How Taking a Photo of Your Hand Can Check Camera Settings

There are a million different settings to tinker with on our cameras. If you forget that you changed a setting, you risk walking into a new shoot completely oblivious of that change. You might end up either getting an underexposed or an overexposed shot or something even worse—a completely incorrect white balance. In this tutorial, photographer David Bergman shows how to quickly check for any unwanted settings:

The technique? Take an exposure of your hand at the start of a shoot! Yes, you read it right. Taking an exposure of your hand ensures that all the settings in your camera are working perfectly the way they should be. For example, if exposure compensation was applied in a previous shot, and you forgot to reset it, taking a shot of your hand immediately reveals that setting.

Why the hand?

The hand is attached to your body, which saves you from having to look for something in your camera bag (e.g. a grey card or a color chart).

The other reason for using your hand is that it allows you to check the exposure settings on your skin. Of course, you still have to adjust for different skin tones, but it’s a great starting point.

checking camera settings quickly

Taking a picture of your hand works for other things, too. You can check if continuous auto-focusing works by moving the AF points on and off your hands.

The technique also works when you want to check the ratio of background to foreground light in a multi-light scenario.

Of course, basic things like whether your flash battery has run out of juice will automatically be detected too.

Taking an exposure of your hand allows you to verify that your camera settings are where you need them to be. It’s a rough and ready trick to get your photos right in-camera.

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2 responses to “How Taking a Photo of Your Hand Can Check Camera Settings”

  1. Paul Wilson says:

    A very good tip – how many of us have got a grey card in our bag that never sees the light of day! Similarly, outdoors you might take an initial shot of the ground, grass or a wall to give you that starting point.

  2. Don Peterson says:

    What a great idea. Goes to show the most valuable ideas are the simple ones. Thanks

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