Picture Perfect: A Photo Shoot & DSLR Class.

Yesterday was just one of those days where you go and go all day long – in the best kind of way!  Our morning started out with our bedroom makeover, followed by a little bit of work and a lot of play.

New DC friend Lindsay came over for a fun family photo shoot!  She is getting ready to start her own side business in photography doing portraits, babies, families, etc. – and she offered to take some pictures of us to help build her portfolio.  Make sure to follow her photography blog and watch for the coming announcement of her new business venture!   

Check out some of the sample pics she sent me – I am IN LOVE with them!

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Luckily she is a dog person too, and our crazy two definitely made her job a lot more difficult.  It takes a truly talented photographer to get our dogs looking peaceful and calm.  :)

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We did a lot of shots down by the water – it was such a gorgeous backdrop, and the gloomy day actually worked out perfectly for the photos.

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Spooky tunnel…

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I think this one might be my favorite.  :)

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She sent me a link this morning to the full set, and I have already looked at them 20+ times.  Other than my wedding day, I’ve never had professional photos taken – we had so much fun!  After our photo session and a quick dinner, we headed down to the Hilton in Old Town for a DSLR photography class!

We had both seen a great deal on Living Social back in December, and made plans to attend the class together after the new year.  The class was taught by Okello Dunkley who owns DSLR Workshops – he teaches classes all over the country.  Check and see if your city is on his list!

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Our class was called “Take Your Camera Off Program Mode: Part 1” and covered all of the basic features you need to know about your camera.  I just got my DSLR in November, and there is still so much I don’t know.  I was lucky enough to have Ashley be my photo mentor in San Fran, but since then I’ve been learning through trial and error.  In this workshop we tested out different apertures, ISO’s, and shutter speeds to get different results.

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I would be doing a huge injustice to Okello if I tried to recap all that he taught us over the course of the three hours, so instead I’ll just share some of the highlights that really stuck with me and helped me understand my intimidating camera.

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One of the questions he said he always gets is “what is ONE good lens that I can use for everything – when I only want to have one with me?”  He presented this in the form of a great golf analogy – if you said to a golfer, “I don’t want to carry a whole bag of clubs – I just want to know which ONE club will allow me to putt, drive, etc.” – they would look at you like you are crazy.  The same goes for lenses – they are made to excel in different environments and for different outcomes, so there is no ONE lens that will work for everything.

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Since I have been learning, I have mostly just messed with my aperture in order to adjust my depth of field.  Okello’s class made me finally understand shutter speed – which really is the key to a good photo with enough light and no blur.  I feel like I have this whole new understanding now of how to adjust my settings for a good photo.

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A few people mentioned not wanting to deal with messing with camera settings in the moment for fear that they would “miss something” or be bothered by constantly making adjustments and paying attention to focus points and numbers.  His response was “do you want to be frustrated now and take a few extra steps to get a good photo, or do you want to be frustrated later when you get home and see that your photos are all blurry?”  Makes perfect sense.

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The other thing he really pushed was to shoot in RAW instead of JPEG.  Ashley has been telling me to do this for months, but I have been too scared of the huge file size.  He showed us two before photos that looked almost identical – one in RAW and one in JPEG, but both kind of dark and grainy.  But then he showed us the edited versions in Lightroom, and I felt like I suddenly got hit over the head with how important this is – you can do SO much more with a RAW photo!

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I was 100% convinced.  As soon as I get Adobe Lightroom and an external hard drive to store all my big files – I am making the switch.

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Overall the class was a great experience.  I was pleased with how much I already knew, but was also able to take away some great information and new skills to practice.  I am hoping to get a little sharper and then sign up for the Part 2 class!

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Many many thanks again to Lindsay for a fun day of photography, and absolutely gorgeous photos.  Hopefully with my new skills I’ll be able to take shots like these soon enough.