Wow, thanks everyone, you got some very good points.
To wrap it up:
Just try and use camera on one of the auto modes but keep your brain active
For kids, its all about the moment
...I think you should just shoot a roll of slide film on your program setting and I think you'll be surprised how well your camera meters.
...keep my brain engaged enough to notice situations like backlighting that will throw off the meter...
...Also, will your camera let you override the iso setting? You can use that to force it to underexpose by a little (which I've found to work well with slides)...
... Slides aren't *that* unforgiving...especially if your point is to capture the moment rather than to be able to say "Look at all the shadow detail I got, am I awesome or what?"
Use toy cameras (but I'm not really sure I'd do it with slides)
...Take as many pic's as you can,its worth the extra effort.Kids grow up soooo fast.
...I highly recommend that you keep the camera set up indoors with an automatic strobe so that the camera can be picked up, turned on, strobe turned on, focus and shoot.
...When you need to get that "Kodak moment" use P if that will capture it.
...Don't worry about the quality of each shot, like the shadow detail (as mentioned above) or anything else. I've got two grown sons and the last thing I think about when I look at old photos of them as children is the technical aspects of the picture; it really is not important 20 years down the road.
...I bought one of those "toy" camera's, a Diana (don't shoot me people ). It actually has been really valuable because you can't fuss with it too much. There is NO METERING!!!!I can spend more time looking at the composition, getting more "candid" photos, etc. Also, I've shot slide film in it, and I was amazed at how good it came out. Perhaps slide films are not that cranky after all.
...Holgas and Brownies are my instruments of choice....
I will try all of the above! Thanks!
Listen to the internal dialog with yourself to know your creative process. Seeing is 99% of getting a good image.
Pick up an interesting read "The Tao of photography"
I agree completely...except when I don't. I've got pictures of my son that work *because* the technical aspects fell into line: the light looks natural, the colour balance came out right, the depth of field is shallow enough to make the subject "pop" but not so shallow that parts of him are distractingly out of focus, all that stuff. The technical successes are there, but what they do in the image is get out of the way and let the image be about the subject.
Originally Posted by hvandam2
And on the other hand, I've got pictures of the same kid that work in spite of being technically awful if you stop to examine them. A few are serendipitous mistakes, but on the whole, I think 99+% of the photos I've taken would be more rewarding to look at if they were technically better. That doesn't mean that they aren't rewarding as they are, of course, but they'd benefit if I'd judged the exposure that little bit better or focussed more accurately or whatever.
So even for this sort of "Kodak moment" photography, I think it's important to keep chasing technical successes, not as an exercise in showing off your skill, not to the exclusion of all else, but as a means of having the captured moment look like you meant it to.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
I'm one of those dinasaurs that grew up with cameras sans light meter. I fell into the trap of auto-do-it-all cameras years ago, and had thousands of average looking-once-in-a-while dynamic shots to show for that phase of my life. I have returned to fully manual bliss. I tend to keep track of the light as I wander through life, and can get the shot with less fuss by relying on my instincts.
For many years I shot Kodachrome 25 in a 'Kodak Colorsnap 35' (which was essentially just a dial-the-weather camera) and I had very few slides that were incorrectly exposed, or at least, so badly exposed as to be unusable.
Much more recently I spent an entire year taking hardly any photographs but always carrying a simple light meter with me, continually metering the same or different scenes under different lighting conditions. Soon I learnt how exposure varies with the time of day, the type of weather, the amount of light and shadow in a scene etc. And to be honest, it is all surprisingly simple. With practice and experience, it is easily possible to take excellently exposed slides by estimating the exposure without using a meter at all. Of course you can assess any particular scene and decide how to adjust the base exposure for the presence of 'tricky objects' such as dark doorways or white walls; in this way the technicalities become pleasurable and are part of the creativity.
Don't be put off by the assumption that photographic metering is a profound mystery of some sort - it isn't!
I'm in the "Just shoot on 'program'" camp... sort of...
You don't have to shoot in any one mode all the time. I don't.
I like shooting on aperture priority mode most of the time but sometimes I shoot on program mode. Still, other times, I shoot on fully manual mode. I can't tell you exactly how I decide but there is some technical thought that goes into it. There is also a lot of thought about the situation I'm in. For sports or fast action, program mode is what I'll usually use. For portraits, still lifes or creative shots I'll use full manual. For general "shooting around" I'll use aperture priority.
You guys know how all that works. You're all better at it than I am. But my point is that I'll often jump around from mode to mode, using manual for one shot and auto or semi-auto the next.
So, if you want to be technical and manipulate the camera, add this parameter into your decision tree: "When should I shoot on manual and when should I shoot on automatic or semi-automatic?"
Just go out and shoot a couple-few rolls of film on program mode, bring them home and develop them then sit down and compare them to other pictures you have already shot. See where the differences lie then put that information into your mental database and try to use it to decide what mode to use in the future.
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Look likes your instincts of light has me envious. A lot of APUGers have repeatedly suggested. Shoot lots to develop those instincts. Instincts you can't buy at a camera store.