September meeting wrap-up and October photo assignment!

We had another fun meeting with over 20 mamas at Sandra Coan’s studio in Greenwood! As usual, I am going to try and post up some notes about tips we all learned in the meeting so that no one misses out on some great information! But first…mark your calendars for two things:

*Our first Pumpkin Patch group shoot and picnic lunch on Saturday, October 3rd at 11am (details to follow in an upcoming post).

*Our next monthly meeting on Monday, October 19th, featuring remarkable local photographer Lynette Johnson– a photographer with 20 years of experience and the founder of the Soulumination Foundation.

Ok, now onto the summary of our newest photography tips. What’s really fun about each meeting is that as we’ve met several different photographers, each one has their own preferred shooting mode and style. Sandra loves to shoot in Program Mode (P). Program mode is very similar to automatic mode except it gives you more control over some of the settings. It prevents the flash from popping up, and gives you more options to change the exposure compensation as well as the ISO. She likes P because she works a lot with children and fast-moving action, and doesn’t have a lot of time to adjust all the manual settings as she goes.

Sandra typically sets the exposure compensation to +1 or +1.5 to overexpose the subjects when they are backlit.  Try it! It’s pretty cool.

Metering. In P you can also adjust the way that your camera is metering. If you only do one tip as far as your settings go, this one is IT. Different cameras have different metering modes and so you will need to look this up in your own camera’s manual to see what your specific settings are. The option to select your metering mode on your menu  if you have a Canon should look something like this in your menu: [( )]  or [(.)] (pardon my crude emoticons!).

[(.)] This setting is for evaluative metering, which means that the camera takes an average of the light in the entire frame in order to determine the correct exposure. This is probably what you are on if you’ve never heard of this button before.

[(  )] This is the setting for partial metering, which helps when the background is much brighter than the subject because of backlighting. This will help you take pictures of your child by a window for example, or in a doorway.

There are two more settings for center-weighted and spot metering (for Canon and Nikon, only one additional setting for Sony) which are for more advanced folks, we didn’t spend a lot more time on that, but I did find this somewhat cool tutorial on Olympus’s website that shows the difference in pictures of a haystack depending on where you spot meter in a highly contrasted setting if you want to dork out on this a bit like I did.

So after this I actually had a question in my mind: if you are metering the light in your photo, and choosing a mid-shade to ensure that the image isn’t too over or under-exposed, how do you keep from metering and autofocusing on the same part of the frame? For Canon folks, I found this handy You Tube tutorial on AE Lock, or Auto Exposure lock.  I bet if you google “exposure lock [camera brand name]” you can find something similar for your camera.

Raw or JPeg mode? Sandra shoots everything in raw, because it allows for the most manipulation of the image through post processing without a graining of the image. Also apparently if you post-process a jpeg, each time you re-save it it degrades the file.

Focusing. With a faster lens that doesn’t have an image stabilizer, you will be more prone to focusing errors. To correct for soft focus, experiment with raising the ISO if your shutter speed is slower than 1/60th of a second.

Favorite lenses. Sandra likes the 28/75 mm as a portrait lens. For shooting weddings she likes a 24/105mm to get up close without being intrusive.

Storing your camera (oops!). We learned that you should always store your camera with the lens OFF, and you should never leave your camera propped up on its lens on a table (always tilt it onto its back). Over time, this will start to ruin your lens.  Sandra also has her camera sensors cleaned periodically at Camera Techs in Ballard to keep it running well.

Prints. Sandra recommends Moon Photo for archival quality prints. Also since your computer screen is not always a true indicator for the print color, it is important to make sure that you synch your computer to the settings of the company who is printing your photos. There are downloads available for this depending on where you choose to print your photos.

For circle time, we got treated to everyone’s amazing milestone pictures and catchlight portraits. It is so exciting to see everyone getting better and better! We saw a cool metallic print option that you can get at MPIX, and also learned about the free photo post-processing software at Picnik.

Did you read this far? Really? Congrats! Be the first to comment and I’ll give you a Starbucks card at the next meeting.

OK, now for next month’s ASSIGNMENT- mother/child portraits!

At the meeting, the mamas were asked to stand across from someone whom they’ve only met through the club. The assignment is to exchange portraits of mother and child with your partner. Being the Mamas With Cameras, we’re always behind the camera, it turns out that we all have the same problem– we are never in any of the pictures!! (Or we are getting pictures of ourselves that we aren’t nuts over.) So now we will get two benefits: practice directing an actual photo shoot, and then having an opportunity for a great portrait with our child/children!  For some of you who weren’t at the meeting who want to participate, send me an email and maybe I can pair you off.

OK everyone, this is going to be an exciting month! Happy shooting!!

3 Replies to “September meeting wrap-up and October photo assignment!”

  1. I was not at the meeting but would love to do this assignment! If anyone needs a partner, can u please pair me with them? Also, I do not have an SLR yet but use the manual mode in my camera all the time. I would be happy to use someone else’s camera for the photos of them if they prefer. Thanks!

  2. Again, I was not at this meeting but love the comments about using P mode and how to change metering for correct exposure when subject is backlit. Thanks! Can’t wait to experiment!

  3. Thanks for the great wrap-up Mary! A few quick things to add, although many of you may have already figured this out, in flickr if you are looking at your photos and you click on the edit button , it takes you automatically to picnik.

    One other note for anyone thinking of splurging on a new lens…the lens that Sandra said was her favorite for portraits is currently on sale through Amazon: (something like 60% off list price)

    http://www.amazon.com/Tamron-28-75mm-Aspherical-Digital-Cameras/dp/B0000A1G05/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

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