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Monday, February 27, 2012

scanned images

I had some time between work and classes to fiddle around with a few new ideas. I placed a slice of pummelo on a scanner set on "film negative". This made light shoot through the fruit. Every time I scanned it though, the color turned out very different from the last time. I put them together to make a complete fruit in Photoshop & this is how it turned out:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

a new reality

I had an assignment where I to create a new reality for myself. This is what I came up with:

Friday, February 24, 2012

a deal!

The next five people to book with me will get all of their shots put onto a digital photo keychain for free! You can either email me or use the booking app to the right.

Monday, February 13, 2012

dSLR basics III

How do you feel so far? I hope it's going well. I'm going to move along, but if you have any questions, let 'er rip!

Most of the time when you buy a camera it comes with a lens similar to this:
This is a kit lens, called so comes as a "kit" with your camera body. Genius I say! There's usually a slide button on the side that says "AF MF". This stands for auto focus and manual focus. Slide that little baby over to manual focus. There's also "Stabilizer". I usually leave mine on unless I'm doing panoramas. Leaving it on during those can cause the focus to be a little wonky from time to time...not important now...

I'm an advocate for using manual focus. Why? Auto focus sometimes gets it right. Other times it gets it SO wrong! Example: I was doing a mini-series where I took pictures of people who live here but who don't participate in the same religion as 90% of the residents. I was shooting one person  and I accidentally left the camera in auto focus. Instead of focusing on her, the camera focused on the wall behind her. Not cool. Yes, auto focus is easy, leaving the camera set on the little green box is easy, but by doing that you just turned your very expensive camera into a point-and-shoot. The price of the camera means nothing if you don't know how to operate it. That's why you're here right? That's why photographers get mad when you say something like, "Your camera takes really nice pictures." You have to know how to operate it in order for pictures to turn out good.

I want to you to find a person that will be willing to sit in front of your camera while you practice for a few minutes. It doesn't have to be the most beautiful person in the world, but it does need to be someone who can sit still for more than 2 minutes. Probably not kids.

Set them outside. Why outside? Because indoor lighting is horrendous! Take pictures outside whenever you can. The lighting is so much better. You don't have to worry about people looking yellow or anything. Overcast days are nice, but you can always sit them in the shade if it's sunny. Taking a picture under bright sunlight will make them look like this:
While that's a cute look for those girls, most people won't like it. Bright sunlight creates shadows on the face that ages people quickly!
So get in the shade. Make sure your exposure is set correctly when you focus on them. Take care to focus on their eyes. You should see a slight reflection of light in the eye. Once the eyes are focused, everything else will fall into place. Press the shutter. How'd it turn out? The key to photographing people: make sure their eyes are focused!

I hope this has helped you in some way. If you have other questions or need extra explanations on anything, please let me know!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Edgar Allan Poe

One of my professors wanted us to create a book cover for a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. I chose "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether". It's a story of a mental hospital where the patients take over.This is the story. I thought it was very interesting.

There is an old schoolhouse nearby that's been shuttered and I thought it could pass for a mental institution. My dear, sweet, patient husband stood in as both Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether. Then I took pictures of his arm and hands. I used Photoshop to place the doctor and professor in front of the school. I found an old hospital sign on the internet and placed that in as well. Then I took his hands and arm in the windows to make it look like people were trying to escape.

dSLR basics II

Before we go much further, I want to discuss the technical aspects of the camera. If you look at your screen, you'll see something similar to this:

This is actually exactly what my screen looks like, yours may look a little different. All the information is basically the same.

For our purposes today, please change to manual. It's this setting:

Your aperture determines how much light is let into the camera while the shutter's open. A smaller aperture (or F stop) lets in more light than a larger aperture. Also, a smaller aperture means that anything besides the subject you're focused on will be fuzzy. Like this:

A larger aperture will allow you to focus of more stuff. It's great for landscapes or for pictures of more than one person.

You can change your aperture by holding down this button:
while turning this knob:

 This also determines how much light you let in. A faster shutter speed means that the camera will take a picture really fast, not allowing much light in. It's great for action shots. A slower shutter speed just means the shutter is open longer. This is expressed in fractions of seconds. In the picture above, the shutter will be open for 1/4000th of a second. If you see a number with " behind it, that means whole seconds. So 3" is 3 seconds. If you use a shutter speed of 1/30 or longer, grab a tripod. At those speeds you risk a blurry picture if you hold the camera. This is changed by moving this is changed by moving a button:

Shutter speed and aperture together create an exposure. The chart that you see here is to let you know if you're under or overexposing your pictures. An underexposed picture means dark, even black pictures. This is on the negative end of the chart. An overexposed picture means "blown out", or almost white, pictures. This is on the positive end of the chart. You want the little dot to line up right in the middle. Most of the time, if I can, I get a picture that's lined up to the middle dot, then 2 more: one at the "-1" and one at the "+1" end. You have to remember the camera is a machine, not a magical device. Sometimes letting it do its thing is okay, other times you need to take control of the reins. The exposure can be changed by changing either the shutter speed or the aperture. If you want a certain aperture, set it first then change the shutter speed to get the right exposure. If you want a certain shutter speed, set it, then change the aperture to the right exposure.
Back in the day, before digital photography, you could buy different "speeds" of film. This referred to the ISO or sensitivity of the film. In digital photography, this translates to "noise". The higher your ISO the more noise you will get. This is what this translates to:
Source. The one on the left is 100 ISO, the one on the right is 3200. 
For the most part, I personally stick somewhere between 100-400. There's no need for me to go above that, but that doesn't mean you need to stick to that range. Experiment and see what happens.

 If you need to take rapid fire or just one at a time, it can be changed by pressing this button and scrolling to a different selection:

White balance removes any unrealistic color casts in pictures. For instance, if you take a picture under florescent lights, but don't change the white balance you could end up with this:

See how yellow her hand looks. If you change the white balance though to compensate for that yellow light, it would look more normal. You change change your white balance by pressing this button:

That's it for today kids. We'll go over some more stuff next week. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

dSLR basics I

Okay, so you got a fancy new camera. Yay! But you have no clue how to use it. Boo! You spend more time editing your pictures on Photoshop than actually taking pictures. If you learn the basics, you'll spend less time editing pictures and more time taking them! And honestly, who wants to sit in front of a computer for hours trying to "fix" a picture instead of taking an extra 30 seconds before pressing the shutter?

This is for you! I'm going to start a series on how to use your dSLR. Keep in mind, I'm not a professional teacher and I have the attention span of a Cocker Spaniel, but I'll do my best. I also don't know everything there is to know, so I'm just going to give you what I think may help those of you who are beginners. This will in no way make you a photographer. I just want to help you use your fancy new camera.

First, read your manual! I know it's tedious & is about as interesting to read as a tax law book, but this will help you. Trust me. It includes diagrams & troubleshooting that will come in handy if anything goes wrong. I have a Canon. I love it, but there a few Nikon users out there. The instructions and such I will give will come straight from my camera, but the same things are available for Nikon, I just don't know how to use their menus and such.

Even though I just told you to read your manual, I know you didn't. It's okay. We're going to get you started anyway. Make sure your battery's nice and charged. Also, make sure you have a good memory card. Size doesn't matter at this pointDon't ever take your memory card out while the camera is writing on it. To be safe, don't take the card out until the display screen is completely black after you turn it off. My camera goes through a sensor cleaning after I turn it off every time & I just wait till that's done.

Next, unless you have Photoshop there's no need to shoot in RAW. JPEG is fine if you're taking snapshots or if you're just going to upload something onto a blog or facebook. Taking pictures in RAW is great if you need to preserve every single bit of data that's included in the picture. For the most part, this isn't the case. JPEG is okay to use and doesn't take as much memory. It also is great if you're taking lots of pictures in rapid succession. Sometimes it take the camera longer to process RAW files and it can only handle so many pictures at a time. Also, you need a program to be able to read a RAW file, something along the lines of Photoshop because it has CameraRaw. So, for now, (if you have a Canon) press "Menu", select "Quality", and get it off of RAW. I usually shoot large JPEG:

unless I'm shooting something I'm getting commission for (or if it's required by a professor). Then I'll shoot RAW. If I'm just doing some quick pictures of my food/craft blog, I'll shoot medium or even small JPEG to save some memory.

While we're in the menu, let's change something else. If you scroll over to the second menu (again in Canon, you Nikon users may need to use your manual to find this), you'll see something that says "Color Space". More than likely to the right of that you'll see "sRGB". Hit "Set" and select "Adobe RGB". This will allow you to capture more colors. This may help if you're a visual learner:


Next time, we'll discuss your kit lens and depth of field. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

what's due this week

I had two assignments due for my digital class:

As well as my first non-technical assignment for my studio lighting class:
Mid-terms will be coming up soon, so stay tuned!