Street Focus

Bonjour!

This blog has been a bit quiet lately... I've been traveling a lot and teaching photo workshops. I also started hosting my very own podcast Street Focus: An Ongoing Exploration of Urban Photography. I invite you to listen to this new weekly show which is part of the popular TWiP (This Week in Photo) network. The podcast is free for download on iTunes and you can also sign up to receive it via email (the audio is available on the show notes each week).

Every three weeks I answer listener questions and run a photo contest, so do not hesitate to send your questions for the show!

Also, I've added some workshops for 2015: A weekend of street photography in Paris in January, a week in Rome in April and a week in Paris in May. I hope to meet some of you during a photo adventure in 2015! To read my latest newsletter you can click here. To receive updates, please sign up here.

Valérie

Question #42: About My Camera Settings

Q: "Valerie, I love your photographs, there's a timelessness attached to them and very French if I may say so! These are in the tradition of the great French photographers of the fifties. One thing though, I'm dying to know what your settings are if you shoot Raw or Jpegs out of the camera. Hoping you will put me out of my misery. Best wishes." Alan Thomas.

A: "Thank you for the nice compliment Alan, made me blush! :)

As you probably know, I shoot almost exclusively with the Fuji x100s. I love its simplicity and user-friendly dials. I shoot RAW because I like the control it gives me. I don't spend much time in Lightroom but I like consistency and control in my B&W conversion. I don't use presets, I adjust each slider in seconds and the job is done. I have used the JPEG setting on many occasions and the fun filters. I have often set the format in square high contrast B&W with yellow filter and got great results that didn't differ much from the adjustments I make to my RAW files. Basically I shoot RAW out of habit more than anything else...

I shoot in Aperture Priority most of the time. A dial I use a lot is exposure compensation, which is very conveniently located on the x100s (not the case for every camera where you have to go into a menu to change it!) 

My two cents: It's not about shooting Raw or Jpeg, full manual or auto, it's really about learning to see and know how to use your camera to tell your story. I see a lot of bad imagery shot in full manual mode and quite a lot amazing photography shot with camera phones. Vision is still the most indispensable element to produce good photography :)

I hope this answers your question. Happy shooting!" Valerie

If you received this blog post via email, click on the title to view the actual published post. If you found it useful, please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

photo-2.JPG



Question #41: About Developing Your Photographic Eye

Q: "Newbie here.... What's the best way to develop your photographic eye? I know experience is important, but any other key ideas?" Tony Burtt

A: "Good question Tony, and one that I get asked often. A big component of my photo workshops is about learning to see photographically. Practice, practice, practice. Exercising those 'visual pushups' as often as possible is key to growing as a photographer. 

  • Shoot as often as possible. What to shoot? I always encourage people to shoot what they love to get the motivation to go out more often. Whether it's classic cars, horses or flowers, you will always get more enjoyment photographing things that you are most passionate about, you will shoot more and get better in the process. 
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Why? It's very important to try new things too. If you love photographing flowers, I would encourage you to try your photographic eye at something completely different. You will learn a lot in the process and you may surprise yourself by discovering and enjoying something new. Trying your eye at different genres will also make you a well rounded photographer, better prepared in any situation.
  • Slow down! Why? The digital age tends to make photographers a bit lazy. It is definitely an advantage to accelerate the learning curve and give immediate gratification. On the other hand, the unlimited shutter click possibilities can be a crutch. Many photographer take the 'spray and pray' approach instead of slowing down to make decisions before pressing the shutter release. I encourage my students to practice setting some limitation on some photo walks. One camera, one prime lens and a limited number of frames (let's say 36 exposures). Every time photographers slow down and make decisions in camera without relying so much on post processing tools, they always have more keepers at the end of the day. Try it!
  • Seek inspiration online. But don't spend all your time on the Internet. Going out with your camera will still be much more valuable that drooling over the amazing images featured on 500px.
  • Go on photo walks with like-minded people. It's fun and a great way to learn a lot from each other. No photo walk group in your area? Start your own!
  • Give yourself some themes or challenges to work on when you go out with your camera. Work on a shot list. Try new techniques. Limit yourself to a prime lens or the camera on your phone.
  • Attend a photo workshop! :)

I hope this helps and that the community has more tips to share in the comment section below." Valerie

  ©Valerie Jardin      Flowers are not 'my thing' but I like to see the world through my lens and I shoot pretty much anything that catches my eye. Those daily 'visual push-ups' add up to develop your vision and make you a better photographer!

©Valerie Jardin  

Flowers are not 'my thing' but I like to see the world through my lens and I shoot pretty much anything that catches my eye. Those daily 'visual push-ups' add up to develop your vision and make you a better photographer!

If you received this blog post via email, click on the title to view the actual published post. If you found it useful, please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

 

Question #40: About Scouting a Location for Street Photography

Bonjour everyone. Sorry for the long absence from the Q&A blog. I've been busy teaching a workshop in Paris followed by a much needed family vacation. A few questions have come in and it's time I start answering some of them... So here we go!

Q: "For street shooting, are there any scouting tools you like to use when you're looking for target neighborhoods in a location you don't know well, other than Google and maybe Flickr?" Stan Philippe

A: "Great question Stan, as I am occasionally running photo workshops in new and unfamiliar locations. Doing research on photo sites and checking out YouTube videos to get a feel for a place and its various neighborhoods is a great way to get started. It's always my first step in the scouting process. Next, I get in contact with local street photographers to get their input and talk to them about their favorite street photography locations. Many times I co-lead a workshop with a local street photographer, such as my NYC and LA workshops. Nothing beats having the first hand experience of a local street photographer to help you find the best places to shoot.

When I am not scouting or planning for a workshop and just shooting for myself, I like to let the city surprise me. I can walk all day with my camera and get lost on purpose. There is always a story happening and I enjoy the hunt as much as the resulting image. I tend to roam the less travelled areas and stay away from the touristy spots. Taking side streets and back streets as much as possible, and with safety in mind, is the best way to get a more authentic feel for a place. Public transportation in any large city is a great place to do street photography as well. That's real life. It's important to be respectful and discreet. I would avoid photographing people in the Paris metro with a noisy DSLR, although I've done it in the past... 

Talking with locals, not necessarily photographers, is a great way to find out what's happening in a neighborhood. The changes and/or struggles that most tourists are oblivious to, may help you tell your story in images in a more meaningful way.

I hope you found these tips useful. Good luck!" Valerie.

   ©Valerie Jardin ~   Taking less travelled side streets will help you get a more authentic feel for a place.

 ©Valerie Jardin ~ Taking less travelled side streets will help you get a more authentic feel for a place.

If you received this blog post via email, click on the title to view the actual published post. If you found it useful, please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Question #39: About Going Through A Creative Rut

Q: "I'm attending evening classes in a photography school - we basically have weekly workshops where we're given assignments on imposed subjects on a regular basis. So far I've been quite inspired by those and enjoying it a lot. The "end of year" assignment that's coming next, in contrast, is a freely chosen topic and our photos will be exhibited in a prestigious place and potentially exposed to lots of people.

I'm excited about this great opportunity to have my work shown but still can't possibly figure out which direction to head towards - a kind of "photographer's block" I guess. I'm most passionate about street photography, however I fear that my usual kind of street images is too mundane and not catchy enough to be exhibited. I believe in the power of simplicity and I'm aiming at producing striking, graphical pictures but I just don't know where to start. Every street around where I live I feel like I have roamed a hundred times for assignments or personal work, and there's not much new to get my inner photography flame kindled again. The deadline for giving out the photos for printing is June.

Do you have any advice on how to overcome that block ? Any artist you'd recommend as an inspiration, be it photographer, painter, filmmaker ?

Thanks and keep up the good work ! It's always a pleasure reading your blog and hearing you on TWiP." Guillaume

~

A: "Hi Guillaume, thank you for your kind words and for submitting a question to the blog. Tough question as I'm not sure if you are planning to pursue photography as a hobby or a career.

Street photography is really something you do for you and you alone. I wrote an article about that recently, which you might want to read: To Be Or Not To Be A Street Photographer. Street photography is not something that will get praises like landscape or nature images will. I don't think that's a bad thing. Not everyone understands the beauty of street photography and the audience is more limited. When you are out shooting, you should aim at pleasing yourself, not others. If they like your work and buy it, that's the bonus! 

You don't have to travel to exotic locations to capture beautiful street photographs. If you feel like you are in a rut, give yourself assignments. But not the same assignments that are required for your classes.  Some days you may just want to shoot some street portraits, other days focus your attention on silhouettes or motion. Find a stage and wait for the right subject to walk through. Maybe you need to do something completely different for a change. Pick up a macro lens and try your eye at macro photography for a while. Give yourself limitations, pretend you are shooting film for a day and shoot 36 frames only. That will make you slow down and think.  Get in your car and get lost on purpose, take a path you've never taken before and explore it with your camera.  You never know what is going to move the artist in you. Follow your heart!

I get inspired by art in general. Go look at paintings at your local museum, immerse yourself in a photography book, not only images that are available online. Watch inspirational videos on Lynda.com (Richard Koci Hernandez comes to mind) or Kelbyone.com: (Wonderful videos featuring Jay Maisel). 

We all go through creative blocks. Don't look at it as a bad thing. On the contrary, it may just be a sign that you need to push yourself, to grow in the process. I think that a loss of passion may be an opportunity to renew and refresh your vision and turn it in a positive experience. 

I wish you the best of luck in all your creative pursuits. Keep in touch!" Valerie

  Give yourself your own assignments. Work on silhouettes for a day for example. Find the right stage, wait for the right subject to walk through and capture the shot you envisioned. That is a sure way to boost your energy and passion! 

Give yourself your own assignments. Work on silhouettes for a day for example. Find the right stage, wait for the right subject to walk through and capture the shot you envisioned. That is a sure way to boost your energy and passion! 

If you received this blog post via email, click on the title to view the actual published post. If you found it useful, please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Question #38: Inside My Camera Bag

Q: "Curious about the camera and your shooting style. Is the camera a fixed 22mm lens or does it have ability to changes lenses and the other question is when you do street photography is it just you and the camera or do you carry a few other items, i.e. a flash, etc." Jim

A: "Very good question Jim! A small rectification regarding my camera. The Fuji x100s actually has a fixed 23mm lens, which is the equivalent to a 35mm. It's not only a fixed focal length, but also a non-detachable lens. And that is the reason why I bought it and claim that it is the best camera I've ever owned. The focal length is ideal for street photography. Why would I need to change it? Also, I can shoot anything else with that camera (I took it to Iceland even!) I embrace the limitations, they make me a better photographer.

What else is in my camera bag? Batteries! The one small problem with the x100s is its really short battery life. I carry two extras with me at all times.

I never use a flash, for anything.

When I carry my ThinkTank Retrospective 5, my camera is never in it. It's in my hand, finger on the trigger. I still often bring the bag for a full day photo walk and I use it to carry personal items such as a water bottle, a snack and the tiniest travel umbrella.

I'm definitely a gear minimalist and I strongly believe in the power of limitations. Although when you're lucky enough to shoot with a fine piece of gear like the Fuji x100s, I would hardly qualify it as limiting...  It is, after all, the best camera I've ever owned. Not because it is technologically better, but because it has become an extension of me and my vision and it doesn't get in the way.

I hope this answers your question. Thanks again for reading my blog!" Valerie

 ©Valerie Jardin - My Fuji and the ThinkTank Retrospective 5

©Valerie Jardin - My Fuji and the ThinkTank Retrospective 5

If you found this post useful, please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Question #37: About the Nifty Fifty

"Ciao Valerie, a friend on FB put a link to your blog Q&A and I have devoured it. I read all the entries and they have been very helpful. so thank you. you work is also incredibly suggestive and love it!

I am a novice photographer and have taken a few introductory courses to learn the tricks of using manual mode. I always thought that not using the manual mode would mean I wasn't 'any good'. Therefore its a great comfort to know that you also use the other settings (AP) when shooting to capture the moment quicker. Photography is a hobby for me and I have a canon EOS 650. I have my go to lens - the nifty fifty 50mm 1.8 - and I use it a lot indoors. I also recently bought a EF-S 10-22 f3.5-4.5 for landscape and interior photography which I enjoyed a lot on my last trip.

I have a lifestyle blog and the prime lens seems to be pretty good. However I was wondering 2 things; 1) if perhaps you are ever coming to London and perhaps doing a workshop? and 2) should I be upgrading to a better prime lens for indoor photography (mainly food)? I have read on a lot of fashion/lifestyle blogs that they either have 50mm 1.4 or the 1.2 (which is out of my budget). Is the 1.4 a good jump or pointless?

Thanks and keep up the good work. so nice that you take the time to answer our questions!" Daniella, UK

~

Hi Daniella. Thank you for reading my blog! I'm glad you are finding it useful. It's always nice to get some feedback when you're trying to help the community at large.

Regarding the workshop: Yes, I am planning to lead a weekend workshop in London next Spring. If you wish to get a full week of education, Paris is really close for you and I have a couple of spots left this Fall.

Regarding the lens: Many years ago, when I started to shoot food for clients, the 50mm f/1.8 was the only lens I had and it made me quite a bit of money! It's a great little lens. Before investing into any new lenses, I would first consider if you are going to stay in the DSLR system or embrace smaller mirrorless systems when you upgrade next.

Either way, the market is started to get flooded with used DSLRs and lenses as more and more amateurs and pros are switching to mirrorless systems. If you plan to get new glass for your EOS 650, I would look at gently used gear first. If you upgrade from the f/1.8, you may be able to jump to a f/1.2 and skip the f/1.4 if you find someone who is getting rid of his/her DSLR and lenses. Keep in mind that any new lens for a DSLR system will not hold its value as much now as it used to. 

I hope this helps. Good luck and keep in touch!

Valerie

~

If you found this post useful, please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

 

 

Question #36: About Selling Used Camera Gear

Q: "I have an old Canon EOS Rebel Xs Film Camera with a 28-80mm 3.5-5.6 EF lens and a 75-300mm zoom II 4-5.6 lens. Is there still a market out there for this type of equipment? I'd like to sell it and buy a lens for my DSLR instead.
Thanks!" Nicki

A: "Hi Nicki! Thank you for your question. Used camera bodies sell but they don't sell for much. Especially entry level cameras that were inexpensive to start with. Unless you can get an accurate shutter actuation count to show that it still has a lot of life left, most people will not buy used camera bodies. Lenses, on the other end, do sell if they have been well taken care of. The only thing that would be a deal breaker is mold in the lens which is a fairly common problem that cannot be fixed. That all depends where you live, but it is a real concern is some parts of the world where lenses need special storing precautions to stay dry.

The lenses listed above are not expensive lenses to start with, so you won't get much for them. You may also consider donating them to a school or a non profit program like 100 Cameras.

No matter what you decide to do, get rid of your DSLR equipment while you can. With the increasing popularity of mirrorless systems, the market is starting to be inundated with used equipment and the value will go down pretty quickly. Good luck!" Valerie 

 ©Valerie Jardin

©Valerie Jardin

If you found this post useful, please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Conversation #6 With Rinzi Ruiz About His 24 Hour Photo Project

Today I am excited to share with you my conversation with LA-based street photographer Rinzi Ruiz.

 LA-based street photographer Rinzi Roco Ruiz

LA-based street photographer Rinzi Roco Ruiz

A few days ago I followed with great interest Rinzi's 24 hour photo project. I contacted him right away to schedule this interview and discuss his experience of shooting and posting 1 picture every hour during a 24 hour period while walking the streets of LA with his camera. To find out more about the worldwide 24 hour street photography project, click here. To find out more about Rinzi Ruiz visit his blog, see his work on Flickr and follow him on Instagram: @rinzizen.

Please listen to the interview below and watch the slide show of the 24 images he shot and posted that day as part of the project.

Below: Slide show of Rinzi's 24 street photographs shot during the 2014 worldwide 24 hour street photography project.

Question #35: About The Quality Of Real Estate Photographs


Q: "Hi Valérie. So far I have not really found what type of photography I would like to specialize in. This is probably because I am having fun with everything. I love landscape, macro, portrait (of my wife and daughter) and interior/real estate photography. Two weeks ago, I contacted a real estate agent I know to help me build my portfolio. She allowed me to photograph a house on a Sunday before her official photographer would photograph it (the following day). I had the chance to compare my pictures to the ones from the other photographer and I can honestly say that my pictures were technically way better. She did not use any flash while I used two, her windows were blown out, and her white balance was way off. I asked for some feedback from the agent and was told that highest quality pictures are not top priorities in real estate photography, and that by producing better lighting I am also showing the flaws of the house.

While I agree that I need to learn to not show the flaws of a house, I was disappointed to learn that high quality pictures were not top priorities. Most people I talk to tend to say that the quality of the photos of most listings are awful. So, is this the general rule in real estate photography? Or should I go after those who value great pictures among the agents? Thank you for your answers." Patrick, Canada.

A: "Thank you for your question Patrick. I used to shoot for Real Estate and I must say that it was occasionally a frustrating process. Pictures do sell, there is no doubt about that. Yet, I don't believe in images that show the property to be three times the size that it actually is. That is plain deceitful. But images do have to show the house in its best light in order to attract potential buyers. We've all seen the horrible quality of most MLS pics online, they are usually shot by the listing agent with a good camera but no technical or compositional knowledge.

I don't believe that adding light is necessary for a real estate shoot anymore. You can get great results in ambient light and, if you expose properly, windows should not be blown out. If they are a bit overexposed, it's usually a quick fix in Lightroom. Although quality is very important. A Real Estate shoot doesn't require the amount time and care to detail you would put into a traditional interior shoot for a builder, a designer or an architect for example. Those shoots are intended to showcase a space for a long period of time in an online gallery or for print advertising. Whereas real estate pics will only be used and seen for a few days or weeks.  A real estate shoot does not require as much attention to details as an interior shoot. Only 2 or 3 pics of each room, at most, will ever be featured. It is also for that reason that you cannot charge the same rates for a real estate shoot like you would if you were commissioned by a designer or an architect.  In most real estate jobs you need to get the work done fast. 

A professional stager is also a key element to enhance the highlights of any property and the real estate photographer should always make sure the house is staged before taking the job. 

Smaller properties do benefit the most from professional photography because they are more difficult to showcase. That said, you may find it easier to sell your services to real estate professionals who specialize in big ticket listings. They will be used to dealing with professional photographers and will see the value you can add to their team. I hope this helps, good luck!" Valerie 

If you found this post useful, please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Question #34: About NX300 vs. X100S?

Hi everyone! It's been a while since I've answered a question on my Q&A Blog. I have a few hours to catch up as I am sitting on the plane from MSP to SFO. Perfect time to answer another question! 

Q: "You're playing with the Samsung NX300? Have you used it long enough to have arrived at any opinion. What lens are you using with it? I've looked at it, as well as a Fuji, which is much more expensive. An impression I have is that in either case, the lenses that are available are not that fast. Do you find this to be a problem. (I'm used to Canon f/2.8 lenses)
I'm not ready to scrap my Canon 70-200, but am thinking about a second camera for travel. I do have the x100s, but believe it would be somewhat limiting. Your thoughts would be appreciated.. Maybe this can be your question of the week." Hugh H.

A: "Thank you for your question Hugh! First, I would like to start by saying that I left the Samsung Imagelogger program, not because of the gear, simply because other exciting opportunities have presented themselves, but more on that in due time…

Although the Samsung NX300 is a fine little camera, I don’t think we can compare it with the Fuji x100s which, in my opinion, is in a class of its own. It would be like comparing apples and oranges (is that the right expression?)

The NX300 is small, light weight and has an appealing retro look. Its large tilt LCD is very convenient and the touch focus quite efficient. Its 20MP and WiFi connectivity make it quite appealing as well. I would not recommend the kit lens, I’ve used it almost exclusively with the 30mm f/2.0 pancake lens and I think it’s the best combo. I don’t see the point in putting a big long lens on such a small body, it would defeat the purpose of using such a small camera. But at least you do have the option to change lenses and use one of the many Samsung lenses available. Some of them are quite fast. 

The Fuji x100s is, so far, the best camera I’ve ever owned. I love the quality of its fixed 23mm (35mm equiv) lens, the quality of the images is excellent, its low light capability is amazing and you can’t beat its cool retro look. As a street photographer, the silent mode is priceless! I don’t think it is a camera for everyone. The limitations of not being able to change lenses can be very intimidating for many who are transitioning into the mirror-less systems. I find those limitations refreshing and liberating. The camera becomes an extension of my vision and doesn’t get in the way. 

The Samsung NX300 would be a perfect first step into the mirror-less world. I can also see it being a great companion to a DSLR kit for anyone who is wanting to have a great little camera with them all the time without sacrificing on the quality, like you would with a camera phone. Whereas, in my opinion, the Fuji is definitely a primary camera, one that will make you want to give up your DSLR altogether!

Note that the Fuji x100s is also twice the price of the Samsung NX300... I hope this helps!" Valerie

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Conversation #5 With Ugo Cei About Photographing A Stranger A Day

Hello!

It's been a while since I've had the pleasure to invite a guest to talk about photography. Today I enjoyed a conversation with Italian travel, landscape and fine art photographer Ugo Cei.

 Photographer Ugo Cei

Photographer Ugo Cei

Ugo claims to be a geek at heart, who loves the technical aspects of digital photography and understanding what goes inside the machine.

His clients include Architectural Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, and Alitalia.

Ugo and I have known each other for quite some time via social media. Recently, I've really enjoyed seeing the daily images of his new A Stranger A Day project. I invited him to share his experience with you through a G+ Hangout. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Ugo Cei.

Sorry for the technical difficulties at the beginning and the end of the recording... Ah, the Joy of modern technology!

You can find out more about Ugo through his website and blog and follow his project on Google+

Here are a few images from Ugo's A Stranger A Day project...

Question #33: About Transitioning To A Mirrorless System

Q: " Hi Valerie! I'm currently transitioning from dslr to mirrorless and my passion lies within the field of photojournalism/street photography and portraiture. I'm leaning towards the fuji x-e2, but not sure which lens I should purchase due to the lack of knowledge in the mirrorless world. I use to shoot with a Nikon d90 and the lens that never let me down was the 55-300mm (beautiful portraiture/IQ). Well, I guess I want to know what gear can I use as my workhorse until I get financially stable enough to add more lens/bodies. I guess my main concern is the AF (photojournalism woes of missing the shot or getting a bad shot all do to lack of focus). Thanks! Love your work!" Sha-Sonja

A: "Congratulations! Making the decision to leave the world of DSLRs is a big step. It's also an exciting one, change is good! I haven't shot with the x-e2 yet, but I love my Fuji x100s with its fixed 23mm lens (35mm equiv.). Perfect tool for street photography in particular. Auto focus never let me down, it's super fast on the x100s and I'm sure the x-e2 would be no different. 

As far as lenses are concerned, if you are used to the range of a 55-300mm on your Nikon, my suggestion to get a prime lens may be an even bigger step for you. I hear that the 18-55 mm kit lens for the x-e2 and its aperture of f/2.8-4.0 is quite good (it's 35mm equiv. to 27-84mm). This may be the best one to start with. Then I would suggest getting a fast prime when you can afford it.

I hope this helps. Have fun in the new world of mirroless cameras!" Valérie

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

 My Fuji X100s ©Valérie Jardin

My Fuji X100s ©Valérie Jardin

Question #32: About Switching from JPEG to RAW

Q: "How to do it simply. I have resisted because I did not want to have to work on each and every photo." Joan H.

A: First what is a RAW file? Simply put, a RAW file is an uncompressed file which contains the full data from the camera sensor. It has a high dynamic range but is also quite flat with little contrast because it still requires processing. You cannot use it to print directly from the camera.

What's a JPEG then? It's a compressed image file in a standard readable format. It has a lower dynamic range. A JPEG file is ready for printing or sharing without any manipulation or correction. Post processing of a JEPG (adjusting white balance, contrast, etc.) is still possible but you are not working with the full data captured by your camera sensor, your camera already processed it. There is also a loss in color and resolution.

Note that the picture you see on the back of your camera is a JPEG rendition of what you just shot, even if you are shooting in RAW. 

Space considerations: A RAW file takes A LOT more space on your memory card and your computer hard drive than a JPEG, so be prepared for that!

Processing: Yes, you will need a processing software if you shoot RAW. But most likely you are already using one, even if it is only for minor corrections on your JPEGs such as adjusting the exposure or straightening the horizon line.

So what should you shoot, RAW or JPEG? There is no right or wrong answer. It all depends on your needs and goals. If you've never shot RAW before, just switch your setting to RAW + JPEG and play around with it for a few days. You may discover that a little bit of post processing and more flexibility to do so will help enhance your images. 

What do I shoot? I shoot RAW pretty much exclusively. The only time I switch to JEPG is when I do panning because it requires shooting a great number of frames in burst mode and it also saves space on my memory card if I do a lot of panning. I also often set my Fuji x100s to RAW + JEPG, this allows me the see in a monochrome and square format on the back of my camera. The advantage is that I still have all the color info in the RAW file just in case I want to use that.

 I hope this helps demystify the RAW vs. JPEG question.  Memory is cheap so try shooting  both for a while and see what works for you! 

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

 

 

 

Conversation #4 With Martin Bailey About Sharing Our Passion For Photography

Bonjour!

Sorry for the long stretch of time between posts. I've been traveling again! I always leave for a trip with the good intention of writing blog posts during the long flights but, truth is, I rarely open my laptop on a plane. I much prefer to lose myself in a good book.

I have a treat for you this week! I spent an hour chatting with my good friend and photographer extraordinaire Martin Bailey. We finally managed to find time in our busy schedules to sit down for an hour. I am just returning from Paris and soon heading down to Australia and he is about to leave for his Winter Wonderland photo tours. Martin is an amazing nature and wildlife photographer, a talented writer and a great guy! 

As my previous conversations for this blog, this is a candid chat between two photographers. Today Martin and I discuss how we've both come to a point in our careers where it's all about sharing our passion for the craft, mostly through teaching and writing. Martin is also the host of the popular Martin Bailey Photography Podcast which just reached 400 episodes. This is a huge accomplishment and I applaud him for that.

 

Martin's Website and Podcast 

Link to his photo tours and workshops

The Martin Bailey's books on Craft & Vision

 

Valerie's website and photo workshops

I am honored to be a master at The Arcanum, Trey Ratcliff's new exciting Academy of Photography!

 

I hope you enjoy my conversation with Martin Bailey!

Question #31: About Inspiration

Q: "I like to look at the work of photographers to learn and get inspired (you're one of them). What do you think about learning from looking at photographers who's work you enjoy, and who, if any, do you look at and enjoy?" ~ Shannon

 

A: "Thanks for your question Shannon! Looking at other photographers' work is one of the best ways to get inspiration, looking at art in general inspires me. We can learn a lot from the great painters as well. The use of light is no different.

Of course, as a street photographer, I am inspired by well known photographers such as Bresson, Doisneau or Erwitt. The recently discovered work of Vivian Maier is amazing and such a source of inspiration as well. I am also in awe by the amazing work of photographers of my own generation and I regularly go through sites such as 500px or Google+ to look at art.  There are so many amazing unknown artists out there who create stunning images. We are fortunate to be able to have access to such a wealth of talent thanks to the Internet. It wasn't so long ago that we only had access to work in print form, which was very limiting. So many talented photographers were never discovered and their work never seen because visibility was reserved to very few well known artists. 

I think we need to derive your inspiration from the Internet, museum exhibits and books. Emulating the work of others is also a great way to learn different techniques, such as lighting. This blog post by fellow photographer Rick Sammon comes to mind.

Most of all, I get inspiration in everyday life. I just spent three days roaming the streets of Paris and the unique atmosphere inspires me every time. It reminds me to slow down, observe and record with my camera." 

Valerie Jardin Photography - Cafe-1.jpg


Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

 

Question #30: About Cropping Photos

Q: "I love your photos and enjoy listening to you when you are on TWIP. I was wondering what your thoughts are about cropping photos. Do you usually plan to crop or try to frame in camera? When you do crop a photo to you usually stick to "standard" sizes or usually just to get the image you want? Thanks again for sharing your love of photography." Wes

A: "Thanks for being a TWiP listener Wes! And thank you for submitting a question. Cropping in camera and getting rid of distracting elements before you press the shutter in order to make stronger images is actually something I teach in my 'Learning to see photographically' workshop. That is also the reason why I urge my photography students to use a prime lens. A fixed focal length lens will make you work harder, it will slow you down to compose your image more carefully. In my opinion it's all about shooting less and shooting better and with more intent. With digital, photographers tend to shoot a scene from every possible angle and compose their image in post processing with the cropping tool. I think that approach takes the merit and the fun out of photography. There are decisions that should be made in camera and in the field. We are photographers, aren't we? 

Of course shooting a large number of frames of a single subject and leaving room for cropping is necessary when you photograph birds, children, sport, etc. It is also a necessary step in the learning process. The digital age has certainly eased the learning curve with the possibility of unlimited shots, immediate gratification and no cost attached. My point is that once a photographer becomes proficient, he or she should not depend on the lucky shot and should make decisions in camera in order to spend as little time in the digital darkroom as possible. Cropping in camera is one of those decisions. 

Do I crop in post processing? I do, occasionally, and I love the ease of the cropping tool. That said,  I don't shoot with the cropping tool in mind. Yet, it can be an image saver! I often used a square crop for street photographs when I was shooting with a DSLR for example. Now I have the ability to see in a square before I press the shutter and that is a great advantage to train the eye to see in that format. I often set my Fuji x100s to square.

I don't worry too much about keeping the standard ratio when cropping in LR unless I want to print and I want that print to fit in a standard frame size. I like to add a white or black border to my images, which also allows for more flexibility if the crop is not standard.

I hope this answers your questions, please feel free to send more. Thanks again!" Valerie 

 I love setting my Fuji x100s to 1x1 format and see/photograph life in a square!

I love setting my Fuji x100s to 1x1 format and see/photograph life in a square!

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Question #29: About Lens Choice For Low Light Situations

Q: "Hi Valerie! I really enjoy your blog. My dream would be to take one of your workshops in Paris one day. I need guidance on which lens to purchase next. I have a Nikon D80 camera. The ISO stops at 1600. Eventually I would like a full frame DSLR. I have an 18-200 lens. The largest aperture is 3.5 . I am trying to decide if I should get a 35mm 1.4 or should I consider the 24-70 2.8. Or something else. Photography is my hobby and now that my children are grown I am trying to make growing in my knowledge a priority. I love to photograph anything. Children, landscapes, candid moments. Street and food photography really interests me. I need something that handles well in low light. Thank you!" ~ Kathy

A: "Thank you for your kind words Kathy, I hope you join my Paris workshop some day!

I am quite familiar with the 35mm and the 24-70mm lenses. My Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 has been my bread and butter lens for years. I used to travel with it but it's heavy and bulky and I've been leaving it behind, along with the DSLR for months now. It's a great lens. I almost exclusively use prime lenses these days and 35mm is the perfect lens for me. It's ideal for street photography (my Fuji x100s has a fixed 23mm lens which is the equivalent to a 35mm). I also travelled for several weeks with that focal length only and loved every minute of it (see images on blog post). The 35mm lens will be a great choice in low light and a great exercise in creativity as it will make you work harder at your composition skills. Another lens to consider would be a 50mm f/1.8, it's a great little lens and a good way to get used to working with a fixed focal length rather inexpensively. 

Keep in mind too that 1.4 will let a lot more light than 2.8 (four times more light if i'm not mistaken) and will be your best choice to shoot hand held in low light situations. 

Before you invest in expensive glass, make sure you want to stay with a DSLR system. Mirrorless cameras are definitely the way to go for most photographers today, amateurs and pros alike. You may enjoy a smaller and lighter system without compromising on the quality of images. Food for thoughts...

I hope this helps! Thanks for submitting a question for the blog!"

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions!