Part 5: Understanding camera functions of your DSLR

The final post on this week’s subject. We will get into some interesting things that DSLR Cameras can do: Custom white balance and Metering modes. If you understand how important these functions are, you will have mastered your camera. Let’s get started:

6. Custom White Balance

custom white balance

I know of some professional photographers who will typically shoot in auto white balance mode, most of the time. However, there are times when they won’t do that, such as at an indoor ice rink, where the indoor light can render the white of the ice rink a different color to what you actually see. So, to combat this, they will instead prefer to dictate to the camera what “white” actually looks like. This generally involves you going into the white balance menu system, selecting a custom preset option, and then you will take a photo of how you want the white to be in all of your photos. For example, you’d point the camera at a bank of snow, or the white of a wedding dress; fill the frame with that color, and take the photo. The camera will then treat that as white, and balance all the other colors in the scene accordingly, until you reshoot with a different custom white balance, or return it to one of the preset white balance modes, such as AWB (Auto White Balance), or the Cloudy or Sunny settings.

8. Metering Modes

Your DSLR will probably allow you to change to one of three different metering modes, depending on what you intend to photograph:

Evaluative Metering (also known as Multiple Metering)

Evaluative Metering gets the camera to measure the most suitable exposure by determining the levels of brightness in the entire frame. This is generally the one you will want to use—most of the time.

Center Weighted Metering

This method is used to focus on the subject in the center of the frame in order to measure the whole screen evenly.

center weighted metering

Spot Metering

This is going to get the camera to meter in just one area of the frame.

In certain situations, such as music concert settings, if you were to select Evaluative Metering, you will run into problems because the light typically changes every couple of seconds—either different colors, or sometimes the light will shine on the artist, other times the light will shine elsewhere, leaving the artist’s face in more darkness; sometimes the light will shine on one band member and not another… and all of these light variations gives your camera a really hard job of trying to calculate how to measure the light to help create a really nice image. When you go to photograph music concerts, Spot Metering is generally the option you want to go with, because you’re going to be targeting the musician’s face. That’s who you’ve come to see, so you want to make it clear in your photograph who the artist is, and that means capturing them in the best possible light by using the most appropriate metering mode—Spot Metering, in this case.

spot metering

We have been using an article by Graham Wadden this week. His expertise has been appreciated tremendously.

About the Author:

Graham Wadden created and maintains the Creative Commons photography website, WaddenCCPhotography, specializing in creating stock photography primarily for home educators and those in education.

Photo by Lisa Holloway

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