CUSTOMISE YOUR CAMERA BODY
Not all features are set up perfectly by default. Revise handling for intuitive camera operation
When you buy a camera, it is set up using default factory settings, since the manufacturer is making the product for a full range of photographers with differing needs. While this is useful for generalpurpose shooting, it is not conducive to creative images or operation outside of normal photographic situations. Luckily, this can be corrected with relative ease, through the customisation of control layouts and functionality. However, more difficult to address is the generalised design of most DSLRs, which is also influenced by the expected handling by the ‘average’ user. The proportions of a camera body make shooting in landscape orientation as comfortable as possible, working on the assumption that most photos will be taken in that way (since the imaging sensor is fixed in this position). When shooting at an unusual angle or in portrait format, this can be problematic, and can present a unique set of compositional challenges. Furthermore, each subject demands a tailored shooting style. In wildlife photography, for example, different animals vary in their behaviour and therefore the photographer must adjust how they focus, meter and compose their shots. When considering these challenges, it is imperative that camera handling becomes instinctive and that the photographer can access settings and features, without having to take their eye away from the viewfinder. Any camera properties that slow the handling process will act to increase the number of missed shots. Setting up your camera to work for you, rather than the inverse, is a valuable mindset. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your gear, so you can predict where it will introduce difficulties and devise workarounds. Make use of user-defined shooting modes, where you can save and access most-used camera settings, to speed up how you adapt to changing conditions. Don’t be afraid to experiment with preset ‘scene’ modes in rapid situations – while not as controllable, they are useful alternatives to manual shooting, where you want to concentrate less on the technical aspects of exposure and more on framing, focusing and capturing your subject.