Click it Up a Notch http://clickitupanotch.com Photography Tips: Basic Photography Tips Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Critique Me – Katrina Steele http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/07/critique-me-katrina-steele/ http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/07/critique-me-katrina-steele/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 http://clickitupanotch.com/?p=14567 Author information
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I combined my passion of teaching and photography to create this website. I invite you to take this 30 day challenge - The Unexpected Everyday
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Remember:
-Read How to Critique a Photo
-Make a critique sandwich – something positive, something you would have done differently, something positive
-My rule: no improvement tip = deleted comment
-This will benefit the person leaving the photo critique just as much if not more than the person receiving the critique.
-If you would like to have an image critiqued be sure to read How to submit an image for critique.

Thank you to Katrina for submitting the following image.
Settings: f/5.6 | SS 1/640 | ISO 200
Katrina Steele

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6 Underwater Photography Tips http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/07/underwater-photography-tips/ http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/07/underwater-photography-tips/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 19:18:40 +0000 http://clickitupanotch.com/?p=14528 Author information
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Laurie Flickinger - Contributor
I am a stay at home mom of three kids. Ben, Delia, and Brayden. Photography is my passion, my outlet, and my sanity. I have loved art all of my life, but really started getting into photography once my oldest son, Ben, was born. I wanted to learn everything I possibly could to take better photos of my family. I love that with photography, there is always room to grow and learn. I’m still trying to soak up every tidbit of knowledge there is to know about photography. Blog | More posts My Camera Bag: Nikon D700 | 50mm 1.4G | 85mm 1.8D | 105mm 2.8G
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Underwater photography tips via Click it Up a Notch

Summer is my favorite season. I love the heat! Which isn’t really something you hear coming from many Georgians. But to me summer means the kids are out of school and we will be spending a lot of time outdoors and in the water. So, naturally, I became interested in underwater photography as it has gotten popular was the past few years. My family enjoys days at the pool and boating, so a water proof camera became a “necessity” if I wanted to capture the essence of these outings. I was also in need of a point and shoot camera to carry along in my purse or as a lightweight option to my DSLR and lenses, so I decided to do a little research and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Underwater Take One-48-Edit_CIUAN

After a great deal of research, I decided on the Canon G12 (I feel like a traitor! I’m a Nikon girl!) and an underwater housing. While there are off brand options for the underwater housing, I went with the Canon G11/G12 Underwater Housing in order to be able to use most of the functions of the camera with the case on. To cut costs, I bought the Canon G12 refurbished from Canon (the newer version had just come out) and the underwater housing was cheaper for the older model at the time. Available at the time this article is published is the Canon G16 and Underwater Housing. So far, I have been very happy with both the point and shoot and the underwater housing.23 Underwater Camera-3_CIUAN

And if you think you get weird looks after pulling out your DSLR and big lens, just wait until you break out one of these! And then put in water! :) You are sure to get a comment or two!

What do you need for underwater photography?

First off, an underwater camera, or camera and underwater housing, which I mentioned mine above. Other options include the GoPro, Panasonic Lumix, Nikon Coolpix (I had to throw a Nikon in there!). Of those, I would choose the GoPro. I’ve heard a lot of great things about it and have seen a lot of fun videos taken with it too. It’s actually on my wish list.

A pair of goggles is a must. It is always good to actually be able see what you are photographing! I haven’t bought my own pair, so I usually just grab a pair that the kids aren’t using. I do prefer the larger masks over the smaller goggles. They seem to seal a little better and make visibility a little easier under water.

Safety first! I bought a wrist band float for my camera so that if I drop it in the lake, it isn’t gone forever. I have this one by Cowboy Studio. It is cheap, but it gets the job done.

And last, if you are using an underwater housing, I recommend following the instructions included with the housing to ensure the seal is tight and indeed waterproof.  Basically you grease the rubber seal and ensure that it fits properly. I also put one of those silica gel “do not eat” packets inside of the housing just to be safe.

Oh! And of course, grab a subject! And believe it or not, the kids will be all about it!!!! Yes! I have finally found a camera that the kids love to be in front of! It really is a win, win for all of us!

Underwater Take One-37-Edit_CIUAN

Underwater Photography Tips

1. Know your Camera
Underwater photography is a whole new ball game! So, don’t get too frustrated if you don’t get any wow! images on your first try. The lighting is tricky. The color of light underwater is much different. It is literally a whole new world under water. To make your first try a bit easier, know your camera. Trying to get your camera set up underwater isn’t easy, so knowing the controls (especially when using manual on your camera) is important. Learn how to use all of the buttons with the underwater housing. For me, switching to a new camera was hard enough, but then putting it in a housing made it even more difficult. So, spend a little time playing with the settings before putting it in the water. It will save you a little frustration.

It also helps to set up your camera the way you need it before you put it in the housing (or underwater) then just adjust the exposure once it is emerged. The less functions to change in the water, the better.

MB Pool-11_edit_CIUAN

2. Lighting
Lighting underwater is vastly different than lighting in sun or overcast conditions. Underwater, lighting is just as important as it is above water, but it acts differently. When I first played with my underwater camera, I thought that I would play it safe and use the overcast “safe” lighting that I was comfortable with when I first starting using a DSLR. Well, underwater, overcast means flat, boring light. Even flatter than above water. Almost monotones. And a black and white conversion won’t even begin to help you. The light fall off is much greater, meaning the deeper your subject is from the surface, the less light is going to fall onto the subject and the more flat it will be. So, when planning your exposure, the deeper your subject is in the water, you’ll need to increase your exposure by adjusting ISO, shutter speed or aperture. The closer your subject is to the surface of the water, the more light will fall onto your subject. Light equals more visual interest. Directional lighting is great, but a little more difficult in water than out of water. The timing of day is more important for directional lighting. Here is a couple of examples comparing lighting.

Full sun:

Swimming-13-Edit-2_CIUAN

Directional: Notice the areas of shadow to the right and background.

19 Pool Fun Underwater-61-Edit-2_CIUAN

3. Water Clarity
The clarity of the water can affect your images. The farther away from the camera your subject is, the more likely that the clarity of the water will affect your image quality. If the water is crystal clear, great! But likely there will be a bit of cloudiness that you won’t normally notice without a camera. The water appears much clearer until you are literally taking pictures of it. To help with this, zoom out or use a wide angle lens and get closer to your subject to close the distance. That way you’ll still have the scene captured, but with more clarity than if you stepped away and zoomed in.

MB Pool-6_CIUAN

Also the further away from your camera, the more the white balance will turn blue underwater. Water absorbs red wavelengths first, so the more water between your camera and your subject, the more blue/cyan the subject will appear. This translates to the closer your subject is to your camera, the better your white balance will be. So follow the same rule for clarity and use a wide angle and get physically closer to your subject to help with WB, or get used to more processing after uploading your images. Notice that the more distance away from the subject, the more blue the water is in the background.

Underwater Take One-26-Edit_CIUAN

4. Framing
Framing is just as important, but much more difficult underwater. It is hard to in one place underwater! The natural buoyancy of your body causes you to float up if you are deeper in the water. Do the best that you can to plan out your image (just as you would above water) before you take the picture. It’s good to at least have an idea of what you want before you are underwater and shooting away. Keep an eye on your shutter speed to make sure you have a little wiggle room for motion (of both yourself and your subject!).

Swimming-42_CIUAN

Also, keep in mind that your underwater camera may take pictures in different dimensions than the DSLR that you are used to. My Nikon’s images are a 2:3 or 4:6 ratio, where the images on the Canon G12 are 3:4, which are a bit more square, which caused me a few issues when cropping in post processing. (I like to keep them all consistent at 2:3). So, in some images, I needed to stretch the canvas to make it work.

19 Pool Fun Underwater-77-Edit-2_CIUAN

5. Processing
Because the red wavelengths are absorbed first, you’ll need to add a lot of red and yellow back into the image to correct the skin tones….unless you have a fetish for cyan people. The “underwater” setting on the camera does a half decent job of adding some red back into the image, but I’ve noticed that I need to adjust more when I get the images into light room. The following example is a untouched image with regard to WB (it was on auto, yuck!).

I use Lightroom to edit my raw files, then take my images into photoshop for final edits. I’m old school, I know! So, in Lightroom, the first thing I usually do is take a look at exposure. The white balance was so off in this one, that it is a little difficult to determine how far off the exposure is! So, I decided to change the white balance first. Sometimes when the white balance changes, the image can look brighter. I know that the tiles in our neighborhood pool are slate/gray. So, I used the dropper to see if that would be a good place to start. It was! From there I adjusted the temperature and tint until I liked what I saw (by eye).  I haven’t checked the numbers to double check my skin tones, but they look pretty good to me, so I skipped that step.

Before and after image:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 6.30.24 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 6.30.41 PM

19 Pool Fun Underwater-80-Edit_CIUAN

6. Other tips in underwater shooting.
19 Pool Fun Underwater-54-Edit-2_CIUAN

Holding your breath is a tough one! You’ll be exhausted after an underwater shoot. I don’t really have any tips for this one, but for shallow underwater shooting, a snorkel may come in handy.

Take advantage of the LCD. It is much easier to look at the LCD than through the eyepiece underwater. It felt really weird to me at first, since I’m used to using a DSLR, but I quickly realized that a big screen is great underwater.

And as always, practice! Practice different lighting scenarios and see what works best for you! Different scenes and processing can bring a whole new look to your underwater images. From light and airy to quite creepy! Have fun shooting!

 

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Laurie Flickinger - Contributor
I am a stay at home mom of three kids. Ben, Delia, and Brayden. Photography is my passion, my outlet, and my sanity. I have loved art all of my life, but really started getting into photography once my oldest son, Ben, was born. I wanted to learn everything I possibly could to take better photos of my family. I love that with photography, there is always room to grow and learn. I’m still trying to soak up every tidbit of knowledge there is to know about photography. Blog | More posts My Camera Bag: Nikon D700 | 50mm 1.4G | 85mm 1.8D | 105mm 2.8G
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Travel Photography: What to Pack http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/07/travel-photography-pack/ http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/07/travel-photography-pack/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:46:02 +0000 http://clickitupanotch.com/?p=14548 Author information
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Travel photography-what to pack via Click it Up a Notch

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Traveling overseas is exciting and stressful all at the same time. My husband and I went to Europe for two weeks and while I couldn’t wait to get over there the stress of what photography gear to pack on top of all the other stuff was an added stress.

We decided we wanted to travel light. REALLY light! I’m talking only a backpack light. Let’s be clear, I’m not one of those people who can wear just one outfit or leave my hair dryer at home. So I had to pack smart, really smart. We purchased these backpacks which are approved by many European airlines as carry ons (hand bags). We didn’t want to have to check our gear and you better believe I was not checking my photography gear.

We flew to 3 different cities so we were on the budget European airlines which are much stricter than American airlines when it comes to what you can carry on. One even restricted you to only one carry-on. Period. That meant your purse or anything else.

Excuse the poor photo but I was standing on a bed in Paris with my iPhone. Just wanted to give you an idea of what my bag looked like inside.
photo-3

This included:
-Make up
-Travel hair dryer
-5 summer dresses
-Sandals
-Hair products and shampoo
-Travel books
-Girl’s Day Out Shutter bag (all camera stuff-I’ll get to that in a minute)
-Unmentionables ;)

I told you I packed light.

Let’s get down to the gear.

Photography gear to pack for Europe

1. SHUTTER|Bag – Girl’s Day Out
I needed a great camera bag, that didn’t look like a camera bag. You hear a lot of stories about people trying to snatch your stuff. I went with the smallest of my SHUTTER|bags, Girl’s Day Out. It worked perfectly. Here’s why I loved it:
- Several zipper pockets so if I was reaching in for my camera all my other stuff was not out for other’s to see.
- Private zipper in the back that holds your passports perfectly!
- Over the shoulder and across the body straps. I wore mine messenger style most of the time.
- Held everything I needed plus some.
- Bag is not heavy which is good because the stuff I put in it was.
- Two front pockets on front for easy access to smaller items.

2. D700 with my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8
I decided right away I only wanted to take one lens. Yes, I know, isn’t that crazy? But I didn’t want to have to worry about the other lens and I knew I would be carrying all this heavy gear around so I wanted to make my life simple. I brought my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 and it was exactly what I needed. Since I only have one camera body it was obvious I was being my D700.

I loved that this lens was able to capture the wide shots that I wanted, which were the majority of my shots as well as zoom in if I needed a closer shot. Seriously, this is one of my favorite lens and I didn’t wish I had brought another lens or felt like I was missing out with only one lens.

3. 2 camera batteries and charger
Just to be on the safe side, I brought two camera batteries and my charger. You can never have too many camera batteries. And you don’t want to forget your charger.

4. 2 memory cards
I typically shoot with a 4G CF card on RAW which will hold about 300 photos. I grabbed an 8G as well before I left. I didn’t want to delete the photos off my card until I had uploaded them onto my computer at home. I also did not bring a laptop so the photos needed to stay on my memory cards. I only took about 700 photos in 2 weeks in Europe. Figure out ahead of time if you think you are going to go crazy taking photos and how many memory cards you will need.

5. Camera strap
I have two camera straps that I adore but decided to purchase this one for the trip. Why? Because I heard so many stories of people trying to steal you things and then my parents mentioned this company that creates camera straps that are slash proof. Yup, apparently we need to be worried about someone taking a knife and cutting the camera strap in order to steal our gear. I told my parents I was more concerned with someone with a knife anywhere near me but decided to go ahead and purchase it anyway. The PacSafe camera strap was awesome. It is long with the screw that goes into the bottom of your camera so it sits comfortably on your hip. The strap is really padded which makes it very comfortable to carry all over the place. Definitely recommend it!

6. GoPro
I LOVE my GoPro especially when it comes to traveling. I love to take video of our trips and put them to music. I knew I wanted to capture so much of Europe so we brought our tiny GoPro and used it often to capture the liveliness and beauty of the cities we visited. Just like my camera, I brought two memory cards (although, I only needed one) and two batteries.

One more thing I did before we left, I called my insurance company to triple check that the camera and lens I was taking was insured. I also asked a lot of questions as to what I should do if it is stolen in a foreign country and if my policy covers it in another country. Ask lots of questions! It gave me such peace of mind to know that my gear if stolen would easily be replaced when I returned home.

I will be doing several more tutorials on what I learned about travel photography over the next few weeks.

What advice would you give someone who is traveling with their photography gear?

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Critique Me – Lindsay at Detrick Photography http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/07/critique-lindsay-detrick-photography/ http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/07/critique-lindsay-detrick-photography/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:00:23 +0000 http://clickitupanotch.com/?p=14534 Author information
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I combined my passion of teaching and photography to create this website. I invite you to take this 30 day challenge - The Unexpected Everyday
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Remember:
-Read How to Critique a Photo
-Make a critique sandwich – something positive, something you would have done differently, something positive
-My rule: no improvement tip = deleted comment
-This will benefit the person leaving the photo critique just as much if not more than the person receiving the critique.
-If you would like to have an image critiqued be sure to read How to submit an image for critique.

Thank you to Lindsay at Detrick Photography for submitting the following image.
Settings: f/2 | SS 1/250 | ISO 100
Click it up a notch Critique

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Critique Me – Susan Jeske http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/07/critique-me-susan-jeske/ http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/07/critique-me-susan-jeske/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:58:27 +0000 http://clickitupanotch.com/?p=14514 Author information
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I combined my passion of teaching and photography to create this website. I invite you to take this 30 day challenge - The Unexpected Everyday
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Remember:
-Read How to Critique a Photo
-Make a critique sandwich – something positive, something you would have done differently, something positive
-My rule: no improvement tip = deleted comment
-This will benefit the person leaving the photo critique just as much if not more than the person receiving the critique.
-If you would like to have an image critiqued be sure to read How to submit an image for critique.

Thanks to Susan Jeske for submitting the following image.
Settings: f/1.8, SS 1/640, ISO 800
Susan Jeske

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I combined my passion of teaching and photography to create this website. I invite you to take this 30 day challenge - The Unexpected Everyday
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Out of Office http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/06/office/ http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/06/office/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 13:38:57 +0000 http://clickitupanotch.com/?p=14502 Author information
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I combined my passion of teaching and photography to create this website. I invite you to take this 30 day challenge - The Unexpected Everyday
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“I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again.”

Come on, sing it with me :)

I’m heading to Europe and decided to not post any new tutorials or posts while I’m away. I figured my husband may not like me sitting at a Paris cafe working. So I’m on vacation.

A few things to keep in mind
1. We will still be posting on our Facebook page with lots of great tutorials for you to check out. A few of my contributors are going to be around to help answer any questions that may pop up over there. Feel free to help each other out as well and help answer each other’s questions on our Facebook page. And as always, thank you for being so kind on our Facebook Page. I love that you guys are such a supportive and giving group!

2. The weekly emails with our weekly photography challenges will still be going out as well. You can sign up here.

3. If you order The Unexpected Everyday while I’m away, don’t worry, we have you covered as well. Email any issues to support@clickitupanotch.com and you will be taken care of.

4. I won’t be answering emails while I’m away so please be patient with me when I get back and sort through the hundreds of emails. Or do me a favor and wait until mid-July to email me so I’m not drowning in emails :)

5. If you are new to the site, WELCOME! You can start here with over 100 photography tutorials which should give you plenty to read while I’m away.

And last, if you want to follow along with my fun adventures while in Europe, I’ll be posting on Instagram while I’m away.

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5 tips for taking pictures in public http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/06/tips-for-taking-pictures-in-public/ http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/06/tips-for-taking-pictures-in-public/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 14:48:48 +0000 http://clickitupanotch.com/?p=14461 Author information
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I'm a homeschooling mama to four, married to my college sweetheart. Home is where the Air Force sends us, which is currently the Deep South. I'm a mostly-happy hobbyist photographer, retired from a client-based business for now. I love documenting our daily life, and I'm currently in my 5th year of a Project 365, Give me my mark3, a prime lens and a hazy afternoon and I'm one happy girl. When I'm not shooting, I love a cup of coffee (that hasn't been reheated 14 times) and curling up with a good book during nap time!
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5 tips for taking pictures in public via Click it Up a Notch copy
You bought the fancy DSLR, worked hard to master shooting in manual, all so you could capture your life beautifully right? So why does it sit on your desk or in your bag, while real life happens around you outside of your house?  Are you afraid you’ll break your expensive gear (valid fear!! I hear you!) or are you afraid of the stares of a few strangers? Or is it a bit of both? Here’s a few tips to help you overcome your fears and start shooting life outside your home!

movieblog

1. This camera was crazy $$$ expensive! I can’t take it anywhere because it might be stolen/broken/lost!

Well, yes. But with a bit of caution and common sense- you shouldn’t fear taking your gear out and actually USING it. I’d rather take my chances (small as they are) that nothing will happen to my gear and I’ll have captured some awesome shots of my kids doing our everyday activities. (Or if you don’t have kids- you’ll have shots of market trips/tourist explorations etc.)

Invest in a quality camera bag that will safely tote your camera/lenses. I am usually shooting with my 5dmark3 and a Sigma 35mm. So a good padded camera bag is a must.

Insure your equipment.  If you’re in business- it goes without saying, seriously, you should have your gear insured. If you’re a hobbyist- check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see what’s covered, and add extra coverage for your equipment if you need it!

Use common sense.  Don’t leave your camera unattended. Leave it around your neck, or in your bag, and your bag on you. Period.

Don’t expose your camera to conditions that are unsafe. I don’t have underwater housing for my DSLR- so when I head to the pool with my kids, I take my underwater safe point and shoot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Don’t shoot bad behavior. 

If your kids are misbehaving, put the camera down. Nothing will bring on the stares (of frustration and judgement)- if you are standing there shooting a meltdown or your kid throwing things instead of disciplining. I am not above shooting tantrums, at home. I will shoot mild pouting in public, but if it’s an outburst and there’s any kind of misbehavior that is potentially damaging to a business or public place- you better believe my camera is not out.

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In this shot- all the kids had been running around crazy like they had never been out in public before- I didn’t shoot that. We corrected behavior and then once they were calm, I asked them to pose for this shot. There was no way I wanted to condone their craziness by shooting it while everyone watched.

3. Ignore the stares.

For starters, so long as they aren’t staring because your kid is being a heathen- chances are they are just noticing what cute kids you have. Or admiring you for having guts to take pictures in public. But I actually can almost guarantee that they aren’t really paying that much attention to you. Think about it, when you’re in the grocery store with all your kids- how much attention are you giving other kids in the store (the ones that aren’t melting down that is- and then we all know we’re just glad it’s not our kids for once!)

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After I shot this picture of my son riding on the bottom of the grocery cart (and had to lay down in the aisle to get it), I had an elderly man staring at me, I flashed him a smile and he very sweetly said; “Sure looks like they’re having fun! Wish I could ride under there!” See, I thought he was going to be a Judgy McJudgerson and he wasn’t!

4. Go early.

I plan most outings where I intend to shoot a few frames as early in the day as I can. The grocery store is way less crowded when it opens at 9, getting lunch at 11 is much less crazy than 12:30.  Less people equals less intimidation/stares too! Your kids are probably in better moods early in the day too! Explore the library- there’s hardly ever a crowd in ours!

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5. Shoot a few shots and be done! 

Unless you’re planning to shoot a whole day in the life series, think through the kind of shots you’re looking for before you go. Plan them out a bit and then shoot them first so you can put your camera away and enjoy the outing.  Plus if your kids are anything like mine, the beginning of an outing is always the most mellow part- give them too much time and they usually melt down!

I knew before we even went to the zoo that I wanted a shot of my kids in front of the seal or polar bear tank, it was one of my must take shots. When we visited this part of the zoo, I was able to take the shot I imagined and then put the camera away and enjoy the moment! After all, you also want to remember the experience of life and your kids would love it if you weren’t always behind the camera right?  Get the shot and be done!

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I hope these tips help you get out there and shoot your life! Use your fancy camera and your hard-earned skills and document your life!

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I'm a homeschooling mama to four, married to my college sweetheart. Home is where the Air Force sends us, which is currently the Deep South. I'm a mostly-happy hobbyist photographer, retired from a client-based business for now. I love documenting our daily life, and I'm currently in my 5th year of a Project 365, Give me my mark3, a prime lens and a hazy afternoon and I'm one happy girl. When I'm not shooting, I love a cup of coffee (that hasn't been reheated 14 times) and curling up with a good book during nap time!
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Critique Me – Mariah at Mariah Freeman Photography http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/06/critique-mariah-mariah-freeman-photography/ http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/06/critique-mariah-mariah-freeman-photography/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 17:34:24 +0000 http://clickitupanotch.com/?p=14480 Author information
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I combined my passion of teaching and photography to create this website. I invite you to take this 30 day challenge - The Unexpected Everyday
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Remember:
-Read How to Critique a Photo
-Make a critique sandwich – something positive, something you would have done differently, something positive
-My rule: no improvement tip = deleted comment
-This will benefit the person leaving the photo critique just as much if not more than the person receiving the critique.
-If you would like to have an image critiqued be sure to read How to submit an image for critique.

Thank you to Mariah at Mariah Freeman Photography for submitting the following image.
Settings: SS 1/400 | f/1.8 | ISO 1600
Mariah Freeman Photography

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Lens Distortion: What Every Photographer Should Know http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/06/lens-distortion/ http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/06/lens-distortion/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 14:17:10 +0000 http://clickitupanotch.com/?p=14422 Author information
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I am a photographer from Salt Lake City, UT. I enjoy shooting food, travel, macro, and lifestyle portraits. I have been in and out of the photography business since 2005, juggling the demands of motherhood (four kiddos) with my love of photography. I feel it is a true gift to be able to express who I am and my everyday through my lens. I find much joy in learning and improving, and in helping others grow. I also love a good sweaty workout, shopping alone, house boating on Lake Powell, sauteed mushrooms, salty & sweet together, and un-interrupted afternoon naps! Looking forward to sharing my knowledge and learning with all of you this year! Website/Blog | Facebook My Camera bag: Nikon D700 | Nikon 85mm f/1.4G | Nikon 24-70 f/2.8G | Nikon 35mm f/2D | Lensbaby Composer Pro| SB-910 Speedlight Flash
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Lens Distortion-What every photography should know via Click it Up a Notch

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Ever wondered why your subjects look disproportioned in certain images compared to real life? Or why buildings look like they are tipping? Chances are it’s due to lens distortion.  And no matter how expensive your lens, all have some distortion. The good news is it’s usually fixable in post processing and can even be desirable!

Lens distortion is an important factor to be aware of in the photography world.  It can make or break our images as artists, depending on the look and feel we are trying to achieve.  Today I’ll explain what distortion is, why it’s good or bad, and how to correct it in post processing if needed.

What is lens distortion?

In a nutshell, it’s when a lens produces curved lines where straight lines should be.  The two most common types of lens distortion are barrel distortion and pincushion distortion.

lens distortion graphic

Barrel distortion is where straight lines bend outward from the center of the image.
Wide-angle prime lenses such as a 20mm lens or zoom lenses like my Nikon 24-70mm shot at its wide end typically produce images with barrel distortion because they have a wide field of view. You will most often notice distortion in architectural images where the lines of the buildings bow outward, away from the center of the image. In portraits, it can make subjects look pudgy or large-headed in comparison to the rest of their body.

Here’s an architectural image I took in Barcelona last summer.  If you look closely at the pillars in the first one, they are slanted. The second image is after the distortion was corrected in Lightroom. You will notice the pillars are straightened in the second image.

DSC_1482distortionDSC_1482corrected

Here’s another example. Notice the curved gates, wall, and the temple in the background that seems to be leaning backwards slightly.

DSC_9400distortionDSC_9400corrected

I actually liked the original distorted version of this photo better because after I made corrections it cropped his feet out, which bothered me more than the curved lines. It’s always your call as the artist on what you want to fix/change!

Barrel distortion will also occur if you are standing too close to your subject with a wide angle lens or a zoom lens at the wide end (ie. 24mm). Whatever body part is closest to the camera, it will look abnormally large! Heads, eyes, noses or limbs will look pronounced and awkward. This is why it’s not usually a good idea to shoot portraits with a wide-angle lens!  The best focal length for portraits is 50mm and above when trying to avoid distortion.

Here’s a portrait comparison using my 24-70mm lens shot at different focal lengths, standing about the same distance from my son. Notice how odd his head looks at 24mm vs. 55 mm. And how small the rest of his body looks compared to his head.

Boston

Pincushion distortion is where straight lines bend or “pinch” inward from the center of the image.
Usually pincushion distortion happens at the telephoto end (ie. 200mm) of a zoom lens such as a 70-200mm lens.  It can actually be great for portraits because it can make people look thinner than they are! You will most likely notice pincushion distortion in images with straight lines. The further the lines are away from the center of the image, the more noticeable the distortion will be. Here’s an example. The roof top of Caesar’s Palace in Vegas…

caesars

So when is distortion a good thing?
Distortion can be fun! The previous image of Caesar’s Palace would have been quite boring with a straight roof. Don’t you agree? I intentionally chose distortion by shooting wide at 24mm, and placing the roofline towards the top 1/3 of the image, which curved the line.

Other examples of intentional distortion is when you want to to portray humor or a feeling that your subjects are coming at you as a viewer.

girls silly

Or when you want to create a unique perspective. I shot this next image a couple of years ago of my baby eating. I wanted the viewer to feel my perspective as I was feeding him. Notice his hand and head/eyes are slightly larger than normal, but it adds to the feeling of the image.

k eating

A fish-eye lens is also a great way to practice intentional distortion. My talented friend Kelly Garvey, using her 16mm f/2.8 fish-eye lens, shot these images.

kelly fisheyekelly fisheye2

It’s can be an artistic decision whether or not you want to incorporate the look of distortion into your images! 

So how do you fix distortion if you don’t want it apparent in your images?

Most of the time I don’t realize I have distortion problems until I pull up my images in post processing. And usually I don’t want it there! You will find that distortion appears in many images containing windows and door frames.  If you train your eye to spot the distortion in0-camera, as you shoot, you will save yourself some time fixing it later. Sometimes by simply scooting back or changing the plane of your camera in relation to your subject you can alleviate some distortion.  Move higher, lower, to the side, or change your focal length until you have the look you are going for. If there’s no way to avoid it, and you don’t like the look of distortion in your images, here’s how to fix it in Lightroom and Photoshop…

Lightroom
Under the Develop module, and Lens Corrections tab, check “Enable Profile Corrections” then experiment with choosing either auto, level, vertical, or full. Usually if I’m trying to correct lines I will choose vertical.

lightroom

If you want to fine tune your corrections you can click on the Manual tab under Lens Corrections where you can experiment with the different sliders to get your desired results. Also note, sometimes when making a lot of corrections you will need to re-crop the image because the changes will pull the sides of the image inward. I try to shoot with plenty of room on the sides when I know there will be distortion so I have room to crop afterwards. This is also a good reason to shoot in raw…so you have more pixels to work with if you need to crop after fixing distortion.

Photoshop
I use Photoshop CS5, but these options should be the same in more recent versions as well. Under Filter>>Lens Corrections you should see some of the same options as Lightroom where you can auto correct or go under >>Custom to fine tune. With the image below I experimented with vertical and horizontal perspective until the wall looked upright.

photoshop

Sometimes Lightroom does a better job at fixing distortion than Photoshop, or vice versa. I tend to do all my adjustments in Lightroom because I prefer the results I get over Photoshop. But feel free to experiment! Here’s the before and after of an image I shot in Spain. I corrected the leaning wall so it didn’t appear to be falling!

wallwall corrected

Hope this post helped explain lens distortion and the importance it plays in your images! Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments if you have them!

Author information

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I am a photographer from Salt Lake City, UT. I enjoy shooting food, travel, macro, and lifestyle portraits. I have been in and out of the photography business since 2005, juggling the demands of motherhood (four kiddos) with my love of photography. I feel it is a true gift to be able to express who I am and my everyday through my lens. I find much joy in learning and improving, and in helping others grow. I also love a good sweaty workout, shopping alone, house boating on Lake Powell, sauteed mushrooms, salty & sweet together, and un-interrupted afternoon naps! Looking forward to sharing my knowledge and learning with all of you this year! Website/Blog | Facebook My Camera bag: Nikon D700 | Nikon 85mm f/1.4G | Nikon 24-70 f/2.8G | Nikon 35mm f/2D | Lensbaby Composer Pro| SB-910 Speedlight Flash
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Critique Me – Lauren Kirkham http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/06/critique-lauren-kirkham/ http://clickitupanotch.com/2014/06/critique-lauren-kirkham/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 14:58:30 +0000 http://clickitupanotch.com/?p=14413 Author information
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I combined my passion of teaching and photography to create this website. I invite you to take this 30 day challenge - The Unexpected Everyday
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Remember:
-Read How to Critique a Photo
-Make a critique sandwich – something positive, something you would have done differently, something positive
-My rule: no improvement tip = deleted comment
-This will benefit the person leaving the photo critique just as much if not more than the person receiving the critique.
-If you would like to have an image critiqued be sure to read How to submit an image for critique.

Thanks to Lauren for submitting the following image.
Settings: ISO 800 | SS 1/125 | f/2.5
Lauren Kirkham

***Important Announcement***
If you would like to have your photo critiqued in the Critique Me series, I will be opening the list up again tomorrow but ONLY TO THOSE SUBSCRIBED FOR OUR WEEKLY UPDATES. You need to have critiqued at least two other images in the series to be eligible. Make sure you have signed up for our weekly email updates so you will get the information on how to submit an image tomorrow. Sign up here.

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I combined my passion of teaching and photography to create this website. I invite you to take this 30 day challenge - The Unexpected Everyday
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