Saturday, April 25, 2009

Answering a few Questions....

Thought I would answer a few questions for people today....And, just for fun, I added my favorite bridal portrait of my little sister from last summer.

Katie asks..."your pics are incredible...found your blog via twopeas... you have great talent. But, I want to know what you do for your lighting and your backgrounds... are they photoshopped? please share your secret with me? please????"

First of all, Katie, Thank you for the compliments. It always means so much to me when people take the time to leave me feedback. I love to share on Two Peas. It is a great resource for photographers! It is also fun to meet so many people that share the same passion! As for lighting...I guess I would say I am mostly a natural light photographer. I feel like it is the most "natural" way to do things. One problem I have run into though (especially with newborn photography) is natural light is NOT reliable. A cloud rolls in and you have to re-do all your settings. With newborns, you do not have the time to keep adjusting settings. This is why I have finally decided I needed to learn how to use my studio lighting. It is reliable, dependable and I can keep my settings the same throughout the entire session, making only minor adjustments due to aperture desires. Wanting more or less bokeh, etc. I do not recommend going out and spending a fortune on lights unless it is absolutely something you want to invest a lot of time and money into. Not to mention the space you need to work them properly.

On to backdrops. I would say I'm mostly a "white trash" back drop kind of girl. I use sheets from Wal-Mart. (I do not endorse Wal-Mart very often...actually really despise that place...however you can get a killer deal on sheets there!) I rig my own back drop stand using all kinds of things. clothes drying rack, my fireplace mantel, even been known to use my treadmill. (At least the thing is getting a little attention, know what I mean?) For my niece's pictures, I did rent a backdrop stand as well as a canvas backdrop. While I didn't LOVE the color of the backdrop and actually changed the color on several pictures...It made a huge difference! I loved it. It is next on my list of things I just have to buy to make photography easier. I try to justify the expense of all this really makes no sense at all. is all in the name of making this mama of 3 happy with her hobby. Right?

I do photo shop the backgrounds. I like the "seamless" look. I usually burn the blacks to make it look all even. Since newborns are so small...I use a bean bag, draped with a sheet and usually just have the parent hold up the rest of the sheet behind to act as a back drop. I hope that makes sense. It doesn't give the depth you are "supposed" to have between the subject and back drop...but it works for me, so I stick with it.

Annie (also from Two Peas, a fellow Utah Pea!) asks: "Hi Kati...I'm from the Utah peas...CUTE AMAZING pictures :)wow!!!!!And you must share how you hung that chubby baby...I have tried and tried to hang a baby...I can't get them balanced then it throws the mom into a nervous wreak...LOL!!!you must share the secret :)"

I was actually REALLY nervous to do this shot for SEVERAL reasons! First...I don't like to be a "copy-cat" photographer. Someone came up with this AMAZING pose and now everyone is trying to get their hands on it. I guess I just decided that I can't feel bad about admiring other people's work and copying is the highest form of flattery, right? I felt most comfortable trying this shot for the first time with my own niece because I knew my sister in law trusted me with her baby. (At least I hoped she did). I will say there were a few times the baby arched her strong little back and neck and gave us all a heart attack as she nearly fell to the floor! I would make sure you have at least 2 people right there ready for anything! I wish I had some great advice for this shot. This was my first time attempting it. Good thing I had my friend Jen there with her super fast reflexes! I had a hard time deciding if I should drop "my baby/my new camera" to grab my niece. Totally kidding. Kind of. Totally would save my niece first. We tied and RE-tied the knot several times. The baby did tend to twist a little. My brother in law suggested getting fishing line and attaching it with a safety pin to each side so two people could pull, making the baby even. We didn't have the time to rig it up...but I think it would work. I think the key is getting your fabric hung evenly. We slipped the baby in and slowly got her positioned. It was TOUGH! I had enough back drop that I shot kind of from the side to make it look like she was hanging straight...but she really wasn't. One suggestion is to get the mom out of there for this shot. It will make you less stressed and the mom will never know! Ha! I can say that...because it isn't my baby being HUNG from a tree branch! I guess with everything else photography...just keep practicing and it will become easier each time. Truth be told...I am petrified to try it again!

Oliva asks some great questions..."Katie,I guess I should finally leave a message, considering I have been stalking your photography blog since it's birth. I love the pictures you take, and love the tips you share with each of us. I have been trying to improve my photo skills, but along with the one million other things I am trying to do in my life, I am not progressing very much. So I just have a few questions.

1) On your indoor sessions do you always use photography lighting? I noticed that one of your first newborn sessions you said was done at the parent's house. I always have trouble getting good shots indoors and I wonder if it is because the lighting sucks.

I covered this a little bit in the first question...but I will go a little more in depth here. Another key to indoor photography (in my opinion) is a really FAST lens. Without getting completely technical here...(y'all know this is not my strong point)....Lens speed refers to the maximum aperture diameter, or minimum f-number, of a photographic lens. A lens with a larger maximum aperture (that is, a smaller minimum f-number) is a fast lens because it delivers more light intensity to the focal plane, allowing a faster shutter speed. A smaller maximum aperture (larger minimum f-number) is "slow" because it delivers less light intensity and requires a slower shutter speed. So basically...the lower the f-number, the better your in-door shots will be without using flash. If this does not make sense to you...I recommend reading up on aperture and shutter speed and really learning how these work with the lighting you have. This must be learned and fully understood before you will progress anywhere with photography...

2) Do you have multiple backdrops for your indoor shots, or do you just get creative with what you have available?

I hope I answered this one well enough in the question above from Katie. The thing about that I believe you really can just get creative with what ever you have. It makes your photography stand out because it is unique and it makes it your own.

3) Do you choose your aperture and shutter speed manually every shot, or do you ever choose the other setting on your camera like portrait, landscape, sports, etc.?

I almost always shoot manual. The new camera I got is better with the AV/TV modes than my previous camera, so I am learning to trust my camera more. Sometimes it is nice to just take the everyday type pictures without having to think so much about my lighting. I never use the auto modes, however. I recommend people start in AV mode when they are first learning to shoot in manual. This mode allows you to choose your aperture and the camera chooses an appropriate shutter speed to match what you have chosen. Pay attention to what the camera chose and make a mental note of it. will learn what works and what doesn't. You then learn your camera and how it works with different lighting situations and you can correct them in Manual mode.

4) Do you photoshop all your pictures or are a lot of them exactly as you shot them? I don't use photoshop (yet) and I want to know if I am always going to be disappointed with my pictures if I don't us it?

Because I shoot in RAW mode...I have to post process all my photos. I try to get proper exposure straight out of camera so I don't have to do a lot to my images in photo shop. It is very time consuming and photo shop should not be used as a crutch to fix any mistakes that should be done right in camera. That being said...I make mistakes all the time and I am so glad I can fix them with photo shop. Photo shop should be used to enhance your photos...but shouldn't mean the difference between you loving or hating your photos. I do think that since the trend with photography now is brightened over-saturated color pops, will only be able to achieve that look with photo shop. I use CS3. I love it. I didn't love the price of it, however. But...once again, with all things photography related...nothing comes cheap with this hobby.
Whew. That does it for today. Guess I will get back to my trashy novel and watch my kids rotting out their smart little brains with the Nintendo DS and watching way too much TV. What else should we do on this dreary cold Saturday?


Isaac & Sara said...

some day, my friendly sister in law, i will figure this whole camera thing out. again. guess i should have stuck with it after high school, my brain was smarter then. xoxo
p.s. you're amazing.

AMMIE said...

Love this. Thanks for sharing.

kimber said...

You've answered many of my questions as well. You really do need to write a book. Thank you for being so great at sharing! I love you (and I don't even know you!)

The Gunnerson Family said...

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer the questions I had. I hope that I someday with more practice and studying up, I will take some great pictures too!

slymer said...

Um, yeah- any chance you want to come and show me how to use my camera- at all? About ready to offer to fly you to vegas for a tutorial...Kath was right- your pictures are AMAZING!! Props to you for taking the time to figure it all out! No classes, right? Dang, girl!

Stephanie said...

Kati- I don't know if you'll remember me, but I went to HS with you, Stephanie Caldwell? Anyway, I'm so excited to have found your blog...I have been SEARCHING relentlessly for a place to get real help with photography! Keep it up, I'll be one of your most frequent visitors!

onceapickle said...

Phew! That is A LOT of super great information! Thanks. You are so talented, Kati. I'm amazed by all that your brain can absorb and retain in this very complex hobby. You are awesome! :)

katie said...

kati... i too am from utah... what is this group..."utah peas"?