Okay, let's get the fun part out of the way, the winner of the FREE online photoshop lesson is...
drum roll please...
Congrats Tiffany! You've won a FREE online Photoshop class with me! :) Email me so we can schedule your class and for the rest of the information. And FYI, the way it worked is each person who entered the contest was assigned a number (1...2...3...etc) and then I went to RANDOM.ORG and used their Integer Widget to generate a random number within those numbers. Tiffany, you were number 3, in case you'd like a new lucky number. :)
And now, the last of the answers to your questions. I will never answer another question again, as long as I live. Okay, I'm kidding. Thanks for the awesome q's everyone. I bet I'll be doing this again in the future! And if you live in the area, keep in mind I'll be teaching BASIC DIGITAL SLR PHOTOGRAPHY CLASSES at the Crossroads starting in April! Stay tuned for more info (or contact the Crossroads to sign up!)
Lindy asked, "How can I smooth out people's skin without investing in actions at this point in time?"
Well, there is this awesome tool in Photoshop, the Spot Healing Brush Tool. It looks like a little Band-Aid, and you zoom in on your subjects face, use the SHBT and click on any acne or blemishes- the SHBT randomly selects pixels to fill in over top of the pimples or blackheads, etc. That helps to smooth skin a TON! But I do love ProRetouch from TRA...
Rebecca H. asked, "How do you get your photos so large? I just want my pictures bigger!"
Flickr! I resize my images in Photoshop to 700px wide for landscape photos and 450px wide for portrait photos. Then I upload them to my flickr account, open the photo I want to put on the blog, click on "all sizes" and copy the code from the "large" size. Easy, and worth it. :)
Tonic asked, "I ditto the crisp question at the beginning, wondering what sharpening method you use. Also what lenses do you use?"
I don't do much post process sharpening. I know a lot of photographers do, but I just very rarely, if ever, sharpen. I HAVE recently started using Unsharp masks more, or one of the sharpening actions from TRA, but I really use them sparingly. I don't know why, maybe I should use them more. Unsharp masks are easy to use, in Photoshop go to FILTER, then SHARPEN, then UNSHARP MASK and mess with the settings until you like it!
As far as lenses go, I seriously only ever use the 50mm 1.8 during portrait sessions. I'm saving for a 17-55mm 2.8 right now, that'll be my next "investment". I also use the 18-200mm 3.5 on occasion. It's a fun lens with a wide range but it's not very sharp. A lot of my sharp/crisp images owe it to the 50mm 1.8. Cheap lens, people! Get one!
Amy asked, "Do you ever stage photo shoots differently for black and white or sepia shots (clothes, backrounds, props) or just take the pics and see how they best turn out when you develop them?"
Typically while I'm setting up a shot I'm also thinking about how I'll edit it when I get home. If I have found a really sweet colorful background, chances are I'm planning to edit that shot in color. If I've found a nice neutral, that'll work in black and white a lot of times. Sometimes I don't know whether a shot will look good in black and white or in color, but I don't usually change anything ahead of time (like the clothing or the props, etc) because I do have the flexibility of being a photographer that has both color and black and white images in my portfolio- and I love both so much.
Lindsay asked, "How do you get your pictures bw pictures to look so good? Is it a setting on your camera or photoshop, and how do you do it if it is photoshop?"
My first awesome experience with a good black and white came from Pioneer Woman's action, which you can get on her site under the photography section, it's called B&W Beauty (and it comes in the FREE action set she has for ya!). From there I realized I could do a lot on my own with gradient maps. Gradient maps are SO cool to play with. So on your color pallette, have black in front and white in the back (like normal) and then go to LAYER, then NEW ADJUSTMENT LAYER, then GRADIENT MAP. Click "OK" and voila- you have a great b/w. If it's still a little flat, go to LAYER, then NEW ADJUSTMENT LAYER, then LEVELS. Bring the LEFT ARROW toward the center a bit, until the darks are darker. Still not perfect? Adjust the contrast a bit! :) I HATE hate hate the b/w conversions that Photoshop has as presets- JUNK them and do not use them. Ew, black and white is NOT supposed to be grey and white. We want to see TRUE blacks and TRUE whites. Have fun with that!! :)
"I don't understand what aperture is or does"
Check out the Digital Photography Schools Tips for Beginners and learn allllll about ISO, Shutterspeed and Aperture. With a firm grasp on these three things, you'll understand how photography works. These are the foundations of photography, you gotta know 'em! :) So read about them, and then practice the shiz out of them so you really get it.
Josey asked, "Do you have any favorite outdoor locations for photo shoots?"
Hm... well. I do love alleys and backroads, but I don't think I have a specific place that is my absolute favorite right now.
Tiffany asked, "Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG? Which do you think are better?"
I shoot in RAW for my clients and JPEG for my family/personal work. RAW is by far better- if I've botched the exposure or the temperature of a shot, RAW allows me to go in and fix it on the computer with a RAW processor like Bridge or Lightroom. Sure, you can shoot in JPEG and process it in Bridge or Lightroom, but you won't have anywhere NEAR the control you have over a RAW image in those same programs. RAW files are humongo, so I shoot my personal stuff in JPEG just to take up less room than I absolutely have to on the computer. I try to save room on the computer for business stuff. :)
AND she also asked, "What is your favorite event to shoot? Weddings? Seniors? Babies?"
I LOVE senior sessions and individual portrait sessions. I love engagements, I like weddings, I think doing baby photos are okay, and family portraits are my least favorite. How's that for honesty? haha :)
Well, that wraps it up folks! Thanks for all your awesome questions!
Happy One Year Photoversary to ME!