PhotographyWhat camera and lenses do you use?
I shoot with a Sony A77 DSLR as my main camera and a Sony A100 as my backup camera. My lens assortment is small. Generally, I use a 16-50mm lens with the A77 and a 18-70mm lens with the A100. I also have a 75-300mm that I use on either camera to get close up shots of critters that are far away. I've also got a nifty Minolta 35-70mm that fits on either Sony (like all Minolta lenses do) that gives me a great shallow depth of field when I want it. When I'm out and about without my big cameras, I shoot with my iPhone.
What settings to you use?
I love the look of a shallow depth of field (that's when the background is all soft and blurry). To get shallow depth of field, I put my camera in aperture mode and push the number down as low as my camera will allow it to go (the lower the number the wider open the aperture of the camera is when it shoots). I usually shoot in auto-focus mode. I use the trick where I get the auto-focus to focus at the right point on the object I want in focus by depressing the shutter button halfway down. Then I continue to hold down the shutter button halfway while I move the camera slightly to frame my shot. Once I've got my subject framed the way I want (usually off center), I push the shutter button down all the way to capture the shot.
Secret #1--Shoot in RAW whenever possible
I always shoot in RAW format. This means that the camera doesn't process any of the digital data for me and turn it into a jpg or other readable file--it produces just raw data. The advantage is that I have the most digital info to work with once I'm back at the computer post-processing.
Secret #2--Concentrate on focus and light first
When shooting, I concentrate most on getting the right focus on my shots (because that's something I can't correct in post-processing) and taking advantage of light and the magic it can create. Things like color correction can be handled later back on the computer so even if a shot has funny looking color when I'm reviewing things in-camera, I don't worry about it very much.
Secret #3--The post-processing is where the magic happens
Although there are some of my images that are great straight out of the camera (SOOC), I usually end up cropping and adjusting to make the image the way I want once I'm back at the computer in the post-processing phase. I use Photoshop for that. I started out small with Photoshop Elements and have graduated up to the full version as I've gotten my bearings. On some of my photos, I use Photoshop actions created by other talented photographers. On other photos, I use my own textures and digital painting techniques. It just depends on what I feel like a particular photo wants and needs.
Secret #4--Online photography trainingDo you do portrait and wedding photography?
The best thing I did for myself recently was to begin watching online courses at Lynda.com. I bought an annual subscription and then watched as many courses as I wantedt in a year. I learned LOADS of info about photography from their photography courses. I can't recommend it more highly!
Many moons ago I was a studio portrait photographer and worked with lots of beautiful families and adorable babies. On occasion, I have also done engagement photos for close friends. As a general rule, I don't do portrait photography anymore. I have a roster of fantastically talented colleagues who do weddings and portraits. If you email me, I will happily send you their contact information.
I see a photograph on your blog that I LOVE... can I get a print of it?
You certainly can! All my photos can be made available in a variety of formats--print, wrapped canvas, print on acrylic (really cool), stationery and cards. If you email me and tell me which image you like, I can make it available for you as a free courtesy at my online print shop to preview in any of the above formats. You can even "try on" frames and matting. If you choose to buy what you see, the printing and framing are professionally fulfilled and shipped by Fine Art America and every purchase comes with a 100% satisfaction or your money-back guarantee.
You called an image a "digitally painted photograph"? Is that a photograph or a drawing?
Through a lot of experimentation with Photoshop and a Wacom Cintiq digital tablet, I've developed a technique that I call "digital painting". I take a photograph and add layers on top of it (think of putting pieces of tissue paper on top of a printed picture). The layers are usually photos or scans of paper, rocks and other textures I find. Then using the digital tablet the way I'd use a pencil and paper, I manipulate parts of the texture layers that sit on top of the photograph to create a final piece of art that looks more like a drawing or painting than a photograph.
Custom Illustrations and Graphic DesignDo you do custom illustrations and graphic design jobs for people?
Not any more. I highly recommend visiting a wonderful site called Creative Market where you find wonderful ready-to-purchase illustrations and lots of other goodies.
Stationery DesignDo you do wedding invitations?
I sure do! I can create an entire wedding stationery suite for brides and grooms including save-the-date cards, invitations, announcements, response cards, enclosure cards and thank you cards. I can also create announcements that accomodate your engagement photos. Even if you don't see something in my current designs that's exactly what you want, I can create what you're envisioning just for you. Click here and scroll to the bottom to read about my design services and how this works.
I have a special event coming up. I can't find an invitation design anywhere that's exactly what I want. I saw a design you did that's kind of close, can you customize it for me?
You bet! If you see one of my images or illustrations that you'd like to be incorporated into a stationery design I can do it for you. I can either make it available as an online invite or a printed invitation or both! I can almost always change the colors of something to fit your needs too. Click here and scroll to the bottom to read more about my design services and how this works.
I want my event to be really special. Can you design others things to match the invitations I send out?
My online zazzle store, Rosehaven Cottage Stationers, provides hundreds of options for you to choose from that can be customized especially for your event so everything is coordinated. Your guests will love the extra touch. And there's a 100% satisfaction guarantee on every custom item or your money back. Or if you prefer to do the printing yourself, I can layout a design and send you the digital file (digital-file-only design and layout fees start at $25).
I want to "go green" and not use printed paper invitations. Can you create an online invitation for me?
As a featured designer at Celebrations.com, I can create an electronic invite for you at Celebrations.com so you can take advantage of all their incredible online event management tools (most of them are free so you're only paying for my design services). My design fees for a custom electronic invitation design start at $25. Email me to get a quote for your specific design needs.