GIRLS EMPOWERMENT: FREE SPIRIT DIARIES

I’m a children photographer, an expat wife, and a mother of a crazy free spirited screaming monster aged four.

I do not care if in my portraits she wears eccentric unconventional outfits or if she is dirty, I let her creativity spread and let her free to be herself.

She’s unconventional and selconfident.

She is beautiful as she is.

unconventional-portraits-strong-brave-confident-girl

She is brave, wild and smart.

She hates rules (and so do I).

She’s a free spirit.

She’s herself.

And I’m proud of it.

You can follow the FREE SPIRIT DIARIES PROJECT on INSTAGRAM too.

 

girls empowering quote self esteem

EASY PHOTO RECOVERY FROM SD/CF CARD

When I’m stressed I take a day off and I go to La Défense , the spectacular Paris financial district, in order to take architecture shots of its ultra-modern buildings.
I must confess that it’s my favorite playground in town!

I had a wonderful time shooting just for fun (as I try to do at least once a week). I want photography to be a pleasure for me every single day, if one day it will start to be a trap I will stop it immediately. Which is the advantage of running a business instead of working for somebody else if you are not able to keep the fun in it?

I left my big boring company job because I wanted more quality of life and even if being an entrepreneur it’s not easy I have clear in mind that I’m not creative when I’m worried or I feel overwhelmed. I’m not in a business mode 7/7. I have a life. I have hobbies. I have friends and family.

For my architecture photography and street photography are my valve of escape, my zen moments. I shoot just when something inspires me, I shoot just for myself.
You can find a selection of my «zen moments» in my instagram feed @ZENPHOTOGRAPHER or HERE.

Once at home I decided to backup the images to my pc (I’m a little paranoid on this point. I always backup my images even if it’s 3am).

You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that 17/18 pictures were missing. They were the best shots of the day, something I was very proud of.

I probably deleted them by mistake. My card was full and I wanted to stay out a little bit more so I decided to delete some pics directly on camera.

(Sometimes I’m a big idiot. Sometimes I’m an immense idiot. Sometimes I’m the bigger idiot in all the universe and in all the galaxy).

Good news: photo recovery is easy
Bad news: I spent hours trying every FREE recovery software in the market until I was lucky enough to find the one that worked.

Since I still feel guilty as penitence I’ve decided to write a quick tutorial in order to help you to recover your images.
I used a free software, EASE US that allows you to recover up 1giga for free, it’s worth giving it a try!

Just to be clear, I do not receive money from EASE US in order to promote their softwares.

Ease Us did what other programs failed to do and this is why I strongly recommend it. Believe me but I was desperate and I felt at the point of having a panic attack.

If it happened to you just think that if you do not overwrite your data and you do not format your card you have good possibilities to recover your pictures.

Don’t panic and follow my tutorial!

1: Download EASE US here!

2: Select the type/s of lost files: graphics.

If you are not sure select “all file types”

 

easy photo recovery babies newborn family Rochester portraiture

3:

  • Select a location (or a partition) to start finding data. In my case my CF card is NikonD700 G
  • Select SCAN and cross your fingers!

easy photo recovery babies newborn family Rochester portraiture

3 Once your scan completed you should be able to see your files just select “recover” and save them where you want.

easy photo recovery babies newborn family Rochester portraiture

4 The only limit is that there is a 1GB limit, if you need to recover more files you have to upgrade (and pay).

Up to 1GB it’s free! Form me it was enough, thanks EASE US!

easy photo recovery babies newborn family Rochester portraiture

CLEAN EDIT WORKFLOW IN 5 MINUTES

I learned a lot from others photographers tutorials and blogs.

In the web you can find many resources for free, I really suggest you to take any of the Creative Live Classes and to follow the inspiring blog of Jasmine Star.

Even if I do not consider myself an expert I think that it’s my time to pay it forward and to help others out.

I’m an open book, I’m happy to share tips and tricks.

Feel free to post any question, I will do my best in order to help you.

  • I shoot in Raw, because it gives me more freedom for editing.
  • My screen is calibrated, I use Spyder 4 pro (if your screen is not calibrated you are just loosing your time and your final output will always be too warm or too cold). If you print at home your printer must be calibrated too.
  • I hate editing, I have more interesting things to do in life than spending hours and hours in front of my pc screen. I’m really minimalist too. I do not use spectacular special effects unless I’ve drunk too much french wine.
  • I try to get it right in camera. In many tutorials or forums you will find the acronym SOOC, it simply means straight out of camera (zero editing).
  • I like natural looking and airy editing and as I’m lazy I’ve created my own actions (Photoshop) and presets (Lightroom) in order to speed up my work flow.
  • Try to learn to edit «by hand», on your own without relying on third parties actions. Especially when you are starting out and you do not have found «your editing style» yet it’s easy to over edit. I’m still ashamed of the shit I posted in photographers forums thinking I was a photoshop genius.
  • With photoshop and lightroom there are thousands of ways to achieve the same result, feel free to experiment and at least once a week do some crazy edit just for fun, even if it does not fit with your style. Push your limits and go out your comfort zone.
  • I will never stress enough the importance of the WB. Normally I use Kelvin, especially when I’m shooting indoors. In my house I stay around 4800/5000 K. Remember that a wrong white balance leads to a wrong exposure.

My gear and my settings:

Nikon D700

Nikon 85 mm 1.8

f/2.8

ss 1/200 sec

ISO 1600

WB: 5000K

natural light, coming from a big glass door

 

1.This is SOOC, zero editing. When I shoot with high ISO I tend to expose to the right (ETTR)  in order to avoid (or reduce) noise (noise loves the shadows and darker areas.

SOOC

 

 

2. As the original pic was a little bit overxposed I’ve decided to bring the exposure and high lights down ( -0.60 and -29) and increased the shadows, whites and blacks (+26/+7/+26). Now it looks more natural.

exposure etc

3. The skin looks slightly too warm for me. This is why I decide to reduce the WB to 4800K.

Then I go to the HSL PANEL and I reduce the saturation of the orange (-7) and I increase (+10) the luminosity.

 

HSL SLIDER

4. I usually finalize my editings in Photoshop.

Go to Photo—>Edit in —>Edit in Adobe Photoshop CS6.

As I just want to make eyes and mouth to pop: I go to Adjustements—>Saturation: +10.

I add a layer mask, I hit CTRL+I in order to invert the mask and I paint with a white brush on the eyes and mouth.

photocontrast-saturation

 

5. In oder to lighten in a soft and natural way the subject I use a gradient and I paint with a black brush on the areas I want to leave as they are. I set the opacity of the layer to 25%.

SPOTLIGHT

6. The last step is sharpening. I Use the high pass filter.

Go to Filter—>Others—> high pass.

Set the radious to an amount of about 0.8-1.5 (until you should be able to see some details).

Then set the blending mode to overlay and adjust the opacity of the layer as needed.

You can change the blending mode to soft light too.

photohighpass

 

Here is the finished image!

FINAL JPEG

 

If you have any questions or you want to show me your before and after feel free to chat with me in the comments, I will answer to you asap!

 

 

WHY SEO AND CLIENTS HATE SLOW WEBSITES

 

website hosting and seo for photographers

When I started out my photography business I thought that website hosting was not an important choice.

I had already spent big amounts of money for professional gear and  and I decided to subscribe with 1and1.com, one of the cheapers players in the market.

It was my first big mistake.

I spent a lot of time studiyng everything about SEO, I was using YOAST, my theme was responsive, my pictures were optimized for the screen, so why my SERP results were still bad?

And if it was not (completely) my fault?

 

HOW WAS PERFORMING MY WEBSITE?

 

I needed to TEST it with PINGDOM!

 

Website speed test Pingdom

 

 

This was the performance of my old website: BAD, BAD, BAD.

 

MY WEBSITE WAS SLOWER THAN 82% OF ALL TESTED WEBSITES WITH A LOAD TIME OF MORE THAN 8 SECONDS!

 

Did you know that GOOGLE hates slow websites and penalizes them in the search engines?

If you need more information on this point have a look to THIS ARTICLE:

 

But the worst is that you loose customers and money!

 

40% of users will abandon your nice photographer website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load (source : Akamai 2009).

SLOW PAGES increase CLIENT FRUSTRATION.

 

They will just go away and never come back because they had a bad customer experience. 

 

Consider that most of the time slow pages depend on server delays. 

 

1 second delay in pages load time = 7% loss in customers (source : Aberdeen group).

 

As I said at the beginning my first website hosting was one of the cheaper on the market, 1and1.com.

My website had a load time of 8,34 seconds.

This means that more half of my potential clients would abandon immediately (7*8.34=58.38%)

 

I decided to skip to SITEGROUND, after having taken the tame to examine carefully tests and reviews.

 

Look at the results of my old website after signing up with Siteground.

 

test website performance pingdom

 

IS INCREDIBLE, ISN’T IT?

MY WEBSITE WAS FASTER THAN 82% OF ALL TESTED WEBSITES WITH A LOAD TIME OF 1.45 s!

Website speed test ilariacos

 

This is the test of my new website! it’s CRAZY FAST TOO THANKS TO SITEGROUND! IT’S FASTER THAN 90% OF all tested websites and the LOAD TIME is just 1 second!

Their plus? Their customer service!!!

For the first time in my life I love dealing with IT people. Their guys are really quick in answering and helpful and they give solutions. They took charge of my website transfer for free and did it at the speed of the light.

 

Web Hosting