Common Photography Faults

Setting up your camera for beginners….

Before you start a new job find a quiet place and carefully set your camera up for the work you have to do.

Ah! those tiresome old jokes about not forgetting to take the lens cap off! Here are few newer ways for improving things before you start work:-

1. CHARGE YOUR BATTERIES
Always recharge your batteries if you are taking your camera with you for a day out. There are few things more irritating than to have to stop work because the battery is flat. Extreme cold is bad for batteries. Keep your charged batteries warm in your coat pocket rather than a cold haversack.

2. INSTALL CARDS
Check that you have a card in the camera and some spare cards as well. Cards have got bigger and bigger over the years and the price has fallen considerably.You could be tempted to buy one very big card. Years ago, I worked for Kodak as a wedding photographer just as they were changing over to digital imaging. The standard advice was to shoot each wedding on about 4 different cards. Then, if one was corrupted, you still had three cards left of a unique event. The same is still true: I would never do a whole holiday on just one card especially if it would be difficult to repeat it.

3. SELECT A COLOUR TEMPERATURE
Try to set the correct colour balance for your camera. The colour of the light changes according to the light source and any filtration. If you start photographing a landscape in the morning the light is very blue. Later it might become cloudy. This will filter the sunlight behind the clouds making it slightly cold. In the evening the the light will turn orange as the sun sets. Indoors a room could be lit by a candle, tungsten bulb, or fluorescent light. Each is a different colour. Often a range of colours can be mixed together as with sunlight filtering into a room mixing with colours from television and a reading lamp. Dealing with this jumble of different types and colours of light  can be difficult for cameras. So its best to start off with the colour of light you believe to be nearest to correct. In the pictures below you can see the dramatic effects of natural lighting and red spotlights. Both pictures are truthful but in very different ways.

To adjust the light do the following.
Find the symbols that appear on the colour control panel on your camera.Select the most suitable symbol for the type of light that occurs. If everything is mixed light use the automatic light adjustment. More sophisticated cameras allow a custom light balance to get the setting right. Colour can be usually further refined by adjusting it in a photo editing programme.

5. SELECT A FILE TYPE
Modern cameras often allow a range of picture (file) sizes to be chosen. The size you choose heavily influences what you can easily use the pictures for after the event. If you choose small jpeg files you will get a lot of pictures on a card but they will only be suitable for email and phone pictures. If you want to make photographic prints from the pictures you need to make large files. The best quality files are Raw files usually available on better cameras. You would have to acquire some knowledge of photography to process these.

6. CHOOSE AN ISO NUMBER
ISO is an index of the speed that the chip in your camera responds to light. A high ISO number gives a fast response at the expense of some degradation in the quality of the images. In strong daylight you would use about 400 ISO. For the smoothest images always set your camera as low as you can, usually 100 ISO. Outside, on a changeable day, I would use 400 ISO, or 100 IS0 in strong sunshine. I would probably use this setting for indoor pictures supported by a flash gun.
For pictures taken at night use a very high ISO index number(6400 ISO)because the level of light is very low. At this ISO level the quality of the image begins to degrade. Noise (random wrongly coloured pixels) can be seen in big enlargements. This can be minimised in image processing programs.

  • 100 ISO Normal setting. Sunny day outside.
  • 400 ISO  Overcast days outside. Well lit interiors
  • 1000 ISO Very dull day, Under trees in deep shade.
  • 6400 ISO  Twilight. Well lit streets at night. You might need a tripod for some subjects.

7. BATTERY CONSERVATION
Switching your camera off and on continually depletes the battery quite quickly. If better to leave it switched on and let the battery conservation system temporarily switch off.

8. PROTECT YOUR CAMERA.
Keep your camera in a decent bag that will protect it if it is dropped. Lots of photographers protect the lens by fitting a screw in UV filter. This makes very little difference to the to the images visually and can be cheaply replaced if scratched.
Do not leave it in the sun for a long period of time. Fit the lens cap on.

Make all of the above checks before you start each shooting session. Although photos can now be modified considerably after they are taken it can be complex and skilled work to do well. Get it right in the camera!
I’ve forgotten to do most of the above at sometime or other. Try to find a quiet space to check your camera over before a shoot.