April 2012

Family Photos – Ivan, Ruandi & Xavier

Every now and again you get those special photoshoots which just looks extra special. Last week I had a family photoshoot in studio with Ivan, Ruandi and six month old Xavier. Xavier is their first baby and he has as great a personality as on-camera looks. He was calm the whole time and enjoyed all the attention he was getting during his baby shoot.

The first part of the shoot was a straight-forward baby shoot. Babies tend to get a little impatient after about 20 minutes of shooting them alone, so I try to get it over as soon as possible, but it was an absolute pleasure with this little boy. He was fascinated by the whole experience and would look all over the room at all the shiny things and white walls of the studio. The flashes didn’t bother him in the least and during the entire session I only got one photo of him with eyes closed. You need to keep your eye on babies when doing photography with flashes and as soon as they have blinked you take your shot. Most babies are unlikely to close their eyes again unless your flashes are set too high. I usually do not set my flashes to more than 1/4th power to prevent flash reflex of their sensitive eyes. Many people believe flashes are harmful to babies eyes, but this is untrue.

After Xaviers’ baby shoot I did a couple with mom and then some with dad and completed the set with the whole family. It is important to come up with easy poses in which the little one always feels like it is just a game. Seating mom and dad with their backs to each other and the little one between them on the front always gets a couple of interesting looks as the little one will look over his shoulder at mom and then dad. A few tickles and this becomes a lovely game to them in which you will grab some amazing shots. The clicking of the camera may also get you one or two of those “wondering” looks which adds to cuteness!

More photos can be seen in the Family Photography Gallery

Calibrate your Monitor

I was recently forced to switch over to a new monitor for editing photos after my last working CRT monitor blew something inside and went up in a puff of smoke. After looking around at various makes and models of new generation monitors I eventually settled on an AOC 2235 23″ LCD Monitor. This was a big switch considering that I have used CRT monitors for editing in the past. Many people have asked my why I still use CRT monitors, and the question is quite simple… they are consistent. With LCD and LED monitors there is always a slight colour or contrast variance depending on the angle from which it is viewed. Even these small variances can affect the way that you edit photos and affect the way the photos look when printed. Obviously you want photos to look the way that they were edited and look on screen!

The AOC 2235 is a great little monitor with a wide 23″ screen and great colour out of the box… for gaming and general use. When it came down to editing photos I soon realised I needed to calibrate the monitor to produce images that would look on print as they did on screen. I went back to some monitor calibration tools I have used in the past to get the screen to display exactly what I was printing. To check and set some of the most important settings I turned to a great website which has some test images you can use to calibrate your monitor over at The Lagom LCD monitor test pages. The second tool I used was a freeware Gamma Adjustment utility called QuickGamma.

It is vital to any professional photographer that what they see on screen is what is printed. Irrespective of whether the client has a calibrated monitor to view the photos you supply on disk, you want the look to be as you edited them when they go to print. As a note you should always mention to your customers that images viewed on their own PC may not display as they would when printed and that you have edited the photos for print, and not for display.

Though I am very happy with my new AOC 2235 monitor I will go back to CRT any day if only I was able to find a 21″ monitor of good quality again. Though the general PC user out there may think LCD and LED monitors are great they are really not that great for professional photographic editing. If you want to see what I mean then open any photo in full screen on your PC (if you have a LED or LCD monitor) and then move your head up and down and left to right to change your angle of view and note how there are changes in the colour, contrast and lightness of the picture in some areas. These changes may seem subtle, but they do affect a professional photographers’ editing method.

Photography is not a game!

A macro shot from my art collection taken during late March 2012

The last month has been a little crazy. Though I never tire of taking photos it is tiring editing all the photos after the shoot. I use Lightroom 3 to speed up my workflow and catalogue my work, but it also has the added function of tracking my work and number of edits. For the last 30 days I have worked on 11509 images! Amongst these were 2 big weddings, 2 large stage events, a school sport day and a host of studio and location shoots and a couple of art snaps (just to relax!).

When you consider that you spend a minimum of 1 minute per photo doing adjustments and small fixes then 11000 photos becomes 183 hours of work. The average working individual works 40hours a week (5 days & 8 hours a day), or 160 hours a month, so editing 11000 takes up a whole month to edit with an additional 20+ hours! And this does not even include the time spent doing the photography.

Wedding Photo taken during March 2012

Wedding photography is always fun to do, but they are also the most work. I more often than not find myself happily clicking away during a wedding filling up my various memory cards without concern for the number of shots I take. After much practice it has become a simple process of checking the source light and background to compose the next great shot and I easily achieve a shot rate of 2000 or more photos in a 6-8 hour wedding. But once I get home and download all these photos I again realise, much as the person who wakes up with a hangover and swears never to drink again, that I take too many “keepers” (photos which will make it to the wedding album) and load myself with too much editing work. But, for me, it is an addiction. Even when I know I have more than enough photos to make the bridal couple happy I simply continue taking photos because I see the next great scene unfolding before me.

I spent half my day today just updating my galleries on my website, so take a look around.