Styling Your Photography [IP25]

In Episode 25 of the Improve Photography Podcast, Jim and Dustin answer listener questions about  photo editing style, archiving, laundry techniques (really!), teleconvertors, and more.

Guide to Episode 25

[1:05] Some new and interesting things you can do with photography.

Jim wrote a post about some really interesting (and weird!) tips you can do to improve your photography. To read that article, click here. Some of the cool stuff we learned: you can turn your lens around backwards and use it as a macro lens! Also, you can delete inconsistencies (tourists!!!) out of your photos in Photoshop!

[5:50]  What sort of techniques and equipment do I need to make a memorable school dance photo?

Lighting is important, but the most important thing you will need to pay attention to is posing. Search for school dance photos online to find fun ideas for posing.

Put your camera on a tripod, and tape an “x” on the ground so people know where to stand, and then you can spend your time worrying about posing. For lighting, use a Yongnuo trigger on the hotshoe of the camera and another transceiver under a flash, two flashes (about 5 feet away, one on either side of the camera), both shooting into silver reflective umbrellas and bouncing back at the people in the photo.

But most importantly, have fun and interact with the people – that's how you'll have great photos!!!

[8:29] Full frame camera and wide angle lens: what should I get?

There really aren't that many options to consider in this case. For a Canon, you should get the 16-35mm lens. For a Nikon, use the 16-35mm lens as well. Jim suggests a zoom lens instead of a fixed lens because just one millimeter does make a big difference in terms of the field of view. The Nikon 14-24mm lens is also a great lens, but Jim would still recomment the 16-35mm because the 14-24mm lens has a big bubble of glass at the end which means you can't attach filters easily.

[11:55]  Do you process all your images the same way, or just the images from a certain shoot?

Is processing your photos the same way a style or a rut? Dustin says it could be a little of both. There are some basic things that he will do to every photo he takes, but there are specific edits that will happen in each shoot. This way he doesn't get caught in a rut of every landscape looking and feeling the same as every portrait photo he's ever taken.

Jim says when he shoots for someone else, he likes to get a wide variety of styles in the shoot. This is especially nice for engagement shoots, because until you see the different styles, it can be hard to tell what someone's “style” is. Jim says if he finds he is editing his photos the same way all the time, he's usually stuck in a rut. He likes to try new things and have a chance to produce different styles/types of photographs.

[17:37] Taking an image vs. making an image: where can I archive my “made” images?

Dustin says if he loves his image, he's going to print it. If you spend all the time and effort to get a fantastic photo, print it big. Enter it in a fair or a contest. For digital storage regarding keeping these pictures for hundreds of years, remember that there's just no way that technology will remain the same over such a long period of time. Technology changes very rapidly. If you do have digital files and you're committed to making them last, you're really going to need to print them to make sure they last. There is no promise that a digital file will still be something usable in 50-100 years.

Jim says the key is to have your digital photo files in a lot of different places. Digital media will eventually die – there's no way around that. So having more than one copy stored will ensure you have a better chance of keeping your photos. Put them on the cloud, put them on your computer, and put them at someone else's house. This way you will have a copy in case your hard drive fails and you lose your images.

[25:15] When travelling, what is a nice portable point and shoot camera with GPS and WIFI capabilities?

GPS is great because it tags each photo you take with the exact location where it was taken.

Canon has a really good reputation with their PowerShot cameras. PowerShot SX280 is a great option, and comes with GPS and WIFI. One thing to look for in your point and shoot camera is how manual will it let you go? How much control do you have over your photos? How much work does it take to get to the exposure compensation?

If you don't need GPS, the Canon PowerShot N is a really cool option as well. It's a very small camera with a large LCD with some really nice high-end features that photographers will really appreciate.

[29:22] How do you get rid of wrinkles in your background materials?

Though it seems a little silly, the real answer to this question is that you've got to wash/dry and iron your material to get the wrinkles out in the first place. After you've done that, adjusting your lighting can also help a bit: if you take your lights and put them farther away you will get less distinct shadows/highlights for each wrinkle.

You can buy some wrinkle-free fabric (though it will be quite a bit more expensive) or use a pop-up frame (that stretches your fabric). Additionally, Dustin suggests storing your fabric background rolled up into a tight ball – lots of little wrinkles are much less noticable than long lines from a nice, perfect fold.

[35:52] If I purchase a teleconverter, what will happen to my picture quality?

Jim and Dustin both say don't waste your money! Teleconverters are made specifically to work with professional lenses. In fact, Nikon has made most of their teleconverters so that they won't even mount on a lens that they aren't specifically made for. Your camera simply cannot focus when using a teleconverter on the wrong lens. And even if you can mount it, it will dramatically (negatively) affect the lighting, sharpness, and quality. Just don't do it!!!

[39:25] Doodads of the Week

Jim's doodad of the week is a Canon Lens Mug. It looks just like a lens, but it's really a mug. Pretty fun.

Dustin's pick of the week is the new flickr facelift. Bigger images! 1 terabyte of storage! Nice!

[42:20] Retractions

In episode 16 of the podcast, someone had an SB400 speedlight with an error. But we missed out on the right answer – the problem is that the SB400 is an ETTL ONLY flash – it doesn't have manual. You have to point this flash at something so it can meter, and in this case the ceiling was too far away.

In a later podcast, someone with an entry level camera said they had purchased a battery grip with a cord that you have to plug in. We remarked how this must be a cheap battery grip, and that we'd never heard of such a thing. Turns out the entry level Canons actually do have a wire that connects the battery grip – who knew!

Many apologies for our mistakes and thank you to our listeners for letting us know so we could fix them!

[45:10] Prizes for reviews!

The winner is applegeek.fr.  If that's your username on iTunes, email Jim at [email protected] to get your free online photography class.

To be entered to win the online photography class each week, simply go to this podcast on iTunes and write a one or two sentence review.  While they appreciate a a 5-star review, any review will get you entered to win a class for free (a $98 value).

[45:40] Online Classes!

Our new class site is photoclasses.com – we've moved over to this new system to give you a better experience, and hope you'll come check it out. We've got some really great new features (quizzes, a dashboard where you can access all your classes, and a way to keep track of where you are in your class) and we hope you'll enjoy them.

5 thoughts on “Styling Your Photography [IP25]”

  1. You are great, guys!.
    I found your podcasts by accident, when looking for podcasts to improve… my english!. And I run into these, that are funny, illustrative, enlightening and also cover my passion for the photography, so I’ve killed two birds with one shot.
    I load them onto my MP3 player and I play them in an endless loop in my way to the office every day (a nice one hour drive now). I have to admit that sometimes I remain at the parking place until the one I’m listening ends 😉
    A big thanks for your nice work!
    Jesito (Jes) from Sitges (Spain)

  2. I disagree with the teleconverter reply. If you have the right lenses, the 1.4 and 1.7 Nikon teleconverters give excellent results. I use them with the 70-200VR and 200-400VR routinely. I would not buy an inexpensive teleconverter, however. I have tried one in the past (Kenko) and I was very disappointed.

    1. @Joe S – The two lenses you mentioned are two PROPER lenses for using teleconverters. Like I mentioned in the podcast, teleconverters are specifically meant to work with these pro lenses. However, if you’re picky about image quality, there can be no argument that teleconverters will soften the image even when paired with a pro lens. I also use the Nikon teleconverters with a 70-200mm and the results are good, but still a bit softer than using the lens without a teleconverter.

  3. Jim, I was going by what I read in the synopsis of the podcast so I apologize if I missed something that was said. I see no noticeable difference with the 1.4 but I do begin to see a little softening with the 200-400 and the 1.7. I also usually have to manually focus because it is an f/4 lens. I just saw where it said “Don’t do it” and did not get the whole story.

    I did get to listen to some of the podcast and I enjoyed it very much.

  4. I do not need a full frame camera to take landscape photos. If you want to include more, shoot a panorama. I use my Fuji X-E1 with a cropped sensor. I find that my biggest problem is eliminating irrelevant things from the photo, requiring zooming in. Further, the image quality of the Fuji sensor is astounding, and its light weight and bulk makes it easy to hike in to find nice scenery.

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