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Thread: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

  1. #1

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    Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    I have a hop plant which is currently flowering; I want to use this flower to practice my plant portrait. If I make some adjustments to the cameras settings in the field (AKA my backyard) will I have to write them down or is there a photo processing software that can tell me what my settings were in the field. I am asking because the LCD screen on the camera as we all know is not really a good judge of photo quality. But I would hate to have to write down all my settings while in the field.


    Do you more advanced guys just make changes and fire away knowing its free to trash the bad photos later?

    Thanks in advanced for helping out a noobie.

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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    I am a newbie too! I write them down as I am shooting only because I can't remember from one shot to the next. For later reference, I can access them thru Photoshop. There is probably some way to access them from the camera while looking at them, but I haven't figured it out yet.

    I hope you are having as much fun as I am!

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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    Digital images include metadata, such as the shutter speed, aperture, lens focal length, etc. This can be viewed from within virtually any photo editing program, as well as many image viewing programs, such as irfanview. The amount of data the camera will give you on the lcd probably depends on the camera. On mine, it shows file format, shutter speed, aperture, color space, white balance, and metering mode, but you have to cycle through a few screens to get it all.

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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    The fact that digital cameras record all this information automatically in the image file is, I think, a very liberating creative boon to photographers. When I was just starting out, I took a bunch of photos of the same view, changing the exposure compensation, switching to aperture priority and choosing different apertures, then switching to shutter priority and choosing different shutter speeds, etc., and then waiting until I got back home to look at them all and compare results while looking at the metadata in Lightroom to see the different settings between the shots. That taught me a lot.

    I pretty much only review images on my camera's LCD screen to verify focus and composition, if I have time to even do that (photographers sometimes refer to looking at your photos on your screen after you've taken as "chimping," and it's usually a term used in a derogatory fashion, because sometimes a great photo opportunity can pass you by while you're sitting there admiring the photos you just took.)

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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    If you are learning, Daniel, write down your thinking as well as the actual settings.

    Eg. 'Wanted faster shutter; needed more focus depth; used exposure or flash compensation because . . .' That will make sure you remember your thinking at the time and you will learn faster.

    Particularly include what didn't work.

    Nowadays, I don't take shooting notes and often struggle to work out the cause of the failures.

    Some software records extensive information, for example Canon DPP editor while others just note the basics.

    Shooting Raw then editing and saving as Tiff can lose all information (exif) with some software.

  6. #6

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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    'Wanted faster shutter; needed more focus depth; used exposure or flash compensation because . . .' That will make sure you remember your thinking at the time and you will learn faster.
    That's very important.

  7. #7

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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    If your camera has a built-in microphone, you may also be able to dictate your notes so you don't have to pull out a pen and paper -- I have never used this feature myself but I remember one of my cameras (I think it was the Canon G9) allowed you to to dictate notes that would be automatically associated with whatever image was on the LCD screen at the time. That would also come in handy if you had to give yourself reminders, like the name of a person in a photo.

  8. #8

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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    I checked your model (Olympus EVOLT E-500?) and it can connect to a PC but there is no tethered control capability that I could see. The connection appears to only be for download. Perhaps you could take the laptop to the field with you and view the images along with the shooting info (if the Olympus software will show it) rather . Here's a link to the quick start manual: http://olympusamerica.com/files/oima...t_Guide_EN.pdf. There is also a more complete manual available on the Olympus site.

    Upon further digging...

    In the advanced manual (http://olympusamerica.com/files/oima..._Manual_EN.pdf) on page 134 there is mention of "control" option under USB Mode. There is also mention of an optional app "Olympus Studio". Apparently the app will let you control the camera via the laptop. I'm guessing that this app will also be recording shooting information as well as allowing you to change camera settings via the laptop. Tethering modes typically auto-download images from the camera to the connected PC/laptop.
    Last edited by Lakeridge; 13th August 2012 at 11:34 PM. Reason: Additional info

  9. #9
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tri Danimal View Post
    I want to use this flower to practice my plant portrait. If I make some adjustments to the cameras settings in the field (AKA my backyard) will I have to write them down or is there a photo processing software that can tell me what my settings were in the field.
    As already mentioned using a digital camera, the EXIF will provide you with a lot of information.

    When using Film, many Photographers kept a Shot Diary and I still use one with Digital: it is a fixture in my camera bag. I use ruled a binder note book, either A5 or A6 size and with lots of pages which can be ripped out if necessary.

    There are several reasons why I still use a Shot Diary, the main ones are:
    • To record the REASON for shooting;
    • As a Diary to record notes about interesting Places or Subjects;
    • To record problems or other factors about the shoot that could be important;
    • A facility to use as a piece of paper, i.e. to leave a note or instruction somewhere;
    • And to record details that the EXIF does NOT provide;
    • To record extra information to make it easier or quicker to use the EXIF;
    • To diarize a reconnoitre.


    ***

    As examples:

    You want to learn more about photographing Flowers in your backyard. The EXIF will provide you with the three exposure setting and a few other details which you might find handy – such as the time of day and date (i.e. some info about the Sunlight) - but the EXIF will NOT tell directly you if there was a light cloud cover or medium cloud cover, for example and that might be something you want to note to explore the TYPES of lighting.

    As another example, the EXIF will tell you if the FLASH has fired or not and some cameras will record details about exposure compensation: but the EXIF will not tell you if you bounced the Flash or not and what you bounced it off and etc. These are details you might find useful if you are exploring Flash Fill for outdoor ‘portraiture’.

    Also, perhaps you might be shooting Brackets. In this case, to make it quicker during the interrogation later on, rather than looking at each image’s EXIF, if you note the Frame Number of the leading frame of each bracket in the Shot Diary and the Bracket Details these details can make the interrogation easier and quicker by just opening the EXIF details of the FIRST frame of each bracket. As a practical example, one of your Shot Diary’s entries might be something like this:

    14/08/2102
    Different Shooting Distances to better understand Perspective.
    Light Overcast; Bracket Shutter ± 2stops in ½ Stops; NO FLASH
    Lead Frames: # 2034(50mm lens); #2043(85mm lens); #2052(100mm lens); #2061(135mm lens)


    ***

    On complicated or detailed assignments where a reconnoitre is required a Shot Diary is invaluable to make notes of problems, or special features or requirements: this is not limited to Professional Work, either, because it is basically what you are doing now: i.e. reconnoitring the Plants in your backyard.

    Here’s a sample page from last year’s Shot Diary, it might not make a lot of sense to you, but it does to me and that’s all that matters:

    Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    WW

  10. #10
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tri Danimal View Post
    Do you more advanced guys just make changes and fire away knowing its free to trash the bad photos later?
    No I do not.
    I see nothing wrong with making mistakes and needing to trash images because of a mistake and then learning from that mistake to be better next time.

    But just shooting willy-nilly and praying for the best - is an even bigger mistake: the worst mistake, IMO.

    WW

  11. #11
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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    The Metadata attached to each image is a wonderful upgrade over the pen and pad data that I used when I shot film. I always seemed to either lose the data I wrote down or just mix up the data. I am a better photographer than data keeper.

    I sincerely wish that my newest Canon camera (7D) had an audio record feature which I could use to take notes regarding the images I shoot. When I am shooting a group of models, I use the video feature of the 7D in lowest resolution to shoot the model and have her state her name and email address. That way I never lose the information. However, it would be easier to use audio record for taking notes.

    Canon 1 Series cameras and Nikon's flagship single digit D series bodies both offer the ability to capture sound annotation recordings with each image. But what Nikon adds that is lacking on the Canons is a built-in speaker allowing in-the-field playback.

    I personally would give up video capablity in my 7D for audio annotation and field playback capability. I would use that a lot more than I ever use the video on my DSLR. Although I realize that video is a very popular in DSLR cameras, I personally prefer a dedicated video camera for video and a dedicated still camera for stills.

  12. #12

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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    Thanks for tyhe heads up on the MetaData info. Now I need to get a home computer and a program to view the MetaData on.

  13. #13
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    Re: Do I need to write down my camera's settings while in the field?

    Some of the Metadata is available to you in very basic photo software like Windows Live Gallery.

    However programs like Lightroom (Adobe - Mac/Windows) and Aperture (Apple - Mac) will give far greater detail - I'm pretty sure the GIMP will provide stacks of Metadata too (and it's cross-platform and free)

    Photoshop also lets you look into the Metadata but I seem to have lost the very useful link to the post here on the forum

    I used to 'take notes' with a pocket recorder when I was using Medium Format - no one has invented EXIF files for film yet!

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