Thursday, July 28, 2011

Week 29 good to WOW Edit Laughter

I do love these weeks when I only have one photo to edit!  In case you missed it in the flickr pool, here it is again:

Here is the basic clean edit I would usually stop at:
This is a levels adjustment, which I almost stopped at, and then the default settings from three layers from Ashley's Nice and Easy Action--brightness/contrast, lens filter, and pink layer.  Plus a slight crop.

Then I thought I would try a creative edit, too.
Original photo with layers adjustment.
Then Pure Photoshop Action--No Ordinary Slumber (part of their Taste of Pure currently free set).
Then Pure Soft (also free)--masked from skin and hair (I thought it might merge in the hand blur from my DoF.)
Then I duplicated the flattened image and set to multiply, but masked off of skin and carpet.
Then I ran Pioneer Women's BW Beauty action--still my favorite BW conversion action so far.
Then to bring a little color, I ran Pure Photoshop's Action Pink Lemonade (part of the free summer actions.)
Resized and sharpened for the web.

That's all folks!  Be sure to check out all the other edits and have a GREAT weekend!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Repeating Patterns

I really do love Exploring with a Camera Prompts.  They keep me inspired when I already have 200 pictures of my children at the same exhibit and otherwise might get bored.  Also,  I believe they are really helping me develop an eye for interesting compositions or will some day.  This week's theme is repeating patterns, and I must say, once again I was skeptical when she said they are all around us, and then I ended up taking 100s of pictures of repeating patterns (though some of them might be a stretch).  Feel blessed, very blessed, that I am limiting my choices to two per Scavenger Hunt Sunday prompts.

Walking Empty Streets:
This bench is along an temporarily empty park street.
Okay, these are indoors, but they remained empty as the glass elevator was much more fun.
Repeating Patterns:
I shot these pinwheels from several different angles.  You may be seeing more of them.
I love the repeating shadow lines down the handrail.
The edge of the pool deck floor had these repeating bricks.
So this might be a stretch for floor and repeating patterns, but I still think it's pretty.  It is the ground which is the floor outside.
Then and Now (Hover the mouse over to see the Nows):
Originally I took the NOW picture with f/1.8 to have enough light, but THEN I tried again with f/16 in order to have a little light flare (which didn't exactly work).  I love how the irregularity of the lights contrast with the repeating patterns of the ceiling grates.
I'm a little befuddled on which picture is Now and Then.  This photo is the Then of vintage gumballs and the Now of post edit.  The photo revealed on hover is the gumballs of Now and the Then of pre-edit.  Ummm, I'm sure you can figure it out.
To avoid reaching for books with your fingertips, the book store has repeating ladders.
One of things I hope to eventually be able to do is see repeating patterns, or form, or etc. while taking pictures of my children in order to compose a more interesting shot.  That is going to take practice.  Thank goodness I love practicing with my camera!
He is holding the paper by his fingertips as I try to capture the repeating patterns of the bricks.
Well, I'll probably be a little late linking my Scavenger Hunt post up but I'm a little early posting it, so I think it'll all wash out in the end.


(un)NECESSARY Accessories!

You cannot be into photography for long before hearing a barrage of opinions on what you do or do not need to be a "real" photographer.  It can be overwhelming and expensive and so far the craving for more has not gone away.  However, this weekend did a lot to alleviate my yearnings...not because my want factor went down, but because I got some stuff...lots of cool stuff!

First of all, I have no more excuses for not taking shots of myself either solo or with my family.  Before I needed new shoes or toothpaste, I was given--for my birthday--a tripod AND a remote shutter release.  Too generous, my friend, too generous, but I'm not complaining.  I haven't had much time to use them yet, but it is really wonderful to have them.  It was getting a little tricky relying on mirrors for my self-portraits.
I apologize to the lady in the background--this is a trick mirror at OMSI
Now it wouldn't be too bad if the mirrors all made me look tall and thin(ner)...
...but the ones in our house do not, so a tripod and remote are very exciting to have.

I did play with my new toys for a tiny bit, so I present my first shot from the tripod.  Not my best work, but at least one child will have proof that I spent time with them.
Sunflower was not supposed to be in the shot.
Thank you for my truly necessary accessories!  I cannot wait to try it out for long exposure shots and more family captures!  It is the one thing I am looking forward to for tomorrow's camping trip--finally having time to play with my new toys.

...And read my new books!

One repeating pattern I noticed as I began my study of photography is that everyone recommends Bryan Peterson's book--Understanding Exposure.
When we visited a giant used bookstore this weekend, we all got to choose a book, so I immediately hunted this book down (somehow I also got 2 adoption books; I don't know how that happened!)  I haven't had much time to read it, but I have already learned at least one thing from it.  Specifically he does not do a custom white balance or auto, he keeps his camera on "cloudy."  I've seen people suggest that setting, but never why.  He says it just warms everything up and makes things more vibrant which is something he likes in his photos.  So do I!  He said if you didn't believe him just try it.  So while shooting pictures of Sunflower the other day, I gave it a shot.
This is the picture I took with my White Balance set to Auto.
This is taken from the same spot seconds later with white balance set to cloudy.
My husband says he cannot see a difference at all, but in PSE it seems obvious to me--especially in her skin tones and the white parts of the blanket.  Not that either one is perfect SOOC, but I am very pleased with the colors and tones in the cloudy white balance shot.  Granted I was using the light through the window which was behind clouds so it should have been the right setting, but auto hadn't figured it out.

So there you have it--my three new awesome photography accessories.  My thirst is sated.  I won't start whining about wanting more things for my camera, like a macro lens, until my husband asks me what I want for my next birthday...or at least not until Christmas.  (Is it okay to ignore that fact that if I get enough birthday money from my dad and grandma I'm going to buy LightRoom3?)

So I plan to post my "shoot and edit" edit in the morning (if you missed the "shoot" shot--I posted it on flickr), and I may be able to complete another post I am working on but I am going unplugged tomorrow morning until Sunday night (why oh why don't the mountains have internet?)  So thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave comments--I always love them!--but I won't be able to return them all until next week.  I also posted my Scripture and a Snapshot on my real life blog because it is centered around our adoption journey, but feel free to visit it there--it is the best kind of drop-in company, no cleaning required.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Why Am I Obsessed with Photography?

If you asked me this six months ago, my answer was easy--to document the important details of my life as they occur.  Even before children this was true and I have many bad pictures of people whose names I now don't recall--mostly candids because that was my "style."  After children I became even more obsessed.  Thank goodness for the introduction of the digital camera.  It has saved me hundreds of dollars on film and duplicates.  This is still one of the main reasons I shoot pictures.  I love to capture that special memory of my child, his/her smile, laugh, eyes, hair, activities...the list goes on.  When I get a great (in my mind) image, I will stare at it for minutes or hours reveling in the beauty that is my child such as in this sweet shot.
But in February I got my first dSLR, and I was determined not to waste it.  I decided I would figure out how to master the camera and go back to documenting the details of my life and each of my three beautiful children.  I don't want to forget any piece of their childhood.  What surprised me was that I love the technical side of digital SLR's.  I love figuring out what manual settings to use to get the right exposure or depth of field or focus that I want--understanding what I should do and executing it properly results in more failure than not, but I LOVE the process.  I enjoy fiddling with the settings and discovering how they change my image.  I always took 5 or 50 pictures of any given scene, but now at least I'm adjusting what will happen with each shot.
Knowing to set my lens to a small aperture (f/16 for this shot) in order to capture the sunbeams as opposed to a big yellow blob gives me immense personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

But a third reason I love taking pictures is that it has opened my eyes.  I see things I would never have seen before.  Following Kat's Exploring with a Camera Series I have started to see contrasts, find form, and this week notice repeating patterns.  Learning to see beauty in everything around me has brought me closer to God and more appreciative of the world around me.  I feel like entering the world of photography has given me glasses that I never want to take off again.
What to do with a shot of the grating on the stairwell, I don't know--unless it is to show it on my blog, which brings me to the fourth reason I love taking pictures.  I have so much fun taking the beauty that I am now seeing and bringing a little joy to others with it.  I don't know if I will ever get into a style of photography that is dark and broody--not because I don't think photography is a wonderful medium for sharing important messages--it just feels that for me currently the message I want to share is one of joy, peace, love, and beauty.  Uplifting if one wants to go cliche.  If only one person goes away saying that post or that picture, it brought beauty or happiness or light into my life or I learned something useful, I am content.  (Thankfully the photogs I've met tend to be really sweet and encouraging so I am frequently content now days.)
I just get so much joy from a pretty flower or a well executed shot that I love sharing that joy with others and encouraging them to keep going and keep learning.  My photography has come so far in the last six months, I cannot wait to see how much further I can take it.  I don't think of myself as artsy or creative, but my photos make me feel like I am creating something, something worth keeping and sharing.  I do dream that someday when I upload 1000 pictures that more of my shots are keepers and that my quality of capture overall will continue to increase, but in the meantime I love taking what I do know and try to capture that perfect shot.  If I don't succeed, oh well!  I'll keep exploring, learning, and dreaming and in the meantime, editing.  I must admit I kind of love the whole world of editing, too!  Seriously, how fun is photography?
CoffeeShop's Perfect Portrait 3 Action, and Kim Klassen's Silent Night Texture on a Multiply 50% Vignette
Linking with Sweet Shot Tuesday, Exploring with the Camera, Texture Tuesdays...
Sweet Shot Daykimklassencafe

And my class over at The Kat Eye View of the World called Find Your Eye: Starting the Journey.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

I had a lot of fun with this hunt--once I was able to start it on Friday.  Not because my pictures are my best, but because my kids helped me, especially in thinking creatively.  I can get so stuck on an idea that doesn't work, but the boys' ideas are unlimited.  So fun to work with them.  Too bad I waited until Friday to bring them in.  It means we are away on vacation and I'm limited to iPhoto.  Oh well, it is all about the fun, and it was lots of fun.

Music to My Ears:
Not exactly the picture I envisioned, but aside from my children's laughter NOTHING sounds better to my ears than the sound of coke being poured.  I freely admit I am a coke addict.

Today at the Narnia exhibit at the science museum, SnapDragon got to try on real, replica chain mail.  I had to take the picture quickly because I was afraid the weight would squash him flat.

Nothing is as clear as these baby blues, unless it is the blue sky reflected in them.  Yeah!  Summer might finally be here--or at least for the weekend.

Out of This World:
I think it might be a stretch to say this is out of this world, but I kind of think the sun bursts reflected on the water kind of look like stars in the night sky.  If that won't do how about this replica of the space capsule?
Ummm, I guess this also isn't out of this world since it is fake and here, but I think my kids are out of this world!  I use hip slang like "out of this world" on a daily basis.

The boys spent almost 30 minutes trying to throw water and splash to make "sprinkles" for me.  Who would have known that their dessert that night was going to come with real sprinkles?

So these are my hunt items!  I hope next week's really difficult because we'll be out of town again, but away from computers and internet, so it'll be easier to not be able to participate if it seems impossible.  Make sure to check out the other links over at Ramblings and Photos.  It is nothing short of amazing.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


You would think, since my children are constantly in motion, that I would have lots of incredible captures to share--or at least one incredible capture.  Alas, it was not to be.  However, I am a firm believer in quantity making up for quality.  Yep, yep, I am.
I am starting to rethink my belief that children who can dress themselves should.  I decolorized this so the clashing pink and teal aren't as noticeable, but the flowers and stripes are still there.
SnapDragon was the most cooperative at running for motion shots.  He is very interested in photography and what I'm posting on my blog.
This day we were gone from home all day so she didn't have a chance to change and change and mismatch what Daddy originally picked out in the morning.
I do actually love this picture of my kids, though I'm now realizing I have no forward facing pictures of Huckleberry in this set.  After a long week at camp he was very reluctant to run and jump for my camera.  (The black and white solved the pink, orange, and green shirts present amongst my children.)
I'm not sure she is actually in motion in this shot, but she is certainly warning her brothers of her plan to attack.
He ran back and forth, back and forth.  Yet I was not successful in capturing exactly what I envisioned.  Still, this shot is fun and I have 100 50 more similar ones I cannot quite bear to delete.
Seriously, who lets these kids out of the house dressed like this?  We are at a public park!  I used my 55-200mm zoomed out to 200mm because they just ran that far, but I do prefer the images I get with my 50mm.  It feels like I have to do so much more to the 55-200mm images just to get the colors right--though maybe I shouldn't have been so true to the original colors here.

But before I got my 50mm, I loved my long lens.  I want to love it again.  Sometimes the distance just needs a longer lens.  Here is an image I took weeks ago, long before my new lens and I didn't do anything to it (except size and resharpen for web).
There is just something about this image I love though when I try to figure out what all I see are the things wrong with it. But I don't mean to sound discouraged.  The weather discourages me, not capturing exactly what I intended does sometimes disappoint, but I know I am learning and improving and that is what matters. 

So those are my captures for Crazy Days of Summer Motion theme.  Be sure to check out the other posts linking up.  There are some talented photographers out there and motion can mean so many fun and different things.