Tuesday, September 17, 2013

amateur photography

I consider myself to be a very very amateur photographer, learning as I go & enjoying the process, however the most common emails I get from readers (I love those!) are about my photography. So while I might not know much, I am always happy to share what I got:

Today's topic: how to get crisp, clear, bright photos?

My equipment: Canon Rebel T2i, 50 mm f/1.4 prime lens, tripod & remote (see this post for more of my remote/tripod photography tips)

First off, I do a couple of things while shooting to ensure sharp photos:
{1.} spot metering (this post helped for tips on metering mode)
{2.} Hold my remote next to my face so that is the most in focus point (my remote has a  2 second delay, so I have a little time to point the remote next to my face & then hide it)
{3.} For outfit photography I stick to an aperture of f/1.8-2.8 but I have found that f/2.2 is just about my happy spot.
{4.} Because it is just me standing in my alley, by myself, I typically have all the time in the world to get the right shot (just dealing with mosquitos, creepy neighbors, & dogs that need to be walked aside) - it is normal for me to take 50 photos/outfit & only 3-6 make it on the blog.... there are tons of blurry ones that the world just doesn't ever see... but they exist!

FYI: I shoot on manual, so I set the ISO (aka light sensitivity), aperture ("f stop") & exposure depending on the day's elements (with white balance set on auto). Figuring out manual settings is a more complex topic than I want to get into in today's post, but I just wanted to show you the settings & what each element means... there are pictures below that this key will be relevant for :) (P.S. you can find this info for each photo by clicking "info" in iPhoto)
See how ISO, aperture (f/#) & exposure (read as a fraction of a second, i.e. 1/1000 = 1 thousandth of a second) work with each other in these pictures below:
As far as the post-processing photo tips I know, those are few & far between. I use Photoshop (I have an ancient version, CS3) & don't extensively edit my photos but I do do three things to every photo:
{1.} lighten it a little bit (using brightness/contrast sliders)
{2.} Bump up the sharpening (I follow this tutorial for photo sizing & sharpening... but don't use their suggestion to save as .png files, I prefer .jpg & think they load better)
{3.} Resize the image to be exactly the pixel width I want & save it in the highest quality format so I can upload the original, high-res file directly to Blogger (& pick "original size" option every time)

Personal tip: Because I know that I have the power to adjust the brightness/contrast of each photo, I prefer to shoot the photos a little darker than I want as it is easier to "fix".

The photo on the left was brightened to achieve the look I wanted:
While I attempted to darkened the left photo, & the result on the right looks a little unnatural.
Finally, the sharpening that I do is very subtle, but an easy fix because I have the whole process automated in photoshop. Can you tell a difference?
What photo processing do you use? 
I would love for this to be an open forum for us to share tips with each other. 
If you have any burning questions let me know & I will try to include them in a future post!

P.S. Enter to win a shop credit to Bella Fusion {here}

24 comments:

  1. This is awesome, Jessica! Like you, I shoot on manual, so there's a lot of adjusting that goes on–and a LOT of blurry pictures at time. I'll definitely be using some of your tips!

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  2. Wait, wait, wait. So you hold your remote next to your face? Or in front of it? I'm going to try this.

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  3. next to it, at the same focus plane of my face. When using a shallow depth of field is is important to get the infrared sensor of my remote right where I want the camera to focus... a little bit in front of or behind = funny pictures :)
    xx

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  4. oh. duh. why did i never think that maybe my camera focuses on the remote? though I'm using autofocus so maybe it needs to be manual?

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  5. thanks for sharing these tips jessica! i think its time for me to order a remote and give my husband a break.

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  6. This post is really good for me. I need to get better at not only using the camera, but editing them. I'm thinking about getting Photoshop elements.

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  7. These are great tips! I typically end up having someone with slightly less experience with a camera shooting my photos so I sometimes have to get creative with Photoshop -- good tips on getting it right the first time though!

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  8. Thank you for this tutorial! I really need to move away from the auto settings on my camera!

    x. Simply Sabrina

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  9. Great tips! Now, if only I had a fancy camera, Photoshop, and the time to do all this! Very impressed!!


    -AJ
    FitTravelerAJ.com

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  10. Oh man, shooting on manual can be so gratifying & so frustrating at the same time!
    xx

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  11. Ok, I wanted to wait until I got home to answer so that I could double check my camera settings for you (& then I had some wine & got distracted... whoops!) ANYwho, my camera is on auto-focus, but when the shooting mode is on "remote" then the remote takes over what would be the effect of focusing by pushing down the shutter... does that make sense? Basically, auto-focus + remote setting means that the camera focuses wherever the signal from the remote comes from... let me know if you have anymore questions :)
    xx

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  12. You are very welcome! It can be fun to take your own pictures... you really get to be in full control, and maybe the hubs will be happier too :)
    xx

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  13. I have heard nothing but great things about Photoshop elements. These were some intriguing tutorials for me.

    xx

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  14. haha, so true, I don't think there has been a great candid picture of me taken by my own camera since I got it... no one quite knows how to work it!
    xx

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  15. be brave! every time I have a question about the manual settings I just google the extract question (i.e. "what is the best shutter speed for overcast conditions"), & it helps that my dogs are cute test subjects too!
    xx

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  16. oh, that makes perfect sense. I am going to check my camera's manual (wherever that may be...) and see if my Nikon works the same!

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  17. Great tutorial, thanks! I'm wondering, do you use the Photoshop RAW editor, or do you shoot in JPEG? If you shoot RAW, you can get a more natural "darkening" effect by bumping up the blacks and the recovery sliders in the RAW

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  18. (Just saw your answer to the autofocus question further down. Fascinating...will have to try!)

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  19. Thank you for your tip Emma! I haven't gotten into shooting in RAW yet & am still using jpeg file format. But I have been meaning to start trying it out... Thanks for the inspiration I needed! xx

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  20. These are such great tips! I find the whole camera thing so overwhelming.

    xoxo,
    Chelsea & The City

    Don't forget to enter my 2 year blogiversary giveaway for a chance to win a Baublebar Pave Links bracelet & sweet hanger necklace!

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  21. Oh man, editing RAW photos is the BEST thing ever. There's just so much you can do! I've been doing it for a couple months and I'm still learning new tricks all the time :)

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  22. Such great tips! I am so bad and only use my camera on auto because I am too lazy to learn how to use my camera which really is just wasting good money. My hubby takes my photos and we are lucky if he takes 5 max. I have been contemplating on purchasing a tripod & remote and may just do it.


    Alice
    www.happinessatmidlife.com

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  23. Such wonderful tips! I will definitely be using the sharpening trick.

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Thank you for your comments, they make my day!!
xx