Sunday, 21 April 2013

Everybody Chimps, or Perhaps Should

I use my digital SLR all the time. I am comfortable with what it can do and with what I can do although I do like to challenge myself with new things.

When out with groups of photographers or when observing a group I sometimes hear people scoff at people who chimp their camera immediately after creating an image. By chimping I mean the action of reviewing the image (or series) I just created on the in built camera display.

Why do I chimp? Simple, the camera has important features that will help me to know if I have captured what I envisaged:

  • Review my composition - did I capture what I expected - often you notice things on the screen you DID NOT SEE in the viewfinder especially if you zoom into the image?
  • Review the image for blown highlights or loss of detail in dark areas using the built in highlight and shadow warnings (badly over or underexposed areas flash on my camera - many others have similar features) - I can decide if this is acceptable or if I need to rework the image (either changing settings and/or adding filters).
  • Review the histogram to see how well the colour is spread across the available spectrum - digital cameras have a small dynamic range compared to our eye so why would you only use some of it? Of course there are times when you have no choice but if you do, then think about revising settings if the entire histogram is bunched up one end of the graph.
  • Zoom into the image digitally and check the main focus point and see how well the depth of field (the areas of the image that remain in focus) worked and if they didn't revise my settings. I can also check for blur - when using longer lenses particularly in lower light situations (I often do) sometimes hand holding will introduce an unacceptable (to me) level of blur to the image. I can add a tripod to rectify this.

For me chimping is an important part of image capture. I might only spend 1/10th of a second glancing or I might spend a minute looking around in the image but I nearly always do it. I often travel to locations to create images and generally have something in mind before I go there that I want to create. That travel would be wasted if I failed to get what I wanted because of a poor choice of settings.

So those of you that scoff - feel free - each to their own - but chimping helps my strongest and most vociferous critic to be happy - me.

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