• Joyce KangJoyce Kang

    Joyce told us that she gets lots of questions from her clients on how to take better pictures of their children in between professional photography sessions.  She wrote this great article to help the parents with DSLR cameras learn more about how to get better pictures from learning to use the Manual Mode:

    Taking Control: From Auto to Manual

    Taking Control: From Auto to Manual is a new series for those of you who are looking to “photography freedom”.  By learning the Manual Mode (M) on your camera, you are in the driver seat, taking full control on exactly how your images will come out.  I will show you step by step how you can get the best possible photos from your digital SLR camera.  Follow me for the next few weeks to learn the ins and outs of manual mode.

    Exposure Triangle

    Photography is all about light!  It’s about how much light is entering your camera to create the “proper” exposure for your photographs.  Three factors inter-related in getting proper exposure and you might have heard the name, Exposure Triangle.  And they are:

    • Aperture
    • Shutter Speed
    • ISO

    These factors work together in different combinations to give you the correct exposure by controlling how much light is let in into your camera.  We will cover each element in the exposure triangle so you can get the best grasp of the basics, to set a firm foundation to start taking control of our digital photos.


    Aperture (or f-stop) is the size of the lens opening when the picture was taken.  The smaller the number, the larger the opening thus more light is let in, and vice versa.  Aperture is like the pupil of your eyes.  When the light is dim, your pupil opens up to let more light in; and when the light is bright, your pupil contracts to let less light in.

    Depth of Field + Focus Plane

    By changing the size of your aperture, many things will happen.  One of them is Depth of Field or DOF.  Depth of Field is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that will appear focused in an image.  A large DOF means more will be focused in a scene of your image whether it’s closer or farther away from your camera.  A shallow (small) DOF means only small amount in a scene of your image will be in focus.  The DOF is affected by the size of your focal plane which is controlled by the size of the aperture.  The larger the aperture (f/1.8), the thinner is the focus plane.  The smaller the aperture (f/22), the thicker is the focus plane.

    Think of focus plane is like a hardback bound book, standing upright on a table.  At F/1.8, the focus plane is very thin (like a children’s book, such as Dr. Seuss’s ABC).  The only part that will be in focus are what’s between the front and back covers.  So at f/1.8, DOF is shallow with less in focus and more blurred.  However, in a scene shot at F/22, the focus plane is very thick (think of a reference book, like a large dictionary).  The focus plane is a lot thicker so you will have a large DOF where most of the scene will be in focus and less blurred.

    In the following examples, I used aperture of 2.8, 5.6 and 11 to show you the “thickness” of the focus plane at different aperture settings.  For the purpose of the demonstration, I placed my center focus point on line 12.

    Shot at Aperture setting F2.8

    You can see the Focus Plane is very thin.  There are only 2 lines are in focus so the DOF is very shallow, meaning most of the image is blurred.

    Shot at Aperture Setting F5.6

    You can see the Focus Plane is getting larger compare to F2.8, where now there are more lines in focus.  DOF is getting larger with F5.6.

    Shot at Aperture Setting F11

    The focus plane is obviously larger compare to F2.8.  Now this image has more scene that are in focus.  The DOF is significantly larger than at F2.8.

    As you can see, Aperture size is how to achieve the blurred background we all love.  By shooting a subject at a shallow Depth of Field such as F2.8, our subject will be clear and sharp while the background is blurred.  This is best used when you want to isolate a subject from the background elements.  However, keep in mind that since f2.8 has shallow focus plane, it requires much practice to get perfectly sharp images.

    Tip: Analyze the subject of your scene and select the BEST aperture setting for it.  For example, if your subject is moving, F8 and above might be your best bet since focus plane is thicker.  If your subject is non-moving such as a sleeping child, F4 or F5.6 might be a good choice.

    For more great tips for going Auto to Manual, check out Joyce around the web!

    Crystal JamesCrystal James

    Member Survey Response

    June 9, 2014 | Posted by Crystal James

    Happy Monday! We recently did our annual member survey and had such a fabulous response!

    We may be a little biased, but we’re pretty sure we have the best members in the world. The feedback we received will be invaluable as we move forward and grow.

    Here is a snapshot of key information about our membership. Be sure to visit our member directory to find a NAPCP photographer near you!

    Crystal JamesCrystal James

    I am so excited to introduce my long time friend and colleague, Lisa Phillipson, as NAPCP’s new Social Media Maven. This is a volunteer position with great responsibility, and Lisa is up for the challenge. She has already been hard at work behind the scenes with Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, and we appreciate having her creative ideas and talent working for our team. Here is a little interview we did with Lisa so you can get to know her better. We know you will love her just as much as we do!

    Tell us a little about you (when you started your biz, where you live, family, etc), interests?

    I have been married 15 years to my husband, Andy, and we live in Smyrna, Georgia which is a suburb of Atlanta. We have three children under the age of 13 that keep us exceptionally busy! For fun you will find me playing tennis with friends as it is my ultimate escape and break from life. I make sure it is scheduled into most weeks no matter how busy I am. I’ve always had a great passion for photography and it became a focus point for me when my first child was born. Over the years I was encouraged by family and friends to pursue it as a profession and officially went into business for myself about 7 years ago. I spent many late nights trying to improve and learn as much as I could to make my business successful. I would have benefited greatly in the early years with an organization like NAPCP!

    You’ve been a long term member, why are you so passionate about NAPCP?

    I love the people of NAPCP and their willingness to share and give back to the world. In a changing industry, I think we need big doses of support and inspiration and that is just what the community of NAPCP strives to provide. The personal connections I have made through NAPCP are priceless. I want other members to have the same opportunities to engage and connect whether that be through retreats, online forums, local meet-ups or even social media. I mostly work my photography business alone but within NAPCP I get to be part of a team and have additional support when I need it.

    What makes you most excited about this new volunteer position with NAPCP?

    This is the perfect position for me as it melds together the things that I love so much. I am able to combine my marketing degree, love of social media, photography and the belief in NAPCP together as one! I have years of of a photography business under my belt to understand what many of our members face and I hope that I can be a big source of encouragement and support for them.

    We think you are awesome with social media, how do you think this outlet can help NAPCP grow and serve our members better?

    I am so excited to share and promote all of the great things that are going on within NAPCP. This is a very exciting time for the organization and I look forward to helping our members and the world know what we are doing to impact our industry positively. I hope NAPCP members are served by having easy ways of staying informed, inspired and being acknowledged for the wonderful things they are doing on their own. I encourage them to also look to us for content to share and use to build their own social media presence and marketing efforts.

    What kinds of things can people do to keep engaged with NAPCP through social media?

    Follow us! Interact with us! We are @napcp on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. On Twitter we are @napcp_tweets. Share your news and tag us so we are keeping up with you as well. Use the information we provide through Social Media to share with your own clients and educate them on what our business is all about. You can find helpful articles on Twitter and Facebook and we have wonderful ideas on our Pinterest boards to help with all areas of your business. Give us feedback. We always want to hear your ideas and how we can better serve you.

    Are you going to need some help with this job (hint-hint?)

    We would love to enlist NAPCP members already familiar and active with Social Media to volunteer a small amount of time to help us share what NAPCP is all about. We are looking for a few people to volunteer about 10-15 minutes, one day a week for a commitment of a couple of months. This is a really easy way to help if you are already using any form of Social Media for your own business on a regular basis. It will be a lot of fun and I can’t wait to give you all the details of what we will be doing together!

    So, you heard her everybody, send a note to Crystal@napcp.com if you are interested in joining Lisa’s Social Media team. As NAPCP continues to grow, we will need even more volunteer involvement from our members so please let us know if you have a talent you would like to share.

    Mandy BlakeMandy Blake

    How to Recognize Accurate Skin Tones in Your Photos

    May 15, 2014 | Posted by Mandy Blake

    Your photographer has delivered the disc with copies of images you have already ordered for your wall gallery! You are so excited to print them for Grandma, your bestie and to send out in your kiddo’s first birthday invitation.

    You hustle down to your local lab and get one-hour service. You pace the store, picking up a few things you don’t need, anxious to pick up your gorgeous photos as soon as they are ready.

    Finally the hour is up and you get to the counter as quickly as you can, in a dignified way of course. You manage five steps away from the counter before breaking the seal on the envelope. You pull out the still-warm prints and… GREEN. What?! Why is my child’s face greeny-grey, like she ate bad crab legs? Well, really there is are two possible answers to that question.

    The most likely answer is that you chose to print at a lab that automatically applies “color correction” to printed images, effectively negating the hard work that your awesome, NAPCP-affiliated-photographer did to ensure that the colors in your images were accurate and true.

    Another possible answer is that your photographer, who is not a member of NAPCP (or any other professional organization for that matter) is not as stellar as her Facebook photo gallery would suggest. Let’s just say that the term “fully edited” can be used VERY loosely by some people.

    Firstly, give yourself a mental high-five for recognizing that something is not quite right. Sometimes our love goggles for our family help us to overlook this issue with our prints, but the reality is that these weirdly-toned images are not something you are going to want to share far and wide. And trust me, if your photographer is a NAPCP rock start, she would be appalled to have this print-color disaster displayed in public.

    After you take a deep breath, walk back to the counter and calmly explain the situation to the photo lab tech, who will likely offer reprints without color correction. If this solves your problem, you can breeze out the doors and call your photographer to laugh about the mistake.

    If this does not solve your problem, it is time for a little bit of a lesson on accurate color, particularly when it comes to skin tones.

    Blue/Cyan: If the image looks cool, like your child was freezing cold the whole time, often one of these colors is usually the culprit.

    Green: This is a color that can often show up in skin tones, particularly when the photographs were taken in a summer forest or in spring grasses. It is a tricky tone to remove and it the most common wrench in skin tone accuracy.

    Yellow: Yellow is commonly used to warm up images that may have been a bit cool out of camera, but it can be easy to go too far. Warm is nice, jaundiced is not.

    Are your eyes playing trick on you yet?  It can be really hard sometimes to know what is right and what is not, but the following image is accurately balanced for skin tones.

    Bookmark this post so you can come back and check your images against your prints in the future, your eyes will eventually start to see color imbalances and you will be skin tone-savvy!

    And be sure to visit our member directory to find a professional photographer in your area!

    ** Member alert:  Mandy Blake will join us LIVE in the Private Facebook Group to talk more about this subject on Tuesday, May 20th at 8pm.  Don’t miss it! **

    Jon-Michael SullivanJon-Michael Sullivan

    5 Small Cameras That Pack a Punch!

    April 29, 2014 | Posted by Jon-Michael Sullivan

    Point-and-shoot: it’s typically not a positive term in photography. When hearing it, I’m reminded of all the frustrating shortcomings of my first digital camera in 2002. I think about the many missed moments as I waited for the camera to take the photo; the flash firing one, two, three times as people stopped smiling right before the photo took. Technology has advanced greatly since many of us traded in our Kodak EasyShare camera for a digital SLR.

    Carrying a digital SLR isn’t always practical. The size and weight can make it a chore to tote around on casual outings. What are the options for the photographer who wants to use a smaller camera without sacrificing image quality? Mirrorless cameras bridge the gap between traditional point-and-shoot camera and the digital SLR camera. Like point-and-shoot cameras, mirrorless cameras do not have the reflex mirror that DSLR cameras have, making them smaller and typically quieter when taking the picture. What sets them apart from point-and-shoot cameras is they typically feature interchangeable lenses. Mirrorless cameras also have image sensors as large as entry-level DSLRs, giving you better quality images than the early point-and-shoot cameras.

    Let’s take a look at several mirrorless cameras:

    Olympus OM-D E-M512-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens ($999)

    The 16-megapixel Olympus OM-D E-M5 is modeled in an SLR-style but weighs less than 15 ounces. Setting it apart from other cameras on this list, the body is weather sealed, making it water resistant so you don’t have to stop shooting at the first drop of rain. This camera fires faster than many dSLRs, shooting at 9 frames per second. It doesn’t have a built-in flash, but the ISO is expandable to 25,600, meaning you’ll be able to shoot in most low-light situations without a flash. There is a hot shoe if you want to use an external flash (sold separately). The camera is available in silver and black.

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 - 14-42mm F/3.5-5.6 Lens ($948)

    If you found the previous camera too bulky, this 16-megapixel Panasonic model is styled like the old rangefinder cameras, making it significantly smaller than the Olympus (and a little lighter too). It’s a little slower at 5 frames per second, which is still plenty fast for everyday use. The ISO is expandable to 25,600, but you do have the option to use a built-in, pop-up flash. The camera is available in silver and black.

    Fujifilm X-E2Body only ($936),  XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS Lens ($1399)

    Many photographers will tell you the lens is the most important part when considering image quality. The 18-55mm f/2.8-4 will allow you to shoot in low-light settings by natural light while also giving you those out-of-focus backgrounds we all love. The camera body features more external controls to quickly change your shutter speed and aperture while shooting. The 16.3-megapixel camera is a little larger than the Panasonic, and shoots 7 frames per second. The camera is available in silver and black.

    Sony a600016-50mm f/3.5-5.6 E-Mount Lens ($798)

    This 24.3-megapixel model shoots at 11 frames per second and boasts a 179-point autofocusing system (about 5 times as many points of focus as the other cameras on this list). The electronic viewfinder is a lower resolution than the other cameras at 1.4 million dots compared to the Panasonic’s 2.7 million and the Fujifilm’s 2.3 million. The camera is available in black.

    Canon EOS M22mm f/2  Lens ($404)

    If you already own a Canon DSLR and lenses, you might want to consider this option. With an adapter, you’ll be able to use your EOS lenses on this small, 10.51-ounce camera body. The M-Mount Adapter runs about an extra $130. This 18-megapixel camera does not feature a viewfinder so you’ll take all photos by looking at the 3-inch LCD screen. It is sold in silver, black, red and white.

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