For many the New Year starts off with a visit to a parade, and for others who prefer not to brave the crowds they watch the professional photographers present their special parade or event to them in the comforts of their own home. For those who want to capture their special time there are some tips, and tricks to reduce the loss of important moments, because once they’re gone they are gone.
There are also environmental conditions that you must be aware of that are visible and some unseen. Like whether you need to prepare your camera for the cold that it may be affected by, or the occasional rain shower that may pop up at the last second. For those who live on the West Coast, in recent times we’ve had some unusual weather, nowhere near that what goes on in other parts of the country, but for places like Los Angeles and Pasadena is considered extreme.
One tip is that your camera can be affected by the cold weather; take a look at the manual that comes with the camera and you will usually find some of the limits that can affect your camera. Remember a good rule of thumb is to always keep the camera close to you so you can watch and see if moisture is collecting on it, and if you’re not going to purchase a waterproof protection for your camera is good to carry some plastic reseal able bags with you to place your camera inside to minimize condensation, and keep your lens from fogging. Watch out for cold weather that drops down below freezing, ice forming on your camera can potentially cause damage. Along with that, once you find yourself in, out of the cold, allow your camera to rest for least 15 minutes. That way the camera can work at optimum. Bring an extra battery because you may find that due to extreme weather the battery may not be able to retain its power as effectively as normal.
But if you braved all the elements and competed with all your fellow photographers you’re ready to capture some memorable moments.
· Whether you’re using a DSLR camera or a point-and-shoot you must know the capabilities of the lens you’re using to capture your subject. Wide-angle lenses specialize in capturing much more of a scene than lenses that have narrow focal points. If you play it safe and use a wide angle and capture the whole subject you can crop to your liking later.
· Composing a shot is the art of telling the story, so have in your mind what the shot is all about before you take it, and think about what would be a good narration for the image as been viewed by your audience.
· I know most cameras now, come with the fully automatic package, but the problem with that is the camera itself has to preprogram a photographer in it, and may not have the same idea about the shot you are about to take. It may deny you the ability to take the shot. That’s why you should practice days in advance with some of the other settings on your camera so you will have the idea of how to switch to another setting and capture that picture before it’s gone. Also for events like parades and speeches it’s good to get there early to find the best spot to make it easy on yourself to capture that moment.
· Do not make your flash the first thing you go to when you encounter low light. You have other choices to try first, like ISO. The ISO – International Organization for Standardization sets the light sensitivity standards, the lower the number, which is typically 100, shows your image without problems from grains of noise. The highest number possible (for my sensitivity to light) may cause graininess. So for lower light the typical setting is around 400 to 800. The drawback for using higher ISO will be, the quality of the image will be compromised by what is called noise. With imaging software that has been introduced over the past few years, you can decrease the amount of noise in your image.
· Shutter speed can help with some of the low light problems that you may have, even the point-and-shoots have settings that can be altered for a slower shutter speed, just remember the slower the shutter speed the more possibility that body movement may counter the focus on the subject to a point that may render the image useless.
· Tripods and Monopods are very useful when you have the space and ability to stand without blocking others. Holding the camera with a shutter speed below 60 becomes tricky. It’s better if you have a lens or camera that offers VC- Vibration Control, or some other type of movement control assistance.
· Although you have framed your proposed shot inside your view finder, you can use your aperture setting, which means zone of sharpness; this will pull out your subject from the background. The aperture controls the depth of field, which give you an effective way to put your subject in focus, and allow the rest to have a soft focus or out of focus look. Just remember the aperture will be affected by the amount of light in the area.
Just think of it like this, although our cameras have become like machine guns where you can take multiple shots without reloading, it still is a fine art. Similar to the art of cutting diamonds, when the time comes you must make the cut and if it’s not right the diamonds will lose their values forever.