some photography wisdom from the blissdom workshops

31 January 2011

These are the notes I scribbled down from the uber-talented Amy and Deanna, mixed in with some random pictures of the Opryland hotel.
*turn off the flash! Try to time your pictures with the best lighting of the day. (clarification on this: of course you have to use a flash sometimes. Amy recommended and I think I’m going to give it a try on my camera…)
*capture people and kids as they are: try to avoid “say, cheese!”
*move in closer! nope, even closer.
*seek out the good light~having them simply turn their faces can make a world of difference in pictures. Ty to avoid harsh sunlight on faces, backlighting (light behind person), spotty lighting.
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*If the light is bad, make the most of it. Capture their outline in the sun going down, or some close-up details.
*focus on the details! zoom in to capture the toes, the dirty little hands, the expression, or the mis-matched socks.

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*The lower your ISO, the more color saturation you’ll have. The higher it is, the more grainy your pictures will be. Get it as low as conditions will permit.
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*The aperture of a lens is the opening at which light passes through. You’ll see funny numbers on your camera lens that look like this:  f/3.5 – f/5.6.  This means that my lens makes a range of openings from the 3.5 stop to the 5.6 stop.The larger the F-stop number is, the smaller the opening is, letting in less light. The lower the F-stop number is, the bigger the opening is, letting in more light.
Little focus like a face=you want a lower number
Bigger focus area like a landscape=you can have a higher number
I am saving up for a lens with a lower f stop so I can let more light in!
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I’m still going through my scribbles…more from the home workshop tomorrow! What is the best photography tip you have? I am just hoping I’m getting this all right….
I love Kate’s tutorial as well…I actually printed it off and keep it in my camera bag!!


  1. I think you did a great job and yes, everything is correct! Loved reading about your experience at Blissdom!

  2. thank you! I was worried, since I'm not a photography expert by any means :)

  3. Hi Melissa-

    I am enjoying your Blisssom posts. Since I could not go, it is nice that I can view the experience through your eyes.
    I recently got a new camera and took a class to learn all the bells and whistles. I didn't learn that much, but did take away this: If you have IS MODE/ Image Stabilization on your camera, make sure it is OFF when you have your camera on a tripod.
    My best- Diane

  4. Change your white balance to flourescent or to the different types of light when inside. Kids classroom pics usually have harsh shadows with the flash and red eyes. Change a few settings and the pictures are much better by turning off the flash! I make adjustments on my exposure setting by over exposing the picture when there is less light.

    I also heard on Regis & Kelly that a photographer made Kelly say Thursday in her photoshoot and it makes you have a great smile. It really does work and the kids find it silly! With great camera equipment readily available we Mom's can really capture some great memories of the best models...our children just being themselves!

  5. Thanks Melissa! I need to hear it over and over before I get it. This reinforced it for me.

  6. Thanks, Melissa! I'm so happy to read a Blissdom post that imparts some of the knowledge from the workshops. I've read Kate's tutorial as well, and it is great. Between reading online and my new Nikon book (for Dummies, haha), I'm hoping to learn to use my camera!! :)

  7. Thanks! I sincerely needed the help. :)

  8. Melissa- I have to disagree with the "no flash" thing. In fact it is one thing that drives me crazy about all these blogging women with nice cameras... they always say to turn the flash off, yet are always apologizing for their bad photo b/c the light that day was not good enough.
    There is a time and a place for a flash. Keeping it off if lighting permits is great. But adding a flash, even in very well lit conditions can get rid of the back-lighting or shadowing that can occur. I'm not sure if they covered this, but it is frequently missed and is one of the most important things when shooting on manual - check your white-balance and do not use auto white-balance measurements if possible. Often times when your photos on manual is just missing something, all it takes is to turn your white-balance to flash, flip your flash on, and it will be a very small flash that will just perk the photo up enough.
    I hope that makes sense. Give it a try. Honestly, I'm really only writing this much b/c you're Susan's daughter, so I feel the need to help! ;)

  9. okay- not sure if this is the best example, but check out my blog.. I put up a little more on my thoughts on this. p.s... of course this will only work for shots that are within your flash range.

  10. Thanks for the helpful post! All of the Blissdom posts are really motivating me to do next year! And finding out about the helpful workshops they have there is the icing on the cake! I'm still very new at blogging and anything that I can learn would be great!

    Thanks again for the post!
    Maybe we'll get to meet sometime in the future!

  11. Thank you, Stacey and Laura! I've been playing with the white balance as well...makes a huge difference for indoor pics especially. Laura, I clarified in the post as well. thanks :)

  12. That class was so much fun, but sadly, all I learned was I need a new camera! Ugh. :)
    But I got to spend time with you, so all was not lost! ;)

  13. I need a photography class stat! Thanks for the tips! Janell

  14. I have a Canon point and shoot, although it does allow me to tweak the settings manually (I just need to figure out how to do that). But the best tip I have (learned it from Donna at Funky Junk) is to use the macro setting to get really awesome close-ups of objects.

  15. Great notes! My hubby bought me a new camera for my birthday back in July..I am still trying to learn how to use it to its full potential. I asked for a new lens for Christmas that had a smaller aperature setting and got one that was only $99.00. It's fun for taking great pictures of kids. The lens was found on Amazon. Happy picture taking! :)

  16. Thanks so much for the advice. I've been wanting to take a photography class forever now, but life is just too crazy. You pointers help a lot.

  17. Thanks for the tips!! Blissdom sounds awesome!

  18. Hi Melissa!!
    It was awesome having you in the workshop! I can't wait to see how much your photography improves - Wish you and your sister could have stayed longer!

    PS - re: not using flash - I was referring to the on camera flash, which is mostly useless - but a speedlite can make a huge difference! :)

  19. Is that Chihuly glass in the photo of the opryland hotel entryway?

  20. Great little tutorial. I need to check out the "white ballance" settings.

    My tip: When my flash seems too bright I back away and use the zoom. Seems to help.

  21. Great tips! I just made a little e-book about this on my site! BLissdom sounds like it would be so much fun!

  22. Did you see what I'm giving away?

    and can I just say......I was beyond thrilled to get to hug you in Nashville!!!

  23. That's the Gaylord Opryland! I would recognize that place anywhere! We stayed there in May 2009 and it was AMAZING!!!!


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