A few days back I found myself following a link from a Facebook post to a photography blog that professed to give you a heads up on features to use on your camera that’ll have you shooting like a pro in no time, so intrigue took the better of me and I had to have a look and see if I was missing a trick or two.
Well I can’t say I was overwhelmed by the knowledge this blog post was willing to give away as good sturdy basis behind getting the most out of your camera that’d have you shooting like the best in the business. The advice hinged around shooting bracketed, which if your purposefully after an HDR result would be fine, but if you’re shooting bracketed exposures just to cover all bases to ensure that at least one shot was perfectly exposed then it’s not teaching anything but preaching the technique of spraying shot and praying for a result.
The second gem was to use the Depth Of Field preview button. Whilst I guess this can be handy, as such, I’ve never really found it does much other than darken the viewfinder as it closes the aperture making the sceen harder to see, unless your shooting wide open. I’d much prefer to see those wanting to up their game simply learn what happens to depth of field at any given aperture setting and how this is then affected by changing the focal length, and how using the aperture to your advantage can make your resulting images more creative. Then there would be no real need to struggle to see what the depth of field preview might be trying to show you.
The last was using the inbuilt spirit level, which depending on the camera might be displayed through the viewfinder if it’s an EVF or on the main LCD screen on the back, to ensure you don’t have wonky images. Whilst it’s true I don’t really want wonky images I quite simply don’t have to get it spot on in camera as it takes just 5 seconds in Lightroom to get it spot on anyway.
The one thing that relates to all three things that makes them mildly pointless is time. On a pro shoot, say a wedding, I’ve got no time to waste spraying and praying, stopping to check that the depth of field I have is correct for what I want to achieve or that the image is perfectly level. Whilst the levelling can be fixed afterwards, all I quite simply need is to have the knowledge of how to shoot like a pro to ensure I don’t need to resort to using the mildly gimmicky inbuilt features that won’t actually have me shooting like a pro at all.
If you want to shoot like a pro, learn these three basic things. Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.
Figure out what the aperture does to the depth of field, why and when you would want it set in certain ways. For example, a detailed shot of the wedding rings, for me, would be shot at f/8 to ensure a good amount of the rings were in focus, yet a portrait of the bride might be at f/4 so I can blur way the background.
Learn about shutter speeds and how to ensure you don’t suffer movement blur from either the bride walking to fast down the aisle or through your inability to remain steady enough with a slow shutter speed, and then in turn what the advantages and disadvantages of altering the ISO would be.
There are a few ways to learn about these things depth and what they do. Reading through resources in books or online. The other is to get the camera and experiment, play with the settings and visually see what’s occurring, but I’m not going to teach you directly here about them other than to say, if you want to learn to shoot like a pro, then you simply must learn about those three very basic things.
It’s what I did, and here I am now, a good few years later a have to admit, lucky enough to be shooting as a pro. The truth of the matter really is that even though both my cameras have all manner of features there are pretty much only six things I’m ever using or bothered about throughout the course of a shoot. Focal length, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, the inbuilt light meter and flash compensation (for when I’m using the flashgun). Understanding that lot means I get the best of of my cameras and gets great images, so I’d urge you to do the same to.
It might be handy or fun to have a few added features on a camera to use, but they won’t really have you shooting like a pro, learning the fundamental basics of photography will give you a far greater chance……..that and practice, lots of practice, fun practice, so go have some fun and I’ll catch up with you sometime soon.
Thanks for stopping by, and……..Happy learning!