About Me

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Great Falls, Montana, United States
I love creating art. I love the Creator! And through that love, I find a little slice of heaven on earth and I give Him all the glory! It's a great adventure and I'm excited to see what's around the bend! Come join me, won't you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How I Approach My Photography ~

Hey all!  

I loved the questions I got about my post yesterday about  "Insta Photography" and today, I'm going to do my very level best to answer them.

In today's post, each picture's caption will detail how it was shot, and how/what was edited, if it was edited at all, and the time of day I took it.

Let me say also, that my preferred method of photography is always straight out of a good camera.  For me, at this point, it's my Canon t3i, which is an amateur, sort mid-range-beginner-pro type of camera.  And I shoot in the automatic setting only.  {I have higher hopes!}

Shot with Canon t3i - loaded onto my ipad, edited with PS Express - added a blue border, which also adds to the heightened color sense, along with a very slight color enhancement, contrast (can you see the shiny metallic-ness of the petal on the lower left?) and... most inportant - shot in early morning light; soft shadows
Canon t3i 18 megapixels - no edits.  Note the angle.  Macro mode.
This one shot with my Canon - straight out of camera - no edits.  Careful - light can WASH OUT a lovely picture... that is why I sometimes add a slight color enhancement.  It is "real" to what I saw with my eye, but not overdone (hopefully!)

Straight out of an older Kodak 14 megapixel camera a year ago - NO editing.  Macro. LIGHT - early morning! (Love those shadows)
I hope you will find some helpful insights about how I take pictures, as I share what I consider some of the best hints, and simple techniques ANYONE can employ.  
Canon t3i - Delphinium from my garden - some minor editing from Canon software to highlight contrast of shadows, and add tiny bit of color enhancement.  I also use this software to add my name/watermark

I just realized that I could use my iPhone to take pictures of the apps I've purchased via iPad and vice versa!  Brilliant, I am.  Well not really.  Just in short spurts.  {kind of like how I run~!} Oh geez - that's not a "pretty picture." at all ~ {but I love the pun!}  Anyway---let's not go there!!  LOL
This shows the PS Express App - just you can see what it looks like.  There is an Art studio app below it - but I haven't played with it - its a bit complicated (at least it is to me!)

Shot with Canon t3i; edited on iphone with a NEW app "Insta...eFREE." (9/12/12) Early morning light at Manito Gardens. Macro mode.  (note blurry background which I love).  This app allows for text addition, with color  - love it.  Different frame selections too. No other edits.  But the quality is of feeling - soft and dewdroppy - is still there... even tho it's a bit blurred.

I always prefer to use my "real" camera in most photo-taking I do, and it is a very good camera.  However, I have learned it's not really all that convenient for those 'spur of the moments' when the sky takes your breath away...that's where the iPhone comes in.  And I'm amazed at the quality, as I said yesterday.  I believe it's about a 5 megapixel and for the small pics you want to post to a blog, Facebook, Instagram, that kind of thing, it's perfect. The key?  Holding it still.  Taking time to frame your shot, or cropping it later (in software).  It's rather awkward to hold it and hit the shutter button.  Try to use both hands.  That's the hard part of using an iphone if you ask me.  Without being still (hint: hold your breath - just for a few seconds!), you're gonna get a less than fun pic because it's likely gonna be blurry. Let the iphone adjust/focus, too.  Being in a hurry is not going to work too well.
shot with iphone - edited through PS Express, intensified the color a small bit.

Shot with iphone, processed through Instagram only -  the LIGHT was perfect! (late evening)

Megapixels. Why are megapixels an issue?  Well, my Canon t3i is a whopping 18 megapixels.  That's overkill, IF you're only looking for 4x6 photos.  Keep in mind, tho, that every time I edit, it takes away from the pixels, lowering the overall photo clarity.  So it IS important, at least to me.  And my camera lets me choose from 9 different megapixel sizes, which is handy for the blog/uploading.  Smaller mp's are faster uploads.  It's also important to me if I want to run those pictures through other editing programs, such as Instagram, or other apps, as all of them reduce size (and thereby picture quality) greatly.  The same is true when I edit a photo using my laptop & Canon software (very, very basic software), as every edit takes some of that quality away.  So I do as little as possible.
Shot with iphone at noon - 9/12/12 - Missouri River - NO edits

Same shot as above - out of iphone - edited with PS Express using the "vibrant" option - now this looks REAL - the way I see in "true colors"  and ... it's definitely more  interesting - even tho shot at noon - which is usually not a good time to shoot photos...
Light.  Shoot in early morning, or late evening.  The experts say the magical light comes an hour after dawn, or hour before dark.  But even in the first two hours of light, or evening, it's a great time to photograph... if there is bright light. I generally don't like to shoot at noon, (although those pics above aren't too bad I think?) and do what I can to avoid it except on cloudy days where it doesn't really affect a shot.  Cloudy days are great for no shadows, as long as there is bright sunlight as well.  With flowers, I like the sun set low in the early morning, and point my camera lens almost... right at it, but at an angle, and then play with how the photo can look once it's loaded onto your preferred medium for editing.  Note: I have spent many, many hours, understanding, playing and experimenting with my camera, the software, and more!
Canon t3i - early morning light - no editing - try a more creative angle that 'straight-on'

If I have to shoot indoors, I always try to use a northern window, or a diffused bright light from a south facing window, if I can.  I also use my Ott light (indoors) if possible, as it's most representative of true colors in my photos, without harsh shadows which aren't flattering in most situations, whether I'm shooting quilts, or flowers.  And I know I can always adjust for contrast using my software - usually my Canon software.
Shot through iPhone!  Taken through a (dirty) CAR WINDOW even - at 70 mph -- isn't that amazing?  I then processed through Instagram, adding a filter (can't remember which one)  It's also realistic - there was lots of smoke in the air from the forest fires in MT.... and I like the drama it evokes, because of the shadows on the hills in the lateness of the day (hour before dusk!)
Macro.  I almost always use this mode on my camera for most of my shots. People, landscapes, flowers and even people. (Like the shots of grandbaby Aiden). Why?  Because it gives drama, blurs the background, and focuses on the detail of what I am trying to portray, or subject the best.  And it allows me to get REAL UP CLOSE.  I can also change the focus point if needed.  Sometimes I like the flower petals to be focused (like the first pic of blue flower) and the center of it blurred.  Sometimes the opposite.  I'm still learning!  I started using macro mode for my Etsy shots, as I want my pictures to 'tell a story' the best I can, with the product I'm trying to sell.  I always take one shot that is close-up, and try to play with creative angles, so there is a feeling, or emotion about the piece that will hopefully speak to the person who is considering the purchase. 
Canon - Macro mode - early morning light - edited for slight color enhancement through PS Express
EDITING is absolutely a necessity!  Have you ever taken a picture of like, say a quilt, and are appalled at how dark it turns out when you put into your computer?  I used to delete and re-shoot... but now I can make a dark picture of a quilt on my white wall significantly brighter (like it is naturally) when I apply the appropriate edits to change the contrast of the quilt vs the wall.  It makes all the difference is how your product/picture is perceived.  It takes TIME.  And patience to learn.  But it's worth it.
Taken with Canon t3i - early morning light. Transferred to iPad. Slight color enhancement through App PS Express
Software.  Whether your specific camera brand, the ipad, iphone, apps... or instragram.  Use it!  Some of it is very subtle, and very basic.  PLAY with it. Using the software, no matter how simple within a camera, an app, or on your computer, can turn a dull photo into a spectacular one, even if it's just slightly brightened for contrast.  Even my iphone has a very basic edit.  And you can also crop with all of these apps.  A good crop can make a photo stand out vs average/boring.  These are my basic edits on any software:  1.  Crop.  2.  Enhance or brighten with contrast, 3. Add watermark.

Composition. The rule of thirds.  Top to bottom, or left to right!  Works great.  Crop out the 'fillers' or business of other subjects right from the first set up of your eye through the lens.  Soon, it will become a habit and you'll do it automatically!

Lens.  So far, I only shoot with the one that came with my camera to begin with; 35mm-55mm digital lens. the pros say it's 'all about the glass' - but I checked some of those babies out, and their prices are for royalty - like pros.   I would if I could afford it, even tho i'm not a pro, but I don't have a pro budget, nor can I justify the expense, at least for now.
 And... there is always more!  More to explore... more to learn.  Ain't it Grand?!  This collage was a new free app I discovered last evening, called "Frames."    Notice how the pictures have lost some clarity - make that alot?  Even tho these were all shot with my Canon - 18 megapixels, the app has reduced them significantly.  So if you don't have the megapixels to spare, these may not be something you're too impressed with...
Putting the blue flower (I rearranged it on purpose) makes this pink POP!  Shot from my Canon t3i this spring - late afternoon, in the shade of a tree with light, bright sunshine in the background, even tho you can't see it... it helps the shadows to be less glaring.  No edits on this, except for a very slight contrast adjustment.

I hope that helped... it's a long post... I tried my best to give you all that I think about when I shoot.  I am picky about my pictures!  I want them to be good, high quality, and clear, inspiring and colorful. It pays to have a good camera, for sure.  It pays EVEN MORE to know how to use it well... even if for just a few basics.  Then... let the creativity flow through your photography.  I spend lots of hours (I'm fussy that way), but at the same time - I love doing it!  Ain't that the way it's supposed to be?!
Taken with my basic Kodak 3 yrs ago - 8 megapixels. See it's not quite as sharp in clarity?  Megapixels, baby.  But I love the blue flower in the background - totally makes this picture pop - that comes from thinking about your scene and your color combos... and an average photo can be an 'aha' photo.

Hmmm.  YES!  Go for it!  Let me know what you think, or if you have other questions.

Soli Deo Gloria!  Thanks for asking.  Thanks for reading!  Bless you All.  Looking for more encouragement?!  Check out these wonderful women and their blogs on "Christian Mommy Blogger and Fellowship Fridays" - you will be BLESSED MORE!
XO
Leslie





6 comments:

Teresa in Music City said...

Thanks Leslie for such a detailed tutorial on editing photos!!! I'm the barest novice, and I don't have a decent camera, but I do care about how my pictures look. My husband hopes to take up photography when he retires, so someday perhaps he'll take gorgeous pictures for me :*)

Jennifer {Studio JRU} said...

Wow, Leslie! Thank you for sharing all your tips and tricks. ;) These photos are all so beautiful. It is amazing how sometimes just a tiny edit can change a photo so much. I really want to do more playing with my iPad and learn how the camera works. Sometimes I think it doesn't take the best photos... but that might just be me. lol I just need to learn to edit them! :)

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

This is all a foreign language to me :-( I have a pretty decent point and shoot. I've been nervous to invest in a better camera because I just don't think I could ever learn how to use it. I need to be able to ..... well, just point and shoot ;-) I saw this week where someone had a Nikon D3100 SLR on sale, but I still have cold feet. Just keep sharing your beautiful pictures and I will drink it all in.

Donna@soakinginmustard.com said...

Thanks for sharing your insights and gorgeous photography. Editing can take a good photo and make it GREAT.

elle said...

Isn't that early morning white one something. Poppy? Anyway, next time I drop my camera I should think about an upgrade from point and shoot. I'm technologically challenged but I'm really liking photography. No camera yesterday at the playground and used my little plain jane phone. Now to figure out how to get them off! lol I'll be back to study on this, Les. Thanks I haven't edited but I do try to be mindful of background and composition. I can see this is another creative playtime. No doubt I am going to have to sit down and shake hands with technology! If I take a really creative picture of a clock, will time stop or at least slow down??? lol

╰☆╮ Barb ╰☆╮ said...

How nice of you to take the time to fill us in on all your little tips and tricks. I'm definitely going to bookmark this blog and reread it when I have more time. Love, love, love your gorgous flower photos!

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