Away in the Woods

October 31, 2014 § 5 Comments

Fine and Feathered

 
An afternoon spent wandering through the woods, laughing, and looking for a little adventure, is always a favorite way to spend a Sunday. Throw in a campfire, and enough s'mores to make any normal person sick, and you have our lovely day. As soon as I saw the Free People October catalgue I was obsessed, to say the least. I couldn't wait to do a little photoshoot with some of the girls from the store, inspired by it!

Fine and Feathered

Fine and Feathered

Fine and Feathered

We spent the afternoon wandering through the city park near my home, just shooting and enjoying the lovely fall day. I always love getting a bit lost in the woods, not really knowing what you'll find, but appreciating all the sights and smells it has to offer. 

Once we were done in the woods we headed over to my dad's warehouse. It's an old brick bulding that sits in a field, surrounded by woods. My dad was nice enough to set us up a fire, and even pitched in a box of cupcakes to ensure that we were fat and happy when we were all done shooting. My favorite part of the whole day was the very end, where we all got to sit back, relax, and appreciate the star filled night sky and the warm, crackling fire. It's made me realize how desperately I need to take more time like that in my life.

 

Fine and Feathered

Fine and Feathered

Fine and Feathered

Fine and Feathered

All photos are mine. All clothes are Free People. Be sure to follow our store on Instagram to see more from our shoots and each of us on FP Me too! (Me, Katie, Christina, Erin, and Kristin)

Tips for finding your perfect camera

September 18, 2013 § 7 Comments

Fine and Feathered

I was 15 when I decided to buy my first DSLR. I used all the "car money" I had been saving since I was little to buy a Nikon D70s. That meant I drove a hand-me-down 1975 Ford Granada with no heat or air conditioning, but I never regretted my decision. Back then, the D70s was really one of the only consumer-grade DSLRs Nikon offered. Now its a whole different story. There are so many different brands with so many different types of cameras available now that it can be a little daunting to figure out which one is right for you.

Last year I upgraded from that D70s to the Nikon D5100 and am still really happy with my choice. I considered a few other cameras at the time too, but ultimately the D5100 won out and I've learned a few things about how to figure out which one is right for you.

THINK ABOUT HOW YOU'LL USE IT

Most DSLRs these days, even the cheaper ones, still can produce great images. Unless you're looking to set up a real professional photography business, then you have a ton of choices to pick through. Think about how, where, and when you'll mostly be using your camera. Are you mostly taking outfit photos? Family photos? Do you plan to travel with it a lot? Make a list of what you'll mostly be using it for and think of any features you'd use on a regular basis (self timer settings, low light abilities, etc.).

One of the big things that made me pick the D5100 was that it's lightweight and has a closable LCD screen. I always take it when I travel, and even just on little day trips, so the fact that I can throw it in my bag and not worry about the screen getting scratched or the camera being unbearably heavy, is awesome. Some people think of the closable screen as a gimmick-y feature, and I suppose it kind of is, but it's been so useful for me. It doesn't do multiple shots for self-timer, which is one downside, but I always use a remote anyway so it's not a big deal for me.
*update – I was wrong! The D5100 does have multiple shot self-timer.

Fine and Feathered
Fine and Feathered

TRY PLENTY OUT

Because there's so many great brands and models out there, go ahead and play with a few and see how you like their feel! If you're looking at all consumer grade DSLRs. most of them take the same type of memory card, so if you already have one then bring it with you to the store and stick it in each camera you try out. When you get home you can look at them on your computer and see if there's any differences that you do, or don't, like in the image quality. Make sure you play with plenty of the features too, and even think about how it feels in your hand.

One of my friend's dad is a professional photographer and let me play with his D70s for an afternoon before I bought mine, that's how I knew that I definitely wanted that camera. When I decided to upgrade I knew I wanted to stick with a Nikon. I did some research online and narrowed it down to a few models and went to the store to play with all of them. Of course, Frank suprised me and bought me the camera for my birthday, but that was after he knew exactly which one I was planning on saving for:)

Fine and Feathered

THINK ABOUT LENSES

If you're getting a DSLR, the time to start thinking about lenses is the same time you're thinking about which camera to get. A good lens can make all the difference in your photos, so it's worth it to figure out which ones you want, and if you need to save for them.

When I bought my first camera I got the kit which included a Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5 lens. It's a great basic lens, although it seems they don't sell it brand new anymore. I've played with the "basic" one they sell in the kits now (I think it's the 18-55?) and I don't like it nearly as much as mine, so I don't usually recommend the kits for the Nikons anymore. I also bought a Nikon 70-300mm lens when I got my first camera. I used to shoot a lot of photos for bands, and sometimes needed to shoot from farther away so it was great for that, but I found I didn't use it as much in recent years and sold it after I got my new camera. My favorite lens, I bought last year, is a Nikon 50mm f/1.4. All the outfit photos on my blog since I got it have been taken with it. It's just a great portrait lens that gives a beautiful depth of field. It is more expensive then other ones, but I think it's completely worth it!

Not all cameras take all lenses of course (and even within the same brand, not all lenses are completely compatible), so once you decide on your camera, or even just what brand you're going with, you can research which lenses are best to go with it. For those of you who already know what camera you're getting here's some good lists of lenses to go with them…

The Phoblographer's 2012 reccomended lenses for NIkon DSLRs
Nikon's 10 best lesnes from Ken Rockwell
The First Canon Lenses you should buy from The Wirecutter
Best Canon lenses and how to choose your next one from The Camera Labs

Of course, other brands besides Nikon and Canon make good cameras these days, thought it seems to be that most people are still in one camp or the other, but if you're looking at another brand just a quick google search is all you need to find out about good lenses for what you're looking at.

Fine and Feathered

Even though DSLRs are so much more affordable these days, that doesn't mean you shouldn't make sure you're getting one that you can love for years to come. It's really exciting to buy one, and I know you can feel like you just want to run out and get one right away, but if you take your time, and really research what's best for you, then you'll be so much happier in the end!

Personally, I'd still love to get a full-frame DSLR someday (I got to shoot with a D800 this summer and was pretty in love!), but my D5100 has been so great for my needs, and even if I do upgrade oneday I know I'll still hold on to my little guy!

PS. This post was in no way sponsored by Nikon or anyone else. These are all simply my honest opinions.

Tips for taking your own outfit photos

August 30, 2013 § 8 Comments

Fine and Feathered

Lately I've been getting more questions about how I do my outfit photos and any tips that I have, so I thought I'd share what I've learned so far today! About 99% of my outfit photos were taken by me, with just my camera, tripod and remote. A few times I've had my brother or my mom snap photos for me, but I actually tend to prefer to do it myself. I'm a huge perfectionist, and even though I definitely don't always do them perfect, I'd still rather be able to blame myself for them not being quite right.

I certainly don't consider myself any sort of expert on the matter, I'm still learning a ton, but I have definitely picked up on a few important things over the years!

Fine and Feathered

GET TO KNOW YOUR GEAR

I don't think you have to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy camera to get really nice photos. On the same note, I think even if you do spend a ton of money on really good equiptment, but don't learn to use it properly, then you're wasting your money. With the internet these days you can probably find a dozen in-depth tutorials on whatever camera you have – it's awesome, and everyone should take advantage of it!  If you haven't already, I suggest spending some time reading up on your camera and getting aquinted with things like ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Then spend a whole afternoon just playing with all the settings and taking a ton of photos.

I use a Nikon D5100 (prior to May'12 my camera was a Nikon D70s) and I almost exclusively use a Nikkor AF-S 50mm 1:1.4 Lens for all of my outfit photos.

Fine and Feathered

TAKE YOUR TIME

Whenever I'm in a rush and try to take photos I almost always regret it and usually end up just trashing the photos anyway. Especially if you're not doing it everyday it can be a little akward and takes more time to get relaxed infront of the camera. Take your time and take tons of photos. We live in the digital era where you don't need to worry about running out of film or spending money to develop all of it, you can shoot as many as you want and trash the ones that aren't great when you get home. So relax and don't forget to try different angles, and even change your location if it's just not working!

I usually spend 20 minutes doing my photos and take 50-75 photos for each outfit. It's often that I also have to change locations because the first one I picked just isn't working for some reason – I don't let it bother me, I just relax and find a new interesting spot!

Fine and Feathered

FIND YOUR GROOVE

Everyone has their own preference for doing their outfit photos. There are remotes available for most cameras, and almost all also have a few different timer settings. Before you buy a remote you can try out how you like the timer setting and see how it feels to you, just know that you may have to use a prop to focus your camera before you set the timer so you're properly in focus. Finding what works for you is important, so spend some time figuring it out!

I love my camera remote. Most of my skirts and dresses have pockets in them so it's pretty easy for me to hide it once I set it.

Fine and Feathered Fine and Feathered

SETTING THE SCENE

Most of us who take our own outfit photos feel a little shy about doing it right there in public for passersby to see. Not only is it awkward to constantly be asked why you're taking photos of yourself and whether you want them to just take a photo for you, but it's really hard to relax when you feel like people might be watching you. So keep your eyes out for quiet local spots you can take your photos without being oogled at. As for where to take them, it's great to find a space with a little going on, but won't be over-powering. Personally, I'm not usually a fan on having cars in the background, their reflectors and chrome-y bits tend to be distracting. Wherever you take them, just be conscious of what will be behind you. Also, try to change things up and not take photos in the exact same spot all the time.

I've gone through phases where I used the same spot constantly, but now I try to find new interesting spots to change things up at. I also cannot take photos with other people around. I'm very conscious and totally feel "the eyes" on me, which does not make for relaxed looking photos!

Fine and Feathered

Hope these little things help those of you who are maybe new to the self-portrait world, or who are still struggling. I know my personal struggle is still with lighting, I tend to err on the safe side and shoot in shadier places to avoid having to fight with the lighting too much, but I definitely plan to start working on that:)

PS. Click any of the images to see the original outfit post's they're from!

It’s all in the details

July 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

Fine and Feathered Country wedding bar

Fine and Feathered Wedding sign   Fine and Feathered country wedding

Fine and Feathered country wedding thank yous

Fine and Feathered Wedding Details

This weekend I was lucky enough to be the photo stylist / second shooter for an adorable wedding. I beat the other photographer to the reception so I walked around with my camera and took some shots. My favorite weddings are always the ones that think of all the details, and really show the couples personalities, and this is officially one of my favorite weddings I've ever been to (even counting the super-expensive ones I did when I was working for a wedding planner). There's a lot of cute weddings these days, but this one wasn't just cute, you could tell everything was 100% personal to the bride and groom. It was "country rockabilly" and the reception was in the couple's backyard right by their horse's pasture, their friends all rode in their classic cars, and for the thank-you gifts there was a table set up with Jersey fresh produce and plants you could choose from. They also had some really smart details, like setting out all-natural bug spray on each table – a definite need for an outdoor summer wedding!

The details are always my favorite:) What are some favorite weddings details you've seen?

Playing with Food

June 1, 2013 § 3 Comments

Fine and Feathered Food Photography

I've loved baking and cooking since I was little. My mom always made chocolate chip cookies from scratch, so those were one of the first things I ever learned to make. When I was a teenager I got really into photography. Almost every weekend I was begging my sisters or parents to take me to a local band's show just so I could snap some photos. Even though my first blog was mostly about food, my love for photography and food never really crossed like I think I had hoped would happen naturally.

I do love sharing the occasional recipe on here when I come across something really good, but recently I was going through some of my old recipes and was really unhappy with the photos I had posted with most of them. I don't expect myself to be some amazing food stylist and photographer, but I've really just been plain old lazy about my food photos – sometimes just rushing myself through them even when I didn't have to.

Fine and Feathered Drink Photography Fine and Feathered Cocktail Photography

One of my little goals this year is to really push myself with photography, and one of the things I already had in mind when making that goal was to really focus on improving my food photos. I love looking at food blogs with great photography, and even though this isn't a food blog, when I do share recipes I love I want to be able to convey to everyone how great it really is.

I was experimenting with making a little cocktail last night and the house was pretty quiet so I decided it was time for me to really spend some time experimenting with a little styling and photography on it. Of course, the cocktail actually didn't come out so well (much too strong, perhaps I'll tweak and maybe share a recipe when I work it out) but I feel like I really did learn a lot from spending a good half hour doing nothing but taking photos of it. For one of the first times I really brought in some "props", tried several different spots to play with lighting, and experimented with different angles. I took over 100 photos and the farther I got into looking at the photos, the better they really were (the ones up top are from the very end of my shooting). Now I'm really wandering why I never took this time before, why I've been so darn lazy!

Fine and Feathered Food Photography
Fine and Feathered Food Photography

I am certainly no Joy the Baker (and probably never will be), but I now realize how I need to do this more – slow down, think about things, experiment, and not afraid to try something new or different. Practice makes perfect – with everything, so why not dive in and have some fun?

Anyone else out there playing with food photography? Or really exploring any new area of photography!

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