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Most frequently asked question is what to wear for your family session
•what’s the best non-professional camera?
Before I started my business I wanted to upgrade for better quality photos (resolution and image size) for my kids and family photos personally, I went with a DSLR camera Nikon D3100 kit (newer versions are available now), a lower end but still better than a point and shoot. This gave me the option to learn to shoot in manual, use different lenses, shoot in different formats (RAW, jpg, tif). Which brand to purchase? This is a personal preference, I picked between Cannon and Nikon and ended up going with Nikon and I am very happy and I know a lot of people who are very happy with their Cannon cameras.
I would suggest talking to someone about what exactly you want with your new camera. There is a local photo store in Livonia, PROCAM and many online sites you can call. When I purchased my most recent lens I purchased it from Adorama. They had a lot of information for me as well as option to buy used. It comes with a warranty as well as option to purchase extended warranty. Another option is Borrowlens.com, you can rent equipment before purchasing. I did this with my Nikon 35mm 1.4 lens. It was a big investment so I wanted to test it before purchasing it.
•when is the best time of day to shoot?
Sunrise and sunset, time varies by season. This doesn’t mean that photos won’t turn out if you shoot at other times, you just need to be cautions of the light, use your shade to your advantage and a diffuser if you have one.
Below is an example of shooting on Lake Michigan, this client wanted to shoot at 5pm, I had no help from the shade because it was open space and the sun was everywhere. Thankfully I had my diffuser and someone to hold it. The shadows are much harder when shooting in hard direct sun.
I went back to that same location with my family that evening at sunset and did a little shoot of us. You can see the drastic difference in the time of day and the effect it has on your lighting, the sky and the shadows. The lighting on us is even and no harsh shadows.
•benefits for shooting in raw
what is a RAW file?
A raw file is the image as seen by the camera's sensor. Think of it like unprocessed film. Rather than letting the camera process the image for you, turning it into a JPEG image, shooting in raw allows you to process the image to your liking.
– Example –
Image one below is my RAW straight out of camera image. This was a long newborn shoot and by the time we got to this shot we were starting to loose the sun. A lot of thing effect shoots, especially newborn. This baby when fed wanted to feed for 30-45 mins at a time and the mom had this piano shot with her other daughter so I knew no matter what we needed to get this hot for her. I couldn’t move the piano to face the window, so I adjusted my settings as much as possible before the image would started to get grainy. I used my reflector and tripod. I knew if I got a sharp shot (no vibration, extremely steady hand or tripod) I could adjust my file lighting in ACR program.
Image 2 is my adjustments in ACR and I exported the file to Photoshop, image 3 is my final retouched file.
This is the same for most overexposed shots.
I don’t recommend this as all, getting the lighting right in camera is your best option, but circumstance’s happen and having the knowledge and tools can help make a what may seem like a difficult situation or lost image work out.
•shooting in manual mode
•processing program I use, retouching software and actions.
Like I mentioned before I shoot everything in RAW. The processing program I use is Adobe Camera Raw. All DSLR cameras should come with some form of processing software, they may not be as developed as ACR, I know my Nikon processing program with my first camera was very very basic, but it was a start.
Retouching program I use is photoshop 6.
I am constantly learning new techniques for this program, it’s a never ending journey with photoshop!
•Actions, what are actions?
Adobe's image-editing software Photoshop has a powerful programming language built-in that allows you to record tasks as an 'action' and replay the steps to complete the task automatically.
You hit record and then start your retouching, when you are done hit stop. Photoshop has recorded all your steps, now you can open another image hit play and all that work you did before will happen on this new file.
A LOT of people make actions. They can be very helpful especially for those just staring out. It helps in the retouching process. I use a sequence of action for my images. Its usually a few different actions combined to make my final image along with my own technique mixed in.
Here are a few that I used in the very beginning, they are photographers and have quality actions with step by step directions and always eager to help.
•how can I learn more, photography classes? Mentoring classes?
College for creative studies has various programs, this is located in downtown Detroit and is a school if you are looking for a career in photography/design/art.
Different dealers offer courses when you purchase your camera at a reasonable fee (best buy does this).
Various photographers offer mentor sessions. Its usually one day of hands on shoot with the photographer.
Someone I follow and love her work has offered mentor session for non-professional/beginning photographers in the past for reasonable rates, Michelle Lamerarand She’s in the Ann Arbor area.
Another place is www.bokastudios.com, a fellow photographer I use to work with has taken a course with this studio.
There are online courses available as well, a few photographers I follow offer these types of courses
Equipment I currently use:
Nikon 35mm 1.4
I recommend having an external hard drive to back up your computer as well as all of your photos. I suggest anything from LaCie, they have excellent customer service and can help you decide what's best for you. I currently use the LaCie Porsche desktop drive.
I also recommend having a bag or case for your equipment. The equipment is expensive and its worth to keep it safe. Also purchasing a lens protector for your lens.
This will protect the glass so if it does get scratched your only replacing the protector not the lens.
Thanks again for letting me share some photography information I have learned the past few years.
Please let me know if you have any questions.