Spice up your travel photography tip # 2: Play with Monochrome Picture Mode
Sometimes, I get too serious.
I mean, walking around in a place I havenâ€™t been, enthralled by all the new things I see, I sometimes forget that the best thing to do with my camera is play. Thatâ€™s right, play: that state of experimental joy that feels good in itself because itâ€™s relaxed and holds no pressure.
Walking around in Hoi An in the middle of the day, it is hot. The shadows are sharp, the light is harsh. The common response is, put the camera away, have a superb Vietnamese coffee, and practice portraits by people watching, take a nap in the air-conditioned hotel room until the light softens and turns a warmer color in the late afternoon.
Or, keep walking with the camera on Monochrome Picture Mode and make some monochrome images.
I decided to play with this feature of the 7D and learned some new things.
Shoot in RAW + JPG
Ducks on a motorbike at the market, Hoi An Vietnam. Copyright Aloha Lavina.
Most dSLRs now allow you to choose both RAW and JPG as the output files when you shoot. RAW isnâ€™t really a picture file per se; itâ€™s a composite of all the information the camera gets when you take a photo. So if you choose Monochrome Picture Mode and shoot in RAW, youâ€™re still taking all the good stuff from the scene you captured even though the image shows up monochromatic in your LCD display. Shooting the extra JPG file gives you a â€˜trueâ€™ monochrome image, processed in camera.
Play with Exposure Compensation
Shooting JPGs will allow you to hone your skills in shooting black and whites. The fun part of shooting black and white is getting to use and learn about exposure compensation. This is the â€˜plusâ€™ and â€˜minusâ€™ calibration line you see on the top display of the camera. Plus on a Canon means you compensate by â€˜addingâ€™ more light or overexpose, and minus on a Canon means you compensate by â€˜subtractingâ€™ light or underexposing. What do these pluses and minuses do? They actually allow you to make images darker (minus) or brighter (plus). (And you can use exposure compensation even when you shoot in color.)
Make Subjective Exposures
One of my faves from Hoi An is from playtime with Monochrome Pic Mode. Copyright Aloha Lavina.
Black and whites need pronounced blacks and glowing whites, so you can use exposure compensation to make what I call a subjective exposureâ€”an image that looks like what I have in mind. This means you can underexpose or overexpose to taste, and play with the amount of light you let in the camera when you capture the image.
Playing with the Monochrome Picture Mode on your camera while traveling can help you have fun and learn something new about controlling how you make images.
Up next: Spice up your travel photography by shooting motion, right here on Imagine That!
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