Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Featured Photographer: Julie

So here it is.  The first featured photographer!  She claims it is just her "hobby", but I'm telling you guys, she is totally awesome.  Awesome and Canadian.  I met Julie through an on-line Mom's group because her youngest daughter and my son were born in the same month/year.  On this message board she made signatures for others on the board (like me) as well as herself.  We would send her a picture of our kid(s) and she would turn it into magic!  I adored her signatures and it's the first time I lusted after photoshop.  I almost didn't want to post this so I could keep all the good info for myself. :)

When did you get bitten by the photography bug? What was your inspiration? 
 Honestly, it's a combination of having my first child 5 years ago and message board signatures.  The signatures took a plain but lovely photo of my baby girl, and depending on the skill of the maker, made it into a mini work of art.  I was hooked, and because it's in my nature to avoid dependence, I had to learn how to make them myself (otherwise I would be bugging those poor siggy makers every week-they don't mind, I just felt bad).  I joined a signature making board and their skill level challenged me to do better.  One maker in particular had a way of taking over exposed, or poorly lit photo's and editing the hell out of them and practically made those baby blue eyes pop right off the screen like liquid crystal.  She had mad skills.  Seriously.  So after my 2nd daughter was born, I was looking for a camera upgrade and bought a DSLR in March of 2009.

What camera do you use? If you use a SLR, what lens do you use/most/favorite? Other accessories?
I bought a middle entry level DSLR called the Canon Xsi and it came with a kit lense (18-55mm) and a zoom (55-200mm).  The whole package cost me about $800.  Since that was a whole 2 years ago, my camera is pre-historic and I seriously don't think they sell them anymore! (No joke).  Neither my camera nor my lenses are terribly valuable at this point, but I use them a lot and still find new ways to maximize their function.  I also bought a cheapy prime lense (has no zoom so you have to move your body or the subject for framing) 50mm a year ago in an attempt to make my camera more portable since I could no longer use my point and shoot (the quality sucked....bad).  My favourite lense is the zoom (55-200mm).  I find the quality to be the best and I have a love of macro (close-up) photography.

What editing program do you use? 
I used to have an old ripped version of PS6, which was great for making message board signatures, but after we bought a new computer, I couldn't find it.  It was a classic case of "I don't wanna lose this so I'll put it here" and then I forgot where 'here' was.  V8 smack.  So our latest computer came with (or I added) Photoshop Elements 6.0 for $90.  Actual Photoshop software is PRICEY! and I can't afford it.  So I use PSE and some preset actions I bought from Florabella (http://www.florabellacollection.blogspot.com/) and I use a combination of the two.  Be careful when you click that link.  I will deny all responsibility for your new found action addiction! 

I love your editing. Your black and whites have so much warmth. Sometimes you use an effect that looks a little vintage. What are some of your "favorite" things to enhance photos? 
I purchased Florabella's B & W package and they are fabulous.  I find that if you take a less than perfect pic or your subject has flawed skin, or the pic is great but the backround is distracting, sometimes converting to B & W forgives all these things and can smooth out the kinks in a pic.  Almost everyone looks good in B & W.  After I apply the action, I usually play with the darken and lighten commands until the faces or skin tones looks good.  The vintage look is literally a set of vintage actions (also from FB) but you have to watch your lighting as they make any dark area's very noisey (grainey) looking.  Someday, I hope to invest in a portable flash as this usually will provide adequate and ideal lighting and elminate noise.  Similar to my hate for noise, is my loathing of my pop-up flash.  So, as you can see, I am between a rock and a hard place.  I think I hate the flash more than the noise though ;-)

Any other tips to creating beautiful images? Do you like things balanced or off-center? What are some mistakes you think people make with taking/editing pictures? Any one thing you used to do, but now never do?
Cropping!  Sounds easy enough but I find I can't stand some photoghers pics that are cropped poorly (gawd, I sound like a snob....).  I think when editing, just be aware of wasted space.  Space in and of itself is not an evil thing (like pop-up flash, Ha!) but it needs to serve a purpose.  So if you are left cropping, then leave space on the right and vice versa, or if you are trying to include a tall object in the background, then you would leave space.  When centering, you want an equal as possible amount of space on all  four sides.  They don't have to be exactly equal but create some semblance of symmetry.  Symmetry is beauty, I kid you not.  There is actual research that indicates that humanity finds beauty in symmetrical facial features and that that (and giant giraffe legs) are what super models are found to have and we find them beautiful for it!  I guess one thing I used to do but never do it try to set up studios with my bed sheets.  You laugh, but I know you may have at least entertained the thought in your head.  It just isn't good.  Besdies, I discovered I lovelovelove outdoor photo's best.  If there was a way to make more hospitable outdoor weather in Canada for more months of the year, I'd find it!  I think I have to wait until I retire in 30 years and become a snowbird and spend my winters in Florida.....  

So  I then asked Julie if she would share a couple of pictures and do a little "before and after" to illustrate some of the editing she does.  She obliged and sent me the following nature pictures (to fit our theme this week) and a picture of her youngest daughter who is cuter than cute!  She also gave a little description of what she remembered doing.
In the nature pictures I first did the auto levels thing then I applied an action to one called Lume and the other one I used one called Smitten.  But that one was too light on it's own, so I darkened it 30% maybe?  



And for her gorgeous daughter, 
I used a FB B & W action, but before I did I made two layers of the pic and lightened the levels of the background pic (to the point of slight over exposure). Then I erased the top layer over her left eye a bit with a soft brush) to compensate for the large shadow over her left eye.  At this point I applied the BW action.  It made her left eye peak through in the photo, but sometimes you can really make the eyes pop with this system too :) 


 Anyways, thanks for the huge ego boost Sarah!  I just want to add, I am a nurse by training, not a photograher (so any insight I have is purely opinion based).  I typically don't refer to myself as a photog, I usually tell the ladies at work I have a picture taking hobby LOL.  This was fun!  

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and share your work!!! 


1 comment:

  1. Julie, I just have to say, that with just starting to get into photography, your input is highly appreciated. Your pictures are beautiful. I wasn't aware of what you could do with a photo in an editing program. I always thought pictures were directly from the camera.

    I was also thrilled to hear that your favorite lens is the 50mm-200mm lens. I have a Tamron 18mm-270mm, which I LOVE, but was feeling I needed something else like a 50mm or a 28mm fixed lens. I think I am just going to keep trying different settings with my current lens for awhile and then go from there.

    Thank you again for answering all of Sarah's great questions!!