Has anyone ever asked you what your favorite camera settings are? If not, I’m asking now and doing you a big favor in the process.
When you figure out your favorite camera settings, you know where to start when you pick up your camera. Better yet, you know how to set your camera before you turn it off at the end of shooting.
What do you like to shoot?
Here’s a good place to start.
Your favorite camera settings are related to what you like to shoot.
I love shooting photos of animals, either domestic or wild!
This photo of a very relaxed cat lying on colorful hand-dyed paper in Chang Mai, Thailand is sort of a portrait, but also an animal photo. It’s hard to tell animals to sit still while you take the photo. I naturally use Aperture Mode, so that’s what I used. (f/4, 1/80 sec, ISO 250)
Some scenes require fast shutter speeds to freeze the action. Other scenes require show shutter speeds to allow enough light to reach the camera sensor or to show motion.
Some forms of photography require a shallow depth of field and some need a deeper one.
Find your favorite camera settings
The best way to improve your photography is to decide what you like to shoot and then practice it a lot! Figure out your favorite settings that you tend to use.
Take the time to go through your favorite photos in the photo app you use. I use Lightroom Classic and it’s easy to separate out my favorite photos and then see what settings I tend to favor. (I rate my photos when I download and edit them.)
Then, practice some more only using those settings. Get really comfortable with them!
This portrait of a blacksmith in Colonial Williamsburg allowed me to stretch a bit. (f/4.0, ISO 5000, 1/80 sec) Due to the low light, it took a high ISO to allow me a fast enough shutter speed. This was a portrait with motion.
Do you know what you really love to capture in photos?
You know your favorite settings. Now what?
When you’ve reached the stage where you naturally set your camera to your favorite camera settings, switch up the scene and not the settings! (I bet I surprised you there! 😉 )
You now have a setting you understand. Can it be used for different kinds of photography? This is how you stretch yourself.
I accidentally discovered how much I like shooting action in Aperture mode by forgetting to switch to Shutter Mode. I discovered that it was much faster to set a low aperture number and then adjust the ISO to get the fast shutter speed I wanted.
That happened many years ago and I now rarely use Shutter Mode. (It’s my go-to mode for panning though!)
If you’ve ever visited Kenya, chances are you’ve been invited to a Masai village. Getting a shot of the men jumping is easy if you’re in Aperture Mode. (f/4.0, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec)
Time to stretch and take a new kind of photo
When I chose this photo, I didn’t notice the pun. Then I proofread the post. 🤣 (f/4.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 100) This really isn’t a portrait. And the depth of field doesn’t matter at all. So why would I use Aperture Mode? Because it’s my favorite mode. I know that if I keep my aperture number low (wide aperture), I’ll get the fastest shutter speed for the available light. If I need a faster shutter speed, I simply increase the ISO. I know how to use my favorite camera settings.
Since this photo was taken around noon, I knew I wouldn’t need to increase the ISO. On the other hand, if I’d been taking a photo of my dog, Kenzie, I would need a faster shutter speed and the ISO would need to be higher. When she’s running after a ball, I need a shutter speed of at least 1/2500 sec!
I’ve found that Aperture Mode does a great job of capturing food or drink photos indoors. This incredible concoction was the Fizzy Lifting Strawberry Juice Water Pistol Punch, served during the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych Hotel in London. What a name!
I loved the cloud that rose from the glass tea pot. (f/4.0, 1/80 sec, ISO 1600) The slower shutter speed captured the movement and swirled it around the pot.
What are your favorite settings?
Now that I’ve shared mine, it’s time for you to do some investigating. Discover your favorite settings and see how many ways you can use them. Become an expert at those settings, so they are easy and natural to use! I’d love to hear what you discover. Please share in the comments!
Last week, I wrote about checking your camera settings before you turn off your camera. Once you find your favorite settings, make a habit of resetting your camera to them before you turn it off.
Going to London? Don’t miss the afternoon tea at One Aldwych! It’s fabulous fun!