Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

So I’m a “Chimp”!

Young Bald Eagle soaring above the Mississippi

See definition below . . .

chimp v. to take a digital photo and look at it on the camera’s screen.

Yes, I guess that does make me a “chimp” then. I realized this yesterday when I was standing with a group of “real” photographers shooting eagle pictures. I’d take a series of shots and review them on my screen – and out of the corner of my eye I could see a smirk and an occasional disapproving look. This has been labeled as an amateur behavior and not the proper way to make pictures. I guess it comes from the days of film, where you couldn’t see your images until they were developed. It seems to be a badge of pride to not “chimp”. Well, I guess I have a different opinion.
I’m out here to learn and improve my photography most of the time, and yesterday was no different. The technology of digital allows me many advantages, so I use them to the fullest. I’m able to take a series of shots and immediately look at the results on a high resolution screen and checkout the histograms. I’m able to try different exposure modes or methods of tracking focus – review, learn and correct – in real time. It’s made me a better photographer.
I’m trying to learn, why wouldn’t I take advantage of that!? I suggest you do also if you’re trying to learn – be a proud chimp! The image above is the result of a series of experiments on different exposure techniques – I’m satisified!

AutoMagic ISO

Eagle vs Eagle

As of this weekend, I’m back to shooting eagles on the Mississippi River. These guys are hard enough to capture and track as they fly above and then dive below the skyline – without having to worry about the correct ISO settings. But the drastic change from light sky to darker waters requires it – or else my shutter speeds would drag to a halt. Maintaining exposure compensation with gloves on is hard enough – adjusting ISO on the fly to be sure I don’t run out of shutter speed is just more mental load then I can handle. Enter Auto ISO mode.

Now, not all cameras have this available – but if your’s does (check your manual) it’s worth playing around with. Here’s the routine I run with:
  • In setup, I cap my ISO max setting at 3200
  • Set ISO to “Auto”
  • Shoot in Shutter Priority (Typically 1/1000th of a second for birds in flight)
  • Set initial Exposure Compensation to work for a sky shot

With this setup, my aperture almost always drives as low as it will go (f/5.6 in this case) and my shutter stays constant. So basically I’m locked in at f/5.6 and 1/1000th all the time. As more light (or sensitivity) is needed, my ISO automatically starts to increase.

As usual, this may not be the right or best way – but it’s working for me! It allows me to focus on the two things that are most important, framing the shot and adjusting exposure compensation for correct metering. Give it a try and see what you think.