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Tag: camera settings

Understanding Your Camera’s Settings

Filed in Tips by on July 31, 2014 14 Comments
Understanding Your Camera’s Settings

You finally did it. Goodbye point and shoot cameras with fixed lenses, bogus “digital zoom” and little idiot-proof icons in place of real settings. Goodbye sub-par images and limited functionality. You’ve finally entered the world of DSLR photography.

If you’re like a lot of people, the euphoria wore off as soon as you picked up your DSLR’s manual. That thing is like a brick with pages. Flipping through it is an exercise in uselessness and sitting down to read it is something you might have time to do after retirement.

So, maybe you put the manual away and sheepishly set your camera to “Auto.” And maybe that’s where it’s been ever since.

Today, I’ll show you what the most common settings on your camera do, and how to use them effectively.
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Panning: Capture Motion Blur and Keep your Subject in Focus

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Panning: Capture Motion Blur and Keep your Subject in Focus

If you enjoy sports and other fast-moving things, then you’ve probably spent some time marveling at the amazing photos some photographers manage to capture of fast-moving subjects. You know the ones I mean: a sharp subject against a streaky, blurred background. A photo that says “speed.”

You may even have tried to capture a similar image. And unless you tried again … and again … and again … you probably came away from the experience frustrated and disappointed.

That’s because this technique, which has the deceptively simple name “panning,” is extremely difficult to master. And even photographers who have mastered it still get it wrong some of the time–maybe even most of the time, depending on how challenging the subject is. But I’ll show you the tricks to give yourself a better-than-even chance!
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Taking Captivating Photos in the Rain

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Taking Captivating Photos in the Rain

Let’s say you’re headed out to the beach to take some photos of the surf. You check out the weather forecast on your smart phone and learn that torrential downpours are expected for most of the afternoon. Do you A) stay inside and play Mahjong all afternoon or B) reschedule your trip, then play Mahjong all afternoon or C) pack up your camera and rain guard and go anyway?

If you avoided answer C, then you need some tips on rain photography. Because most hobbyists will answer A or B (or some variation thereof), and most have no idea how many great shots they’re missing.
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5 Situations To Use Your Camera’s Program Modes

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5 Situations To Use Your Camera’s Program Modes

Any self-professed “real” photographer will tell you to turn off your camera’s auto mode and stick with manual. Manual mode gives you more control over your final image. Manual mode is what the pros use. It’s true, sort of. Manual mode does give you more control over your final image, and in many situations it’s better than using your camera’s auto setting. It’s certainly preferable to that fully automatic setting, where you don’t have any choice over basic things like aperture and shutter speed.

But I’m here to say that manual mode is not always best. And I’ll tell you why.
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High Burst Rate Explained

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High Burst Rate Explained

Have you ever attempted to take photos of a fast moving subject and failed miserably? Sometimes the moment you release the shutter is not quite the moment you actually wanted to capture. An advantage of a DSLR over a point and shoot is the quick reaction of the shutter to your finger. Even with responsive shutter release it is not always quick or timely enough to get the most important shot. You may snap away only to realize you barely missed the game winning goal. Wouldn’t it be nice to increase your odds of getting a great shot? Using high burst rate mode is a way to take multiple shots with one push of a button, improving your odds of nailing it.
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Shooting in Burst Mode

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Shooting in Burst Mode

If you learned how to take photos on an old fashioned SLR camera, complete with $8-per-roll Kodak film (not counting processing fees), then the idea of shooting in burst mode (called “motor drive” in those days) was probably terrifying. Unless, of course, you had financial backing from the newspaper you were working for, or a wildly successful photography business, or maybe you just inherited a small fortune from a wealthy uncle and could afford to burn film.

Lucky for us modern digital photographers, the days where lots of shots meant lots of money are gone. Today most DSLRs (and many point and shoots, too) can shoot in burst mode, which means you can increase your chances of capturing that amazing shot without having to spend your inheritance on film.
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Continuous Focus Mode

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Continuous Focus Mode

Getting the action shot can be difficult. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that it is typically harder to take a great photo of a moving subject than a stationary one. It’s the bottom of the 9th and you snap a picture just as your son steals home for the win. You may think your shot is a winner only to find your son is actually a blur, and you didn’t really capture the moment like you hoped. You can switch solely to landscape shots or take up tortoise photography, or you can learn how to photograph a moving target more effectively. There is a simple change you can make to your auto focus settings to do just that.
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Five Surprising Uses for your Camera’s Self-Timer

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Five Surprising Uses for your Camera’s Self-Timer

Most modern cameras have a self-timer feature. You might know this feature best as that setting that allows you to actually be in the photo as well as your subjects. This is particularly great for photogra-moms and/or photogra-dads. You know, the person in your family who is always behind the camera and never in the photo. The person who, as a result, is so absent from the family album that viewers wonder if she or he actually comes along on any of those family outings.

Self timers are great for those family photographers because they allow the person behind the camera to get in front of the camera. But did you know self-timers have other uses too?
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How to fix (or just avoid) Distracting Backgrounds

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How to fix (or just avoid) Distracting Backgrounds

Have you ever snapped what seemed like a great picture only to discover that there was something in the background that slaughtered your otherwise perfect shot? Maybe it was a person wearing bright colors doing something incredibly boring, like feeding a parking meter. Maybe it was a photobomb, and not the good kind, either. And then there’s those non-animate background distractions: tree branches that seem to grow right out of your subject’s head, or signs directing the whole neighborhood and everyone who sees your photo to the nearest laundromat.

Yes, backgrounds are important. And to the extent that they can actually turn a great shot into something terrible, they can sometimes be even more important than your subject.
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How to use rear curtain flash for creative photos

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How to use rear curtain flash for creative photos

Intermediate Don’t use your camera’s onboard flash… most of the time.

You already know the reasons why you want to avoid using that onboard flash. It washes out your subjects’ faces. It creates harsh and ugly shadows behind everything in the scene. It causes red eye. It is, well, ugly. In most cases, it’s better to turn up your ISO than to rely on your flash. ISO technology is leaps and bounds ahead of where it used to be, and today even point-and-shoot cameras can provide good, low-grain images at high ISOs.

So now that I’ve said that, I’ll go on to say this: when used correctly and at the right time, flash can provide your photos with interesting and cool effects. So don’t exclude it from your bag of tricks altogether.
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5 Camera Setting Tips for Shooting Great Portraits

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5 Camera Setting Tips for Shooting Great Portraits

Intermediate Portraits are one of the most common photo ops out there. As a photographer, you’ll likely be asked at one point or another by family or friends to take their photo. Some photographers are naturals at capturing people while others freeze when the person is in front of the camera. They’re not sure how to pose them, how to find flattering light, or how to make the subject comfortable. After all, why should the subject be relaxed if your brow is sweating?

Take a deep breath, relax, and read these 5 tips for shooting great portraits before you agree to the challenge of a portrait shoot.
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Photographing Air Shows

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Photographing Air Shows

It’s air show season in the US, and that means hot weather, high-decibel noise and a whole bunch of hazy photos of tiny little specs in the sky.

Air show photography is tough! Unless you’re in an airplane looking down at the performers, it can be difficult to get a great shot at an air show. But don’t worry, you don’t have to leave that camera at home. There are plenty of things you can do to get the most out of your air show visit.
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Understanding autofocus

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Understanding autofocus

Intermediate Modern camera technology has done a lot for photographers like you and me. Intelligent metering systems have made it possible for us to take pictures on the fly in changing lighting situations, without having to stop to take new readings and make adjustments. Digital technology has vastly reduced the daily expenses of photography, allowing us to take a lot more photos than we used to, thereby increasing the number of truly amazing shots we capture in any one outing. And let’s not forget the often under-appreciated autofocus. Imagine having to manually twist that focusing ring every single time you wanted to take a picture, like they did in the olden-days. But do you truly understand your camera’s various autofocus modes and how they work?
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The Magic Cloth Technique

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The Magic Cloth Technique

Advanced If you shoot landscapes – especially scenes containing water, such as waterfalls, oceans and lakes, you probably already know something about using a neutral density (ND) filter. The neutral density filter is the go-to tool for any photographer who wants to take a long exposure during daylight hours. All those stunning images of misty oceans and rivers that you’ve admired were probably taken with ND filters. But if you don’t have a set of ND filters there is another trick you can employ to capture similar images – and it’s less expensive and more flexible than a set of ND filters, too.
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Painting with Light

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Painting with Light

You’ve heard me talk a lot lately about inspiration, and about how to find great photos in boring places. Let’s say you’ve tried a bunch of those tips but would really like to break out of that whole reality box and try something completely different. Here’s an idea: get yourself a flashlight, a few glow-sticks from the dollar store and a tripod and try painting with light.
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