1. What settings do you shoot with? Settings depend on the situation! For conversation sake, let’s pretend I am shooting a girl and her horse during the golden hour of sunset. For a girl with her horse, I feel comfortable with a f/2.0-2.8 aperture. I don’t like to go over ISO 500, but I absolutely will not shoot a horse slower than 1/125s. I would estimate my most common setting is f/2.2, ISO 250, 1/800s.
2. Do you take pictures at a certain time of day? Most of the time I schedule my sessions for sunrise (the first two hours after sunrise), or sunset (the last two hours before sunset) when the light is the softest. Sometimes I need to schedule a session in the middle of the day, which only requires a bit more creativity finding open shade!
3. How do you make it so sharp and everything in focus? First, I shoot with only prime lenses (no zoom). The glass is very expensive and creates a sharp image. Second, I won’t shoot slower than 1/125 to eliminate motion blur. Third, I use back-button focus and I re-focus alllllllllll the time!! Fourth, I delete any soft images while culling.
4. Do you have any general guidelines for adjusting your aperture? If I am shooting one subject, my aperture is nearly wide open f/1.4-2.0. If I am shooting two subjects (like a girl and her horse), I shoot between f/2.0-2.8. The more subjects you add, the more I’ll stop down. If I am shooting a black background image, I will shoot at about f/4.0 to get more of the image in focus. I rarely change aperture settings during the course of a shoot. The majority of my changes happen to the shutter speed.
5. Do you use actions/presets? I don’t own any Photoshop actions – I do all of my edits manually. I do own some Lightroom Presets, but I still do about 90% of my edits manually. I own and love Mastin Labs and Replichrome presets.
6. Can you show me what your edits look like in Lightroom? This edit is pretty standard for a backlit image – I increase the warmth, increase shadows, decrease blacks, add vibrance, increase darks and decrease shadows, bump up red and orange luminance, slide the green hues and saturation, and get rid of any chromatic aberration.
7. Do you shoot in Kelvin? RAW or JPG? I always shoot RAW, and I always shoot in Kelvin (manual white balance)!
8. How to you get rid of green casts? My best tip is to try to avoid them in the first place by watching skin tones very closely! Always try to lead your subject to the edge of the shade, and avoid going into any areas that have very thick greenery. If you can’t bypass an area with greenery – you can try to correct the image in Lightroom with magenta tint and split toning.
9. How do you organize your photos on your computer? After a shoot, I save the photos on two identical, external hard drives. These hard drives are organized by year. I open “2015” and open a new folder called “*Need to Edit” (these are the images that Lightroom connects to). I save the images here in a folder with my clients’ names. Next, I drag all of these image to Lightroom and import them. I save them as a collection in Lightroom named “Year.Month.Day – Client Name”. When I am ready to export, I export them to a folder on my desktop named after my client. After I edit all of the images in PhotoShop, upload the images to PixieSet, and burn a copy onto my clients’ USB drive, this folder is drug into the appropriate year inside both external hard drives.
10. What do you do to get the horses’ ears forward? I won’t shoot a horse without an assistant for ears!! First, we start by grabbing attention with motion – any moving object (including people walking around). When motion wears off, we try to grab attention with sound. When sound no longer works, we move to food : ) All horses are food motivated so we will use hay, grain, treats, candy – anything! My biggest piece of advice is to give the horse ONE thing to look at. Do not overstimulate the horse or give the horse competing places to give attention. My assistant Jake’s biggest piece of advice would be “it is all about the element of surprise.”