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Today we are featuring some Q&A posts from Amber. Check it out!

1)  I’m just starting out, so if you could, could you explain how you do custom white balance?  I feel like I spend a lot of time in ACR fixing the white balance.  I definitely feel like I need to improve my SOOC shoots.  I spend way to much time”fixing” things in photoshop.

This question gets asked a lot! I’m going to go back to basics first and explain how I set a custom white balance. I use the Photovision Target (have them in 2 sizes but find the mini the easiest).

I get in my shooting spot and meter (off the target using my center focus point) and take a photo of the target like so:

I laid the target on the ground because that’s where I was shooting. Look how cool this looks (and I don’t mean kool and the gang)?!

Next in my camera (all cameras are different, I shoot with a 5D MKII) I go in and select “Custom White Balance” as my WB, in my in camera menu I select “Set Custom White Balance” and then select that image I just took.  Once I do that I take one more shot of the target to make sure it looks good:

Look how much warmer and natural this looks? This WB is spot on so I went ahead with my shoot. Here is a shot I took soon after straight out of the camera (SOOC):

Again, to me this looks accurate as far as skin color to me. I then went through my standard workflow (as seen here) to finish the image:

Setting a CWB definitely saved me time here!

I do NOT set a CWB in all situations, including fast moving toddlers where we are moving all over the city or if once I set it in camera and I don’t like what I see, I’ll switch it to Auto White Balance and will fix it in Raw.

Now I wonder how many photovision targets I just sold?;-)

2.  You are awesome to do these faq’s post. I am wondering what you do with all your stuff that you take to shoots between shoots. And also how do you carry everything with all the blankets, hats, bean bag, etc. Seems like I have tons of bags every time I go to a shoot and I would just like to figure out a way to carry around better so I wanted to see what you do?
Thank you! Oh goodness with newborn sessions it seriously looks like I’m moving in. The night before the session I go through my blanket stash and pick out the ones I want to use, I fold them and put them in one of these extra large boat totes from LL Bean. I almost always bring 7 or so and they all fit in this bag including the black fleece I use for the black backdrop shots with the parents, etc. I have another zipper duffel bag full of hats, wraps, and accessories organized in gallon zip lock bags by type and gender. I store my space heater, noise machine, neck pillow and puppy pee pads in one of my baskets. Those three things plus my bean bag and camera bag are all I really need for a newborn session, that’s the basics. I also will set aside specific props I want to use that session and always have a few paper backdrop rolls, a savage port a stand, and various furs in the back of my car.

The trunk of my car is like a roving studio and it drives me (and my husband) insane. Until I get a natural light studio, which I plan on doing next year, this will have to do.

3. I have done several newborn shoots…I have yet to get the baby really sleepy.  I can usually get them to sleep, but can’t quite get them over the edge to that really pliable state.  I am using a heater, noise maker, bean bag, etc…I am even really good with newborns…just not sure what I am doing wrong.  Seems once I get them in a position, I am afraid to move them because I am afraid they will wake up!!  Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

This is honestly something you figure out as you go along, every baby is different and will tolerate different poses more than others. I find that if the room is really warm (85 or so), the baby has a full belly, and you have some sort of white noise they will fall asleep eventually. Some it takes longer than others though. You need to wait until they are completely out to really pose them, for me I find it easier if I’m holding them in my arms and rocking them while they fall asleep. Once I feel they are asleep I pose them in my HANDS the way I want them on the bag and then transfer them to the beanbag. Once on the bag I let them chill for a bit and soothe as necessary and then perfect the pose. I make sure every finger and toe is where I want it but make sure I always get the “safe” shot before I perfect it in case they wake up.

Once they are asleep I have no problem lifting them up, usually keeping them in the same position, switching blankets and moving right alone. If they do wake up they are usually still nice and sleepy they are easy too soothe right back to sleep with a little rocking.

Another thing to remember, do NOT EVER force a baby into a pose it is not comfortable doing. There are also certain poses, IE: the hanging poses or the propped up on the hands pose which are composite shots where the parents hands are photoshopped out of the final edit. The baby’s safety should ALWAYS be your first priority as a photographer.

Read the rest of her tutorial HERE



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