Friday, April 17, 2009

TIp Tuesday #8: Feeling Overwhelmed?

Don't worry - I do plan to go back to the indoor lighting stuff! I've been really busy cramming for exams and have been neglecting my blog duties.

I wanted to do a Tip Tuesday, though, that is really something of an interjection, but a very important one.

All of these elements of shooting can be very overwhelming if you're tackling it all at once. If you are referring to a cue card of things to consider each time you raise the camera to your eye, then you will feel overwhelmed. You simply cannot shoot effectively while you have to consciously consider all of exposure, noise, depth of field, motion blur, metering modes, white balance, exposure compensation, highlight and shadow detail, composition, perspective, focus points, etc, etc, and especially not if you aren't yet 100% sure of what any of those things entail.

So pick one thing. One thing for this week, or two weeks, or month, or as long as it takes until it becomes internalized. And it will, and you won't even realize it. But one day you will say "Hey, I never even have to think about moving my focus point anymore--I just do it!" and you will be able to cross that off of your cue card of things to actively consider because it will just happen.

I remember once upon a time when my one thing that I was focusing on was making sure that I checked my ISO a lot. Any time I was taking or thinking about photos, I would remind myself, "Check your ISO." I gave myself permission to let everything else go on auto-pilot (or just not be considerd - YES, that's okay, too, while you're learning) and have that be the one thing I would think about. And it worked. Now I check my ISO, and adjust it accordingly, all the time without even thinking about it.

At other times, it's been "Check your Shutter Speed", "Where are your focus points?", "DON'T TILT THE CAMERA, DON'T TILT THE CAMERA, DON'T TILT THE CAMERA" (It took a while to cure myself of tilt syndrome), "Is this the right focal length for this shot?" and currently, "What metering mode should I use?"

Doesn't my current one seem like a weird thing to just now be focusing my attention on? I think it probably is, and it's not that I didn't take time to understand metering modes a long time ago. The point of this exercise isn't to understand something - it's to make it second nature. I want choosing the right metering mode to become something that just happens. I want my fingers to just do it before I even notice my brain thought about it.

And if you don't believe that's possible, just ask anyone whose camera I've ever used and they'll tell you that my fingers do a lot of things without my brain even noticing. I don't even realize that I've changed ISOs, focus points, even shooting modes on people's cameras until they pick it up again and say "What did you do to my camera?"

I would love to hear if anybody decides to try this, how it works for you. I just wanted to share it because this is what has worked for me over and over, and continues to work for me.

For now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go celebrate finishing another course at school with some Ben & Jerry's, because it was on sale this week and I haven't had Half Baked in years. And yes, that is a spoon right there in the bucket, because I'm home alone and I can do that if I want to, which I do.

(C)Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009


Kristin said...

Congrats on finishing your course!

I've never had Half Baked but it looks scrumptious! Have to look for it next time I'm back :)

Dodie said...

Great advise, Amanda - I do feel overwhelmed with all there is to remember in getting a good shot. I am really bad for the tilting thing - do it without even realizing until I look at the dumped pictures.
Congratulations on finishing another course - hope you enjoyed your ice cream (and the solitude)!! said...

Thanks for letting me know that it's really possible for getting the settings figured out to become second nature. I have often wondered when that will happen!