From adding artistry to your action shots to zinging zip into your zebra portraits, this year’s annual how-to special is a veritable encyclopedia of photographic fun. Read on for an alphabet of inspiration.
A is for Action
Photo by: Stu Collier/Fotolia.com
Want to enliven your action shots? Blur is the key. For simple blur: Drop the shutter speed one or two notches below action-freezing speed to blur the hands and feet of runners, the spokes and pedals of bicycles, etc. Add flash for ghosting: With flash on relatively close subjects, you can lower the shutter speed even further. Use second-curtain sync to get a ghost trail behind the subject. Pan with the motion: Use very slow shutter speeds to blur the background into a streak.
B is for Boat
Photo by: Jon CornForth
Nature photographers Jason Hahn and Jon Cornforth (who shot the photo above) offer advice for keeping steady as she goes. Activate image stabilization: A first line of defense against wave-induced shake. (Nikon users: In very rough water, engage the Active setting on your VR lenses.) Set higher ISOs for fast shutter speeds—better a bit of noise than blurry shots. Roll with the waves: If you try to counteract the boat’s motion with your body, you’ll be less steady. Stay seated when possible. Use support: A monopod with a flat swivel foot is usually the best bet. Tripods can be cumbersome, especially in small boats.
C is for Camera Presets
Use custom settings for the types of shooting you do. Make the default settings (the ones that come up when the camera is turned on) those you use when shooting in a hurry. And fine-tune individual settings: Adjust a custom white balance to match the bulbs in your living room, for example.
D is for Diopter
If the view through your viewfinder is always blurry, check the diopter adjustment. Leave your lens cap on, turn on the camera, and adjust the diopter until the info display in the finder is as sharp as it can be.
E is for Exposure
The black cat on the black sofa. The kid in a white parka on a snow bank. These kinds of scenes fool through-the-lens meters into making these scenes gray. Fix 1, squash the histogram: Enable the histogram display on your DSLR, and use whatever meter and exposure mode you usually do to make a reading and/or exposure. Now set exposure compensation so that the histogram’s pixel pile gets shoved hard one way or the other: negative compensation to shove it to the left for dark scenes, positive compensation to shove it to the right for light scenes. Yes, you want clipping at the edge. Fix 2, ditch the camera meter: Use a handheld incident exposure meter to measure the light falling on the scene rather than reflected from it. In either case, shoot in RAW for extra leeway.