DSLR Love: Improve Your Photo Mojo (Part One)

DSLR love, Part I - Header

A little bit of background

If you’re into design, you may have an interest in photography at least on a basic level or if you’re like me, you love photography (I specialize in family portrait photography). Some of you may have started a passion for photography when film was still the most popular medium. Some may have just picked up photography in the last year or so now that digital is the predominant medium. Either way, there will be some helpful tips in this post for you.

We live in the era of Photoshop which makes it easy to think we don’t have to worry about what the image looks like in our camera, but that does take some level of satisfaction out of the process. If you’re interested in challenging yourself in the photography arena, I recommend learning to love your images SOOC (straight out of camera). Others may disagree on this, especially anyone who is extremely proficient with Photoshop photo editing, so this is purely one photographer’s opinion. Feel free to decide what is best for you, but for the purposes of this post I will be sharing tips to create the best image SOOC. Cool?

1st tip – Read your manual

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Your camera comes with a manual, so perhaps it contains some helpful information? Yet, for some reason it took me quite a while to actually crack that sucker open. Why? It might have something to do with my tendency to avoid directions of any kind. If something looks simple enough I will try to put it together on my own or I will try to figure it out without consulting the directions (and no, I am not a dude).

Here are some important basics that you can learn in your manual (I will talk about these items in additional posts):

  • Aperture, f-stop settings
  • Shutter speed
  • ISO
  • White balance
  • Focal points

Each of these items can really help you get to a place where you are satisfied with your SOOC images.

In my case, much of what I had learned when shooting with film transferred over to digital. However, my figure it out ability reached its limit and I couldn’t learn anymore just by playing with my DSLR. I decided it was time to turn to my manual to discover the best way to white balance my images (this is one area that is very different in digital v. film). Once I spent the time learning how my specific camera handles white balancing, I was once again excited to see what she (my Canon 50D) could do. In my experience, this was one important step in the process of being happy with my SOOC images. When you get to that point with your images, any post processing is minimal. The images I included here were shot in full sunlight with the ISO set at 200 and the f-stop set at 18. The white balance and exposure were spot on, so the only post processing I performed was slight hue/saturation and curves adjustment and increased sharpness. We’ll discuss ISO and Aperture more in the next post, so bring on the questions!

What have you done to improve your knowledge of your camera? Is your manual your best friend? Or are you still trying to figure out how to get out of auto mode? Let’s chat!