Friday, May 6, 2011

Things I've Learned

Learning new things is fun. And yes, I am aware that admitting that might qualify me for the nerd-of-the-year award.

I feel like the last month has taught me SO MUCH. Just so I don't forget, I'm sharing it here.

1. Picnik is good. Lightroom is better. I downloaded my free trial of Photoshop Lightroom to help me edit the pictures of the wedding, and fell completely in love. So. much. more. control. And I think the pictures come out looking much more true-to-life. Having a basic knowledge of Photoshop helped me learn it pretty quickly and I really fell in love the day I found all of the presets! Oh funness. Lesson learned: you get more if you pay for it, and sometimes the cost is worth it.

2. Flash is not the new F-word. It's not even a bad word. Remember when I went to the Flashbus tour and I wasn't really sure how I would ever use what they taught me because I'm a natural light photographer? I've been eating those words ever since. I still love me some Mr. Golden Sun, but flash is my new best friend when Mr. Sun has to fulfill his other duties. And, I'm so, so glad I splurged and got the SB-900, because it was worth every penny. Even when there is some natural light in my house, the flash adds enough extra light so that I don't have to slow down my shutter speed and my pictures stay nice and sharp. Also, it doesn't look harsh or fake like I expected it to; instead, I'm using the light sculpting techniques I learned from Flashbus to improve my pictures. It's not for every situation, but for the ones I need it for, I am so grateful to have it and know how to use it. Lesson learned: make friends with the things you think are your enemies. Don't judge it till you try it.

Here's a picture taken with natural light and flash:

Of course it's of Aslan. What were you expecting? (Side note: we call this his suitcase mode because it looks like you could just attach a handle to him and pick him up and he's all compact and ready to roll.)

3. Keep your shutter speed above 1/125 (if lighting is low, you are hand-holding, and your flash is attached to your camera). Having a speedlight on camera increases the weight, which in turn increases camera shake and makes pictures blurry. Anything below 1/125 is not fast enough to overcome the shake of your camera in a low-light situation if you're not going to be able to increase the light. I made this mistake at the wedding I shot in April, and all of the portraits I took below this shutter speed came out way too soft. Lesson learned: Pay closer attention to shutter speed.

4. Backlighting is awesome. See below.

5. Creative blocks happen. And then you move on. And it's better than it was before you hit the slump. Acknowledging it helps and embracing it may allow you to rest or propel you into finding new things to try. Follow your intuition, it will lead you in the right direction. Lesson learned: get up and do something and I promise you will feel better and you might even find something that inspires you.

I'm pretty sure that I learned more than this, but I think for now that's enough. And because there's one picture of Aslan in this post already, here's another. He's living up to his name (which, in case you forgot, is Turkish for lion):

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