Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Q&A Answers

Wow!! Thanks for all the questions everyone! It seriously was a lot of fun for me to do this. If something doesn't make sense feel free to leave a comment or email me and I'll clarify. Here we go!!

Aubrey said: many questions, so little space...

What setting do you use on your camera for inside pics? My camera is always in manual mode to have full control of the light situation. If I'm doing an inside shoot it really depends on how my lighting is... if it's nice and bright I usually have my ISO set to 200 and my aperture set to 2.8 depending on how many subjects are in the shot (inside usually I'm only doing one or two subjects) and then I'll adjust my shutter speed accordingly being sure not to go below 1/125. Once you go below that you'd better make sure you are super steady so either use a tripod or have a place to brace yourself and also that your subject isn't going to move otherwise it will be blurry. White balance is usually set to "cloudy."


And outside pics? Same thing for outside... it always depends on the light. If I'm starting to lose light then I will start to bump up my ISO and adjust my aperture and shutter speed as needed. This is the joy of shooting in manual! To master this you just have to practice and see what works.


How do you get your pics so bright? Photoshop... I up the contrast in Adobe Camera Raw (Bridge) and use a curves action and another action called Lovely & Ethereal (it's a free action from Pioneer Woman).


Marla said:
Yay! Awesome! Thanks for this! Hope there's not a one question limit. . . Here's a few for you:

1. Actions: Love 'em? Hate 'em? Use 'em? Any particular ones you love/use the most? Make your own? I look at actions as a way to speed up workflow so for that reason alone I love them. I have only a certain few that I ever use though. If you haven't downloaded the two free sets from Pioneer Woman then I suggest you do it because they are wonderful and uh hello they're FREE! Lovely & Ethereal (without the Gaussian blur) is the one I use the most. But I also like warmer and cooler just for a quick fix in white balance if needed. I have a curves action that was shown to me by another photographer and I run it on pretty much every image but I seriously cannot remember how I made it... sorry! The flowers set from Lilyblue is a great one too. And then there's Totally Rad... I think pretty much every photographer has that in their actions palette... I love the get faded series, lux (soft) and Lights Out. Oh, and can't live without MCP's Powder your Nose...

2. Workflow: Do you have a specific system down? Do you edit all pics that you like? Do you ever show clients unedited pics before you do the edit process? Although I love it, it seems that it takes me for-freakin-ever to edit. Honestly, no I do not edit every image I show to clients. To me, I'd rather edit and spend time on images that I know they love rather then spending my time on something they won't even order. However, I do run a quick edit on all the images I include in their gallery in Bridge. So it isn't necessarily Straight Out of the Camera images. I will also include some fully edited images that were my favorites from the session so they can see what the finished product looks like and then I'll usually use those images for my blog as well.

3. Camera Settings: Got any favs? Are you an AP or SP gal, or do you run fully Manual? What about white balance? Auto or are you more specific? Pretty much Manual all the time... I went straight from Auto to Manual when I was starting out and so I honestly don't really know how to shoot in the other settings. :) White balance... I usually shoot in "cloudy" but will change to other settings depending on the situation. I don't normally shoot in Auto White Balance unless I'm inside and nothing else is looking right.

4. I've heard of a technique called Back Button Focusing - can't find a whole lot about this, and don't understand what I've read. Do you have any idea what this is and how to do it? Yes, hopefully I can explain it well... you can set the backbutton focus button to be your actual focus button on your camera. Totally makes sense, right? For instance, most people will push their shutter down half way and that will create the focus. So you actually are moving your focus button from your shutter button to the backbutton button. Ahhh! So confusing I know... and why would someone want to do that? The answer is because let's say you have a specific area that you want in focus but your focus point won't go there but you really want your picture composed a certain way. Use the backbutton focus button and put your focus on your subject, then you can move your camera to where you really wanted it and your subject should still be in focus. It's basically a focus lock. I've had other photographers tell me that they've had better results with backbutton focusing all together so they use it all the time. I used to use it on my D90 but since I got the D300 I haven't changed the settings yet. But good question!

5. Any books or websites that you read that you really loved or felt really helped you when you were first starting out in photography? Not necessarily eye candy sites or books, but more like "how to" type things. . . . Pioneer Woman Photography, MCP the blog (the links are located in my sidebar), Jessica Kettle's Q&A... seriously probably the most helpful ever!! and Prop Insanity. And millions of other random places I probably couldn't even begin to name off.

Annie said:
ive got one... how do you take pictures without the flash(what setting) AND without the picture looking so blurry!! Refer to Aubrey's question... really if you want non-blurry pictures, shooting in manual is the way to do it

Samara flying

Antique Autumn Photography said:
How did you get started in photography? Did you go to school for it or are you self-taught? I was inspired by another photographer and my intrigue grew. I would love to go to school and study it even more but I haven't as of right now. I wouldn't say I'm completely self taught because I've had a lot of mentors helping me along the way.

Are you a Canon or Nikon girl? :) Great post btw! Nikon

Marla said:
You just posted that you got the 24-70mm/2.8 lens. I DREAM of having that lens. . . one day. Hard to justify on a hobbiest budget. . . but, I digress.

1. What was you main portrait lens PRIOR to your new purchase? Well, actually I purchased the 17-55 2.8 lens and before that I was using my 50mm 1.4 mainly.

2. How do you like your new lens as compared to what you were using before? I understand it's a wide angle lens, but other than that, what big differences are you noticing? The 17-55mm is also a zoom lens and so it's been an adjustment for me to realize that I can actually stand in one spot and zoom in and out rather than having to physically walk closer and farther away from my subject. So very new to me because I've used prime lenses for so long. Also, with the wide end of the zoom you can get some pretty awesome shots that are completely different than anything I could have ever done before. I love it more for that reason than anything else... oh, and it's ridiculously sharp!


3. Did you ever consider the Tamron or Sigma alternatives in the same spec range? Honestly?? No. I've rented this lens many times before and knew it was the one I wanted.

On the business side:1. Did you do free sessions for friends when you first wanted to get into photography? Regardless of that, how/when did you decide to start charging for your services? I did a session for fun with my sister-in-law and her husband as my first official "let's see what I can do with this camera" session. My intent was not to start a business in photography at all. I put the pictures on this blog at first just to show the fun shots I took and that was it. But because of the blog, I had a friend who saw the pictures and asked me how much I would charge to take pictures of her little boy. I charged her $50 for a disc with 10-15 images on it. Up until that session I didn't have a camera of my own so I purchased the Nikon D90 and decided I wanted to do this for real. And the rest is history...

*This shot is from my first paid session for my friend.

2. About charging for your services, how did you come up with your fees? I did research of what other photographers were charging in my area that I felt were comparatively at the same level as me. I also knew that I wanted to make sure that people weren't just getting the disc. Professional prints are important to any photographer and so with the way my prices are set up it allows my clients to get the best of both worlds.

3. I read on your blog that you recently took the plunge and went into photography full time (good for you!!). What was your personal goal for this to happen? (like, did you decide a year ago that you would just make this happen, or did you have a financial goal or amount of clients goal in mind before you went full time?) My goal was one year... I knew that it would take me at least that long to gain a big enough client base. Plus, I was to the point where my job at the Credit Union was starting to get in the way of my photography and I knew that one or the other had to go. I was getting too busy and had no time to work on my business. So it only made sense for me to focus on it completely.

4. Where do you get your client images printed? Most of the professional sites require a business/tax ID#, and as a hobbiest, I don't have one of those. Any thoughts on that? I use Colorinc and WHCC. I actually think that Colorinc doesn't require a tax id#.

5. Speaking of business/Tax ID's, was that a hard process to go through? Officially setting up a business seems so daunting to me - although a write-off on some new equipment would be nice. It really wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. The nice thing is that all of those things can pretty much be done online.

6. Do you use reflectors? If so, got a favorite? Yes, I have one reflector and I can't remember the name of it but it's a triangle shape with a handle so I can actually hold the reflector myself if I really need to. (Just went and looked at it... the brand is Lastolite.)

*Reflector was used in this shot.

Meg'n memories said:
Do you do any indoor shoots with natural light? I have yet mastered this and want/need any tips. I have the cannon 7d and know you are a Nikon girl but what should I be doing or looking for... All of my inside shoots are done with natural light. (Refer to Aubrey's question for settings.) I have a large window in my front room which allows a lot of light in. I think the one thing that changed my inside shoots was the way I was exposing the subject. You want to make sure your whites are white and that your blacks are black if that makes sense. Try using a white backdrop first and get your settings to where you think you want them. Take your first shot and if your white backdrop looks gray then you probably need to up your exposure. Keep doing it until you get your backdrop white without overexposing your subject's face.


Jamie Alyssa said:
How do you get such beautiful sunflare?? do you have any tips I could follow? Yes, there's a great article by Pioneer Woman about how to do this here.


Also, if you don't mind, I have one more question, in a low-light situation, indoors, with an active child, how would you personally adjust your settings to reduce motion blur? I know it can be done, but mine always end up to dark, or too much motion blur. I would say that this can also depend on what type of camera you have... the Nikon D700 is supposed to be miraculous in this area because it allows you to set your ISO so much higher and has very little noise. My camera does pretty well but I do still get quite a bit of noise with it in the high ISO settings. Obviously, you're going to set your ISO as high as it can go and this is why it matters what type of camera you have because some cameras will go higher on the ISO than others. And, like I said before, I never like to go below 1/125 on shutter speed especially for moving children and even that might be too low for moving children. Plus, if you have a lens that will let you open up your aperture really wide like 1.4 then that will help a lot too. If your lighting is ridiculously low then you might just have to settle for flash. To eliminate the "flash light in the face" look, I purchased a sweet little diffuser called "The Puffer" for $20 online. It's pretty awesome when you don't have any other option but to use flash.

The end.