Peanut Butter Is Wonderful And Very Fattening. Huh?
Most people like peanut butter and most people like to take good pictures. No, I’m not suggesting that adding a jar of Jif to your camera bag will make your pictures better, but then again no one likes a hungry grumpy photographer.
Many times I have raised my head and closed my eyes in frustration after taking some pictures and then realizing that a setting from the last time I used my camera caused the all of the pictures to be incorrectly captured. Some setting mistakes will forever lose details in your image and some mistakes will cause more time in post processing fixing the images. You want to spend your time in the digital darkroom enhancing images not correcting mistakes made in the field.
After a few of these situations I created a mnemonic that I say every time (in my head, otherwise the person next to me might think I’m crazy) before starting to take pictures. It’s in no way comprehensive, just settings that have burned me before and I know I want to check prior to shooting.
Peanut = Priority
Decide what priority I am going to shoot in. Aperture Priority. Shutter Priority. Manual.
Butter = Bracketing
I usually have this left on if the last type of shot I was taking was an HDR. Depending on how it’s set this is a mistake that may cause the loss of unrecoverable details in an image. If it is the exposure that happens to be bumped up two stops and you are shooting an already lit scene you will have a lot of blown out pixels.
Is = ISO
There is pretty much an auto mode for every setting, but as your skill progress you you tend to want more control over the outcome of your images. Without thinking about it an undesired ISO setting can be easy to miss while shooting. The biggest impact a higher than needed ISO setting will have is unnecessary noise in your images. With small LCD screens on the camera, noise is not always apparent. A good indicator of this when shooting in aperture priority mode is the camera choosing higher than expected shutter speeds.
Wonderful = White Balance
Up until recently I left my camera on auto WB but have had the pleasure of correcting bulk WB settings in Lightroom due to letting the camera pick the WB.
And = Auto Focus
Sometimes my camera is left on manual focus after macro or product shots. I usually figure this one out pretty quickly because I don’t hear the lens focusing or see the indicators in the viewfinder but I have lost a few shots due to this.
Very = Vibration Reduction
This setting has bit me a few times when shooting sporting events. VR will only really benefit you at shutter speeds 1/60 and below. Anything above that and you will probably not notice a benefit, in fact you will notice that it slows your auto focus down. This is annoyingly apparent when photographing sports and your AF is always a step behind.
Fattening = F stop
This is another setting usually left on when previously shooting HDR shots. This goes hand in hand with the bracketing setting. There is nothing like shooting 15 quick shots during a situation that you will never have the opportunity to capture again and then noticing they are all over or under exposed.