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Archive for April, 2012

Years ago when everyone shot with film the lab was on the hook to ensure the colors were true – well, for the most part.  You had to set your “ASA” (now called ISO) setting to the correct value, and shoot the correct film for the situation (or use a correction filter).  Simplified, but that was mostly it.   Today in the digital age the camera and YOU are responsible to ensure correct colors.  Although most of the cameras today will do a great job at getting the images right, I’ve seen many images that look like the person has a sunburn and the foliage looks like something from a model train landscape under florescent lights and over-saturated to boot.  Did someone change the settings and never change them back?

It all starts with the white balance setting.  Most DSLRs have a white balance setting.  Many people leave it set for Automatic.  That’s okay, but you should really know how to set it manually for the effect you want.  For instance, using the cloudy day setting, the incandescent setting, etc.  When and where to use the Kelvin settings and how they control the temperatures of the lighting.  The camera’s user manual is a good place to start.  They actually have a very good write up on the camera controls and make it fairly easy to understand how and why each control works.

Once you’ve mastered the WB portion, how about the other settings on the camera such as Tone and Saturation.  Today’s DSLRs have fairly good “engines” in them for overall shooting, but knowing how to control the settings is something that many people never even look into.  Are your images over saturated?  Too much red tone or blue tone?  Do you check the camera settings every time you get ready to shoot a new set of images?  Do you make changes to the settings for the environment you are shooting in?   These are all things that most Pros do when setting up for a shoot.  Knowing your camera, understanding the settings and the relationships between them, and understanding light itself are the things that will make or break the image quality at the camera level.  Again, the camera manual has excellent instructions on how to use the controls.  Have you read the manual???  But it doesn’t stop here.

In years past you dropped off the film to the lab and waited to get your prints/slide/negs back.  When they came back, other than errors in exposure, the color were fairly true.  Today we import our images into programs such as Photoshop and work on them to produce the “Negative” to be printed.  But how many people actually calibrate their monitors and use the ICC profiles of the lab to ensure that what they are seeing is what they will get back.  You may be looking at an image and say “perfect”, but the lab (or others viewing it online) seeing the same image on their monitors may say “it’s too red” or “it’s too saturated”.  And if you send it to the lab for printing it may come back entirely different from what you saw on your monitor.  So who is at fault?   The answer is in the set-up.  Is your monitor calibrated to the standards?  Did you soft proof using the ICC profile of the lab?  Was the environment you edited the image in conditioned for editing?  Did you use the correct ICC profile for the image?   These are all questions the Pros know only too well.  It’s becomes a routine to calibrate and ensure the editing environment meets the requirements to get the best results.  These kinds of things are why you pay a little more for a professional.  But it’s things like this that give you more bang for the buck too.

At Casual Elegance Photography® the 4 computers that are used for editing or viewing are all calibrated using the same calibration software and hardware.  When I see an image on the screen in the shooting room, it will look the same on the editing system where the final editing is done.  And prior to every shoot a test target is shot to ensure that the camera, computer, settings, and lighting all match the standards.   Yes, it takes a bit longer to set things up (even in a natural light or on location shoot), but I feel that it’s my responsibility to make sure I do a reasonable check of things before I begin to shoot so the client gets the highest quality of images out of the shoot.

Visit Casual Elegance Photography® and book an appointment today.

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Several shoots this past week.  But I did a Boudoir and Art Nude Shoot with a great model, Shannon, and we got some awesome shots.  I love doing artistic nudes because they can be so simple yet stunning.  I tried a different lighting setup using a single light with a grid so it almost became a spot.  It’s really interesting how the light can change the entire mood of the image.  I’ll post one of the clothed images from the same lighting set-up below.

For the Boudoir images we shot in my “boudoir room” area and I let the scene with accent lighting as well as key and fill lights.  Adding a CTO gel to the lights created a warm “Playboy” type look to the images.  I normally only use a couple of lights but in this case there were 6 lights, and I could have used a couple more.  🙂  Maybe it’s time to get a few more lights or use the ones in my travel cases.  My travel cases contain 4 strobes with modifiers for each.  Two of them are either AC or battery powered so I can take them on location even in the remotest places.  Perhaps in a future blog I will discuss portable lighting.  I’m also a fan of the Nikon flash system where normal flash units can be used to produce amazing off camera results.

Visit Casual Elegance Photography and book an appointment today!

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I keep  talking about the cycles of this business.  They can be cycles in the type of shoot, cycles in the style of shoots, or cycles in the questions I receive in emails or phone calls.   Well this week breaks the cycle.  It’s going to be a week of everything.  I’ve got Head Shot sessions, Art Nude Sessions, and Boudoir Sessions planned throughout the week.  It’s nice to have a full week of shoots because (here’s that cycle again) the past two weeks have been in the “slower cycle”.  This slow cycle has given me an opportunity to get a few overdue things done, launch the Studio 7730 site (a division of Casual Elegance Photography®), migrate over to a new editing computer, and do some research to help my son out with a car problem he has been having.  But a full week is something I love and it will be good.

If you haven’t seen the new Casual Elegance Photography website, it’s been launched along with our Studio 7730 website – a division of Casual Elegance Photography ® – our Family, Head Shot, and Pet Photography site.

Are there any topics that you would like to have me discuss on my blog?  Let me know and I will try to with it.

Visit Casual Elegance Photography® today!

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I just read an article in the PPAs Professional Photographer Magazine about what it takes to start up a professional photography business.   I’ve written about questions that you should ask when selecting a photographer for your Boudoir photos.  It was really nice to see what the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) said and how well their view meshed with mine.

For instance, obtain a license, become a business entity in your state, create a website (not just a Facebook account or something), have a custom email address rather than a hotmail or yahoo address, obtain liability insurance, etc.   These are the basic things a business needs to operate and show professionalism.  Yet there are individuals who don’t do these basic things and promote themselves as a business.  If something were to happen during one of their shoots, they could lose everything including personal assets because they have not separated themselves from their business by doing the basic things.

In a related article the PPA discussed the topic of Mastering the Craft.  The line that got my attention was “It’s up to the photographer to get it right.”  Many people get a digital camera and don’t learn basic photography yet advertise themselves as Professional Photographers.  They use the automatic modes of the camera and don’t understand how it really works.  The automatic modes in themselves are not bad, but as the photographer you are expected to get the photo right.  As the PPA said (paraphrased) “Mr X. has a grand piano in his living room. He can’t play the piano  but through some software in the piano he can hit a few notes and the piano can play by itself.  Can Mr. X bill himself as a piano player?”  It’s the same with cameras and photographers.  You have to understand how the camera works, what the settings are doing, and understand the relationship of each.  Knowing basic photography can help you overcome many of the limitations of the automatic modes and use the camera to its fullest.

When you put all of the above elements together the point is, know who you are dealing with and know if you will be receiving the level of professionalism you are paying for.   At Casual Elegance Photography® you can be assured that we are a licensed, insured, and registered business with a professional outlook, attitude, and philosophy toward the photography business and our clients.

Visit Casual Elegance Photography® and book your appointment today!

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Sometimes I miss the good old days when after a shoot you dropped off the rolls of film and the lab did all the work.  Now, with digital, I do all the work and take on all the expense.  Just this last week, what started out as an easy upgrade has turned into an expensive ordeal.   I upgraded my main editing machine to be able to take advantage of the newer versions of Photoshop.  As I was reloading the system I soon realized that many of the “plug-in” tools I use won’t work with the newer system.  I contacted the manufacturers and was able to get two of the tool upgrades, but at an additional cost.  A couple of the tools don’t have any upgrades and don’t plan any.  So now I have to figure out how to do the same thing without the tools.  But that’s just the beginning of the money story…

It seems that the latest version of Photoshop (CS6 Beta) doesn’t support 32 bit operations.  Well, even the newest versions of the tools don’t want to work with 64 bit, so I had to purchase Photoshop CS5 which will support 32 bit.  But while I was shopping for CS5 I found Lightroom 4 at a special price with free shipping if I ordered it with the CS5 order.  Yikes!!!  What started out as a small upgrade purchase has turned into a bank account nightmare!  🙂

But it’s all good.  The system is up and running, I’m learning the new versions (and Lightroom – never used it before), and I’m trying to heal my bank account.   It struck me that the good old days were so much easier in some ways.   Yes, you paid for the developing and printing. You had to wait to see what you had actually taken. And you  had to look at the images in your hand and not on a computer.  But it was a different day and age and a more simple overall process.  Even though, I still love the new digital age.  I wonder what Ansel Adams would do with a digital darkroom.

Visit Casual Elegance Photography ® and see the new website!   Portfolio 1 and Portfolio 2 are all new.

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