I just felt like putting together some tips I came up with.

Rate your shoot back to front

When rating photos from a portrait shoot, I like to start sorting from the last photo and work towards the start giving most things a rating (in Lightroom 3, I use 4-star, 3-star, Pick and Reject a lot). Lightroom allows you to switch the order from A-Z to Z-A to make this easier.

The reason why is that a model relaxes during the shoot, I figure out the best lighting and settings etc. Also it’s hard to see sometimes if a shot is in focus or sharp enough… but if I start with the best photos, I realise just how crisp the sharp images are.when perfectly in focus and with no handheld blur.

An extension of this method, is that I usually sort portait shoots into subfolders. Such as 100 photos of one model, split into 40 shots of outfit 1, 40 of outfit 2 and 20 of outfit 3. The shots at the end of each folder will usually have the best lighting, poses, etc. while the first few shots are just tests. Other methods I split are location (#1 street location, # forest location) or by model (model #1, model #2…) or lens.

Be adaptable with your equipment

Sometimes batteries go flat in one of my two flashes, or I leave a lens at home… I find the best thing to do is improvise. Switch technique and movie batteries to the fancier flash, find an angle and perspective to make a lens look wider than it is, or imagine that the photo will be cropped later if you are missing a long lens. The strange thing is, choosing a technique which is not practical but is essential for the situation, helps me discover new things.

A good example is that I have a set of extension tubes, which I combined with a 50mm f/1.8 to get great macro shots of people’s eyes. I have a good angle of view and depth of field I was happy with. One day, the extension tubes that unscew got jammed together. I physically couldn’t use just two tubes. If I used one, then the 50mm view is too wide. If I use all three, the view is super close up and the depth of field is tiny. I had previously chosen the 50mm for several reasons as “macro” lens. Now I had to choose something else get the same macro view. I had previously disregarded the 85mm f/1.8, for some reasons. I also disregarded the 100mm f/2.8 manual lens, since it had a long focusing distance. I gave the 100mm a second chance. I had used it on object never used it with 3 extension tubes to take photos of an eye. The angle of view seemed to match the original photos I was doing with the 50mm and two tubes. But the 100mm gave some advantages… the minimum focusing distance was further away – which gives a less distorted view, allows more of eye to be in focus I think plus people will be more comfortable having the lens 15cm from their faces instead of the 50mm and 2cm away. I tried the 100mm f/2.8 out of curiousity in a difficult situation, now I consider the problem a blessing because I made a great discovery.

I thought the 30mm lens is too narrow to do landscapes on a cropped sensor, compared to 18mm. But sometimes I force myself to do landscapes with it at say the beach or a forest, knowing that I will have to think more creatively to fit everything in. I find that this lens actually allows me to take clutter out of the photo, such as if there were wires, or rock, or poles, or street signs or whatever on the borders of the photo, now they are cropped out.

Another approach is that I use the 18mm in certain ways to make it appear more like an ultra-wide lens. Such as by lying on the ground underneath some trees, or standing upright and tilting the camera up slightly to make trees or buildings look distorted. This is known as the problem of converging verticals, usually considered a problem for architecture photos, but can be used to great effect.

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