Simplifying SLR camera options in Nature Photography

FL Panther by Bob Grytten
FL Panther by Bob Grytten Nikon 8008 camera, with Nikkor 300mm EDIF f4.5 Lens, f4.5 (shutter speed not recorded)

When I think of Photography I can’t hep but think how easy it actually is. For now, we’ll discuss the SLR (Single Lens Camera). SLR view finders allow one to see what the lens sees, and also allows interchangeable lenses.

When living in St. Petersburg, FL I came upon a photographer whose work was in her mother’s Gallery. Very interesting work and she was doing her own Cibachrome printing. I would see her at different events and art shows.

We had just begun the f/8 and Being There… newsletter and a growing number of photographers appeared on the scene. They were hungry for more information. I thought of this photographic artist that did her own printing and arranged a class for our f/8’ers.

The first thing she did was to eliminate the procedures that DO NOT WORK, are not helpful, or kill your image! That leaves only a few things we have to do to make good images.

This same process helps us in capturing images with our camera before post production or printing.

After we get rid of the things that are not helpful, what is left?

FFocus
A – set the Aperture
S – set the Shutter Speed
TThink

The focus is important for sharp images, originally dialed in by hand. Auto Focus came later, and is available today with either film or digital cameras.

Painted Trillium by Bob Grytten Aperture Priority, 18-200mm lensm 150mm focal distance, on tripod, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 200
Painted Trillium by Bob Grytten Aperture Priority, 18-200mm lens 150mm focal distance, on tripod, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 200

The Aperture adjustment sets the depth-of-field. Open all the way for shallow focus, closed down for the greatest focus over the entire scene.

The Shutter gets set depending upon the Aperture to provide the correct exposure.

Thinking relates to checking composition and looking for distracting elements – a telephone pole out of a person’s head, white spots of distracting light in the background – things like that.

If one sets his SLR camera on Aperture Priority, the Shutter speed sets automatically, thereby eliminating one of the steps. When we do that, we have essentially reduced our number of alternatives settings we have to bother with, and the number of technically good images will go up dramatically.

This process is particularly helpful for Nature Photography as elements change quickly.
Animals move, Light changes, Wind blows.

Canada Geese in flight by Bob Grytten, Aperture Priority, 70mm lens, f/10, 1/250 sec.
Canada Geese in flight by Bob Grytten, Aperture Priority, 70mm lens, f/10, 1/250 sec.

Another process is also used and helpful when we know certain movement will take place – flying birds, running animals, wind movement. Shutter Priority will assure a certain shutter speed and Aperture gets set automatically.

The options are ours.

So, if using Automatic Focus, either Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority works very fast and allows one to select high quality lenses for the particular situation and see clearly using the view finder without the problem of sunlight effecting our LCD screen. At this point in time that system provides the best alternative to taking or making good images.

Practicing makes the camera become part of us. Then, our mind becomes free to sense light, change our composition, develop our eye.  More on that later…

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