Sunday, August 31, 2008

Growing Pains: Don't Make This Terrible Mistake

My friend and photo colleague Tiffany Trott was right on the mark in her blog post today at when she suggested that photographers reset their camera settings before putting away their equipment.

I made the terrible mistake of not checking my settings during a shoot at the Democratic National Convention. The night before, I had been inside a dark museum, requiring me to boost my ISO to the highest setting possible on my Canon 5D, which was an amazing 3600! My shots were perfect from that night, but I forgot to change those settings the very next day when I was shooting in broad daylight in front of Mezcal when celebrities associated with the Creative Coalition made another appearance.

I didn't realize my mistake until I uploaded the photos for post processing. As you can image, the increased ISO made the photos incredibly grainy and the color noise was out of this world, peppering darker African-American skin tones with speckles of blue, green and red. I was so sick to my stomach, I thought I was going to vomit! Some noise correction in Photoshop took care of most of it, but some of the shots just couldn't be saved.

From this point on, I would advise all of us to take Tiffany's advice. Don't store your gear away without resetting to your basic shooting mode. For me that's ISO 100 and turning the dial back to Manual or Aperture Priority. It's a great routine to have and include in your overall work flow.

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