What should you do before you go out and photograph everything?
You need at least one spare. Especially if it’s a mirrorless camera, trust me.
SD (or compact flash) cards
They need to be at least as fast as your camera can write. You can find this information in your camera manual. It’s better to have two 32GB cards than one 64GB card.
Shoot in RAW
Whenever possible shoot in RAW, it will give you more tolerance in post processing. Having said that, if shooting in jpeg is good for you, go for it!
Exposure: shutter speed, aperture & ISO
A fast shutter speed will freeze movement (useful for fast moving subjects eg. sport, playing children, etc) and a slow shutter speed will help to show movement (useful for artistic shots of fountains, waterfalls, etc).
A rough guide to where you should begin experimenting is sport – 1/500 or higher; minimum handheld – 1/50 (with a 50mm lens); motion blur – 1/125 or lower depending on the speed of the subject (with a tripod).
(The above images are 1/1000th, 1/250th and 1/15th. All handheld.)
The aperture is the hole the light passes through to reach the sensor (or film or plate). A larger aperture equals more light, however, a large aperture has a small number, which seems strange. Using a large aperture (for example f2.8) will reduce the depth of field (the area in focus), this is useful to isolate a subject from the background or to create bokeh. A smaller aperture (for example f11) will give a greater depth of field, useful in landscapes. The further away your focus point, the more depth of field you will get with the same aperture.
f2 (L) – f8 (R)
f8 (L) – f11 (R)
dSLRs usually have shutter and aperture priority modes. Turning the dial to TV will allow you to set the shutter speed (the camera will adjust the aperture), turning it to AV will allow you to set the aperture (the camera will adjust the shutter speed).
These are the two main controls for exposure, we will come to the third in a moment. Imagine you want to collect rain in a bucket, you could use a wider bucket for a shorter time or a narrower bucket for a longer time to collect the same quantity of water.
Digital cameras have many advantages over the film cameras we used to use (and still do in many cases). For me, one of the most useful is the ability to change ISO. Before, I would use two main cameras, one loaded with ISO 400 colour film and another with ISO 100 B&W film. I still use two main cameras, but this time for lenses! The ability to change ISO as we go is fantastic, if you can’t get a fast enough shutter speed, you can increase the ISO and voila! Increasing ISO will increase the noise in your image but there are remedies for that, there’s not usually a lot you can do with a blurred shot (except call it art!).
High ISO image with noise (L) Camera shake (R)
You need to find the right balance between shutter speed, aperture and ISO to create the image you want.