The Checklist Basics

In this inaugural photo tips section, I wanted to start off with the basics of your digital camera. These tips are useful to the beginner as well more advanced shooters such as someone using a dslr who wants to improve (on a more consistent basis) his image capture.

We should all admit that we have made some dumb errors in the past taking pictures. So what better way to improve, but go through a brief checklist with your camera to avoid the “dumb errors”

1-first thing, let’s check the battery by turning your camera “on” (hopefully the day before you want to shoot) to see how fully charged you are. There ought to be a battery symbol on the screen. Get that charger out!

2- Determine what ISO you have your camera set on. Many of you take your photos on full automatic or program. In these modes the camera automatically sets the ISO. The ISO denotes how sensitive the image sensor is to the amount of light present. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the image sensor and therefore the possibility to take pictures in low-light situations. Generally speaking, an ISO 100 setting would be for bright light outdoor-situations and ISO 400 would allow you to take more photos inside with less light (click here for more details).

3- Look to make sure your AF (autofocus) button on the side of the camera is turned “on”. The lens will not focus correctly if this switch is not set. If you have a point and shoot camera, you won’t need to worry about this step.

4-If you need to build your confidence, take you pics with auto or program turned on. BUT if you are ready to really improve, then start experimenting with shutter priority (moving objects) and aperture priority (increased depth of field). “Google” either term (shutter and aperture priority) for a much greater discussion on the subject.

For a “cliff’s notes” version, the shutter priority adjusts the speed of the shutter to stop moving objects in flight. A normal photo might be taken at 1/60 or 1/125 of a second while an image of a bird in flight might require a faster speed such as 1/400 or 1/500 of a second to stop his flight with clarity. Using the shutter priority allows you better control of “stopping flight” whether a bike, car or bird!

For those of you dreaming of capturing the “perfect grand landscape”, increasing your depth of field by increasing your f-stop allows more of the image to be in focus. This is what “aperture” priority is all about-adjusting your f-stops.

SUMMARY: This quick checklist (battery-ISO-Autofocus-priority) will allow the eager learner as well as advanced shooter to “capture more good images.”


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