Sunday, September 23, 2012

Camera settings, workflow, and a bunch of SP technicalities [Part 1]

A friend took the time to ask what my usual settings-slash-procedures-slash-technical techniques (?) on SP are, and I thought I'd just answer her through a blogpost. Para sosyal. JK.

*Shoutout: Eileen, oks na ba 'to? haha :))

Camera Settings

(1) Shooting Mode:

90% of the time, I shoot in Aperture Priority mode. That is Av on the mode dial in Canon, and A in Nikon, I believe. (Forgive me Nikon fanboys, I've yet to learn your language. :P) My choice of aperture value mainly depends on the weather and/or relative lighting (under shades/indoors or out in the opens). The following are my simple rule-of-thumbs (which I have just adapted from other streettogs):

Sunny to partly cloudy days - f/16
Cloudy days - f/11
Rainy days - f/8
Indoors and under shades - f/11 or f/8 (it depends~)

©Julian Carlo Barbadillo, Kalyegrapiya 2012

I rarely go under f/8 as I easily get bothered by the thinning of the Depth of Field (DoF) as the aperture gets wider and I worry more on getting shots out of focus. 

*Refresher note

Higher f-values mean that the aperture is opened less. (Analogy. Do the chinky-asian-eyes. That correlates to a high f-value. Do the tarsier-eyes-look. That's a lower f-value. ). 
Higher f-values also correlate to a "deeper" Depth of Field. That is, a greater amount of planar space gets in focus, as contrasted to low f-values where you get the creamy goodness of bokeh. Remember that in Street Photography, we need a coherent subject and background, thus, usually we make use of higher f-values to preserve the relationship of the foreground and the background. 

©Julian Carlo Barbadillo, Kalyegrapiya 2012

(2) Metering Mode:

80% of the time, I use Evaluative metering. (that's the Canon term, I'm not sure about the Nikon Equivalent). The other 20% of my shooting instances, I use Spot Metering.

©Julian Carlo Barbadillo, Kalyegrapiya 2012

Almost always, I underexpose my shots by 2/3 fstop. Especially on sunny days when highlights are more likely to blow up. By underexposing, I get to retain highlight details, and also get an allowance for faster shutter speeds. (I prefer recovering details in shadows than in highlights. Even if noise is more likely to be amplified during shadow detail recoveries. I don't really mind the noise. I kinda like it, to be honest. Gritty.)

(3) Focusing Mode:

Manual focus is my way. Well, except in rainy days when I have to hold an umbrella on the other hand; those are the only days when I rely on autofocus.

I do zone focusing. It is a focusing technique which uses the principle of hyperfocal distance and relative sharpness. I'd better pass the explaining to Eric Kim, one of the most famous Streetogs of our time. Click his name for the video explanation of zone focusing. :D

©Julian Carlo Barbadillo, Kalyegrapiya 2012

(4) Focal length:

Since I have a crop sensor camera (entry-level), I shoot in 24mm exclusively. 24mm in crop sensors rounds up to an equivalent full frame focal length of around 35mm. Being the cheapo that I am, I used to tape my kit lens (18-55mm) to the 24mm mark. But after a while of shooting with the tape on, I decided to rip it of and clean the lens. Well, to my surprise, my zoom ring started to fail to roll smoothly and snaps on the 24 and 35mm mark. Which i was quite unsure if it was a bad thing or not. But since I can now shoot without the tape on as I can easily locate the 24mm mark even without me looking, I'd like to think of it as a perk. :))

(5) ISO

Given that my camera is set on high f-values, I normally bump my ISO to compensate for the shutter speed. My ISO settings in all of my shots range between 800-6400 (depending as well on the weather and/or relative lighting). Note that even on sunny days, I use a minimum of 800 ISO (I rarely go below that). A very unconventional setting to dive into. As I've said earlier, I really don't mind the grain and the noise. In fact, they add texture to my images in a subtle yet beautiful way (well according to my sense of aesthetics, that is. :P)

*PS: Thanks to sir Rico for asking about my ISO setting. I honestly forgot to write about it. :))
*workflow and other techie stuff would follow in the next post! keep updated! :)