Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Center" Your Camera

It pains me to admit that I've formed a careless, some might say sloppy, habit of not returning my camera to all normal settings. As I wrote previously, in Combining flash with ambient exposure and Control flash for snappier images, modern digital cameras allow you a great deal of flexibility in how you choose to capture an image. You have lots of controls at your disposal, and you can get a perfect balance of ambient and flash lighting with simple twists of the dials.

I hope some of you put some of the techniques I talked about into your bag. But here's the rub—if you change your settings, using flash compensation or exposure compensation, you must remember to return all your settings back to your "normal" settings. If you don't, you may end up scratching your head next time out, wondering why your settings seem to be "off."

Here's a suggested checklist for the end of each of your photo shoots. They should be based on your own preferences, so take time to think through them.

  • Check AF/MF on your lens barrel

  • Likewise, check whether your Stabilization (VR) is on or off

  • Set your Mode Dial to your preferred setting (M, Av, Tv, etc.) Remember, this is your preferred starting point only.

  • Set ISO value to its lowest number

  • Set White Balance to AWB (auto). White balance in a digital RAW world is a whole other article. AWB will work fine until you have a reason to use a different setting.

  • Center both Exposure Compensation and Flash Compensation settings

  • Be sure to check any "Picture Style" (Canon) you've selected. Do likewise for toning or filter effects that might be currently applied.

  • Review your current settings for Custom Functions. For instance, it can be irritating to start your next shoot with Mirror Lockup enabled. It may take a minute to figure out why your shutter is not closing.
I offer this advice as one whose slovenly habits caused me to miss some really great shots I would have had recently. The opportunity had passed by the time I figured out I had left my flash exposure compensation set to +2.

Forewarned is forearmed, right? Happy shooting!