Learnings from your DSLR camera
Basic Photography
Pixean
June 8, 2018

You may be planning to get a new camera, a simple point and shoot or even a dslr. You may have even just bought a brand new dslr camera and wondering how to make the most out of it...
Here are a few tips, which I believe will help in you using the device most effectively.

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1. A glance through the features.
All the features will be available in the manual. For a start, you need to know what all features are available for you. A quick glance through the manual will help you get information regarding the usage of each and every button in your camera.

2. Study photography.
Before you get frowns seeing the word study, let me assure you that this is simply studying the very basics of photography and nothing more. Once you have a dslr camera, you must know the amount of control you can have over your images. This control is nothing but the different combinations of the exposure triangle parameters, namely the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. You need to know how you can get the perfect image background blur (depth of field) and all other features that made you buy the dslr.

3. Switch to manual mode.
All basic entry level dslr cameras will have auto modes and assisted modes. They may be helpful for a start but to get the most out of your camera, you have to learn to shoot in manual mode. For example, in long exposure photography, auto modes just won’t work. While doing motion-blur photography also, operating in manual mode is a must. Of course, when you are shooting high action stuff, the assisted modes like aperture priority and shutter priority may come in handy.

4. Shoot in RAW
We all like shooting in jpeg modes. The image files are much smaller in size and are easily viewed in your computers. Hence the lack of hassles is quite tempting!
Why shoot in RAW then? Well it’s simple. An investigator always wants to extract every bit of information available to him, in order to solve a case. Greater the number of facts available, more the chances of him getting to a proper conclusion. It’s similar here. A RAW file is not an image file. It is an information file. Since the amount of information available to you is quite high, you can really change the perspective of the image in post processing.

 

5. The ability to change lenses.
Arguably the most significant advantage of owning a dslr camera is the fact that you can change lenses. Each lens offers a different perspective. With multiple lenses in your kitty, you can shoot whatever you want by just having that single camera body. Imagine you are shooting a landscape with a wide angle lens mounted on your camera. Suddenly you need to switch to shoot some birds in flight and you quickly attach your telephoto lens to your camera body. Without compromise in stability and quality, you get to shoot two absolutely different perspectives with a single camera body. The same maybe available in your high zoom point and shoot cameras, but at the cost of stability.

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6. Metering and exposure compensation.
Entering into the advanced concepts of photography, learning the concept of metering can change your photography entirely. Metering is the ability of the camera to judge the amount of light falling on a particular subject and hence expose it properly. 

Following are the types of metering normally available in basic dslrs:

i) Matrix or evaluative metering
In this metering mode, the camera calculates the tonality of the entire frame and exposes accordingly. This is the most common metering mode used by photographers around. You can use it for landscapes, events and pretty much everything else. 

ii) Spot metering
Unlike the previous metering mode, here the camera calculates the tonality of a particular spot in your frame. By default, this spot is the center focusing point of your camera. This can be changed depending on the camera you have. This metering mode can be used to get spotlight sort of effect. 

iii) Partial metering
This metering mode is seldom used. In this, the camera calculates the tonality based on the center portion of your frame. The area covered is much more than just a dot, which was covered in case of spot metering.
Even after all this, we have to assume that the camera is not smart enough to guess what we actually want. We still want full control over our devices. Hence we have the option called exposure compensation. This is to override the camera’s metering decision, depending on what you want to portray.

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7) The flash.
Most of your dslr cameras will have an inbuilt flash. While professionals hate to use it, it can be good for a start. The problem is that it throws a very harsh light directly onto the subject and creates artificial images. However, I have still used this inbuilt flash in some of my commercial shoots. Cheap plastic flash diffusers are readily available. You can mount this onto your camera flash. This will soften the light significantly and make your images more than just usable.

8) Post-processing
This may not be directly involved with the functioning of your dslr. But post processing is absolutely essential in digital photography. Learn how to edit the highlights and shadows in your image. If you are shooting in jpeg mode, you can do a bit of this while shooting itself, in your camera. You have several shooting modes like landscapes, portraits etc. Create a customized one. Once I was shooting a commercial event and I had to shoot all images in jpeg. I created a customized preset and increased the contrast, brightness and saturation by a stop each, thereby getting the punch in the colours without having to edit later.

If you have just bought a dslr, start shooting as much as you can. There is no better learning than the one you get on field. Photography is only fractionally theoretical!

 

Basic Photography
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Pixean
Officially responsible to educate, inspire, and recognize photographers. :) :)
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