Picture the scene, it's the end of the night, the party is over and I'm packing away. Somewhere in the corner of the room, the hobbyist shooter of the night is also packing his kit away He comes over, asks the question .... So erm, on a night like that what are your camera settings ?
I don't mind that he asks, in fact it reminds me of when I was the hobbyist in the corner watching the professional do his thing. The thing is, I nearly always don't have a clue what my settings are.
Long ago I moved away from Automatic mode, frankly the camera can't make decisions for me that I can trust. I skipped right past the semi-automatic modes, never bothered with them, and landed on fully manual. So now I make all the decisions all of the time.
One of the best bits of being a digital photographer is the instant feedback on the screen, shoot, take a look, adjust as required. Almost like a chef tasting food I guess. To that end I have my go to settings to achieve the look and feel that I want. From there, I can change things to be more precise but here is the thing, I make those changes without even realising, tiny adjustments through a set. Click this, turn that, press and push. It just happens as I shoot, review and adjust, can tell without looking at the back of the camera how the picture turned out from the briefest moment of the image in the viewfinder as the shutter drops.
As with many things with photography there are many, many ways the achieve a look, there are rules and they are made to be broken once you understand them. If you want to understand how a photographer works watch him look at the less technical aspect of his performance. Ask yourself this
- how active is he ?
- how does he positions himself with respect to the subject and the light ?
- what sort of relationship does he have with the people in the room ?
- is he looking around, making sure he misses nothing ?
You can learn all the technical stuff, it's like learning to play an instrument it takes some knowledge and a whole lot of practice that's true. But once you know that, the chords and the scales so to speak, you need to be able to make music and that to me is a true skill and talent.