Sunday, January 6, 2013

Getting the Most Out of Your New Camera

Panasonic DCM ZS10 & Canon EOS 6D
Panasonic DCM ZS10 & Canon EOS 6D
Now that the excitement of the holidays are over many of you are sitting there with a shiny new camera eager to get out and start taking fantastic pictures. Whether it was a gift or a treat you got for yourself; a shiny new DSLR or a compact point and shoot, here are a few things to keep in mind to help you get the most out of your new camera.

  1. This should go without saying, but read the instruction book. I have been shooting for years and I still read the book. If you have a high end camera a publisher named Wiley puts out a Digital Field Guide specific to the DSLRS model. These books are indispensable, not only do they go into much greater depth of instruction then the tech manual, they also tell you how to you those setting to their best effect. A how to guide if you will.
  2. Avoid shooting in RAW. A lot of people will give the exact opposite advice, but RAW really only gives you an advantage in some situations. If you have the habit of shooting in RAW you don't have any real impetus to learn things like color balance and proper lighting. RAW quickly becomes a crutch and your photoshop will improve, not your photography.
  3. Shoot often, a few pictures everyday if possible. Nothing will build familiarity with your new camera faster then constant use. Lets say you average 300 photos a month, it is much better to do this split up as ten photos a day then it is to shoot all 300 on the first of the month. This is for a couple of reasons. First, if you have 29 days you are not shooting that is 29 days to forget what you have learned. Secondly if you shoot all at once odds are all 300 images will be shoot in the same setting. You will have spent 300 frames learning what you could explore in ten and then revisit later in the month once you have gained a broader understanding. 
  4. Shoot a variety of subjects. You are going to have a favorite subject, say modern portraiture, shoot that about 1/3rd of the time. The rest of the time shoot a variety of other things. What you learn shooting landscapes will translate into better portraits out doors. What you learn shooting still life's will translate into a better understand ing of how to position your subject in relationship to your light source and back ground as well as teaching you what focal lengthens will create the best perspective for the image you want to create.
  5. Remember the camera ALWAYS lies. A few different things are at play here. The basics are focal length, color temperature, and dynamic range. The camera will always interpret the scene in front of it through these filters and create a scene based on that interpretation. If you want a reportage style shot then you need to shoot close to an 80mm focal length, be sure the white balance is properly set, and that you have enough light to light the shadows without bowing out the highlights to get something close to what your eye sees. Or you can create something surreal by shooting in a different color temperature, over exposing and blowing out the highlights, and flattening everything with a long lens. The important thing to remember is the camera lies, which lets you have the power to create the images you want, these do not have to be what the eye sees.

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