FAQ : Reader Questions, VI

Photography

I’m in the process of editing a wedding right now, but since I like to blog everyday, I thought it was time for another round of FAQ’s. Holllla! Over dinner last week, my non-photographer friends made fun of me because every time I post a FAQ entry, I preface each one with a disclaimer: I don’t think I’m the bomb…a guru…a sage…if this post helps just one person, I’m stoked! They poked fun because it annoyed them I reiterated this point so often. Well, friends, JUST ANNOYED YOU AGAIN, didn’t I?!

And just because posts are always better with a photo, here’s a sneak peek of the wedding…

Zarin asked:
Love your artwork. I like to know what camera you use and recommend?

I’ve mentioned it before, but I shoot exclusively with the Canon 5D Mark II. I simply adore it and it’s changed the way I shoot, especially with the full-frame. The high iso capabilities are simply divine and provide the cleanest, noiseless files…love it!
I, however, started my business with the Canon 20D and that camera rocked my world. I shot my entire first year with that camera and it’s such a solid starter camera…I recommend this camera to people who are interested in starting their business…partly because it’s what I used (and know) and partly because it’s a great camera for the price!

Christine asked:
What camera (and lens) would you suggest would be a good buy for first time photographers looking to make a start for themselves?

This definitely depends on budget and seriousness of your business plan, but I started with the Canon 20D and I loved it. Since I’ve started my business, Canon has also released the Canon 40D and I hear nothing but great things about it as well!

Becky asked:
I do have one question, which I’m not sure if you’ve ever answered in previous blogs. How do you manage to get such clean and crisp photos? Basically, how do you deal with camera shake especially in manual mode? Landscape photography is easier in a sense in regards to camera shake because tripods are nearly a must, but since you run around shooting moving people and in manual (which I still struggle with), I would love your advice on how to keep images clean and crisp like yours (should I decide to ever go into portraits!).

I’ve touched on this subject before (you can read more about it on this blog post), but I can add a few pointers…
1. I learned from Mike Colon that if you steady your feet and hold your breath, it’ll help you remain still and focused (liability note: please don’t hold your breath too long!).
2. In dark churches, I’ll lean my shoulder against a pillar/pew and then shoot, as this helps steady my body.
3. Always focus between shots.
4. Have fun! So often photographers will stress themselves out with the technicality of the shot that they (we) lose the moment…I personally think the moment is more important than the perfectness of a photo (in relation to wedding photography, anyway).

Lyndsey asked:
I can only afford one lens some where around $400 which one would you recommend and which one would be the most important to have?

Hands down, I would recommend the 50mm, 1.4. I actually received this lens as a gift from a good friend (thanks, Liana!), but didn’t use it for months. Months! I didn’t like fixed lenses at the time and–really–it kinda intimidated me. Once I forced myself to use it, I fell in love. That lens is like the little boy who’d pull your hair in first grade who grows up to be a runway model. AN ITALIAN RUNWAY MODEL. Yeah, kinda like that.

Jade asked:
Do Photographers do much lens blur in photoshop or is it all the lens??

I can’t answer for all photographers, but I never use Photoshop to blur my images. You can easily achieve this blur (also known as ‘bokeh’) by shooting with wide apertures (works best at >f/2.0) with subjects focused in the foreground. The background turns to a soupy mush and it makes me want to get a spoon and slurp it all up!

Amber asked:
I’d heard or read somewhere that it was a mistake to blow skies in photography….I’ve been underexposing faces all over the place to protect my skies…but on your site, I see lots of blown skies.

True story: JD was at a photo tradeshow hanging out with David Jay when a Photo World Guru (PWG) approaches David. They begin to chat and catch up and–somehow–my name was brought up. PWG proceeds to Ahh, yes, I think I know her…, and then says something along the lines of, You know, she’d be so much better if she just knew how to expose for skies! David quickly jumps in and lets PWG know that JD is my husband and the photo talk pretty much ends there.
When JD recounted the story to me a few days later, I was crushed. And totally EMBARRASSED. I’m all like, Dude, I so know how to expose for skies!!
And the truth is I do. I just choose not to.
Sure, I could shoot with a flash on at the beach to capture my clients with perfectly exposed skies…but I hate the way it looks. It’s just not me. I’m sure there are TONS of photographers who can rock this look and make gorgeous photos, I’m just not one of them. I often get asked how I manage skin tones at sunset and salvage the sky…and I just say I don’t worry about the sky. If I cared about the sky, I’d be a nature photographer, ya know?
It all just boils down to a matter of taste. Some people like flash, others don’t. Some people like tofu, others don’t. Some people like singing off-key in the kitchen and dancing with her dog…okay, that’s just me. If your tastebuds like perfectly exposed skies, rock on! If it’s not too much concern, then definitely experiment with new forms of shooting and see what floats your boat!

Happy Wednesday!