Common Photography Questions & Obstacles

This post has been sponsored by BeFunky. We all know I’m a photographer so this material is no stretch! I’m proud to write about BeFunky’s photo enhancers and to answer photography questions! As always, all thoughts & opinions are 100% my own.

I've been a professional photographer for years and these are the most common photography questions I receive, and the obstacles I face -  and with answers!

Hi! I’m Tamara – this here blog’s Resident Photographer & Blogger. You may wonder if I’m a photographer who blogs, or a blogger who photographs, but the truth is that I am both. My formal schooling – with the highest or nearly the highest honors – is in journalism. My life’s passion has been both in writing and in photography. This is lifelong. This isn’t going anywhere.


photo enhancer

When my parents first placed a neon pink Vivitar LA Brites camera in my outstretched hands at age seven, my photography fever began, and never ended. I amassed quite a collection of odds and ends, cameras and films. I even “borrowed” my older sister’s neon yellow Vivitar LA Brites camera to see if it took the same pictures as my pink one. (It did) My collection grew over the years, as well as my knowledge of photography. I had a giant Polaroid camera, a mini Polaroid i-Zone camera, several small point-and-shoots, my father’s old Retina and my grandfather’s old video camera. I needed to see how they all saw the world – or how I saw the world through them. Then, I studied darkroom photography in high school and in college.

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After college, I worked with a medium format camera doing class portraits in NJ. Later, I photographed an illustrator for the back cover of a published children’s book. I started digital photography in 2007 with a Canon Rebel xTi and I’ve been building up my Canon body and lens collections for years. I am surprised, each and every day on the job, by love, life, emotions.

And personality. In droves.

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My years of camera and film accumulation and photography experience brought forth a passion to capture joy, strength, character, sadness and more – humanity and spirit at its most descriptive, raw and real.

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I’ve been doing this long enough that I tend to get the same questions and obstacles quite a bit. I’ve been keeping a list for years and I’m going to share it with you! Here are some common photography questions and obstacles – AND how to deal:

Ten Photography Questions & Obstacles

1 – What kind of camera should I get?

That sounds like a simple question, but it’s a difficult one. Have you ever spent hours or days reading consumer reviews or forums? It’s not one-size-fits-all! We all have different wants, needs, skills, expectations, etc. I will say that there’s (probably) no bad camera. Under the right direction from YOU, anything from a smartphone to a $5,000 camera can take wonderful photos – or not. Surf some camera guides, talk to some camera shops, etc. I will say that I prefer Nikon or Canon.

photography guide

2 – If I get the same camera as you, will it take the same pictures as yours? In a short answer, no. We all have different things to bring to the table. Skill sets, experiences, visions, etc. It’s in the way that you use it. And it’s lenses and settings!

camera guide

3 – My kids won’t sit still! Help! Is that a question? If so, I get it. Give them 2-3 minutes to run and shout and laugh and get out their energy! (be sure to photograph that silly period too) Use a fast shutter speed of at least 250.

Talk to them. Ask them questions. Good ones. Listen intently. Shoot.

photo enchancer

4 – What do you do in low light situations? Sadly, we can’t always depend on natural light. This article is a great start. First, look outside for open shade, or inside facing a light source – at 45 degrees for shadows and dimension or at 90 degrees for a completely different look. Don’t use pop-up flash! You can buy an inexpensive reflector and lightscoop, a moderately expensive external flash unit, or an expensive lighting studio kit. I have it all. I still prefer sun but you need to be prepared.

Crank the ISO! A properly exposed photo will have less grain (noise) than a badly exposed one. Trust!

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5 – What do you do about lack of inspiration? The answer to this in every situation, photography or otherwise, is to step out of your footsteps. Take a breather. Go for a walk. Do something new. Learn something new. Buy something new.

Meet someone new..

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6 – What if you can’t find open shade outdoors? Full sun? No problem. If there is no shade at all – like at a beach or during the afternoon – embrace it. Have your subject rotate while you do a full orbit too. 1-2 angles will be better. You’ll know.

And if you don’t, just take them all and show them to someone else!

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7 – The pictures look ok on the LCD screen and when uploaded, but are blurry through the viewfinder! Help! Do you still look through a viewfinder too? Congrats! This is a diopter problem. Look at your camera instructions manual. It’s an easy fix!

photo enhancers

8 – How do I get catchlights in my subjects’ eyes? Catchlights are a photographer’s dream. They can help your subject’s eyes look like they are full of life, instead of black and hollow looking. It’s the fancy name for the reflection of light in your subject’s eye. Have your subject look towards the light. This will help their eyes to “catch” the light.

photography questions

9 – What can I do about blurry photos? We all get them! It’s a five-pronged approach to shooting in manual, and you are practicing in manual, right? 1 – aperture. 2 – shutter speed. 3 – ISO. 4 – use a tripod. 5 – drink less caffeine.

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10 – Do you edit? What do you do if you’re in an editing rut, or you don’t have the time or comprehension for/of those “heavy editing softwares.” This question/problem is a mouthful, but I got ya! I DO edit because I only shoot in RAW, so at the very least, I have to convert digital negatives into jpegs. And RAW files generally need color, smoothness, contrast and sharpening added. Like I said – I got ya covered here! While it would be perfect to shoot every photo perfectly in camera – a goal we all have – it’s not feasible. It’s not only about fixing photos – it’s about photo enhancers from BeFunky!

You can upload photos from your hard drive, Webcam, Facebook, Google Drive, Dropbox, and even BeFunky itself.

Never forget this: The editing is part of the art!

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Now I’m going to talk about each one of the four effects and why they help my workflow:

1 – HDR DLX. Why do I love High Dynamic Range? It’s something difficult to achieve within the camera, but it’s a technique used to reproduce a greater range of luminosity (light and dark sources) than your camera can normally capture. What’s the result? A photo that more closely resembles what your eye can see when you look at objects in different light scenarios. The human eye is made to adapt to wide ranges of light and dark sources, which is why we can see depth and details – even in low-light settings. Cool, huh? You can achieve this effect in more complicated software, by first taking a series of photographs with different exposure levels – then merged to be one photograph. This is called exposure bracketing and it can take HOURS.

This HDR DLX does all the work for you in seconds – while still utilizing the same adaptive exposure technology used in complicated software. One click will bring back realism and depth – the details you’d see with your own eyes.

Here’s a before HDR DLX photo:

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HDR DLX is best used with landscape photos, portraits in sunlight, low-lit scenes, back-lit scenes, and to enhance fine details with regions. I wanted to breathe back life into a photo I already loved, but knew my eyes saw something more like this:

photography questions

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2 – Sharpen DLX. This is another vital photo enhancer, especially if you shoot RAW like me. Why go sharp? Again, the human eye sees with incredible clarity, and your camera lens doesn’t always have the same benefit. When you are lacking contrast and clarity, your images look less realistic. This photo enhancer works to identify the boundaries of the sharp edges in your images – like between a subject and its background – and will then darken the dark pixels and brighten the bright pixels surrounding the edges. If you go too far, you can cause a “halo effect.” Sharpen DLX goes beyond with its ability to sense the difference between the sharper edges in your photos, and the softer ones. It applies just the right amount of contrast.

Use it in low-light situations, moving subjects, photos with texture, and more.

When I take food photos, I generally want to sharpen the photos to look more like what you see. Photo #1 is straight from the camera, and photo #2 has had Sharpen DLX added. It makes me more want to dig into those blueberries. (I love blueberries)

before and after

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3 – Vibrant Colors DLX. Getting vibrant colors in your photos isn’t always easy, because no matter how colorful the scene, your camera lens might see things more dull and flat than what your eyes can see. Vibrant Colors DLX will keep your photos looking natural, by increasing only the colors in your photo that need it! It’s a smart Photo Enhancer effect because it can sense the difference between mid-tones that need a color boost, and well-saturated colors that should be left alone or minimally enhanced. Colors wind up vibrant, but realistic. This is about true colors. Use it with portraits & landscapes, etc.

This might be considered bright, but the day was much more vivid than my lens could reproduce:

After Vibrant Colors DLX:

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4 – Denoise DLX. Noise happens. I mentioned it above that sometimes you’re in low-light and sometimes you crank the ISO. It can even happen with uniform color – like a blue sky. Since cameras don’t see color the way we do, they’ll produce tiny red, blue, or green dots in your photo – like television fuzz. Denoise DLX will save your photo because it works to reduce noise in the luminance (lightness) of the image, and the chroma (colors). It knows the difference. I used it on my cutie pie nephew:

photography questions

AFTER Denoise DLX (and with a cool frame):

With all effects, you can also choose opacity – which means controlling how transparent or visible your new changes are. BeFunky’s brand new Photo Enhancer effects are based on the same adaptive exposure technology used in complicated software, but without the treacherous learning curve. Plus, these enhancements work in seconds! In a few clicks, let Enhance DLX effects fix the four most common photography problems – poor exposure, lack of detail, dull colors, and noise.

The Enhance DLX effects require a BeFunky Plus account ($4.95/month or $2.91/month if you sign up for an annual account), but you can preview any effect on your photos for free. I made these!

photography questions

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What’s your #1 photography question for me to answer in the comments? Fire photography questions at me! I love them. Then, check out Enhance DLX effects and try out the magic for yourself! I want to see!

*Bonus question. What’s the hardest thing about photography? Answer – the crippling fear and self-doubt. The ever-changing technologies. Luckily, with all of these great tools out there, you can feel good about what you’re producing.

Happy Shooting!

Easter Egg Felt Pouches & My Hometown

I think this nearly deserves a post of its own, and will get one, but I left NJ ten years ago this Monday.

easter egg

Who’s counting, right?


I had big dreams – of great mountains, and bacon-smoked air. Steadiness and flying. Steady flying. I wanted to build a life and a family – and even a home. I had no idea all of these things would happen, and are still happening (house renovations!!), and my biggest dream used to be that I’d get to this place without anxiety. Wow, how I’m glad I still got to this place anyway, even with my anxiety. It’s made the climb more ragged and dangerous, but with the air up there sweeter than I imagined.

What’s coming is coming for you anyway, and oh how it is to rise to meet it head-on.

easter egg

That doesn’t mean I don’t think about my hometown. Scarlet and Des live in the very town they were born in – what kind of magic is that? Me? I never did live in the town with the hospital that held my birth. It was a zig-zaggy, to-and-fro journey.

By the way, did you come here for the amazing Easter craft, or for the Finish the Sentence Friday prompt? I got ya either way! Sometimes I’m one or the other, and sometimes I’m all at once. I needed to end this week a certain way – with tiny spots of wisdom and experience – in between adorable Easter pics. Or is it tiny Easter pics in between wisdom and experience?

Well hey, keep reading and you’ll find both. And not in order!

You will not be able to believe the cuteness of these Easter Egg Felt Pouches. They're easy to make, and then fill them with your favorite #Easter treats.

In NJ, it is customary to love either Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, or a hearty dose of both. For years, I preferred another Bruce – Bruce Hornsby. I fell in love with Bruce Springsteen on my 9th year out of New Jersey. I don’t think it has anything to do with taking the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl. It’s just that Bruce Springsteen rocks. I’m not so far from home anymore that I miss what I missed when I was in California – Dunkin Donuts. Autumn. 24hr diners.

I was born in Dover, NJ. I lived near there in Rockaway, NJ for the first five years of my life but did all my schooling, from elementary school to high school, in Roxbury, NJ. Specifically, we lived in Flanders, since Roxbury is giant and full of several towns. During college and for a few years after graduation, I lived in central New Jersey – in or near Rutgers University.

Sometimes I miss a lot of things about this girl.

I miss my family and friends. I miss the roots that took 27 years to lay down. You can’t just rip them up and leave. Rather, you leave roots down there and every now and then, you need to visit and nurture your roots. I have no desire to ever move back, but I do miss the people. As for Massachusetts, I love that we’re 2-3 hours from NYC, 1-2 hours from Boston, three hours from Maine, and under an hour to Connecticut and the Berkshires. I love the wilderness in our city, the politics and people, the local, organic food, the dreamy springs and exquisite autumns..what we find in our gardens.. the spirt and togetherness.

This is Scarlet and Des’ hometown, and that will always mean a heck of a lot!

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“When the day goes down on the water town
When the sun sinks low all around
That’s when I know I need you now
You’re what I miss” — Bruce Hornsby

In my hometown, I learned how to do arts and crafts. Silly as it sounds, it’s one of the single most powerful memories I have. My mom’s art studio above the trees – looking out from the third floor of the house, and her art school below my bedroom. I looked out over the woods too, and I often woke up to the murmur of children’s voices below the floorboards. Learning art.

What’s Needed

Felt, multi-colors
Embroidery Floss, multi-colors
Sewing Needle
Candy, suckers or small chocolate bunnies
Scissors

Directions

  1. Draw some large and small egg shapes on the different colors of felt. You can make these any size you would like.
  2. Cut these out.
  3. Now draw half egg shapes the same size as the other eggs you drew on the felt, but make the tops jagged like the top of a cracked egg.
  4. Cut these out and lay one jagged half egg on top of a whole egg you cut out earlier.
  5. Thread your needle with a piece of embroidery thread and tie a knot at the end. Sew the top piece to the bottom piece by sewing along the outer edges of the egg. Do not sew the top jagged edge to the back piece (just sew on itself), as this will be your opening for your candy.
  6. Now that the eggs are sewn together and you should have a little pouch so you can put a piece of candy in it!
  7. Have fun!

You will not be able to believe the cuteness of these Easter Egg Felt Pouches. They're easy to make, and then fill them with your favorite #Easter treats.

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “My Hometown..” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

Where is your hometown?