Five SOOC Tips
Written by: Tiffany Joyce
Hello friends! I was just e-mailing with Steve Russell, our regularly featured guest writer, about his weekend photography shoot. He was lamenting the fact that he had over 500 shots to post-process after a photo-heavy day. I, too, find it sometimes wearying to conceive of hours of post-processing after a long day of shooting. I mentioned that during the last few photo-heavy weekends I’ve experienced, I tried to focus my intent on using the shots straight out of the camera, or SOOC. The purpose being to spend as little time in front of the computer as possible, which is the last thing you want to do after a long day of shooting! I’ve had some mixed results shooting in that manner, which just means that I require more practice and more patience (that last one being the hardest for me to manage). After being possessed of the mindset that I can just “fix” things in Photoshop if the shot didn’t turn out quite right (a mindset that just kind of crept up on me), it’s quite a challenge to remember to further rely on my skills as a photographer, rather than on my skills as a Photoshopper.
After my e-mail with Steve, I thought I would share some of the SOOC tips that I’ve found to be helpful.
- Bracket your shots. Exposure is one of the trickiest things to get right when we’re shooting, which is why we tend to rely on Camera Raw to have the opportunity to fix exposure issues. In bracketed shooting mode, the camera will take a succession of shots with the first shot being the baseline point that the camera reads for correct exposure (or that you manually set). The second shot will stop down from that exposure point according to how you set it up (for example, bracketing with a half-stop, 3/4 of a stop, or a full stop) and the third shot will stop up from that baselined exposure point. In this manner you can capture three exposure samples and use the one that is the most successful. It is important to note that in some cameras (like my Canon 7D), bracketing turns “off” and the normal shooting default is restored if the camera itself is turned off.
- Shoot in continuous mode. Following the first point, if you have set up your camera for bracketing, you are required to press the shutter button three times in order to get the three bracketed shots. If you shoot in continuous mode, you can capture the trio in a short burst and single shutter press. It takes a bit of practice to listen for the three shutter releases and time the button release, else you may find yourself composing your next shot at a stop high or a stop low. Shooting in continuous mode also helps ensure that you’ve captured at least one properly focused shot.
- Shoot in aperture priority mode. In this way you can choose the depth of field appropriate for your shot, while the camera handles the shutter speed to capture the correct exposure. This mode works well to baseline the shot when used in tandem with bracketing. I personally prefer it over shooting in complete manual mode so that I’m not constantly fiddling with my camera’s settings in order to adapt to changing light levels.
- Take a lot of shots. The more shots you’ve taken, the more likely you are to have captured one that you really like. It does mean that your memory card fills up faster and that you have more photos to scroll through at the end of the day, but that amount of time doesn’t compare to the amount of time typically spent in post-processing every shot!
- Take your time when composing your shot. Check your horizons, depth of field, and balance. Follow the rule of thirds. Or break the rule of thirds with intent. Sometimes it is helpful to set up your camera so that composition grid-lines are displayed when you look through the viewfinder. Slow down, take a deep breath, and have patience with the moment that you are trying to capture.
Do you have any SOOC tips to share? Please feel free to leave them in the comments!
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