Be Prepared!

Be Prepared!

That is not just the Scouting slogan, it is an apt admonition to photographers. For years I have preached that a camera should always be ready for action. That means when putting it into its pack, it should be set so it is ready for a quick grab of an interesting situation.

Of course, when that moment came this past week, my camera was nowhere near ready. I had put it away after some still life photography without so much as checking any settings.

And this is what happened when I needed it in a hurry:

Vultures in the Attic

My recommendation is to always set the camera to AUTO mode to allow rapid shooting when needed.

There is more to that. The exposure mode isn’t all that should be in the “ready for action” setting. Here is my list:

Ready For Action Settings

Exposure mode: AUTO or P mode

Focus mode: Auto, with either single point or multi-point focus.

Vibration reduction: ON

Metering: Center weighted or matrix. Spot metering is great, but in hurried situations can lead to errors.

Exposure compensation: Zero. This control does not reset when the camera is turned off on many makes, so be sure to set it back to zero before stowing the camera.

ISO sensitivity: My “normal” setting is 200, many prefer 100. But there is more!

Set the Auto ISO mode ON to allow the camera to find workable settings. The high limit should be set to maximum. But the minimum shutter speed should be a reasonable value. I like 1/125 sec.

It was that last setting that really got me in trouble with the vultures. For shooting still-life scenes I had set it to 1 second.

That first photo at the top shows what can happen. The camera used 1 second, f/8, at ISO 3600. One second is more than I can hand-hold, even with good vibration reduction.

I got the camera to 1/125s, f/4, and ISO 200. But failed to watch where the center focus mark wound up.

Some days are like that! Nice photo of that mailbox, isn’t it?

.:. © 2021 Ludwig Keck