One of my blog readers, Mithun Kumar from India was visiting Kuala Lumpur for holidays, and he was asking if he could join in my shutter therapy session. Of course !! He has just purchased his new spanking Olympus OM-D E-M5, and together with a large group of friends, we attacked the streets of Pudu, Kuala Lumpur this morning. Joining us also this morning was Ananda Sim, an Olympus shooter who currently resides in Melbourne, Australia but also having his holidays in KL.
All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Lenses 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 or 50mm F2 macro
Recently I have been receiving emails and comments asking what mode I am usually shooting with on my camera, especially when I am doing my shutter therapy. To be honest, regardless of what mode you choose to shoot with, it does not really matter actually, and it all comes down to your own shooting style and preferences. No one technique or set of controls can be better than others, they must be tailored and customized to obtain the results or photography outcome that you seek.
APERTURE PRIORITY is my choice
For majority of the time, I shoot with Aperture Priority Mode. My reason was obvious, I wanted shallow depth of field, and I wanted to blur the background off to isolate my main subject. It was only sensible to shoot with Aperture Priority mode, where I can directly control the aperture, usually being set to be opened to its widest. When I needed more background to support my main subject, as I shoot with wide angle, I would then stop down the aperture to perhaps F4, or F5.6, and sometimes F8 if needed, to rake in more depth of field, capturing as much zone in focus as possible. Also worth noting that most Olympus Zuiko lenses that I use perform at their optimum sharpness being shot at F4-5.6 (the sweetspot). So the main question I ask would be how much depth of field I need for my subject when I was shooting.
I SET ISO MANUALLY
I set my ISO setting manually, I never let the camera decide. I guess there is just that part of me that did not trust the camera to choose the right ISO setting, nothing wrong with the camera, just me having trust issues. Shooting under bright sun I shoot only ISO200 or lower if needed, and as I moved to the shades, I would slowly increase the ISO setting to 400 or higher to compensate for the lack of available light in order to achieve sufficient shutter speed. Nevertheless, there are many recommendations to just leave the ISO to auto, since the camera these days are getting smarter, and can decide the best suited ISO setting to match the shooting condition. I always, always watch the rule of minimum shutter speed = 1/focal length. For example, as I am shooting with 50mm lens, I made sure my shutter speed would be at least 1/50sec or higher to prevent hand shake. If I were to freeze human movements, I might need to make sure my shutter speed stays over 1/100sec, or faster, depending on the movement speed.
Waiting for Something
Love What you Do
Genuineness in Question
CENTER WEIGHTED Metering
Metering is a tricky business. I always reminded myself that whatever the camera reads will never be 100% accurate, as the data being calculated and used to determine the aperture and shutter speed used would only purely based on weighted average. Whether it is multi-pattern (multi-zone, or matrix), or center-weighted, the average reading may not exactly represent what the photographer wanted to achieve, and this is particularly true in tricky lighting situations, when back-lit is involved. I choose to use center weighted, because I normally place importance to my subject's metering only, neglecting the surrounding lighting. Even so, the metering sometimes may hit and miss, and it is completely up to the photographer to "fine-tune" the metering based on his judgement on site. You have got to develop a quick sense of knowing whether your photograph is under-exposed or over-exposed, and the Exposure Compensation control (+/- EV) will be your next best friend to get that accurate metering. No, I do not trust histograms. When the histogram shows fully "balanced", trust me the photograph's highlight and shadow will never be truly balanced. Experienced shooters will refer to the histogram for quick readout, but never trust it completely. Trust your own eyes as you see the review on the LCD screen, trust your own sense of judgement as you shoot and adjust accordingly.
I DO USE SHUTTER PRIORITY
All the panning shots, or shots with intended blur were taken with Shutter Priority mode, where I purposely slowed down the shutter speed to introduce motion blur. As I was setting up the camera for panning, I turned off the Image Stabilization, set the focusing to continuous-AF (C-AF) and then shoot in burst mode (5 frames per second). Taking control of the shutter can really produce interesting results. Nonetheless, as you can observe my panning and blurry photographs in this blog entry, my execution of slow shutter techniques still require plenty of work. There were mistakes in focusing and the composition was not as clean as I have hoped for.
SINGLE AUTOFOCUS, SINGLE SHOT
I am not a continuous focus shooter (unless for panning shots, as described earlier), I shoot with single AF, one shot at a time. I do not believe in machine gunning, or firing the shutter aimlessly. Even on moving subjects (my subjects don't move that fast) I still trust the camera to be able to immediately lock focus and capture the motion, and the camera rarely failed me.
Are you Happy?
Reminder to self: CLEAN THE LENS FRONT ELEMENT !!!!!!
Very genuine smile
If you have shot with me before, you will know one fact:
I CHIMP, and I CHIMP A LOT.
I CHIMP, and I CHIMP A LOT.
I know some professional photographers of seniors would comment negatively on photographers that chimp. To Chimp is a verb to describe the action of reviewing the image on the back of your camera, displayed on the LCD screen. I do not spend that much time reviewing my images, but I am very critical in making sure I get the shot, and I get it right. The main thing that I check as I chimp would be the accuracy of focusing. Not that I doubt the camera's capability, but there are a thousand reasons that can cause your photograph to be out of focus, even just by that slight bit. If you know me at all I am very, very, very particular on focusing accuracy. Chimping is the only way I can make sure I do not miss focus, and when I noticed something wrong in the photograph, I will quickly find out the source of the problem and rectify it.
It is a good practice to review your shots from time to time, perhaps not after every shot, but maybe after a few shots. Making sure that the exposure was right (you might accidentally rolled the exposure compensation wheel to -3.0EV without realizing), white balance was accurate (to prevent nightmare of shooting everything in blue tint because you forgot to switch the white balance from Tungsten) and your general composition was alright. I believe in identifying the problems on the spot, and quickly make appropriate corresponding adjustments to optimize your results on the spot, in camera. This is the main advantage of shooting digital, instant feedback to tell you if you have done something wrong, or if there was a problem. Those naysayers would tell you it is instant gratification that is frowned upon, but I say it is insurance. Why take the risk if you have the chance to spot your mistakes and not have them in your final results? It is better to be extra-careful rather than be sorry later.
Mithun and Ananda Sim (right)
I have shared my most common settings as I shoot on the street. No, there is no fixed rules or set of must use settings, everything is subjective. As long as the settings you choose can help you to get the shots that you intended, that settings have got to be good enough. My choice of camera setup surely have helped me to grab the shots as you can see on my blog entries.
As for my custom black and white processing, you may go to my explanation which I have done in my previous entry here.
If you do have more questions on how I use my camera while street shooting, feel free to ask !!