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Q&A WEDNESDAY – 11/3/09

It is so great getting your questions, many of them really get me thinking! I’m getting lots of feedback that Q&A Wednesday is extremely helpful, so keep them coming! Here are a few from this week…

1. What is your dream lens?
Are you buying? 😉 How about the whole collection, for a proper review of course! My dream lens… Hmmm. Well it was the Canon 24-70L. But I have since got it and absolutely love it, it’s versatile and works great for my kind of photography! I use it 75% of the time! I guess maybe the next lens I’d like would be the 70-200. Often I wish I had a little more zoom capability so that I could step back while children are playing or get in closer when it’s not reasonable (like at a wedding) and this is the next step up. Plus I always think the photogs with the white lens look so cool! It would be that or moving up to a higher quality 50 mm lens. I have the one in the $100 range (it was my first lens) and would love to see the difference between it an say the $500 range or higher!

2. Where do you feel you have learned the most from?
Hands down FORUMS! However not all forums are created equal! I was on 2Peas Forum a lot in the beginning but I started to find it wasn’t quite what I was wanting. Don;t get me wrong it still has a lot of useful stuff and is worth checking out! My favorite forum is NAPCP, it’s all professional photographers who I feel I can learn a lot from! The threads are extremely relavent and useful and it’s been an awesome learning tool for me finding everything from what should I price at (and encouragement) to the turn around time for a new vendor I’m using. I guess I’m so in love with The NAPCP forums because it has got me thinking in great new directions to really build my business – and that truly equals value to me! The NAPCP Forum comes with your yearly membership.

3. When do you schedule your photoshoots? How close to sunrise/sunset is your favorite?
I don’t shoot anything at sunrise! Neither I nor clients want to be part of that! 😉 Sunset is a whole different story and I actually ONLY schedule engagements around sunset! I love the romantic, warm, soft (everything an engaged couple should be) light! In the summer I would start at about 4:30 to 5pm and end just after sunset, this time of year I would need to start around 3 probably. I have actually stopped shooting based on light and started shooting based on schedule more. Newborns are scheduled on Monday and Thursday only in the morning around 10, which just happens to work out for nice soft light. Families and kids are scheduled later Saturday morning or after-school on weeknights


4. I always shoot on shutter speed priority. I’ve had situations where my ISO is up to 800 (which I hate going that high–how high to you allow yourself to go?), my shutter speed is barely making the 1/100th mark, and my apeture is too large to focus everybody. Is my only other option photographing out of the shade and into the bright sun?
I have no problem shooting at 1000 ISO. My own personal opinion is that DSLR’s are made to go into high ISO now and can usually handle it. The real thing is this… You have every option, shade, sun, snow, whatever. It’s all in that M setting! You have to switch to Manuel so that you have complete control! I shoot a lot in AV mode when I’m in nice even good light but often my camera sets the shutter speed unreasonably low where I’d need a tri-pod. Chasing a baby with a tripod is just not going to happen so thats when I need Manuel to dial it in myself!

5. What resolution of JPEG do you take your photos in. You know like what size of pixels L M or S?
I only shoot in L Fine Jpeg. (I wouldn’t say that thats better than RAW! But it’s just what I do). If you are not in RAW you really must be in L JPEG. The S, M, L represents the number of pixels:
“L” = 15.10 megapixels (4752 x 3168)
“M” = 8.00 megapixels (3456 x 2304)
“S” = 3.70 megapixels (2352 x 1568)
How awful to get an amazing image and not have the pixel res to do what you want with it! Remember that Raw+LJ is another option if you want to transition over to Raw but it will take a lot of space on the memory card.

7. Do you book sessions year round, or do you take a break during the cold winter months?
I do book sessions year round. The cold weather may seem intimidating but if your clients are willing you should be too. And you can crate the cutest all bundled up images with beanies and scarves. If they want pictures that bad, and if you aren’t taking them, they’ll find someone else to do it. I’m not willing lose that business. The great thing about winter months is the sun is in that perfect place aka Golden Hour, longer during sunset and sunrise, giving you more opportunity to get those perfect shots. One thing to know about your camera is that condensation can build in it when you go from a cold setting to a warm setting quickly. To prevent this before you enter into your house, car or other warm setting, put your camera in a sealed plastic bag. Then when your camera has adjusted to the heat you can take it out. If condensation has build up in your camera or lens, remove your lens and let them both air dry before you use it again. If the cold just does not sound good to you, think of places indoor that can give you the look you are wanting. A Candy shop, restaurant with barstools, someone’s nice home, or maybe rent studio space. You don’t need much space at all to make something fabulous happen! Get creative and don’t let good clients go to waste!

Heather Ward already has snow and definitely knows how to embrace it!

7. I am struggling to use my flash in outdoor settings. I can’t seem to get a very natural look. Do you have any pointers?
You can’t alway shoot during the Golden hour so to get rid of those shadows underneath your subjects eyes you use your flash. The frustrating thing about using your flash is that you have an easier tendency to overexposure your photo. There are a couple of things you can do to prevent this. You can use a diffuser. Look for my post on my diffusers soon. I’ve seen people who will never buy a diffuser but will cut ketchup bottles or mayo bottles and use the bottoms to go over their flash. I’ve even seen a women use rubber bands to secure paper towels around her flash so it’s not so harsh. And these people swear by their inventions. I’ve never tried any thing like that before so I can’t tell you personally but if you’re looking to save money, why not give it a try. Another idea is using a reflector. Again you must be careful with using a reflector to not overexpose even the tiniest bit. If you look at your photo and can tell a reflector was used, you didn’t use it properly. I also tend to notice that the metallic ones, silver and gold, well do just that, reflect more of a metallic look. If you’re leaning towards a reflector I would buy one that is soft and white. When you position it, put it slightly under and to the side of your subject. This is one of those tools you need to play with before hand. Get a friend that is willing to sit for you, and test it out. You may need to pull it back or put it to the side more depending on the light but know that reflectors add to the subjects catch lights. It’s still more subtle than obvious. Next idea is to switch your camera to full manual. Then set your camera’s meter to ‘spot meter’ mode. Next you’re going to want to zoom in and meter part of the scene you want to meter for. A good idea would be to meter something lighter so you don’t over expose. If you do meter something darker use your exposure compensation. Take pictures, take notes, and adjust accordingly. Sounds more complicated than it is but here might be a better explanation! The last option I’m going to suggest today is the most expensive and it’s purchasing and using PocketWizard’s wireless radio slaves. I’m not going to lie, I’ve used one once and it was yesterday but I hear you either like it or you don’t. Here is a great review and I know there are a lot others out there. Practice, practice, practice and find what works best for you!



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