I could see the snowplow coming towards me from less than a block away. I thought the best photo would be a blurred image as the truck passed in front of the Holmes Hotel, an iconic building in Uptown Westerville.
The trouble was that my camera wasn’t set at a shutter speed that would get the perfect blur on the truck and keep enough identifiable background information to set the scene for viewers. It was set at too high a shutter speed. It needed to be at 1/50th of a second.
One of the reasons I switched from Lumix back to Nikon was that I was more familiar with the feel and function of Nikons having used them since 1968. Lumix cameras are great quality, but they didn’t feel right in my hands and head.
It was very easy for me to adjust the shutter speed even though I typically always use aperture-priority auto exposure. I quickly, with just a glance in the viewfinder adjusted the f-stop so the shutter speed was 1/50th. Used back-button autofocus on the truck. Pressed the shutter as it passes and it’s over in less than 5 seconds. This is the first frame in the series.
Knowing how your gear works and being both familiar with it and comfortable with it allows you to concentrate on the subject without worrying about the mechanics of making a photograph.
Knowing your gear inside out allows you to react quickly. You won't waste precious moments fumbling with settings or trying to figure out how to get the photo.
When you understand the capabilities and limitations of your camera and lenses, you can push the boundaries of your creativity. Knowing how to manipulate settings, choose the right lens, and experiment with techniques opens up new possibilities for capturing unique and compelling images.
Learning how your gear functions helps create consistency in your work. You can reproduce the results you want consistently, whether you're shooting in different lighting conditions or environments.
If you don’t RTFM then check YouTube for specific uses of your camera and lenses. The more you use your gear, the more comfortable you'll become with it. Practice different shooting modes, experiment with settings, and take photos in various conditions. Challenge yourself to shoot in low light, bright sunlight, and everything in between.
Practice making rapid changes in exposure settings. If you want to test yourself play a game of Exposure Roulette. Without looking at your camera change some of the settings so you’re not sure what they are. That’s the roulette part of the game. If you have a photographer friend with you have them make the changes.
Then put the camera to your eye and see how quickly you get a proper exposure, zoom setting, focus, and composition. Do this as often as possible to build muscle memory of how your camera works,
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