Me with my muse, Bailey!

About Allison Shamrell Photography:

Thanks for visiting my blog! My name is Allison, and I work in San Diego, CA, capturing the personalities of dogs and cats of all sizes & temperaments. I do photo sessions on location and in-studio, wherever my clients prefer! My photography style is natural, playful & soulful.

Here on my blog, I tell the stories of recent sessions and events. You might even find an insight or two into the behind-the-scenes side of my business! I hope you have fun looking around!

If you would like to receive a quick little email to let you know when I publish a new post, see the button at the bottom left of this page! Thanks! :)

619-357-6624  ~  ~  3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116

Officially Voted the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego, 2014-2017, by the San Diego A-List.

Tag: ‘learning’

Learning About Photography, At All Levels

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

I’m going to do something in this blog post that I’ve never done before: show you photos that are straight out of the camera (SOOC) – completely untouched and unedited.

I normally don’t do this because the perfectionist in me can always find something to tweak in every photo I take, no matter how perfectly it comes out of the camera. especially if it’s for a client who’s paying me to deliver the best product I possibly can. Maybe a small crop here, a bit of lightening or darkening there – a leash to take out! There’s always something. But today’s post is different.

A lot has been going on here at Allison Shamrell Photography lately. First of all, lots of Beginning Photography classes! I thought I was done with them after January, but people kept asking for me to do more! So I happily obliged; I love teaching them, actually! Before I jumped into photography full-time, I was an after-school tutor for 2nd and 3rd graders, and let me tell you what, I have all the respect in the world for teachers and tutors of elementary school children. I was just not cut out for that kind of work!! I seriously admire these people – especially their ability to stay cheerful all day! I mean wow. But anyways, I’ve really enjoyed teaching photography classes (to people my age and older: no ten-year-olds, haha!) and here are a few images from my most recent class, taken by one of my students.


learning photography basics practice class wine bottle


Yes, our subject was a wine bottle. What?

We experimented with shutter speed… turns out it’s hard to take a photo when your shutter’s open for three whole seconds!


I believe we were looking at depth of field with this one…


The we went outside to practice on our beautiful model!


In manual mode: we saw what happens when you let too much light into the sensor…


… as well as not enough light! (Yes, this is an actual frame from my camera, not a black box.)


One more: I love how my student caught Bailey’s head tilt here! She must have been listening to my husband do something inside…



So I think the classes have been fun, and I’ve been told they were a success: to my surprise, I’ve received email after email (and post after post on Facebook!) from students thanking me for a good time and for all the knowledge they gained from being in class. I never expected to be thanked so much, that’s for sure! To my “graduates”: thank you. I promise, I’m thankful that each one of you came to class and I had lots of fun with you all!


But like I mentioned, this isn’t the only thing that’s going on over here. I’ve been working on something pretty epic – something that’s about to change things. And it’s requiring that I step into learning mode too: I’m starting to work with off-camera lighting.


This is so exciting for me, primarily because I hatehatehate the look of on-camera lighting. For example: you know your DMV photo? Or the pictures taken at parties, where there’s a bright flash in your eyes and a super-harsh shadow of your head on the wall behind you? And the picture probably wasn’t taken at a flattering angle? All these things have to do with lighting.

(This was one of the first photos that came up when I searched for a DMV photo… had to include it! Conan doesn’t look so great, does he?)




I’d like to share a few photos with you (I just took them yesterday!) so you can share my excitement:


As always, poor Bailey is my subject of choice. I interrupted her nap for this… I’m so mean.

(Please excuse the embarrassing… uh… decor my husband has chosen for his bookshelf. Sigh.)

The above photo was taken with my new lighting setup. In a later blog post I’ll share what that setup actually looks like.

To put it in perspective, here’s the exact same scene, sans flash:



What this means is that I can take photos in any house or building, anywhere, without worrying about the available light! Because guess what: I basically have my own sun!

Here’s the metadata for each of those images (as well as the following two): shutter speed 1/250, f/3.5, ISO 200. Literally the only difference is the whether or not the flashes fired.

Here’s one with my flashes at full power:

Yikes. Slightly less power:


And here’s a close-up of Bailey. The one on the left is SOOC, the one on the right is edited just the way I want it to be – so as you can see, I still have a bit of tweaking before I find the perfect settings on my flashes. Those will change to be slightly different in every room I visit – but it looks like this room could use a bit more light, no?




















Another practice shot:


Aaaaaand yes. I took this one too. Wow.


We headed into the living room for the next few photos. (Don’t worry, I let her finish her nap first.)


Getting technical here – but check out what happens when I adjust the output ratio between the flashes! I can illuminate Bailey’s left side…


… or her right.


This next photo is my favorite. The fact that I can achieve this look – that is, so much light – in a room that is (to a camera) so abysmally dark, is infinitely exciting to me! (nerd alert!)


Today officially marks the end of my nervousness upon seeing a client’s house with few/little windows and not much available light. I’ve made it work, but I’ve sacrificed either the shutter speed I wanted or my personal comfort (as I would twist and contort myself into just the right angle to get the most light possible in the shot… ouch). Because here’s what it comes down to: it’s one thing to learn the basics of camera mechanics and create a proper exposure, utilizing the light that’s available to you. I want every one of my grads to be able to do this, without fear of crossing over into the manual modes on their cameras! But it’s a whole new ballgame when you’re creating the light. “Photography” means “light picture”; light is the essence of any photo you’ve ever seen. And now I’m taking it into my own hands.



I hope you’re as excited for this new adventure as I am! Wait, that’s impossible – I am really ridiculously pumped for this. So I hope you’re almost as excited as me! :)



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