Photo Capture

Photo Capture

The capture process is when the camera and other equipment is used to register images. The description may sound boring, but if you ask me, this is by far the funniest part. It's all downhill from here. At least until you get to see the final result, after post processing.

1. Most Important

Before you can capture anything, you must see it. If you're not going to pay attention to your surroundings, then any workflow will do. Start by looking for interesting subjects. Remember your best photos so far - what was so great about them? What worked, what didn't work? Don't be afraid to experiment.

2. Tools

2.1. Aimen RG DOF Calculator[a]

A nice Android application for calculating the depth of field.

3. Street

Street photography usually involves people, so I try to find areas where there are people. For daytime use I switch to Auto-ISO and set the shutter threshold to 1/125s, and leave the camera in Program auto. For nighttime and dusk use, I've found that the auto exposure system gets confused by street lights, cars, and so on. At the same time, the light level is very uniform. I therefore switch to Manual and set the shutter speed to the lowest value I can accept - usually 1/60s - and then use manual ISO and aperture to get the right exposure. Every now and then I'll do a test shot to make sure that the settings are still valid.

4. Nature

First: I've found that the amount of keepers I return with from a hike or a trip is roughly proportional to the distance I've covered: More kilometers, more keepers.

Based on that single data point, I would advice anyone to keep moving. Most people know to not just stop at "vista points", but I would also raise a red flag for a tendency to get stuck at a single spot. It's when you have that annoying feeling that there's a great photograph here, just out of your grasp. You try different framings, different exposures, different focal lengths... but it just won't come together.

Get out of there.

Just pack your stuff and move somewhere else. While you're trying to get a good photo here, something great is happening over there.

Second: Pay attention to the sun. A scene that is dull and boring at noon can explode in color during the golden hour[b]. You may want to keep track of where the sun sets, and when. If you find a scene that you suspect would work in a different light, make a note of it and return when you think the light would be better. The beginning of the blue hour can also be great, especially if the sky gets a nice pink hue near the horizon.

5. Night

Night time photos usually require some kind of "interesting illumination" to turn out well. Neon lights (for city areas) or moonlight (for countryside) are two types that turn out nicely. One thing to remember is that the camera sensor doesn't see the same colors as the human eye. This is both good and bad. The bad is that you may not capture the scene you think you'll be capturing. The good is that the scene captured usually has more colors that you thought it would. In this photo of Gröna Lund at night, for example, the world looks much better when viewed through the color filters and CCD sensor of a Nikon D40 than it ever did when I shot it.

Long exposures are a pain to set up. Tripod, levelling, and all that takes time. I usually hand-hold a shot with higher ISO if I'm unsure of the composition. It saves me having to unpack the tripod from my backpack and set it up. Even if the result is shaky, I'll see enough to figure out if the composition works. For example, instead of doing a twenty second exposure at ISO 200 from a tripod, I can do a 2.5s handheld exposure at ISO 1600. It will be shaky and grainy, but I'll see if it is worth setting up the whole rig for.