Posted on January 30, 2019
For years I lived under the pretense that people are either creative or they are not. And, (although I accepted it) that never felt “right” to me. For a longtime I felt like I was pretending to be creative. I would look at drawing books and try to recreate them. I would see craft projects and I’d try to put my own spin on it. I was always looking outside of myself and therefore, thought I was a fraud. I understood that to be creative you were constantly coming up with new ideas, breaking new barriers and always changing the molds! But then one day I heard something that stopped me in my tracks. “Creativity can be learned.” What’s that now?! “I’m sorry, could you speak into my good ear?!” (Ace Ventura) That’s right folks, creativity isn’t some elusive trait, it is a skill that can be learned! And just like most skills, if we want to excel at it, we must practice! If I wanted to be a professional synchronized swimmer, I’d need to practice every day. If I planned to play professional piccolo… I’d need to learn what that was. So, if I wanted to be any good at photography, I was going to have to buckle down and start learning, practicing, and shooting! Enter the 365 project. It’s pretty self explanatory, in that you shoot every day for 365 days.
So here are 4 reasons to get started on a 365 today! (That’s right, you don’t have to wait until the beginning of the year.)
One thing to consider along with starting a 365 is accountability. When we begin an exercise routine or a healthy living plan, we gather support and accountability from those around us, and this is no different. For me, that looked like announcing on my social media that I was beginning my 365 and every day I would number my images (i.e. 1 of 365). I was surprised at how often people I met would tell me that they looked forward to my daily images! If you are looking for groups to help, there are plenty on Instagram and Facebook. Some accounts or groups will support you by offering daily, weekly themes or monthly themes for you to join in and share to. For example, look at these hubs on Instagram here or here . But however you decide to do it, just DO it! You won’t regret it!
Aaand… if you have already started a 365 but need motivation to keep it going check out Kara Chappell’s helpful tips here: Family Photography on Whidbey Island
Posted on July 11, 2018
Now that summer is here, we are spending a lot of time in the pool or in some kind of water. The kids can spend hours swimming, but frankly, I get a little bored after about 20 minutes. So, I decided to purchase an underwater housing bag for my DSLR to keep myself entertained. I wasn’t ready to invest in legit housing so I opted for the Zonman DSLR Waterproof Pouch on Amazon. It was a little complicated to work with, but it got the job done! I was able to take lots of pictures of my kids in the pool and even swimming in the ocean, all while keeping my camera safe and dry. This takes lots of shooting, so be prepared for a bunch of crazy throw away images and a few decent ones!
Now comes the issue of editing underwater images. When you photograph underwater everything tends to be very blue/green and a little hazy (depending on where you’re shooting) There are lots of great options and methods of how to fix underwater images in Photoshop and in Lightroom, but I’m going to share how I edited these simply and completely in Lightroom.
Here are a couple of before and afters. You can see that the skin tones on the “before” are off and overall they need work!
Below is a screen shot of the Lightroom Settings that I used. First, I began by using the Color Temperature eye dropper tool on a neutral part of the image (both times I used parts of their clothes) to get a more accurate white balance reading, then I adjusted it based on my liking. As you can see from the panel on the left, I worked a lot with the Color (HSL) Panel to correct the colors of the skin and the water. Something that you cannot see from the panel is that I used the local adjustments brush on the “Color” setting and I painted a bit on the skin to add more orange and warmth. Underwater images usually need more contrast to make the subjects pop and I always add extra clarity. Any other adjustments beyond that are purely aesthetic. I removed the extra set of feet on the first and adjusted the crop, etc.
I am by no means and master of underwater editing, but I enjoy learning new tips and I thought I’d share the methods that I have learned. I hope you enjoy and I’d love to see some of your underwater images as well!
Posted on April 3, 2018
Spring is absolutely my favorite time of the year in Texas. The temperature is nice, everything is in bloom, and I don’t suffer from a pollen allergy. (sorry for my friends who do!) But the highlight of this time of year is all the wildflowers most notably, the bluebonnets! We took a trip to Brenham about a week ago and had a little fun photographing the kids playing and attempting to get a family photo (fail, but that’s another story)
One picture, in particular, that I liked was this one. This is straight out of camera (SOOC) I loved the way the wind was blowing her hair, the contrast of her white dress and, of course, the bluebonnets. But I felt that this image could use a little “oomph!” Enter Photoshop. So, I’ll break down the steps I took in transforming this image.
The first thing I did was to do some basic edits in Lightroom. I raised the shadows and the exposure just slightly, increased the contrast and reduced the highlights. Then I added vibrance and reduced the blacks. At this point, I moved the image over to Photoshop. Once in PS, I decided that I wanted her to be trying to catch something more interesting than her little toy dog, so I Googled “balloons png” and I found a few free images to use and settled on what you see. Then, I added a new sky from my collection (I sometimes photograph pretty skies just for this purpose) So, I dropped the sky in over my image and put a layer mask on it. I used the graduated filter to make it darker at the top and lighter towards the horizon (as skies are not generally the same intensity throughout) Then I used my paintbrush to brush the sky off of my subject. Next, I added the balloons. At first the balloons were too different from the overall image and it wasn’t looking natural. So I went to Image, Adjustments, Match Color then selected the sky as my source and the layer as my balloons. I adjusted the Luminance, Color intensity and fade until I felt that the balloons were blending into the overall image a bit better. Now, the issue of her dress. It was too flat and still but I wanted it to help express the movement of the wind that day. So, I opened another image of her dress blowing (see below) and I cut off the part that I wanted to use and added it to my final image.
The final changes I made were to fill in the empty spaces with a few more bluebonnets. I used the clone tool and took from areas within the same focal range and blended them into the empty spots in the field. Then, I used the Liquify tool to make her hair a little more dramatic, Finally, I took the light poles and other small, distracting elements out of the image and Viola! The final product! It may seem like a lot of steps, but I thoroughly enjoyed the process and that, to me, is all part of the fun! I hope this helps and that you get a chance to see the bluebonnets for yourself while they’re still here!