How To Get It Right In Camera And Make Editing Easier!
When I first started learning how to shoot in manual mode I shot in JPEG. And that was perfectly OK. I had a lot to learn and I was more concerned with getting my images correct in camera vs. my post-production editing. Learning how to achieve a nice image straight out of camera is the best thing you can do for your photography. You have to know where to start, before you can move forward. As a photographer and business owner I continue to learn on a daily basis. There are so many resources available to photographers to help you along the way, the biggest thing is knowing where to start. Do you focus on your lighting? What about white balance? The following are the three biggest tips I can provide to help someone who is shooting in manual mode, develop a properly exposed image with the correct white balance in camera.
1) Shoot RAW
I have heard so many unfortunate stories of photographers changing their settings to JPEG and shooting an entire session before realizing, or simply shooting in JPEG and then not having the ability to properly correct a photo in post-production. While you should always strive to get it right in camera, there will be situations where your exposure or white balance is off and the best way to handle that situation is being able to recover as much of the photo as possible in post-production by working with RAW images.
2) Determine White Balance Using Kelvin
This is actually something relatively new for me, and I am kicking myself by not starting a LONG time. Kelvin may sound scary, trust me it is not. In fact, it is so simple I can't believe more people are not shooting this way! So what is Kelvin? It is a scale for measuring temperatures. As far as photographers are concerned, it is a temperature chart for measuring colors based off of their "heat" color when applied to metal. For instance, when heated to 9000K a piece of metal would display a deep blue color. In turn, when photographing in dark shade, or deep blue, you would set your Kelvin to 9000 for correct white balance in camera. Sounds a little confusing, but I promise just practice and you will have it no time. I could go much further in depth with Kelvin, but just google any Kelvin temperature chart on google, save it to your phone and start shooting. For a quick reference use the following numbers.
8000K-10000K is overcast Skies to Shade
5000K-7500K is sun overhead
3000K-5000K is clear skies/indoor natural light
1000K-2000K is flourescent/artificial light
3) Use Your Histogram for Proper Exposure
Exposure is something that is so crucial to have correct in camera, to help reduce the amount of editing in post-production. To properly expose my images during a portrait session, I meter off of skin. Metering is adjusting your exposure based off of the little number system you see when looking through your viewfinder. This number is determined based off of your ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Once I have an image properly exposed, I take a test shot and then check my histogram. What your histogram tells you may depend on your location, but for the most part, you want to make sure you have a general "bell curve" and you are avoiding any major spikes on your right or left side. This is letting you know that you have overexposed your highlights or underexposed your shadows.