EOS tutorial

Tips and techniques with your EOS DSLR

With the winter months behind us, spring is full of promise. This season brings with it new waves of life. As the days get longer, buds on trees begin to emerge, flowers start to bloom and the lambing season begins. There’s a sense of optimism and the world starts to feel as if it’s full of natural energy.

  • Be ready for candid moments
  • Think about the background
  • Get down to ‘creature-level’
  • Shoot into the light
  • Brighter, lighter pictures
  • Quietly candid
  • Use RAW to your advantage

Be ready for candid moments

A loved one caught bursting into laughter. A quick look shared between friends. To capture the moment when someone’s personality naturally emerges use a medium telephoto or zoom lens to shoot more candidly - a lens with a 50-85mm focal length with a fast aperture is ideal. These will focus quickly and accurately on your subject so you can just wait, observe and shoot at just the right time.

Tip: Set the camera to Portrait mode or choose Aperture Priority (Av) mode with Auto ISO, if you want to be more advanced. Set the focus to AI Servo so that it will track your subjects reactively. If you are taking photos of friends or relatives, you probably know the way they react to situations, so be ready to capture them at their most natural.

spring - Canon
Pabak Sarkar, Bonding over coffee
Copyright info: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Think about the background

Key to a good picture is not only the person in the frame, but a bright and cheerful environment that matches the mood you want to capture. The challenge is to keep the background from competing with the main subject but it should still provide visual interest. A wide-angle prime lens like the Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM will help you really convey the person ‘in their moment’.

Tip: Use a wider aperture and keep your main subject in less than one third of the frame.

spring - Canon
Mario Mancuso, Flowers & Memories
Copyright info: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Get down to ‘creature-level’

When you capture photos of animals outdoors or inside, try to get down to their eye level. This is a great way of capturing their personalities as it immediately evokes their world. Getting lower gives a different and fun viewpoint and it gives you plenty of room for the scene behind your subject too. Use the light at this time of year to add even more visual interest.

spring - Canon
Phil Roeder, Dog 345/365
Copyright info: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

spring - Canon
Martinak15, Spring
Copyright info: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Shoot into the light

Spring sees the arrival of crisp, sunny days and it’s your chance to capture this brightness in your pictures. Put yourself in position to shoot with the sun just out of the frame and behind your subject. Use a wide angle lens like the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM and shoot with it at the widest aperture. Take care not to look directly at the sun through the lens – use the Live View feature and check on the LCD, if you prefer. 

You also need to switch to a different exposure metering pattern such as Partial or Spot metering. This will ensure your camera only reads the exposure from the subject and is not overly influenced by the comparatively brighter backlight.

Brighter, lighter pictures

The light days of spring can create some really evocative images. With the camera in Aperture Priority (Av) mode, you can use the exposure compensation to increase the exposure. It’s ideal to use this technique on a bright spring day and even +1-stop or a little more is enough. The aim is to capture the lighter mood rather than go for a technically accurate exposure. 

Quietly candid

If you want to capture someone’s natural personality then, as a photographer, you need to be as unobtrusive as possible. So to reduce the chance of your subjects reacting to having their picture taken, it will help if your camera operates quietly. Set the mode to Silent to reduce the sound of the shutter being released or switch to the Live View mode which gives you quieter shutter operation. 

Use RAW to your advantage

Set the camera to capture RAW images if your camera supports this format. You can then refine and optimise your images after you have taken the picture. This is another way of bringing out someone’s personality. You can lighten the images or change the Picture Style to one with more colours and save a new version of the image on the camera memory card. Of course, you can always return to the original RAW image and re-process it on a computer at a later time.

If your EOS model doesn’t do in-camera RAW processing, Digital Photo Professional is included with all EOS cameras, so you can process later using a computer. 

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