Thursday, March 24, 2011

Has it really been a YEAR!
It is funny looking back and seeing where I was this time last year. This is when I really started to push myself, and study a lot. I was stressed to the max with moving and Shaun was studying for finals for law school to keep myself from going crazy I would throw myself into the world of photography. I would be up sooo late at night, trying to learn and understand how to improve.
This is a picture I took of KD
at the park last March. I thought this picture was totally awesome. I thought I nailed it.
I was the Ha Ha.
But now I look at it, and ah it is so funny, the grass is so natural looking, same with her eyes.
And suddenly, only in this picture, KD has male pattern baldness. AKA her forehead is totally blown out. Not the most flattering. This probably took me 2 hours to edit, mostly because I ran a million different actions on it trying to make it look better. I was so proud.

Moving on to the Present day...
Here is a more recent picture. I still have a lot to work on. But just seeing the progress gives me so much excitement for the future. Where will I be in a year, or 2 years from now.
So here it is, what I have learned this year.
I love reading the insights from other photographers. What works and what doesn't, their ups and downs, how they got to where they are now.
So here is mine. I would love your input if you have anything to add, or questions but as of now, this is what is working for me.

In the beginning I was so intimidated. I didn't understand how to use it to my advantage so I just didn't mess with it and only shot in jpeg. Shooting in RAW was just another step. BUT
This was probably the best, most influential thing I learned.
You should get it right in camera. The better in camera you get, the less editing you have to do in photoshop to fix it. And if it is all wrong, no action or preset, or editing in raw can fix it.
Trust me I have tried.
But when things are a little off, the lighting is a little uneven, or, my favorite is shooting backlight pictures, I depend on raw to turn my picture into what I really saw.
The best part of raw, is the recovery slider. Because when you are trying to get sun flares and expose the face right, often times the background gets blown out. And the Recovery Slide, can
to a certain extent, bring the picture back without having the color be off when you mess with
the exposure.
Also I like to increase the brightness, and in my backlight pictures, the contrast and blacks.
The other great thing is the ability to mess with the white balance on raw. I sometimes have to use it in photoshop also, but for the most part it is all in raw. I am still working on training my eye to see the colors of the picture, the blues and yellows, greens, and magentas and see if it is natural looking or not.
The other great thing that happened this year, was accidentally winning my 50mm 1.8 lens on ebay.
We bid on it at such a low price I didn't think we would get it and we did. When I got this lens,
I first off learned, what a prime lens meant. Ha ha. ( When you can't zoom in and out )
And how much sharper a picture can be.
This is my go to lens for all my close up one on one pictures with people. I love to shoot at
2.8 with this lens, I feel like that is it's sweet spot, and you get really great blur, and the
subject is so much clearer than my stock lens.
One BIG thing I learned about myself, is that I do not do well under pressure. Sometimes I try to push myself to go
faster than I can and I will just take shots with my settings all wrong just so I can get the shot.
Nor is it a good way to get great pictures.
You can't force things to be different. You just have to see the good in whatever is going on and
make it work. If it doesn't then, well I am still working on this, but learn to say, the dreaded words, "I just can't do that."

Some shooting tricks,
USE the in camera meter. The ticker in your view finder, I like mine about 1 to 2 clicks over exposed. This does NOT work if you are shooting backlight pictures.
I am still trying to figure out the best way to do that.
If you are feeling nervous, use the AV mode on your camera. It isn't always the best, but you can change the settings of your aperture and your metering so the camera just determines how fast the shutter speed should be. It is really nice when you don't have the time to really mess with your settings.
Look at what you are taking a picture of. I know this sounds silly, but if there are shadows or
really uneven light, it will be more dramatic in your picture than with your eyes. Sometimes all it takes is to have someone take one step to the side and you save so much time trying to fix an awkward shadow or an unflattering bright spot. For example, there was a sign that said don't flush tampons down the toilet in big bold red lettering and I was too focused on getting the best shot of the bride getting ready to notice the glaring words in the background.
To get the picture to be it's sharpest, I always try to keep my shutter above 200. Especially when I am taking pictures of my kids. Also, I heard something, that seemed to make sense to me, but I don't know if it is totally true but here it is.
Don't drop your shutter speed below double your lens length.
If you are shooting with a 50 mm lens, you shouldn't drop your shutter speed below 100.
Another tip, is mess with your ISO. Your camera typically wants to keep it at 400. I have heard
some photographers say they always keep it there. But I prefer to move mine down to 100 if I am in full sun and go up with the less amount of light that there is. With my Rebel, once I have my ISO above 400 the noise level is pretty noticeable, and the quality of the picture really goes down.
If you need to use the flash, I know it is so tacky looking but I tie a tissue over the flash using a rubber band, to prevent shinny spots on faces and you get less red eye.
Easy, fast, and cheap. Saves you time in photoshop.

Your sharpest focal point is the one in the middle. I learned this from my fabulous mentor and I am still working on this, but it is focus and recompose. Click on the subject that you want in focus, keep the shutter half down, set up the shot and click.
This takes a lot of practice (A LOT!) but it is worth it.

As of now, I have not purchased any actions. All of the actions that I use I have received for free.
My basic recipe that I use now is brighten, use an S-Curve, and a layer of soft light with a low opacity. I like to burn and dodge certain parts of pictures but that is about it.

Some sites that I really like their actions, and one day I would love to have all of them would be

Some of my favorite sites that I feel like have really helped me...

And finally Photographers that Inspire me... here are just a few of my most favorites

Don't let other people put you down. I think this is the hugest thing. There are so many photographers out there that will tell you not to do it. You are just a mom with a camera, or if you don't have all the fancy expensive stuff, you will never be successful. It is not right for other people to try to tear you down. The great thing about photography is that it is art. Really, it is all about what looks good to you. If you like it, and the person you are taking the pictures for likes it, then keep on doing it. If you enjoy it, keep doing it. Photography for me is a fun way to let me be creative. I love creating. I love to decorate my home with things that I have made myself. From curtains to paintings, throw pillows, bow holders, I have made it. I don't let people tell me that I shouldn't hang those curtains because I didn't buy them from some high end store. I love my curtains. I think they look great. Just like my photography. What I do isn't perfect, but it makes me happy, and that is all that matters.
So ignore the nay sayers, and get your camera out and take some pictures.


Janet said...

thats great!! i cant wait to have you shoot some pics of me and jeffrey! i think your work is so good already!

Moore Family said...

Thank you for your tips and hints.