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How to Improve Your Photography With 3 Basic Camera Settings


So, you are shooting away and maybe you are getting an occasional shot that you love, but most of them aren’t coming out exactly how you thought they would.  Well, before you dive straight into learning how to shoot in manual mode, check out some of your basic camera settings that will help improve the look of your pictures.

  1. Set your white balance to auto. – What is white balance?  It’s basically the color of light and how it looks in your picture.  Have you ever taken a picture and it looked too yellow or too blue?  That’s your white balance setting.  Light bulbs, the sun, candlelight, it’s all different colors.  You can spend a considerable amount of time trying to learn the intricacies and how to set custom white balance in your camera or you can just set it to auto.  I know, auto?  Yes.  It’s one less thing you will have to think about.  It will give you a pretty good white balance and if you want to make adjustments, you can do this in editing.
  2. Set your metering mode to Matrix/Evaluative mode.  What metering mode should I use?  What’s the difference among matrix (evaluative on Canon), center-weighted, and spot metering?  Well, if you are getting darker pictures than what you think you should be getting, you might be in the wrong metering mode.  Your metering mode basically determines how your camera reads the light it sees in the frame.  In matrix mode, your camera will read all the light in the frame and your picture will come out with a more even exposure across the entire frame.  With center-weighted metering, your camera will pay more attention to the center of the frame when determining exposure.  You may end up with a darker looking picture especially around the edges.  Spot metering is similar to center-weighted, only you can move the spot around the picture.  This allows you to be very specific in where you place your subject and where you want proper exposure.  Most of the time you are going to want to have your camera in matrix/evaluative mode and it will serve you well 95% of the time.  When you are ready to up your photography game, spend some time learning more specific about each mode, but you will still be in matrix mode most of the time.
  3. Shoot in jpeg unless you are shooting in manual mode.  RAW vs jpeg, I don’t know the difference.  Basically your camera processes a jpeg, while a RAW file is not processed in camera.  You will have to process it in editing.  Jpeg is fine for most things.  Stay with jpeg if you are just starting out.  The files take up less space and you will have lots of pictures if you are learning.  It won’t make a big difference in your finished product until you are able to master some editing techniques.  Do not do both.  It will eat up your memory card and your file storage.  Shoot RAW when you are learning to shoot in manual mode.  RAW files give you more latitude when you get ready to edit.  If you have missed exposure you can make some pretty big adjustments to save a photo if it’s a RAW file.  You can also adjust a jpeg, but not as significantly when it comes to exposure.

There are three basic camera settings for you to check.  Make sure you have those set and fire away.

Check out what’s in my camera bag here.

Learn how to take your own family portraits here.

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