Thursday, February 04, 2010




Today was one of those days where everyone in the house was just off. We all kind of woke up grumpy and it just got worse until after nap when everyone got a break from one another. Life was much better after nap! We needed that time to regroup. Mornings like that are just not fun, for anyone.

I am glad that the light stuff yesterday was helpful. I will really try and post more photography stuff. I really do love to talk about it and I am happy to share what I have learned. The problem is there are a lot of nights when I don't have the energy left to write much of anything. I will try and do it weekly though. I do want to point out the articles that I read online that really helped me get a grasp of how things with my camera worked.

Ironically, this one was just reposted today on Pioneer Woman. It explains aperture in a very basic way that makes it easy to understand. If you haven't read this, I highly recommend it.

And here is her explanation of shutter speed.

And finally her article on ISO.

I think the Pioneer Woman's photography website has all kinds of great articles, so if you get the chance, browse through it. Once you have a solid understanding of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, your pictures will drastically improve because you will be able to start shooting in manual. Here is how my thought process works for deciding what my camera settings will be.

I always choose my aperture first. There are a few times where shutter speed would be more important, but it is very rare. I make the decision about aperture above all else 99% of the time. I almost always prefer portraits with the aperture as wide open as possible. I learned this from Amy Wenzel, and I completely agree with her once I started doing it. So, if I have a prime lens on my camera, my aperture is almost always set at 1.8-2.8, but most of the time 1.8. I love the really shallow depth of field and I love the bokeh (blurred background) that is created when the lens is wide open. When I have more than one person in the photo, I will set the aperture to 2.8 or 3.5, but that is pretty much my limit. Then I watch the exposure meter inside of my camera and adjust the shutter speed until it shows it being properly exposed. I usually will overexpose just a tad because I prefer a brighter image to a darker one. The final step is to adjust the ISO if the shutter speed is too slow. I can get a very sharp photo of a NON-moving subject, like a sleeping newborn, at a shutter speed of 1/160 and maybe as low as 1/100. However, I prefer never going slower than 1/160 and with moving children, no lower than 1/250. So, if I have set my aperture and shutter speed and see that it is slower than what I feel comfortable with, I start bumping up the ISO and adjust the shutter speed accordingly. I usually start at an ISO of 200, but if I am outside or in a really bright area, I will start at 100.

All of this takes a lot of practice to really figure out. If you are just starting out or trying to figure out your camera, this probably makes little to no sense, but it will. I promise. I really didn't think that I would ever understand what all of the numbers meant, but I do and it is not that hard once it all clicks. I am not a manual reader. In fact, I don't think I have ever opened the actual manual to my camera even though I PROMISED myself I would when I spent the money to upgrade to my D700. But it is so boring and it really doesn't make a lot of sense. I just figured it out as I went and read articles that I thought were easy to understand - like the Pioneer Woman. The ONLY way to really understand your camera and how it works is to put it in manual mode and start taking pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. And you will get lots and lots of horrible ones, but you will learn adjustments to make and they will slowly start getting much better much quicker.

I was asked about shooting in RAW. I shoot exclusively in RAW all of the time. I just like knowing that I always have the chance to fix things if the exposure gets way off for a few images. I have had lots of people tell me that they are scared to start shooting in RAW, but it is totally worth figuring out the editing process because of the ability it gives you to fix way overexposed areas and get the detail back that was lost. Owning Lightroom and knowing how to use it makes RAW files so easy to work with. I highly recommend the software. I will give a run down of my workflow in a future post.

I was also asked about my equipment and editing software. Here is my gear:

Nikon D700
24-70mm 2.8
50mm 1.8
85mm 1.8
105mm macro 2.8
18-200mm - I never use this lens and need to sell it because it is not a lens I need.
*My dream lens for now would be to sell both my 50 and 85 for the 1.4 versions of both.

MacBook Pro - laptop but I would love to have the Mac Pro desktop in addition to this with a huge monitor. Not in the budget at the moment, but hopefully at some point this year
Photoshop CS3 - there is an upgrade for this, but I don't know why I would need it at this point
Lightroom 2.0 - also an upgrade and I will probably look into that

So there you go. Two photography posts in a row!


Mom said...

The Goose made me laugh out loud!

What about Grey's?? In the middle of Private Practice now. I get way too worked up!

Can't wait to see everyone tomorrow. Glad you all perked up after naps!

Love and kisses, LeeLee

PS Thanks for all the useful tips.

Beth said...

Thank you!!! I SO appreciate your simple terms. My hubby bought me a "fancy" camera this past summer and I swore I would read my manual too, and haven't done it. It's too boring and scary. But, I'm going to print out what you wrote and start with that. Thanks!!

Sherri said...

thanks for the tips, I still haven't read my manual. How tall is Lucy? She looks sooooo tall.

Erica said...

I have a 50/1.4 and a 85/1.8...I admit, I love the 50. It would be sweet to have a 1.2, but for the price I'd rather I'd rather get the 24-70.

I love reading about your rhythm. I have shot in RAW, but infrequently. I guess I have become to used to tweaking in PS whenever I have needed and haven't thought much about it since. I think I will flip it on and play some this week:)

Candace said...

Thanks for answering my question. I don't have Lightroom, so I'm interested to hear about it and how it helps with the workflow of RAW files. I use CS3, and can work with the photos in Camera RAW, but it seems very time consuming.

I thought I would mention that a great book for beginners (or really anyone interested in photography) is Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. I just recently read it and wish I had read it a year ago...great information.

Love all the photography insires me to try different things and create better photos. Now if only our weather would cooperate!

Love the pictures in the big cute!

Love Letters To China said...

Thank you so much for posting about your photography. I'm almost at the point of understanding my camera... it's so exciting! I just installed Lightroom 2 and am on my way to learning the software. Thanks again.

Erin said...

Thanks Kelly! I can't wait to try this out! Great pictures!!!!!

Elonda said...

Love your pictures! Easy solution for the monitor. Buy a big monitor and an adaptor and hook it up to your laptop. You can also do this with a keyboard and mouse. It works great!

KrisJ said...

I LOVE my 50mm 1.4 LOVE IT! I also love when you give tips.. I love when it because you make it so understandable!! Teach us O wise one!

Nicki said...

good info, thanks! I remember back when you gave the tip on shooting in manual months ago and it all made so much sense to me. I love it when something just clicks. Also interesting about your shutter speeds since I think I have always shot much much slower and wondered why my images were still getting blur. Duh. Now I have two things to bump up to get crisper images! yay!

You will LOVE Lightroom 3!! Don't upgrade to the beta because it is glitchy and it did weird things to me LR2 files (like made them inaccessible) but I'm sure the upgrade when it is released will be fabo. I think it comes out next month? I think the upgrades are features you will really really love.

Kate said...

Great advice. I love Pioneer Woman. She's the reason I have a fancy camera. :) I've finally saved enough pennies for my 24-70 and hope to get it soon! So excited!

Seashy said...

"PS Thanks for all the useful tips."

Mom, we all know you skipped that part.

Lucy's pictures made me laugh out loud too. Those are TOO cute.

Lane Olson said...

love it!! you are really motivating me to practice, practice. i just need that third arm to hold the camera ;)

Sharon said...

Thank you thank you thank you!!!! I started my own 365 project to force me to use my new camera and learn how to improve my pics. I still shoot with a diffused flash in auto with some photos b/c I have to shoot mostly at night in a "cave" of a house! However, I am doing more in manual now. My hubs has the D700 and the 24-70 but I just got my D90 and I still have my D50 and use my 50 1.8. I just haven't had the time to read the manual or the "Dummmies" book I bought for the D90 so reading your tips is refreshing! Keep 'em coming!!!! I LOVE your photography!