Friday, June 22, 2012

Some photography tips (and babble)

One piece of advice you'll hear/read over and over again when you begin your photography journey is "find your own style."  The first few times I read this, I kind of freaked out.  What was my style?  I felt like someone was going to ask me to write a 10 page essay to describe it.  Now that I'm more comfortable with my photos, I can say that this is good advice.

Basically, don't try to copy another photographer.  Whether it be running certain actions on all your photos or over-saturating colors or purposely blowing out highlights.  Don't do it because someone else is doing it.  Do what you feel looks the best.

As for my style, I can comfortably say that I have a photojournalistic flair.  I don't look posing people at all.  Rich was wearing a suit a few weeks ago and asked me to take some head shots for use on LinkedIn, etc.  The first few were terrible and I was finally able to give him some direction but man, I was not comfortable at all.  And he's my husband!

I also hate editing.  Despise it, actually.  If I have to spend more than a minute on a photo, it's no good.  My goal is to "get it right" in the camera.  I like my photos to look natural.  That's my style.

I spent some time checking out the photographer (and the second shooter) at the wedding we attended a few weeks ago.  I was sort of proud of myself for knowing what she was doing and as usual, my mind began to wander.  Could I do that?  I honestly don't know.

I shot off a few photos as my niece was being christened last month.  There were only two babies and the priest was very open in allowing/encouraging photos.  I opted to not use my flash.  There was no wall near me to bounce it off of and the ceilings were too high.  I should note that I had my settings ready to go before I stood in front of them to shoot.  I metered to finalize my shutter speed while my ISO and f stop were already set.  You can't really ask the priest to stop while you mess around with your settings.

Nikon D7000
Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens
ISO 3200
SS 1/100


Now, if I had opened up my lens more (maybe an f stop of 2.2), I could have lowered my ISO, which would have reduced some of the grain.  I've had some issues in the past with this lens and I find the focus is spotty with an f stop lower than 3.2.  I also partly went with a slightly higher (number) f stop because I didn't want soft focus on any of the people.

Okay, let's talk about the gymnastics show.  I always pick my focus point and for all of these, it was the girls' little face(s).

35mm lens
ISO 500
SS 1/80
Bounced the Speedlight off the wall behind me.


Same settings for this photo too.


85mm lens
ISO 1600
SS 1/125
No Speedlight


85mm lens
ISO 800
SS 1/160
Bounced Speedlight off the wall behind me.


I shouldn't have had my shutter speed that fast.  I could have dropped my ISO and shutter speed.  I sometimes spaz out though.

Hope this helps!


Emily said...

Honestly, I love your style. I'm always impressed by your photos. Keep 'em coming.

Hope's Mama said...

I would like to sit down with you for you to teach me some of the basics. Hmmm, wonder when we can make that happen? How is your diary looking next week?!

Debbie Hein said...

Thank you, Sarah.
Someday I swear I will know how to work this camera better.
Your pictures of your girls always inspires me.

Anonymous said...

I would have expected for the action/gymnastics shots, you would have needed a faster SS than 1/80. was it slower because you used a bounced flash? When I shoot action, I need faster, but I only use the light that is there...

Sarah said...

Sally - would love to visit the other side of the world!

Anon - Yes - the bounced flash allowed me to have a slower SS. I was using the whole "drag the shutter" theory. The flash is supposed to freeze the action while the slower SS allows light to develop in the background. Obviously, it will only freeze so much action - you can see her foot is a bit blurry.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julia said...

I know next to nothing about photography, but yours are always interesting and nice to look at, you offer varied perspectives of your (adorable) subjects, something that cannot be said of all the photographer bloggers that I read. No matter how cute the girls are, I still think it must say something that I never feel like rolling through the pics just to get done with them.

Sophie said...

How do you pick which lens you'll use? How do you think the girls gymnastics would have gone if you didn't have a speed light? I just feel like photos arent always in focus properly.
Thanks for this post Sarah.

Sophie said...

Oh and I was going to ask what you normally do in terms of editing?

Anonymous said...

This is beyond me. I just point and shoot!

The Swanbergs said...

My favorite part of this post was the "I sometimes spaz out." That's me, when I'm taking photos. Total spaz. ;) Glad I'm not the only one.
Also, I think your photos are fabulous, and you've inspire me over the past year or so to become a better photographer. Thanks for that!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding re the bounced flash. I really want to learn how to use some sort of flash when the natural light is not optimal...

PS> I have a nephew with Spina Bifida and I find your posts very enlightening to understand what they are going through...

Jean said...

Thank you for sharing your photography insight! I would also be interested to hear what your minimalist approach is to editing pictures--it's my least favorite part. I always love your pictures.

Sarah said...

Sophie - I only have prime lenses - I guess I decide which one to use based on experience in how much zoom I need. (I really need a fast zoom lens.) Without the bounced flash, I would have had to have opened my lens almost all the way (small f stop number) and bumped up my ISO to get that faster SS.

For editing - I use Photoshop Elements. I'll adjust the levels - which is under Layers - New Adjustment Layer - usually to lighten the photo. If the photo is too warm or too blue, I'll use a Photo Filter to offset it. That is under Layers - New Adjustment Layer as well. Those are my normal edits. I sometimes create a layer and use the Photoshop created adjustments - such as Soft Light or Screen.