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brown paper packages: {photograpy q&a with Lei}

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

{photograpy q&a with Lei}

Hey guys!  Thanks for all the great questions that came in!  Let's jump right in, shall we?

Marcia asks:

I have a point and shoot camera (Sony Cybershot) and want to know how to make my landscape pics "pop" and look gorgeous and different without simply using the landscape setting.

Have you heard of actions?  They run in both Photoshop and Elements. Although, most are available for Photoshop only.  Boo.  Anyway, actions put a whole new spin on your image with just one click.  Or if you are really PS saavy, you can go in and make finer adjustments with layer masks and all that good stuff.  I use the Totally Rad Actions, Kubota Actions, Itty Bitty Actions, and a few freebies I have found around the web as well:  Pioneer Woman and Coffee Shop to name a couple.  Check them out.  TRA (Totally Rad) also has free trial actions that will definitely make you want to buy the whole set. ;)  They are totally worth the investment, and really fun to paly around with, and although there are a billion to choose from, you will quickly figure out your favorites!  If your skeptical, check out their recipes section and see what can be done!  It will blow your mind.

And how do you, using a point and shoot, get GOOD photos to put on your blog?

I think by giving your camera, whatever kind it may be, the advantage of good lighting, you can achieve good enough photos to stand up against other blogs. You should also develop your eye for good composition.  Here's a link back to our discussion on lighting, and our discussion on composition, in case you missed them.  The tips in there are not just for the aspiring professional photographer! :)
Camille asks:

I am needing position ideas for some newborns.  I and three of my friend all had (one still having) baby girls within 8 weeks of eachother. We would love to capture this of course, but I'm baffled at how I'll take these pictures!I want to do some now of the three already born and are 6, 5, and 3 weeks old but when the last baby is born they will be 8, 7, 5 weeks and then the newborn.  Luckily they are all still really sleepy at these ages, but to get all four sleeping and positioned for a picture will definitely be fun, but it's how to position them that I'm stuck on!  If you had any suggestions at all I'll totally hear it! Thanks.

Camille - I don't envy you getting a sleeping shot of 4 (!) babies.  Sometimes just 1 is difficult. ;)  But I think it would be really fun if you lined the babies up by size - biggest to littlest or vice versa.  It might even look cool to lay them head to foot, so they are facing opposite directions all snuggled up together. Be sure they all have full tummies, and make sure your room is nice and toasty, and chances are better that they will stay asleep for you.  Good luck!

Jennifer asks:

I was wondering if you could enlighten the rest of us with what
photo editing program you use.  I have tried Picassa and Shutterfly but find
them very limited as to what you can do in terms of editing both lighting and
color.  I love antiqued looking photos with just a bit of color (not sepia) and
ones like the yellow flower with the rest of the photo in black and white. 

Just like I told Marcia, I would recommend getting Photoshop Elements to start, and then graduating to Photoshop.  There is a broad range of what you can do with a full editing program, whereas Picassa/Shutterfly/etc. do not allow you to tailor your editing very well.  Lighting and color enhancement can be done alone in either PS program.  Antiqueing your photos and applying effects like color to a black and white image however can more easily be done with actions and layer masks, as I also mentioned above.  Sometime we'll have to delve into a little bit of that technical stuff... but it's a whole other world!

Our own beloved Kierste asks:

I only have a point and shoot camera (Canon Powershot). I'm saving for a nicer one (I'd love recommendations for a good p&s, and a good--beginner level--DSLR).  Right now though, it's all I have.  I think I have a good eye--I know what I like, and have a vision for what I want things to look like, but I feel like my camera really limits me. I also know that I don't know much about photography, and I'm sure there are tricks that I just simply don't know about. Here are my problems:

1.  I mostly use auto mode, because I don't know what kind of changes to make.  What kind of manual changes can I make on a p&s, and what would I use them for?  i.e. night shots, outdoor shots, action shots, low light, lots of light, etc.

First of all, if you are going to be with the same camera for a while, before upgrading, then I would hit the manual. Every camera is different, so it's hard to generalize. Plus, I shoot Nikon. But, do you happen to have an AV or TV mode on your camera? I do know that feature to be available on Canons and I know that they will give you some liberty with shutter and aperture without having to go full on manual mode. Check your camera and check your manual for info on these features.  And I've got another camera recommendation question below, so I'll answer that there.

2.  Most of my pictures are blurry (auto mode).  I'm not moving, my subjects aren't moving.  What can I do?  Is is the camera?  Is it me?

This is likely a lighting issue.  The less light you have, the wider your automatic shutter will open, and the slower the shutter speed will therefore be.  Slower shutter speed means recording more movement with each click.  Hence, blurry photos.

3.  I get the best shots (mostly blogging pics) when I'm in the macro mode--shots of my projects, etc.  I get the clearest focus and crispness.  I can't seem to get that AT ALL when shooting in regular mode. 

In macro mode you are able to focus on a very sleect protion of your image, thus the fine, crisp end result.  In regular mode your camera is trying to take in the whole picture, so a lot of detail is lost, especially if your lighting isn't good.  If you are shooting int he ebst conditions you can, try holding your breath while you click... sometimes you are moving jsut enough to cause blur.  Works sometimes. :)

4.  If I don't have much natural light in my house (especially in the winter), how can I still get good pictures?  Either it's too bright (right near the window), or too dark.  What settings can I change? I take most of my projects outside, because I know I can get great light and better quality pictures. Sometimes that's not possible though, especially taking pictures of my kids. 

One tip for indoors during winter, and this will take some experimentation... is to make your own filter for your flash. Before I got a nicer camera I played around with different weight (light-colored) fabrics over my flash to diffuse the light better. Or you could invest in a lightscoop... they seem pretty cool and I might acutally spring for one because I hate hauling my huge external flash with me to my kids karate class. Your flash has to be on top of your camera though for a lightscoop.  The last resort would be to try and fix your photos in Photoshop.  I strongly encourage all of you to try photoshop.  There are free trials! Kierste for example could take out the light in too bright images, or brighten up too dark images, using levels and curves and all sort of good tricks. 
Brigitte asks:

I lost/stolen my camera at a wedding I attended a few weeks back (so sick about it too!!!) It was a Nikon coolpix and it was gift , only had it for about six months : ( Anywho do you have any suggestion about what is the best camera to get for in the 250 range?? I enjoy taking pictures so I am looking for a starter camera for the semi serious hobby on the side got all Anything you could suggest I would appreciate!!

Bummer Brigitte! The Coolpix L120 looks pretty cool. But honestly, as a starter camera, even for a hobbyist, I'd move up to the full sized DSLR platform and go for an older D40, D50 or D60... I saw this D60 for sale at the Nikon outlet online:

I would also check ebay, Craiglist, etc. I'm sure you can find a used one in good condition, and it's a great place to start (I started on the D50).

Good luck!
I hope there was some nugget of wisdom in there for each of you!  I look forward to chatting with you again in a couple weeks!  We're going to dive into getting out of auto mode.  That's HUGE, you guys!  Are you excited?  In the meantime, I'd love it if you stopped by my blogs and said hi... My Many Colored Days or my photography website/blog.  I also post regularly on my facebook page!

Take care and happy shooting ya'll!!!  Oh wait - a picture!!!  Gotta share a favorite with you from my last few weeks of editing. ;)  Plus, a photography post without a picture in it seems like a crime.

{Madi, our cute babysitter, is graduating this year!!!}



Blogger Amy said...

This is just what I was looking for, can't wait for another post like this!

May 25, 2011 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Yvonne said...

Thanks for all the info, Lei. It is great. I need to put all your suggestions to work ; )

And, Kierste, I always assumed you had a DSLR--your pictures are always great.

May 26, 2011 at 6:46 AM  
Blogger The Duckworth Family said...

Did the newborn shoot and it went well! still have to see if we can pull off the one with the four babies, but at least we got three. We started out with them awake and ended with some good sleeping. They may not have been what I had in mind, but we got some adorable shots. I'll re-comment when I get them posted on my blog otherwise they are on my facebook. Camille Duckworth

June 13, 2011 at 12:30 PM  

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