Planning Your Photographs

birds photography photos

This morning I was practicing using the stabilizing sliders on my 200-600mm Sony lens. In learning how to set the buttons (as opposed to the sliders) I found myself digging through the Sony aRIV's menu.  First, a little about how I interact with my camera. 

When I first purchased the camera I went through the settings.  The settings that I knew I wanted to change I changed.  The others I left alone.  No settings would get changed from that moment forward.  Unless, there was a very specific problem that a setting could solve, such as the timed shutter release.  Over time there are very few settings that I have changed or built in features that I have used.  Also I tend to decide what to shoot very quickly and change only the basic settings to get what I am looking for.  Settings like the focal length, f-stop, ISO etc. 

Back to today.  Monique and I (mostly Monique) are planning to shoot a video on the features and settings available on the Sony 200-600mm lens.  This video will become available in the near future on our Cattail Chronicles Youtube site.  The more that I paged through the menus the more amazed I became about the features that were available.  By the time I had found the information I wanted I was thinking about how and when to utilize these features.  This took me back to an adage(?) that is repeated time and again in the landscape photographer community.  Take your time. Look for the best composition. PLAN YOUR SHOT!! 

I became aware of the ability to markedly improve the quality of your shot by taking advantage of identifying the target of your photo and planning to the greatest degree possible for taking the shot.  The more that you can tighten the parameters of your shots the more that you can change camera settings to optimize the taking of the photos and the quality of the photos.  The most immediate photo targets that came to mind is the middle position of the stabilization slider on the 200-600mm lens.  This position sets the stabilization to focus stabilization on the vertical over the horizontal.  This is ideal for photos, and videos, where the camera is panning along the horizontal axis.  This serves two purposes.  1) It frees up the camera's processer from trying to correct for the panning motion.  This allows more resources and faster processing of the vertical stabilization and reason 2)  this helps to solve the rolling shutter issue that  may occur from the horizontal stabilization process.  So how does this relate to planning a shoot? If I am planning on getting shots of geese.  I can further restrict the goal of this shoot to geese landing.  In addition, I can plan on looking for geese that are coming in low and creating the largest splash when they hit the water.   These shots will be predominantly panning shots.  Setting the stability slider to the panning mode (mode 2) will help in getting a cleaner, sharper shot.  This is even more apparent if shooting video. 

To reiterate, the more you can tighten the parameters of your shoot the more you can use the features of your camera to bias your shooting in favor of getting just the shot you want. Planning your shots carefully not only improves your composition.  It can also help get a sharper, cleaner image in exactly the way you want it.  Of course, you can plan less and spend more time in post processing getting everything the way you want it.  It is up to you. 

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