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Pre-shoot settings #photography

MOORCROFT Pre-shoot settings post for photographers

We went to Moorcroft Wood in Moxley  (Walsall) to take some photos. This is the Walsall canal and the bridge across to Moorcroft Wood. In previous articles I said to use a narrow aperture for landscapes to get depth of field.

For this first shot I zoomed in and used f/5.6, which is wide. It got the subject the bridge in focus and the reed at the side. I think it works, even though the area behind the bridge is a little blurred.

Pre-shoot settings

When we set out it was sunny, but by the time we got there it was drizzling with rain. It was cold too, so I did the pre-shoot settings in the car before I went to take this picture. White balance is one setting that helps the camera adjust for the light. I chose cloudy for this shot and it worked well. I didn’t set focusing, metering or AF area mode. They were  on auto, except for metering which was on spot metering.

The ISO was  set on 100 and so all I needed to do was set the aperture. The camera was on aperture priority (A) so the camera set the shutter speed. I did some shots on Manual (M), but that’s more difficult. On manual you can set the aperture and shutter speed. My first shot was too light and so I made the shutter speed faster to reduce the light and it was OK.


If you walk through Moorcroft Wood, you come to Moorcroft Pool and the shots of Moorcroft Pool were difficult. My camera wasn’t focusing very good. I wanted the bench in the foreground for depth and perspective and I set the aperture at f/8 for depth of field. There isn’t much for the camera to focus on and so I looked at the focusing and metering. I changed the focus area to 3D tracking so all 11 focus points came up and set the metering to matrix metering. This is only really important on a DSLR that finds it hard to focus on a scene like this. Changing these settings helped the focusing and gave a better picture. I increased the ISO to 400 too, it’s a little dark in Moorcroft Wood.


I like this shot much better, the camera had things to focus on. The camera was on the same settings for focus and metering and still on f/8. You can see a lot of detail on the bark of the trees, which makes for a better image.


I left the settings the same for this woodland shot, still at f/8 to get the depth of field. I also used the tree and the path to get perspective to the picture. The sun was coming out here and I was shooting into the sun. I ‘hid’ the direct light of the sun behind that tree. Consider changing the white balance for shots like this to ‘shade’.


I was still cold when the sun came out and so took this shot from the car. This is the pool south of Wednesbury. I was trying to get the tree silhouetted again the blue sky. I changed the white balance to ‘sunny’ before I started.


It was getting lighter and so I was setting narrower apertures as narrow as f/32 which is really narrow. The hours before sunset can give really good light and this was about that time. This is at f/25 and the shutter speed was still fast at 1/320 of a second. The shutter speed was fast enough to freeze the movement of those geese and the focus of the whole picture is quite good. I adjusted the contrast and lightness in editing later. On this shot that was mainly to get the trees silhouetted against the clear blue sky. Patterns in images make them more interesting. For the time of year (late February) this quite a good shot.

To sum up today’s photography lesson. Before you start your shoot, think about white balance, focusing and metering. Then during the shoot concentrate on ISO, aperture and shutter speed.The ISO can stay on 100 unless it’s quite dark, like in Moorcroft Wood where I increased it to 400. Doing these pre-shoot settings gives the picture better colour and focus.

The light on some shoots is good and you get great pictures, on others they are terrible or just mediocre. It take skill, practise and luck! Understanding all the settings and using them improves your pictures and just using the landscape setting with the ISO and focusing set will give a decent picture. Then when you get home, you can edit and create an image that will be the envy of all your friends! Remember to pick out the best ones from your shoot to share… As well as pre-shoot settings, remember little things like having a charged battery and room on your memory card!

If you have thoughts to share, please use the comments box. You can subscribe to this blog for weekly lessons and post on other subjects. You can also follow me on Twitter for updates.

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