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Shooting Photos in Special Situations with Canon Rebel T3 Series Cameras

Sometimes there will be no problem with taking your Canon Rebel T3 or T3i outside and snapping photos with automatic settings. Most of the rest of the time, you can make due with a few simple adjustments. A few subjects and shooting situations pose some additional challenges that call for more complicated combinations of settings. Here’s a quick list of ideas for tackling a variety of common tough-shot photos:

  • Shooting through glass: To capture subjects that are behind glass, such as animals at a zoo, you can try a couple tricks. First, set your camera to manual focusing — the glass barrier can give the autofocus mechanism fits. Disable your flash to avoid creating any unwanted reflections, too. Then, if you can get close enough, your best odds are to put the lens right up to the glass. (Be careful not to scratch your lens.) If you must stand farther away, try to position your lens at a 90-degree angle to the glass.

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  • Shooting out a car window: Set the camera to shutter-priority autoexposure or manual mode and dial in a fast shutter speed to compensate for the movement of the car. Also turn on image stabilization, if your lens offers it. Oh, and keep a tight grip on your camera.

  • Shooting fireworks: First off, use a tripod; fireworks require a long exposure, and trying to handhold your camera simply isn’t going to work. If using a zoom lens, zoom out to the shortest focal length (widest angle). Switch to manual focusing and set focus at infinity (the farthest focus point possible on your lens). Set the exposure mode to manual, choose a relatively high f-stop setting and start at a shutter speed of 1 to 5 seconds. From there, it’s simply a matter of experimenting with different shutter speeds. Also play with the timing of the shutter release, starting some exposures at the moment the fireworks are shot up, some at the moment they burst open, and so on. In the example, the photographer used a shutter speed of about 5 seconds and began the exposure as the rocket was going up — that's what creates the "corkscrew" of light that rises up through the frame.

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    Be especially gentle when you press the shutter button; with a very slow shutter, you can easily create enough camera movement to blur the image. If you purchased the accessory remote control for your camera, this is a good situation in which to use it.

  • Shooting in strong backlighting: When the light behind your subject is very strong, the result is often an underexposed subject. You can try using flash to better expose the subject, assuming that you’re shooting in an exposure mode that permits flash. The Highlight Tone Priority feature, which captures the image in a way that retains better detail in the shadows without blowing out highlights, may also help.

    But for another creative choice, you can purposely underexpose the subject to create a silhouette effect. Base your exposure on the brightest areas of the background so that the darker areas of the frame remain dark.

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