Jun 26, 2023

Getting it in Camera - Photo Authentic Podcast #7

1 min read


You have to know how to shoot a camera on manual, and you have to know how to check focus, how to check exposure. How to make sure that your, your color balance is correct. All these critical, fundamental things like you need to know these back and forth, up and down if you want to be a professional photographer.  

Welcome to the Photo Authentic Podcast. I'm your host, Lincoln Barbour, and this podcast is dedicated to helping emerging photographers like you become successful and have a long lasting career.

Even though most assignments today are captured digitally, there's still a lot of work that can be saved if you get really good at being able to shoot it on set rather than relying in post-processing and Photoshop.

The importance of developing strong photography skills can't be understated. I think that's kind of what separates the amateurs from the pros is being able to shoot something in camera and have the post-production just be an addition to it, not necessarily a fix for it.

In this episode, I wanna discuss how post processing can be a valuable tool, but it shouldn't be relied on to fix mistakes that you make during the shooting process.

So the first thing as a photographer, especially as a pro photographer, you want to understand your camera. You want to know it like the back of your hand. You want to know it like it's the first thing you do when you wake up. And the last thing you do when you go to sleep.

I think this starts with being able to shoot manually. So, auto modes are great for, you know, events and things where you have to shoot really fast. But most commercial jobs, most commercial assignments, you're gonna have to shoot things manually. Whether you're in studio, whether you're on location, you're gonna have to understand exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, all these manual settings, you have to be a master of those so that you can deliver what the client wants. You know, whatever the creative brief is, you want to be able to deliver on that.

So, when it comes to exposure, if you're looking for something to be bright, you need to open up. If you want something to be dark and you shoot under. You're shooting in studio, you can't shoot faster than your strobes, or you can't shoot too slow cuz then you get blur. You have to know, what the difference is and you have to understand what your camera's doing, and what your lighting is doing as well.

Focus is super important. You know, I shoot a lot of architecture and there's a lot of depth of field, so focus is not as critical. But if you're shooting something like food or portraits, where you are doing a really shallow depth of field, you want to make sure that you know how to focus correctly and that you're checking focus while you're doing the shoot.

Depth of field, super important, like I said, for architecture, but also for other types of photography. You know, product photography, sometimes you just don't have enough depth of field to capture what you're shooting and you have to do focus stack. So you shoot the front and the back, and then you merge 'em together later in Photoshop.

So, knowing all these things about the camera, The limitations, the advantages, the styles that you can kind of create. How you create blur, how you create sharpness, how you create motion. You know, these are all things that you need to understand in order to be a true professional photographer

When I'm doing a shoot, part of my process is to think about what I'm gonna do later in Photoshop. And then decide, on set, you know, should I make corrections now or should I fix this in Photoshop? And I always look at the time difference between the two.

So for example, if I'm shooting, an exterior of a building and there's leaves on the ground, and I know it's gonna take at least 20 minutes in Photoshop to clean up all those leaves. I'll just get a broom and get out there for five, 10 minutes and just get the leaves off the sidewalk.

So those kind of things, those little things like pay attention to those. Things that may seem like no big deal of fixing post, but maybe opening up a bigger can of worms. .

I like to shoot for the edit, you know, I like to shoot rooms with the windows blown out. And so then I know that I'm gonna retouch them later. And that's kind of part of my look. So, if I'm shooting people, then I wanna like make sure that the skin tones look right and I'm not over over lighting the faces and getting blown out highlights. Making sure the clothing looks right, you know, those kind of things.

Like I don't want to have fix a blown out blouse on a model in post, cuz it's really hard to rebuild fabric texture. So, you know, constantly checking what you're shooting. Ideally you're shooting tethered to a laptop or a, you know, a large monitor of some kind. So that you can see and make sure that you're getting what you think you're getting, and that you later on in post, you're not gonna have any problems.

Another thing I like about being able to shoot it in camera is that the client can see it there. You know, there's, there's not that discussion of like, oh, we'll fix this in post. There's sort of like a vague thing and it can be really simple or it can be incredibly complicated. You know , some edits, wrinkles in a bed are really hard to retouch and take a long time. You want to be able to like talk to a client like, yeah, we should spend 10 minutes ironing the sheets on this bed cuz it's gonna save you three hours in retouching fees later. That's the main benefit of being able to capture as much as you can on set without having to rely a lot in Photoshop.

It's also gonna be said for photo illustration. A lot of photographers will shoot pieces and then build a photograph later. I can think of like ad campaigns where they do this. And even in those situations, you wanna make sure that you get the cleanest capture of the pieces so that when you do the retouching, you're not having to like, remove things that were in the shot that weren't supposed to be there.

You're not having to do a lot of reshoots to like fix problems. You know? You wanna make sure, your highlights look good and your shadows look good. So even if you are shooting pieces with the intent to create a photo illustration later, you still want to get those pieces shot correctly in camera.

So assuming you've gotten all your pieces together and you've mastered the camera and you know your lighting and you've doing all this. So what should you do in post-production? And then this varies by style. You know, I would say for every day of shooting architecture, I spend a half day retouching. And this can be as simple as cleaning out dust from the corners of a room to removing light fixtures or exit sign. So it's usually it's little things. And I always tell my clients that, you know, you get a basic cleanup of it.

I imagine if this was portraits, this is like removing blemishes and wrinkles in the eyes and those kind of like basic cleanups and the things that you can't really fix on set. I can't remove exit signs, at a location. I can't remove somebody's wrinkles. I need to do that in post.

So again, it comes back to communication with the client and their goals and understanding what they want. Some clients want the wrinkles, some clients want the exit signs because that's how it exists. Other people want those gone away and want the illusion of beauty. Either case, the base exposure should be there so that you don't have try to like fix something, like a blown highlight or the lack of catch lights in the eyes, you know, things like that.

So whatever you can do to shoot it on set. So that when you're doing the post processing, it's minimal as possible. And, and then again, going back this, when the client is there at the shoot, they're reviewing the work and they know it's gonna look a little bit better once you add a little color treatment and some contrast and all that stuff.

But they're getting a good sense of what's being captured, and hopefully everybody's happy with what you're shooting on set and then what you're delivering later.

To recap about getting it in camera:

First you really have to master your skills. You have to know how to shoot a camera on manual, and you have to know how to check focus, how to check exposure. How to make sure that your, your color balance is correct. All these critical, fundamental things like you need to know these back and forth, up and down if you want to be a professional photographer.

When you're shooting, shoot for the edit. So weigh decisions of what's gonna take longer in Photoshop rather than doing it on set and plan accordingly. Save yourself some time by fixing stuff later in post or save yourself some time by fixing it on set rather than doing in post. Always weigh those things on every shot you do.

Post-processing is gonna be a part of your technique no matter what you do. And so, make sure that when you're shooting, that you are shooting the pieces that you need to do your post-processing effectly. It's really hard to go back in time and reshoot something. Especially if you're like on a tripod and you've got things in register, you can't really redo it. So you really have to be sure that you're getting the pieces that you need, for your post-production in camera on set.

And so that's episode seven. It's all about getting it in camera and why it's important.

If you have any questions about what I talked about in this podcast, reach out to me. Visit www.photoauthentic.com. There you can send me an email. You can also check out, our coaching services and as well as getting access to the community where I can help you in a more one-to-one way.

I hope you enjoy today's show. Please leave a comment or feedback. You can also share this and post it on social media. I really appreciate it and as always, happy shooting.

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"We'll fix it in post," is a loaded phrase you don't want to always throw around during a shoot. The photographers who get it in camera will always have an edge. Lincoln explains why in this podcast episode.