Answers to Basic Photography Questions from the Workshop

When you really love doing something, you will want to learn as much about it as possible. I know I am constantly trying to learn things about photography, and I’ve been doing it for about 15 years. Earlier this month, I had a Basic Photography Workshop at Fayetteville High School.  I believe everyone learned a lot at this workshop, but we didn’t have time to cover everything. I had each attendee write down a question (or more), and today I’m going to try to write out Answers to Basic Photography Questions from the Workshop.

Answers to Basic Photography Questions from the Workshop

Alright, so some of these might apply to all of you, and some of them might be just for certain people. Feel free to read as many as you want. Many of them were answered during the workshop, so I’ll be skipping those. If you feel like I didn’t cover your question, let me know.

Questions about Flash Photography

I had two different questions about flash. We didn’t really get into flash because this was a basic photography workshop, but I’ll try to give as much info as needed. I do plan on having a flash workshop in the future, so make sure to sign up for that.

First off, there isn’t a necessary rule of when to use flash or not. Most people will use it when there isn’t enough light, and that of course makes sense, but there are ways to avoid using flash altogether if you really, really want to. On the other hand, I sometimes use flash when there is plenty of light. It all comes down to the situation and what you want the final photo to look like. If you’re just trying to get a well exposed photo and you can’t get your settings where you want them (ex: shutter speed is too slow for sports), then use a flash. I do that all the time. If you’re looking to do something creative, that might be another situation to use flash. Like the photo below. I knew the look I wanted. We were outside in the middle of the day, so I purposely used flash to create this look.

using flash creatively

The other question was about how to control a flash. Another big thing I have to say is I never use the built in flash on a camera. I always use a separate flash unit. There are some really cheap options out there, so don’t think you can’t afford one. As far as controlling it, there are different modes, just like your camera. If you want it to be automatic, use TTL mode. If you want control, turn it to Manual. From there, the power is control in fractions: 1/128th all the way to 1/1.

Questions about Photo Editing

Just like flash, we didn’t cover this, and I will be having a workshop in the future. Editing can be crazy complex or relatively simple. My thought has always been to learn what I needed and ignore the rest. For most people, I would suggest to start very basic and then learn more.

The first question is where to edit the photo. There are some free options out there these days. I haven’t messed with them but that is an option. The most used is Adobe Lightroom. There are also programs that usually come with a camera like Nikon has Nikon Capture NX. Then there’s always Photoshop, but that’s the most complex and expensive option.

When you’re just starting out with editing, there’s only a few things I would mess around with at first: exposure, contrast, highlights, and shadows. These in general will help you get your photo to looking good. Exposure changes the overall lightness or darkness of the image. Highlights and Shadows are similar in this except they only affect either the brightest parts or the darkest points. This allows you to brighten or darken certain parts of the photo without changing the entire photo. Contrast gives your photos that pop, but try not to overdo it.

Basic settings in Lightroom for beginners

I had one other advance question about sharpening files for print and general files. In most cases, I do all of my sharpening when I initially edit a photo. Most of my prints get sent off to a company and I’m not sure what they do on their end. When I’m printing on my own, I usually put a low amount of sharpening in the settings. Print resolution can also affect the way the final print looks. As far as different files go, I use my largest files for print, no matter what size the print is. When I’m doing things for the web, I have to make the files much smaller. You can do this manually in your editing program either when you export the image or in Photoshop under Image-Image Size.

Answers to Basic Photography Questions from the Workshop

Questions about Cameras

Cameras can be so confusing. Each camera is different and they have so many buttons and options. These questions are pretty random, so I’m just going to try to answer them.

Store Camera with Lens: Not sure if it really matters. The biggest thing is just making sure they are stored in a safe/padded place. There can be some issues with putting a lens on and off over again. With all that said, I store mine without a lens on it, but that’s mainly for space reasons.

AE-L and AF-L Buttons: These stand for Autoexposure Lock and Autofocus Lock. Basically, you can use these buttons to either lock the exposure or the focus. You can change what the button does in the menu, so it does one or the other or possibly both. Why would you use these? AE-L is used when you know your camera might screw up the exposure. You aim your camera at something and get a meter reading. Then you can use the AE-L button to lock that exposure. Then you can aim the camera somewhere else and the exposure won’t change. I use AF-L more. This lets me set my focus point and keep it from changing. Sometimes people or things will walk in front of my subject or the camera will try to focus on something else. By using AF-L, I know my focus won’t change.

Built in Mics: Most newer cameras can do video now, so they do have built in mics. I haven’t used them most, but from what I read, they aren’t very good. If that’s you’re only option though, use it.

Questions about Building a Business

For me, these were the most exciting questions to receive. This shows that someone is really interested in photography and growing it. I’ll give some general advice.

The biggest thing for a blooming photographer that wants to turn it into a business is to have knowledge and practice. Learn, learn, learn, and then practice, practice, practice. There’s a ton of free lessons out there. I have plenty on this site, and YouTube is filled with knowledge. For practicing, I’d suggest you talk to friends and family members. Don’t charge at first. Just practice. If you can’t find people, there are cheap mannequin you can use as well.

As you’re doing all of this, you might want to start building a following. Blogs are a good place as well as Instagram. You can get a free blog in lots of places, but I’d suggest WordPress.com. Later, you can pay and get a professional site. Instagram is extremely popular and a great place for photos. You can use it to find models or customers.

Once you feel you have a solid set of skills and have practiced a lot, then you can start pursing paying clients. Start by shooting the same things you have been shooting. Don’t jump into weddings if you’ve never shot a wedding. Focus on things that aren’t high priority and that can be redone if possible. This protects you and makes it less stressful.

Man, that was a super long post but I wanted to make sure I gave Answers to Basic Photography Questions from the Workshop. Again, if I didn’t answer your question, let me know. Also, be on the lookout for the future workshops. Thanks again for attending the workshop and supporting Fayetteville High School.

 

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