By Hal Schmitt. Embellished by Victoria Schmitt
Select Desired Aperture
Do you want a shallow depth of field to isolate your subject or do you want as much of your scene in focus as possible? Remember the bigger the hole (smaller the number f4.5) the more shallow your depth of field, the small the hole (larger number f22) the more depth of field you will get.
Compose the rough scene
Look into your viewfinder and start to compose your scene. You can scan left right, up and down see what you want included or centered in your frame.
Meter and set exposure
Hopefully at this point your back-button focus is going to be your primary meter and focusing button. Depending on what exposure your aperture is giving you adjust the shutter speed to compensate for your exposure. If you are having a hard time getting a fast enough shutter speed, you will have to either change your ISO or your aperture to get the desired focus and exposure for the scene.
Make sure the primary subject is in focus.
Fine tune composition
If you now have to move your composition so that your subject is not smack dab in the middle, make sure your focus is set and move accordingly.
Fine tune your exposure
(Or just take a photo, picture or snapshot if your lingo does not include a shooting reference)
Review as necessary
Look at the back of your LCD. Make sure you are looking at your histogram!!! You don't want your histogram piled high on either side, but don't worry if there are parts of you scene that have a black point and a white point built-in. If you have a large amount of 1 "gray" tone (Blue sky, red rocks) you may have strange peaks and valleys in your histogram. What you're looking for is a balanced exposure. Do not depend on the picture you see on your LCD and always refer to your histogram. Remember, these are pixels. It's information being captured on a sensor, so rely on the information it gives you and not how pretty the LCD picture is.
Happy Shooting and Fiat Lux!