Sunday, November 14, 2010

Picture Pages

Raise your hand if the title of this post makes you sing a song from your youth that involves Bill Cosby.

Please, somebody raise your hand.
I have to know if it was a recurring dream, or if I really watched Bill Cosby draw pictures with a talking magic marker.

Hold on...

Okay, I'm back.
I was right. I googled it.


This is a post about pictures.
Every so often I am asked what kind of a camera I use, and whether I edit my pictures. So I thought that I would answer those questions here.

First, I would like to say irrevocably, unequivocally, expressly, unambiguously, and specifically that I know very little about photography.

And categorically.

And explicitly.

Taking pictures and then fiddling around with them is a fairly new hobby for me, and something that I wish I knew more about. Hopefully with time and practice, I will learn more and more.

Two years ago I decided to invest in some photography equipment because:
1) JC Penney's photo studio just wasn't doin' it for me.
2) A professional photographer is expensive.
3) I like bacon.

Sorry. Not sure how that slipped in.

So for Christmas I was gifted by my darling husband with a Canon Rebel XSi, which is a perfectly nice entry-level DSLR camera.
I clicked away on automatic mode. The speed of the camera made me happy, but the pictures weren't everything I had hoped they would be.

So I read a little more, purchased one inexpensive lens (50mm/F1.8), got a basic photo editing softwear (Photoshop Elements), and learned a few things:
1) Flash=no good. Natural light= good
2) Automatic mode= okay, Exploring other settings= better (specifically, I shoot in aperture priority setting and use a single focus point. I'd be happy to expound on this if anyone is interested in the nitty-gritty details.)
3) Almost every picture can be made just a little better with some simple tweaking.

Now I am happy with the pictures I am able to turn out, I love that I don't have to schedule appointments for photographs. I just grab my camera whenever it suits us, and snap away.

The real trick for me is to just take a ton of pictures. Because for every picture I like, I've deleted 10 others that were no good.

On to editing-- a few clicks can make a big difference.

This is Brooke:

 Isn't she cute??  I liked this picture of her playing in our backyard.
But it didn't really pop.
My preference is for sharp pictures with bright colors.

I used to adjust the sharpness and colors step by step in Elements.
Then I figured out how to use presets, and now it really just takes a couple of clicks to dial up the picture to something like this...

Warmer, brighter, happier :)

Here are a few more before & afters:

A little editing can also salvage a too-dark picture into something useable.

So there you have the basics of my photo skills*.

*Term used loosely.

I'm thinking of upgrading to a new lens this Christmas...but it's quite pricey, so I'm trying to determine if I've been a good girl this year.

I might have to try harder next year, and hope for Christmas of 2011.


Erin said...

Nice. You may also have to start using the S setting for indoor events (at the pool) and stuff you can't use a flash for (recitals). Just a hint to read up on it if you know you are going somewhere where you can't use a flash.

I'm jealous you get to use your aperture setting all the time. I still don't have enough free hands to do that yet. Only occasionally, like when I'm not being chased by a 10 month old who's crying because I'm 5 feet away from her instead of holding her.

Oh, and are you getting a new flash too? Or do you already have a larger one that attaches and can point up to the ceiling to bounce the light off and give the room more natural light?

Jennifer said...

I will gladly take any advice you have on picture taking AND editing! I have 3 books here now (2 PhotoShop & 1 for my camera) so I can try to take better photos... I think PhotoShop is trying to kill me though. You'd think I have enough brains to use a computer program... Obviously NOT! :)

Taylor said...

I have always loved your pictures. Will you travel to my place and take some family portraits for me?
And please make us look fantastic.
And make me look thinner.
And make my husband looked happy and blessed.
And I can't pay you.

I'm Erin. said...

Funny girl, Taylor!
You're too far away or I would.
But if you want to send me a picture I can try to tweak it for you to make you all of those things.

I think I can stretch it lengthwise for a thinner look...

Ooh, and I can use the distortion tool to turn LJ's frown upside down.

Missy Jill said...

Whoa, that's amazing! We are about the same place photographically, but your pics look so much better than mine! Wah.

I'm Erin. said...

Missy Jill, I think your pictures are great!

Kristine said...

This is awesome! Very jealous of how good your "after" pictures look. I have a nice camera and would love to take nice pictures but don't know how, yet :)

And no, you don't know who I am, but I do enjoy your blog! Thanks!

Mish said...

Great info! I love that you posted before and after. I aspire to be like you ;)