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Initial Camera Adjustments:  Even though I use Photoshop CS3 and shoot in both the camera raw and jpeg formats, I always try to make the correct adjustments in my camera to begin with: (ie: white balance, depth of field [f-stop numbers], shutter speed, ISO, filters, and flash if needed).  By doing this I don’t have to make a lot of adjustments later when I open the photograph in Photoshop.


Tripod:  I always use a tripod when I’m shooting any type of landscape.  In addition, my shutter release cable is always attached to my camera, and I use it anytime I use my tripod.  If you’re shooting on an incline, place one of the tripod legs on the downhill side.  This will help in keeping your tripod from tipping over.


White Balance:  Almost all cameras have different white balance settings depending on the type of lighting that you’re shoot under.  The ‘auto’ white balance works well enough outdoors, but not very good in-doors.  When you’re shooting in-doors change the white balance settings in your camera to match the lighting conditions, whether it’s fluorescent or incandescent.


Protecting the camera lens:  Even though I have a lens cap on my camera; I also have a UV haze filter attached to my lens when I’m not using a specialized filter.  The main reason I do this is to protect the lens itself from getting damaged by anything that may fly up and strike it, or by accidentally banging it against something.  It’s a whole lot cheaper to replace a filter than a camera lens.


Lens Hood:  I also have my lens hood attached to my camera lens.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that it will reduce or eliminate lens flare that I may get on sunny days.  The second is the added protection to keep my camera lens from getting damaged.  When using flash you may want to remove the lens hood, as it can cause unwanted shadows around the edges of your photograph.


Keeping your lenses clean:  I always carry a lens cloth in my pocket, and I continually clean my lenses & filters throughout the shoot.  It’s amazing how fast dust particles attach themselves to the camera.  Also pay extra attention in windy conditions when changing lenses, as you may get dust & dirt inside the camera & lenses.


Batteries:  Always take extra batteries when you’re out on a shoot.  It can be real discouraging to be in the middle of a shoot and the battery in your camera goes dead, and you have no replacement.  In cold weather the batteries are depleted even faster.


Memory Cards:  There are basically two types of memory cards.  The first type is the compact flash (CF) card, which is generally square in size.  The second type is a memory stick, which is rectangular in size. 

The compact flash card will hold more memory than the memory stick, which translates to being able to take more photographs before having to change cards or downloading your photographs.  My recommendation is to buy the largest memory size card that you can afford.  In addition, take along extra memory cards when you’re out shooting, especially if you are taking photographs in the raw format; as raw uses up a lot more memory than the jpeg format.


Using the Priority Mode:  I like to leave my camera on the ‘priority mode’ when I’m ‘walking’ around in an urban or country setting.  This way if you see an interesting shot you can get it immediately.  You don’t want to be adjusting your settings and end up losing the shot.


How many photographs should I take?  If you are using digital, take as many as your camera memory will hold!  Take lots of photographs of the same subject using different angles, lighting, apertures [f-stop numbers], shutter speeds, and filters.  Shooting at different times of the day is also good.  By taking numerous photographs you will improve your photography skills, and you will also see what works and what doesn’t.  Out of 100 photographs I may get 5 or 10 at the most that I really like.  There is also that ‘lucky shot’; but don’t count on this happening very often.  I have taken thousands of photographs, but have only gotten a few ‘lucky shots’ that came out better than expected.


Back-up when traveling:  When I travel anywhere I always take my laptop computer with me and download my photographs at the end of the day.  By downloading to the laptop as you go, you can sort the photographs by date, location, or by any other preference you choose.  (In 2006 my wife and I went to Egypt and took over 8,000 photographs between us in 10 days.  At the end of each day of shooting we downloaded to the computer by location.  This made it easier for us when we got back home).  After downloading the photographs, transfer them to a disc.  I still leave mine on the computer, but by having them on a disc you now have two places that they are stored.  There are also other storage units that you can take with you if you don’t want to take a laptop.


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