Tuesday, July 22, 2008

my life with photography - part 2

Alright! we're on to part 2! I wasn't sure exactly when and how I was going to have time to finish this post... and that's why i deferred to tuesday... but it turns out i have some time i wasn't expecting! it is currently 8:49am and ALL 3 kids are still in bed! It must have been a late night *ha!*

Anyways, enough with the intro. Here are the questions I made up and two that i didn't... and I saved the best one for last *wink*

Q: What kind of camera do I use?

I bought my first DSLR (digital single lens reflex) 4 years ago. It's a Canon Rebel (probably the first edition) and I knew practically nothing about it when I got it. Except that I could take cooleo pictures with blurry backgrounds (which is called Bokeh btw and SOO cool... I am still not sick of it, and probably never will be)

I didn't use the camera very much when I first got it, and in fact probably a year or so later decided to buy a very small Canon digital Elph to take with me everywhere. Now it's surprising if I even know where the Elph is as the Rebel travels with me almost everywhere.

My trusty rusty Rebel had some pretty major meltdowns in Mexico and I discovered that I am definitely using that thing to its maximum potential and it will soon need a replacement as I explained more in the previous post.

Q: How do I make ordinary pictures extraordinary?

(ahem *clears throat* I made this question up myself since noone actually asked. I know, you were probably intimidated by just HOW extraordinary they can be... it's ok to gawk, and I will answer the question you've been dying to ask, but just couldn't bring yourself to... ;)

I am in love with Photoshop.

It's very simple. Photoshop and I have a history together and we began as friends back in 2002... our relationship has evolved into a very close and personal love affair. I am always learning new things about Photoshop, and I don't think i will ever learn it all. One of the photography schools that I once looked into had a different PS class for each semester for 4 years... and that wouldn't cover everything.

It's a very in depth program, however, like with anything becomes easier and easier to use as you practice. I stumble upon new things by accident all the time. I had a book a few years ago that would help me figure things out, and I would suggest that... there are a lot of books, so maybe one that's like a photoshop "dictionary" of sorts.

Anyways, with all that said, there are actually a few things in PS that I do to almost every one of my pictures. I've used actions that you can download various places, but have yet to find any that i can't live without. I use the gaussian blur (which is found under >filter>blur>gaussian blur) often... and when I say often i mean like on 40% of my pictures. The other thing that I use on probably 90% is the contrast. I am a HUGE fan of contrast... i love the way it pulls out the darks and lights in your photos and makes them go from meh to BAM!

There are a few others, but i am thinking that I might break down more specific photoshop tips into different, shorter posts.

Q: What is an "aperature", and what does it do?

I love this question. Aperature is my favorite! The aperature works hand-in-hand with the shutter, and on an SLR camera these are the two main components that make it SLR.

The shutter speed determines how quickly the lens will open and shut to take the picture. The speeds are broken down into numbers which read (30, 60, 120 etc) but are actually fractions. So instead of 30, it's actually 1/30 of a second... make sense?

The next component is the aperature, which determines how WIDE the shutter will OPEN. Aperature is also measured in fractions even though it too is read like this (2.8, 3.5, 8.0 etc) It's actually 1/2.8 and 1/8.0. Ok this is the confusing part. The smaller the number, the bigger the aperature. If you look at the fractions it makes more sense in that 1/2 is bigger than 1/4 right?

So the number for aperature gets smaller, and the ap gets bigger... and when you get up to an ap that's say 16, you're talking about a really small one. Because it's really 1/16...

Now, the actual significance of this is where it gets interesting. If you can get past the numbers and grab hold of the concept, then you're doing yourself a favor :) The aperature adjusts the "field of focus" when you're taking a picture. This is how you get the blurry background or a picture that is crystal clear from front to back.

To get a blurry background, you want to use a LARGE aperature, such as a 1.4-3.5. My best lens only goes to 2.8 and it serves me well... however I'd like to down into the 1.4 world... then the blur would rock my socks!

If you want the picture to be focused completely, then you use a SMALL aperature, such as 11.0-16.0.

So here's what to remember... i'm trying to make this as simple as possible, but it's HARD!
- smaller number means bigger aperature (and vice versa)
- small ap means clear background
- large ap means blurry background

Q: *cough cough* i have kind of an embarrassing question for your photo tips.... how can you minimize the appearance of neck fat and other excess jiggle in a photo? (this question was posted for real and has not been altered in any way ;)

HAHAHA! I've tried this so many times... and have failed miserably. However, there IS actually a way to do it. It's called the liquify tool in photoshop. It's a very precise tool, but you can push and pull with it and move things around. Sooo... (alicia) if you're looking for a modelesque chin/neck, I would suggest that you consult a real professional... I'm still working on it :)

That's all I have for now... if you would like to learn more about photography, Rachel is doing a great series on photography for beginners, by beginners! You should check it out, and if you come up with any questions along the way, feel free to ask!


5 extraordinary comments:

Alistar July 23, 2008 at 7:20 PM  

actually that little "precise tool" has caused me some embarrassent... in the form of hideous changes to a certain park picture! lol

Amanda @ notsoextraordinary July 23, 2008 at 7:25 PM  

I did in fact contemplate posting that photo as an example of my work

Melissa July 24, 2008 at 6:44 PM  

haha, you rock my socks! :-D

Thanks for answering my question! I totally get it now. I just need to use it more and get used to it!

Amanda @ notsoextraordinary July 25, 2008 at 9:52 PM  

it's true, the more you do it, the easier it gets!

anti-supermom July 26, 2008 at 8:46 AM  

I wish I had PS - I'm stuck with what is free online~

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