Saturday, August 29, 2009

See what you're shooting. Pay attention.

Saturday morning my wife came running into our house yelling, "Get your camera! Come quick!" I grabbed my little Canon SD10 ELPH and was out the door.

There was a northern walking stick on the door of our car. This was only the third or fourth time that my wife had seen a stick. Although not rare, they're rarely seen. Their camouflage is just that good.

First, I set the camera to macro and took a quick record shot nothing fancy. I kept the camera parallel to the surface of the door, thus keeping the entire insect in focus, no depth of field problems with this approach. The problem was my reflection in the shiny paint very distracting.

All too often people do not see what they are shooting. They see what they want to be shooting. They want to be shooting a walking stick and are so focused on the insect that they do not see the whole picture. Truth is, they are shooting a walking stick walking on a reflection of them holding the camera. This is not the picture they wanted. Train yourself to really see when shooting.

I tried various other angles to minimize the reflection but this also minimized the reflection of the overcast sky. This made the grey of the car far too dark, making the insect difficult to see.

I lay down on my back beside the car, braced one end of the camera against the door and tilted the camera to compose my picture. With this angle the paint reflected the overcast sky but did not reflect me or the camera perfect.

Now, the head of the walking stick must be in focus for this picture to work. I composed the shot with the head as the closest part of the insect to the lens. My camera focuses on the closest object. It visually confirms the focus by showing a red square over the area in focus.

I got my picture and I got up. My wife brushed off my back. Remember another rule: if you're not getting dirty, you're not getting the pictures.

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