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How it was shot: Orchard Princess

Since I moved from Australia to Detroit, Michigan, I have struggled getting out to find new shooting locations for my family and children portrait sessions. Though, this has given me time to take a few editing classes. The latest one I took was suppose to cover shooting techniques too, but to be honest, that was one broken promise! I will not mention whose class it was, as even though was disappointed with this purchase on the shooting end, I did pick up a few good editing tips - not to mention I absolutely adore this artist's work.

The lack of shooting info made me decide to start sharing my shooting info, and not just my Aperture, Speed and ISO, I want to share everything that went into the shot. Anyone who has taken an editing class knows that you often have to sign agreements to not share those techniques - and fair enough. But this does complicate sharing any editing techniques as simple and very common techniques in Light Room and Photoshop, are used in these videos and thus technically off limits. So, in order to respect the artists whose editing classes I have taken I am not going to describe editing techniques rather refer to whose techniques, Light Room Presets and/or Photoshop Actions I used for that image.

Any beginners reading this and able to understand all the terms or techniques used? The best book I have read on learning photography is Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. I highly recommend this book for anyone who does not fully understand Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO and how they work together. After reading this book, my work dramatically improved as did my ability to read photography articles and have conversations with other photographers.

How was it shot?


It was taken at Robinettes Apple Haus in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For photographers in the area, they do charge a small fee for professional photographer to shoot on their property. You can use the property free for non professional services, like doing test shot with you own kids.


Early June around 7:00pm.

Subject Placement:

Since the early evening sun is still pretty strong around this time in Michigan, I chose a spot between two rows of trees which was completely shaded (dappled shade). I originally planned to shoot this back lit, but there was no open sky behind me to give her eyes catch lights. So instead, I chose to have the sun behind me. I also liked the line behind the subject and the bit of open sky behind her.

Shooting Position:

I was laying on the ground directly in front of her with my camera nearly touching the ground. However, I feel I was too close to her, this image would have been much better had I moved back a 3-5 ft and been able to include her hands and some grass in the forefront.

Camera Settings:

Aperture: f/2.8

This is nearly always the setting I choose first, then I base my speed and ISO from here. For this shot, I wanted to separate the subject from the background so I shot nearly wide open, but not completely as I wanted to ensure her face was sharp.

Shutter Speed: 250

When hand holding my camera I always try to keep my Speed at 250 or higher. Since she was laying down and not moving 250 was a good choice.

ISO: 200

I try to keep my ISO as low as possible to keep noise as low as possible, however, I feel Aperture and Shutter Speed are far more important so I increase my ISO as needed in order to be able to choose the Aperture and Shutter Speed I want. If this does not make sense to you, you really, really need to read Understanding Exposure.


For portraits, I always have my camera set to Spot Metering and meter off of my subjects face. Before posing her I did a test shot and checked my histogram to ensure the exposure was correct.

My equipment:

This photo was taken with my Canon T3i, which is discontinued and has been replaced by the Canon T5i - this is a wonderful camera for beginners.

I used my Canon 50mm 1.8 STM - this is a must have lens for beginners. The f/1.8 is a nice wide aperture to allow you to begin playing with a shallow depth of field and it is cheap! When used on a crop sensor frame body like the T3i or T5i, it acts more like an 85mm, so you do have to get use to stepping back to get everything in the frame.

I also use a lens hood to reduce sun flare, though since the sun was behind me it was unnecessary for this shot.


This photo I used both Lightroom and Photoshop. In Lightroom, I adjusted White Balance, Exposure, Vibrance, and I used Damien Symond's method to reduce noise (his method is free in his blog, just go to his page and create an account and then search for "noise reduction". In Photoshop, I used Great Than Gatsby Actions from the Innocence Collection - unfortunately this is an old image and I no longer have the exact formula, otherwise I would share it. But to be honest I usually only use a few actions: Iris Enhance Brightness, Iris Shape Light, Iris Soft Sharpen, Emotional Color Base (around 50%), and Sharpen for Print

Enjoy this info? I plan to try and do an image a week. Follow me on facebook - I post all my blog posts there.

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