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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Your questions answered...continued

Thank you again to all of you who have sent questions to be answered. These are the last 2 questions we will be posting for awhile, we have enjoyed this and we hope you have as well. Remember to check back from time to time because although the question has been answered, other chicks may add to the answers if they do things a little differently :) So you may get a few different takes on how to do things :)

Q: "I've been looking at all the websites and blogs of you pixel chicks, and my pictures just aren't measuring up. They are lacking that pop!... that 3D effect... depth...etc. Is this something I should be looking to Photoshop to help me with, or is it the lens? or maybe the light?"

A: (From Alli Gaulin) This is a super loaded question! There are so many factors that go into getting an image to pop. The most important factors are going to be light, exposure, clarity, and color. When you are able to create an excellent image straight out of the camera (aka sooc) then you can take that image into Photoshop and enhance color and contrast to give it an extra pop. My advice would be to read "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson and work toward getting the very best images you can SOOC. Then you can begin to explore different options in Photoshop that will help those excellent images pop right off the page.

Here is an example of an image sooc and then the final image. I shot this in open shade, the light was great, there was vibrant color in the chalk on the driveway, in her clothes, and behind in the green shrubs. But the image was boring as is, it needed some extra zing.

To get that extra zing here, I increased contrast slightly then added a soft light layer. After adjusting the opacity of the SLL to my liking, I then took the saturation sponge set to about 25% and brought out the blue in the pavement and further brightened the chalk drawings. This image was relatively simple to PP, but there are many methods that are more complicated and bring out color and detail in different ways. Just keep experimenting until you get the right combination for the look you are going for. It takes lots of trial and error, and remember, every image is going to be different, requiring different techniques to create that perfect pop.

My tech info for this shot:

Canon 40D

24-70L lens @24mm

ISO 200


SS:1/250th sec

Manual exposure, center weighted average metering

Q-How do you deal with customers that want to see on your camera's display the pictures you are taking? I had a mom try this while I was taking pictures of her daughter. I would snap away, then look at my display to see what kind of composition, lighting, etc I was getting, and she wanted to look at them with me. I really felt uncomfortable.

A-Hi this is Hayley. I have not ran into this issue, so I may not be the one who should be answering this, but I will give it a go. I think if you try NOT to draw attention to your LCD during the session that might help you. Checking it here and there is okay but try not to stop the session and draw attention to it. If you still have issues with it, maybe politely say something like The LCD does not really do any justice to the images and you would prefer that they wait to see them when they are proofed. You may also want to add that you don't want to miss any moments you could capture by stopping to show the images on the LCD. I have found that showing kids there pics on the LCD is a great way to engage them though in a session. Kids seem to love that :) Hope that helps a little, like I said, I have not encountered this, so I am hoping another chick will pop in here!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

And some more...

And here are a couple more Questions we have received and the Answers from the Chicks :) Remember to check back from time to time because although the question has been answered, other chicks may add to the answers if they do things a little differently :) So you may get a few different takes on how to do things :)

When taking pictures of a newborn without a diaper on, how do you keep everything clean?

Hi this is Hayley...When working with newborns you just have to expect messes. I have wipes close by as well as a burp cloth for spit ups. Just be prepared that messes will happen and assure the parents that it's absolutely OKAY. Everything you take is washable so no worries there....just be prepared that it can and will happen :)

Hi this is Cindy... When I read this question my thought was well " YOU DON'T " :) I will never forget my first little boy newborn session. He was beautiful and I put him in a wooden bowl knowing it would be an easy clean up and that little rascal wet everything !! You really need a sense of humor. I have tried to keep a thick folded washcloth and place the baby on his or her tummy and place the washcloth just under their parts so it is some protection for a beautiful chair. There is nothing more beautiful than using a newborn as the perfect house accent on a georgeous peice of furniture.... I have even cut up peices of a doggy wet pad and placed it under them to protect a nice peice of furniture. Good luck and just laugh a lot ! A precious new life is always more important than any old piece of furniture but if we can prevent ruining clients things or our own props that is a great idea !

I'm looking into handheld light meters. Any tips and suggestions?

Hi this is Julie, I really like the sekonic 358. You can get a card in it so it'll work with the pocket wizards to fire your strobes. It's a flash and a light meter, so I can use it in the studio, and also outside.

Friday, April 18, 2008

More Answers :)

Thank you again to all of you who have sent questions to be answered. Here are a few more Questions we have received and the Answers from the Chicks :) You may want to check back from time to time because although the question has been answered, other chicks may add to the answers if they do things a little differently :) So you may get a few different takes on how to do things :)

Q-I'm having trouble keeping my subjects in focus, particularly fast moving children. What are the appropriate camera settings to use? If I need a slower shutter speed to let in more light and don't want to increase the ISO, what else do I do?

Hi this is Denise...Photography literally means "to paint with light". Light is always your most important consideration. If you aren't willing to raise your iso, you will need to find more light. Whether that means opening shades or curtains, finding a better location, or using supplemental lighting such as flash or strobe,your job is to find the light. At all times, your shutter speed needs to be at a minimum of 1/125 if you are using natural light to capture moving subjects. Higher is better. In order to achieve this shutter speed, your options are to open your aperture, raise your iso, or use flash. While flash is a complicated subject deserving of more in depth explanation, you can easily mount a flash or speed light to your camera and bounce the light off of the walls or ceilings to give you enough light to freeze your subjects. We recommend checking out www.planetneil.com for some great information on using your flash. For flash diffusion (to avoid that "flashy" look, we recommend the Demb flash diffuser - they are inexpensive and do a nice job)

Hi this is Hayley, I just wanted to add, that I am strictly a natural light photog and completely agree with all the advice Denise has given you. But since I use only natural light I do not use a flash (which Denise is great at) so my advice in addition is DO NOT be afraid of raising your iso. It is there to help you in low light situations and if you are a natural light photog, you will need to venture into that area of your camera settings eventually :)

Q-What is a good f/stop to get everyones eyes in focus as it relates to DOF?

Hi this is Alli Gaulin-For keeping the eyes all in focus in an image where there is more than one person you can use an f/stop of 5.6 or above. I typically do not shoot groups at any less than 5.6, however, this is not always possible- you may be shooting in low light and need to open your aperture as wide as possible. In this case, I would try to make sure that all faces are on the same plane, then open your aperture up as wide as it will go.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Answers Part 1 :)

Thank you to all of you who have sent us questions to be answered. We are going to start posting some of the answers. Some of them might have more than 1 chick reply because we all do things a little bit differently in certain areas :)

Our first question is...

What dimensions do you crop an image to if you are not sure what the final print size will be?

Hi, this is Hayley here...My suggestion is to not crop your images until your customer places their order. I do all my editing to the un-cropped image which would be the (sooc crop) and save a copy like that. Then when they place their order you can crop it to whatever size needed. If I know my customer might be ordering something like a 4x6 proof album in advance, I will make a separate album and crop each image that I am proofing to 4x6's at 300dpi as well and put those in a separate album called "proofs", but again make sure you save the sooc crop completely edited for when they place thier order.

Friday, April 4, 2008

"Ask Us"

So here's your chance to ask away...

The chicks are opening up a Q&A for photography related questions. If there is something you'd like to know how to do or something you would like to ask any of us...then here's your chance!! Just leave your question in the comments section and one of us chicks will get back with an answer :) If your question if for a certain chick be sure to include that in your question.

We will post the answers to your questions in another post!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create
or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their
perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.

Ansel Adams

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