I'm hoping to answer all photography-related questions here in this post, so that the information is all in one spot. Please let me know if I've missed anything, and I will add the answer (if I have one!).
My Photo Tips for Beginners and Beyond (click on link)
My Favorite Photography Book:
Expressions: Your Behind the Camera Guide to Taking Extraordinary Photos of Ordinary Life is my top choice because of the emphasis on creativity and capturing universal emotion in photography. This book is perfect for the beginner, providing excellent inspiration and guidance in a gorgeous format, but also gently takes the reader (when ready) into the arena of technical information (ISO, aperture, shutter speed, studio lighting, and more). (I should mention here that the book deals exclusively with 'people' photography.)
I have recently upgraded my camera to a Nikon D90. I am currently using only the kit lens, a VR (love!) AF-S 18-105mm (love!) 1:3.5-5.6 G. While I may have additional lenses in my arsenal in the future, this is plenty for me to play around with (and learn how to use!) for the time being. (I'll update this post to reflect equipment changes and additions.)
Why did I choose the Nikon D90? It is the camera my hubby handed me. Ask him. Grin.
I'll be using my Nikon D50 for back-up.
Shooting in Manual vs Auto Mode:
All my photography up to this point has been done in auto mode. Taking pictures of little boys who never stand still makes it difficult to experiment with manual mode. I most often use the 'running man' setting and set my own focus point. That is about to change, however. I am diving head-long into manual mode experimentation. Pray for me.
Shooting in JPEG vs RAW:
I shoot exclusively in high resolution JPEG. Questions? Read here.
Almost every photo I post has been edited in Photoshop CS2. I exclusively use Photoshop actions. These include Pioneer Woman's free ps actions (both sets), Totally Rad Actions (both sets), and just recently began adding action sets from MCP. I often use multiple actions on one photo, experimenting with combinations and various opacities. You will see these combinations referred to as 'recipes.' I have only scratched the surface of what these actions are capable of. I hope to increase my abilities by leaps and bounds in this department over the next year or two.
Once I've finished applying Photoshop actions to a photo, I use the free online photo editing program Picnik. (I've upgraded to the $24.95 premium version, which is a steal in my humble opinion.) Occasionally I'll apply effects, but more often remove blemishes, clone out things I don't want in the photo, adjust curves, crop, resize, sharpen, add frames and text, and other sundry things. This program is outrageously simple to use. (And did I mention FREE?!) ETA: All of my collages are composed in Picnik, as well.
I save a photo directly from Picnik to Flickr. There I grab the code and use it to post photos on my blog. Speaking of posting photos on my blog...
Posting Larger Photos on a Blog:
I have had many people ask me how I post the larger photos on my blog. My friend Jodi sent me this link a while back, which explains the process. If that link doesn't answer your question, I probably can't either. Grin.
I also have had a few people comment that the right side of my larger photos are cut off on their screen. This is because their screen resolution is set too, uh, something. (Low, I think.) My husband will be doing a guest post about that shortly.
My Photo Inspiration:
I spend a great deal of time visiting blogs and sites of other photographers, increasing my knowledge and creativity. I have listed links (and will be adding more) on my side bar (scroll down) for your browsing pleasure. I'll send a shout-out to my friend Susan at Short on Words, my favorite inspiration.
Professional Photo Session Availability and Cost:
NOTE 8/29/11: I am no longer scheduling photo sessions for this year. I may possibly resume next spring 2012. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Yes, I am available for photo sessions in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. These are limited, however, so please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in scheduling.
Current investment (subject to change):(All sessions include travel time within 20-30 minutes of the Albany area. Please contact me for price quotes on extended locations. All sessions include a CD of fully edited images for your unlimited use, available within 2-3 weeks of your session. Fees are due at the beginning of each session.)
Individual Portrait Session: 30+ minutes on location (1 adult or child), roughly 10 fully edited images on CD. $75
Newborn Portrait Session: Undetermined, as of yet.
Senior Portrait Session: Undetermined, as of yet.
Deluxe Portrait Session: 45+ minutes on location for 2-3 people (couple, children, siblings, friends...), roughly 15 fully edited images on CD. $100
Family Session: 1.5+ hours on location for a single family (up to 6 members), various casual and posed shots as well as photos of individual children, roughly 30 fully edited images on CD. $200
(Please contact me if you have specific photo session needs not addressed in these categories.)
Is this going to turn into a photography-only blog?
No. For those of you who come here more in the mood for life, lovely, homeschooling, Project Heidi, or other fare, I promise there will be more to come. As our life ebbs and flows, this blog shall also ebb and flow. Sometimes I'm in the middle of planning our next year of lessons and thoughts of grammar, Latin, educational philosophies, and our daily rhythms fill the space in my head. Sometimes I've been reading like crazy and want to tell you about books I've loved. Sometimes our family has been on one adventure after another, and we have stories to share. I also have a new series coming up very shortly, in which I would love some outside participation!!
I will continue to post favorite images here and there from photography sessions, but eventually I'll be doing some refurbishing over at my (sadly neglected) photography blog and posting most of the photos there.
Any other questions?