Put Things Back Where They Were!

November 12, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Whenever I'm out taking pictures, I always try to remember to put the camera settings back to my default positions. Fortunately, I shoot a lot, so it's not often that I forget about a setting. But, I often hear other photographers express disappointment when they forget about a setting. For example, not long ago a photographer mentioned that he forgot to set his ISO back to the base setting of 200. Instead, he took pictures all day at ISO 1600--diminishing image quality for no reason.

Even though I take pictures quite often, I'm not immune to making similar mistakes. During this last photography trip to the Pacific Coast and back, there were two occasions where I forget about my settings:


The last picture I shot one day was on the St. John's Bridge in Portland, Oregon. The pedestrian walkway on the bridge was too narrow for me to use my tripod. So, when I captured this image of a latch on the other side of the bridge, it had to be handheld. Given the longer focal length and the windy conditions, I increased the ISO from 100 to 800. Here's the image:

Bolty doorBolty doorSmall access door on the St. Johns Bridge. The bridge is a steel suspension bridge that spans the Willamette River at 8600 NW Bridge Avenue in Portland, Oregon. Photo captured on August 8, 2013.

This image on the bridge wasn't the problem. The problem was that I forgot to change my ISO back to 100 after the shot. The next morning, I captured a series of images both inside and outside the Oregon State Capitol in Salem--and they were all captured at ISO 800! Here's one of those images:

Oregon State CapitolOregon State CapitolOregon State Capitol building at 900 Court Street NE in Salem, Oregon on August 9, 2013.

Of course, ISO 800 isn't the end of the world with the modern sensors. But, it's an unnecessary compromise in image quality for no reason considering that all of the Oregon State Capitol photographs were captured with the camera secured to a tripod.

I went back and captured all of the Oregon State Capitol photographs again at ISO 100. But, I couldn't capture the outdoor photographs again as the lighting conditions had deteriorated.


While shooting the Salt Lake Temple, I attempted a HDR photograph consisting of three exposures. What I failed to realize at the time is that I had turned off the bracketing feature before starting the sequence. Fortunately, after four or five series of "bracketed" photographs, I checked the histogram on the back of the camera and noticed that the exposures were all identical. I then activated the bracketing feature and kept shooting. This error didn't hurt me at all as the light continued to improve, so the previous bracketing sequences would have been deleted in any event.

Salt Lake TempleSalt Lake TempleTowers of the Salt Lake Temple in Temple Square in Salt Lake City on August 16, 2013. The Salt Lake Temple is the largest of more than 140 temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). This photograph consists of three exposures blended together using HDR Efex Pro2 software to create a high dynamic range (HDR) image.

Having captured over 4,400 exposures on this trip, this was the extent of the errors I made with my settings. By making it a habit to always reset the camera/lens after every series of photos, the possibility of error is minimized. These are the default settings that I dial in after every shoot:

  • Reset ISO to base (100 on the Nikon D800)
  • Turn VR OFF
  • Check to see that bracketing is OFF and that the increments are set for one stop apart
  • Set mode to Aperture Priority
  • Set mode dial Mirror Lock Up
  • Set aperture to f/8 (that's my default)


No comments posted.

January (1) February (2) March (1) April May June July August September October November December