The Right Angle Matters

Friday Focus: Backdrops

Posted on April 17, 2020


Hello!

Last week I touched on a few adjustments you can make in order to allow this sudden work from home, thing, to go a bit smoother. Now that you have a few ideas, let’s talk backdrop. For those of you who don’t utilize video conferencing with colleagues, this may not apply. However, you might pick up a tip or two for those virtual get together’s.

First tip: know where your webcam is located. (Yours truly didn’t bother checking, and the results were baffling to me.) I bought a new laptop a few months ago and didn’t realize the built in webcam was located at the bottom of the screen instead of the top (like my last one). Oops! Made for a rather humorous virtual new home tour with family this past weekend. For those of you who don’t know me, unless it’s my camera gear, I’m not that tech savvy. For everyone else, I happen to love my keyboard! Yeah… keep laughing! On a serious note, sit where you intend to and turn on your webcam. You might need to adjust the height. (A stack of books works great.) If that’s the case, and you’re using the built in webcam on your laptop, consider having a wireless mouse and keyboard handy, makes things easier.

Secondly, make sure you’re properly in frame. We’ve all seen (alright, done) those awkward, too close to the screen adjustments. Much like my keyboard, no one really wants to get up close and personal with your nose. On the other hand, don’t be too far away either. If you’re clear across the room, the people in the video conference might as well be looking at your photo while you’re on speakerphone. We’re aiming for close, but not too close!

Lastly, now that you’ve made those adjustments, look at your background. That vase of flowers behind you may be beautiful but, if all people see is a flower or two sprouting from your head, you might want to move it to the side. If you have the option of being in front of a bookcase, or a single large scale piece of art with a plant on the side for visual interest, great. If you’ll be in front of your windows, close the blinds and turn on your lights. The light could overpower the sensor and you could end up looking like a silhouette. Dramatic as that sounds, your weekly office meeting probably doesn’t call for such flair.

I hope these help, I for one will be stacking several books under my laptop before our weekly happy hour! Bonus tip, which is more personal preference. When it comes to Fido or Mittens taking the stage, let them. It will probably make one or two people smile. Hint, hint to those of you I’ll see on Sunday!

 

Terri Johnson

Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography

The Right Angle Matters

 

Friday Focus: Home Office

Posted on April 10, 2020


Hello!

 

A lot of us are now working from home, which can be challenging. Today I thought I’d talk about a few ideas to make it a bit easier since not everyone (myself included) has a dedicated office space at home.

If you happen to have a guest room, that’s a logical place to set up shop for the time being. However, for those of us who don’t, here are a few things to try.

First being, find a dedicated place to work from. For a lot of people, that’s the dining table. Unless your dining chairs are ergonomically correct, you might need a few adjustments. Two things that can help are a throw blanket and a pillow. No joke, these can work and don’t require wait time from ordering online. Try rolling up a throw blanket to use for lumbar support. Bonus! You can take that blanket to the couch when you’re ready to stream the shows you’re not caught up… after work. The second is a pillow. Hey, not everyone chose padded dining chairs!

Since we’re not having people over for dinner right now, consider this: you’re probably not using you’re serving dishes. If you’re anything like me, you have a decent amount stored in your kitchen or dining room. For the time being, you could move some of them from a cabinet to a closet in order to free up the space. Now you have a place to store your office equipment so you’re not looking at when you’re not working. It helps not to see work all the time!

Small tips, but sometimes little things make a big impact. Look around your new found office space and see what will realistically work for you.

Next week I’ll be back to photography but we’ll still be in the home office! Check back on Friday to see what that entails!

 

Terri Johnson

Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography

The Right Angle Matters

 

Friday Focus: Texture

Posted on April 3, 2020


Hello!

 

Needing a new photography project isn’t new, but there are challenges at the moment. I thought about things I hadn’t tackled and found one. Photos showcasing texture have always interested me, but I’ve never made the time to explore them… until now!

I’ve challenged myself to start a new Instagram series called: Tuesday Texture (debuting this coming Tuesday, April 7th). In this series I’ll post two photos: one featuring an interesting texture, and the second of the original object. What can I stay, needing to stay at home necessitates thinking outside the box! I don’t know if this series will last once all this is over, but it should prove interesting in the interim. 

These won’t be the typical macro shots I take. These truly will focus on the texture of things around my house. To give you a better idea, I’ve posted one of my macro shots below. To see the contrast between this and the texture photos I’m talking about, check out my Instagram post on Tuesday!

This week I’m focusing on texture, what will you focus on?

 

Terri Johnson

Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography

The Right Angle Matters

 

 

 

Welcome to the Friday Focus

 

Posted on March 27, 2020

 

Hello again!

 

For those of you who follow (err… followed) my blog, thanks for sticking with me! It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted, and about time I did so again.

Today isn’t about a tip or instruction. Instead, let’s take minute to collect our thoughts. It’s easy for a lot of us, myself included, to lose our focus. Not only with the news right now, but whenever life overwhelms us. Losing some of the desire to tackle projects, even creative outlets, happens. There’s a lot of that going around right now, and it was beginning to frustrate me.  I spoke with someone recently who reminded me that we’re all in this together, and we are. Let’s take a deep breath, whilst practicing social distancing, and focus on something fun. Photography! No, it won’t fix the state of the world. However, it might just lift your mood, and that’s a start.

At the end of the day, if you can focus doing something, you’ve taken a step forward. I can’t promise to make this a weekly blog, but I’m going to focus on it.

What are you going to focus on?

Oh, the flower? No reason. Happy Friday!

 

Terri Johnson

Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography

The Right Angle Matters

 

 

Rule of Thirds


Posted on August 16, 2016


In my last post, I talked about the importance of framing your photos to draw your attention in. Today I’ll address one of the most recognizable photography rules, the Rule of Thirds. While I’m more likely to bend (err… break) the rules, this one I do try to use. Alright, I also frame my photos. Perhaps I’m not quite the rule-breaker I envision myself to be!

Imagine a grid overlaying your photos with two horizontal lines, and two vertical lines, thus creating a total of nine equal areas. If I’ve lost you, think of a tic-tack-toe board on top of your photo. In the photo below, notice how the grass at the edge of the pond is roughly where the lower horizontal line would be. In general, try to line up the most prominent horizontal area with either the top, or bottom, horizontal line. In this case, I went with the what was in the foreground. (A mountain range would be a good idea to use as a horizontal top line.) Now, you need to do the same for vertical lines. In the case, I used the right edge of the large rock, and the right edge of the tree above it as a guide.

 Rule_of_Thirds.jpg

With that in mind, your subject should line up within one of the four intersecting lines. In this case, I used a clump of lily pads, and the clouds above it, for two of the four intersecting lines. While I could have focused on any number of things within the photo, I chose to use the Rule of Thirds as a guide to highlight the entire scene.

Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
The Right Angle Matters

 

 

Frame Your Photos


Posted on July 19, 2016


No, I’m not referring to when you hang them on your wall. I’m talking about how you want your photo to look. I was at Kitsap Memorial State Park last July, and noticed the haze on the mountains across the water. There was just enough to make the mountains appear more like a painting than a photo. However, had I only taken a photo of the mountains, there wouldn’t be any visual interest to the photo. Instead, I framed the photo with the foreground.

Take a look at the photos below, your eye naturally wants to look for something within a photo. Without framing the second photo, it falls flat.

 Example_1.jpg   Example_2.jpg

When you set out to photograph something, try to envision what you want the end result to look like. As in the photos above, I wanted to capture the mountains. While both photos contain the mountains, the second one is downright boring. Framing adds a reference point, which is needed for a photo like this. Now, go out and try it yourself!

Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
The Right Angle Matters

 

 

Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed… Oh My!


Posted on June 21, 2016


Now that you have a brief overview of Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed, let’s bring it all together. The first thing I do is either adjust the Aperture, or the Shutter Speed, depending on what my subject is. Once you decide what you’re going to be photographing, you can then decide if the Aperture, or the Shutter Speed, needs to take priority. Due to how a higher ISO can degrade an image, I adjust this last, and keep it to the lowest setting I can.

For an image where your subject is moving, it’s best to determine the needed Shutter Speed first. Once you’ve decided that, go ahead and adjust the Aperture accordingly. Noting that for faster speeds, you’ll need a wider aperture to allow more light into the image. This is due to the fact that your shutter won’t be open for long. If your image is too dark, open up the aperture further. If you skip this, and go straight to raising the ISO, you have a greater likelihood of a grainy image. Keep in mind that the lower you set the aperture you’re decreasing the depth of field, thus keeping your subject in focus while blurring the background.

Alternatively, if you’re photographing a sweeping view of the mountains on a sunny day, you’ll want your aperture on a smaller setting. Not only will this allow less light into the camera, helping to avoid an over-exposed image, it will also allow for the entire image to be in focus. Since your aperture would be smaller, you’ll want to decrease the shutter speed to allow more time for the light to enter the camera. Again, if you skip lowering the shutter speed in favor of raising the ISO, you’ll probably have a grainy image.

Now, get your camera, and try it out! Look for my next post on where I’ll dive into another camera tip.

Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
The Right Angle Matters

 

Shutter Speed: Every Second Counts


Posted on May 17, 2016


I’ve tackled Aperture, and ISO. Today we’re moving onto Shutter Speed. What is it? Shutter Speed is the amount of time the shutter on your camera is open when you press the shutter release (the button that takes the photograph).

When I’m on a shoot, one of the first things I do is decide how I want the end result to look. For example, if I’m photographing a waterfall, I’ll need to decide if I want the water to be in focus (so you can see individual drops of water), or if I want to create the illusion of movement (blurring the water so it appears to be moving). In order to do that, I need to set the speed on my shutter accordingly. The speed settings are in seconds, and range from fast (like 1/500, as in 500th of a second), to slow (like 10, as in ten seconds). If you choose a fast shutter speed, the shutter won’t be open for very long, and you’ll freeze movement. If you choose a slow shutter speed, the shutter will be open for a much longer length of time (keep in mind, you’ll need a tripod for this), and you’ll be able to blur movement. Most cameras (always consult your manual for your specific camera) have a maximum shutter speed of 30. While keeping the shutter open for 30 seconds is a long time, you may also have an additional setting called “Bulb” or “B”. If selected, the shutter on your camera will stay open for as long as the shutter release is held down.

Look for my next post where I’ll tell you how Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed work together when you’re in Manual Mode.

Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
The Right Angle Matters

 

ISO: In Search Of The Meaning


Posted on April 19, 2016


In my last post I addressed Aperture, the first of three main settings on your camera. Today we’re looking at ISO, or International Standards Organization. ISO is the standard for which light is measured. I know, nice and vague!

The ISO setting controls the sensitivity of available light your camera will register. The lower the number (say, 200) translates into less light sensitivity (or a darker image). The higher the number (say 1600) translates into more light sensitivity (or a brighter image). However, when you raise the ISO you also increase the noise (the grainy appearance some images have). ISO is typically the last of the three settings you will adjust. Depending on what you’re photographing, you will either set your Aperture or Shutter Speed first, the other of those two second, and ISO last. Generally, if you’re outside on a sunny day you don’t need more light added to the image. An ISO setting of 100 or 200 should be fine. However, if you’re inside without an abundance of light you may need to raise your ISO to 800 or 1600. Remember, when you raise your ISO two things happen: more light, and more noise. It’s best to only raise your ISO when you can’t achieve the desired image without adjusting your Aperture and Shutter Speed.

In my next post I’ll address Shutter Speed, which is the last of the three main settings to understand when you’re ready to move into manual mode.

Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
The Right Angle Matters

 

 

Aperture and Anatomy

Posted on March 15, 2016

 

I know, you’re probably wondering what anatomy could possibly have in common with Aperture. Before I open your eyes to another aspect of photography, there are three settings on your camera you need to have a working knowledge of when you decide to move out of manual mode. Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed. Not only do you need to understand what each of these are, you also need to understand how they work together. Today, it’s all about Aperture.

What is it exactly? Aperture is defined as being the opening in your lens which admits light to your camera’s sensor. Think of the aperture as the pupil of your eye. When you’re in a bright, well-lit area your pupils are small. There’s enough light around you, and you’re able to see without any issues. Now, when you walk into a dark room your pupils will expand. This is so your pupils can admit more light, allowing you to see as much as possible. Your camera works in a similar fashion, and utilizes measurements know as f-stop’s. The lower the f-stop, the wider the aperture, and ultimately more light will reach the sensor. The higher the f-stop, the smaller the opening, and ultimately less light will reach the sensor. However, the maximum aperture (measured as the lowest f-stop number) is ultimately decided by your camera’s lens. You should see a range on your lens (say, f/3.5 – f/5.6), but you may only see one number listed. This number will tell you the lowest f-stop you can set your camera to while using that lens.

Aperture has a second function: depth of field. A low f-stop (more light) also focuses the lens on a subject within your image. A high f-stop (less light) allows everything in the image to be clear. Here are two examples. First: You’re at an indoor event and you take a photo of someone. You set the aperture to the lowest f-stop you can (say, f/3.5), thus allowing more light in while focusing on your subject, and blurring the people in the background. Second: You’re outside and have an incredible view of the mountains on a sunny day. You set your aperture to the highest f-stop you can (say, f/22), knowing the surrounding is bright, and you will be able to have a clear image of the everything.

Confused? Don’t be, all you need is practice. Remember: a low f-stop means a brighter image while focusing on something specific in your image, a high f-stop means a darker image while the entire image is in focus. Now, grab your camera and try it out!

Watch for my next post where I’ll tackle ISO. Oh yes, there’s even more to know about light!

Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
The Right Angle Matters

 

A Mode For Every Mood

Posted on February 16, 2016


This post will give you a brief overview of the different mode settings on your camera. There are four basic camera mode settings, though your specific camera may have a few more (each manufacturer, and model per manufacturer, can vary slightly). You will need to consult your cameras’ user manual to find the location of where to change the mode, and the exact abbreviation for the modes. Here are the most common modes, what they mean, and when to use them.

Programmed Automatic Mode; also called “Auto Mode”, and typically signified by a “P” on your camera (this shouldn’t be confused by the “A” setting, which I will address below). This is what your camera is usually set on when you first take it out of the box. Make no mistake, your camera will perform wonderfully in this setting. In this mode your camera will make every adjustment for you. For the occasional photographer, this is the way to go.

Aperture Priority Mode; this is typically signified by an “A” on your camera. Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority (the mode outlined below), are also referred to as semi-automatic modes. In this mode you control the aperture while leaving the camera to make the other adjustments. This is a good mode to use while photographing moving subjects as you don’t need to adjust for the speed of your subject. Think sporting events, festivals, etc. This mode, and the one below, are great when venturing out of auto mode.

Shutter Priority Mode; this is typically signified by an “S” on your camera. This is the other semi-automatic mode. Unlike shooting in Aperture Priority Mode, in Shutter Priority Mode you control the speed of the shutter while letting your camera make the other adjustments. This is a good mode to choose when your subject has little to no movement. Think architectural shots, nature, etc. As stated above, this mode is good when you want to move away from auto mode.

Manual Mode; this is typically signified by an “M” on your camera. Shooting in this mode allows you full control over all aspects of your camera. In addition to understanding all the settings on your camera, a working knowledge of three elements (Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed) relate to one another is key when shooting in this mode. I’ll address how these three aspects relate to one another at a later date.

Hopefully that gives you a basic understanding of what each mode on your camera signifies. Look for my next post where I’ll talk about Aperture.

Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
The Right Angle Matters

 

These Shoes Weren’t Made For Walkin’

Posted on January 19, 2016


A basic understanding of your camera can be useful, especially if you’ve ever considered venturing out of automatic mode. Every month I’ll share a tip, or (as in this case) tell you what that thing on your camera is. More importantly, I’ll explain how, when, and why it’s used.

While working in the camera department of a big box electronics store, my sister was asked a question by a customer. Ever helpful, she was quick with an answer. The customer in question, looking to buy a higher end camera, asked her what a hot shoe was. Without blinking, my sister began to explain it was an internal fan which aided in keeping the internal workings of the camera at an optimal operating temperature. Impressed with her knowledge, the customer bought the camera. Later, when she called to ask me what a hot shoe was (and to recount what she said), I couldn’t help but laugh. Nope, not even close.

Today we’re talking shoes. There are two types of shoes, a hot shoe and a cold shoe. Simply put, a shoe is a type of connection. A hot shoe means the connection is live (sending and receiving information between your camera and what you’ve attached to it via the hot shoe), whereas a cold shoe is akin to an accessory mount (meaning what you’ve attached to the cold shoe isn’t communicating through the cold shoe). Despite what my sister told that poor customer, the hot shoe isn’t inside your camera. If it has one, and mind you not all cameras do, it’s on the top of your camera (look for two parallel brackets in which something can slide into). One of the most common ways a hot shoe is used is by connecting an external flash to your camera. Once you connect an external flash to your camera, and turn both on, the flash will fire when you take a photo. Great if you need more light directed at your subject. Now, if you need light in an area that can’t be reached if your flash is directly connected to your camera, you can attach it to a cold shoe and place the flash where you need more light (keep in mind you will need to fire the flash remotely, which I will address at a later time).  With that, I hope you have a basic understanding of what hot and cold shoes are!

Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
The Right Angle Matters

 

 

New Year: New Lens

Posted on January 5, 2016.

Welcome!

As the new year gets underway, I’m reminded of how quickly everything changes; seasons change, careers change, and even homes change. As both a Landscape Photographer and a Real Estate Photographer, I see things through a different lens than most. What some see as a dying tree which has lost its leaves to fall and branches to winter storms, I see an opportunity for a unique photo capturing change over time. What others see as a hassle of selling a home, I see as an opportunity to show the world beauty through photographs and introduce a family their new home. In this new year, I challenge you to look at the world through a new lens, the lens of Plumb Pixel Photography. Whether you want to commission a photograph of your favorite view or dazzle buyers with pictures of your home, Plumb Pixel Photography can meet all your Landscape and Real Estate Photography needs.

Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
The Right Angle Matters

 

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