Monday, June 22, 2009

Answers volume 1

It was fun to read the questions posted in my pre-vacation post! I'm never quite sure anyone is really reading along so it is nice to know there are a few of you who stop by! I can't imagine that my answers are going to be real scintillating Internet reading...but here goes!

{I've opted to throw in some vacation photos throughout the next few posts...a bit of an insurance policy that even if my answers bore you to least there will be pictures of cute kids!}

I'm going to post at least 2 separate entries so this doesn't get to long. In this post I'll do my best to answer all the photography/business related questions.

1. First, any tips for capturing catchlights? The eyes of the subjects in your photos are always so beautiful and radiant. Any tips on light angles?
It is always the eyes that draw me to a photograph. You'll notice that on my website...almost all of the photos are straight on shots of my subjects...because the way light is caught in the eyes tugs at your heart. I do have several photos that are more storytelling in nature...but I think my true style and passion comes from the face. From what I have found, it is best to have the subject at an angle from the light source. In my house I put the large picture windows directly behind me so that my subject is facing the window or standing at a 45 degree angle to it. Outside, experiment by having your subject move slowly in a will see the eyes "pop".

2. Second, lately I can't seem to get the "sharpness" function to work in Picasa. When it does, by the time I save/export it loses it back again. I know you probably use Photoshop more these days, but any thoughts?
I use Picasa to import and organize all my photos and love it for that! I like the sharpen feature as well. I think it works as well as the feature in Photoshop (although I typically use both). If you are losing clarity in the photo once importing it to your blog it probably has to do with re-sizing the image. I just learned this a few weeks ago thanks to several commentors (I am SO not a computer savvy kind of gal...SO wish I was!) Sharpen your image in Picasa, re-size it and export it to a folder. Then try re-importing it back into Picasa as the smaller size (you can do this under File, add file to Picasa or Ctrl +0). The sharpen again and save back to the folder. Let me know if that works!

3. What lens do you use most often? I converted from a Canon to a Nikon so I'm looking for tips.
I use a Nikon D80 body. I've had it for several years and can't come up with a solid reason to upgrade right now. I HEART this camera (although the movie option on the D90 is quite a temptation). I use my prime lenses almost exclusively. I have read photography blogs that suggest trying many lenses to see what really appeals to you. I'm not a zoom kind of gal. I love the look of the prime how the subject pops off the the interaction it the creativity of framing the shot, etc. I use my 50mm/1.8 and 85mm/1.8 for almost every shot. I'd love the 1.4 but couldn't justify the expense right now. My next purchase will be the 28.

4. I would love advice for super-beginning photographers. Like those that don't even have an SLR, just a digital that has some manual capabilities that I don't take advantage of. Help me! I get overwhelmed by most photography books/sites very easily.
I know it sounds trite...but practice, practice, practice. I am still learning something new every time I pick up my camera...and it will continue forever. Watch the it at different times of the day. Get to know how it enters your house: Where is the best light? When is the best time of day? The more light you have available the better your images will be...they will always appear more in focus and more clear with good lighting. Pose near a large window or open doorway. Look for creative ways to frame your shot...even if it is a snapshot...try a new angle. AND GET TO KNOW YOUR CAMERA. You DO NOT have to have a super expensive camera to take good shots. And having one won't make ho-hum shots immediately better. I have a middle-of-the-road DSLR and have resisted upgrading for this very reason. Make sure you are setting your camera to take pictures on the FINE setting and at the highest resolution! Don't be intimidated by all the camera "jargon"'s ok...really. I don't know what half of it means either ;)

5. Have to know where you get those tutus and other fun accessories! (Not sure if this is photography related or not but it seems to fit here!)
I have a collection of tutus. I have one from Belle Ame and several from Oopsy Daisy Baby. The rest I picked up at TJ Maxx one week when they got a slew of adorable (and cheap!) tutus in stock. I am ALWAYS looking for fun props. The hair flowers and crocheted caps I have are from My Bella Bows on etsy. I have headbands I have picked up at Forever 21 and other retails stores. Many of the bows I've made myself (I actually started on ebay doing hairbows). I have a collection of fun props that I have picked up at garage sales, flea markets, antique stores, and CRAIGSLIST. Ah...craigslist...LOVE IT! (DISCLAIMER: If you live in the KC area and beat me out of a cool chair on Craigslist after I just shared this I will have to beat you with a wet noodle!)

6. I would love a recommendation for an all around fabulous lens, I just got a Canon Rebel. I'm also wondering how\where you store all of your photos?
Start with the 50mm/1.8 or 50mm/1.4. It is a prime (or fixed) lens meaning it DOES NOT zoom. If you want to zoom into your subject you must physically move with your feet. It will encourage you to get creative in how you frame your shots and will provide that yummy blurriness (bokeh) in the background of the image that makes the subject pop!

I upload my images to Picasa and save them in files within the program. I have folders created on my hard drive for each client that includes their session images, edits, gallery images, and blog images. These are backed up onto DVD after each session. Family images are saved in a directory by date.

7. I have never played with a story board but love that one so I may have to give it a whirl! Did you buy it or download it and from where?!
There are oodles of free downloads on the Internet for storyboards that can be customized to your specifications. Plus...several well know photography blogs/sites sell templates as well. I LOVE the simplicity of THIS 3 opening storyboard. If you google free storyboard for photoshop you will likely find hundreds of options!

8. How did you learn the photography basics, exposure, finding the right light, etc.?...and...What is your post processing like? Do you use any particular actions? How did you learn this part of photography? more...Any tutorials in your future?
Again...practice, practice, and um...well...practice :) I spent 5 years sewing on ebay and taking photos of my girls. I can't even begin to think how much I learned during that time. Lala...remember the igloo cooler? I read and read...practiced with lighting...and experimented. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Most of the photographers I have met have been happy to help me if I have a specific question. There is no easy fix other than taking time to make a commitment to learn!

I usually do a couple of quick fixes in Picasa (sharpen and add highlights if necessary). I use Photoshop CS4 mainly. Some shots require very little editing. I like the free actions available from Pioneer Woman. MCP also offers some nice options (some free and some for sale). A good friend of mine showed me the ropes on using actions. From there I did A LOT of experimenting and trial and error :)

I've had some emails regarding tutorials and mentoring...and while I won't rule it out in the future...I can't imagine I know enough yet to make it worthwhile :)

9. What would you recommend as a step above a digital camera that could be built upon slowly?
I think the Nikon D40 is a nice option and a solid camera. I have never shot on Canon before but know a lot of photographers (professional and amateur) who love the Canon Rebel and EOS series. My dad just got a Canon EOS for Father's Day and I had some fun with him on the beach playing around with it! I would suggest foregoing the kit lens that comes with the camera as you will likely not use it much. Ask about getting a 50mm lens with the camera body!

I'll be back with volume 2...and the WINNER of a really yummy beachy PRIZE soon!


Lala said...

Hi Jenn!!! LOL... Yes... I remember the IGLOO cooler (it SEEMS so long ago!!!)... WOW... I read every ? and your answers... Hmmmmmm... I THINK you now PLENTY (how bout a tutorial???)

LOVED the pics too! Gotta say... those last 2 shots are FAVS of mine!!!

*sigh* a JCP shot storyboard *sigh* SOMEDAY... I promise!

Love, Lala :o)

kim said...

Thanks for all the great info.!
Looking forward to part 2.
Beautiful photos as usual!:)

Emily said...

I usually lurk, but thought I'd pop in today to say THANKS for your inspiring posts!
...and I agree with Lala. You know plenty.

Jessica said...

Thanks for all the great tips! Can't wait to try them out!