Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Photography Tips

First of all, I meant to get this post done last weekend, but I had a busy day with family and then two photo sessions this week and several snows here it is finally....

I was all set to do a photoshop tutorial, but I decided do something a bit more in depth from my last photography tips post.  I wanted to talk today specifically about shooting in manual mode for dslr's.  It took me quite a while to start shooting exclusively in manual mode because I would forget to change my settings while chasing my toddler around.  I would get quite frustrated and discouraged when half of my images were either over or under exposed, blurry, or grainy.  It takes a while to get used to it, you just have to stick with it and practice!  Now I really don't even think about it, I always shoot in manual.    So, I thought I would go through the things I do to zero in on the correct exposure while shooting in manual mode.

1)First I set my ISO depending on light conditions.  If I'm outside and it's sunny and fairly bright then I'll set my ISO to 200 or less.  If I'm in the shade, then it might be 400, indoors it can go up to 1000 depending on available light.  (Keep in mind I do manual, NO flash photography 99% of the time, so ISO is very important).
2) Once I've got my ISO determined I will set my aperture.  A smaller aperture (high f-number) increases the depth of field and will bring the background and foreground into focus.  A larger aperture (low f-number) decreases the depth of field which softens the background and focuses on the subject.  For portraits you will want to work with a larger aperture or low f-number.  I don't change this much, I usually shoot pretty wide open (lower f-stop), usually anywhere from 2.2 - 4.5.
3) Next I spot meter off the skin.  I mentioned in my last post that you will need to determine the appropriate metering mode for the type of pictures you are taking. Since I do portraits I find that spot metering work best for me most of the time. I spot meter off the skin of the face primarily and it works very well in most situation.  Next (while keeping the spot meter where I want it), I will adjust my shutter speed to achieve the correct exposure.  I will spot meter and adjust the shutter speed for every shot.
4) Then I focus in and take a couple of shots.  (I use single point focus and move my focus around where I want it to be that's another thing I adjust with every shot). I then check them to see if  (a) the exposure looks correct (not too dark or too light)....{I will explain how a histogram works in a future post, but it would be worthwhile to read about it in your camera manual} , (b) my subject is in focus, and (c) the shot is sharp (not blurry).  If my exposure is incorrect I will re-adjust my ISO, aperture, or shutter speed depending on the issue and take a few more shots.  You could do these adjustments in a variety of ways and there is no exact formula....but the more you practice the easier it will get to find the right balance.  I often find that if the picture is blurry then I need to bump up my ISO and increase my shutter speed.  If the focus area is too small (like only on the eyes of my subject rather than the entire face) then I will check my aperture and adjust it to a higher f-stop number or possibly.  If the pictures appear grainy (higher ISOs will produce more noise and result in a grainy image), then I don't have enough light and will have to supplement my natural light with indoor light, or move to a difference area (for me that would be outside) in order to lower my ISO value.
I realize this might not make a lot of sense to many, but if you get your dslr manual out and read through it, then this might make sense.  : )  There is no one perfect formula....the correct exposure can be achieved in many ways, this is just how I do it.  It took me a while to 'get' the way it all works to create the correct exposure.  Also I have to put it out there that I am not an expert and I'm 100% self taught, so I may not explain everything correctly (technically or otherwise)....I have a degree in marketing, not keep that in mind.  : )

I just hope that those of you who want to learn more about your dslr and are shooting in manual will get something out of this.

Friday, February 4, 2011

More snow & pigtails

This morning we were up early to go pick-up Whitney and get her to work by 9:00.  The roads are still so bad from our Tuesday snow that I just felt better taking her to and from work to keep her safe.  As soon as I got home from dropping her off it started snowing again!!

After I took that picture we got at least 4-5 more inches because it snowed the rest of the day and night.  Whitney soon called and said they were closing early, so we headed back to pick her up.  We decided to do some shopping at target and then we took her home.  I think the parking lot at her apartment was worse than the roads....they really need to clear it off!  By the time Ana Kate and I got home the roads were getting even worse (if that's possible).  I can still get out and get around, so it doesn't bother me too much, but if the roads don't clear they will continue to cancel school for Ana Kate....and she misses it.  : (  I am also missing my bible study and hopefully we'll get back on schedule next week.  According to the forecast we won't be back to 'normal' until next Friday!  The snow is pretty, but I'm ready for it to melt.

Not much else going on here today.  Ana Kate always wants her hair in a ponytail and braid, but I switched it up today and gave her pigtails.  They were SO cute and made her hair look really long, I had to get some pictures of her, so she modeled for me.

I did not finish my photography post, so I will get it posted either tomorrow or Sunday.  I would love to hear what type of tips tutorials that you would like to see.  Photoshop tutorials, how to work in manual mode, backdrops and session set-ups??  Just let me know.  I have tons of cool tricks in photoshop, but not sure how many will actually use photoshop for editing.  Anyway....I'll get that out there this weekend.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Days

Not too much going on around here this week.  We've been snowed in the past two days and I'm guessing we won't get out much until Friday or Saturday.  Ana Kate doesn't have school tomorrow and my bible study is cancelled, so we'll have to figure out something fun to do together.  I love staying home and it takes a really long time for me to get cabin fever....but we might venture out tomorrow to do some shopping while everyone else is staying home.  I have a 4-wheel drive SUV, so I think we'll be fine.  It's SO cold outside though...down to the single digits, I can't believe it was 70 degrees just 4 days ago...crazy!

Anyway, while we were snowed in I decided to try out some new photo set-ups in my studio and I love the pictures I captured of Ana Kate!  She wasn't into posing, but I promised her a popsicle if she she gave in.  I think she did a great job!  : )  I am working on another photography post/tutorial for tomorrow or Friday, so come back and check it out.