Thursday, December 31, 2009

Update - Chimento Gallery

Online based Chimento Gallery located in Stowe, Vermont have started up a blog where my work is being featured as part of the first entry. You can visit it here. There's also a link at the end of the blog that directs you to my storefront for purchase. Rest of the artists will be provided with the same opportunity.

There are 13 of us sharing the gallery with mixed mediums. Very exciting!

Digital Workflow

**Before I start I'm going to assume you already are familiar with both Lightroom and Photoshop. I will not go in depth explaining the two programs nor their tools. Any questions please feel free to either leave a comment or email me at**

I'm repeatedly asked what's my digital workflow when it comes to processing my images. Well... for me it all depends on the job. Depending on the type of client hiring you you may not need to do much processing if it's a straight forward shoot OR quite a bit in both the shoot and the processing for composition or adding an extra level of creativity. I'm not shy in admitting I do use Photoshop do give my work a little 'umph' in terms of creativity. Adding textures, additional backgrounds or color tone changes. Mind you I do try to get as much as I can during the shoot. I don't use Photoshop to 'fix' or 'correct' any bad photographs I'd ever take. I only use it as a digital tool as an additive. I don't even like to process the skin too much. I like a bit of texture left on the skin.... more realistic.

Two programs that I use the most alongside each other are Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop. My initial processing starts in Lighroom. I import, sort, tag, categorize and basic processing all in Lightroom. Basic contrast, sharpening, white balance correction...etc. I do as much as I feel I need to in Lightroom first and then if I find that I need to do further work I'll export the picture internally through Lightroom into Photoshop. The two programs do read each other so the internal export function (ctrl+E or cmd+E) will allow the photograph to open right into Photoshop. If it's a RAW file that you are going to be working on continuously then it will maintain that property in Photoshop if you export it as a Smart Object from Lightroom. This function exists in Photoshop CS3 and CS4. By exporting it as a smart object the background layer (the very first one in Photoshop) maintains a flexibility of sorts. If you find that the exposure is too low or that the contrast is too high you can just double click on that background layer and it will open the image in Adobe's Raw Converter program. It's a very smart thing that Adobe has now allowed in it's more recent versions of Photoshop. Mind you, you don't have to export it as a Smart Object. It's just a good option to keep in mind if you find you like to tweak and would like to retain that flexibility. I general just export the image from Lightroom into Photoshop directly minus the smart object function. Since I don't do any heavy processing on my images not much tweaking is required.

The most time spent in processing for me is the dodging and burning. That's the one thing I like having control on and, of course, the one thing that has always existed in photography. Both in traditional and digital darkroom. There are various methods and tutorials out on the web that you can read through and try out. What I don't recommend is using the actual dodge and burn tool in Photoshop straight onto the image. If you are going to do that that make a duplicate of the image and place that duplicate in Luminosity mode, which can be found under the Blending options tool. Try to always maintain a non-destructive approach when working on anything in Photoshop. This way if you'd like to redo or omit any changes you can easily take care of that by working with that particular layer in the file. Another way of being able to dodge and burn in Photoshop is by setting a blank layer into Softlight mode in the Blending options tool and 'painting' in with a brush using the black and white paint in the color palette. Just play around with the opacity for different levels of strength and effect.

Now in regards to different types of clients... if it's a wedding client I'll do all the work in Lightroom because the batch process is much faster and I can apply presets to all of the chosen images very quickly. If it's creative/commercial/portraiture work I'll go further into Photoshop for skin retouching and further tweaking using dodging and burning. You can do skin retouching in Lightroom by using the mask tool and reducing the Clarity, but I still prefer working in Photoshop for that. It's my comfort zone and I'm quite happy with that.

Next program that I will be playing around with come January is Phase One's Capture One program. It is something I should and want to become familiar with. I've been doing some extensive reading on it and will now take on the practical route and experiment with it. I make it a habit of reading up on programs and such first before I decide to really muck around with it. It's not mandatory, but for me I find I'm able to feel a familiarity of sorts before diving into an unknown territory. Especially since it is going to be taking up my personal time (which means very little sleep!) so if it is something that will guarantee slower processing in full on turtle mode or is known to be buggy then I won't bother with it. Once I've had an opportunity to really become acquainted with the software I will update and provide examples. Until then Lightroom and Photoshop it is...

OH and btw... Happy New Year everyone!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chimento Gallery - Stowe, Vermont

I am happy to announce that I've been selected to be part of a Winter Exhibition held online and hosted by Chimento Gallery located in Stowe, Vermont. The exhibit will be held for three months. You can click here to visit the gallery and view not only mine, but other artist works. There are different mediums being presented... not just photography.

They were looking for fashion photographers to take part so I submitted and was accepted. Therefore, you'll see more of my beauty work out of the 10 images that are up from my portfolio. Pictures are up for purchase on the gallery.

This is the first time I've heard of an online gallery and I have to say I find it to be a very interesting idea. Mainly allowing folks from around the world to be able to participate in something like this that will potentially be advertised internationally over the internet. A good way to utilize the net in this day in age. It's a digital world we live in so if you see good opportunities like this I say go for it!

I may not be updating my blog anytime during the holidays so I would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays!! Make sure you eat well...because I know I will be.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Update: 'Help Portrait' Event

I just received an email from a fellow photographer with a link to a youtube video. Video was documented by Taffi Rosen who was also assisted by Corbin Smith.
You can watch the video here or below.

You'll catch a quick glance of me near the beginning. I'm the girl with black hair, straight bangs and... of course... wearing all black. I'm holding a colour card during a test for Struan who, incidentally, is also wearing black with a small black cap.
By the way... I do love colour :) I just can't sport too many colours on my person.


Enjoy :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

'Help Portrait'

I was asked to volunteer on Saturday (December 14/09) to assist for two photographers as part of a charity event. The event was called 'Help Portrait' and it was taken place at Heron Park Community Centre, 4285 Lawrence Avenue East, Scarborough. Basically pro shooters were asked to take the time out of their busy schedule providing photographs for families who would like the opportunity to have photographs taken by professionals on a volunteer basis. I thought this was a great idea and was happy to put in my time in helping out and being part of something so humble of a gesture.

I and another assistant, Neil Van were there to assist two photographers, Struan and Yuri Dojc. It was a crazy day and we were there from 11am till about 6pm. Had to work fast and still stay organized with all the model releases and backing up of all the photographs between each session. Making sure that the memory cards were all in order, families were being looked after along with the photographers. Both Neil and I were pretty much on our toes. Struan and Yuri must have photographed about 30-35 families each. To be honest I'm not sure what the actual numbers are, but photographed a lot of families! I had two piles formed for each photographer and they were stacked pretty thick and high.

It was a great opportunity to watch pro shooters in action under an extremely fast-paced environment. Whenever I had the opportunity I would take a minute to just stand and observe. Absorbing whatever I could and taking mental notes for future reference. There were about 16 photographers there and when I had the opportunity I walked around and glanced at each studio setup within the building. It was interesting to see how each photographer liked to 'work'. Unique in their own way. So much talent in one location.

I enjoyed myself... but then again I'm a geek at heart so being able to watch and learn is something that I thrive in naturally when it's of genuine interest to me. We worked diligently, but had fun at the same time.

A new application that I ended up working with was Capture One. I've never used it before and another assistant working at a studio parallel to us was kind enough to show how to start sessions between each download of the images off the card to help keep things categorized properly. I normally work using both Lightroom and Photoshop. I have to say that I found Capture One quite easy to work with. I think I will experiment further and become familiar with it. Doesn't hurt to know multiple applications that are used digitally within the field. It's good to take some time to actually sit down and go through the program and learn it. I'm mainly self-taught in photoshop and I honestly spent hours going through tutorials online and just experimenting on my own. I eventually created my own workflow that suits my needs when it comes to retouching and editing photographs.

I wish I took some behind-the-scene shots, but honestly it was just so busy that when we did have a bit of a down time I was pretty much tired and decided to place my concentration on making sure things were kept organized.

Check out this video. It was filmed in Dallas, Texas and it provides a great example of what it was like for us on Saturday.

It was a good day overall!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

FPblog Award

A photograph taken in November at the studio was awarded and posted onto the FPblog (
Click on link to view site.

This is the photograph that has been posted:

Photography and PP: Nadia Cheema
Model: Asha Di Paola (Ford Models)
MUA: Rhia Amio
Hair: Fabio Persico
Wardrobe: Cisya Paramita
Assistant: Lorena Lorenzo
This is part of a fairy tale shoot, which I'm still working on whenever I have the time. We did three looks; 1) Snow White 2) Rapunzel and 3) Red Riding Hood. So please stayed tuned as I slowly get through these photographs. You can visit my site to view more photographs from the Snow White set.

This is the second time I've been awarded by having a photograph submitted by me to be placed onto the Shot Of The Week area in the FPblog. Thank you Melissa!!!

FPblog is run by Melissa Rodwell, an L.A. based fashion photographer, whose work I admire and respect very much. She has been a true inspiration and I don't hesitate on sharing her blog with others. She shares her thoughts, insights, works and knowledge to the public. A great place of resources for both amateur and pro photographers alike. Especially for serious photographers who are wanting to get their foot in the industry.

Melissa helps by educating us on the business side of photography as well. How to put together a portfolio, what the industry is really like and understanding how it's mainly 90% business and 10% shooting (opinions differ in some cases). She is driven and determined which has allowed me to believe that as long as I keep at it I can achieve success as well. I encourage folks to visit her blog and her site.

That was a quick update :) Now back to work!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tools of the trade

Lately I've been approached and emailed with questions and advice on what I use, how do I do it and why...

First thing I'd like to state to my present and future readers is that whatever I write I am providing that information with my own personal experience and knowledge. All of the research that I do is on my own and receive from others.

Now...onwards to the post.

One of the things I'm continuously asked is what do I carry in my camera bag? What do I shoot with?

Well, here's what I have in regards to equipment:
- Nikon D300
- Nikon D80 (backup)
- Nikon 24mm f/2.8
- Nikon 50mm f/1.8
- Nikon 85mm f/2.8
- Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8
- Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8
- Off-camera flash SB-600

I prefer using primes in studio or in an environment where I have control over both set and lighting. I use the zoom for events and sometimes outdoor shooting.
Next question I receive most often is why do I use a third party lens? Well for one thing it's cheaper. Secondly... it hasn't disappointed me yet! Both of my tamron's are fast lenses and comparatively sharp to other reputable lenses in the market. I did have to try a few lenses at the store prior to purchasing just to make sure that I was happy with the product. Quality control at the consumer level is key! Take advantage of an opportunity like that if you can.

Differences between the 85mm and 24mm. Why do I have these two lenses? is wider than the other. I like using the 85mm for head/beauty shots. Even from torso up I prefer using the 85mm. I can use the 85mm for full body shots as well, but if I'd like to be closer to my subject and get more in the frame a 24mm comes in handy.

Here are some examples using the 85mm:

The 85mm is a fantastic lens. It's tack sharp with great manual control for focusing.

Some examples using the 24mm:

With the 24mm I can have the chairs in the black and white photograph be part of the image as opposed it being tiny and unappealing. Even the model is able to have more of a presence in the frame along with the setup behind her. It also enabled me to be much closer to both the set and her to attain a photograph like this.

Onto the tamron's. Firstly here are some examples using the tamron for both a model shoot and events:

It's a good versatile lens that fits my needs. I know some people would like a good range in a zoom lens where they wouldn't want to have to change lenses while out and about. That's going to be pointed out in another post since I've already received a question on it by a reader. So be sure to check in about a week's time!
Back to the tamron.... I've been able to use this for when I'm not able to zoom with my feet because of restrictions and/or limitations by obstacles. Also in a low light situation this lens has been able to perform beautifully and my clients have been extremely happy with the results.

Now this particular image was taken using a Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens for the Distillery District in their Fermenting Cellar building for an annual event. No flash was used. I was asked to capture the lighting effect and decor of the room as is. Benefits I find photographing in manual mode is that you can play with exposure. Which is what I did here. I'd like to point out... I didn't use a tripod. I do have one (nothing to extravagant, but does the job when used). I've made a habit of practicing on just using my body as a tripod. I'm a small lady and sometimes I can be easily overwhelmed with the amount of equipment one may have to carry for a shoot. So by not having to use the tripod at times really helps in my case. This was photographed at f/5.6, shutter speed 1/5 and focal point is 10mm. I have sold this lens though. I found it slightly heavy and too clunky for me. Plus I wasn't using it that often so I couldn't justify in keeping it when I used the money I received from selling the 10-20mm towards prime lenses.

If you'd like to see more of these photographs please feel free to visit my flickr site
I don't hide the EXIF data on my photographs if you're curious as to what the settings were when the photograph was taken. Do keep in mind that all photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without permission. For inquiries or permission please email me at

Next post I shall discuss resources for researching. What I've used to help me progress within the realm of photography and mainly portraiture.

Please feel free to comment.... I encourage it!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

First blog post ever!

So...I'm sitting here wondering what to write. I normally don't share my thoughts, feelings or just me in general to the public openly. I've been encouraged to start up a blog. Mainly to help give my business a slight jump start. I am...sitting and wondering what to write. I guess I'll write about what this blog is meant to be for. Photography.

Photography has been my one output for the past three years. My one emotional presence. My way of inner thoughts and and show of creativity.

What pulled me into doing portraiture photography was by viewing other artist's works. Painters, sketchers, photographers...etc. It interested and intrigued me how so much you could learn about that one person by a still image. I've been an observer for most of my life. I sit and watch people as they engage with others. I wondered if I could be able to show that in one image. I asked some folks if I could photograph them. They shied away. Who could blame them. I really didn't have much to show as to my skill and what I could truly achieve. I then decided to photograph myself.

I enjoyed taking self-portraits. I would do it every chance I'd get. It allowed me to really play around and understand the camera. All I had was one lens... a 50mm prime lens. A small room where I could only photograph by sitting down and dark blue walls as my surrounding. A window light for illumination and a black fabric to use as my background whenever needed.
I practiced and learned by making mistakes repeatedly. I'd be exhausted from working during the day, but would still make plans and shoot whenever I could. Photography had become my passion...and obsession. I couldn't stop and it was all I could think about. I loved every minute of it.

I decided to read books and blogs and google whatever information I could related to photography. Learning both the technique and the art behind it. Photography had become a part of my everyday life...and I didn't mind it at all. It had become my companion and my outlet in a way I didn't realize it could be. I was glad I had decided to explore it.

So .... here I am sitting and thinking that this all truly began 3 years ago for me and I'm glad what I've accomplished thus far and continue to. I'm glad for the support and encouragement from my family, peers and folks who come across my work by hearing from others and whole heartedly approach me to tell me who much they find my work to be inspirational. I'm glad to hear that and to receive such a compliment is truly something for me. I hope to continue in this realm and to continue to share it with others.

If you're curious about my work please feel free to visit my site

I shall try to continue with 'blogging' .... so new to me, but I shall try. I'll share my thoughts, works, experience and knowledge here.

Cheers for now....