1. Learn the buttons and dials
Learn where the dials, buttons and switches are located on your camera. No, I mean really know. Can you find them with your eyes shut, by touch alone? Can you make important adjustments - e.g. exposure override, auto-focus mode - by touch alone?
Remember when you first learned to bat a ball? You hit and hit again until you were sore, but eventually you got the hang of it, hitting without thinking. Get the hang of your camera by practicing with it until it all becomes second-nature.
2. Learn the twist
If you have a digital SLR, learn which way to twist to zoom out, to zoom in. Which way to twist the focusing ring for closer subjects, which way for far away objects. Same with controls like the aperture ring and shutter dial - which way for bigger aperture, which way for shorter exposure time.
Every fraction of a second you spend thinking about which way to turn a control is time spent with your eye off the ball. If you have to think about your controls, you can’t think about timing, composition.
3. Learn to love your camera’s quirks
You probably have some friends with quick-fire responses, some who take a little longer to answer or get the joke. But you love them all the same. Your camera may be a little slow to start, a little sluggish to respond to the zoom control. If you allow for your camera’s quirks, you learn how to get the best out of them.
If your camera takes a long time to start when you turn it on, then keep it on - most cameras wake from sleep more quickly than from ‘off’. If shutter lag is a problem, learn to press the button just before the action completes. If the zoom control usually overshoots the setting you want, learn to release it just before you reach the setting you want.
4. Speed up all processes
Turn off every automatic function you don’t need. The more thinking you do for the camera, the faster it can work. If you’re set to a wide-angle on a point-and-shoot camera or dSLR with small sensor, you have a huge amount of depth of field to work in. In good light, there’s hardly any need to focus. Try turning auto-focus off and be amazed at how much more responsive the camera is. Turn off the flash, of course, (but if you have to use it, charge up your battery till it’s bulging!).
You’re getting the idea: the core of camera technique is reducing the gap between you and your subject, so that it all flows effortlessly, and you can concentrate on the picture-making rather than the camera-using.
5. Keep the camera on, keep you mind on
Actually, it’s a good idea to keep any camera on all the time you’re working - and maybe even if not. Knowing the camera is on helps keep your mind in a ready state too. And it really helps to keep the lens-cap off too. Sure, it exposes the glass - but that’s what a lenshood and UV filter are for - protect your glass so that you can take pictures.
The second it takes for you to decide whether to turn the camera on or not could be a second too late. It uses up time that could have been better spent getting into position, selecting the camera angle.
Last edited by parkerlindsey
on Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.