or messed up realy great shots (well I am convinced they would have been great shots) because the camera had been left on the wrong setting.

  6. All very good tips to take in mind.
    I have been shooting mainly in raw as suggested. When you use a grey card, do you constantly have to re-measure as you move around and find the lighting has changed? Do most of you use the grey card or set to AWB?
    I am going to try exposure bracketing shots and see what surprises this will give me.
    Any good starting points as how to set this up on my D80.
  7. AWB is pretty good for most situations.
    Here is Pittsburgh, Cloudy is most often used outside.
    We get almost as much rain as Seattle.

    I always Pre set indoors when not using a flash.
    You can also reference photos on the CF card to Pre set WB.
    To answer your question: yes as lighting changes, you must pre set again
    This is also true during the "Golden Hour" of sunset and sunrise, lighting changes quickly during this time.

    I'm new to exposure bracketing and still learning.
    You can't adjust DOF on a computer even if you shoot RAW/NEF
    (you can blur backgrounds in PS, but it's very hard to regain focus)

    I'm using Ex. bracketing to get different DOF results of the same image.
    I only do this when DOF is very shallow like Micro or shooting people close up wide open.
    I'm using shutter priority and bracket at 3F 1.0

    I set to camera to shoot continuous low or CL
    and set it to stop at 3 frames. This way I can fire off three quick shots getting three different f/stops and DOF.

    I'm using a D200.
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