Camera Setting Tips for better photos

These are some photo tips I taught to staff camp photographers for WinShape Camps located in Rome, Georgia.
Here are some camera settings that we all made on the cameras.
Nikon D5 Auto ISO setiup
  • Quality of Image. We chose to set the camera to the largest JPEG file at the highest quality setting. (The camp did not provide the software for all the computers to use RAW)
  • Auto ISO on a NikonAuto ISO. We all then set out cameras to Auto ISO and set our lowest ISO on the camera default preferences of either 50 to 200 ISO. We then set the highest ISO on what the camera is realistically capable of shooting. For most of the cameras this was between ISO 1600 and 6400. Both Canon and Nikon allow you to also set your highest shutter speed.  We set this according to the situation.
  • Shutter speeds (Using auto ISO) The camera will raise the ISO to get the optimum shutter speed and will drop the shutter speed once it hits the maximum ISO.
    • If shooting under fluorescent or sodium vapor lights we recommended that shoot at 1/100 shutter speed, unless they had to shoot sports.
    • For shooting sports we recommended setting 1/2000 shutter speed
    • For general shooting we recommended 1/250 shutter speed
  • White Balance
    • We recommended getting a custom White Balance as the primary choice
    • Our second choice was to use a preset like Fluorescent, Daylight or tungsten for example
    • When we were changing lighting that affects white balance often we recommended using Auto White Balance
  • Aperture
    • For general shooting we recommended to not shoot wide open but use f/4 or f/5.6 so that your subject is in focus.
    • When your subject can cooperate a little more with you then we recommended shooting wide apertures if you choose for artistic reasons. This is when f/1.4 is more appropriate. We have found the trend of too many shooters buying 50mm f/1.4 lenses and shooting all the time wide open and having very few in focus photos due to the shallow depth-of-field.
  • Inside Flash or when dark. Use a higher ISO to help open up the background. Here is an earlier blog post on how using the higher ISO helps open the background up. 
  • Flash outside in daylight. When it is the middle of the day and the sun is straight up you are most likely to get dark circles around the eyes. I call this the racoon eye look. If you are less than 10 feet away from the subject you can use either your built in flash or hot shoe flash to fill in those shadows. In addition to filling in the shadows you will get a nice catch light in the eyes. You can also use the flash when you back light a subject. (I wrote about this in earlier blog post here)  This helps them from looking directly into the sun and squinting. Since the shadow side of the face is now towards the camera a flash can help balance the light.
Camp staff photographers are discussing ideas that they will be doing with the campers in a couple weeks. [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2000, 1/100, ƒ/5, (35mm = 28)]

Some of the camp photographers are photography students or recent graduates of photography programs, but not all the photographers were photography majors. Due to the range of talent we showed them a place that would help them get more photos in focus that are properly exposed and good skin tones.

Staff plays some games with each other after dinner. [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/500, ƒ/5.3, (35mm = 112)]

After practicing with these settings we then covered the three stages of composition. I will refer you to my earlier blog on this topic about what we covered.   

The last thing we did during our time was go out and practice shooting looking for photos that tell a story. Then we reviewed everyone’s best 5 photos for our last hour together.

The staff of one of the boys camps shows their camp cheer that they will be teaching the campers. [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/400, ƒ/5.3, (35mm = 112)]

If you would like me to come to your organization and do this workshop for me just give me a call. I am doing this same workshop in a few weeks for the Boy Scout troop that meets at my church. We will do the class time and then meet four weeks later after they shoot a photo story.

The really cool thing about WinShape camps is the emphasis on relationships. As you can see the staff really enjoy each other and this spills over to the campers. [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4500, 1/500, ƒ/5, (35mm = 28)]