Look Before You Shoot

Hosta PlantQuality Over Quantity

The number of photos I shoot in a year without the use of a tripod is fairly small. Photographing in the early morning and evening light, under the canopy of forests or during dark and stormy conditions, results in slow shutter speeds that make hand-holding the camera difficult. Even with high ISO settings, I find it difficult to achieve the sharpness and depth-of-field I desire without a tripod.

One of the things I have to guard against though is mounting the camera on my tripod before checking the scene from different heights and angles. Whether from fatigue or laziness, the tendency is to photograph from the spot where I set up the tripod, and from only the height and the angle the tripod provides.


Taking the Extra Steps

A more effective way is to find my composition without using my tripod, hand-holding the camera and previewing the scene, searching for the right spot, height, angle and the ideal framing (landscape vs vertical) technique. Only then do I employ the use of a tripod. With the camera locked down, I can then carefully study the image seen through the viewfinder, and make whatever minor adjustments are necessary to achieve precisely the photograph that I want.

Smoky Mountains 

Getting the Results

I do a similar thing with the files I work on, previewing them before committing to the cost of printing. Adobe InDesign and Illustrator offer two previews that I find invaluable. Overprint Preview (View Menu > Overprint Preview) and Separations Preview (Window Menu > Output > Separations Preview) can be used together to check:

  • White elements inadvertently set to overprint
  • Black text set up in registration color
  • Items better suited to be Rich Black
  • Color breakdowns of vector and raster art
  • Spot vs Process for similar elements

While not a definitive list, I find value in Overprint Preview and Separations Preview for every InDesign and Illustrator file I look at, and they enable me to make whatever adjustments are necessary to get the results I am looking for.

Blue Hen Falls
Blue Hen Falls 
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