What's your thought process when taking a photograph?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Larry Bud, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. Larry Bud

    Larry Bud Guest

    As a new owner of a Canon 710S, which I've had about a month, I've had
    varying success. I certainly don't plan to be an expert, but I'm one
    of those people that need to know how everything works on everything I

    So in playing around with this camera for a month, I'm wondering what
    your thought process is when taking a photograph as far as the
    technical aspect of setting up the camera with ISO, Shutter speed, and
    F stop.

    Do you say to yourself "the image will be moving fast, therefore I
    start with shutter speed", or "it's dark so bump up the ISO" or does
    it completely depend and there is no science behind it?
    Larry Bud, Jul 5, 2007
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  2. Larry Bud

    Pat Guest

    Interesting question. I guess I've been doing photography for so long
    I don't think.

    First thing I decide is what camera I want. I have two "matching"
    cameras, but they don't match. They both respond differently to
    different things. Plus, one has a hack on the operating system.

    Usually I look around a decide on my ASA. Sure, everyone else decides
    on their ISO but Randall and I still decide on the ASA. I set it for
    the lowest number I think I can get away with. 400 or 800 for sports,
    200 or so for everything else. Then I pretty much leave it set until
    it stops working.

    Then I decide if I want to shoot in manual, AP or TV mode. Usually TV
    or manual. But on occasion I use AP. For place, always TV.

    As I'm thinking about this, I decide on RAW v. JPG. Let's not start a
    new discussion on that, but this is where I decide. For more
    discussion on that, go google it in google groups.

    As I am deciding on that, I am also deciding on that lense I want. My
    Canon zoom for sports, my Tokina for closer things, or my 300mm F2 if
    things are bad (that you have to decide on before because it's so

    Then I decide if I am carrying my bag with me and if not, what
    accessories I want to carry. For shooting my kids playing ball, it
    might be 1 camera and that's it. For something more complex, it might
    be half of a van full of stuff -- tents and tarps and ladders and
    such. Never underestimate the value of a step ladder.

    Then I start thinking about the pictures....

    All of the decisions are made pretty quickly. I don't know. 5 or 10
    seconds at the most.
    Pat, Jul 5, 2007
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  3. Larry Bud

    ~~NoMad~~ Guest

    The most important thing in Photography is to See the Shot !!

    You need to use you eye and your brain as if it were a camera and see the
    shot in your mind as a flat image framed with borders.

    You may need to 'see the shot' at a future time when as if with a lower sun
    angle or as the subject changes with time.

    If you can 'see the shot' its not hard to adjust the camera to capture it
    the way you want.

    Enjoy, Seeing the Shots and getting better pictures.

    ~~NoMad~~, Jul 5, 2007
  4. Larry Bud

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Well, having been taking pictures for about 55 years, I prefer to let
    the camera do the 'grunt work', and set it to "auto" except in extreme
    situations, so maybe I am not the best one to answer you.

    My first consideration is if there is enough light to make a good
    picture with the camera in hand. Second is matters of composition.
    With the flexibility of digital, I can shoot several shots, and look at
    the results immediately and correct anything I don't like. Then I can
    further improve the shot on the computer later. So, basically, my first
    consideration is lighting, and composition.
    Ron Hunter, Jul 6, 2007
  5. Larry Bud

    Ron Hunter Guest

    You sure are fast at unloading that van, setting up the tripod, or
    ladder, and setting the camera. Grin.
    Give us old guys a break, and slow down. Grin.
    Ron Hunter, Jul 6, 2007
  6. Larry Bud

    RockyZ Guest

    Reason #89 of why to never purchase a DSLR. By the time you've done all that the
    award-winning moment (and shot) is LONG gone.
    RockyZ, Jul 7, 2007
  7. You left out a few things in your rant:

    "Reason #89 of why the incompetent should never purchase a
    DSLR. By the time you've done all that configuration, the
    award-winning moment (and shot) is LONG gone,
    but even if you had the time, you would never get the
    shot anyway, because, well, you're incompetent."

    For normal people, they get great pictures with DSLRs,
    and for the really talented, they get astounding pictures.

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Jul 7, 2007
  8. I'll try for a few simple steps (this is independent
    of camera type):

    1) In choosing the subject, visualize the composition and
    choose the focal length for that composition.

    2) Except in rare circumstances, I work in aperture
    priority, and if not aperture priority, then manual.
    The reason for aperture priority: control of depth
    of field. With aperture you have control of compromising
    between exposure time and depth of field. If the
    required depth of field results in too low an exposure,
    increase the ISO. To maximize shutter speed: set to
    widest aperture.

    3) Frame, focus and shoot. This may mean setting hyperfocal
    distance, or moving the AF point around to have an
    AF point on the subject.

    High depth of field, long careful setup:

    At the other extreme, action photography requires split second
    timing and decisions, keeping an AF sensor on the subjects eyes, while
    maintaining composition. That means shifting AF points while
    tracking moving action:


    Manual mode when you want to keep things fixed, e.g. from when
    you meter, or you want multiple frames with the same settings, e.g.
    for a mosaic:


    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Jul 7, 2007
  9. Larry Bud

    Pat Guest

    Tomorrow is one of those "who knows what's going to happen" day so
    it's "take all equipment". It's a wedding in Hawaiian shirts, the
    reception includes a "bounce room" (one of those inflatable things),
    and they've already started the pig roast. Sounds like a blast but
    not quite what I've done before.

    I've spent the evening cleaning and prepping and cleaning some more to
    make sure everything is in working order. Most of it is outdoor so
    the lighting will be weird. I'm packing 12 sets of batteries. G*wd I
    hope I don't need them all.

    Yup, a P&S would be easier, but I don't think that's the camera for
    Pat, Jul 7, 2007
  10. Larry Bud

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Grin. Most DSLRs have 'auto' settings, but many dedicated control
    twiddlers wouldn't be caught dead using it.
    One should never forget that getting the shot is the bottom line.
    Thankfully, much can be corrected in post processing with digital
    Ron Hunter, Jul 7, 2007
  11. Larry Bud

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Yeah, probably because 'normal' people use 'auto' all the time. Grin.
    A pro may set up a shot for days before getting it right. Most of us
    can't spend a month at the Grand Canyon waiting for just the right
    light, at the right angle, with the most pleasing cloud shadows.
    Ron Hunter, Jul 7, 2007
  12. Larry Bud

    Guest Guest

    I must admit, I haven't even started on the dozens of
    "photo modes" in my NIKON.

    I leave it set on basic "auto"

    Two concerns ??
    a. am I close enough to the subject
    b. nothing distracting in the background.

    Just about anything else can be fixed
    with the photo editing program.

    Guest, Jul 7, 2007
  13. Larry Bud

    ASAAR Guest

    Almost. If the shutter speed isn't fast enough to prevent blur,
    the aperture is too large, minimizing DOF and also creating blur,
    there isn't too much that the photo editor can do. I have a strong
    feeling that if I end by saying "Just about anything else can be
    fixed with the photo editing program", someone would be sure to
    append some more exceptions to my two additions. :)

    Now that I think of it, there are some others. It might be that
    sometimes spot metering works well, and other times it might be
    better to use matrix/average/center-weighted metering. Also, if not
    shooting raw, you might need to be aware of your camera's Auto White
    Balance weaknesses, since if you're unlucky you might have to spend
    a *lot* of time in the photo editor, and the fix might not be ideal.
    I made that mistake once and wouldn't care to repeat it.
    ASAAR, Jul 8, 2007
  14. Larry Bud

    Guest Guest

    I'd fuss with all those things if I had an old Pentax K1000 film camera.
    Come to think of it, I lost some good shots while fussing.

    With most modern P&S cameras, there's no control
    over aperture, speed, etc..... Just lots of "modes".
    and in many instances, it's nice to let the camera
    worry about those mechanical thngs.... I want the shot.

    Guest, Jul 8, 2007
  15. Larry Bud

    ASAAR Guest

    If that works for you, great. But all of my P&S cameras have
    complete manual control, and I don't use any of the creative
    'modes'. It's not hard to find many cameras that have manual
    controls, but you're correct in that if you just walk into a store
    and pick up the first cute looking little camera in front of your
    nose, it's likely to be one of the All-Auto models. :) Not having
    manual controls is the main reason why I never got Fuji's F10 or one
    of the models that replaced it.

    As with most things (including using software) there's a learning
    curve, and with some practice/experience, proficiency increases.
    It's only for a relatively short period that you might be slowed
    down due to fussing and fiddling with controls. Then handling the
    camera becomes second nature. My first digital camera (Powershot
    S10) had no real manual controls, and I'll admit that for the first
    days or weeks that my next 'manual' camera was used, I was a bit
    awkward using it, but that soon passed.

    This is similar to the differences you can see between new and
    experienced drivers. But the newbie drivers have to learn to drive
    with manual controls, since cars have no true autopilots. Yet.
    When that day arrives, I guess some cars will have many creative
    driving modes, such as Polite, Efficient, Quick, Emergency, Stealth,
    Aggressive, and Don't Tread On Me, Buster! I'll still prefer manual
    controls, and as stick shift, of course. <g>

    A bonus with the more sophisticated cameras is that they have Auto
    as well as many creative modes, which would be ideal for situations
    where you let a friend or relative borrow the camera for a while.
    ASAAR, Jul 8, 2007
  16. I think that if a pro spent days setting up a shot "to get it right"
    he would be out of business or starve to death in short order.

    The pro and advanced amateurs know their equipment and can
    make quick decisions and get the shot quickly and accurately.
    In wildlife and sports photography, you often have a fraction
    of a second to compose and shoot. Even the large format
    landscape photographer must get setup and be prepared for the
    best light, e.g. at sunrise. The peak light may last only
    a minute or so, and every day is different.

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Jul 9, 2007
  17. If only it were that easy. Your last comment is the most accurate. This is why
    good photography is an art and a worthwhile photographer is an artist. Vs. a
    science researched by a scientist. Leave science to the camera designers and
    bit-pushing software authors. I've seen thousands of photos edited by
    bit-pushers, their images come out just as devoid of life and reality as the 1's
    and 0's in their programming.

    No two photos require the same thought process unless you are stuck in a studio
    doing mundane and life-sapping factory-worker-style photography for commercial

    This is why some people can take 100 photos of all different subjects under a
    vast range of conditions and 90 of them could be award winners. Where another
    person can take 100 photos and only 1 of them might be printable without too
    much embarrassment on their part, usually that photo was just a lucky accident
    for them. Many untalented hacks have to depend on the burst modes in their
    camera, taking photos of everything and everything. Hoping that at least 1 per
    month might be worth sharing. As the old saying goes, even a broken clock is
    accurate twice a day. This is why a fast burst mode in a camera is a high sales
    point with so many. Camera makers know that they're marketing to untalented
    hacks who think if they just spend enough money they'll become a photographer
    one day. (A million monkeys at keyboards hoping to write a sonnet by random

    You need to become fluent in the basics of photography so that operating any
    camera is like driving any car. Manual or automatic transmission matters not.
    You jump in the seat, put the key in the ignition switch, and drive off without
    even thinking about it. The sooner you get the basics out of the way the sooner
    you will be able to stand up and run.

    When I see something worth photographing my only thought process today is, "Can
    I make my camera capture what I see?" 99% of the time the instant answer is yes.
    If the answer is "no" I keep on walking and leave the camera hanging at my side.
    This is why I'd never own a dSLR. I lived through the nightmare of the SLR era.
    Too much fooling around with ungainly equipment and convoluted menus (in some
    P&S cameras too, Nikons come to mind for that sad defect) also keeps you from
    getting those constant award winners.

    So much will depend on your own life-experience in photography. Nobody can teach
    that to you. You have to teach it to yourself. It takes time and practice. This
    is where digital cameras shine. Instant feedback. A person with any photography
    talent whatsoever will discover if they have it or if they don't in a matter of
    months, as opposed to wasting years of their life when film was the only option.
    SelfImportantName, Jul 9, 2007
  18. Larry Bud

    ASAAR Guest

    Congratulations, sock puppet troll. You've finally corrected the
    Oh, the humanity.
    Did you also have the "Heartbreak of Psoriasis"? :)
    ASAAR, Jul 9, 2007
  19. Congratulations RESIDENT TROLL, you've become nothing but a bother and a bore.
    Killfiled forever.
    SelfImportantName, Jul 9, 2007
  20. Larry Bud

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Yes, but the setting up, and waiting for exactly the right light CAN
    take days for a landscape photographer. I recall taking a picture of a
    church built in the rocks near Sedona, AZ. and driving my brother crazy
    having him move a bit farther down the road, then back a bit, then up,
    so I could get the composition exactly as I wanted it. The picture was
    beautiful (among the best I have ever taken), but I spent about 15
    minutes getting it right, and the light was almost gone by the time I
    got the shot.
    Most of my pictures aren't of this type, and I don't usually have that
    much time to get them. A good optical zoom can compensate for inability
    to physically get close enough to compose the picture.
    Ron Hunter, Jul 9, 2007
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