Okay, are ya'll ready to talk photography?
I think this time, I'll just grab some of your questions and take it from there. I've edited them down a bit, but for the most part, I think the main questions survived the cut.
Here we go.
Q. The biggest question I have during these gloomy, sunless days of winter is how to take good photos inside when it's light, yet not bright.
A. Well, first off, let's say a word of thanks that I've put off answering these questions so long that it's actually spring now instead of winter. Other than that, I try to keep my subjects as close to a window as possible. The vast majority of my indoor photos are taken in my dining room where the light is usually plentiful. Using a wide aperture is also helpful for low light situations.
Q. Thoughts on composition?
A. Composition. I have to say, I struggle with composition. I like things symmetrical, so my natural tendency is to center my subject. Sometimes that works great, but more often than not, a photo will be more interesting if you shake things up a bit composition wise.
For the most part, the cupcake photos in this post were photographed in a very standard way, but I cropped some of them in photoshop in an effort to make them more visually appealing. Google "rule of thirds" and you'll get tons of information on photography composition.
When I find a photo I fall in love with, I take note of where the subject is placed, the other elements in the photo that I like, elements I don't like and then sometimes I'll set out to create a photo that is similar in look and feel.
Also, background is a huge factor. Huge. In fact, background is almost as important as the subject. For me anyway. If I have the most awesome subject, but no good background, I don't even want to take the picture.
If at all possible, I'll change my angle until I get the very best background for the shot.
Oh, and speak of the devil. Here we have a perfectly centered, symmetrically composed cupcake photo.
This photo makes me sad. I made 24 cupcakes, but at the time that seemed a little gluttonous for just the three of us, so we gave them away to anyone who happened to stop by the house. But now they're all gone. What were we thinking?
Q. I was wondering how you post process your photos.
A. I use Photoshop CS5. I previously used Photoshop Elements, and that was a great program as well. Scott Kelby has a book for every single version of Photoshop and every version of Elements. I highly recommend that you get the book for your version.
Q. What f-stop do you use the most?
A. Hmmm. I'm willy-nilly, here, there and everywhere with my f-stop. I would say I'm in the 2.5-3.5 range the most, but that varies so much with what I'm photographing. The following cupcake photo was shot at 2.5.
In photographing people, I would say that 3.2 is the widest I would ideally want my aperture to be, but I do open up more if I'm losing my light.
Q. Do you shoot in RAW?
A. I do not shoot RAW. We'll just pretend I have some issue in my childhood that is preventing me from shooting in RAW, because there truly is no other valid reason that I'm not shooting in RAW. I don't want to talk about it anymore.
Q. How do I take a half decent picture in my house....after it's dark?
A. I don't take pictures after dark! :) If we have a family gathering and want some photos, my hubby or kids grab their point and shoots and use the flash.
Q. What suggestions do you have for accentuating motion in photography?
A. I don't think I've ever tried to accentuate motion. I've frozen motion (trampoline shots, etc.), but never accentuated it.
Q. I have read online that you MUST MUST MUST shoot with natural light and absolutely never use a flash. But how do I get good pics of my sweet daughter or an interior project or whatever if it's cloudy out? Or what if it's just dark in my house?
A. I choose to use only natural light. But. I don't have sweet little children whose adorableness I need to capture on a moment by moment basis, so I can choose the time of day and the specific (best natural light) location in my house for what I want to photograph.
When I took these photos of Kayla, it was a gross, dark, snowy, gloomy Sunday.
But, we shot at noon and while she wasn't actually facing the light - it was coming from the side - my front room has a window that faces south, so we had enough light to make the gloomy day work for us.
Hey, she matches the cupcakes perfectly! Now I want to re-do the shot and have her eating a cupcake.
Kayla - come back!
Q. Do you always set a custom WB?
A. No. I almost always have my white balance on auto. (Cringe).
Q. Do you change your ISO settings often, or do you rely on Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority?
A. I always, always shoot in manual. I definitely change my ISO as much as I need to in order to keep my aperture and shutter speed where I want them to be.
Q. I'd love to know how to nail pictures shooting wide open (especially children). I love the look, but it always seems that I don't get everything that I want tack sharp while letting everything else fall out of focus. Also, how do you choose your aperture when dealing with multiple subjects?
A. I would suggest bumping up your f-stop a bit. I've had that same situation. I used to shoot people wide open, but not anymore. I want their whole face....eyes, nose, etc. in focus, so these days, I would say 3.2 is as low as I'd ideally like to go. (I break that self-imposed rule all the time though!!) You'll still get beautiful background blur at 3.2.
Choosing aperture for multiple subjects? I. don't. know. I try desperately not to shoot multiple subjects! I did, however, just shoot six handsome high school fellas in a group. They were on stairs, at different levels and distances, so I shot at 7.0. I knew I'd have my hands full with their .... ummm, shall we say vibrant personalities? ... and I didn't want to have to worry about my depth of field. I just crossed my fingers hoping 7.0 would be enough, and thankfully it was.
Q. I have a 28-135mm lens. I'd like one that will do macro photography - real close up. Any recommendations?
A. I have yet to take the macro plunge. One day! Macro opens up a whole different world, doesn't it?
Q. Would you say most photos are pretty good straight outta the gate, or is it best to edit them? Maybe a simple question, but I'd love to know what percentage of pictures you edit (beyond cropping) as opposed to just letting them be what they are.
Q. Can you let us know if your pics are SOOC (straight out of camera) or do you do any post-editing on them (even minor color saturation tweaks.)
A. I always, always do at least a little tweaking, and sometimes I do a lot of tweaking. At the very minimum, I bump up the contrast a little. I like to use an action called Daily Multi-Vitamin on my people shots, and I use The Pioneer Woman's Boost action on my stills and landscapes. (But never at 100%). With the exception of Daily Multi-Vitamin, I don't think I ever use any action without fiddling around with the different layers at least a little bit.
Action sets I love:
Itty Bitty Actions - from the ultra-awesome JinkyArt
Totally Rad Actions
Pioneer Woman's Actions - these are free - whoo-hoo!
Flora-Bella Collection - so, so fun. Love these. LOVE.
Kubota Image Tools
Q. Have you noticed that there is snow on the ground at your house this morning?
A. Why yes, yes I did notice that lovely little gift from mother nature.
Q. Did you, within the last 24 hours, spend a rather large amount of time looking for real estate in both Florida and Arizona?
A. Yes again! Wow, I don't know who you are, but it's like you're living my life right along with me! Spooky.
Okay, so there you have it. Hope this helps, and if I missed anything just give me a shout out in the comments. Remember, it's a journey. I'm in a totally different place than I was this time last year, and I certainly hope to be in a totally different place this time next year.
Have a great day, and if you happen to live in a place where it's warm and sunny today, please pick up a local real estate guide for me and pop it in the mail, okay?