Archive for technique
Personally, I am not a big fan of using templates. My personality likes to have each creation look different. That is not to say that templates are bad, they are really cool and a big time saver. It is more of my own personal hang up and part of my maximizer personality trait.
Not using template does mean time consuming computer work. You have probably read in previous articles that I am becoming a more efficient business person. What is one to do?
I mix it up. I have one product that is a template that every client who orders that product, gets the same look-exactly. Everyone is happy.
I have another product that involves eight images on an 11×24 framed piece and I sort of can not use a template for. This product feels like it should be different for everyone. The different images for each subject also call for a different feel, size, and format. But what I did was save my own design as a template for myself. Now I pull up my template, drag and drop the images, change the background color under the overlay (like we talked about two weeks ago), change my stroke color and I am done.
Christmas card templates never seem to work for me either. My clients want customization as well. I take parts of different templates to create my own custom card to fit my client’s photos. This saves me hours of design time, gives the client a visual of the idea, and I end up with a cool new design.
Again, a great resource for professional use templates for photographers is http://www.mylilcreations.com/
Google “professional use templates for photographers” and check out your own color lab. Many labs are providing or selling templates too.I can’t believe I used to start from zero each time. How inefficient of me!
I just had a scare. Remember a few weeks ago I was discussing selling my old negatives and digital files? Well I sold four files from 2006 and I did not have my retouched CD from that shoot to sell. Not to panic, my paranoid multiple backup systems paid off! Here is what I do.
Immediately upon downloading a session to my computer I burn a CD or DVD. Nothing has been done to the files at all, I just burn a copy. I label this my “Unedited Raws” disc. This is filed in a separate file cabinet and not with the order. In the event I loose my client’s order envelope, I have a copy stored somewhere else. Periodically, I take these CDs home to store, so they are off location.
Then I go ahead and edit my session, renumber the images and burn my second CD, the “Edited Raws” CD. This CD goes into the client’s order envelope.
Once the images are selected that will be ordered from are retouched, a “Retouched” CD is burned and it filed in the client’s order envelope. And of course by now my camera cards are rotated back in for reuse.
My hard drive is backed up to an external drive but before deleting anything off of my hard drive, I copy a bunch of sessions to a DVD. I copy the Retouched and the Edited Raws from as many sessions that will fit. This DVD gets filed off site as well. I probably do this every couple of months. So there are four copies of files in the end.
To make this process faster, I have three sets of pre-printed labels, a set for the “unedited Raws”, the “edited Raws”, and the “Retouched”. I color code each with a highlighter for even faster identification. There are also lines for the client’s name, type of session, and date.
So what happened to my 2006 files? Well, even though I have a checklist of what needs done for every order, it appears that I forgot to make a copy of the retouched images. But I was able to go home and go through the 2006 DVDs and found them in less than 5 minutes! Logically, I could have pulled the original Raws and had them retouched again, if I was desperate, but that would have cost a lot more. What a relief to have organized backups.
Photography is all about recording reflected light. Many beginners and amateurs are not yet familiar with how to see light and know what to look for yet. It can be quite a challenge to find locations that are suitable for outdoor portraits but there are some things you can use to your advantage. Here are five getting started tips:
- Photograph in the shade. Raccoon eyes, squinting eyes, deep dark shadows, and images with no catch lights in the eyes do not make a pleasing portrait. Place your subject in the shade with open sky as your main light source. This takes practice and deliberate study to find this kind of light. Going deep into the woods in too thick of shade is not going to give you a nice lighting pattern. By staying closer to the edge of the shade you will have great light coming from open sky.
- Photograph late or early in the day. This is often referred to as “Sweet Light”. An hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset is really beautiful light. The light is more even light and shadows are long and soft.
- Use a reflector. Reflectors work great to fill shadows and give a little kick of sparkle in the subject’s eyes. I personally use the gold side the most.
- Use a fill flash. When working in brighter conditions or wanting to include dramatic sky in your portrait images a fill flash is required to balance the lighting conditions for a proper exposure.
- Watch for color reflections. Color from items like green trees and red paint on a building, for example, will reflect into a person’s skin tone and shadows. This is not a desired outcome and will look unnatural. Be careful how close you are to strong color reflections. You can also correct minor color shifts in the artwork stage of your final image.
Of course you still must meter correctly, white balance, and process your files. But the more you get right in your camera first the easier the rest of the process is.
The cool thing is we can tell our camera what white is supposed to look like. This is called white balancing. If your camera understands what white is, other colors will fall into place more accurately. Be aware that colors do reflect and bounce around. For example, photographing with someone under a tree may cause a green to grey cast in the shadow areas of their face and neck.
Color temperature, measured in degrees referred to as Kelvin temperature (K), is the color of the light. You may remember seeing pictures of people in fluorescent light, everything was kind of greenish? That is an example of color temperature.
Our camera meters are designed to read 18% grey. By shooting in RAW and using a grey card to take reflected metering off of will make the process of color balancing in the processing stage possible. It is also fast, easy, and accurate. You can not do this with shooting JPEG.
I prefer to shoot RAW not only for the large amount of information I have for a quality file, I have more flexibility. I do not enjoy white balancing at every new location I go, especially when I photograph high school seniors. We change locations a lot!
To keep this simple but still get professional results, I manually set my color temperature on my camera to 4600K. (This setting works perfect for my studio lights and my system. Do not assume your work will look the same. You must test this for yourself.) This is close enough to the outdoor color temperatures so I can leave my camera at my indoor temperature and tweak any outdoor images in Adobe Bride Camera RAW processing.
Color balancing is tweaking the red, green, and blue channels of a file for the desired final effect like warming up skin tones in a portrait so people look healthy.
You may be interested in learning more about histograms also in the “Beyond the Photography Instruction Manual-Professional Results with Manual Photography”. I will take you through it step by step. Click here to learn more.
Photographing children can be rewarding, endearing, or awful! In this five part series, I will share my years of experience that probably could earn me a psychology degree. I have many strategies and tips that I will share with you in the next few weeks as to what I have found to be most effective.
One book that I would recommend is “The Strong Willed Child” by Dr. James Dobson. I also love all books by Kevin Lehman. His “Have a New Kid by Friday” is excellent. And I don’t even have children of my own! But I can so understand and relate to them. I have shared these books with my customers as well.
Photographing Children – Part One: Bribery
Bribery is not helpful so I do not recommend it. This is true of children and dogs! Having a treat or a snack to bribe either a child or a dog generally does not work. Oh, it might get you by or fool you into thinking you won but you truly will get better results without the treat. You need patience and a better plan.
Bribing a child is common with many parents who do not know what else to do (or maybe their parents did it to them). “If you are good, we will go to McDonald’s after we are done.” This might get the child to pretend to cooperate but it does nothing for actually changing the mood and temperament of the child. You might get one sort of faked and forced smile that way.
Telling a child to be good is not helpful. Does a child really understand the definition of what being good is? That seems like a lot of pressure to me. Adults are good at putting pressure on others.
Your job as the photographer is to be the liaison between the nervous parent and the unsure child. All a parent wants is for everything to go smoothly and be embarrassed, and of course have great images of their children.
A story I use to put parents at ease is an example of me taking my dog to the vet for a nail trim. How embarrassed I was that it took three techs to do something that should be quite easy. I think we even put a muzzle on my perfect little doggy. They must have thought I was a bad pet owner if this was how it had to be done. That is when I recognized that this might be how parents feel when their little Jimmy is not behaving like the little angel they want him to be.
So think of your own personal experiences you can use to relate to your clients. Put them at ease by showing them you understand and this is not unusual or a problem for you. Maybe a session with a less than perfect kid is more fun and challenging!
So how do you help these parents? Talk to them ahead of time. If you wait until you are in the camera room to ask them not to bribe their child it may not go over so good. They may feel like they are making a mistake and being corrected. If you can educate them prior to the session, then you are not picking on just them. You tell them that you talk about this with everyone, just in case it comes up!
Next week, we will talk about how to get a good expression without bribery!
Barb Gordon, of www.BarbGordonPhotoCoach.com, is a Master Photographer, Photographic Craftsman, and Certified Professional Photographer with the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) to which she has belonged since 1984. She is a nationally published and award winning photographer, entrepreneur, speaker, and author including being published in the prestigious PPA Loan Collection 2006, PPA Showcase 2003, twice named Iowa’s Top Ten Photographer of the Year, 2010 Iowa’s Master Photographer of the Year, and 2010 PPA’s Photographer of the Year, Silver Level.
Twelve Elements of Composition
Tips for Remarkable Photographs
Part 7-Patterns and lines, curves, triangles
Look for repeating lines and patterns to enhance your images. Posts, pillars, fencing, can lead your eye toward your subject. Repeating patterns and shapes can add interest.
Beginner’s Photography Tip #2 Look Behind Your Subject
Many times we notice after the fact that we have a tree trunk, pole, or some other line intersecting the head of our subject. Take a moment to look past your subject and see what may become a distraction. You may have to move around a bit to find a more pleasing angle.
If timing is critical, grab your shot regardless of the background first. Then with the luxury of time back on your side, reposition yourself to eliminate those unwanted lines. With children and pets you may not get another chance to get exactly what you want so get the image now.
With this photo of George, I think it is pretty obvious that the pole is distracting. It just so happens that this was my favorite picture of George that I captured during the entire time I was dog sitting him. That expression and angle just did not happen again, so I am glad I took this anyway. Now if I had just had a reflector to fill those dark eyes in! But that is another class.
The excuse of “I’ll just fix that later in Photoshop” is for amateurs and reflects sloppy work. Fixing files also takes time and time is money. Photoshop is a great tool, and I am glad to have the skills because I think I just might take this pole out of George’s picture now.
Barb Gordon, of www.BarbGordonPhotoCoach.com is a Master Photographer, Photographic Craftsman, and Certified Professional Photographer with the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) to which she has belonged since 1984. She is a nationally published and award winning photographer, entrepreneur, speaker, and author including being published in the prestigious PPA Loan Collection 2006, PPA Showcase 2003 and twice named Iowa’s Top Ten Photographer of the Year.
She has been locally honored by YWCA Tribute to Women of Achievement 2001 and Advanced Entrepreneur of the Year 2003. Barb owns Gordon Photography & Gallery in Marion, Iowa specializing in customized portrait art. Learn more at www.BarbGordonPhotoCoach.com
When not working in her studio Barb enjoys life on a new farm raising organic chickens, gardening, playing with the horses, cats, and dogs.