To become a better photographer, a photographer must be able to anticipate the moments. He/She must have a foresight which will allow him to prepare well in advance for the shot. A lot of time, photographer do have the foresight but are still not able to get the shot. The Reason? Improper camera settings.

Most photographers think with today’s high precision automated features in camera’s setting it up is not a big deal. The fuel to this belief is added further by camera manufacturer who tout their camera’s will do all the required stuff as the photographer concentrates on the moment. Sure, its true but to a very certain degree. Unless you switch onto the AUTO mode, you’ll need to think of certain setting beforehand to capture the future moment perfectly.

When I’m about to photograph in crunch situation where getting a shot is crucial, I tend to make note of some simple things in mind. I foresight the situation in which I will need to make a photograph & plan accordingly.

Recently, I visited the Lalbaugcha Raja, a prominent Ganesh Mandal in Mumbai which sees lakhs of devotees everyday. The atmosphere is totally chaos as devotees go impatient after waiting in queues for hours. Then there are security personnel who won’t allow you to stand for a second as they need to make sure all the devotees get a glimpse of the elephant headed lord. Sure, I had visited this Ganesha a few years ago but with every year on, the magnitude of the people just rises astronomically. I planned a few things in advance so I can get a good shot of the Ganesha.

While leaving for the Ganesh Pandal(Stage), I did the following settings on my camera.

Shooting Mode : My preferred mode is Aperture Priority. As a photographer, I find its crucial to control the depth of field(DOF) in my shot. I selected a modest aperture of f/4-5.6 to get a reasonable DOF & sharpness.

ISO : I set it to 800. Since my lens does not features image stabilization, I wanted the camera to achieve a faster shutter speed. Also the pandal being lit moderately, I knew a lower ISO won’t make the cut.

Metering : I set it to ‘Centre Weighted Evaluative’ metering so all the areas of the beautiful pandal are evaluated & the center is given importance by the camera’s system.

Image Quality : I always shoot in RAW as it offers me incredible flexibility after shooting. In such crunch situations, you must shoot in RAW.

Burst Mode : I set my camera to ‘Low Burst Mode’ of three frames so I can get many frames in my brief period of shooting. Further its inevitable in crowded areas that somebody will put their hand up with mobile or security personnel will during their crowd control ruining the shot. The burst mode saves you from such moments.

Now that I had my camera set as I wanted it to be, I shot the moment I got the frame as I wanted. The swivelling LCD on my camera allowed me flexibility to get overhead shots with precision. I tried some compositions in my brief visit & eventually came home with the glorious shot above. Post processing work involved cropping the image a bit from bottom & top, reducing noise, enhancing colours, fine tuning white balance & sharpening. The shot above would not have been possible had I went without the initial planning & fumbling during the crunch moment.

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