Lesson 7: Best Practices

There is much left to study regarding exposure, composition, your lens, post-production; a lot of other things. Near the end of this course I’m gonna to outline a series of Lynda courses that you should work through when you’re done here. With those courses you’ll have the path to a fairly completely photographic education but in the meantime your camera still has a bunch of buttons and dials that we haven’t talked about. It seems strange to just ignore them for the rest of this course so I want to give you a quick high level description of these various features and controls. Your camera may be different than this one in terms of how the specific controls work but you’re probably gonna find things very similar to what I’m about to show you. There is probably a control on your camera somewhere labeled WB or White Balance. If you don’t have an actual button or dial for this then it might be in a control menu of some kind. This is the white balance control which lets you configure the camera for accurate color reproduction under different types of lighting. By default your camera takes a single picture when you press the shutter button but you can change that. Drive, Burst or Continuous modes will automatically fire off a burst of frames very quickly when you press and hold the shutter button. This is great for sports or nature shooters or even for portraits when facial expressions can change suddenly and very quickly. You probably have a control with this icon next to it. This is Flash Exposure Compensation. It lets you dial the power of the flash up and down to produce more or less light. If you’ve been finding that your flash usually makes people look like they have radiation burns then you’ll want to use this control to dial the flash power down. We’ve talked about the light meter in your camera. The fact is your camera might have several different kinds of light meters so there’s probably a control for changing between metering types. On this camera it’s this weird little icon right here. Similarly the Auto Focus mechanism might have several different modes. For example, I can switch this camera to a mode that will track a moving subject and keep it in focus. And I do that with the AF control here. You probably also have a control for selecting which focus point the focus mechanism should use. On this particular camera that’s back here on this button. You can learn all about these features and many others in the courses that I’m gonna recommend later.

We’ve just scratched the surface of the technical and creative discipline that is shooting. However, you can take a lot of great photographs with the things we’ve covered so far. Right now, the most important thing is for you to internalize and develop three critical habits that will be the foundation of your shooting for the rest of your photographic life. First, half-pressing the shutter button. That must become instinct. No more missed shots because you didn’t pre-focus and meter. Second, you have to stay aware of shutter speed. You don’t have to look at it on every shot, only when the light has changed in a way that might impact the shutter speed. Third, you have to work your shots. You have to move around, you have to experiment, you got to reframe. Photographs are found as much as they are taken or made. As much as you may think you know where the best shot is, it’s very possible there’s a better one that will reveal itself once you start moving around. Or, as much as you think that there’s no photo to be had in a particular place, you might be surprised once you start working it. I said earlier that auto mode is a great learning tool because it handles the technical stuff for you, and that’s true. Before automatic metering we would have had to cover many more tehcnical concepts and ideas before we could ever shoot a single frame. But, now we’ve already been able to go out and practice some composition. That doesn’t mean that auto mode is only for beginners. There are times when it’s the best way to shoot, no matter what your skill level. With auto mode, and what you know right now, it is possible to take some extraordinary images.

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