Making The Most Of Your DSLR Part 2

Making The Most Of Your DSLR Part 2

Want to know how to make the most out of your DSLR camera? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Today, we’ve got a whole lot more to say on the topic, but in case you didn’t know, we’ve already begun our discussion on this subject. Don’t worry though, you can totally catch up by checking out Part 1 here. So, if you’re ready then we’re ready to move onto our next top tip which will help you to make the most out of your DSLR camera...

N0.4 The ISO Setting on A DSLR - ISO Auto can work great, but having more control of these speed settings (100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600+) can help you achieve a much better exposure throughout your images. Try setting your camera to a low ISO speed for bright light situations and a higher ISO speed for low-light situations. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive to light your camera becomes, and the faster the shutter speed will be. Here are some general rules to follow If you’re a little unsure on what does what:

1.An ISO of 100 is perfect for very sunny environments.

2.ISO 200-400 works for overcast outdoor daylight, outdoor shade, or indoors when a scene is well-lit.

3.ISO 800 can sometimes be used in low light outdoors or indoors without a flash. Mind the shutter speed though! If it gets too slow you can either increase ISO to make it faster or use a tripod to accommodate the slower shutter speed. Or, you could always use flash instead?

4.Indoor and outdoor low-light situations without a flash often call for an ISO speed of 1600 or more. Beware though, as your photos can become grainy with a high ISO (try not to go higher than ISO 400 for that reason).

To avoid graininess in these low-light situations, set the ISO low and mount your DSLR on a tripod to get a clear shot. Or, you can always use a high ISO (to increase shutter speed enough for a handheld shot) and enjoy the creative grain! If you like this kind of thing you could convert low-light grainy photos to black and white in Photoshop and call it “film grain”. That will get you a few creative points we’re sure! It’ll give you your own stamp on photography and trying out new things like this will help you to stand out from other wedding photographers. It all starts with learning more about your DSLR camera model.

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N0.5 Understanding Metering Modes - Your camera has a built-in feature that automatically controls exposure, but sometimes there are situations where you need more control over the exposure. So, you can’t really always leave these technique attributes to your DSLR. Don’t get us wrong, it’s clever, but you have to know better than the camera if you want to be a great photographer. For instance, if you are shooting in the bright light of day and your camera automatically darkens the overall photo, leaving your subject matter underexposed, this would be a good example of when you’d need to know what to adjust and how to adjust it yourself.

In situations like this, it is time to visit your camera’s Metering modes and select one to help you control exposure (and we’d like to add that this is way easier than you may think). Canons usually have an Evaluative Metering mode (called Evaluative/Matrix Metering on some cameras), Partial Metering mode, Spot Metering mode and Centre-Weighted Average Metering mode. DSLRs are set to Evaluative Metering mode by default, which does a fine job most of the time. What to do when it doesn’t? Here is a little scenario to help us explain…  

It’s evening time, and the light is rich and golden. This is the perfect backdrop for a portrait session is it not? In Evaluative Metering mode, the camera evaluates the overall exposure of the photo, taking into account the back light. If you use this mode, your subject will come out too dark. To ensure correct exposure of your subject, simply choose the Partial Metering mode or Spot Metering mode. These modes will brighten the subject despite the back light (Spot Metering mode gives a bit more control than Partial Metering mode).

Centre-Weighted Average Metering mode is a combination of Evaluative and Partial/Spot Metering modes and is probably least used out of all the modes. It evaluates the entire scene, but gives priority to the centre portion of the frame (so your subject always has to be in the centre of the frame when using this mode, which isn’t always ideal). So, you’ve got to use your judgement here and go with what is best for the situation.

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N0.6 Exposure Compensation - Think of your camera as a robot. It gets the job done with artificial intelligence, yielding successful and pleasing results most of the time. But there are times when you, the human photographer, will need to override the machine to achieve the perfect exposure for your photograph, especially in instances where there are either mostly white tones in your scene, or mostly black tones.

For example, snowscapes are naturally bright to the naked eye, especially in full sun. If left up to the camera alone, the machine will automatically darken the scene because it is programmed to average the tones out to 18% grey whenever it takes a photo. You can easily correct this kind of improper exposure by going to the “+/- sliding scale” feature (found on most digital cameras) and manually increasing or decreasing exposure accordingly (in this case of the snowscape scene, you will increase it).

For scenes with black tones, the camera will average them out to 18% grey as well, so decrease exposure compensation to achieve true black tones. Whether you’re increasing or decreasing exposure, moving one to two full stops is recommended. Exposure compensation is a lot of fun to experiment with. The best times of day to play with it are later on in the daytime/ early evening. These images will have a rich, golden back light. Increase it to brighten subject’s faces (which is an alternative to using the Spot Metering mode mentioned in tip N0.5).

N0.7 White Balance Settings - Different light sources create a variety of colour casts in photographs, not all of which look very natural. DSLR cameras have white balance settings to choose from to help counteract these problems.

Some of the most common white balance settings are Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent and Flash. Try experimenting with these settings, at all different times of day, in different situations. You might even discover some interesting effects that you could take on as your photographer’s stamp.

N0.8 Photo Editing Software - Many photographers like to shoot from the gut, intuitively snapping away, not always giving careful thought to camera settings. Although they (and you) should to encourage the use of shooting in either Aperture Priority mode or full Manual mode these days. Your photos will be better for it, because you’ll have so much more control.

Photoshop is often used for making corrections and tweaks in the post-processing stage, as well as for adding special effects (Adobe offers free 30-day trials of their programs if you wanted to check those out).

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N0.9 The Memory Card - This tip goes hand in hand with the ‘shoot from the gut’ mentality. Take lots and lots of pictures (fill up your memory card) and you will be sure to capture something very special and unique. If you only decide to keep a handful of the photos on your card, then you have been successful!

N0.10 Change Up The Perspective - Think about the depth and spatial relationships between objects in your photos. Get down on the ground, at eye level, shoot from above, look up, see what’s behind you, move in close. Some of the most interesting shots can come from veering away from your normal photography habits!

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