Taking pictures after dark requires the same key controls as you would use in daylight – but they may be pushed to their technical limits in some situations. Understanding these limits enables you to modify your shooting practices to produce interesting and technically competent photographs.
Once you’ve settled on the equipment you will use and sorted out the locations you’ll shoot from, it’s time to decide the camera settings you will use. Often these will vary, depending on how you want to record the motion. Here are a few general tips that will help you to make wise choices in most situations.
Don’t put your camera away once the sun goes down; there’s plenty of magic to record after dark, whether you’re in a bustling city or an isolated landscape. And you don’t require elaborate equipment if you decide to hand-hold your camera.
Great action shots are rarely a result of good luck. Knowing where to position yourself, being there at the right time and having the right equipment set up correctly will shift the odds in your favour. So, too, will being able to anticipate the peak of the action and having fast enough reflexes and on-the-spot timing. Understanding how your equipment performs is also important.
Almost all CSCs can record Full HD video movies. But whereas in DLSR cameras it’s only available in Live View mode, electronic viewfinders make it possible to shoot movies while holding the camera to your eye. This can have important advantages.
Photographers who use the P, A, S and M shooting modes can control two key image parameters, which are blocked when the auto and scene pre-set modes are used: sensitivity and colour adjustments. These adjustments can influence the appearance of images quite dramatically.
Most cameras provide two basic focusing options: automatic, which is controlled by the camera and lens; and manual, where adjustments are made by the photographer. Which you use is a matter of personal preference, although many photographers rely on the autofocusing (AF) system and use manual focusing to fine-tune focus in tricky situations. A capable AF system should lock onto subjects quickly and accurately when the shutter button is pressed halfway down.
The term ‘crop factor’ arose from a need to help 35mm film SLR photographers understand how their existing lenses would perform on cameras with smaller image sensors than traditional 35mm film.
In this article, Photo Review technical editor Margaret Brown offers practical tips and advice on how to use both monitor and viewfinder to frame and evaluate the photos you intend to capture. Margaret uses a compact system camera for illustration in this article, and most of the tips and advice apply also to DSLR cameras.
Different cameras provide different levels of control, ranging from very basic to highly sophisticated. More sophisticated cameras have external mode dials, although the functions that can be accessed via these dials can vary between simple and highly automated and professional standard.