Make mistakes? No, never! (said no one ever)

It is a rare shoot or project that I come away from feeling that I nailed every aspect.  Even when I have confidence from looking at a teathered laptop or chimping the back of my camera, invariably I see things that could have been better when I start my processing.

The worst kind of mistake for me are the settings or configuration errors.  Sometimes these are inadvertent dial moves, and sometimes just sloppiness.  Face it, there is a reason why so many people use a point and shoot, or even keep their DSLR in auto mode.  The reality is that the camera will most likely make a decision on settings that are likely to work.

I am inspired to write this post based on my own latest error.  When shooting street photography, I go through a ritual of checking settings.  I have spent more than year finalizing what works best for me. Every time I take the camera out to shoot, I run through settings…  1/500, f5.6, continuous focus, exposure compensation, display, check battery, turn on and off.  Great.  Well, the one thing I did not check because I didn’t realize I changed it (or it got nudged) was the ISO.  I shoot with auto ISO since my shooting conditions changing conditions.

Sometimes I don’t review images for a few days since I need to see them on the computer to make decisions and I can shoot 500 a week without the option to retake any.  I had some great possibilities, so wanted to check them out on the way home.  WTF!?  Almost all of them are way too dark???  How did this happen – I noted that the exposure compensation was at -1.0 instead of my preferred +1/3 – could that be it?

This morning before heading out, I noted that the ISO was set to 200 instead of auto.  *sigh*.  Now I need to add this to the checklist.

What is the takeaway here?

  • Know your gear and how to adjust settings quickly and easily.
  • Have a checklist to make sure you are shooting with the settings you want.

and most importantly…

  • Always reset your settings to your personal default.

For each camera I use, I want to be able to pull the camera out of the bag and shoot without thinking.  For my DSLR with my long lens, I will usually set shutter priority to remove any lens blur and set auto ISO and auto aperture.  For my mirrorless, I might set it to all auto.

There is not right or wrong setting – but the worst mistake I can make is assuming my gear is set for one type of shot and end up wasting opportunities because I forgot to check a setting.

Will I make this mistake again?  Yup.  Just as I will leave with dead battery or no memory card – all I can do is try to make sure I run through my checks and minimize these SMH moments.