Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Flashes! Flashes! Flashes!

Okay! So I found this article immensely helpful! I'm going to have to re-read it about a dozen times to get my mind to completely focus and suck in all it's saying, but I did find it very informative.

I really don't know a whole lot about off camera flash and techniques... I've survived with my on camera flash for what I've been doing thus far. However! I am excited about the possibilities that investing in another flash and using off-camera flash will do for the weddings I shoot.

This article gives the basics. You need a "master" and "slave" system to get the flashes to communicate with each other. The master needs to be attached to the camera body and the slave is communicated to by the master. My 430 EX II won't work as the master (as Dave has mentioned to me many times before) so I will be investing in the 580 EX II. :)

Using pocketwizards enables your ability to use two off camera flashes while communicating through the pocketwizard that is attached to the camera body.. we've played a lot with this in previous classes with Dave.

At the bottom of the article details some examples of how to set up your flashes to get certain lighting on your subjects. That was interesting and helpful and it really gets me excited to try it out in the field.

The article talks a lot about the distances and how far the master can be away from the off camera flashes... That's still over my head. I'm a person who really needs to have my "hands on" learning about that kind of stuff to completely get it. I see numbers, relate it to math, and my mind completely shuts down.. :) so I'm hoping to mess with that and learn through experimenting.

Just read the article. It's helpful, immensely.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011



One thing that I haven't learned much about is how to use HD video on my camera. I've messed around a little, attempting to make amateur videos out of what I've learned to do using my camera, but am incredibly limited and don't know why I set things the way I do. I feel like this video still doesn't answer the reason "why" but it did tell me a couple of helpful things. One thing I already knew was that you have to shoot video on manual focus. The reasons being pretty self explanatory. The video, however, did teach me that if you are looking to create a "cinematic look" to your videos, you need to set your camera at 24 frames per second and a shutter speed of 1/50. I'm not sure the reason why you have to set your camera that way, something I'm hoping to learn down the road when I get more into HD video.


This video was pretty self explanatory... It's better to have a stable camera for videoing....


This particular video was somewhat helpful as well. Most of the things he talks about I have learned through my own experience with messing around with HD video. He explains to find interesting angles and start shooting. He also mentioned "don't be afraid to get close to the action." This is something I've really found in shooting my own videos. I find getting up close and personal to the subject I'm shooting leads to a much more interesting video. There's something about being "in" the center of what's going on that draws your attention more.. Another tip he suggests is have your subject "moving in and out of the frame." This is also something I've learned through guess and check when shooting. When first trying to film, I would cut the frame short a second, when the subject was still walking out of the frame, but wasn't totally out of it... It leaves something to be desired, so it's important to finish the shot and let the subject move in and totally out of the frame before the cut.

DSLR HD Video Tips: Capturing Movement

Monday, January 17, 2011


There are many different rules for a composition. My favorite out of them all is the rule that you can "break all the rules." But like the article says, it's good to know the fundamentals of a good composition so that you are able to break the rules gracefully and in an attractive way. No one likes just a random, horribly composed photograph. :) It is fun however, to use the basic rules to create your own individual image, by thinking "outside of the box."

After learning the basic rules of a composition, it is amazing how it just becomes second nature. Even when I am not intending to use one of the rules in my photographs, I find that I am placing my subjects and my frame, subconsciously according to one of the rules of composition. I find myself using these ones most often: Leading Lines, Framing, Rule of Thirds, Golden Rule, and Diagonal Lines.

When it comes to composing with color, I am more tempted to use vibrant, almost fantasy like colors. I love bumping the saturation and vibrancy to make an image really stand out.

When dealing with black and white images, I tend to use higher contrast in my images. I really like playing with the clarity in black and whites as well, making things pop even more dramatically... with the high contrast and high clarity. For weddings, however, there is a time when a softer, more "romantic" image is nice for a little change. I use a lower clarity and softer contrast when feeling the mood the picture creates requires it.

In this next article, I am also a fan of the first definition of composition he has up... that "composition is the strongest way of seeing." I don't know what Edward Weston's thought process was exactly when he came up with that.. but to me it means that having a really good composition in front of you draws your attention to elements the eye misses or takes for granted when seeing in person. Textures for example is something that I can totally miss seeing in person when looking at a beautiful landscape or view. Also, a good composition will draw the eye in to seeing what the most exciting part of a landscape or view might be... forcefully drawing you to a scene in a photograph, where as there are so many distractions in looking at things through the naked eye, in real life.

Another great article to read:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lacking Consistency=Loss in Creative Edge

I've been doing a lot of research recently on photography in general and how to be a good photographer in the field that you chose.

One thing that I really struggle with is self-confidence. Time after time going through my research, I've found photographers explaining how important it is to keep a "healthy" but "strong" ego when trying to make it as a photographer. No one will believe your pictures are great if your the first one to question them.... Here are a few examples I've found stating this fact:

6. Never Stop Shooting

Shoot whenever, and where ever. The second you stop shooting, is the second your “photographic brain” starts slowly disappearing and getting lazy. You start losing your creative energy, and second guessing yourself, then you begin to thinki maybe you’re not good enough, etc. If you keep on shooting, you don’t have the chance to fall into that hole. Once you’re there, it’s hard to dig yourself out! Shoot, shoot, shoot!

Read more:

7. Confidence

You have to believe in yourself, and your work! The best way to learn is to completely throw yourself into it. You can’t be afraid to screw up! The reality of the situation is that inevitably, you will screw up! But it’s ok, it’s actually wonderful because it’s how you learn. Every time I make a mistake on set, I learn, and know better for next time. My first shoot with clients, I almost walked off set because I didn’t trust myself, and I was so scared of making a mistake, and embarrassing myself. I sat there running through all the possible disasters that could occur, then I shut it all out because I knew if I didn’t shoot then, I never would! The images from that shoot are some of my favorite images to date!

Read more:

(In an email from Dave, I read this amazingly helpful blog on wedding photography... it's full of other amazing tips, but this one goes with the theme. :) Check it out! )

4) You Need to Have a Bit of An Ego.
With emphasis on the "bit" part. For anyone who owns her own photography studio a healthy ego is a must, but to paraphrase Colin Powell, "...a balanced ego must be combined with intelligence, judgment, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners and a high-energy drive to get things done."

Your ego is your best friend and your worst enemy. It enables you to produce great, not just good work for your clients. It pushes you to take risks and will fill your tank. However, your ego is not you. This idea was reintroduced by Michael Singer in his book, "The Untethered Soul: The Journey beyond yourself." According to Singer, your ego is more like a roommate inside your head and you need to carefully consider what it's saying and why it's talking.

David Foster, a music producer with 15 Grammys on his mantle, absolutely appreciates his ego and understands when it attempts to impede his success. Foster, known as the "hitman" for many pop singers including Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Josh Grobin and Michael Buble, is consistently bashed in Rolling Stone Magazine for his syrupy sweet, and romantic love songs. In the past, Foster's ego routinely complained about the critics, since after all, Foster's talents could enable him to produce deeper, more nuanced music if he were so inclined; but after tasting the sweet nectar from Foster's success, his ego learned to ignore the detractors

WAIT!!! I AM NOT SAYING YOU HAVE TO SELLOUT YOUR CREATIVE SOUL TO MAKE A BUCK. I'm just urging you to understand and appreciate the benefits and liabilities of your ego. It can be good to you at times. Like when it sits on your shoulder during a sales meeting and forces you to stop talking once you review pricing instead of letting you over explain why you are worth such a hefty price. Your ego boosts your confidence and nudges you not to give up on pursuing a long-shot assignment. It provides the armor you need on days when you don't have the fight within yourself.

That same ego, however, can turn on you and give you an inflated feeling of self-importance. Your ego, for instance, may override your judgment and persuade you to sever ties with a long-time vendor, one who has been loyal and supportive, simply because the vendor injured the ego. Or maybe your ego convinces you to mortgage your home in order to rent studio space in the hippest part of town. I'm just saying to consider the advice of your ego as you would anyone you consult about your business. Listen by all means, but let you're actualized self make the final judgement.

Once, my ego convinced me to, on a whim, drive to the local camera store and drop $5,000 on the newest digital SLR. My ego had grown tired of wedding guests approaching me and telling me that while I had a nice camera, theirs was much nicer. All that being said, my ego and my "real" self delighted in knowing that most of those financially-endowed guests left those fancy cameras on the "P" setting because they thought it was the "Professional" mode.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Night Photography

For my night photography assignment, I and two subjects went outside of Billings, Montana on the Roundup Road to get away from all the city lights to do our shooting.
For this photograph, I had two people dance around with flashlights to make the streams of light while I held the shutter open on the BULB mode on my Canon Rebel Xsi. I then had one of my subjects stand in the middle of what would be the streams of light while the other subject painted him with a flashlight. I then let the exposure go on for another 30 seconds to ensure that the stars in the background would be illuminated. The whole exposure was 2 minutes.
This photograph was done in much the same manner as the first one, but I only used one subject and he painted the word "LOVE" in the middle of the frame. I cropped the bottom of the composition slightly to get rid of light reflection on the ground. I felt that the floating "LOVE" and the starts in the background were more powerful as the only light in the photograph.
For this composition, I had my subject stand in front of the camera and hold his pose while I used a flash light to illuminate him while I focused my camera on him. I then had an assistant hold done the shutter on the BULB mode while I took a red flash light and made the streaming lines come out of the subject's hand. After I had used the red light, I went and laid down in front of the subject and illuminated him with the light from a regular flashlight to get the details of the subject in the frame.
For my kiwi pictures, I cut the kiwi into thin pieces and placed them on top of a glass coffee table. I then set my not-so-stable tripod up on the table so that I could get a downward view of the kiwis. I set my camera up for an exposure and used a flash light under the coffee table to illuminate the kiwis. I did quite a bit of editing to this first picture. I, obviously, used the saturation tool to turn all but the middle kiwi into black and white. Then I upped the contrast, sharpened the photograph, and blurred the black and white kiwis slightly.
This photo was done much the same as the first, but I used a red light instead. I love the contrast between the middle of the kiwi and the outer edges. :)

Easter Inspiration

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I once saw a picture that someone did using Scrabble pieces to spell out some one's name. I remember thinking this was incredibly creative and thought that this was the perfect time to try it out in my own photograph. I didn't want to take the usual 'cross and sunrise' picture and instead used the letters to spell out what Easter means to me. The photograph of the couple holding hands represents love and family, a huge part of what Easter has always been for me. The hat represents dressing up in our 'good Sunday clothes.' Growing up, it was a highlight to go find the perfect Easter outfit. The family sitting around the table reading a Bible represents possibly the most important part of Easter for me... worship and remembrance of the reason for the holiday.