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Meet Anja, my coworker, friend and the first model who agreed to let me take practice shots of her in an attempt to master manual mode.  Still using my Canon S3IS, we ventured out at lunch and shot at various locations around our office building.  It was high noon (first mistake), windy as all get out (mistake #2), and I was stuck in rut for what to have her do, pose-wise.

Nearly all of her shots came out looking alike, were composed way too tightly, and were often shot from below eye level (mistake #3) instead of at or above. White balance was also an issue in these images, as she came out looking very red in almost all of them.

Lessons learned from this shoot:

  • Fill flash is your friend…study up on how to use it!
  • Windy days are not the best days to shoot, unless, of course, you are planning to use that to your advantage.
  • Do not shoot from below eye level, much less the ground! It just isn’t flattering to the subject.
  • Figure out something else for them to do besides look at the camera and smile…boring!
  • If you don’t know how to set custom white balance in-camera, at least learn how to correct it in post. (As an aside, I wasn’t even seasoned enough at this point to notice anything wrong with the white balance.)

At the time, I was able to remove blotches from her skin, and minimize dark circles, create a boring border, and brighten her up a bit with levels and curves. My level of ability in photoshop still left a lot to be desired! It was great practice though, and even though we shot at noon – which I’ve done several times since despite the fact that it’s a no-no – it was a good challenge and lesson in finding open shade and trying to make the harsh light work.