Q & ASeptember 30, 2009
Alrighty you all, I’ve decided to add all my Q&A’s here so you don’t have to go looking for them or I guess you could use the “categories” drop down, but this will just be another way to find them!
My Tamron is on my camera 90% of the time for easy access to pictures of my kids. I use it for newborn sessions because they are almost always inside and I need to be able to get that 28mm range. And to be honest, I use this for most of my sessions. HOWEVER, I do not love this lens by any means.
Pros: The zoom factor. I like to zoom and I like to have that full range from 28 – 75mm covered by one lens. Cons: It’s not very sharp and I’ve for sure out grown this lens. I love the look of wide angle distortion, but it’s just not quite wide enough to get there. As an alternate, I’d love the Canon 24 – 70mm 2.8L, but it’s WAY out of my budget!
I LOVE the 85mm because it’s sharp and the bokeh is to DIE for, but it’s not very practical (for me).You have to be WAY back (and I like to be close). I like to talk to my clients while I’m taking pictures, so being so far back, I feel like I’m yelling and am not able to give much direction. But every time I put this lens on and work around those things, I LOVE the images it produces.
What is a decent amount of blog views and do you find that by increasing blog viewers you actually get more clients? Oh boy, I have no idea what a decent amount of blog views is! I do know that I average about 48 a day right now and I don’t think that’s very much and would love to have more. I’ve never had a lot of blog flow, so I can’t really say if it helps actually get more clients.
I have however just recently (literally like a month ago) gotten some advice on how to help the search engines find my blog better, and I’m hoping by doing those things, it will increase views to my blog and therefor get clients coming my way!
What I’ve learned (about my wordpress blog):
* I can add new tags to each post so search engines will see those tags and will find me better.
* If you scroll over the image below you’ll see it says “Utah county photographer”. I NEVER knew how to do that before, so I’ve been going back into my old posts and changing my images to say a key word I want search engines to find. The more time you have key words, the more you’ll be found.
So my question for you (for Q and A Tuesdays), is your processing technique. It looks so simple but yet it just pops! Is it really as simple as it looks? Yeah, it really is! I’ve been doing the same things to my images for YEARS. Do I always do the exact same thing? No, but I do these next steps to every single picture.
I chose that picture to be my example because it was a tad underexposed to start with, and as much as I’d love to say that I always get great image sooc…I DON’T! So that is the basics! I do those three steps to every picture regardless of the picture. Curves and contrast help bring out color! I do try and get images the correct exposure sooc, and when I do, again, those steps just help make images pop. For example:
sooc & edited with just those three things.
Lately I’m loving the look of burned edges, so I’ll burn the edges. I also have a quick low saturation action that I run and then erase in skin tones and anything that may have gotten a little too neon.
I was wondering if you could tell me a little more about the saturation action and erasing back the skin, how exact do you have to be not to get a “halo” type effect and do you do this with a layer mask. The saturation action is done is with the channel mixer. (I used ps7). To make your own action, you open your actions pallet, click on that little arrow in the top right corner, hit “new action” and name it. This will start recording your action. Go to “Image – Adjustments – Channel mixer” and do each step in order as you see it below and hit the stop button. There you go, you are all ready to use that action!
To use it, I always make a new layer by either going to “layer – new – layer” or by clicking on that new layer button (circled above). Hit the play button on your saturation action and then use your eraser to erase the stuff that’s too much. I use the soft round eraser and usually on like 50% or some opacity. You can play around with those things.
I have the 50d and struggle to control noise indoors. How high can you set the iso indoors? I find inside that if I go any higher than ISO 400 inside then I’ll see noise. Even 400 is pushing it unless I get spot on exposure (but I don’t always). I do use Imagenomic Noise wear for noise those and love it.
When you shoot from further away (I mean so you can see the subject and alot of the surroundings in the picture), are your pictures tack sharp when you look at them in actual pixels in PS? Nope, but if I use my 85mm, then they are pretty sharp. but for the most part, a close up will be sharper then a full body because the pixels are more spread out on a full body (well that’s what I’ve heard…could be totally wrong! lol).
I was wondering how and when you sharpen your images? I sharpen all my images for the web and if the image needs it, I’ll sharpen for print.
When I’m done editing a full size image and I think it needs to be sharpened, I’ll sharpen it for print using USM Unsharp Mask: filter – sharpen – unsharp mask. I play with the settings, but for a general rule, I start at Amount: 150 – 200%, Radius: 0.2 – 0.9 px, Threshold: 0 levels. I duplicate the layer to I can erase the bg and other objects back in after I sharpen.
For web sized photos, I have an action that I made that duplicates the layer (like above/making a new layer) and then uses USM ( My settings for web sized images are Amount: 200%, Radius: 0.3px, Threshold: 0 levels.
Like for prints, I duplicate the layer in my action so I can erase the edges and pretty much everything besides right around the body/face.
My question is about cropping. It seems like I am a wuss when it come to cropping a picture. I don’t know if there are any rules when it comes to cropping but if you could give any tips or advice i think that would be so helpful. Well, one rule that you may have heard of is the “rule of thirds”. First and for most, when I take pictures, I like to have the image look pretty much the way it’s going to look with out much cropping. The more you crop post processing, you more quality you will lose. So when I’m looking through my camera, what I see, is what I want it to look like, if that makes sense??
So the rule of thirds….I found this little diagram on line to give you an idea. When I shoot (or crop) an image, I want the main focus (so lots of time the eyes) to pretty much fall in the top 1/3 or really anywhere besides smack dab in the middle.
There ARE of course exceptions to this rule, but it’s a starting point! Also, when I crop for the web, I use 5×7 because it’s more faltering then lets say a 4×6 or 8×10 crop
Here are two quick different examples of the rule of thirds
If you have any questions this week, feel free to sent them to email@example.com
My next question for you is about your work flow at the actual shoot. Do you have a specific order for getting comfortable with the subjects, taking kids alone or whole family shots first, etc? I make sure I just jump right into talking to the parents, asking kids their names, etc. I *like* to take kids separately, but most of the time, there is always one parent with me. So I just chat and get to know the parents…play with the kids and make silly jokes. I also always do family shots first! Family shots are the hardest, so I want to get the kids right off the bat to try and get some family pictures.
Do you find yourself choosing the location or the family choosing it more often? The majority of time, I choose. I give clients the option of any location, but they pretty much always ask me were I shoot or the best places. I have a few fave spots that I recommend, but I’m very open to new spots as well.
I am wondering what type of processing you do to get such nice warm tones. When I shoot with AWB, the pictures often look cool to me. I do use AWB and my images for the most part start out cool sooc. I have found the BEST way for me to warm them up is with the white dropper in Curves. Here’s how I do it..
You use the white dropper to click on an area in the image that is SUPPOSED to be white. So her head band is still a little blue, but it’s white…so I click in it and it does the trick! You DO have to practice because some times it will go wonky. I’ve found that you click on the whitest white part. So you see how the left side of her head band is a bit darker and bluer than the right? So I would choose a spot that is ALMOST white and click there. If you have an image that DOESN’T have white, you can use ANY image, open it up (make sure the image you want to warm up is the one that is in the front and ready to be worked on. Follow the steps above and use the white dropper to click on the OTHER image). There MAY be a better way, I’m sure. But that’s how I do it. So now, you have the BEFORE AND AFTER:
Just a quick question about cropping, actually….when you crop images that will be printed or enlarged, do you plug anything into the ppi or anything special/different into the cropping size? I leave the ppi blank. Some labs ask that you do it at 300ppi (actually the lab that I use tells you that) but I never do it and my images come out great! I actually find that when I USED to crop at 300ppi, the quality looked worse, so I stopped doing it. I think the main thing, is just finding what works for YOU. If it works for me, I’ll do it and keep doing it..
I am wondering what focus point you use when photographing groups. When I photograph families and they are standing and at staggering heights, some people are less in focus. Any suggestions? Well first of all, with big groups you are going to want to stop down. I’ve heard for as many people in the group, use that fstop. So 12 people, f12…so on. BUT, I’m not a rule follower in that way. I usually start out at 4.0 with families if they are really close together and if they are further apart, I’ll stop down to 6.0 or so. THEN, I use my middle focus point to focus on someone in the middle of the group. If you have your distance and fstop in the right place, then the end people should fall into focus. Also, remember with big groups, you don’t need tack sharp focus on everyone’s eyes.
My second question is about finding the right light. I am wondering how you go about looking for the right place at a location. I know the person should be in the shade, but should they be facing the sun? Yes, shade is a good thing. I love open shade even more! When I get to a place (if I haven’t been there before), I’ll just walk around and see what I can find. There really aren’t any tricks to finding the right light, you just need to walk around and look for it. As far as facing the sun goes…it just depends. Some times the light is too bright and harsh for eyes. I like to do my shoots a couple hours before sun set, so the light isn’t as bright as…lets say mid day. If there isn’t any shade, then I like the sun behind my subject. You can get cool back lighting, sun flair, etc. The thing for me, is that I always make sure to look at the face/eyes and see where the sun is landing. If they have huge shadows in real life, they are going to have them when you snap the picture.
Can you please tell me how you burn the edges? OH burning edges is EASY! I use ps7, so if you have that version or newer, then you should have the burn tool.
So there is the burn tool. I use a brush with soft edges, on mid tones at about 40% opacity. You can mess with the opacity for darker edges. And then I just brush around the edges.
What type of metering do you use? I use Spot metering.
Tips for shooting in full sun and using backlighting? OH gosh…would it be horrible to say that I’m not the best at that? I haven’t had much practice with full sun and back lighting as I try and find good open shade for pics. But if I HAVE to shoot in full sun I make sure to pay attention to faces. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again…if you look at the face and there are shadows or harsh sun on the face in real life, then it will show up in pictures. I read something from the AWESOME Audrey Woulard, who does outdoor full some AMAZING, that she will walk around her “subject” and have them slowly turn around with her. And when she sees the lighting best on the face, then she’ll shoot! I may or may not have gotten that all right but I took the advice and ran with it. If I’m outside in full sun, I’ll do the same. THEN meter for the face and it’s okay to get blow outs in the bg or here and there. Just try and get the face exposed good.
When you shoot in manual do you overexpose at all? Um….YES! of course! I’m not perfect. I both underexpose and overexpose. Some times I forget to check my settings and I’ll mess up completely he he..
I was wondering if you could show how to create texture on pictures? Okay, so like I said above, I don’t really have much experience with textures. I don’t really use them! BUT, I know a quick and easy way to do them. You first have to have a texture. There are a lot of good ones, including Nicole Van’s, that you can buy to use for your images. So I *think* you would just open your image and the texture. Pull the texture onto your image (on top of your image), lower the opacity so you can see your subject and then erase in the subject back in. I don’t know! I’m sorry!!! I think textures are awesome, but I’ve never really played around with them!
I’m wondering if you could go over how to sharpen the eyes? I don’t sharpen the eyes other than my normal sharpening I do for print. I also have answered this in a Q & A. I use the USM: “filter – sharpen – unsharp mask. I play with the settings, but for a general rule, I start at Amount: 150 – 200%, Radius: 0.2 – 0.9 px, Threshold: 0 levels. I duplicate the layer to I can erase the bg and other objects back in after I sharpen”. I usually erase the back ground and MOST body parts back in besides the face.
How about color popping? You can find my color popping techniques here: http://melissadavisphotography.com/photoblog/?p=647 and here: http://melissadavisphotography.com/photoblog/?p=686 I always when I use saturation, be sure to duplicate the layer so I can erase back the skin so it doesn’t look over done.
When editing how do you keep skin tones consistent? Ha ha ha! I don’t! I know lots of photographers will say when critiquing “the skin tones aren’t consistent” but lighting changes and different cast are shed from trees, grass, buildings etc. I do try and keep the skin tones consistent with what the situation was, if that makes sense? I guess that doesn’t have to do with editing lol. When EDITING, the best way to stay consistent is to edit consistent. That’s the best thing I could tell ya. I edit each picture pretty much the same way.
How do position your newborns to get great shots? Well first of all, you need TIME!! to be able to do newborn shots. I spend at least 3-4 hours at my clients homes when I do a newborn shoot. All newborns are different, but if you get to photograph them, try and do it with in the first 7-10 days of life. The SOONER the better. I always bring a handful of warm blankets, a heating pad and then make sure there is white noise going on. Tell moms before hand to turn up the heat (you might sweat, but when the baby is in his/her birthday suit, it’s much better to have it WARM!). Make sure mom feeds and changes baby before you come. Lot of little steps to set up for a good newborn shoot. As far a positioning the newborns, I still have a lot to learn! Most of the newborns I’ve shot have been not liked me trying to position them, so I’ll just let them do what they want. If you can spend the time to get the baby out like a log, it works a lot better. Okay, so I’m not sure that even answered your question! LOL.
How many shots do you generally take when you do a shoot? Um, it depends. I used to over shoot. I just shot, shot, shot, shot until I was for SURE there MUST be something good on there. The funny thing is, that just takes more time to weed through and then you’re tossing so many! Now, with a normal family or child session (not extended family, because there’s more to shoot), I’ll take some where around 60 shots. Another thing is, now I’ll really try and wait for a shot rather than just shoot and hope it turns out. Id rather have to toss an image because of closed eyes or “user mistakes” than tossing just because I took to many!
Do you have a studio set-up? & if so, what equipment do you suggest using? Nope, I don’t have a studio set up. I am fully natural light, so when I go into someone’s home, I use my surrounding or if it’s a newborn session (which it is 90% of the time when I go into a home), I will find the biggest window and use my blankets to drape over a couch or pillow or whatever my client has there to work with. One day I would like to have some lights and studio stuff I could bring on location for darker days, but for now, just natural light