- Children / Action
- Street Candid
- Architecture / Buildings
For the first two type of subjects, conceptually, good shots require a lot of off-site studying of compositional skill and reading of other photograhpers' great images. When out and about, high degree of concentration of the things happening around, almost prompt, sometimes even predictive reaction to interesting subjects/moments are essential. This blog entry notes my most comfortable way for shooting fast moving objects.
Technically, my control boils down to the mechanics of
- focus, and
- shutter release
I use spot-metering and dedicated buttons for each of these controls. These three buttons are: AE-Lock, AF-On, and the shutter release button.
Why Dedicated Buttons
After light-metering and focusing, I usually recompose. I don't feel confident when keeping my finger half-pressing the shutter release button to lock the focus. My fingers are weak and they cannot hold that half-pressed position for longer than one or two seconds. That's why besides a dedicated AE-Lock button for light-metering, I need another button to lock the focus. On Nikon bodies, that button is AF-On. Very easy to use. For still subjects, I press that button and immediately release to lock the focus. For fast-moving subjects, I press that button and hold to track the focus in continuous shooting mode.
Buttons in Action
- Choose a spot where I think the brightness is right for the mood. Press the AE-Lock button, release. The exposure is locked until I press this button again to reset.
- Choose a spot to focus, press the AF-On button. If the subject is still, release the button to lock focus. If the subject is fast moving, hold the button to track the focus.
- Press the shutter release button to record the image.
point --> lock exposure --> point --> lock focus --> recompose --> release shutter --> done.
Those 51-point or 117-point camera bodies are very useful when doing auto-focus tracking (AF-tracking) though. And I do use AF-tracking a lot when shooting fast moving children. AF capability of the camera body is important to me.
Things NOT to Worry About
- When shooting, the less to worry about, the faster I can react with quint essential technical settings that make my images look right.
- White balance is deadly easy to correct/adjust during post processing.
- The noise of high ISO does not really matter much in my first two favourite subjects. Trust me, content in a good street photograph draws all attention from a reader. Nobody is going to be bothered by the image noise, as long as the content is recognizable and not distracted by overly powerful noise. In addition, modern image processing software does a stellar job at noise reduction.
That said, I do set my maximum ISO value on my camera bodies. On my Nikon D300, it's 3200; On my Sony Alpha 7, it's 6400. My minimum shutter speed is set to 1/125 second. I usually shoot in aperture priority mode. If I do want motion blur, I switch to speed priority mode. I almost never shoot in fully manual mode.