Help for a newbie

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Dragonflies, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. Dragonflies

    Dragonflies TPF Noob!

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    Hey everyone. I'm a stay at home mom who has recently fallen in love with the idea of getting into the photography hobby. I really would like to be able to take photos of my children (4 and 2 years old) like the ones I've seen on the internet. I know I'll have to probably get some equipment but I don't even know where to start. So I have some really amateur questions for you.

    First of all, here are some pictures below which are the type/style that I'd like to be able to take.

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    (The first 5 pictures are credited to DC Photo Booth, the last is by Julie Burton Photography)

    My questions are...

    1. What camera/lens/etc. would you recommend without completely breaking the bank?

    2. Is there a software that photographers run their photos through that make them more vibrant automatically or apply certain filters to make them look antiquey or is it all manual?

    3. Can I do this type of thing with Photoshop (I have 7.0) or do I need a different program. If Photoshop will work, are there any tutorials that you could point me to that would show me how to do it?

    4. For pictures like the ones above, do you think they use auto focus or have a special lens that they manually focus?

    I know these may be silly questions but I would really appreciate any tips to get me off the ground. What a wonderful hobby you all have!

    Thanks,

    Holly
     
  2. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    1.) any DSLR from any maker can take these photos. Even the entry level bodies. Lighting and lenses are more important.

    2.) Nearly 100% of the photographers use some sort of photo editing program. You can do all of that yourself, or buy "plug-ins" that "automatically" do it for you.

    3.) I assume you own photoshop elements 7? For the price, its very powerful editor. It only lacks a few features of CS4. Many plug-ins work with elements as well. There are hundreds of tutorials online and on you-tube.

    4.) Auto/manual focus is a personal preference. I use both depending on needs. All autofocus lenses can be used manually as well.

    There are no silly questions, just silly answers.
     
  3. Plato

    Plato TPF Noob!

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    Almost any SLR will do the job but lens choice is critical. In the Nikon line, I recommend 85mm f/2.8.

    Manual focus is extremely difficult with amateur level (read "inexpensive") SLRs. Back on the old days when manual focus was the only choice, we had "split image" viewfinders to simplify focusing. Now, you have to depend on a judgement call.

    My snaps.
     
  4. Patrice

    Patrice No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't often jump in here anymore, but your question is good and your motivation can not be beat. Your children are special and of course you want to create beautiful photographs of them. No better subject!

    Good imagery is not all about gear. Sure a dLSR and some lenses and some lights can be very versatile tools but they are not necessary.

    Take a good look at the types of images you like. Study the image. Take notice of the framing, the position of the subject, the quality of the light, the secondary content of the image, what is included or excluded from the foreground and the background. Then start taking pictures. Almost any point and shoot digital will work, better if it has a viewfinder (a little window to look through) as well as the display screen. Best get in the habit of composing your images with the camera up to your eye. Don't be afraid to take lots and lots of pictures. Don't be afraid to delete lots and lots of pictures. Concentrate on trying to get the image you envisioned before you press the shutter, this takes a lot of practice.

    Kudos on PS elements. It will serve you well for quite some time.

    Have fun, take photos, evaluate, delete, take more photos ....

    Pat
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Photography is a lot of fun but it still has it's legal aspects.

    Holly, just so you know.

    "You agree to only post images and/or other material to which you have exclusive copyright, or permission from the copyright holder that you are able to present to TPF Staff. Under no circumstances will any instance of copyright infringement be tolerated."

    The forums rules only allow links to pictures that aren't yours. Crediting the copyright owners, as you have done, is not sufficient to protect the forum owners from copyright infringement lawsuits.

    Once you have replaced the images with links, you're good to go. :thumbup:

    You can read all the forum Rules and Regs here, if you'd like.

    Happy shooting!
     
  6. codebaloo

    codebaloo TPF Noob!

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    Keep in mind that I am also a pure hobbyist, just now learning to take better pictures myself, and am nearly awed by the images I see posted everywhere that are so much better than any I can yet capture. That said, my apologies in advance to those seasoned veteran's who think nothing of spending $2000+ on a body and $1500+ on a lens and whom I'll surely offend with my simplistic comments, and on to your questions...

    As I read your post, it seems you have PShop7, the version just prior to CS, not Elements 7. I'm in the exact same boat using PShop7. It is outdated, and many of the plug-ins and tutorials people refer to won't work. However, you can edit your captures just fine with it.

    There are still some tutorials around for older versions of PShop, and you can often take the concepts from the tuts for newer verions and create workarounds for your version. They are often not all that technically difficult... the art (a skill I lack) is in seeing the original picture and reimagining it this way. Take the last picture, for example. Imagine it without the aged look and in full, bright color, straight outta the camera. The photog looked at that and was somehow able to imagine the finished look. Amazing to me. I don't know for sure, but I'd guess in PShop7 -- if you knew the look you were after -- you could create a similar effect by adding some noise, creating a layer and using a huge dappl-y brush to splatter some paint on it, lowering that layer's transparency, and fiddling with the colors and saturation to make it a sepia-like.

    You can take the photos you want with almost any camera. You can get a decent point-n-shoot -- with many options that the photographer can override/customize as they learn more about photography -- for $100-200. The step up is a DSLR designed for the novice/hobbyist/official-family-snapshotter. That's where I'm at: I have a relatively inexpensive (~$500 with lens) Nikon D60... and that was more than we could really afford! Canon has similar in their Rebel line. While they'll lack some features that you'll eventually want as (or if) you get more interested in photography -- the D60 doesn't offer auto exposure bracketing, for example -- they'll allow you more creative control and the ability to use different lenses.

    Some general tips I've picked up from various people & books that have improved my kiddo pictures exponentially are:

    • The eyes are key. Make sure are in focus.
    • The "rule of thirds", S's, triangles, etc. -- read the section on composition in your camera manual, in an intro to photography book from the library, or on various photography tips sites & blogs.
    • Even if you have to do it in PShop, make sure stuff in the background doesn't pull the viewer's eyes off of the subject. To do that
      • Try to have the subject fill the frame
      • If you have to ability to choose an aperture setting, choose a low number. This'll keep the stuff in the area of focus clear and blur stuff that's closer to the camera and further away than the subject.
      • If you don't have that ability, step back and use the zoom feature... the camera will create the same effect automatically. The further your subject is away from stuff in the background (say, a wall or fence) the more effective
    • Instead of having the kids "smile and say 'cheese'", takes the shots immediately before and after. Catch the doing what they do naturally versus with a forced smile.
    • Keep color in mind. The picture of the blonde girl in the green jacket lying on the floor wouldn't have had nearly the same impact if she was wearing that jacket, lying on grass.
    • If you're outside, the best shots are in the morning and evening. While you'd think mid-afternoon because there is more light, a strong mid-afternoon sun creates dark shadows on faces.
    • Try taking outside shots with the sun behind the subject. You'd think with the sun on the face to light it better, but kids tend to squint and we have the shadow issue again. Plus, with the sun behind the subject, you'll get an angelic glow effect in their hair (look at the girl's hair in the pic of the boy & girl by the rock). Just make sure you or the camera set the exposure for the child, not the overall scene or you'll end up with a silhouette.
    Hope that helps. Good luck.

    --Mike
    http://twitter.com/codebaloo
     

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