Digital SLR Cameras these days have on average, upwards of 30 buttons and dials. That is a lot to focus on when you are about to photograph an event or a project. And that’s just the surface of it, within the OS of the camera lies another set of even more customization and control. What you do with those settings and buttons is up to you to choose what to tweak and adjust. But, not knowing what to press to get the best picture possible can be a very stressful situation. That is why getting to know your camera inside and out is paramount. There’s no fiddling around in front of clients, specially when there is a deadline. Always be ready to recall what button to press or what slider to move at a moment's notice.
Keep this in mind, SLR cameras have always been very ergonomically designed, all the main buttons are right there between your index finger and thumb. Get to know what those buttons do. They all affect the outcome of your image and are there for a reason.
Here’s another thing; Don’t wait to the last minute to learn them, unless you learn under pressure, which by all means go for it. But if you are meticulous like me, you would do your best to understand your tools. Any tool really, it's what the masters knew all along, their tools were their intimate objects. They knew them inside an out, and anyone serious enough about photography should practice the same principle. Your camera is your tool, it is quite literally an extension to your eyes. Eyes are a lot simpler to use of course, but like the eye, there’s a lot of intricate parts moving behind the camera that are affected by many little components.
Sometimes it's not about the technicality of the camera when shooting, it's about the photo itself. Dialing the camera to Av or Tv priority, will often deliver great results. And remember, when in doubt, put it on auto and see how things look. If you are not happy with it, move on to the next setting. I’ve discovered multiple combinations of settings and buttons that allow me to know what dial to move at a moment's notice.
Finally, Always and always test your skills and never stop photographing. Vince Lombardi once said that “Practice does not make perfect, Only perfect practice makes perfect.” So in conclusion; Be perfect, but do it by practicing until your practice becomes perfect. Take time before planned photo shoots to test your practice. Take your camera on a field test every now and then and don’t forget to bring with you the instruction manual.
Oh, and bring extra memory cards just in case 😀 .
By Johan Salvador.