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It’s a good thing that cameras are as advanced as they are today, but it’s no excuse for relying on them 100%. Whatever digital camera you might have, old or straight off the shelf, there are some things you need to know, both in theory and in practice. Here are 6 essential tips for every beginner out there, because I know some of you have been struggling with questions and issues.
1. Know your camera’s dynamic range
The DR is often a mystery for new photographers. There are a number of ways to measure it, some more scientific than others, but that’s not the point here. In time, you will determine your camera’s dynamic range from the photos you take. The important thing is to get a sense of it .Otherwise, you will not know how much you can work with highlights and shadows, or how much detail will be preserved.
2. Use ND( Neutral Density) filters to prolong exposure
Sometimes you want to have a certain effect in a photograph and the only way to get that effect is with a long exposure. The problem is that sometimes, the available light doesn’t let you expose for very long. That’s where a ND filter comes in handy. It suppresses highlights and basically reduces the brightness of available light, making correct exposure longer.
3. Work with midtones
Each photograph is composed of shadows, midtones and highlights. Most of the times, under normal exposure conditions, when you are not photographing at night or shooting high key , your photographs will be composed largely of midtones. Learn how to identify and properly expose the midtones as they will most likely cover a large part of your subject.
4. Use the histogram
There is no excuse for not knowing how to read a histogram. However, in time you will learn that it’s not always the best idea to trust the histogram. A camera is just a machine after all and it has no way of knowing your intentions.
5. Watch out for the viewfinder
Before buying a camera, one the most important specifications to look for is viewfinder coverage. Most entry-level and amateur DSLRs have a viewfinder coverage of 95%. That means that what you see isn’t entirely what you get. Check you camera’s specification to see how much the viewfinder covers. If it’s not 100% and you want perfect framing, use the LCD screen. It gives you a preview of how the final photo will look.
6. Basic recovery
Sometimes even a seasoned pro will get the exposure wrong. It happens to all of us, so no need to feel bad. You also shouldn’t panic right away if this happens. The key role in recovering detail from a poorly exposed photo is played by the camera’s Dynamic Range. Luckily, most of the cameras built in the last five years have good DR values. But there is one important thing to remember about exposure and detail recovery. Regardless of camera, it is far easier to recover details from shadows than it is from highlights. Get the highlights correctly exposed as much as you can.