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Old May 18, 2010, 5:31 AM   #1
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Default How do you do it?

Ok imagine yourself the following situation: You're somewhere with your camera and then something happens e.g. you see a nice animal or someone does something etc. So you grab your camera quickly but then what?

The auto mode probably won't get you the optimal results.. but there isn't enough time to play around with different settings because by then the subject is already gone.

How do you guys manage situations like that? Do you have a base set of rules which you can apply to certain situation so you can directly set the settings like that? Do you go for the "lucky shot"? Do you nevertheless use automode?

Please enlighten me with your thoughts and practices.

Carlo
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Old May 18, 2010, 5:47 AM   #2
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90% of the time I'm to late to get that shot.

If you can predict a situation then you've got minimal time to adjust the settings.
Next shot I saw here sitting down and him getting ready to take a the picture, I just had time to get the camera point it, zoom in, focus and get this shot.


for the rest I just go for autofocus (if possible) and whatever settings the camera is
on and hope for the best.

Ronny
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Old May 18, 2010, 6:41 AM   #3
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If you're not intimately familiar and comfortable with your camera's controls, AUTO or PROGRAM mode is a good place to start. For instance, I'll normally mount the DA18-250 walkaround superzoom on my Pentax K20D. I'm in P(rogram) mode and I've set the Program Line to MTF priority (best quality). Shake Reduction is ON.

Let's say I'm wandering through Parque-Museo de La Venta in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico, on the Gulf side of the Yucatan peninsula. In this jungle park, around every twist in the trails, is a clearing with a giant Olmec head or other archaeological wonder. Part of the park is an open-enclosure zoo; next to the snack bar, jaguars are mating. It's pretty easy to frame and shoot these subjects. But all of a sudden a flock of two dozen coatimundis run up and surrounds me. Coatis are curious and social, cousins of raccoons, and some stare up at me while the rest actively forage on the forest floor. I quickly frame and shoot a few dozen shots; not bad, if I say so myself.

But are those shot of "optimal" quality? Well, any picture is better than no picture. Maybe, before I walk further and encounter more jungle beasts, I should change the Program Line to High-Speed priority. Now I'm ready for fast-moving creatures, macaws and parrots flying past, spider monkeys swinging through the trees, etc. Of course, I could also use Tv (Shutter priority) mode and set the shutter to 1/500 sec, to optimize for motion. Or use Av (Aperture priority) mode and set the lens wide open, for thinnest DOF and fastest shutter. OK, I'm ready for more animals!

But are those the settings I want when shooting another Olmec head, which is 10 foot / 3 meter tall carved stone that's not going anywhere? Well, in Av mode I can just stop-down the lens, shoot, then open-up the aperture again to be ready for more action. But I'll do that because I'm familiar and comfortable with the camera's controls. Changing modes and exposures by spinning dials becomes automatic, and is faster than accessing the menu to change the Program Line settings.

How to know what settings to use? Practice practice practice. I've been in photography a long long time, was just about raised in my father's small darkroom. But I REALLY learned hot to shoot in my mid-20's, when I obtained an old German 1934 Kodak Retina I folder, the very first 135 film camera. Sharp but slow lens and shutter, no rangefinder, that's all -- very much like a Voigtlander Vito II that I use now. I used a light meter, but I was forced to learn to SEE, to measure, to judge light and speed and distance. It becomes automatic. Look at a subject; fingers twitch over the controls; shoot. The camera becomes an extension of the nervous system.

Life is easier now, or I'm just lazier. Photography is lazy with a modern camera and AF lenses. So I use manual lenses and work a little harder. I try not to let the camera out-smart me. But if I'm expecting action, I use a fast shutter and hope for the best.
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Last edited by RioRico; May 18, 2010 at 6:45 AM.
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Old May 18, 2010, 7:26 AM   #4
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A great coach once defined "luck" as "preparation meeting opportunity," but like Ronny, 90% of the time I don't get the shot, except he may be better than I; I suspect my percentage of not getting it is closer to 95%.

However, within that 5% I've gotten some of my favorite photos. Because I shoot so many birds, I tend to keep my K-7 loaded with the Bigma and set on the Av mode. It sits in the back set of my car so I can quickly reach through and get it if something demands immediate attention.

It paid off when I saw this guy sitting on a power pole, pulled off the road, and he flew past.



Because I don't like to have my big camera and lens with me all the time, I've recently acquired a Fuji HS-10 with a 720mm zoom equivalent and manual zoom. That's probably going to become my carry-around camera for situations like this. It will be set up in the same way....designed to simply turn on and shoot at extreme settings.

I haven't yet shot enough with it to have a good feel for how well it will fit the role.

Paul
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Old May 18, 2010, 7:29 AM   #5
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What a wonderful precis Rio ! It has got me all excited & itching for action (pity it's dark outside now).

This : Parque-Museo de La Venta in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico, sounds like a great place to go. However try saying that after half a dozen tequilas. I think the taxi driver would take me somewhere completely different !
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Old May 18, 2010, 8:34 AM   #6
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I'm With Ronny and Paul

I Would most likely Miss the shot about 90-95% of the time. But in the situation you describe. I would just use Program mode\AF and hope for the Best

Phil
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Old May 18, 2010, 6:53 PM   #7
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I'll concur with the above advice. and practice and then practice some more. If I go out to shoot wild life and come home with one really great shot, I'm happy, even if I shot 500 or 600 clicks.

Hey Rico, I want to see those shots you described!

Paul, That's a great shot of the hawk!


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Old May 18, 2010, 11:47 PM   #8
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If I'm just walking about I use P mode and the camera set to MTF. If something unexpected happens, I'll snap one or two quickly, letting the camera decide on the exposure based on the optimum aperture for the lens that's on it. One of the nice things about MTF and P mode is that the MTF will try to give you a specific aperture based on the lens. If you KNOW you want a different aperture, you just turn the back wheel (on the K7) a couple of clicks to change the aperture, or the front wheel to change the shutter speed. No need to change to Av or Tv mode. For sudden things I'll do that after I've snapped a couple, to see if I can improve a factor I think might be off.

And yes - if it's sudden, I usually miss it. But that's usually me and my reactions. I once stood with the camera around my neck watching a coyote lope through my neighbor's yard with something in its mouth. Did I even think about taking a shot? No - I was too busy trying to see if it had a cat or a dog. It was long gone before I even thought about the camera!
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Old May 19, 2010, 2:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldwinger View Post
Paul, That's a great shot of the hawk!
Indeed it is!!
Quote:
If I go out to shoot wild life and come home with one really great shot, I'm happy, even if I shot 500 or 600 clicks.
Ansel Adams said he was happy if he got ten great photos per year.

Quote:
Hey Rico, I want to see those shots you described!
Alas, when I was there in 2005 I only had 5mpx P&S cams: Sony DSC-V1 and -P20. The scenario I described above would be for my NEXT drive down there (maybe next year). But here are some shots I got in Auto mode: coatis, jaguar, Olmec head.
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Old May 19, 2010, 3:08 AM   #10
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Well on a sunny day I have may camera set up to F7-12 in Av when walking around, auto iso. That way, it is ready to shoot right away. May not be the perfect setting, but I get a good shot never the less. But if it is overcast I open up a bit to 5.6 and walk with that.

But if it is not a sudden shot like you described, I then adjust depending on what I am trying to do.
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