Ask Me

If you have a question, let me know! I like to teach and type... so ask away.

You always seem so sad or melancholy in your self portraits. Can we see a self portrait where you are totally uninhibited and laughing?

I'm working on it! It has actually been one of my goals recently to capture a self portrait in which I look both happy and attractive (smiling and unattractive seems to be easy to come by). I feel so awkward sitting there alone with my camera laughing at nothing. If I can get past myself I'm sure I will be able to achieve that goal :)

One more question regarding the same 105mm macro lens. Do you use that for portraits as well? Thanks

I do use the 105 for portraits. My best advice would be to save this lens for relatively stationary subjects that take direction :) The slow focus speed makes trying to photograph a wiggly, swift crawling toddler an exercise in frustration. Trust me, I've tried :)
When you do achieve sharp focus the color and clarity is beautiful and the bokeh is dreamy.

How do you like your 105mm macro lens? I heard its hard to keep the image size the same when adjusting focus. I have a Nikon D60 currently and would like a macro lens. Since it is an AS-F lens does it work on your D700? Love your work!

Thank you :) I love my 105! When I'm using it as a portrait lens I usually let it automatically focus, but when I'm shooting macro I almost always manually focus. I hadn't heard about difficulties with focusing in regards to constant image size so I went and googled it. It does seem that "focus breathing" is somewhat of an issue with this lens, but really, I can't think of a situation in which this would bother me. If I need multiple photos of the same subject to be the same size and slight adjustments in focus have changed the image size I can just compensate with cropping in post-processing. I do see how focus breathing could be a problem while shooting video, as you need the image size to stay relatively constant to provide continuity for the viewer.
AF-S actually refers to the type of internal focusing motor the lens has. (Autofocus-silent) AF-S lenses are compatible with all Nikon DSLRs.
This lens is a "G" type which is compatible with all Nikon DSLRs.
Perhaps you are thinking of the distinction between DX and FX. If you're wanting to purchase lenses that are compatible with your current crop sensor and a possible future full frame make sure you don't purchase a lens with the "DX" designation. While these lenses will still work on a full frame camera, they will not be able to utilize the entire field of view and you will end up with black corners/edges on your photos.

Hey girl. I just spent the last half hour going through some of your stuff from last year before we "met". You have always seemed to have a good handle on skin tones. Do you use a gray card? The last few times I tried using one my tones were red...ack! 

Thank you :) I have two gray cards.... and they sit in their little plastic bags, one in my camera bag and one in a box of misc. photography equipment. I rarely take my camera off of auto WB. It seems like if I get a correct exposure, usually the WB is close to accurate and I just tweak in LR. Combine that method with my small (really, tiny) knowledge of skin by the numbers for the tricky situations and you have my approach to skin tones. The end of this question was cut off, so please let me know if I can clarify anything.

How do you like the full frame camera so far? Was it hard to adjust after having the crop? Is it overly heavy to carry all over the place?

I'm loving the D700! I really didn't have any adjustment. There are more choices for settings, so it took a little while to get everything set up just the way I liked, but now it is awesome. One thing I have found to be slightly different from the D90 is that I would overexpose by 2 stops (according to the in camera meter) on the D90, but the D700 only needs to be overexposed by 1 stop to achieve the exposure that I like. As far as heaviness... my D90 was gripped, so it was actually heavier than the D700, which I do not have gripped at this time.

How would you define your style, in both photography and life?

I love clean, simple, natural things. In photography, I'm drawn to capturing life as I see it. I decorate in neutrals. While I love bright, saturated color, and enjoy it in other people's homes and photography, I tend to like things a little subdued. Sweet, soft, simple, clean, natural... some of my favorite adjectives. Throw in a little creativity and humor and you have my style, as I see it :)

Hi! What would you recommend for the first couple lens a beginner would purchase? Think a Mama of a little baby. Just trying to capture life around me, generally all centered around people (adults, kids and of course, babies) not much landscape or macro work.

First, I would need to know if you have a crop sensor or full frame camera. Here is a great link on the difference. On a crop sensor I would probably recommend something around the 35mm range. It will give you the same field of view that a 50mm does on a full frame and the lens distortion is not extreme like you would get on a wide angle lens. (Lens distortion is fun if you want it... but just starting out you probably want to learn how to use a standard focal length first.) You could either get a prime lens or a zoom... most people opt for the 24-70 range for their standard "walkabout" zoom lens.
On a full frame you could go straight to the 50mm. The 1.8 is a cheap, great little lens to learn on. It doesn't render colors quite as well as the 1.4 and the clarity isn't quite as crisp... but there is a $300 price difference :)
If you really get into portraiture a lot of photogs love longer focal lengths for the attractive way they compress planes (make people appear slightly taller/leaner, faces look more attractive, etc.). The most common longer portrait lens is around an 85.... but many people use 100 or even longer as well. There are so many options!

As usual, you've outdone yourself. What is on poor Mr. G's little woeful face? I love the Valentine macro and your whole family thinks you're cool.

Thank you! He had just finished eating a fruit and cereal bar :)

How do you take self-portraits? I'm a super, newbie here...and when I use the timer, they end up blurry. How do you focus when you're not in the frame? I'd love to get more of my baby and myself, but have been too frustrated with the results to try more.

It sounds like you might be missing focus on your self portraits. Here is a link to my friend Courtney's blog. She gives some great tips on achieving a self-portrait. I think my most key tips are try to find something that will be at the same level/plane as your eye (or whatever you want to focus on) will be at once in your finished shot, to focus on and meter off of. A remote really does make SP work easier, but if you have to use the timer I have found that setting the camera to take multiple shots in a burst helps up chances of getting the shot I was hoping for. I often change position just a little in between shots and if I hear the camera hunting for focus I will adjust myself until the shutter clicks. It really is a process of trial and error!

What is on your photography wishlist?

Umm... what isn't? :)
-Lenses: 14-24/ 2.8, 50/ 1.4, 70-200/ 2.8, maybe an 85
-A mid-level tripod and head
-Bag/Purse with padding so that I can be a daily camera toting Mama (Either a Kelly Moore/ Epiphanie type or a mass market bag with padded insert)
-Books! I'd like to read the Neil Van Niekirk on camera flash book, and he's releasing a new one about off camera flash in April. I've got books by John Freeman, Michael Freeman and David DuChemin on my Amazon wishlist. 
-Workshops: I would like to finish up the Advanced Composition and Creativity series on Clickinmoms (did the 1st and it was awesome) and maybe next year sometime I'd love to do an in person workshop. 

That's about all I can come up with now... but I'm sure if you asked me again tomorrow I'd have a few new additions :)

I've decided to take the plunge, but the array of dslrs is overwhelming. Any suggestions on how to choose the right dslr for me? Any great comparison charts? Or even how to narrow the field a little? :) 

Oh my... choosing a dslr is such a personal thing! It is totally overwhelming to try and sift through all of the information... but to a certain degree I think that you just have to do a lot of reading to make your choice. 

First decision- do you want to go Canon or Nikon? (There are other choices obviously, but if you stick with one of the big 2 you will have the widest range of availability of lenses and other accessories as well as the largest pool of knowledge to pull from, should you have any issues.) I spent hours browsing blogs and websites to see if any patterns in my preferences for the images correlated with the brand of camera the photog shot with. In the end I think I had a slight preference for Nikon images... but there is so much beautiful work shot with Canon cameras out there. If you are looking at Canon I would check out the T2i. With Nikon, just be sure to check and see if the body will autofocus lenses that don't have an internal motor. (D40, D40X and D60 don't have the ability to autofocus all lenses) If you're going to go Nikon I'd probably want to go straight to the D90.

My last thought... don't buy the kit lens! Buy the body only and then add on a fixed aperture lens. Kits lenses have variable apertures which rob you of creative control.... one of the big reasons you want a dslr in the first place! The camera will choose the aperture for you based upon other settings. In order to avoid this I would recommend either purchasing a 50mm 1.8 (or a 35mm if you do a lot of shooting inside... the 50 can be kind of tight inside) or a nice entry level zoom, such as the 24-70 2.8 made by Tamron. 

How exciting! There's nothing like turning on a brand new camera and clicking that shutter for the first time :) Can't wait to see what you decide on!

Where do you get your photography inspiration from? Do you have any mentors, photographers you really admire? Where do you learn about photography?

Inspiration really comes from life. Shades and textures of light, the play of light and shadow. Honest, genuine emotion from loved ones. Beautiful sunny days. Moments and impressions that fill me with joy (and occasionally sadness) are what motivate me to pick up my camera.
There are so many photographers that inspire me. I've been recently introduced to Anna Kuperberg's work- love her street photography and the way she captures emotion (especially the little bits of humor in some of her images), Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai does beautiful B&W work and captures people so authentically, Summer Lyn and Marta Locklear are amazing for newborns, I love how Sarah Wilkerson uses light and captures everyday moments, and so many of my fellow 365, or otherwise blogging, friends inspire me daily.
I belong to an online forum called Clickinmoms that I totally love. The wealth of information available there is incredible. Beyond that, I love to read (some of my favorites books are Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson and Skin by Lee Varis) and browse blogs (both photography education related and photo biz blogs.)

Besides your adorable boys, what is your favorite thing to photograph?

Hmm... are you going to make me choose just one? :) I don't think I can, so here's a list: florals, food, macro work, little babies... I'd like to try my hand at seniors, couples and boudoir as well.

What made you decide to upgrade to a d700 before upgrading to a better lens? What are some of the main advantages of the d700?

I really wanted the D700 for it's full frame sensor, low light capabilities and superior image quality. My 50 1.8 is actually performing quite well (fast, sharp, nice color rendition) on the D700 and my 105, besides being an awesome macro lens does really well for portraits with semi-stationary subjects. I will either upgrade my 50 to the 1.4 or purchase another lens (maybe the 85 1.8?) within a few months.

Do you do professional photoshoots?

I do not. When I have a job/ do something professionally, I like to completely immerse myself in it. At this time in my life, I don't think I could balance my time between my children and a business. It is a possibility for the future, though.

Do you like prime lenses better and is a zoom lens in your future?

Honestly, I started with primes because I had done a lot of reading that led me to believe that they were faster and more sharp than zooms. I still love them, but I have seen some amazing work done with zooms, so I'm no longer quite as prejudiced :) I would love a wide angle and in my dreams it will be the 14 - 24 2.8. I'm thinking about renting that one and the 24 - 70 2.8 to see what I think.