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Come in! There are a few adventures I’ve written about, but most of the content offers classes in photography and mentoring for photographers, including photo theory, which, although a vital part in our profession, is largely an overlooked subject in all published media that profits from and feeds our gadget minded mindset today.

What are those buttons? Shoot correctly from the start – A61

August 08 2012 - Photo Technical

Welcome aboard photo enthusiasts and Happy New Year…2011. Where you good and did Santa bring you a new camera? What a great gift.  Your camera can take pictures of family and friends, or simply be your copy machine.  If it comes with GPS it will be able to tell you were you are, and it’s likely to have other smart features.

I have awful advice for you as to the first thing you should do.  Can you guess what this might be? Read your manual! Most people are adverse to doing so. When giving my camera workshops, inevitably at least one of the participants will ask a question or need a problem solved that will have me asking for their manual.  I know cameras, but not every nuance in every model.

If you were given a really basic, simple pocket camera there won’t be much to it; a quick perusal and your done.  If your camera is a more sophisticated model, for a person with higher photographic aspirations, give the manual a quick perusal, and then carry it with your camera to review user questions as they arise or come to mind.  Don’t leave it in the box it came in as many among us tend to do.

An even better approach to learning your new camera is to become a member of the Bestschot Photographer’s Club.  It is a new and inspiring center for aspiring photographers that I am introducing this year.

Attending a the monthly social networking meetings is open to the public, and is a good way to meet other likeminded people who love everything photography.  Then if want to reap the benefits of the Club to learn ways to becoming an exceptional photographer, become a member.  Simply contact me using the e-mail address at the end of this article and I will provide you the many exciting details.  It will be benefit to you even when you are out at sea.

Let’s review some basic tips to help you along as you start shooting.  No doubt, as soon as you opened your camera box, in addition to beginning to read the manual, you found the battery, put it into the charger provided, and topped it off.  You have also found a small memory card and possibly purchased another larger one.  With both the battery and card in place, turn your camera on.

First check the setting for resolution.  Press the menu button on the back and under the first menu look for “quality”.  Set it for the highest quality jpg.  If your camera offers RAW or TIFF settings, use them for only the most special shooting occasions.  High quality jpg’s will suffice most of the time.  There is often a secondary setting signified by the words low, medium, fine or by the largest megapixel count to smaller settings.  Go for fine or the most, in other words select the max, the best.

Next check the ISO setting.  You will find all the primary important settings on the first screen that comes up when pressing the menu button.  This time look for “sensitivity”. The options most often range from 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600, with the possibility of one lower setting and several higher settings.  Set it to 100 ISO (or the lowest setting) for the best results.  Use higher settings only if low lighting conditions make it necessary.

Look at the operational settings.  These are often found on a dial on top of a camera. They can include M for manual, Tv as shutter preferred, Av for aperture preferred, P for program, Auto, and possibly other settings having symbols, a moon with star for night shooting, a mountain for landscapes, the upper body for portraits, a flower for close-ups, etc.  Of these latter symbol settings the flower for close-up photography is the only one I use.  For most other shooting situations I find “P” program the most useful.

You might wonder what the difference is between “Auto” and the “P” setting.  With the former everything is set for you in ways you might not want, such as the ISO (sensitivity). The latter leaves you a bit more creative control over white balance, the ISO, the flash, even the shutter speed and aperture.

One setting that I’ve found most aspiring photographers are not familiar with is “format”. This can be found in the menu when the camera is set to review the pictures you’ve taken.  It is similar, yet more advanced than the delete function.  Use it after you have downloaded all your images to your computer.  Format will completely erase all those on your memory card and refurbish it, that is, it is the best way to prepare it for the next shoot.

I’m sure my tips along with my descriptions may still be confusing to you. What I’d like for you to do is go to the index of your manual and look up ISO, Auto, Program Resolution, etc., that will get you started and give you more insight about your camera. Next time I’ll write about the creative considerations, such as good composition. In the meantime, I’ll take permission to go ashore.