My least favorite kind of pictures to take are the quick snaps and candids BECAUSE THEY ARE HARD! Usually, I will spot some great lighting or a moment I want to grab, but have approximately half a second to capture it before the sun moves or the kids run away. And since I almost always shoot in manual, there are settings to be adjusted if it is my first shot of the day, or situation.
Following is a shot I had decided to throw out because it was so blown out there was no grass at all, and certainly no sky:
I know. Awful, right?
And yet, this would have been a sweet candid...a shot of my uncle walking my kids through the back field at his farm. It was a rare quiet moment with my kids, and a memory I wanted to save. So I got to work in Photoshop.
Now, the finished results are certainly not technically correct. I will never win any photography awards for this shot, but I was, nonetheless, pretty satisfied with the end result. Lucky for me, I am all about hazy, pastel memories. And vintage style photos.
Here's what I came up with:
Side note: I decided to leave the sky blown-out...ummm...cloudless... here to balance out the look of the grass, even though I am currently OBSESSED with swapping skies in Photoshop. I may write about that another day. I just can't enough of beautiful sky shots these days!
1) Always shoot in RAW if you can.
I'm pretty sure I have been hearing this from a few people for a long time. Thankfully, I finally listened, because at these settings, I would have surely lost this photo, had I not been shooting in RAW.
2) When shooting at a very high f-stop number, or super high or low shutter speeds, or a weird ISO, using exposure compensation, etc. (You get the idea) Try to remember to put your camera back to something somewhat normal when you are all done with that shoot.
Do I have a way with words, or what? I find that since I take most of my snaps of my kids, I tend to hover in the 5 range f-stop-wise for the majority of my shots. (that's totally a techno-term!) Of course, I adjust as needed, but it's a safe bet that MOST of my quickies are going to be in this range. An average shutter speed for me could be all over the map, but if I stick somewhere around, say 100 ish when the camera is "in park", I'll have a better chance of getting a decent shot, if I forget to readjust when I grab and snap the next day. Not that I really ever do that, except for this one time, of course. ;) At the very least, I will have an easier time getting to where I need to be in a hurry if I start off in these neighborhoods. As for ISO? I can't help you there. Your camera will determine what ISO is right for you, as far as I can tell. I have an entry-level DSLR, which is a bit sucky when it comes to this particular aspect. I hear stories of high ISO numbers that I cannot even comprehend. If I am above 400, the shot is probably not going to be frame-able with this camera and that's just a fact for me until I can save enough money/ justify buying a better camera. If you take as many pictures of your kids as I do, you know what you like, so go there. I'll park it at 200-400 usually.
3) Practice with your software before you need it.
This was a big one for me because we had Photoshop7 for YEARS before I learned how to do anything with it. Once I started watching You-Tube and other on-line tutorials and classes, my knowledge increased exponentially . I use CS5 now, but I know plenty of hobbyists who use Elements or Lightroom and get fabulous results with them once they get the hang of it.
So what are your tricks for getting shots on the fly? Do you just pop it into Auto? I may have done that once or twice...