Harder than it looks or is it?

Harder than it LooksTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

This is a simple photo of two ducks in the water. You will notice that the ducks are not on the same plane, one is behind the other from the perspective of the camera. My DSLR camera’s native ISO is 100, anything over that and there is a possibility of noise, more importantly color can change. I like ISO 400 regardless of the minute color changes and it gives me the speed I need for nature photography. I am also fond of a narrow depth of field. The trick is to find an aperture that covers the birds and not much more. Aperture affects one-third in front of the subject and two-thirds behind so you have some leeway at a distance. While I normally like to shoot around F4, this time I chose to shoot at F5.6 at 1/400th of a second. That shutter speed at 200mm is more than ample to compensate for shake with or without vibration reduction. At 5.6 the depth of field covered the birds (I could have used the preview function on the camera to determine what the depth of field would be but there was no time). What makes this hard is all the calculation that I just mentioned. I know people who miss shots like this because they miscalculated. So here are a few simple things that make it easier for me when using my DSLR:

I shoot Raw, it gives me more latitude in post-processing, I do not leave the processing to the camera.

When shooting birds in flight I like a shutter speed over 1/1000.  I try never to have a shutter speed under the reciprocal of the length  of the lens (in the case of a 300mm lens that would be at least 1/300th of a second, for a 200mm that would be at least 1/200th of a second).

I set an aperture that works for me. For great bokeh I keep the aperture large (e.g. F2.8), if I need to capture more depth of detail I use a smaller aperture (e.g. F16). I reviewed my work and found my average aperture was (F4), I use it when I start and adjust from that point. My ISO of 400 (4x the base rate for the camera) keeps my speed up and gives me flexibility with aperture.

I use auto white balance and fix it in post processing.

I use matrix or spot metering (evaluative or partial for Canon) based on circumstances, for back-lit subjects I use spot, for the rest I use matrix and fix it in post. For insects I use spot metering.

I test my exposure and adjust with the light (EV in Canon/ exposure adjustment in Nikon). I take test shots or if there is no time I estimate the light.

I use back-button focusing. i.e. a separate button from the shutter button is used to focus. I use continuous focusing mode.

I don’t expect every photograph to work and I take a few of every subject, changing my angle of view, exposure, focus etc. so I have a range of choices.

Hope this helps.

7 responses

  1. Yes it did.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 15, 2015 at 9:47 am

  2. Thanks, Victor, I’m glad you’ve taken the time to explain the process. It is a lot for the novice to think about, but with practice one can hopefully get better at it.


    July 15, 2015 at 11:09 am

    • Sorry for the late reply, your comment went to the WordPress spam folder! I am happy to share what I have learned and hop it helps.

      Liked by 1 person

      July 17, 2015 at 4:34 pm

  3. It is funny as i read this, although I know from my own work that there is much more than pressing the shutter, how much we must do in our heads quickly as we take the shot. For me I like ISO 125, 400, 800 for my work, I do have to shoot a lot higher for events at my school because of low light. I think my average fstop would be about 8/11 I am not sure why.

    Great post and info for others.


    July 15, 2015 at 11:17 am

    • Thanks. Before it becomes instinct it is a steep learning curve.


      July 15, 2015 at 2:29 pm

  4. Very helpful, Victor, thanks for sharing.


    July 15, 2015 at 2:34 pm

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