It's Week #12: "Straight out of Camera"

To be shot and submitted between Sunday, Mar 15 and Sunday, Mar 22 (noon, Eastern)

There is no technique as effective as getting your shot right, in the camera. Forget Photoshop, Lightroom, Instagram or traditional darkrooms – they’ll only get you so far. A great photo begins with a great exposure.

This week, we’re going back to the basics. You cannot use any processing software to enhance, crop, or correct your photo – what you shoot is what you get. Here’s a (non-complete!) list of thingsNOT to do this week:

  • Cropping
  • Using software/apps to adjust exposure/brightness/saturation/etc
  • Dodging and burning
  • Sharpening
  • Adding a vignette
  • Converting to black & white/sepia/etc
  • Using any in-camera or mobile app ‘effects’ or ‘filters’

Here are some things you CAN do this week:

  • Use flash or other artificial lighting
  • Use gels or other physical lens accessories
  • Resize your image’s dimensions and file size
  • Add a watermark

If you normally don’t do much editing, this is a great opportunity to learn a new function on your camera or phone. Make it your personal challenge to discover a new tool on your device.

If you are a more advanced photographer, perhaps you can try setting up “in-camera” special effects, using forced perspective, multiple exposures, optical illusions, prolonged shutter speeds, or other techniques.

Either way, make sure to adjust your settings – ISO, f-stop, shutter speed, etc – as well as your composition precisely before taking a shot. Of course, you should be doing this every week – but this week we want you to pay special attention to your photographic choices.

Tips and Tuts for this week:

  • For those of you who normally shoot in RAW, you may want to shoot in JPEG this week (many cameras will allow you to save in *both* RAW and JPEG). RAW files tend to be a bit duller than JPEGs to give you more of a “blank slate,” so the JPEG will be sharper. (Yes, this opens up a can of worms about “in-camera processing,” but let’s not get mired in semantics. You can learn more here.)
  • If you shoot on a mobile phone, try downloading one of the many apps that simulate cameras and give you access to shutter speed, aperture, etc. This is a great way to begin learning these important photography fundamentals! (Check out this thread on our Facebook group for some suggested apps, and some other tips).
  • You’ll want to get your exposure right *in-camera* this week. Learning about how your camera’s “meter modes” work, can be a huge help when starting to shoot with your DSLR. Our newest blog post from our Beginner’s Guide to Photography, we explain your camera’s 3 metering mode types. Check out the post: Why you Need to Understand your Camera’s Metering Modes by our own Yosef Adest. (In case you missed it, last week’s blog post will also be very helpful: How to Quickly Control Exposure)Looking for more inspiration? Check out our 2013 SOOC album. 

Extra Credit: “Roll of Film”

You only get 12 clicks for your shot. That’s it. A dozen. Pretend it’s an old roll of film.

One of the side effects of digital photography is how we take our “clicks” for granted. Back in film days, we would make sure every exposure counted, but today they are effectively free. So to help you focus your efforts on getting everything right in-camera, the extra credit limits you to only 12 shots. No editing. Submit the single best one.

Again, it is not necessary to work in this Extra Credit piece. It’s extra credit!