BlogHer08 – How We Communicate: Photography – Liveblog of session

standard July 19, 2008 4 responses

(I will be liveblogging this session and updating frequently during the hour. After the session ends I will go in and clean up and edit my notes. Email subscribers pardon the barrage of emails!)

Session speaker: Me Ra Koh

From the BlogHer08 brochure: Author, blogger and photographer Me Ra Koh will share her tips for Enhancing Your Images and reveal the Seven Secrets the Pros Don’t Want You to Know.

Picnic.com: A fun easy way to edit your photos. Go check it out!

Me Ra: Excited to be here. Usually speak at photography industry, so exciting to be with almost all women. Usually does workshop, so 75 minutes isn’t a lot. Wide scope.

DVD set: How to understand your camera better. Starting a photo business 101. Beyond the green box: understanding your SLR. All available on the web site.

Me Ra: Who am I? Fell into photography. Writer and speaker for 10 years. When daughter was 18 months old, was pregnant with second, doing a speaking engagement, had pain and cramping and lost the baby. Got tired, couldn’t write and speak any more. Went out to buy a camera. Had a fear that the camera was too technical. But sometimes so desperate for yourself that you don’t care what others say anymore. Aim: capture and hold on to life when you just can’t anymore.
Started taking family shots and moved on to friends, did a wedding and now doing weddings for $20 000.
Now the new icon for Sony.
Here to say: No matter what your fears, no matter how hard it seems, you can all do it and love it.

Ten essential things that have changed the studio and beefed it up. Starting easy and getting harder and harder.

Question: How do you pick color vs B&W.
Answer:
1) Define the emotion. She and Brian shoot everything in raw and shoot everything in color. Look at emotion in image. Emotion is timeless if B&W will enhance it ok. But if the emotion isn’t special, then look at other thing. Baby blue eye…
Sometimes B&W makes the emotion pop more.
Does post process change. Photoshop: B&W snap in Kubota package.

2) Fill the frame. Consciously thinking all the time “How to fill the frame.” Not so much photographers as story tellers. Want to capture all the emotions of the day. Any background that doesn’t point to that gets in the way.
If you have background make it enhance the story.
1/3rds principle : if break image into 1/3 each 1/3 would be filled w/ something powerful and you would focus on the most important 1/3rd. Plays a lot into filling the frame intentionally.

3) Concept from writing world: Less is more. You can frame shots where you don’t see the face, but still get the emotion. Crop super tight with the zoom lens.
Big mantra: Refuse to say cheese! Don’t miss their lives. So much to record.

4) How blurry do you want your background?
Aperture & F stops: look at lens – goes to a certain point. Says 3.5 – 5.6 = range in blurriness. The lower you go in the # the blurrier the background gets.
She and Brian shoot everything in 2.8.
When you zoom in your F point only goes to 5.6. Not so blurry.
Need to invest some money in a lens. If you like the blurry background you need a lens that goes to 2.8.
Lenses with no zoom can go really low. Like 1.6. But if you have a zoom it can’t go that low.

Taking a picture of three kids: pretend their noses are on a glass wall. Shoot in 2.8. All three in focus rest of room blurry.

The smaller the number, the more blurriness in the back.
Higher you go in the F stop – more detail you get.

5) How low can you go in your ISO?
ISO is like film speed.
Nikon best 200 ISO. For max color saturation.
Canon or Sony best 1oo ISO. For max color saturation.
Lowest ISO best color saturation.
Low ISO means lots of light coming in. But need a tripod because the shutter speed is going to take forever to open and close.

6) AI Serbo (Really fun)
Secret that pros use. Auto lock focus that locks on movement coming towards you or going away. Great for moving kids. Has to be forward backward motion.

7) Flash
Worst flash you can use is the one on the camera.
Sometimes you need to pop a flash, need light. Create an effect where you can use a flash and make it seem like you aren’t using one.
We want no shadows. Looks like natural sunlight. So don’t fire the shot straight.
Can bounce the light of the ceiling – light comes right back down. But run into racoon or dracula eyes. Creates bags under eyes.
Can bounce the light to the side – where the wall and the ceiling meet. Hits the corner and comes back at diagonal, looks like sunlight. Does look like natural light.
Can bounce the light behind you. Goes all the way to the back wall and come back. Gives a very natural light.
“If I had a super ball and I wanted to hit you with it I’d have to figure out where to throw it so it came back and hit you in the face.” Science behind the bounce flash.
For flash going behind: Want to be in TTL mode. Settings are always at 1/60 of second. Aperture at 4.5 or something. Not going for super low effect. ISO is at 800.

BNH photo best prices on photography equipment, but terrible customer service. Have a Stopen Diffuser, $10-$12 – fragments the light. Or use the bottom of a dish washing cup and duct tape.

This is your tool and do whatever you want with it. Try, try, don’t be afraid. See what works.

When don’t have walls and shooting outside, how do you light them up? Sometimes you just have to fire your flash straight on. Or remote a light.

8) Shutter speed
Slower shutter opens the more light comes in. The faster it opens the less light goes in.
So if you want more white/bright background slow the shutter speed.

9) 3 things in post process – Doesn’t spend a ton of time on it.
a) Add contrast. Play with contrast
b) Should this be in B&W? Will it define the emotion better.?
c) Add a vignette. Goes around the outer border of the frame.d

10) Pick just one thing to work on at a time.
Pick one thing, just enjoy it and have fun.

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