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The Toad Blog

My blogs about anything related to photography, and equipment, with a focus on non-technical enjoyment of photography. I like to publish these for the pure pleasure it brings. My equipment, and techniques shared here with a mix of landscape, macro, birds, flowers and all articles written by the person who uses the equipment - TrueToad.

The Toad Blog

TrueToad / Monday, May 23, 2016 / Categories: 7 Things

7 Photography Tips and Tricks


1. Baseline Your Camera and Gear Settings for Each Outing. Here is what I mean, every piece of equipment you use have your "favorite" settings at the ready. For example Once I am on locations I set my DSLR to A mode and adjust the ISO based on the lens I have decided to use and the available lighting, then set the lens.  -- If I need to temporary change camera settings for a shot; always go back to your base line settings - remove any exposure compensations, or mode changes, such as setting camera to manual mode for a tough lighting shoot. Make it a habit, return your camera to the base settings.  Worst situation is a perfect shot and your camera is incorrectly set and you have seconds to get the shot. If your camera is back to the base setting of ISO 300 in A mode you just may get a useable photo.
2. Air Your Gear Out Prior to Arriving on Site: This means when moving your gear from a controlled environment to a cold / hot / humid environment - give your gear time to stabilize.  Noting worse than a fog of moisture on the lens / camera viewfinder. It may be as simple as rolling your window down about 15 minutes prior to arriving on site and you might as well get acclimatize sooner than later.  The problem will manifest it self when your in your nice Air Conditioned house and you pick up your camera bag to go out to catch the brewing storm, in the humid hot air - as soon as that cold camera and lens comes out - oh well.
3. Get Your White Balance Correct: This may sound complex but could be very easy - every camera has the auto WB mode and works perfectly in most situations.  But, if your deep into a forest with filtered light you probably will have a green cast to all you images.  Know how to set your WB to match your environment, and each camera is a bit different.  In today's digital age, this is not as important as it was in the good ole film days but It can save you a few minutes of post processing.
4. Do The Chameleon: This simply means keep your eyes moving in all directions, I have learned in my years that scanning your environment will eventually bring you photographic rewards and having walked past an area only to realize as it was too late an animal or bird was close by and while I was busy trying to find the trees in the forest as they say the animal spotted me an took off. Another time after using my own advice I was looking up in the trees scanning for birds, when just as I was about to move off  I looked over my shoulder and out on the tree sat a Bald Eagle. I would have missed this shot had I not did a second scan prior to moving off - and it paid off with at least one usable photo.

5. Be Sneaky: I can't count number of images missed by not being sneaky. Quite! Slow careful steps into new areas.  I was recently out and clumsily moved through an area and saw two Egrets as they saw me no further than 20 feet and both flew off, another missed opportunity. Strolling down the trail and came upon a black bear - he seen me before I saw him and another lesson learned as I watched him bound off.  Most recently, ran across a group of wild turkeys but I was just too loud bumbling down the trail, I got one shot off because - I was not prepared and they heard me before I heard them.  GET SNEAKY.   Move quietly, and listen!  One other thing and it may sound odd, don’t make eye contact. If you do happen to sneak up try not to look directly in to the animals eyes, and seem more approachable if you don’t stare them down.
6. Patience Please: If your just walking and gunning - good luck. There are many strategies for getting a good photo and sometime you are lucky, true. But, what works for me is this, try to find a good location a location with some cover and opportunity.  Birds love to forage for food, those fruiting trees and bushes offer great spots for little creatures.  Just get set up and waitem out! It may take 15 - 20 minutes before the critters forget about you and return for their snacks.
7. Wear the Right Clothes:  People think I am nuts when they see me out with my camo clothes with my camera equipment. What I mean with wear the right clothes if for you and your equipment be camo’d, but you especially.  You don't have to wear a bush - I have first hand experience and witnessed this in person on more than one occasion. I have been in out my camo clothes, with my camera and tripod in wrapped in camo as well standing off the trail,  and had animals and birds walk and fly right up to me.  As long as you are still, quite as possible &  down wind you now have an advantage a big advantage. You gotta wear something - why not some camo?  Use common sense, in summer pick out the light tans and greens to keep the heat absorption down. 

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