Photo Exploration | Bar Shooting: Six Tips to Avoiding Your Next DUI

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Photo exploration and on-location shoots are two of my favorite assignments, and shooting at the bar is always rewarding. After all, which would you rather do? Spend Thursday afternoon in front of your computer for 12 hours straight, or spend a few hours at the local pub trying to shoot that drink just right? But that leads us to our question—how do you avoid those nasty DUIs?

DUI (digitally underexposed image) can easily be avoided in several different ways.

What did you think I was talking about?

  • Adjust your ISO – by setting your camera to a higher ISO, you’ll give yourself greater flexibility while shooting indoors. But be warned, higher ISO means an increase in noise, especially in the shadow areas.
  • Adjust your aperture – most of my shots in the bar are of drinks and close-ups, so setting a “fast” aperture between 1.2 and 3.6 is not really a problem. However, if your looking to take a lot of environmental or crowd shots, you may not want to narrow your depth of field so drastically.
  • Slow things down – if you are shooting close-ups and stills, you have the convenience of being able to reduce your shutter speed to help in properly exposing your image and avoiding that nasty DUI. I’ve been known to shoot well over a 30-second exposure in the right circumstances.
  • Bring a tripod – obviously if you are dropping your shutter speed to compensate for low-light, you will need to steady the camera. A tripod or mono-pod will come in handy, but if you forget your gear—you can always make use of a stool, bar counter, table-top or anything that won’t walk away.
  • Bring a flash – one of the most obvious steps to avoiding a DUI is using a flash or any available light source. That last part is key—it doesn’t always have to be a flash, strobe or professional light source. There are plenty of ways to capture the perfect shot with available light.
  • Shoot in RAW – last but not least, shoot in Camera RAW. This is something I recommend for all instances, but especially when shooting in low light or extreme lighting situations. By shooting in RAW you’ll have the necessary image data to correct the exposure in post-processing.

Now, get out there and shoot up some bars!

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