Recently, I have written about making decisions and seeing the details before making an image. Today, I want to talk about decisions in a slightly different way. A photographer has to make many decisions, many of which are in a split second. before tripping the shutter. This can some times lead to disastrous results. Trust me I know. Even after many years of working with cameras I some times forget the small things because I am caught up in the heat of the action. There is a better way though. You can and should limit the decisions you have to make in that split second by making them before hand.
The first decision should be the last one you make every time you put your camera away. What am most likely going to be photographing if I have to pull my camera out in a hurry?
As a wildlife photographer. that is a pretty easy answer. Most likely it will be some animal or bird that has caught my attention. That also means it will probably be while I am driving down the road. So what does that mean for how I need to set the camera up?
- The camera needs to be ready for multiple shots. So first I make sure it is on burst mode.
- I then set the camera to shutter priority and the shutter speed to 1/2000th of a second.
- I then double check that I am on Auto focus continuous or AF-C.
- Next I ensure I am set up to capture RAW
- Finally I ensure Auto ISO and Auto White Balance are on.
All of these steps insure that if I see that perfect shot I am ready for it. At that point all I have to do is concentrate on the artistic decisions and getting the shot.
Actually, these are the same steps you should go through when you pull your camera out and you have time before making images. The only difference is you know exactly ehat you are going to be shooting and can make more precise adjustments to your camera settings.
What are the other decisions that you need to make before hand?
- What lens/lenses do I want to use
- How much Depth-of-field do I want
- Do I want the background compressed or Do I want it pushed back
- Can I use a tripod (always use a tripod when you are able to)..
- How is the light. How can I manipulate it for the results I want.
- What other gear might I need for this shoot.
- Do I need an assistant
- What is my shoot list
Make these decisions beforehand so that you can concentrate on the viewfinder and you will see a marked improvement in your photography almost immediately.