Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Black and White Wednesday

I am busy working on my friend's pictures and my life.  But since today is Black and White Wednesday, and my blog hits have doubled as my friend checks for more glimpses of her kids, I thought I would post a few more photos.
I do have few of him smiling, but I haven't finished editing them yet.
This one is one of my favorites of the baby~I didn't cut of her fingers, or ears, or elbow. 
That same sweet smile.
I have even more growth and learning to do for group/combo shots; my kids aren't going to like that.

I have less dramatic edits of this photo, but something about this really appeals to me.  I don't know about mom, but I love it.
I am still learning and want to learn more.  I'd appreciate any ideas you'd have on how I can improve, what I can try in editing, and advice on posing and composition for future photos.  Of course, I love the compliments, too.
the long road= 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sweet Shot Tuesday

Everyone has seen a ton of pictures of my kids, and I have a friend who is frequently checking my blog for glimpses of hers.  So while each photo I edit becomes my new favorite, here is one picture each of the three beautiful children I had the privilege to photograph on Saturday.
One thing I learned while taking this little one's photo is "wipe the drool, wipe the drool!"  Editing it out afterward is a pain and not the look I'm looking for.  Also, take the time to have the baby change clothes.  I do not have the experience to know how an outfit will look in the photos.  A different outfit and more time for more poses would have given my friend more selection.
I either have him smiling or looking at me, but he is a fun little guy.  I just wish I had more poses of him with his sisters~maybe at the baby's one year :) 
This girl is seriously beautiful and really enjoyed having her picture taken.  Even when we were outside so they could play while I shot, if she saw the camera was on her she would stop and give this smile and tilt her head.  It really was a fun morning.

So will I ever "go into business" and try to compete with the hundreds of photographers already out there?  Certainly not yet.  I have too much to learn; especially how to make sure I don't need to reshoot to get those shots I missed, what is my personal style/branding, and apparently how to say "I am a photographer."  Owning a dSLR for 7 months does not make one a photographer~or at least it doesn't give me the confidence to say it.  But one can only spend so much time away from family on a personal hobby, I think, so in the meantime, I'll be working on some of the things mentioned in this article --  Advice for Aspiring Photographers.  What is a light meter?  My camera tells me if it thinks my manual settings will provide the proper exposure or not; how would one use a light meter?
Sweet Shot Day

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

I don't know what impact the hurricane and storms on the East Coast will have on this week's scavenger hunt or who that I "cyber know" is impacted, but I am praying; at this time there is nothing else I can do.  There have been so many weather tragedies recently; I feel deep sorrow for all those involved.  I feel like it is maybe wrong to go on with my life as normal, posting my hunt, but looking at the beauty in the world soothes my soul as I pray for the fright, weather, disaster, financial and physical loss of my fellow countrymen.

Old and New:

I had only had my camera for about a month and been shooting manual for 2 weeks when I took pictures of my friend's newborn.  I don't know what I was thinking!  Today I took pictures of all three of her children, including her 5 month old.  I don't know what I was thinking!  Actually, Mama was happy the first time~old:
I am hoping she will be happy this time, too.  I have improved, but it has taught me a couple things.  One, someday maybe I would like to make this a business.  Even knowing others can do better, I had so much fun taking pictures and somewhat AMAZINGLY to me, I enjoyed interacting with the children with the aid of the camera.  It was a lot of fun to be using what ability I do have to bless another family~I do have a LOT of pictures of my kids now.  Second, I have so much to learn!  Even knowing that I shouldn't chop off ears and should maybe shoot "loose," I still did things wrong.  I don't even know how much I don't know yet.  I didn't capture every image I envisioned, but I believe I got some photos mom will enjoy~and for now, her pleasure is my payment.
This isn't my best shot of the day, but it is one I enjoy; I hope mom does, too.

Night Photography:
So, I didn't get a chance to take pictures at night this week.  I know people will have some really cool ones, too.  This is my "son" turned away from me~ie it is "night."  Wait, the earth turns away from the sun.  Actually, it was almost my choice for sun, so I'm hoping extra sun shots make up for the lack of night shots, right?

This was at the farmer's market today.  Very heart refreshing to spend the day taking pictures of pretty flowers and fruit~now what do I do with them?

Look at that cheesy smile!  I am also linking this up with SOOC Saturday over at Marvelous Mommy.  I'd forgotten how creamy my 50mm can be.  My friend reminded me with her beautiful photo of her son.

SOOC Saturday


So many beautiful flowers at the Farmer's Market today and shooting them is free (though we did come home with one bouquet.

Happy Hunting!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Crazy Days of Summer -- Summer Finale

This is the last week to participate in the Crazy Days of Summer and there's a prize!  Though the greatest prize has been seeing all the different parts of the world through the eyes and lens of others while staying near home.  A theme like Summer Finale can mean so many fabulous different things, so be sure to check out the other entries.  In the meantime, it has been a fairly crazy week with not much sleep, so here are some random, not nearly all of my favorite, shots from our summer.

I am also linking up with Kelly who runs the Christian adoption blog and forum We are Grafted In~a very supportive and encouraging forum that has helped me with the ups and downs of, well, adoption.  If you are visiting from that blog hop, you might be interested in my other, more personal blog~Joyful Mama Gives In (lame name, I know, but it isn't much worse than Cedar's photography.)  

We swam:

We picked blueberries:

I took lots and lots of pictures of flowers:
And captured many sunflares--on purpose for once:
We went to the dentist:
(And Huckleberry got his first cavity, Sunflower her first x-rays, and SnapDragon no particular first.)
I took tons and tons of pictures of my children--particularly trying to capture the perfect shot of the three together:
Still trying since Huckleberry is out of focus.
And we went to an insane number of parks:

We also went to the zoo, went camping, went to the mountains, and traveled a few hours south to go to the Science Museum and stay in a hotel.  Truly it was an excellent summer, but bring on September~my favorite month of the year.  It is a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, and school~all wonderful things!  Plus, September has the best weather of the year (in our area)~most of the time.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Week 33 good to WOW Edit Shadow

Today in shoot and  edit Ashley taught us a little more about filters.  In photoshop/elements they are easy to use, so it isn't so much the how to as the reminder that they have a purpose~a very useful purpose at times.

First I just did basic editing+ and was considering it good since I really liked the picture.  Mouseover for the original if you missed it on flickr.
In LR3 I used the presets that came with the program~General Punch and Tone Curve Flat  (I really need to start learning and understanding curves better so I have better personal control.)  Then I cropped to remove the foot on the right.  I took it into PSE in order to clone out the extra shadow on the left.  It told you there was more than one bagpiper, so I thought about leaving it in but decided not to.  That is it for my first edit.

Then since we were learning filters I applied a cooling filter (82) with the default settings.  I took it back into LR because I thought maybe I should try to make it more moody and dramatic~the filter cooled the picture, but it was still clearly a peaceful, sunny day.  However, I wasn't finding anything I liked.  But in the process I realized my first edit was a little too warm, while the cooling filter was too cool.  So I boosted my blacks by 8 to make the shadow darker, lowered the exposure a tidge (-.20), and warmed the temp by +11.  This resulted in this next photo.
I am very fond of warm photos so I'm not really sure, but I do think the slightly cooler image is better.  (Mouseover to see the warm edit vs. cooler edit.)

The biggest thing I regret about this photo is that it wasn't a little later in the day so the shadow was  a little longer, so since I can, I decided to play with lengthening the shadow.  I have not been successful with stretching the canvas before, and I would choose the above edit over this one, but here it is "later in the day."
I couldn't stretch it any further without covering the tassels.

Now just in case you are still debating the value of filters~there are other ways to accomplish the same thing~I thought I'd share this photo of Sunflower that I love (and will probably show up in another post) but was too warm, even for me.
The only thing I did to this photo besides resizing for the web is apply a Cooling Filter (80) default settings.
Make sure to go look at the other shadow photos and edits!  There was a lot of creativity and beauty in this week's SOOC shots.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Green and Brown

I am still working on my last assignment for the class I took~Find Your Eye: Starting the Journey.  Part of my problem in finding my style is that I am still in flux.  Oh, that looks nice!  Oh, I like THAT!  But there are a few things I consistently like.  One of them appears to be the combination of colors of various shades of green and various shades of brown.
This explains why I insist on keeping this picture even though it doesn't help with context of the trip it was taken on or inspire me to make a card or something.  It isn't exactly in my inspiration file, but it might have made it if that building was just a bit deeper brown.  My preference does lean towards a deeper brown~almost rust/red color.
I do like being close up, too.  I have a picture of this complete structure but it does not appeal nearly as much.
Of course photos that have interesting depths of fields appeal a great deal, especially if they have those chosen colors.  It is the first thing I learned I had control over if I did more of the work than my camera.  Fun to be in control, but really it just looks cool.
Another thing I love about photography is that it gives me the power to lie.  In general I don't believe in lying (not even those little white lies that help smooth relationships) and even if my words try to lie my face and tone tell the truth.  But in photography, it becomes okay.  No one feels deceived, because it isn't lying~it is choosing which story to tell.  The above photo could be anything I make it into if I wrote about it.  It is the play equipment at the park we visited Saturday.
Many confused another shot of this equipment with being a park bench which then becomes its own reality.  Odd pictures and crops can inspire the imagination to fill in those missing pieces (though really I just love the above picture because of the colors and interesting shapes.)
But if we zoom out you can see more of the story, but in some ways it can still be whatever story it wants to tell or our imaginations want to take away.  This looks like they are sitting their contemplating life; being deep.  Because of the angle I choose that does not show their faces (chosen due to laziness not creative composition) and that it is only a moment in time, you don't know that the real story is that they are spies sailing their ship into the night~an apparently really speedy ship because they were there for less than a minute.
Now while I clearly do love that brown and green and the ability to crop or clone out distracting bits.  I also love taking pictures of my children (or other people's children since I now have too many of pictures of mine.)
But some of my favorite shots of them really do still fall into that brown and green category.  Plus the light!  I know I shouldn't have shadows on her face, but I like it anyway.  Do you see the pretty bokeh and her bright eyes?  I also love color~especially a pop of color amidst the brown and greens.  Thankfully, that is easy to find because nature is full of brown and greens and my children, well, they almost always pop with color!
Now editing is interesting.  I know many strive to get the best shot SOOC so they don't have to edit~and I am very happy with my images when I don't feel like I "have to" edit.  But I like editing.  It is fun.  But while I would rather not crop, it is the easiest and least intrusive way of choosing the story I want my picture to tell.  Though actually in the above shots only the railroad track is cropped a tiny bit because of some orange construction fencing I could not get out of the frame and get the focus I wanted.  The only other edits I did was in LR3-General Punch preset and on some the Tones Flat preset.  If I had edited in PSE they would have been a "Pure Pop" action. possibly a levels adjustment, and a high pass filter.  Because when the colors start out as colors that I love, I really don't feel a need to get creative.  I love to play with creative edits, but I almost always go back to my clean edits when it comes time to print.  But sometimes, I have a picture that I love, but it is just wrong.  It needs more editing to even become viewable, let alone printable.  If I was a true diehard SOOC (which I am not), I would have to toss it and shoot again.  But this is where editing becomes even more fun.  It isn't about lying ~ look aren't I a good photographer! ~ it is about salvaging those moments that I want to keep.  I'd never salvage a photo of the traintrack~what is the point?  But of my kids?  Then the ability to edit becomes priceless.
The color cast in this is horrible!  I played with white balance in lightroom for awhile, but I just couldn't quite get what I wanted, so I took it to PSE6 (very simple to do from LR3).  Then I followed Ashley's tutorial from Shoot and Edit on adjusting White Balance.  I tried both methods she mentioned.  I also gave it a levels adjustment, "Pure Pop" and cropped.  I would have gone further and might still if I decide to print this, but I wanted to show you the color I got using the adjust for skin tone adjustment.
I should probably play a little longer with the colors here; maybe a warming filter or pink tone, but basically, there you have it~a fun capture of my son that has the elements I love: brown and green with a pop of color, pretty bokeh, close-up, and interesting depth of field.  Why shouldn't I take the time to rescue it~though I'd prefer to figure out how to set my camera when shooting in green light!

If you haven't had the chance yet, I strongly recommend taking Kat's Find Your Eye course~that is if you are prepared to analyze, think deep, learn from others, and desire to take more classes.  I am not ready to move onto the next class (besides not having the money set aside) because I am still mulling over what I have learned. Well worth the $29 (if I hadn't won my spot for free~thanks, Kat and Ashley!).  Actually, I'm not done learning even now as I finally finish my last assignment.  Kat does not expect us to "Find our Eye" in one two week class (probably why the first class is called "Starting the Journey") and thank goodness!

My Black and White Wednesday Post is over at my other blog; I'd love the visit!