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Tag Archives: photography
Okay – I’ll admit that I woke up feeling a little nervous when I realised I had ambitiously declared I would deliver you some demystifying photography advice! I mean ….. its unlikely I know much more than you BUT if there’s one thing I do know how to do, its use the internet to find out the answers to everything and I have some favourite spots to share with you.
The questions below are ones that I have wondered myself and not been all that willing to ask!
I also share my own process which is by no means the “right” way but I really want to communicate that its not all as mysterious as we think!
To interrupt the text I have scattered pics from a dreamy getaway to the Coromandel with good friends last weekend.
SHOULD I PLAY WITH THE DIALS ON MY CAMERA?
A purist would scoff at this heading but seriously – sometimes I wonder why you would when I look at the terrific results my compact but meaty old camera used to achieve on largely automatic settings!
I’ve just got to a point in my thinking that if you don’t want to play with settings and would like the camera to take care of most of the decision making, then there are SO many awesome, high quality compact options out there for you ….. eg. you DO NOT need to go buy some great big hefty model!
If, like me, you were getting a little curious and had an idea of the type of imagery that you want to create then YES! Its time my friend!
I opted to go for a mirrorless camera in the form of the XT1. Much smaller and lighter than their larger DSLR cousins, they are packed with technology and MORE than enough of it for my use. I attempted to diligently read the manual and it all dragged me swiftly back to high school maths and a rising anxiety. It really sounded like cracking the code of ISO and aperture was only for fanatics.
Fast forward to 30 minutes with Joseph Michael and everything changed. In fact my whole entire photo taking process altered. I am not going to attempt to explain how to use your camera on manual here BUT I will say it was less about the terms and so much more about understanding the effect the dials had on each other and understanding where to start them to begin framing up a shot.
From there it was simply all practice and excepting that taking shots take longer for me now as I have dials to deal with BUT I am finding that I am doing much less time editing on the other end….which I find interesting!
On writing this I realise that perhaps I need to herd in an expert to give you all the basics in manual camera operation but in the mean time check out this massive well of knowledge called Pinterest and YouTube (links to pre loaded searches!)
WHAT ON EARTH IS A RAW FILE + WHY SHOOT IN THAT RATHER THAN JPEG?
Essentially your camera will save an image as a JPEG file or a RAW file.
JPEG’s are smaller, all ready to go, can be downloaded from you camera to computer and viewed immediately, edited, emailed on or printed.
A RAW file can be downloaded to your computer but cannot be viewed or printed until it has been “processed” by another programme (like Photoshop or Lightroom) This sounds pointless right? But the beauty of a RAW file is that it is highly editable, acting much like a digital negative – if you are interested in bringing out the best in your photos, these are the files that let you have ALL the fun!
RAW files are big so do take up a lot of room on your computer – you’ll want to get an external harddrive to store and handle them. (Once you have processed and edited you then save them as JPEGS ending up with a RAW and edited version of one image.)
JPEG files of course are much smaller and much less high maintenance in many respects. You can still play around with them in Photoshop and to a lesser degree sort out any issues you might have had with brightness etc.
I’ve read about the “types” of people that might want to stick to JPEG instead of RAW (parents, bloggers…???) and think its kind of MORE about if you want to roll up your sleeves and get creative! It is time consuming but better than watching TV!
I found this article today which I think is BRILLIANT and goes into more detail on each of these file types.
Click here for “A Beginners Guide to Start Shooting in RAW – The Easy Way” by Christina Greve
DO I NEED TO EDIT MY PHOTOS?
Of course not! Camera’s are so awesome these days. You can shoot in full auto and get great clear results!
BUT I’ve got to tell you – editing is super fun and not nearly as hard as you might think! Its such an effortless form of creativity that you can pick up and put down at any time. No mess, no stress, no commitment, just you fiddling round and experimenting with sliders, actions and more.
I started by shooting in RAW then opening images in Photoshop (it has a built in program called Camera RAW that pops up to allow you to tweak exposure, contrast, sharpness etc with the file first then on to the main screen)
I’ve always been drawn to imagery that has a subtle film-like quality. The world of ultra high definition has always felt a bit jarring and “real time” as I like images that look like thay are a memory or frame from a movie. SO my lack of experience with Photoshop meant that I really needed somewhere to start the editing process and that port of call was the beautiful collection of actions by Wellington based photographer; Peta Mazey. You can browse them here – my favourite is the Schoolyard set and from time spent experimenting with the opacity and contrast sliders I slowly created the vibe I wanted.
In the last few months, with my new foray into shooting in full manual mode (!) on the Fuji XT1, I decided to throw caution to the wind and begin using Lightroom to process my images instead. This has been mostly under the guidance of my pro photographer heroes and I’ll admit, has not all been smooth sailing! Its not that Lightroom is harder, in fact all those using it claim its photo organising ability, batch processing etc is far more efficient and I’m enjoying experimenting with the VSCOcam presets I have downloaded ….but I just really miss my Photoshop opacity slider 🙁
ANYWAY I am very determined to go down this road and have actually found YouTube tutorials to be insanely helpful! It took a while but I have quite enjoyed the ones by American photographer, Anothony Morganti. His results are a little more saturated and full on then I am trying to achieve but he clearly explains and guides you through the million functions available!
How do you “get” Photoshop and/or Lightroom?
Well I bit the bullet this year and now subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud and for about $11 per month I have access to the very latest updates in the Photography Plan. I’ve got to say it is brilliant and means my programs are always at the front of the new technology.
What are “actions” and “presets” ?
Effectively they are prepared sets of tweaks and effects combined to be applied to an image. Its like using Edmonds pikelet mix instead of starting completely from scratch but of course allows much interpretation by the editor/cook!
Actions are for Photoshop and Presets are for Lightroom.
INSTANT GRATIFICATION: CAMERA’S THAT TALK TO PHONES!
For an instagram enthusiast ( I know I am not alone!) I have LOVED the fact that my camera can connect with wireless tech to my phone! This means that I can select a shot in real time that I would like to share, convert the RAW file to a JPEG on the camera, turn on the wireless function, locate and join to that on my phone then using the Fuji app I can simply download that ready to then open in an editing app or post/emailing directly …. no chords or cards or anything!
This has been surprisingly handy and for anyone using social media as a business channel, it allows you to always be presenting topnotch images without too much fuss!
I stitched together a really basic little view of how this all works below.
EDITING PICS TAKEN ON/OR SENT TO MY PHONE
When snapping moments on my iPhone to share on instagram I always use the inbuilt camera (eg. don’t take the photo using the camera in instagram or any other external app.)
I then open and upload that image to an “external ” (eg. not instagram) photo editing app. (This is also where my process would start with the images sent directly from my camera as in the vid above)
Up until recently I have solely used After Light but have just started experimenting with VSCO cam. With both of these you have a lot of options for tweaking brightness/contrast, sharpness and then applying filters. I have found over time that I tend to wind down the “opacity/strength” of any filters I use to about 50% or less. I also tend to stick to one or two max to achieve a cohesive vibe between my pictures. Just looks nicer!
Once you have finished editing in the app then you simply opt to publish to instagram and off you go with your editing done!
Another popular editing app that I know some of the insta super stars use is Snapseed.
I believe that all of these are available on Android too!
Photography by Julia Atkinson for Studio Home
Shot on Fuji XT1
I hope this has been a little enlightening for some of you. Please don’t hesitate to leave any questions in the comments below and I will do my very best to point you in the right direction!!
I discovered my love of taking photos purely by accident and entirely out of necessity.
When I began wanting to interview and share stories with you, I found myself in the rather boring position of simply having to take the pics myself – there was no budget floating around to hire a pro. It was pure bloody luck that I actually loved the photography the most (and that you guys seemed to like it too?!) and armed with a basic 15 min editing lesson from Camilla I began experimenting. I learnt that shooting in RAW meant I could rescue many of the muck ups I’d made with exposure etc in Photoshop and then tweak “actions” to suit my taste (which is still changing!).
This process is probably one of the most creative things I have done consistently since leaving school!
I’ve also found out what it is to be someone really interested in photography but be generally intimidated by the industry itself which can feel very techy, full of jargon and imply that it might be a maths equation to get the shot (and camera!)
I have watched many an eyebrow shoot up in surprise when arriving with my small compact camera to take photos for my website – to be honest, this actually felt good and kind of released me from the pressures of people assuming I was a “real pro” photographer! With this in mind, while I felt ready to move to something with a more manual set up (as I was advised when pointing out pictures that I really wanted to achieve!) there was no way I was willing to take on board the physical/mental/emotional burden of a full scale DSLR kit.
FujiFilm, much like me, has in recent years steered clear of the producing largescale DSLR cameras and instead concentrated on leading the way in digital devices that all level of photographers can use!
This couldn’t have been more evident when I visited their Auckland HQ to discuss what it was that I actually needed. They coped well with my chat about wanting something light, cool (of course!), basic in its set up so I didn’t get lost in the upgrade and when it came to lenses I just said “What would be the equivalent to an all mountain ski?”. Having a view finder, full manual control AND lens options felt intimidating enough!
The result is what I feel is a magical and manageable set up!
Fuji have been seriously mastering the mirrorless revolution and I jumped right on board with the XT1 – nice looking in a slightly retro way with a XF 16 – 55mm lens. When the lens is locked into the XT1 , it seals to create a robust water resistant unit!
I’ve had the last 3 months to get my head around this beautiful upgrade, stealing 30 mins from Joseph Michael to learn the fundamentals of shooting in manual, lots of photo taking of seagulls and my cat followed by the download of Lightroom CC and some hours watching editing tutorials on YouTube!!
There IS a reason I am sharing all this with you. Yes, hopefully you’ll enjoy an improvement in pics going forward BUT most of all I know that many of you out there would love to record your life and get creative with technology that isn’t just the latest smart phone release. I also know many of you might be reading this with a guilt knowing that you haven’t touched that enormous DSLR that you bought with the best intentions 2 years ago…but seriously…so BIG!
Tomorrow I am going to share with you all the little things that I personally have gleaned and discovered on my own search to be a great and happy photo taker without being an overtly expensive professional one! This will include some breakdowns of techy jargon (eg. what is RAW and why no Jpeg?), editing tools, programs, tutorials and some of the super futuresque features I am loving about the XT1. Yes, this thing talks directly to my phone..!
Below I am sharing travelling, family and general life photos from two recent stints I have had based in the South Island. I think this is what having a camera is about, snapping whatever seems to be cropping up each day and I wanted to spend some time recording whatever that may be instead of an organised shoot (like the pics above as taken by super sidekick, Sarah Allen!)
All are shot with the same camera and lens set up, downloaded as RAW files and edited in Lightroom. I am only just mastering this programme and have also been playing around with some VSCO cam presets. You will notice this perhaps in the inconsistencies of the pics but hey! learning in public here!
DOWN SOUTH WITH THE FAM
I spent some time creeping around documenting the hard renovation work being completed by my sister and brother in law in their sweet little workers cottage in Christchurch. Bike riding aside, they worked away diligently – even with drinks in hand by car headlight!
I was also reunited with that huge feline who took great pleasure in pretending he’d never met me in his life. No loyalty.
I then bounced north to Ashley to spend some time with the folks. The autumn Canterbury light was so beautiful and even made Mum doing her animal jobs look romantic! I also got to watch her zip around at Rangiora One Day Event.
On ANZAC day we gathered to follow Mum and a legion of 99 other horse and riders complete a historic ride to commemorate the horses that went to WW1. It was an amazing event to witness ! Much tea was consumed in Francesca the caravan as we followed the progress of the march until the terrific and emotional ceremony at the Waikari War Memorial.
Then, on managing to thieve a car from the family I dashed to Wanaka for a long weekend of birthday surprises, catch ups, ski boot finding and most importantly some time at my special place, Lake Pukaki at the foot of Aoraki-Mt Cook. I stopped to suck up the goodness on the way down and way back and had two distinctly different experiences as you can see!
All photos by Julia Atkinson for Studio Home
Shot on Fuji XT1
I hope I see your here tomorrow!
If you have any questions at all that are amateur photo taking/camera wrangling related please feel free to ask in the comments below. If I don’t know the answer I will certainly endeavour to find out for you!
” Twenty Nine Palms”
…… “Pleasant Valley”
…… “Miracle Hill”
…… “Wonder Valley”
…… “Cactus Springs”
The series, called Miracle Hill, is named after a once thriving 60’s resort town in California. The images and image titles, examine the grandeur derived from the American dream but rarely obtained. Made up of 7 images, the series was shot entirely on film to lend a nostalgic and dream like aesthetic to the dilapidated pastel architecture and lonely landscapes featured.
Eerie but beautiful …. (and some exceptionally awesome cacti !)“Palm Canyon Drive”
…… “Pleasant Valley”
…… “Miracle Hill”
…… “Wonder Valley”
…… “Cactus Springs”