FAQ chapter 2

Well humbled isn't a big enough word to express how I feel.  Thank you to those who took the time to comment and email words of inspiration!!  As I have said before I NEVER pretend to know it all.... heck I hardly know anything, however of course I am willing to share techniques and ideas and hopefully it will help someone, somehow, and please feel free to shout out if I have got it wrong... cause nobody likes a know it all!!!  xxx Kendal wrote

I would like to know more about natural light? What are the best times of the day to use it? How do you make photos in full sun look not too shadowy? Is that a silly question?

Silly question I don't think so!!!  And perhaps I'm not the best to answer, but this is what I do.  If booking a portrait session I will always schedule it when the light is pretty, normally in the evening however if that doesn't suit then I will do an early morning!!  For weddings I am a self exclaimed light follower.  My brides will back me up on this.  I am OBSESSED with finding the 'right light' I hunt out nooks and crannies, scale tall buildings, make a complete fool of myself just to get the light that I know will make it all look so fabulous.  Open shade is my fave, fave, fave!

Jennifer wrote

Ok, my question is: I’m not sure if I’ll ever want to do photography professionally but right now is going to be my one chance to upgrade from my Canon Rebel. I’m looking at the 7d and the 5d mark ii. There is quite a big price difference. So I was wondering how important or unimportant do you feel it is to shoot with a full frame camera?

A very wise man once said "there are people out there that have worse gear than you, and take better pictures"  I gasped at this comment, with the realization that he was right.  I have seen photographs on a point and shoot that are jaw dropping!!  However the capabilities of a high end camera are essential for what I do.  For example high ISO for those low light eeeeek situations.  I upgraded from a 30D to a 5D and the heavens heard me sing that day.  I adore, love, and cherish my 5D and will be a very sad soul when it kicks the bucket!!  So answering your question, I love full frame but is it important????....up to the individual!

Dominique wrote

Hi Fiona, I have emailed about this before, as you know I’m an amateur who would like to hopefully go pro one day (if I’m lucky please, only had my SLR for 5 weeks!!). I would love to know how you learned exposures/tips for mastering them, and how you nail them so effortlessly in camera!

p.s. would also love to know about your post editing style-how do you achieve your signature, light, bright crisp images besides the images fabulous straight out of the camera anyway…

Understanding exposure.  This is an awesome book that I highly recommend to anyone just starting out.  It helped me with the basic understanding and relationship between my appeture, shutter speed and ISO.    I really can't stress enough about light... light, light, light, light, light!!!  Find it, hunt for it, and see what happens!!

For post production I bring my files into lightroom for some minor white balance tweaking, open in photoshop and normally bump my curves and if posting to web, I sharpen.

Diana wrote

Hi Fiona, what are your favorite processing techniques and programs you use?

I love lightroom and if I could do everything in here then I would, but due to my OCD tendencies I will always open my images in photoshop and add some extra tweaks... lame I know but hey that works for me!!

Mike wrote

What action sets are you using and how are you doing your sharpening, would be cool to see a sooc vs the finished goods,.

I love actions and believe there are lots of times and places they can be used.  Generally I will make my own actions which can be a great thing and a HUGE time saver.  But if I was to pick some faves then I would have to go with Jesh de rox, Totally rad and Lilyblue.    I do stress however to tweak as much as you can.  I will even go so far as to blend lots of actions together however making sure I lower the opacity to get the look I want.   I posted some SOOC just recently and to be honest when you hit it good right out of the can there really isn't a great need for much adjusting!!

Gretchen wrote

My question is what is your best tip for getting natural interaction from your subjects?

I laugh, I talk..... a lot... I laugh some more and to be honest I make a number one ace fool of myself.... thats all!!

Maree wrote

How do you get such clarity and sharpness, are you using software for this? Also do you use a fill flash or reflecters alot in your portraiture? they all seem to glow!

Maree its light and of course my gear.  It was a ding dong moment for me when I discovered how important the light was... like really ....oh my lord important.  However I think when I first used my 'L' series lenses in fabuluso light I realized that the 3 of us were going to have a great relationship.  I don't use fill flash however Jasmine Star taught me the importance of natural reflectors (a white wall for example) and of course I LOVE her for that.

Emma wrote

I shoot with a 5D and a 30D as my backup. I would love to know about your post processing workflow, particulary how you can achieve such beautiful, natural skin tones. I struggle with this alot. My last question is regarding prime lenses. Have you found that by using them, that has made a big difference to your photography?

I'm a gonna scream it out again LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT!!!  When I first started shooting digitally I had a 'kit zoom lens' which I very soon retired and purchased a prime ' the nifty fifty ' It was a special moment as I had also just discovered shooting in RAW.... ohhhhhhh ahhhhhh.....  These two went hand in hand and took me down an amazing path.  I love primes... I would marry one if I could!!!  So yes it has made a big difference!!

Jody wrote

You said in an earlier post that you realized this year how important light is to your photography. Can you share any tips? Also, your clarity is *amazing* I know most of this probably has to do with the light and your exposure, but do you have any tips? And finally, do you think your 50mm 1.2 and 85mm 1.2 have changed the way you shoot? Sorry for so many questions. I just am in awe of your work.

Jody I think the posts above will have answered your questions.  I didn't want you to think I didn't care about you :).... cause I do!!!!

Viv wrote

I was wondering if you have a fav setting for doing your portraits to get just the right amount of depth of field happening, ie ISO and f stop.

Hi Viv, I mainly shoot wide open.  I never go over 5.6 and predominately shoot under 2.0.  Its personal preference but thats what makes me smile!

Martencja wrote

I would like to know how you use your central point to set your exposure. Do you take it from the skin, or use something like codak card :D or something else. I love your fantastic balance between shadow and light. Also I am curious about your settings in Canon 5 d. Do you use standard settings or your own? If so which one is your best? Thank you for your all tips….

Setting my exposure has always been about my LCD.  I look and see, I trust what I see.  I will take a test shot and because I have been there a million times before, I know what is going to work for me.  I trust myself!!  I use the standard settings in my camera however I do have the custom settings set so that I can use back button focus.

Tony wrote

Hi Fiona, coincidentally I am interested in hearing about your confidence (self confidence I guess) in your results/style. How do you know when a picture is good (good enough) and how do you know what areas you need to improve. Do you have people who give you advice, maybe an internal process? I am not sure to word it but how do you know what areas you need to improve in?

Perhaps this is a wordy way of asking how you know where your at photographically and how you know where to go with your style/skills? Hope this makes sense.

Oh lord Tony there are a million areas I need to improve on.  Confidence.... wow..... what makes me think a shot is good enough?  Well it depends on the definition of 'good enough'.  To me I look a shot and if I am moved by it or think he/she looks beautiful then I will make it a keeper.  I have asked this same question to a lot of other photographers, "how do you know if its good enough?" well who does it need to be good for?   If it makes you smile, if it makes you cry, if it stirs something deep in your soul then its probably good enough!!  xxx

Katie wrote

Just having a read of peoples questions. Yes we all love and are inspired by your light, crisp and stunning d-o-f photos.

I am interested in the question about the 50mm and 85mm 1.2 changing the way you shoot? Your thoughts on full frame camera. Mine isn’t and Quinn’s is with the 5dMark2.

Darling Katie, I have probably answered your question above however a short answer to you is YES the 50 1.2 and the 85 1.2 made a big difference to how my shots looked, however they didn't change the way I shot!!
To quote an utterly amazing photographer Rodney Smith
"To all of you who struggle to make photographs, the life you lead is not just one of imagery. These are the symptoms, the reflections of your life. It is what’s on the inside that makes you a photographer, rather than simply someone who takes pictures. This is a life struggle."
And of course I must include some shots from a wedding this weekend!!!  Amanda and Hayden, thank you for being so fabulous!!!!
Enjoy your sneak peek xx