It’s the little things

Perfect perfect! I cant wait to get home and get it off the camera. *later* WHAT??!! It didn’t look like that on the camera display!

Ever had one of those shots? They are probably the most common type of shots. Its why most of us have 500+ photos from a trip we went on and only publish 20. I have them all the time! I hate them! They are the bane of my existence, well at least the bane of my computer storage. So here are a few tips that help bring that 20/500 ratio to a more solid 250/500. You friends and family will then be overwhelmed with all the photos you took!

The first problem is how the display on your camera shows the photos. This varies from camera to camera, brand to brand, and greatly affects how  you see your photos! Now the first question is did you change anything in the Picture Styles(C)/Picture controls(N) in your camera? Did you know you could? That would be the first thing to check. The second is do you shoot in RAW or in JPEG. To K.I.S.S. on the difference between RAW and JPEG lets just say that the RAW file is bigger/better for the simple reason that it contains more data. I can’t get into all the deep details in this post because it would be epically long but it would be in your best interest to dig  more into you camera settings themselves. As Kate has a Nikon and I have a Canon maybe we will do a collab post in the future on our settings.

The second problem, lets be honest, is being in focus. There is no amount of sharpening that can fix an unfocused photo. There is no option to go back and hit that exact same spot at the exact same time under the exact same conditions. So take your time, no rush, and FOCUS. Also if you are doing manual focus make sure you dont bump, or do if you need to, the little +/- dial thingy (no idea what its called diopter adjustment dial). It might also help, especially if you are going to be printing or submitting to a contest to buy a LCD loupe. Now if you know photography you know that a loupe is typically used to look at negatives up close, you also might recognize it as what your cartoon favorites always pull out to inspect diamonds. Now if you are going to have a diamond sharp photo you need one of these to check your focus before you are all packed up and enjoying a nice drink in front of your computer. They can run between 15$ and 100$ depending on what you want.

The third most common problem is from your computer to paper, PRINTING! It can suck. The first thing you should invest in after your camera and computer is a monitor calibration tool. Now many people will tell you they can trust their eyes or know what their prints will look like and to you I say….

How many white or was it black dots do you see?

As you can see, between our eyes and our brains there can be some variance in communication. When you spend three or four hours in front of your computer this can become exacerbated. Colors may even begin to switch on you, even if you just sat down. Even blue light cutting glasses won’t save you here!

If you stare at the blinking pink dots, you will see only one color, pink. If you look at the the + in the center, you’ll see a circle of pink dots and a rotating green dot. Now, stare at the + without moving your eyes. After ten seconds scroll down a bit and watch a bright green circle appear to move with you *Click on the image to be taken to the site its from*

The last and but not least remember you can adjust your white balance and exposure when you do it get home. Many find it helpful to shoot +1 or more exposure wise because you can always go in and darken what you need to, while on the other hand its a lot harder to bring things out of the shadows.

Here is a before and after of the same version and while it may not be a big difference, it is big enough to post or to trash in my opinion.

Original Shot

Before

As you can see dull, gray and boring. I like the darkness of it myself and the shadows in the background but this photo doesn’t say Japanese Sakura like it should.

After

As you can see in the second photo a bit brighter, colors with a little more pop and not so heavy on the shadows. All changes were done in Camera Raw itself and didn’t step into full photoshop.

Its the little changes and steps that make a difference in your photos. Its the time you take and the effort you make.

-Don’t be afraid to push the button, go on, PUSH IT!

~Anne

Advertisements

Get a Different Perspective

Don’t you just hate when the photography bug bites and you’re somewhere that you’ve been a thousand times before and it just sucks because there’s nothing to really inspire you?  You just sit around the park by your house or the lake at your family’s summer cabin, camera in hand, staring wistfully at the screen or through the view finder.  All you can manage are a few family photos that you’re basically forced to take just because you have the “nicest camera!”

In these situations, you have to force yourself to think outside the box.  When you’re at Grandma’s house for the millionth time, you can’t expect to find the same tree that’s been in the front yard since your mom was born as interesting as it was the first twenty times you photographed it.

This advice comes from personal experience: don’t be afraid to get a little dirty.  Get on your knees.  Lie on your back.  Get a little closer than you usually would.  Move a little farther away.  Look at your surroundings from a different perspective.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Take a walk around and make a note of the things you have photographed a thousand times before.  Think about where you usually stand or what angle you usually take the photos at.  Then don’t do those things.  Do something different.  And again, don’t be afraid to get dirty!  I was up to my eyes in this tall grass in a ditch on the side of a dirt road.  Bug bites galore, but I love this shot of my grandparent’s barn.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Us grandkids have always been told to stay away from the barn, which is falling apart at the seams.  But be willing to break the rules, so to speak.  Get up close and personal with something you’ve stayed away from.   Look critically around you and step outside your photography comfort zone to find a picture you wouldn’t have typically taken but will absolutely love.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Even things that you would normally take photos of (for me, that’s flowers) can become a source of inspired photographs – especially when the subject seems old hat.  It’s all a matter of twisting your body and holding your breath to get the shot.  Composition is, of course, important when searching for inspiration in everyday, familiar subjects.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Find things around you that you might take for granted.  For me, for this shot, this mobile hanging from Grandma’s laundry line has just always been a part of the scenery.  It never really stood out to me and I never had a reason to look twice at it.  Don’t get put in a situation like I did for this shot.  Grandma recently moved out of the house that she grew up in, that she raised her own children in, that I’ve spent quite a number of summers at.  She’s 92 years young and lives on a farm by her lonesome.  She decided that she didn’t need or want to care for a huge amount of land and a dilapidated house that had more problems than there were solutions.  My last trip to the farm was a few months ago when I visited for a few days to help her pack.  It was a bittersweet experience for me.  I’m 100% supportive of my grandmother’s decision to move to an apartment – she’s still completely capable of taking care of herself – but on the other hand, I’m going to miss the farm house and the creaky floor boards and the crab apples and the tire swing hanging from the tallest tree in the yard.  She ended up selling the house to a neighboring farmer who currently rent out the actual farm land.

The lesson to take from that story is don’t take anything for granted.  That old boat at the end of the dock at your cabin, the slide at the playground of the park next to your house, wherever you think you’ve already captured your favorite memories – look harder.  Look again.

Nikon D5100.  No editing.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. No editing.

Above is my ultimate “different perspective” photo.  It’s an old old old make-shift fence my grandfather put around Grandma’s little garden to keep the deer from eating everything.  Change your focus.  I have this picture focusing on the post and the background, too, but I like this one the best.  It’s such a small detail to focus on, something I typically wouldn’t look twice at.

That’s the whole point of photography, no matter what or where you’re shooting.  Always look at least twice!  Feel free to share your own stories about looking at things with a new perspective in the comments.

Get out there and shoot!

– Kate

Intro Part Deux

Hello and welcome. Now that Kate got all the important stuff out I am feeling much less pressured to write. If you haven’t read hers yet you should stop and scroll up down.

Now that that’s done, you did do it right? On with the show.

Why a blog? Why me? Well let me first say that this isn’t my first blog, not that any of my other blogs made it beyond six posts, but that’s not the point right? However, I will be working with Kate (again scroll down if you lied at the earlier question) which means I won’t be able to slack, procrastinate and all of those other maladies that seem to befall me. While I am a dreamer and a dreamer only, Kate is more of the dreamer/do-er combo of which I am insanely jealous over. So I know that this blog will make it beyond six posts and won’t be lost in wild of the internet. We have plans, we have dreams and we also have cake! The cake helps trust me. I am always trying to improve, learn and just understand more about photography, light, and all the other factors that go with it. The point of this blog for me and to share, show and learn, I was never very good at the “tell” part.

My photography style varies day to day. Its like my favorite saying about my age. “I am as young as I feel or as old as I look, depends on the day.” I sometimes love the basics, a black and white, and other times its heavily edited or HDR. You will also see a variance in the way I shoot the same subject. I’ve learned that though some of the photography “rules” are the same across cultures not all of them are and I often attempt to get that other look. I rarely shoot people whether models or street photography. You will see a lot of landscapes, nature, seasonal shots, temples and shrines (as I am living in Japan), and you will probably also see my dog Kouyou as she just moved to Japan this April.

I have a Canon 7D and HTC One. I usually shoot RAW but will use JPEG to get a few quick ones. I use photoshop when necessary but try not to do much outside of Camera RAW.

Sakura 2013

I picked two seasonal shots for my first post so you get a double dose.

Kyoto momiji (maple leaves) and Kinkakuji 2012

Also you will find that Kate is more adept at WordPress than I am and it will be noticeable as the blog goes on. In fact she is the one who set this all up! ❤

Don’t be afraid to push the button!

~Anne

Introduction Part 1

Hey all!  My name is Kate, and I’m one of the writers for this blog.  If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering something along the lines of “Why are you, of all people, starting a blog?”  Am I right?  I bet I’m right.  Well, I’d be happy to explain my reasons behind getting involved with this blog.  I want to improve my photography – both technically and knowledge outside of knowing how to operate my camera.  That’s the main reason.  The other big reason is that I’m beyond pumped to be working collaboratively with one of my best friends – Anne.  You’ll hear more from her later, as she’ll do her own introduction post.

Anne and I have known each other since 2006, when we met in college.  We’ve been friends ever since!  And even though she’s living in Japan and I’m still stuck in the States, the distance can’t keep us apart.  Anne’s actually the person that got me into photography as more than just a hobby.  She’s been shooting longer than I have, and I respect her and her work quite a bit.  But we both want to improve, hence us doing this blog together.

My current shooting style is based heavily on using natural light with minimal editing.  Natural light doesn’t mean I like to go out and shoot nature (although I like to go out and shoot nature), I just don’t use flash or external photographic lighting if I can avoid it.  HINT: I can avoid it pretty much all of the time.  Which works just fine for me.

Stop

Shot with a Nikon D3100, no editing.

I’m big into landscapes, although I do people as well.  Concerts are my specialty.  The low light really suits my style and I see it as a challenge to get the best shot in an environment where the lighting is constantly changing and the subjects are constantly moving.  I hope you’ll stick around and watch my shooting and editing styles develop and change.  I’ll leave you with my favorite photo I’ve ever captured, and one that means a lot to me not only because it’s one of my best works but also because of the story behind it.

Patrick Stump @ The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis.  Fujiifilm Finepix J10.  Edited in Photoshop.

Patrick Stump @ The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. Fujiifilm Finepix J10. Edited in Photoshop.

One last note, I will be posting every Thursday to the best of my ability, so keep checking back every week for new stuff!

Get out there and shoot!
-Kate