Sunday, January 31, 2010

Part 2: Photography with Imre Z. Balint: Episode 12 - Pre and Post Composition Checklist

For episode 12, my goal was to help novice photographers not only see how much can be involved with a photo shoot, but also to keep some of those things in mind in order not to miss critical shots and to be prepared for the majority of events that might occur. To elaborate on the latter, here's an example. Let's say I've gone hiking to capture some dramatic vistas, which generally means I'd be shooting with a wider lens. But, maybe I've spotted some wildlife in the distance and I have a chance to take a few shots. Being prepared in this case means that I know exactly where my telephoto lens is in my bag, and my camera is set in a way where all I pretty much have to do is swap lenses and shoot; the focus, metering, etc. in general are set in such a manner that I can catch that moment before it passes.

But here is where things become a little more complicated, and perhaps something I could have also mentioned in the video now that I think about it. Not only is it a good idea to be prepared, it's also a good idea to know your equipment well. If I need to change ISO on my camera quickly, off the top of my head I know there's a button on top of the camera that I can push down, hold, and then using the control wheels I can manipulate the value, all without even taking my eye away from the viewfinder.

This brings to me to why I kept saying "please check my blog" in the episode, especially when I kept talking about white balance (WB).

Since I've been involved with photography for quite a few years, just before I take a shot I'm very accustomed to really quickly determining whether my settings are appropriate or not; to a simpler degree, I covered some of those in the video, but here's a slightly more comprehensive list:
  • Sensitivity, aperture, shutter speed - usually I take a quick glance
  • Exposure value compensation check
  • Metering type (area, center-weighted, spot) - sometimes I'll determine this far ahead of time before I take any shots
  • Focus locked - usually I'm set to the center spot; I lock the focus, then "move" to frame my shot
Notice that I left out WB. My camera is pretty much always set to save images in RAW format, so although I usually have WB set to something appropriate (either using my ExpoDisc or the specific settings like sun, shade, etc.) I can happily fine tune WB well after I've taken the shot in my program of choice, which for me is Photoshop. But if you're a JPEG shooter then I strongly suggest checking that setting often; often being difficult to define, but basically when you notice a significant shift in the color temperature of your scene. Color correcting JPEG files is not as easy compared to RAW and I've personally noticed that some color corrected JPEG images end up with a slight tinge of one color or another.

Anyway... the lessons I really wanted to push through this video are like I said; think ahead to be prepared, always re-evaluate your settings and shot just before taking it, and know your equipment. At first, all of this may seem daunting but believe me, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. When I pack my gear for a shoot of some sort, I'm done in 5 minutes. To evaluate a shot just after I've composed it, probably takes me 2-3 seconds. Keep at it and I certainly hope you'll become a proficient and happier photographer... happy is a good thing!

If you enjoy my videos and posts, please do subscribe and check me out on Facebook where you can become a Fan; you can also keep up-to-date with my stuff as well! TTYL

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