If you use Photoshop or Elements, at one time or another, your brush will show cross-hairs instead of the outline of a circle. Likely, you will go into your preferences area and see a spot called cursors. After you realize you did not have the cross-hairs option on, you’ll scratch your head, or maybe start pulling your hair out in frustration.
Don’t beat yourself up when you learn the solution. It is too easy – your CAP LOCKS KEY IS ON. Turn it off and boom…you are back in business. When I tell photographers this, they often feel dumb. But I promise you it happens to everyone once (unless they learn from a post like this first). Show of hands, has it happened to you?
We’d love you to PIN this graphic explaining the solution so it can help others avoid this frustrating experience. We will be adding more “quick tips” if this is helpful so be sure to let us know.
For more troubleshooting tips, click HERE.
Recently, I received a call from my sister-in-law who had a baby in September. To protect the identity of the baby and photographer, I will refer to the baby as “D” and the photographer as “X”.
Her: “I had Baby D’s photo taken but I am not happy with the pictures.”
Me: ”What aren’t you happy about? Who did you hire?”
Her: “We hired X Photography. In many of the images heads are cropped, including ours when holding baby D. Most of the sibling shots just have Baby D in focus, with her brother and sister out of focus or cropped in odd places.”
Me: ”Send a link to your gallery and to the photographer’s website. I will take a look.”
(Once I looked, I immediately knew that my sister-in-law should not have hired this photographer. X Photography’s work was actually quite nice. But she was definitely a lifestyle photographer who used creative crops and blurs. It was not what my sister-in-law wanted, and hence she should have hired a different photographer).
Who was “right?”
From the second a potential customer hops on your website, blog, or social network, it is crucial to showcase not only your best work but your specific style. If you do not, you may not meet their expectations.
In the scenario above, I fully sided with X Photography. Her website showed mostly lifestyle images in the newborn section. There were a few photos of babies by themselves, swaddled, or laying down alone, but most of the images were of a baby with siblings or parents. Many of the images had creative crops to draw attention inward to the baby and/or used shallow depth of field to focus on the baby while leaving others blurred or cropped from view. This is a style. Some will love it, while others won’t. To me, expectations were set accurately.
Lessons photographers can take from this:
- Make sure that your website, blog, and all social networking sites display an accurate representation of what you will provide your customers.
- Educate your customer. As in the scenario above, the photographer did communicate visually what the images would look like. Still, the customer was surprised. While there is no surefire way to avoid this, make sure you confirm with your customers that they understand your look and style. Tell them “your photos will look like the ones on our website.” And even ask “is that the look and style you want?”
- If you attend a photography workshop or mentoring class, and take photos there that you cannot accomplish on your own, do not put them on your sites (unless you include a disclaimer). For example, if you are doing a stylized shoot and normally do not do sets with props, you may not want to show those images. If you use natural light, but take an off-camera flash training, wait till you become proficient before you share work that you cannot easily reproduce.
- Be upfront when you talk to prospective clients about your time-frame, amount of images they will receive and what they can expect the images to look like.
Do you ever have misunderstandings with customers? Do you feel you convey accurately what the end product and images will look like? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Christmas is almost here! Trees are being decorated, wreaths are being hung and don’t forget about the lights! Christmas lights have to be one of my favorite parts about the holiday. From the soft glow of a Christmas tree, to wild and crazy light shows and installations in the yards of suburbia, it’s amazing to see homes and buildings strung with an array of light strings. Though not everyone decorates their houses in this electrifying tradition, I am sure most have enjoyed viewing their fair share of lights during the holiday season. Here are a few tips on getting great photos of Christmas lights this year!
Firsts Things First
Exposure, White Balance, and Stabilization:
If you want to capture the structure and the lights you have a small window of time and balancing the exposure without post production help
is extremely hard to do. There is usually a 15 minute window within twilight hours to accomplish this, but also depends on the amount of lights and their brightness. Never fear! If you shoot in RAW, just a few simple tweaks to your images will make them shine. To start, you will want to have stabilization for your camera – this can be a tripod, beanbag or even a monopod (if you are really careful). If you are caught without one, just learn to be resourceful by bracing yourself. Also, try shooting your photos with a Tungsten white balance. This will deepen your blues and balance out the whites in the string lights.
The Right Angle
The Lens and The Angle. For these types of shots, you will want a wide angle to lens to provide plenty of scenery to complete the image. If all you have is the kit lens, than use the wider end of the spectrum. My images were shot with a 14mm on a full frame sensor, just so you have a reference. 18mm-24mm on crop or full frame body should be just fine. Make sure to get low in your composition, the sky is so beautiful this time of night so take full advantage of it! Remember to take plenty of shots, the subject isn’t moving but your settings should be. If all you images are the same and you find out later they didnt work, they are all useless. Try a few different things like exposing for your highlights, midtones and shadows. That way, you could even do HDR image in post processing.
Editing Christmas Lights.
Here is where the magic happens. You can see here that the HDR I tried did not work with this specific set of images; the lights are too bright. The reason why was in two of the three, the lights were completely over exposed and threw the balance off. So what I did was take my underexposed image in Lightroom, boosted the shadows and dropped the highlights and then found a nice balancing point with the exposure slider. If your image then looks a little too contrasty or too flat adjust your blacks slider. MCP’s Enlighten Presets for Lightroom
can accomplish this in just a few clicks for you. All of this is also possible in Adobe Camera Raw.
I hope you have enjoyed this and it gives you some insight on how you can better your Christmas lights photography this year! Always remember to take some time without the camera in your hands to enjoy your surroundings. In a season that is so packed full of things to do, take some time to relax. Merry Christmas! Want a fun, abstract way to photograph Christmas lights – read this article on Bokeh Christmas Lights
What are your best tips on how to photograph Christmas light displays? Come share your images in the comments below.
Jarrett Hucks is a portrait and wedding photographer based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His revealing journalistic story-telling has helped him find his voice in a saturated market. He is very active on his Blog and his Facebook Page sharing his commissioned work, personal work and street photography!
Want a Shiny New iPad Air?
YouProof is teaming up with MCP Actions to give away an iPad Air with retina display + a free download of YouProof to one lucky winner.
Switching from online proofing to in-person proofing usually doubles or even triples a photographer’s sales average. This difference can make or break a business.
Ann Bennett, a high school senior photographer, created this all-new iPad app for photographers, called YouProof. What once was an impractical and costly upfront investment for photographers without a studio is now affordable, portable and fun!
With YouProof, you will not have to waste money on printed proofs or an expensive proofing software program. Using the vivid display and sleek design of an iPad, you can present beautiful, professional proofs to your client for a fraction of the cost.
For a limited time, YouProof is on sale for a one-time-only introductory price of only $29.99!
Open for entries until December 8th at 9pm EST. One winner will be selected. Valid only where permitted by law. Winner will receive a 16GB Wi-Fi Apple iPad Air and free download of the YouProof app. If the winner has already downloaded the YouProof app, they will be refunded their purchase price.
If you use Photoshop or Elements, at some time you will feel like the program has gone crazy and weird things keep happening. While there are other reasons for it too, deleting/refreshing your preferences is often the fix. We recommend you PIN this graphic explaining the solution to your boards or save it for when you need it most. We will be adding more “quick tips” if this is helpful so be sure to let us know.
For more troubleshooting tips, click HERE.