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Photography Tips | Product Photography Set Up

Theresa’s Photography Tips

I am going to try to add some of my photography tips to this blog. My first one is a quick tip on how to set up a simple at home background to improve product photography.


I have a kitchen with very little natural light, I also have very dull tile. Basically what I am trying to say is, it is UGLY! I wanted a cute solution for my food photography. My solution was scrapbook paper! I had two pieces laying out and decided to use them as a background and ever since my food photography has gotten a lot more lively!


The set up is simple.

1. Make sure you have one decent light source (natural light is best, but artificial light works too) If you are using artificial light I would suggest shooting in raw and then correcting for the warmth. Personally, since I don’t have a good source of natural light and I was taking the pictures at night, I use an overhead kitchen light and just correct for warmth.

2. Secondly I use a speedlight (very cheap one that I got on amazon). I bounce the light off the ceiling and it really gives a nice bright, well exposed photo.  Now, if you do not have a speedlight you can still get the shot, I would just try to use more natural light.

3. To set up the actual photo, just place together two pieces of scrapbook paper together. Then I place the item (in this case a cupcake) about 2 inches away from the edge (this way the background comes in nice and blurred).

ISO: 100 ; F/2.8 ; 1/200 ; Speedlight set to 5/6 (on my cheap one).

ISO: 100; F 2.8 ; 1/200 Speedlight set to 5/6. The speelight was pointed straight up, (to bounce off the ceiling).



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A little bit of a rant…

I have complete respect for wedding photographers. Honestly I regard it as one of the hardest most stressful jobs out there. You only get one shot to get the perfect picture. Your working conditions rely on the weather. You have to wear many hats and everyone is looking for you to get the perfect images. Your a time keeper, counselor, supporter, and many, many other things. That being said, individuals who pose as wedding photographers, yet do not have the talent, gear, or respect necessary to be wedding photographers, I have no respect for at all. I had a run in with one of these ‘pseudo-wedding-photographers” and it really made me sad to see her pass herself off as a professional when clearly she was not. ( I mean, I wouldn’t even shoot a wedding because while I am a good photographer, I am not at wedding photographer level) I am trying to make this sound as non-bitchy as possible so bare with me.

Recently, like two weeks ago, my brother got married in Ohio. Where he was married they offered a wedding package that includes a ‘professional photographer,’ since they didn’t know I was coming, they got the photographer package as well.
On the wedding day, a lady wearing a very unprofessional outfit showed up with her T2i (with kit lens) and tripod. (now that is a decent camera, but it was not good enough for the lighting conditions) She was shooting entirely on auto, using poses from the 70’s. I was heart broken for my brother! Since he asked me the night before to take lots of pictures at his wedding,I began to pull out my camera and lens. Wanting to give the photographer as much respect as possible I stood in the back and used my 70-200 to capture pictures of the ceremony. Upon seeing my camera she gave me a dirty look (what my mom said) and moved back to where I was and stood right in front of me. From where I was standing, with the lens she was using, she was getting pictures of peoples backs and not the couple getting married. I moved to the front to get a few pictures of them saying their vows. The photographer proceeded to move up front too, again standing right in front of my camera. I moved back to give her space and she moved too… I was getting pretty frustrated at this point, but kept taking pictures. At this point I moved to stand by my parents ( in the back) she once again moved back to me but this time ran into my lens ( my $2000 lens!) I was a little more than pissed, but I just moved to the side, and again she stood in front of me and pushed me out of the way. At this point I had, had enough and put a prime lens on my camera and just took the shots I could get. The sad part about it is this photographer was too busy ‘bullying’ me to pay attention to the actual wedding. She was playing photographer and my brother suffered. Being a photographer as well, I was trying to be as respectful as possible giving her space staying out of her way, but she kept returning. It was really ridiculous. It was unprofessional and it was petty. I was at the point of just putting my camera away completely but my brother asked me not to.

Needless to say, my brothers pictures from her turned out horribly. They were dark, overly warm, and very grainy. (I can’t show them on here, because that would be a copyright violation) They were not the quality of a professional photographer by any means and it is sad that this individual is taking such an important moment in two peoples lives and ruining the memories. Fortunately for my brother he had me to capture the memories right, but I feel sad for the other people that this lady pons herself off on as a professional photographer… Granted she only charges $100 for a wedding…. It is still pretty ridiculous.

Okay there is my little rant. I had to get it out… My main point is, photography is not easy, when done right, it is a complex art. Wedding photography is even harder. It takes a lot to be a wedding photographer and it is sad to see individuals belittle the art.

Since every post is better with pictures… Here are a few I captured

The 5D difference

Be warned, this is a long post. The 5D is just so awesome! I’ll add lots of pictures though so, if your not going to read, you at least have something pretty to look at :).

When I got my 50D, I remember everything I felt and unfortunately the biggest emotion I had was regret. I had wanted a 7D, but settled on a 50D close out (in retrospect, I am glad I got the 50D). I remembered taking test shots, comparing my XSI to the 50D. I remember not being impressed. I remember taking it to the wild animal park and being disappointed in the quality. I didn’t understand. I just spend $1000 on a camera, a semi-pro body, and my pictures were no better than the ones I took with my XSI. Although I learned to use and love my 50D, I will never forget the feeling of regret I had.

When I got my 5D none of those feelings came to my mind. I didn’t regret my choice one bit. I didn’t regret the amount of money the camera cost. I didn’t regret the fact that I will be paying my parents back for the camera for the next few months. Once I looked through that full frame, I knew I made the right choice. I took the camera to the wild animal park this weekend. I had a much different experience than my first time out with my 50D. I was completely in love with the camera. For the first time I felt that I was reaching my full potential. The colors that I saw were the colors that appeared on the screen. The lighting was breath taking. Granted I do have quite a few quality L lenses as well now. The difference between what I can capture on my 5D compared to my 50D blows me away.

I’ll give you a little breakdown on just how much I love my new camera:

Stepping up to the 5D mk iii was a big jump from my 50D, so I can’t give a review as comprehensive as if I was stepping up from the mk ii, but I can give a good review for those wondering if you should step up from your current consumer-level or semi-pro DSLR.

The screen, man-oh-man, is that a screen! It is large and the colors are just wonderful. Very true to what appears on the computer. The one downside is the zoom in method. I am not thrilled with the placement, nor with the way have you to zoom in on camera. It isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but it is awkward enough for me to complain about.

One thing I love most about the 5D MK III is the low light performance. While I had never given much thought to this before, I never really realized just how much I was limited. I remember upgrading from an XSI to a 50D and loving that I had a larger ISO range. Calling the ISO range from the 5D to the 50D larger, would be an insult, it’s more like a colossal upgrade. But we all know, it is one thing to have a higher ISO range, but that means nothing if the quality of picture is lacking. The 5D MK III does not fall short when it comes to quality in low light. Rather than tell you I’ll show you. Here is this picture from a recent shoot of mine. We arrived at this location a bit late; the sun was all but gone. Knowing they wanted this shot, I did what I had to, to get the shot. In the back of my mind I was thinking how I was going to have to edit this image a lot afterwards to. I cranked the ISO up to 1600, and the image came out fine, when I uploaded the raw file, I found almost no grain, certainly not enough to hinder the image. I was in awe! A little photoshop warming and the image is complete.

Here is a sample image at 12800 ISO. Yeah, 12800 ISO. The low light performance speaks for itself.

Here is an image at max ISO. It is more grainy, and dark. But there has been no processing to this image. It would be easy to make this a useable picture. The image was also resized which effected the grain a tad.

Overall, low light performance = amazing. Way to go Canon.

If you’re curious, I also did some test shots at 256000, here is the result:

Another great feature on the 5D is the 61 point focal system. First let me say, OH MY GOSH! Now that, that is out of the way… With the 61-point focal system I didn’t know quite what I was getting, I mean for the most part I was able to focus with my 50D quite well. Then I tested this puppy out and wow! The ability to pin point exact focal is such a nice feature. For me this comes in really handy for portraits, when AF wants to focus on something other than the face, it can be a struggle to get exactly what you want, but with the new 61-point focal system I can pin-point the face and get the exact shot I want, without the struggle. This also comes in handy for macro shots. One thing I have always had a problem with when shooting macro is focus. Really auto-focus with the 100mmL macro can be challenging sometimes, but with 61 focal points and the ability to pin-point what I want; soft images are no longer an issue.

Here is another SOC image. The top image was take after sunset. It was darkish, but we really wanted this image. So i bumped it up to 1600 and tada. It is amazing to see just how useable this image is.

The 5D MK III also makes me feel like a professional photographer. I am finally getting the shots that I have always pictured. The colors are exactly as I see them; the sharpness is exactly how I see it. I love it. I feel like I have complete control over my photography. I am no longer limited or do I have to rely on editing to polish off shots. I get exactly what I want the first time. This alone was enough for me to fall in love with the 5D.

The in camera HDR mode… I know there have been some complaints about this, for one people think it is a gimmick and does not belong on a probody. Before I tested it out, I felt the same. I didn’t think I would ever use it, and really didn’t care that it was on the camera. Then I tried it out and the census is, it is a fun little toy button. I don’t know how often I will actually use it, but I do know that it is a pretty cool feature (especially for someone like me, who doesn’t have HDR software). I think it will really add a different dynamic to landscapes and I am very excited to test it out when I go to Colorado next month.

Here is another image from a recent session. The 5D captures light amazingly.

Overall the 5D MK III is a mind blowing camera; it is the best camera I have ever set my hands on. Now, that being said, I wouldn’t rush out and buy it just because it is a good camera. A camera is only as good as you are. If you have a XXD, but no ‘L’ lenses, then I would never recommend buying a new camera before new lenses; however, if you have a wide arsenal of ‘L’ lenses and are looking for a step up then maybe you should look further into a body upgrade.

Hey mom, look what I can do!

I would like to start this post off by patting myself on the back. You will know why in a moment. 🙂 lol Okay with that out of the way, yes I do have homework I am procrastinating on, how did you know?– OH, the completely random blog post, and the images I made so that I would actually have something to post about–got ya!

Now on to the action…

Yesterday at Greg’s sisters I had questions about graphic design stuff–Katie is really good at that kind of stuff. Me… Not so much… I actually, believe it or not, barley know how to use PSE… My blog headers, for the longest time, were made in paint… yes PAINT! lol Anyway I was saying how I want to learn how to make photo templates for my blog post. That way I can better show case my photos. Katie told me I should be able to do it in PSE, so today (yes, while procrastinating on the important stuff) I played around with it and wouldn’t know know… I CAN!

this was my first creation… I like it 🙂

This was my second… & yes I already had a template from Pure that did this.. But this time I was able to make it! 🙂 Oh  and this is a teaser to my next post: The 5D difference.


This is another one I just made… Sorry about the logo in every image, I just dragged images I was already editing.


Oh, and all of the images featured in this post were taken with my new 5D mk III! I have to say I am loving that bad boy of a camera…. To put it this way… If Dr. Sheldon Cooper was a camera, he would be a 5D MK III 🙂 lol


p.S I know you want to take advantage of that senior portrait special!

The 2.5 year photography difference

This is a competently impromptu post, but I felt like I just had to share.

In the past year I have really come into my photography skills. I took the time to hone a style, learn my camera and understand light. Because of the time I devoted to the craft, I have really seen an improvement to my skills. Then I came across this…


This was my very first engagement session 2.5 years ago (on top)… I was using an XSI, and really did not know enough about photography to be taking anyone’s picture. I didn’t know how to pose people (it was an era before the invention of pinterest), I didn’t know my camera, I didn’t know light and I really didn’t know how to edit! It makes me both happy and sad to see this image. I am happy to see how far I have come, but I am also sad that I thought this picture was worthy of clients. Thankfully it was a free session, but still I feel bad… I no longer have the contact information for this couple, but if anyone out there in this wide open internet knows them, please send them my way! I would love to photograph them again and give them professional images.

On bottom is my latest engagement session. It is actually one of the ‘bad’ pictures from the session (it is a tad blown out, I forgot my reflectors that day). In my opinion, and my clients, this is professional quality. I am happy to present this image to them and they are happy to use it. I am glad I have come so far. This is a personal lesson though, never stop learning and keep striving to be a better photographer. I am never going to be a perfect photographer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t strive to be better than I was yesterday.


So a lesson to all:

1. Know your camera (in all situations) and learn how to control light!

2. Don’t be so eager to make that jump to ‘professional photographer’

3. Never stop learning! Learn, learn, learn!

I am by no means a perfect photographer. I have flaws still. I take pictures that are not good. But I am a HELL of a lot better than I was 2.5 years ago and in 2.5 years I will be even better!

2 miles and some abstract art

I didn’t have a scheduled run today–or did I? Unlike most runners, I, for the most part, don’t schedule my runs, with the exception of Saturday long runs. I try to stick to running this day or that day, but as long as I get 3 runs in a week, I am good. Normally however I never run after my long run day, but today I just felt like going. Since the clocks went forward it was colder when I got up and much more inviting to run in.

So naturally with the atmosphere inviting me to run, I laid in bed, 10 minutes later I got my butt up and forced myself out the door. I had the goal of not walking at all during my short 2 mile run and to monitor my pace. The only problem is I have such a hard time gageing my pace. I still tried though, I slowed my mile time to 12:00 minute pace which felt slow! My second mile I slowed to a 13:00 pace–not intentional. I tried to pick it up, but I ended up walking for 30 seconds– out of want not need! I finished the second mile and still had .15 miles to my house so I sprinted and that folks was my run! terribly exciting wasn’t it!? But it’s a Sunday what do you expect?


After my run Greg came over and we headed down to CSULB to spend some time at the Japanese gardens. First we needed food though, and stopped at Denny’s. Denny’s has this new fit fare food and I really wanted to try the chicken avocado sandwich, against my better judgment I got fries instead of the veggies as the side; however, since the sandwich was not the greatest I was happy with my choice. It was very bland and just ehh. I would have been happier with a Subway sandwich and it would have been a lot cheaper too! After brunch we headed to CSULB and went to the gardens. I wasn’t thrilled, I have never been to a Japanese garden before, but I was just expecting more I guess. It was very tiny and very crowded and not much to take pictures of. There were also a lot of photographer there who were holding sessions, which normally doesn’t bother me but there were a few who lacked any sense of etiquette and were all together quite rude! I had high hopes of taking some cool pictures but I ended up only getting a few.

This is a little different than my normal shot. I like it though.

As always these photos are for purchase on my smugmug site. Contact me for more information.

Tonight is also Sunday Funday! Both Michelle’s came over and we just hung out. I ate too much. Like way too much. We also made plans to visit LACMA Friday :). Greg has to visit for school so we are making a day out of it! Can’t wait. Since we will be so close to Sprinkles… I am thinking I might have to run 6 miles Friday morning and enjoy a cupcake! 🙂

Scavenger Hunt Sunday| 12.3.11

Who–me? Back at the old SHS game! Yep, you can believe your eyes.


Lately I have not been taking pictures for any reason other than portrait sessions. I have just not felt into it–lots going on! This week however, I broke my camera out of its bag not once, but twice this week!



This is from my family session earlier today. She also happens to be 18 weeks pregnant, so we snuck in a few pre-maternity shots too. They are turning out adorable so far!


I know this may not be complete nostalgia, but to me antique books and country feel scream nostalgia… Don’t you just love the look of lemons in jars? I do, I know this is a MUST at my way-distant-future wedding!



This photo represents my favorite thing about photography, capturing a moment in time.  (Also I don’t know why her shirt looks weird, I did a facebook resize to this and it warped my photo…)



For ages I have had this cup of straws sitting on my counter screaming photograph me. & I finally answered, I love the warps of light that were created!


I have probably photographed this fountain 100 times! I love, love, love the way water flows down the metal and then looks like its dancing as it hits the pool bellow.



Well that is my spiel hope you enjoyed the pictures, and feel free to look around at what else if going on while I’m “In line for the real world” ( Since I official reach the front of the line, next week–no more college!)



&& Don’t forget to check out more great work :

A rambling post for a rambling mind.

Yesterday I got the letter that I have been waiting for since I was 12. My Hogwarts acceptance letter–well Pottermore letter, but same difference.

I spent the better part, ok honestly more than the better part of yesterday playing around on the website. I’m actually brewing a potion right now 🙂 lol


There was a tad glitch with my sorting quiz, and I was sorted into Hufflepuff;however, when I took the sorting quiz again I was Ravenclaw. So I don’t  know if that makes me a ravenpuff… 🙂

Once registration opens to everyone in October I plan to retest and find my true house. No matter where I end up though, I don’t think I will mind, that is one thing Pottermore has taught me. Each house gets a bigger back story and you really begin to like them all, yes even slytherin a bit…


Oh and my wand is 10 1/2 inches vine with phoenix feather  hard.

Anyway the site looks really promising, there are quite a few glitches still, which is why they are doing this 1million person beta test.


For those who don’t know Pottermore is an interactive website that serves as an addition to the harry potter novels. Currently it is in beta testing through October, when it will then open to the masses. It gives a better back story to the characters, some of them at least, and gives us potter-nerds the fix we need after the conclusion of the saga. It is an immersive experience with beautiful artwork, and was well thought out. Once logged onto the site the dedication, hard work and creativity of the creates does not go unnoticed. Want to know more about pottermore, comment and I’ll be sure to answer questions I can. At the time of this post the number of pottermore useres is just under 95k.



I also started tweeting more. It’s pretty fun. I’m a little confused though, maybe you can help me… what is “#” for? I mean I tried it, but I don’t know exactly what it means.  I’m Theresa_Bridget if you want to follow me 🙂



I also found these amazing photoshop actions from Pure Photoshop Actions. The nice thing about their actions are that they take a good pictures and makes it amazing, but without looking overly processed or fake. They have fully adjustable layers so that they fit your image, and they have everything: Brightening, darkening, color pops, haze(which I used to hate, and now love!).They are kind of pricy, Luckily I caught a good sale, like 50% off 🙂 I have the Set 2 and hazy days set right now. They have some great free actions on their website too! Check it out  HERE

Here are some examples

They also have some amazing hazy bw images!


Well thanks for checking in. I better get back to my potion now.

The black and the white

I have become a lot fonder of black and white lately.

I feel like it defines me.

Well, defines me better than it did.

Black and white is like a mask.

It covers, hides, conceals.

If something is wrong with a picture, black and white can hide that.

Black and white can make a mistake look intentional.

Black and white can make you look like you are in control.

Everything looks fine on the surface, because black and white is just another form.

&& sometimes black and white is just that, just form.

But sometimes it isn’t.



oh, & hello.

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