Back To The Basics: Raw vs JPEG, Metering Modes & Shooting Modes

Over the last couple of weeks I have been sharing a few topics with regards to photography and going back to the basics.

When it comes to photography, it can become quite complex and overwhelming, but, I am hoping that by breaking it up into different sections, it makes it easier for you to understand and improve on your photography. This is a three part blog all in one, but don't worry I am not going to go into to all that much depth, but I do want to give you the basics to enable you to practice in your own time and better your photographic ability.

Lets start with Raw vs JPEG:

This has do do with the amount of data and information your photograph has stored. Why is this important? Well it comes down to what you want to do with your images. Do you want to print them? Do you like to edit your images? What is the purpose of taking photographs? I hope that the below graph helps to explain the differences and answers any questions you may have regarding this topic.

So, Although the raw image is a much larger file and allows you to take far less images on your memory card, I always advise shooting in raw, the main reason being is that there is little downside to shooting in raw other than the file size and number of shots on your card being more limited, but having said that, you have plenty of options after the image has been taken and gives you plenty more room for error in your photography.

Metering modes:

In wildlife photography there are only two modes that I use. Firstly, Evaluative/matrix metering. I use this for the majority of my photographs as the cameras sensor is picking up around 80% of what it sees through the view finder and is making the adequate changes in terms of settings to get the best result. Obviously, this means that I will have to make minor adjustments to my Aperture, ISO and exposure compensation depending on the data I gather from the test shot taken.

The other mode I use is spot metering, as you can see depicted in the images above, the sensor is only assessing a minor portion of what is seen through the view finder and the metering is take from focal point. The reason I use this mode is mainly at night when using a spotlight. You can imagine if the spot light is only a small portion of the image, thats what you are trying to expose for which means that spot metering is the best mode to use. If you were using Evaluative/matrix metering it will be assessing the entire image, or majority of the image and in doing so it slows your shutter speed as it is trying to find any light in the dark areas.

Shooting modes:

Which mode do you shoot on?

As a wildlife photographer I mainly shoot in AV/A, this is Aperture priority mode. You can see from the table below that I am in control of my Aperture, but not my shutter speed. This means that when I pick up my camera and look through the view finder, the first thing I look at is my shutter speed. If it is too slow/fast I can then either change the shutter speed by manipulating my aperture value (F-Stop) or if I don't want to change my focal length, I can then manipulate my ISO (light sensitivity) to either speed up or slow down my shutter speed.

The other mode which I will use from time to time is manual mode (M) and the purpose of this is normally when I am photographing stars or especially when using a spotlight. It allows me to adjust ALL my settings to exactly what I want. For majority of my photography I always have settings in mind depending on the conditions around me. This means that I will have selected my shooting mode, my aperture value, my ISO and my exposure compensation before I even head out into the field. So why do I do this? Well in wildlife photography, it is extremely unpredictable and you never know what may be around the next corner. Sometimes you only have a matter of seconds and those seconds are vital, so by preparing myself in advance, I may only need to make minor adjustments which takes seconds of of hacking around with my camera and gives me a greater chance at capturing the image I am after.

I hope that you all found this helpful.

Until next time, happy snapping!


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