04 March 2011

Your photography questions - answered.

How did you get started in photography? and where did you learn everything?
I have always been "snap happy"! I took my little point & shoot camera with me everywhere!! For my Birthday 3 years ago, my sweet sweet Husband bought  me my first DSLR camera. I immediately started researching and playing around with it. As I got more experienced, people started asking me if I'd take photos for them. I spent months and months building up my portfolio, and then came my business.
{questions by Brooke, how I got interested in photography was also asked by Sweetened by Kagi, and This So Called Life}

You've probably told this before, but what kind of camera do you use?  
I use a Canon EOS 7D. It's pretty much amazing. (peek inside my camera bag)
{question by Erin}

Favorite lens and best photography tips!?
My favorite lens is hands down my 50mm f/1.4! Since I specialize in natural light portraiture, this prime lens really is the best for me. It's fantastic in low light, and is very very sharp.
As for photography tips, I wrote a "tips for beginners" post for Paper Heart Camera. And also a post for The Mommyhood Memos entitled "Editing tips to make your photos frame-able". Check them out!
{question from The Wishful Lamb}

Did you take any photography classes? And....when learning to shoot, did you start out in Manual and just go for it or did you go through Aperture and Shutter modes first?
a) I never took any formal photography classes! I learned everything I know from books, online tutorials, other photographers and of course lots of practice practice practice!

b) When I first started to shoot, I was guilty of always keeping my camera on 'Auto'. I spent months just shooting on auto. I spent hours browsing other photographer's websites, wondering why my images didn't look nearly as good as theirs. I soon realized that I wasn't even coming close to utilizing my camera to it's full potential. Why have a fancy SLR camera if I wasn't even going to take advantage of all of the amazing features? So... that's when I made the switch to manual. It was definitely an adjustement, there was a lot I had to learn, but boy did it open up so many doors!! And no, I rarely shoot in aperture priority or anything else. I only shoot in Manual mode.
{questions by April}

I have a question about your processing to add photos to your blog. Do you upload them all to Photoshop and save them to the web? Or do you double save them on your hard drive too? Does this make sense?
It kinda makes sense, I think I know what you're asking! Ha ha. I open every single file in photoshp[ (the ones i'm planning to upload). I make any edits that I want, and then I save a copy of it in a separate folder for my blog/fb. So essentially, I have 2 copies on my hard drive. The original file, and the web-sized file.
{question by Nikki}

What has helped you with composition? Any times on working with a 2 y/o age range? Do you use lightroom and/or ACR and if so, how did you learn it?
a) Composition is something that has sort of just recently become comfortable for me. I had a bad habit of always shooting everything center-frame. But the last year or so, I've really stepped outside my comfort zone, and realized that there are so many other ways to creatively frame a shot. Of course there are "rules", but a lot of it was trial and error.

b) Tips for working with a 2 y/o, wow. Yah they are tough. In terms of camera settings, you'll want to keep your shutter speed as quick as possible because toddlers are on the move constantly!! I've found that I keep my ISO slightly higher, so that I can bring my shutter speed fast. Some will tell you to adjust your ISO last, but when working with those little busy bodies, you do what you have to do if you want a sharper image.
{questions by Toliver Family}

Do you use any filters on your lens? I have a Canon 60D and shoot mainly with a 50mm f/1.8 and was told that was the first thing I HAD to have! What settings do you normally shoot on outside? How do I ensure my pictures are the right color and not over exposed when shooting outside in full sun?
a) I use only a protective filter on my lense!

b) That is such a good question. Shooting outside, especially in the direct sunlight can be challenging. Honestly, my advise is to stay OUT of the direct sunlight, unless it can't be avoided - as it will cause squinty eyes, shadows, and washed out skin. Before I go more in depth, let me briefly explain the lighting triangle (ISO, shutter speed and aperture). ISO is the image sensor's sensitivity to light. Shutter speed is the amount of time your shutter is open. And aperture is the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken.
When outside, if you decide to shoot wide open (a low number, like f/1.8, 2.0...etc), then you should set your ISO at 100-200 and have a very quick shutter speed (like 1/3000, 1/4000). For example: If you shoot at f/1.8, this opens your lens up to let more light in. So to avoid overexposure, you'll need to compensate by a quick shutter and a very low ISO. Does this make sense? I recommend shooting in the shade, this will always make for a better photo.
{questions by Kelly}

Just curious if you think a point and shoot can still be utilized for taking awesome pictures?!? This is all I have for now and will not be able to upgrade for a while & I keep playing & trying to be as creative as possible with it. I have a Canon PowerShot SD880 IS Digital Elph...
Absolutely!! Granted, you will be more limited, but you don't have to have a fancy camera to take good photos!! Refer to my "tips for beginners" post at Paper Heart Camera. Many of the examples I used in this post, where taken with a point & shoot.
{question by Pam J}

Any beginner tips I can use? what programs do you use to edit photo? How did you begin and if you read any books what books on photography would you recommend?
a) Beginner tips - when using an SLR camera, whenever possible, try to use natural light and avoid using flash. Get to know your camera, the settings, and different shooting techniques.
b) I use Adobe Photoshop CS4 to edit all of my photos.
c) I have a very large book on Photoshop that I reference from time to time. But honestly, there are a lot of great resources online. I learned a lot of what I know from other photographers and their blogs. I just kinda dove right in!
{questions by My So Called Life}

Do you use any lighting kits or do you try and use natural light or your settings on your camera or in photoshop?? sorry if that didn't make sense!
I always use natural light. On occasion I would use an external flash (which recently broke, bummer!). The 2nd part of the question, I think I understand. Ha ha. I try to always get the right exposure straight out of camera. I don't like to have to lighten things up in Photoshop if I don't have to.
{question by Diana Smith}

Do you always shoot in Manual? What aperture do you usually shoot in? Any "rules of thumb"? (like, a certain ISO you never go over, a trick for relating shutter speed to ISO to aperture? stuff like that)
I ALWAYS shoot in Manual mode. No question. Unless it's at night with no natural light available. Rules of thumb: keep your ISO at a low number to avoid "noise", unless it absolutely can't be helped. Although, with babies/kids - I've learned you have to keep a quicker shutter speed because they are so wiggly. So I tend to use a higher ISO when shooting kids, and a slower shutter speed.
{questions by Amy}

WHEW! That took a lot longer than I thought it would. Ha ha. But thanks so much for all of your questions! :)


Brooke said...

Thanks so much for answering these!! :D

Faith said...

Awesome post! I'd love to hear more about the launch of your business. What has worked, what has not. I tried to launch a photography business before I started blogging seriously and before we moved - epic fail! :)

April Westerhold said...

Thank you so much! Loved all of the answers.

The Bonjour Four said...

What about my question? You know about those manual settings on the front of my 501.4? I always accidentally move them when I'm putting my lens on. Are they for manual focusing? And if so, if I'm using auto focus (which I do use) does it mess with my settings or the way the lens captures the pic if I accidentally move it. Does that make any sense at all?

Kari said...

Great info...xoxo.

Erin said...

Ah! I feel so overwhelmed! :) I recently got an SLR camera, and I'm very nervous about switching it to manual. But I know I just need to take the plunge! Thanks for all the tips!!

Buckeroomama said...

Excellent Q&A post, Mandi!

I really need to learn more about my DSLR. I made a resolution to finish going through my manual by the end of Jun. It's now March and I've barely tackled even a fifth of it!

Nikki said...

Wow! Information overload. I'm going to re read this with my camera in front of me. Can't wait for your mentoring session!

Linkie Lueville said...

Love it! I have a little tip about filters however. Some of the old goofy 35mm folter like diffusion graduals and tinted filters are obsolete in the digital age. But while working for kits cameras, I saw a few lenses come in each year where the person THOUGHT they had broken their Lena when they dropped it, but it was only the UV or Sky filter (which ever one they had happened to have) While selling DSLR's I never let a person out of the store with out a "protective" filter for each lens. They protect from scratches, and oddly enough, when you drop your lens it's the $50 filter that goes NOT your $300 dollar lens. Also, you can't beat the benefit of a good CPL.

Lindsi said...

SOOOO helpful! I can't wait for April!!

Sara said...

Thank you so much for this post! I'm a self taught amateur photog and it's so nice to hear tips and your point of view!! Thanks again for taking the time to answer questions!!

Bree said...

I agree, this post is helpful!
I got a Nikon D3100 for Christmas, and I know there's so much I can do with it, I just don't have the time right now to read through books and search online..Silly school getting in the way ;)

Lacey said...

Thank you so much for all of your photography posts! I am so hungry to learn anything about photography and since we both shoot with Cannons its so nice to be able to "somewhat" understand what you are saying! :)


thanks for answering. these are great

ayako j. said...

Hi! I found your blog today and what a great find! I love photography and practicing manual mode. Mine is NIKON D5000, but still,this post is really really helpful! Thank you so much :)))