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Podcast #31 Show Notes (more)

I've decided to post the actual text (my notes) from each show .... I'm not sure why, since you've probably already listened to it ... but I have the notes so I might as well post them.

"The Real Creative Zone"

Most DSLR cameras have something called basic zones or image modes ... they are normally recognizable by the little icons on the mode dial on the camera ... for instance a person running represents the "sports mode", a mountain represents the "landscape mode", A flower represents the "Macro Mode", a person represents the "Portrait Mode".

I am a supporter of using these modes as they take care of a lot the background tasks for you while letting you concentrate on compositional matters, creative lighting and just getting the shot. When I shoot sports with my 30D I almost always select the "sports mode". I have enough on my mind following the action and trying to figure out where the next shot is going to be without worrying what my f/stop is or what ISO I have set ... and if both of these settings are going to yield me the shutter speed I need to stop the action and get the shot.

As I wrote this article I was on a train traveling to Fussen Germany and I was reflecting on my last few days of shooting with my new Canon EOS 1D Mark III. The Mark III is a professional grade camera without a doubt and therefore it seems that they people that designed it decided to go without what I very affectionately refer to as the "idiot modes".

The 1D Mark III has the all the standard modes, M "Manual", Tv or "Time Value" also known as "Shutter Priority", Av or "Aperture Value" also know as "Aperture Priority" and P "Program Mode" as well as a "bulb" mode.

At first I saw the lack of "basic zones" as a negative, but actually I've found that it's forced ME to be the "creative zone" and I think in only a few days I've grown a bit as a photographer and I've taken more control of the camera and therefore taken more control over the final result ... the photo.

When I was at the Paris Air Show on Monday, I tended to use the "P" Program mode as it offered me the most assistance in handling the camera settings while I was able to concentrate on the fast moving aircraft demonstration. In the program mode I was forced to make decisions only as far as ISO settings and occasionally exposure compensation. And frankly this was one of the first times that I ever gave much thought at all to ISO settings, the sports mode on most pro-sumer cameras handles ISO settings very well in order to allow fast shutter speeds at reasonable aperture settings. The result of this was that I got better photos than I've ever gotten before at an air show in the past when I've simply used the "sports" setting.

So, I think what I'm trying to say here is that the creative zones or "idiot modes" are great, they do a pretty good job of handling things for you ... but as I learned this week, taking full control of the camera and not depending on a pre-programmed mode just might get you far better results in the the end.

Give it a try, take a week off from the creative zones on your camera and make your own brain the real creative zone. Put a small piece of masking tape over he creative zone icons on your camera's mode wheel as a reminder and got out and shoot and see what happens.

Post your results to the Digital Photography Podcast's flickr's photo pool with the title or tag "The Real Creative Zone".

"Opposite Angle"

One day last week while in Prague I walked to one of the many tourist attractions in the city, the Astronomical Clock. it's sort of like the worlds largest Coo-coo clock ... naturally I stood in front of the clock. pointed my camera at it and snapped a few pictures. Some zoomed in on the clocks details as it was doing it's thing at the top of the hour, some zoomed out to get more of the whole scene ... but they were all just shots of the clock.

The next day I was passing the clock again and noticed that it was almost time for the clock to do it's thing again and a large crowd was gathering as usual to snap photos of the clock as it put on it's show. This time I decided to get right under the clock and shoot the crowd instead of the clock. The photos I got of the crowd were so much more interesting than the ones I got the day before ..... there were old people, young people, people amazed, people bored, people smiling, people pointing. The range of human emotion and expression is limitless.

The lesson here is that, of course when you travel to Paris you need to get a shot of the Eiffel Tower, when in London you need to get a shot of Big Ben, When in New York you need to get a shot of the World Trade Center site .... but after you get those shots, turn around and see if there is an even better shot in the opposite direction .... especially at a site that provokes emotion like the World Trade Center site, The USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, the many holocaust and war memorials around the world. Often the best shot is behind you. ... Quick, turn around!


Not to be picky, but the portrait/sports/macro icons on your DSLR are Basic Zones, not Creative. Which makes sense, as there's nothing creative about them. I've never actually used them, I live in Manual or Av mode.

Yep I think you are correct Paul ,,, I just used the wrong terminology. Ooops, now it's out there forever for all to hear my mistake :)

And the new "basic zone" (which I haven't used since the pre-digital age) with the MkIII would have to be the ISO safety shift. If you use it in Program mode, without any aperture or shutter speed restrictions, you won't see any benefit to the ISO shift. So I've actually been spending more time in Tv mode - since if it's too dark for the ISO, and my lens max aperture is hit (lets say at f/4), then it will up the ISO to get a better exposure with my set shutter speed and max aperture. If I set the Av mode at f/4, the camera will shift the shutter speed first before switching ISO. (again, because I haven't limited the shutter speed range)

Right, that's a feature that the Nikon cameras have had for a while, yes? Or something similar?

Another good reason to avoid the 'idiot modes' is that if you're using Aperture or Lightroom you really want to shoot in RAW mode to get the benefit of adjustable white balance, which you lose as soon as you choose a Basic Zone. I would suggest to a beginner who wants to shoot sports that they want to start off with Tv mode and set the shutter speed to between 1/400 and 1/1000, depending on the sport. The camera will still take care of most things and they'll have more control to fix any problems in post-processing.

Yes, the Nikons/Fuji have a whole mode just for that.

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