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You need to love Constructive Criticism!

August 17, 2014  •  1 Comment

So one of the Admin's on a photography forum I am a member of decided to post a comment about this topic. In turn it received many comments from members of the group. The comments were so varied and it started a debate off! A debate I was quite involved with, as I quite like a good old debate!

So constructive Criticism what is it? And why is it so important to a photographer?

The general definition is simple: Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

The reason it is important to a photographer, is so that we can learn, develop & see our photography from different perspectives.

Digital photography has changed the way we photographer's take photos. Many of us now shoot RAW and this involves post processing. The information we can retrieve from a RAW image is huge & this means people can create very varied different overall images from the original negative RAW file.

As photography is a art and we all have different "visual loves" it's very hard for a photograph to be loved by everybody.

We can however see if a photograph is technically right. What I mean by this is, composition, light, shadows, highlights, horizon lines, dust spots etc. We can also offer our own advice on these subjects, for example: Have you tried B&W on this image, I think a lens flare would be a lovely add, how about a vintage filter? You may also notice a part of the image that draws your attention away from the main focus, the photographer may not have even picked up on this, after spending such a long time starring at the main focus of the image.

The point I am trying to make is that no photographer should take this advice to heart. It is just someone else's opinion on the image and if you choose to post an image on a CC forum, expect CC on that image. Also as long as comments are constructive and not just down right nasty, for example: "That's Awful", "I hate HDR", then take the criticism on board and thank the person for taking the time to look at your image and comment on it. I seem to find more and more people "Like" the likes and diss "The Criticism". And then you have to ask yourself, what is the point in offering the CC in the first place, if the photographer is going to have that kind of attitude towards you!?!

So please next time someone CC's a photo you have taken. Think before you react. And wonder why is this person commenting on my photo & you might just realise it's because they care!

Love Photography & Love the criticism  

Jo

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The reason you need to use a 10 stop ND filter if you're highlights are blowing out!

July 30, 2014  •  1 Comment

This is a topic I have spent hours upon hours of research on. Back in January/February 2013 I took my camera to High Force waterfall, it was late in the day and the light was dimming. I wanted to capture that "misty, dreamy, milky water effect".

I set up my tripod and camera & using a long exposure (shutter speed) I snapped away. I got the odd half decent shot and was pretty happy with my first attempt. Roll on a few months later and I took my trusty camera to another waterfall, the light was really hard and it was right in the middle of the afternoon. I set everything up again & was really frustrated and just couldn't understand why the highlights "water" were so blown out.

Cue months and months of my own research! Cue ND Filters or Neutral Density Filters as they are also commonly known.

If you want to do this type of shot you are going to need to invest in a ND filter. They range in price dramatically and in strength. I recommend a 10 stop filter. These filters range from the Lee Big Stopper which has a hefty price tag to other manufactures such as Hoya, B&W, Hadia to name but a few. If you buy the screw on type you can also stack them on top to give more strength, you must bare in mind that you will see colour casts more often then none when doing this.As you will if you choose to buy some of the cheaper brands. Do some research and read reviews before you buy any cheaper filter is my recommendation!

I didn't really want to spend a lot of money and even the cheaper options still came in around £40-£50 which is quite expensive when you think it's just a bit of "black glass". I have read other people using welding glass as a cheaper alternative as well, if you want to go down this route?

I picked the Hadia, traditional "screw on" type filter. The Lee filter for example works differently and has a attachment you fit on the front of your lens. The actual filter then slides between the lens and the attachment piece.

This is the Lee Filter Attachment

Lee "Big Stopper" filter atachment

 

This is the Lee "Big Stopper"

Lee "Big Stopper"

The images above show the unique way Lee cover this product range. Below is my 10 stop filter & as you will see it is much more you're typical traditional type filter.

Hadia 10 Stop 3.0 pro slim ii filter

You MUST make sure as always to purchase the correct size for your lens size. As your lenses most likely all have different dimensions it's probably best to decide which lens you are most likely to use for these style of shots before purchasing, otherwise you will have to buy several of the same filters for different lenses which would prove costly.

So you've done you're research and decided the best ND filter for you & now its time to use it! You screw it on you're lens & Eh?!? Its pitch black, you can't see anything? Right!? How are you going to see what you're taking the picture of???

Don't fret I've done the research and have the tips, so all you have to do is read on.....

Set up you're camera using a Tripod (this is a MUST)

Use Manual mode or Shutter Speed Priority Mode

Attach you're remote shutter cable or use the self timer if you don't have one

Now make sure you have you're ISO setting as low as possible 50/100 for example

Switch you're lens to manual focus & compose the scene and focus

Now expose the scene & take note of your shutter speed

Carefully attach the filter making sure you don't knock you're composure out or mess with your focus ring

Now you need the calculate what you're shutter speed setting should now be with the 10 stop filter attached which is also known as 3.0 or 1,000x. Therefore if you're correctly exposed scene was using a shutter speed of 1/400 you're new shutter speed with the filter on should be 2"5 seconds. The best tip I have is to download the ND CALC app on the app store or I'm sure google market have one too. There is a way of calculating this using you're brain, but I am useless at maths, and cant advise although it's probably very simple!

And voile! You should find you get some nicely exposed shots!

I always shoot RAW & take all pictures into Lightroom for processing. Any slight colour casts can easily be removed using your hue/saturation sliders.

 

Hope this is of help!

As always any comments feel free to ask!

Lots of Photography love

Jo

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The exact reason why I don't charge for my time yet! A very honest review!

June 16, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

So I was chatting to a neighbour the other day and mentioned I was a photographer. I gave her my website details and she contacted me and asked if I would take some photos of her two daughters who are about 7 and 14 months old.

I jumped at the chance as I thought great some more experience of portrait work and photos to add to my portfolio. I contacted her straight back and agreed a date and time.

She asked what my charges were and I said "No charge, as long as I can use the photos in my portfolio etc." She agreed to this and we were both happy! Lets be fair she gets nice free photos and I get the experience. My husband and several other's said I was mad, as I needed to start charging!

This blog is the exact reason why I believe it is so important to go with your gut on this subject and only start charging when you feel it's right!

So the day came and I set up in her living room. It was early and I don't really function too well that early on a morning. I set my white background up and tried to make a decent train on the ground knowing fine well I need a bigger background, but just can't afford one right now!

I set up & find myself with a horrendously creased background, but think Lightroom should save me here in post! I then set up my flash stand and umbrella with my flash triggers. I'm trying to pay particular attention to my lighting as I know I should really have some studio lighting, but again can't really afford these right now either.

I know some people will say, "Well if you charge then you can put the money towards these things!" And they have a point! However as you read further you will see my point!

 So back to the shoot and there's kids running around I get the distinct impression they don't have a lot of time, and I'm trying to engage in conversation whilst concentrating.

I take some test shots and BOOM there's a black line running through the bottom of my photo each and every photo I take! My heart sinks I think my D7100 is breaking on me! I'm almost crying right now! How can this be? It's practically brand new!? I then get this blinking on my screen and it won't let me change my aperture setting either!? What's going on? It's broken! It's broken! I'm telling myself! Everything I have taught myself goes out the window and my mind goes blank. I feel like a total numpty! I'm thinking she must think what kind of photographer are you?

A dumb ass one obviously! The blinking was because I was in shutter speed priority and not manual mode, as I had presumed I would be. Obviously SSP mode sets the aperture setting for me. Obviously it was blinking at me as I can't change it!

The black line running through the bottom of the image was because my shutter speed was too high 1/250 + and it was too high for my flash and triggers to sync! I don't believe they support high speed sync. Well either that or I didn't have my camera's setting correct for high speed sync! The jury is still out on this one as I haven't had chance to check!

I learned a very valuable lesson on this shoot! The pictures are diabolical! I ended up putting my flash on my camera's hot shoe I got that flustered I just boosted my ISO and I'm left trying to salvage a lot of poor/grainy photos in post!

If I'd taken the time to set everything up in my home and take some test shots at various setting's and play with my flash unit I might have come across this before hand. I am however super pleased that I went with my own heart and decided, despite what others (in my family) said, not to charge yet, as I'm obviously not quite ready.

I still need to perfect how to get people staged and posed correctly I feel unsure how to pose them correctly. I also often have people wanting to stand up and my backdrop isn't large enough for anyone over 4 feet tall! I know not ideal, which I'm aware of! I need to learn to be more in control of the shoot!

I would tell anyone like me who doesn't have a close circle of like minded photography friends on hand, please join a photography group on Facebook or something. I'm part of the Young Aspiring Photographer & Digital SLR Magazine groups. And people are always on hand to help you whether its a problem such as a black line running through your pictures or for getting a honest critique of your image.   

It just goes to show if you don't have the confidence all you're knowledge can and will just go out the window! 

If anyone has any comments or advice for me please feel free to contact me.

Jo


YONGNUO 565EX SPEEDLIGHT

May 23, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

So I own this Flash and have used it on my Nikon D3100 & Nikon D7100 and it works super well. This is an excellent Speedlight and has some great features which compare to the Nikon SB Speedlight's at a fraction of the cost of those ones.

I was going to do a video review for this Speedlight as I think its a super Speedlight and wanted to share it with you guys before you go out and purchase a Nikon one that is either super expensive or does not offer half of what this light does. I spent hours and hours researching this Speedlight before purchasing and I still wasn't entirely sure whether it would work with my camera's or not.

So to avoid you guys having to spend this time I thought I would share with you this information. As I am new to Flash photography I also didn't want to do my own video review as I couldn't do it justice so please watch the video below which is really helpful.

Happy Shooting X

 


What do I have in my Camera Bag!?!

April 30, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

A video to show what I have in my camera bag, with some helpful tips for beginners and (a cat called Malibu!)

 


Beginners Guide to RAW AND JPEG!

April 20, 2014  •  Leave a Comment


Introduction to Joanna Potts Photography You Tube Blog for all newbie photographers

April 13, 2014  •  Leave a Comment


Frustratingly Quiet! Lightroom and Photography tips and frustrations explained!

March 22, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
So I've been a bit quiet on here the last week or so! What a frustrating week on the photography side of things!
 
If you are relatively new to photography and Lightroom then you are going to want to read on. If I can help just one person from this blog entry not have the frustrations I have experienced the last week I'll be a happy person.
 
Firstly I've spent countless hours trying to organise my photos and move my Lightroom Catalogue to an external hard drive to try to help speed up my ever increasingly slow Macbook. What a nightmare!
 
I viewed a You Tube clip which showed me how to move my Lightroom Catalogue and then my pictures to a new external hard drive, which I did. My Macbook prompted me to format my new hard drive straight away for time machine backup! Boy am I glad I ignored this message I would have wiped all the installation software off the new hard drive.
 
Once I FINALLY worked out how to install the new hard drive I moved my iPhoto library (which took 12 hours to transfer and complete) 
 
I then moved my LR Cat and finally all my new photo albums to the new external hard drive. I then spent several hours relocating my missing LR photo files inside LR as they all had '?' icons next to them! This occurs when you move/rename a photo outside of LR. Basically LR looses the file path/location of your photo/s and you have to re find the photos/file path and tell LR the new file location for each photo! With over 500 photos this wasn't much fun and rather time consuming.
 
BIG TIP: LR is the programme! You're photos are not actually saved in LR only displayed in you're LR catalogue! They are stored on your chosen Computer/EHD. You do not need your LR Cat and Photos stored in the same place! You must only rename/move photos inside of LR otherwise LR will loose the file path. I also recommend you only have ONE LR Catalogue to avoid confusing matters further!
 
Getting back to things I was then recommended to import new photos to my LR catalogue using smart preview's so when I didn't have my external hard drive connected I could still edit the photos using the smart previews. 
 
Oh no I couldn't!
 
I later discovered this was because I'd moved the LR Cat to the external hard drive and unless the EHD was connected to my computer my Lightroom Catalogue was empty and LR wouldn't open at all unless a new blank catalogue was opened! This wasn't what i wanted and not great so I then had to move my LR Catalogue back to my computer's hard drive leaving just the photos on the EHD. Ending up with those "?" icons again!!! Argh!
 
Later in the week I decided I wanted to make a 3X3 photo template to export out of LR for print image enlargement to go onto a large 100cm x 46cm canvas. Boy this wasn't simple either! 
 
I did manage to make a template relatively quickly using the print/page set up custom settings for the file size I wanted to create. Once I found the product that suited me on Photobox and converted the sizes from those listed to mm (as this is what my LR page settings are in and could I hell find out how to change mm to cm/inches, so I had to convert sizes using a iPhone APP converter) I exported my newly created 3x3 template and added it to several image printing companies including... Funky Pigeon - Which said "Poor Quality Image", Photobox said " Poor Quality Image"! Argh!?!?!?!
 
Bring on the googling and You Tube clips! How do I create a Hi Res photo I asked? I shoot RAW use good lenses and have a entry level DSLR worth £300 therefore surely I should get good quality images???
 
I finally found  that i needed to set the setting's in LR print module for either web/print requirements and after lots of googling that 300 DPI @ 100 JPEG quality was the recommended settings for a hi res print and 72DPI @ 60 JPEG quality was the recommended settings for standard web requirements.
 
I also learnt that I needed to change the settings for a print/web photo to be sharpened I learnt low/standard sharpening on Matt settings are favoured for both. 
 
I then needed to focus on the page setup height and width of the picture template I wanted to create and export in order to ensure my picture/template was exported using the correct measurements. 
 
The next set of issues I encounted were with regards to focusing on my recent portrait shoot. One person in the frame "Fine" add two or three or more and I ended up with the other people looking out of focus.
 
I also had issues trying to work out why lots of my photos taken with a 1.8g 35mm AF-S Prime Nikon Lens showed the 2nd/3rd person in the photo out of focus? I've later discovered I was at the lowest 1.8g f-stop and this should have been set to 5.8 or higher f-stop to get around the depth of field issues and try to ensure all people are in focus not just the person i focused in the eye of! I'm yet to re try with these different settings but hopefully I will get much better results next time. Fingers crossed.
 
I have found a great group on FB called " Young Aspiring Photographers" people are really helpful and I've learnt a lot already from just reading and posting on the page it seems theres always someone able and willing to help. 
 
Just remember don't get disheartened when things don't work or take longer then you think there's always someone out there willing to help! Photography is a passion not just an art hence theres lots of passionate people out there always eager to help!
 
Keep shooting & Lots of photography love.
 
Jo
 
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How to shoot water and show it flowing?

March 05, 2014  •  4 Comments

So I've been asked by a fellow avid photographer "How to shoot water and show it flowing?".

Firstly I must admit I have only done this a handful of times myself and some of my attempts were far from perfect, especially when I got them on the computer!

So the question was "Do I just shoot with a low shutter speed?"

Firstly yes shoot at a low shutter speed of 1/25 or below usually 1s is about right! It all depends on your surroundings, and you have to watch your exposure you don't want to blow the image out or it be too dark!

Remember the ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture triangle in the first instance and how each effect one another! Watch you're exposure and take some test shots!

My Nikon D3100 is great for information as in the "Guide Mode" it actually tells you some simple setting's such as how to show water flowing etc. You can then dial back to Manual/Aperture/Shutter Speed priority modes and dial in those settings! Great when you're a little unsure or have a mind blank!

I'd recommend "S Priority Mode" on a Nikon. Canon is named different I think but same thing! In "S Priority" mode all you really need to think of in the first instance is setting your shutter speed and the rest is taken care of! Yes then you can change your ISO etc but I'd leave this at around 100/200 and change only if necessary! Remember higher ISO increases noise/grain in the photo which isn't usually wanted! So think about other ways to get more light before boosting that ISO.

Now the most important part! A tripod and a remote shutter release cable! Without these you're picture's will almost certainly not be tac sharp and you will get motion blur!

Follow these simple steps and you should get some dreamy waterscapes!

This photo was taken in a wooded area in very low light at around 5pm on a dark January evening. The settings were / NIKON D3100, f/13 @ 58 mm, 1s, ISO 200, No Flash /

 


Critiqued! The hell out of! With thanks to Jared Polin Fro Knows Photo

March 04, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

So after countless hours of taking Photos, Learning/Googling RAW Captures/Formats, Lightroom, Lightroom Editing, PS Elements, Domain Hosting, Website Hosting as well as Flash and Standard Photography in between working 40-50 hour weeks with a 2 year old to look after I finally stumbled upon Zenfolio and tried it out!

I loved what could be done quite easily and the fact there was no need for HTML scripting and experience of web designing so i signed up! I spent several days putting together my website and after several red vino's saw a Fro Knows Photo critique and though I'd send him my website domain to be critiqued!

Oh boy!!!! The link below shows this critique of my website! It does make for sorrowful or pleasurable if you're sinister!.....Viewing!!!!! ;-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRxx_tuX6F8

Firstly I'd like to point out I did actually notice most of the "typo's" on Saturday afternoon at work whilst showing the site to someone but couldn't sign in to Zenfolio as it just wouldn't work! Slow Zenfolio site? or slow broadband? I don't know!? No excuse's though I should have proofed it or had it proofed by someone trustworthy AKA obviously not my husband (who I'd asked to!) LOL! I also wish I had spent less time watching videos on how to do things in Zenfolio on Sunday in my spare time and more time just messing around with it and working out how to change it myself!  

I then went out yesterday and shot at Saltburn By The Sea! I came home late put Jasmine to bed and began trying to edit my day's shot's in Lightroom despite a sorrowfully slow Macbook 2010. My intentions were to also edit my website but I never got round to it! I have since purchased a 1TB Seagate Passport External Hard Drive which will hopefully help tremendously in combating the slowness of my Mac! 

To be fair to Jared i did ask for him to critique me and I am so happy that my site was bad enough to stand out from the crowd! I now have great advice as to how to put it right and move forward and all the comments I have since received I do value too (well most)!

Despite loving that music! Grrrrrr I have removed it and I've worked out how to edit my photo descriptions. Removed some photos i wasn't too keen on myself and kept my galleries to a minimum of those I wish to show! I've taken and updated my bio photo! I've been a busy girl this evening!

I have had my husband take the new Bio shot! Thats was fun! Ha ;-)

I have to admit yes I did want to cry when I saw the critique and some of the comments left by viewers especially one which said "I was obviously just some girl who though I was good at photography because my mummy & friends say my pictures are good!' That's harsh!

I did however put myself out there to be critiqued so i have to take it on the chin! Not everyone is going to be nice and say how wonderful your photographs/website are and in turn you have to learn from these messages! You also have to look at them square in the face, and unlike you did  when you were 13 with that nasty girl/boy that bullied you in school that you never did stand up to...... this time around you will!

Or I will anyway!!! I will use this critique and any that follow up from this to make my work so much better and to strive to "Stick two fingers? Somewhere? To become a better photographer!

So in the next year I can and will live, learn and enjoy learning and even laugh at my previous photograph's and say "Look what I have achieved now!"

This entry is with special thanks to http://froknowsphoto.com without his kind words (or not so?!?) I wouldn't have learnt what I have today! He's a gifted guy! Here's to 2014!!!!!

With lots of photography love as always (Despite my bad day!)

 

Jo

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