Category: Beginner Photography

Life Love Lens Wednesday | My Favorite iPhone-ography Apps {Richmond Photographer}

Hello again!
This week I want to talk about cell phone snap shots. If you are like me, you have your phone (whether it be an iPhone, android or other) with you at all times, but not always your “real” camera. So we end up taking most of our day-to-day snap shots on them. But I am guessing that most of you (like me) rarely upload those pictures to your computer and/or actually get them printed, am I right??!! 
So, first I want to show you some of my favorite photo editing and sharing apps and then I want to talk about printing!
I did buy the pro camera app for my iPhone ($4.99), but to be honest, I hardly ever use it. The regular camera app is easy and pretty accurate and I don’t get bogged down by getting everything technically right and miss the moment. So, splurge on it if you want to get fancy sometimes and have some more options for customization, but don’t bother if you don’t want to be bothered. 😉
My absolute favorite editing app is called PicTapGo. It does cost $1.99 but is totally worth it! You can edit clean with lightening and brightening actions and then dial them back. You can also add some artistic and fun looks too and they aren’t too overwhelming. I love that you can give them as much of the filter as you want AND you can save your “recipes” that you use often. You can also crop your shot in the app and upload to my other favorite app Instagram. 🙂 Instagram is fun for sharing – do you Insta? If so, follow me at @kbsphoto and I would LOVE to follow you back!! 🙂 OK, so back on topic….I once read someone who was writing about Instagram and called it “the app that takes a picture and then smears butter all over it” and I kinda agree. The filters for editing are too heavy handed and often make the shot look worse. Maybe that’s my photographer’s eye, but it kinda bugs me. The one thing I love in Instagram (besides the sharing portion of it) is the little raindrop looking tool. It will blur out the edges of your shot (either in a circle or in a line.) You can adjust the size and type of blurring, and it just adds a fun little final punch!
I do have some other editing apps like Pixlromatic and Snapseed, which are both very good, I just don’t use them much since I found PicTapGo.


So now that you have a great shot that you edited to look fabulous are you just going to keep it on your phone forever?? Make sure you are backing them up to the cloud or directly to your computer every now and then. Then go through them and pick some to print!! You can even send pics to print directly from your phone using the Mpix app. Mpix is the sister company to the pro lab I use most often, and I always recommend them to my clients who buy digital files. They rock!! 🙂 
You can also create some fun Instagram collages with Persnickety Prints. I have yet to use them, but it is on my list to create one of these awesome collages!!
So, there you go. My favorite iPhone-ography apps and printing options!! Check ’em out, connect with me on Instagram, and GET THOSE PICTURES PRINTED!! 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!!

Life Love Lens Wednesday: Wall ART Love Part 2 {Midlothian Photographer}

First of all, thanks so much for sending your wall gallery images in!! I had so much fun looking through them! And now I need to change the walls in my house – haha! 😉
Well, as promised in the last LLLW post, below are some REAL wall galleries. Most of them are not as symmetrical and snazzy as a lot of the mock ups, but I honestly change what’s on my walls ALL the time, and this is where it’s at now….mostly haphazard and eclectic (kinda like me LOL!)

The following shots are from my lovely clients and friends!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE how Rachel put this together with lots of family memories (and several KBSphoto prints!!)
 Sweet Nora has her own wall of fame. 🙂

 My photographer friend Karen Alquist sent these of her house! I love the use of the mirror! If you or anyone you know is in the Madison, CT area check her out – she is AMAZING!!!
 Symmetric AND eclectic – LOVE!!
I can’t wait to have a stairwell like this some day. It’s really like a family album. I love the use of all the same color frames, some with mats and some without, and both color and black and white prints.
Thanks again for stopping by and I hope you are enjoying my Life Love Lens Wednesdays. 🙂
Let me know what you would like to read about next!

Life Love Lens Wednesdays: The Magic of Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop – Before and Afters {Richmond Photographer}

Well, today I was supposed to be at an awesome Seminar by Kelby Training called Photoshop CS6 for Photographers. But alas, the stars were aligned against me….and here I am blogging. I was super excited to learn some new tricks and hopefully get to network with some other local photogs. I had to scramble to find childcare for the afternoon but I was all set and had all 3 kids covered…..and then my 5 year old came to visit in the middle of the night…with a fever. Ugh! So, my hubby was able to stay home for the morning so I could go to the first hour of the seminar, which was awesome. I only wish I could have stayed for the rest….oh well. You win some, you lose some, right?

So, in the spirit of all things editing, this {Life Love Lens} Wednesday post will be on the magic of Photoshop (and Lightroom!) Below you will see some before and afters, as well as some of the “recipes” I used to achieve that particular look. But before I start, I want to stress the importance of getting your image right IN camera, and not relying on editing tools to “fix” anything – PS and LR are strictly for enhancing images and giving them that extra POW! 😉
Another disclaimer: This is the way the I edit, not necessarily the ONLY way to do it or even the right or wrong way…just MY way. So, take it for what it’s worth…hopefully you will learn something, or at least find it interesting to see the way that others edit. I always find it fascinating to see how other people workflow and edit.

So, here’s my workflow: 
I shoot in RAW, so the SOOC (straight out of camera) images look pretty dull and flat usually, but I have a TON of info to work with. Shooting RAW vs. JPEG is another topic for another day….
I then import into Lightroom and do basic edits including adjusting white balance, exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows, if necessary. I also love the tone curve adjustment in Lightroom which lifts up the mid-tones. 
I then save as jpegs and import into Photoshop CS6. Photoshop is where I polish my images and give them that artistic feel and WOW factor. I have some action sets that I love, but I will often create my own action set for a particular session to keep it all cohesive. (Truth be told….I have a few of my own little creations that I use 90% of the time that are MY style and create a look that is similar across the board on my images.) I tend to prefer a clean, light, bright image with a touch of vintage feel. Well, that is how I would describe it…do you agree? 
If you have photoshop and are looking for some awesome actions check out: Michelle Kane, Paint the Moon, MCP, and Pure Photography Actions. They all have some freebies you can download to try them out before you commit to buying them. If you want my opinion or advice, I’m happy to help, just email me! Before you jump on the action train though, be sure to study and practice, practice, practice. There is no better way to find your own style than to just use trial and error. 

The image below is sweet little Elizabeth. The SOOC is a little underexposed and blah, so in LR, I actually lowered the exposure a tad, but boosted the mid tones and lightened the shadows. Then in PS, I warmed it up a tiny bit and added some tones (pink-ish and lavender) to make it sweet and pretty.

The shot below is one of my favorites from Meghan’s maternity session (full session will be on the blog at the end of the week!) So, the day we shot was COLD and overcast, so the light was nice and diffused, but also a little dull and “blue.” In LR, I warmed up the white balance and boosted the mid tones, then I added some pretty tones and contrast in PS. Isn’t she so pretty?

Last one, this is my sassy daughter (again) from halloween (again.) I underexposed this one a bit (oops) so I adjusted that in LR, then in PS I warmed it up, increased the contrast a bit more and softened her under-eye shadows. The result is clean and POPpy and pretty, just like her! 😉

I hope you enjoyed this weeks LLLW. Leave me a comment and let me know if you have any questions!
Now, to attend to the patient…..

DSLR/Photogrpahy Basics – EXPOSURE {Richmond Photographer, Photography Basics}

Photography is so cool because it uses both sides of your brain. 

It is art and science. 
It is technical and creative. 
You need to “see” the shot AND be able to “capture” it. 

There are several components of a great photo, from focus to composition to subject…but the MOST important is proper exposure. Your cameras auto setting may do a decent job in most situations, but in order to ensure you can get correct exposure on every image you need to learn to shoot in manual (or semi-manual) mode. Don’t worry, you can do it!! 😉 Just keep reading….

First, you need to know what factors are involved in exposing an image on your DSLR. They are 
Aperture (f-stop)
and Shutter Speed.

Now, don’t get overwhelmed by the new vocab words 😉 ….it will take some practice, repetition, & time but once you “get it” you’ll be amazed at how simple it is!

I usually start with setting my ISO. ISO is the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to light.  (FYI if you used to shoot with film, it is similar to the old “film speed” values) So, when you are in bright sunlight your ISO will be lower, when you are in a low light situation it will be higher. Below is a handy little chart I created to help you decide which ISO might be appropriate.

General advice: keep your ISO as low as possible; the higher the ISO, the more ‘grainy’ your image will be.

The next setting I usually adjust is my APERTURE (also called f-stop.) The aperture is the ring inside the camera that opens to let in light. The wider it is open, the more light is let in.  Aperture numbers can be confusing because a LOWER number means a WIDER aperture opening. So f-1.4 is wide and lets in MORE light and f-11 is narrow and lets in LESS light. 

This is where you can adjust for creativity because the aperture width determines your depth of field (DOF.) Do you ever look at a pro’s image and wonder how they get that creamy blurry background and the subject is so sharp and in focus? Well, here’s how: Use a WIDE aperture (LOW f stop number)! You subject will be sharp because they are in the “field” of focus, and everything else will just blend in because they are not within the field of focus. Does that make sense? Below are a few shots showing what different apertures do to your depth of field. The left one has a very shallow depth of field where the camera is nice and sharp while everything else fades away. As I closed my aperture the field got bigger and you can see more of the surrounding details.

I tend to shoot wide (LOW f- number) whenever possible. A good general rule is a ‘stop’ for each person in the photo. So, one person, you can shoot at f-1.4 (if your lens opens up that wide,) three people at f-3.2, five people at f-5.6. 

****If you are just starting out with a DSLR, I recommend shooting in aperture priority mode for a little while. This means YOU will set the ISO and the f- stop, but your camera will set the shutter speed.**** Once you get the hang of relating those two features (ISO and aperture) then you can add in the last component: SHUTTER SPEED.

SHUTTER SPEED is pretty easy to figure out, it’s the speed at which your shutter opens and closes to let in light. So, the slower the shutter speed, the more light enters your sensor, faster = less light. Your shutter speed also allows you to “freeze” an image or show movement. So, if you are taking shots of you sons soccer game, your shutter speed needs to be pretty fast so that all of your images don’t show streaks of kids as they run past. 🙂 See the shots below at different shutter speeds. The left one is fast and freezes the droplets as they fall, the one on the right shows a blur as the water falls. (FYI the faucet was on continuously as these shots were taken, so the speed of the water is basically the same in each shot.)

Remember in the first {Life – Love – Lens} Wednesday post where I told you to start looking for light? Well, that’s because photography is ALL ABOUT LIGHT. Each of the three main variables work together to let in certain amounts of light. Too much light will give you an over exposed image (BAD!), too little light will give you an under exposed image (ALSO BAD!) So, you have to be in control of your camera so that you tell it how much light to let in. Don’t slap it into Auto mode and let it tell YOU how much light it wants!! 😉

So to wrap it up:
ISO: low # = less light, high # = more light
APERTURE: low f-stop = more light, high f-stop = less light
SHUTTER SPEED: slow SS = more light, fast SS = less light

I hope this helps explain your DSLR and exposure a little better for you. Please leave your questions and comments below, or on my facebook page HERE and I will be sure to answer them. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful {Life – Love – Lens} Wednesday!!