I am excited about this new segment on the blog. I get emails often about photography tips and questions and I can’t always get to each one to give the detail I want, so I will be posting weekly about photography tips. I haven’t been shooting clients for the last year and I am itching to get my creative juices flowing again. I’ll be taking clients again in the near future, but for now I’m hoping I can share the creative love by answering questions asked by you guys. I am also really excited about a special announcement in this post. :D
I mostly get emails about my clean edits, camera settings I use, and shooting kids indoors. Today we’re going to go over a bit of each while I walk you through Grae’s monthly shoots.
1. Natural light (indoors):
My pictures would be nothing without a sufficient amount of natural light. It’s that important. For these monthly shoots, I put Grae in a room with the most possible windows. I open the curtains as much as possible to let every single ounce of natural sunlight in. To get natural light indoors I will open doors, rearrange furniture, place my subject directly next to a window if I have to. You would be surprised by that perfect light hiding in your house if you only look for it.
I always do Grae’s pictures in her room which has windows on 2 walls. I drape a white comforter over her crib (I used to just lay it on the floor until she started sitting up and wouldn’t lay still for me anymore). The wall she sits in front of is white, so it acts as a good reflector, but if it were dark I could always toss a white sheet behind me if it was casting her face. Color casts are super tricky to edit out, so the brighter white you get your subject, the better!
Once we got the light, we’ll chat about settings…
2. camera settings:
This is always a hard question to answer, because my camera settings change ALL THE TIME. It all depends on my light, my subject, and my surroundings. I will tell you that my “sweet spot” in my camera is at a 400 ISO. When I get thee most perfect light at a shoot, which is about 4% of the time, I am shooting in a 400 ISO and my heart is siiiiingiiiing!! However, if it’s brighter, I’ll bump it up to 320 or 250/200 ISO – 125 even (if it’s noon and I’m forced against my will to shoot in broad daylight outdoors.) If it’s inside and dark or when the sun is going down, that’s when you’ll find me at 640, 800, 1000 (if I’m super desperate for those last few drops of light.) Each camera handles ISO differently, so you kind of have to find that good range for your camera and style. Generally, the 200-800 is my favorite range. I also tend to over-expose just a smidgen because it will give me that ultra creamy no-flaw skin that I love. Some photographers shoot in the lowest possible ISO because they think it keeps it the most sharp, I tend to focus on that good skin and make up for sharpness elsewhere.
For these particular photos, I was shooting with a 2.8 aperature and 320 ISO in gorgeous, bright light. I shoot everything in manual mode so I can manipulate my camera settings just as I want to to get it next to perfect in-camera so I have to do very little editing in post-processing (photoshop). It takes a lot of practice and skill to get it right straight out of camera (SOOC), and I love that challenge. If your’e struggling with getting it right, practice, practice, practice! That’s what it takes. Shutter speed is also a crucial aspect to nice, sharp images – especially when you’re shooting babies and kids who are allllways moving. For kids, I never shoot anything slower than a 200 shutter speed. For adults, I’ll creap it up to 120 or so and feel okay. Anything slower and you’ll get blurred movements and lose your crispness.
3. clean edit:
I do believe that a trick to a good clean-edit is getting it right in camera first. That being said, I do a few tweaks in photoshop to every image just to enhance some shadows and lines, brighten up the brights, add a little contrast and life to the image, as well as correct any white balance (too blue? too yellow?). I shoot in automatic white balance always and adjust that in post-processing. I know some photographers would gasp at that, but it just keeps things more simple for me during shooting and I can always easily fix it during my editing.
Now for the announcement?? I am now offering my custom photoshop actions!! I have been asked for years about which actions I use. The truth is, I have my own recipes that I have perfected use exclusively. I have finally gotten them put together for your use, if you wish! These are what I use on every single image that I produce, start to finish. From my black and white conversions to my color pops to my clean edit along with many fix-its and my famous web resizer. My ENTIRE WORK FLOW is in this set.
If I was going to sell my actions, I really wanted to have a tried-and-true set that was easy to use. For pros and beginners alike. I have organized them so they are very basic to use. Start at the top, make your way down for what you need for your image, adjusting the opacity as you need (though most have been created to be able to use at full opacity to save you a step – run twice if necessary!), finish it off with resizing for print and/or web and you’re done! What makes these the most special is that these are actually 100% what I use. I don’t use someone else’s, then made a few of mine for a quick buck. These are the photoshop tricks I have learned and recorded over the years and what makes up the entire portion of my post-processing.
For Grae’s shoot, I used my actions: At Home, Add Some Light (ran two times), and Add Some Warmth (opacity 15%), and Sharpen It Up. Voila! 30 seconds and done.
These are my serious babies, guys. If you have ever seen and loved my photography work, these actions are the bread and butter that got me there. Every last bit of my edits I use are in this package. I’m so excited about these and SO excited for you to use them and see if they bless your life as much as they bless mine. Today I am launching my new Cass Miller Complete Action Set with a special introductory price of $49.
I would love to hear any questions you have about what tips you want me to share, and of course any questions you have about the action set.
Happy Shooting and Editing!