Shutter speeds, apertures and ISO’s all still play a part when shooting stock
Now you may think “Camera settings? Surely just the usual settings that I use for everyday photography is correct”?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, you should use what you have learned to date about how shutter speeds can enhance the effect of motion or freezing the action and how different apertures can affect the amount of detail in focus in the back and foreground.
However, there are a few things you need to remember about camera and flash settings when shooting stock.
The whole idea with stock photography is to make the image as professional as possible. For example, direct flash (unless you are very creative and imaginative) can look appalling and very amateurish so don’t use it. Bounce and diffuse the flash if you need to use it.
Then there is the ISO.
Older DSLR’s may not be so hot at high ISO’s so if you need to shoot stationary objects in low light, use a tripod and a low ISO. If shooting moving subjects, use the highest ISO you can without introducing grain or noise and add some light if you are able.
ISO 400 is generally acceptable for older makes and models…anything over and you have a problem.
DSLR models such as the Nikon D800, Canon EOS 5D Mark III and later are well renowned for producing high quality, low noise images at ISO’s as high as 3200+ so if you are serious about shooting stock and think you may have a problem with noise, now may be a good time to upgrade.
Most DSLR’s being produced now from Sony (check out the Sony A7s in low light), Olympus, Nikon, Canon, Pentax etc, including the lower end models, have noticeably better sensors that are excellent for producing low light/high ISO images.
I look back at some of my early, early EOS 10D images and cringe at the noticeable noise even at 400 ISO.
Try not to use the auto modes. Learn about aperture and shutter priority as well as manual. Get to know BULB and how to use it (BULB is a setting whereby you determine the shutter speed for night photography from a couple of settings to hours if need be).
Shoot RAW where you can. It matters not what you think about JPEG vs. RAW, I have had many requests from Dreamstime where the buyer has asked for an “additional format” being the original RAW file. I never actually give this away but that is just my own rule. Shooting RAW simply gives you more latitude for error and correction than a JPEG…better safe than sorry and if in doubt, shoot both if your camera allows it.
Mirror lock up
If shooting relatively slow shutter speeds on a tripod (generally 1/60th to 1/4 sec using a 300mm lens and above), learn to use the mirror lock up function where you can. This will lock up the mirror before taking the shot meaning that when you actually take the photograph, it is just the opening and closing of the shutter that occurs giving less movement in the camera and preventing camera shake.
The first press of the shutter button or cable release will lock the mirror up and the second press will take the photo but make sure to leave a significant “gap” in between mirror up and taking the shot to allow any vibrations to cease. Even the mirror flipping up and down can cause blurry images when using long exposures. Also, try to weigh down your tripod for extra stability.
For the reasons stated above (shooting long exposures) a cable release is a great accessory. Rather than you stabbing at the shutter release and possibly causing camera shake, either slowly and gently squeeze the shutter button or use a cable release.
Next Page – RAW/JPEG Processing