I was doing a real estate photo shoot for a friend this weekend (they are selling a nice place in Alexandria, VA). During the middle of the shoot, I realized there are some handy tricks that I use on an almost daily basis in my photography that alot of people haven't seen... and that are certainly crude enough that you don't see them in photography books! I figured I should start a periodical blog post with these Pro Tips to help you get the most out of your photography.
Today's Pro Tip is called "hands up" and is a great technique that I use constantly. For instance, at the recent real estate shoot, I was using a flash to evenly light some smaller rooms and tight spaces (like a shower stall). Very few people can get their flash placement right on the first try - we usually tinker around until we get the right settings. However, when you get back to edit your photos later, it can often be very tricky to tell when you got the setting dialed in and stopped tinkering and started being serious with the framing. This technique is very simple - after you have checked that he camera settings are correct, stick your hand out in front of your camera and take a quick shot of your hand.
It'll be ugly. That's okay.
After that, proceed to properly frame and expose your image with the settings you just identified.
When you get back to Photoshop later, you'll be able to go through your shots and quickly find the hand shot. The images immediately following your hand shot will be the ones you took after getting the settings dialed in.
Another great application for this technique is when you're taking a panorama. Take a hand shot before you start and another at the end. When you are editing later, you can quickly grab the shots that were taken in sequence as part of your panorama.
The hands up trick is very handy and I use it all the time in landscape and nature photography because I rarely delete a photo in camera, but this lets me create a bookmark without depending on my memory! If you edit hours or days after a shoot, this technique will save you tons of time!
It's an ugly photo (you can see where the flash was placed, although I aimed the camera to cut the flash out in the next shot), but you can quickly pick out the hand shot and find your way to the good stuff immediately!