cat-tutorials

What Settings Should I Use? Part 2

nyc-bakery-tour-19

Earlier this year I added a new feature to my blog — you can click on any photo to see the camera, settings, and lens I used to shoot that photo. I love being able to easily share this info with you guys. In February, shortly after I added this feature, I wrote a post explaining not only what settings I use when taking photos, but why I choose them. I also let you guys in on two very important disclaimers.

1. I don’t always use the right settings.

I make mistakes. I forget to change settings from photo to photo. I quickly point and shoot. Or sometimes I just get lucky. My settings are by no means always perfect, and sometimes I cringe at the thought that someone might attempt to take a similar photo using those settings!

MY OTHER RECIPES

2. Your mileage may vary.

Even if my settings were perfect and you were to go back to the exact same spot, at the exact same time, in the exact same light, and use the exact same settings… the photo might not turn out exactly the same. Maybe not even close.

BUT, by knowing why I chose those settings, you can look at a photo and get similar results in your own photography. Below are nine photos I’ve taken this year along with the reasons why I chose the settings I did, and some tips and tricks for replicating these tricky situation shots — such as low light, nighttime, action, and using the flash.

Action

Camera Canon EOS 7D
Aperture f/2.8
Shutter Speed 1/500 sec
ISO 200
Lens 24-70mm f/2.8L

For this photo, I…

  • Put my camera in TV (shutter priority) mode
  • Set my shutter speed to 1/500
  • Changed my focus mode to AI-SERVO
  • Made sure my shooting mode was set to High Speed Continuous
  • Set my focus point to right in the middle.

This is how I like to take outdoor action photos. The 1/500 sec shutter speed is just right for stopping and capturing action. Any lower and the action tends to get blurry. AI-SERVO mode is especially helpful if the subject is moving towards you and you are quickly snapping several photos in succession (AKA high speed continuous mode). In AI-SERVO the camera quickly refocuses on the subject as it moves before taking each picture. In other modes, the camera focuses once, but if you’re using high-speed continuous mode, (you know, where you press the shutter button down and it takes several photos in a row without you lifting your finger) it doesn’t refocus until you stop taking pictures and start again. And finally, I set my focus point to right in the middle. With action photos, it’s always hard to know where the action is going to go, but I figure keeping the subject right in the middle is always a safe bet.

 

Action in the Kitchen

Camera Canon EOS 7D
Aperture f/2.8
Shutter Speed 1/500 sec
ISO 800
Lens 24-70mm f/2.8L

I love capturing action photos in the kitchen. Pouring batter, sprinkling sugar, or drizzling hot fudge is a lot of fun. I like the stop-action look that a fast shutter speed gives photos, especially in the kitchen. For these types of photos, I put my subject as close to a window as I can — somewhere with lots of light — put my camera in TV mode, set my shutter speed to 1/500, and make sure my camera is in high speed continuous mode again. Since these photos are taken indoors, I usually need a higher ISO to make sure the photo is bright enough. Be sure to set up your photo and take a few test shots before actually pouring!

 

Nighttime Skyline

Camera Canon EOS 7D
Aperture f/5
Shutter Speed 10 seconds
ISO 100
Lens 24-70mm f/2.8L

I love nighttime skylines. For this photo, I…

  • Put my camera in TV mode
  • Set my shutter speed to 10 seconds (that means I pushed the button, and 10 seconds later it’s done taking the photo!)
  • Set my ISO to 100
  • Used the 2-second self timer

You definitely need a very steady surface or a tripod for a photo like this. I didn’t have my tripod with me for this photo, but I was able to set my camera on a wide ledge of the building. I also used the 2-second self timer. That way I was able to press the button, then get my hand away from the camera before it actually started taking the photo, so the camera could steady itself while my hand was getting out of the way. My hand is not touching the camera at all as it’s taking the photo. I’m not using any type of starburst filter here. I think the starburst effect on the lights happens naturally with slow shutter nighttime photos, as it happened in all the NYC skyline photos from this set, and also appeared in my San Diego Skyline photo.

 

Nighttime Skyline with Water

Camera Canon EOS 7D
Aperture f/10
Shutter Speed 15 seconds
ISO 100
Lens 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5

For nighttime skylines with water, I do everything exactly as the photo above for nighttime skylines, but I set my shutter speed a little slower to 15 seconds. I love the smooth, glassy effect a super slow shutter speed gives the water.

 

Low Light

Camera Canon EOS 7D
Aperture f/2.8
Shutter Speed 1/6 sec
ISO 3200
Lens 24-70mm f/2.8L

This photo almost looks as if I’m sitting right by a big window with tons of natural light. You’d never know it was taken in a very dark, dimly lit restaurant. For this photo I put my camera in AV mode (aperture priority) and set my aperture as low as it would go. But even with a high ISO, and a 1/6 sec shutter speed, which is really slow to hand-hold by the way, (I had to steady my elbows on the table) it was too dark to take the photo. I had my friend, who’s sitting just to my right, use the flashlight app on her phone to give me a little extra light to work with. If the top of the bowl is 12 o’clock, and the table is 6 o’clock, she’s probably holding the phone at 2 o’clock.

 

New York City | Summer 2010

Low Light

Camera Canon EOS 7D
Aperture f/1.4
Shutter Speed 1/80 sec
ISO 3200
Lens 50mm f/1.4

Here’s another photo taken with a flashlight app for extra lighting. I love this trick for dark restaurants. If you don’t have a flashlight app, just use the screen of your phone. Every little bit of extra lighting helps!

 

Indoor Flash

Camera Canon EOS 7D
Aperture f/2.8
Shutter Speed 1/200 sec
ISO 160
Lens 24-70mm f/2.8L

For this photo I…

  • Put my camera in AV mode
  • Set my aperture to 2.8
  • Used the pop-up flash on my camera

This photo was taken inside, right up against a big window with a snowy scene of NYC outside. I really wanted to capture both the cupcakes and the snowy NYC street in my photo, but I had a dilemma. If I exposed for the cupcakes, the street was blown out. If I exposed for the street, the cupcakes were too dark. Since I didn’t have my external flash with me, I just used the pop-up flash on my camera and snapped this photo. I got down low so the flash was absorbed by the cupcakes and not reflected off the window. The 2.8 aperture gives the snowy street scene a soft, blurred background effect.

 

Sunset in San Diego

Outdoor Flash

Camera Canon EOS 7D
Aperture f/8
Shutter Speed 1/250 sec
ISO 100
Lens 24-70mm f/2.8L

Here’s another photo taken with the pop-up flash on the camera, for the same reasons as the photo above. I wanted to get both my friend and the sunset equally exposed. I put my camera in AV mode, set my aperture to 8, popped up the flash, and snapped the photo.

 

Indoor Flash

Camera Canon EOS 7D
Aperture f/8
Shutter Speed 1/200 sec
ISO 160
Lens 24-70mm f/2.8L

For this photo, I…

  • Put my camera in AV mode
  • Set my aperture to 8
  • Exposed for the window
  • Used an external flash

I really love taking photos indoors where you can see the view out the window, like the photo above. But again, usually you can either expose for the inside or expose for the outside. Using a flash lets you get both. I had my external flash for this photo, and I pointed it straight up at the ceiling. You can see it in the reflection of the window! I also exposed for the window here — I pointed the camera at the window and pressed the shutter button halfway down to focus, then pressed the exposure lock button on my camera (it looks like an asterisk on my Canon). I then re-framed the photo focusing on my feet and snapped the photo. Using the exposure lock button allowed me to expose correctly for the window, while focusing on my feet and letting the light from the flash expose them. The exposure lock button is a neat tool to correctly expose for one element in the photo while focusing on another.

If you see a photo on Kevin & Amanda you’d like to know more about, let me know! I’ll save it for a “What Settings Should I Use?” Part 3 post. :)

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