Tips for Getting a Great Image In Camera

Although I confess to loving a bit of a play about in Lightroom or Photoshop, for some of my images I just want to be able to take them straight from camera to print without having to do much work to them!

Of course, it also helps if you have a great base image when you want to go further with your editing too, that way you have extra time to spend on the image without having to do a load of boring adjustments first :)

Other things, like skin tones, are always much better if you get them right in camera too.  So, my goal is always to make sure that I get a great shot straight out of camera (SOOC)

- Pay Attention to the Light

Before even lifting the camera to your eye, have a look at your subject and see what the light is doing to them. Make sure it is flattering (with catchlights if you want them) and check there is nothing reflecting a colour cast back onto them. Move yourself or your subject until they look good to your eye - if they don’t look good to the naked eye, they won’t look good when you see the image on screen.

Light really is the MOST important element in getting a good out of camera image, so spend a bit of time making sure the light is just right :) 

- Check what’s in the frame

Try to move any distracting elements out of the way, saving you having to clone them out later in editing (My least favourite photoshop task!) 

- Set White Balance

Actaully, this is my least favourite editing task. Because of that, I do usually use my ExpoDisc for this (swear by it) and I try to set in camera. (In the event I don’t have time to do it there and then, I’ll take a shot of my expodisc after I’ve taken the image, and it then takes mere seconds to sync all the images taken to the correct white balance in processing) Then all that is required is possibly a little bit of tweaking to taste.

You can read more about the Expodisc in a recent post I wrote here, but it doesn't matter which white balance tool you use, as long as you set your white balance in camera. 

- Spot meter and expose for the subject.

Obviously, I want to make sure I have great exposure in camera, even though I could fix that in processing.  Switch your camera over to spot metering, and meter for your subject. This makes sure that your subject is correctly exposed, which is what you want! If that means other parts of the scene are too dark or too light, those can be fixed in processing if need be. 

If you are not too sure about what settings you should be using in manual mode, then do make sure you download my cheat sheet (it’s free!) which should help you out.

- Check and adjust if need be

I’ll usually check my exposure is fine by having a quick glance at my preview screen to make sure I am not blowing any highlights,  or to check if I am underexposed - if I am, then I make the small adjustments necessary to get the exposure correct.

Some people worry about taking time to make sure their exposure is correct - don't!  Taking a few seconds to check your exposure will save you having to edit 20 photos all with the wrong exposure later on. 

Getting consistently good straight out of camera images means lots less time in front of the PC, but also gives you a fantastic foundation for those that you do want to add a little bit of extra magic to, so it’s worth trying to get ALL your shots as best you can in camera!


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