How not to miss the info in the viewfinder?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by FidelCastrovich, Aug 15, 2008.

  1. FidelCastrovich

    FidelCastrovich TPF Noob!

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    Hello all,

    I keep trying to train myself to look at the info in the viewfinder of my camera, but most of the time i shoot blindly - taking care of the composition and timing, but failing to notice the exposure info. Most of the time this is not a problem, as i shoot in priority modes, but if i leave the camera on Manual or forget to change the ISO - i've got a mess on my hands.

    I only find the attention capacity to notice the viewfinder info in situations where not much is changing within the frame, but if it is a demonstration or if i'm scrambling to get a shot, i completely neglect what the camera is telling me - my eyes don't look that way and my brain just blocks that info out.

    So, my question is, first - do you find yourself struggling with this as well?
    Second - any suggestions on how to overcome this problem? Train myself to look for the info first?

    Common sense suggests using Manual, maybe i'll try that. Although, i suspect that would inherently slow down my shooting, and make me lose shots.

    What do you think?
     
  2. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    What mode are you shooting in? I generally only look at the info in the viewfinder if I have a concern (is this fast enough to avoid motion blur? What's the aperture at again?), but that's because I shoot aperture priority almost exclusively when I'm shooting on the fly. That way, I know exactly what my aperture is set at and therefore have a fairly good idea of what my shutter speed will be. If I wonder, I can check, but I usually don't need to. If you're shooting in automatic or program automatic and you're thinking to check the settings, it's probably time to move on to a semi-automatic mode, and if you're already semi-auto it shouldn't take too much thought to have a good idea of what settings you're at. I guess to answer your question, I don't usually find this to be an issue, but I've been using my DSLR for a while and I'm very comfortable with it. Some of it just takes time.
     
  3. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    I have the same problem (and more than once, I've forgotten to drop my ISO from insanely high numbers that I had been shooting at the night before). I usually shoot Aperture Priority, so maybe going Manual is the key. I keep thinking of pasting a sign on the back of my camera saying "Check your ISO, stupid!"
     
  4. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think the whole "forgot to drop the ISO" problem is pretty common. Everyone seems to do it now and again. I certainly do. What I've tried to do with this is adopt a habit of putting the camera back to my default settings everytime I put the camera down. That includes being on Aperature priority, and ISO 200.

    As far as looking at the settings, I know what you're talking about... I found I just had to train myself to do it. Always make a point to look down before you take the shot, even if you are in a priority or program mode. It takes a while, but the fact is your shots will benefit, because even in some of the priority modes you need to know what your camera thinks is ideal... and sometimes it may not be (such as in the case of too long of a shutter time).
     
  5. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    It is so common, in fact, that I'm surprised the manufacturers don't have the camera reset itself when it is powered down.
     
  6. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think the only real answer is to shoot more!
    You missing or messing up shots due to incorrect settings is going to push you more to look at them more - and further the more you shoot the quicker you will be with checking settings, chaning settings and knowing what settings to be onto get the right shot.
    Experience in the field is - annoyingly - the best teacher of much of photography - and don't think the traditional shooters are any better - they still make mistakes like you will - the only difference is when you pay for each shot you tend to wake up and learn faster ;)

    A tip is to go out for the day and mentally limit yourself to a series of shots - say 30 - and only shoot 30, no matter what you see. You will find yourself thinking a lot more before you press the shutter than when you think you have 100s/1000s of shots to go
     
  7. roadkill

    roadkill TPF Noob!

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    I agree with overread.
     
  8. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Been there and done that too. :)

    I think the way around that is to specifically go out and pracitce with JUST that in mind (each pic you take, concentrate on framing, then stop and force yourself to look at the info, then perhaps compose and then take the pic... or chunk it into 2 steps if it is not comfortable from the start), then add composition later once looking at the camera info is 2nd nature. It is easy to get into a flow and not pay attention, but just be careful, that can turn into a bad habit.
     
  9. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    How about do what a lot of rangefinder-at-the-hip shooters do...

    Get a hotshoe mount meter. It allows you to glance at exposures while the camera is hanging around your neck in between shots. You "preset" the exposure adjusting it every-once-in-a-while. When an opportunity for a shot arises, you are already set the go and you can focus on composition or shoot blindly. Basically, I am recommending that you get the exposure determined way ahead of time so you don't have to worry about it.

    I recommend the Voigtlander Speed meter II

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/355974-REG/Voigtlander_45AD104B_VC_Speed_Meter_II.html


    OH yes... I do struggle with it especially now when I don't get enough time to practice.
     
  10. FidelCastrovich

    FidelCastrovich TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for you suggestions and advice, everybody.

    I thought that after a whole year of working for a national newspaper, taking tens of thousands of pictures, i would eventually stop disregarding the viewfinder. And while i do find myself improving in other aspects, such as checking whether or not the background is interefering with my subject, i still have problems with the technical info.I guess more practice is needed.

    Yesterday, as i was getting into my car, with my dog, there was a cat standing on the hood and looking very aggressive. The two had a whole mexican standoff through the windshield. By the time i noticed that the camera was in Manual and the exposure way off, i had taken 20 shots, and they were all ruined.

    usayit - I'm not sure i understand how this device is different from looking at the top lcd on my SLR, can you elaborate? It reminds me of my days of street shooting, where all the settings were preset, and once in a while i would check the top lcd and adjust.

    Thanks again.
     
  11. Drake

    Drake TPF Noob!

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    I do the exact same thing, aperture priority with around f.8 and ISO set to 200 so I know next time I am pulling my camera out of the bag it's ready to shoot.
     
  12. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't believe all cameras have the readout on the top of the LCD... I was just assuming your s did not... hence my previous post. If you are shooting with a zoom, remember it is only metering the light coming in through the lens which can make for a less accurate "general reading". To compensate, you can zoom wide and take a meter for preset. Or point at the palm of your hand and preset the reading. Just like your days of street shooting, preset the exposure and focus on composition.


    In regards to forgetting about ISO. I do miss the ol'days when ISO was set via a dial on top of the camera. So far, I have only one digital camera that has that feature.... always reminds you to check ISO before shooting.
     

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