Making The Most Of Your DSLR Part 1

Making The Most Of Your DSLR Part 1

Did you know that if you search “the best cameras for wedding photography” into Google, the first few pages are covered with links and images of DSLR cameras (telling you why they’re the best type of camera to shoot a wedding with and where you can purchase certain DSLR camera models). It’s true to say that the majority of professional wedding photographers use a DSLR camera to shoot their client’s weddings with and that’s because they know they’re the best type of camera to use!

So, our guess is, you’re either here to learn more about DSLR cameras (to improve your photography in general), or you’re a regular reader here at Weddit and therefore will know that more often than not, our articles come back around to the topic of wedding photography. So, you’re interested in learning how to improve your DSLR camera skills when you’re out there shooting a wedding. Are we right? If we are, then you’ve found just the ticket you were looking for! Today, we are going to be sharing our tips with you on how to make the most out of your DSLR camera. So, stay tuned if you want to read the article...

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An Introduction to DSLR Cameras - DSLR cameras have the advantage in lens selection and an optical viewfinder that works better in low lighting (perfect for the wedding reception if it stretches into the evening, but they are more complex and bulkier to work with. To use a DSLR camera on a professional level, you will require some knowledge about how the device works.

There is so much more to a DSLR camera than full Auto mode and Scene modes (Portrait mode, Landscape mode, etc.). Not to utilize and take advantage of its amazing tools would be like shooting with a very expensive point and shoot style of camera. It just wouldn’t be worth the investment financially if you’re not seeing the benefits visually. When you learn to use these features, you will notice that your shots have improved! If you are not yet ready to leap into full Manual mode but are in need of getting a bit more familiar and adventurous with your DSLR camera, here is our list of tips for better DSLR photography. Be sure to use your camera’s manual in conjunction with these tips, as camera brand mechanics do vary.

N0.1 Use Aperture Priority & Shutter Priority Modes - We should start off by saying that using these modes are great stepping stones towards learning how to shoot in full Manual mode. If Manual mode sounds daunting to you at this point, your camera can ease you in gently with Aperture Priority mode and Shutter Priority mode (they are also known as the semi-manual or semi-auto mode).

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*NOTE: Some pros prefer to shoot mostly in Aperture Priority mode, while others prefer Manual mode. Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens when you are taking a picture and determines the amount of light let into the camera. In Aperture Priority mode (often indicated by the symbol ‘A’ or ‘AV’ on your camera), you control the size of your aperture while the camera takes care of the shutter speed, yielding a well-exposed photo.

Shutter speed is the length of time that the shutter of your camera remains open when you are taking a picture, allowing light to hit your camera’s sensor (it’s also known as exposure time). In Shutter Priority mode (often indicated by the symbol ‘S’ or ‘Tv’ on your camera), you can manually control your shutter speed while your camera automatically takes care of the aperture size in an effort to give you a well-exposed photo.

What Can You Do With These Modes? - Aperture Priority mode is a favourite of many professionals. Many wedding photographers adore taking photographs where the subject or portion of the subject is clearly in focus while the background is dreamy and blurred.

This is known as having a shallow DOF (depth of field). You can achieve this look by setting your aperture to a large size (indicated by a lower f-number). Shallow DOF works well for portraits, food photography, and still life photos. If you set your aperture to a smaller size (indicated by a greater f- number) you can achieve what is known as deep DOF, where both the foreground and background are crisp, clear and in focus. You’ll want to use deep DOF for landscape shots.

Photographers generally use Shutter Priority mode when they wish to capture movement in a particular way. They use a fast shutter speed to “freeze” a fast-moving object in time. A slower shutter speed would show the motion progression, yielding a blurred image of the subject.

N0.2 A Quality Tripod - We have noticed that there is a heightened ability to keep very still when shooting with slower shutter speeds, but there are limitations. That’s when it’s time for a trusty tripod to help you out. They are very handy for night time long exposures, photographing fireworks, and for special effects like this. At a wedding, photographers typically use them to shoot group photographs of the wedding party and of the Bride and Groom during the ceremony.

Using your DSLR’s built-in timer in conjunction with the tripod will ensure that your photograph doesn’t come out blurred when you press the capture button. Sometimes a remote shutter release cable would come in handy for those photos that you wish to capture in that very moment.

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N0.3 Your Camera’s Autofocus Capabilities (AF Mode) - When you look through your camera’s lens you will see an array of focus points. The centre focus point (which is the most sensitive point) should be pointed straight at your subject. Push the shutter button halfway down to lock the focus, then recompose your shot if you want (because the subject does not have to be in the dead centre of your composition), then shoot.

If your subject is way off centre, you’ll get a clearer shot if you select an off-centre focus point that lines up with your subject. If using a wide aperture setting like f/2.8, do not use the lock focus/recompose method, as your subject may become blurred. Instead, choose a focus point closest to your subject to ensure clarity throughout your image when using a DSLR camera.

There are two AF modes (‘One Shot’ and ‘Continuous’). When you are shooting a still subject use One Shot mode. If you have a moving subject that you wish to capture in focus, set your camera to Continuous focus mode (which is Al Servo on many Canon models), so that it continually focuses on your moving subject.

Thanks for stopping by to read how you can make the most out of your DSLR camera. We’ll have part 2 coming really soon so, stay tuned for that! Why not keep up with us on Facebook? Come and say hello or start a conversation below!

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