Knowing your camera settings – shooting with continuous mode vs shooting deliberately

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The best thing about knowing your camera settings when you are photographing fast moving pets (or situations) is that you won’t be praying that you get a shot that you like. Instead, you’ll be seeing what you want to capture in your head, and be able to relay that vision to the camera. What you see in your head will be what comes out in the actual image.

Shooting in continuous mode (or sport mode) is reactive and a crutch for not knowing how your camera is going to capture a moment. After you shoot a scene in continuous mode, you look at the photos on the back of your camera and say “wow, that’s what I got”. Many times you are missing other moments happening in front of you because you are looking at the camera to see the surprise of what was captured.

(If you’re interested on an online class covering this subject – check this out:  Online Fast Action Workshop)

When you learn to shoot deliberately, one shot at a time, and translate what you see in your head into what is captured by the camera, that is when your photos become your art. By learning to shoot deliberately, your camera is your brain’s tool to create a tangible digital image out of your vision – rather than your trigger finger being the tool to let your camera give you it’s vision.

Here are 3 ways to move from reactive continuous shooting mode to shooting deliberately:

  • Run shooting drills. Take your camera out of sport or continuous mode and put it in a mode like Program, Aperture, or Shutter Speed Priority (whatever you are comfortable with – I prefer Aperture).  Shoot over and over and over while changing your settings without looking to create muscle memory. By learning to change settings without looking at your camera, you can be fully aware of what is going on around you while you photograph events. This is especially important during fast paced events like weddings and parties. You want to know what is happening around you so you don’t miss something important.
  • Learn to look at meta data – either in a program like Lightroom (I love Photo Concentrate’s Lightroom tutorial) or with some other program. Start looking at what the settings are when you like a particular image, and what they are when you HATE an image. Go from there.
  • Occasionally shoot without checking your camera to see if you got the shot. Be fully engaged in a situation that you are photographing, and start to feel the moments as you shoot. Don’t look to see if you got the shot – because you’ll critique yourself and ruin the mood.

If you concentrate on these three things you’ll start to be able to shoot what is in your mind’s eye, rather than capturing only what the camera gives you. The key to being a better photographer is to shoot constantly.  Challenge yourself to get better and you will be amazed with the results.  Do you need a refresher or great primer on camera basics?  Get Essential Camera Skills – it’s a great resource.


how to shoot without sport mode

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