Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anatomy Lesson....Veiled Princess

I mentioned in an earlier post that studio lighting terrifies & intimidates me.  That pretty much says it all~
But I've come to realize that if I actually want to create all these dramatic, awesome portrait ideas that I have spinning around in my brain, I'm going to have to learn to be in control of the light.  

So a few months ago I bought an inexpensive light set with 2 softboxes and a kicker light.  {I love saying "kicker light" it just sounds fun!}  
I've been experimenting with them occasionally but decided to do an "official, for real" photo shoot with Princess.  I had a specific look in mind for these portraits and my goal was to actually create the images I had in my brain.  

I'll be sharing more about my set-up on the Texas Chicks blog soon, but today I wanted to share a quick Anatomy Lesson on one of my favorite edits from the session.

I opened my original image in Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac...

I loved the soft yet intense expression on Princess but I was really back & forth on how to edit and crop it.
The composition just wasn't doing it for me but I couldn't decide what to keep and what to trash~  I liked the black space on the right....I liked the curve and the bokeh of the chair at the top and I liked the mix of the cream/white/black colors.  Ultimately, I decided that the focus should be on her and I didn't want the chair distracting from that so I cropped in real usual!

Her skin looked great {6 year old skin is always great!} but the corner of her left eye and the corner of her mouth was too dark so I wanted to lighten those.  I used the Clone Tool with the mode set to Lighten at 23%.

*Sidenote ~ I just started using the Pencil Tool and I love it!  I totally stink at it but it's so fun!  I used it to circle the Mode & Opacity at the top~

Next I softened the skin just a tiny bit with Baby Powder Room then I was ready to decide on the final processing.  And guess what....I couldn't decide!  So I tried 2 different versions...

For the first one, I really wanted to keep that great mix of color tones so I simply ran the Velvet Truffle action from Coffeeshop and adjusted the Color Fill 2 layer to 25% instead of the default 75% opacity.

That's the wonderful thing about actions....most of them are adjustable so you can really make them fit to your style.  Don't be afraid to play with opacities, turning off layers, and combining one action over another.  You never know what you'll end up loving~

So here's my final in version #1...

*I just love her*

And here's my final in version #2.  This is a vintage treatment that I used on several of the other shots from this session...

I'd love to know which version you prefer!  
I'm going to be ordering some large samples for my home and I'm leaning towards a 24x24 of version #1 in a metal print~  Suggestions??

I'll be posting lots more from this session since I learned a ton about studio lighting, but if you just can't wait and want to see more of these shots you can check them out on my Facebook fan page.  


Monday, March 28, 2011

Behind The Scenes Photo Shoot With My Girlfriends!

So here's the scoop....I invited my girlfriends over last week to be my models so I could practice working with some softbox lighting.  Studio lighting terrifies and intimidates me but I know I MUST learn it if I want more control over my portraits.  So I've been using everyone I can to practice on before I actually have a real client that expects me to create something marvelous~

Back to my story....Raindog and Queenie come over and we all have different agendas...
Raindog is currently studying to be a professional make-up artist so she was happy to have some models to practice on too. {and I totally stink at eyeliner so I was thrilled not to have to do my own makeup!}
Queenie was in need of some new headshots for her Image Consulting business and is always a willing volunteer when free photos are included.

We spent the morning as all professional, serious models do ~ we played!  My house was a mess of make-up, hot rollers, and a tiny dog desperately wanting to be included in the photo shoot.  And just for the record, my experience with the hot rollers was not pretty!  I ended up with poufy princess hair that Raindog immediately sprayed with concrete so I couldn't change it.  Friends do not let friends pose with princess hair but I was outvoted~

Here's how my lighting was set-up...I had 1 softbox aimed at the left side of the models for side lighting and a reflector in front of it to soften the light a little bit more.  My room is huge and I had other lighting coming in from all different areas so it was really really hard for me to get the lighting just right.

I was hoping to get a really dramatic, intimate portrait of the 3 of us together {inspired by the awesome Sue Bryce} but after about 53 attempts of me setting the self timer....then running to pose....then running back to check it....then realizing we're way too dorky to model dramatically...then trying again....I gave up!

But, the day wasn't an entire waste.  After all, when you spend a day with great friends, laughing loudly and playing with make-up, we ended up with memories that are priceless~  And I learned that lighting 3 people is a skill that I just haven't mastered yet.  But it's coming....

Here's a few shots from the day...

And here's an awesome little video that Raindog whipped up from our memorable afternoon:)

This video contains Princess Hair, Backfat and Women Over 40 Dancing.
View at your own risk:

And just for the other record - I AIN'T 40!!!  ....yet

Friday, March 25, 2011

Get Connected! Save $$ at Clickin Moms!

Wanna stay in the loop?  Then get connected!

One of the awesome things that I've learned the past year is how valuable it is to connect with other photographers.  My cyberspace photog friend Amy invited me to be part of a photographers forum and I can't express how much I've learned by participating in conversations with other photogs all over the country...and the world!  

It's comforting to see that other photographers have the same questions, fears and hang-ups that I've dealt with in this crazy adventure of the photography business.  Plus I've gotten awesome inspiration for marketing ideas.  This online group was my first endeavor into a forum and I've loved it so much that I joined another one today...because who really needs clean laundry and home-cooked meals???

Today I joined Clickin Moms and I can't wait to see what all is going on over there!  I saw a discount code posted on The Photographers Wall Display Guide {super awesome product!} and you know I love discounts so I jumped at the chance to save 25% off the membership.  I think the code is only good til midnight so join now and then find me on there and say hello!!   

Here's the code: FBFAN
and here's the link ~
clickin' Moms


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Makin' It Work ~ Using Window Light

Quick, where do you think these shots were taken?

I bet you'll never guess.....

If you want to find out the answer then head on over to Texas Chicks Blogs & Pics where Erin
has been gracious enough to let me be her guest writer for the day~

See ya there!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sites Worth Stalking ~ All New!

So I was reviewing my blog last week and realized that time has passed quickly and I haven't updated
my Sites Worth Stalking in a while.  Sorry 'bout that!

But here's the good news....everyone on my Sites Worth Stalking page remains solid in their *fabulousness* standing!  And even better news, I've added some more absolutely incredible sites
that I firmly believe you all should be stalking each and every day.

For instance....Confessions of an Over 40 Makeup Junkie....the title alone tells ya it's gonna be good, I mean who doesn't love to hear confessions?  It has nothing to do with photography and everything to do with FUN!  Plus I hear she's got an awesome giveaway coming this week...Rainee Rae is what you call a hard-core shopper so I'm sure she's got something awesome for that....check it out:)

Plus she has pictures on her blog like this...
...that are actually relevant to her content!!

Another good one is Go 4 Pro...quite inspirational and full of ideas and encouragement if you' can I say it....."going for pro"!

These are just a few...check them all out and soak in the goodness of blog stalking.  And please....please...pretty please...share with me your favorite blogs to stalk!  I've got about 13 minutes
of my day where I have absolutely nothing at all to do!!!  I need more blogs to stalk!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Wonderful World of Apertures!

I was hanging with Princess today outside {finally some decent weather!} when I realized that she would be the perfect model for a quick show-and-tell about Aperture.

The question I get asked by my friends more than anything else is 
"How can I get those great blurry backgrounds?"
The key to blurry backgrounds is your Aperture.  Your aperture setting controls your background focus more than any other aspect on your camera.

I could seriously spend hours days talking about the different aspects of aperture and how it relates to your focus and lighting, but I'll try narrow it down to baby bites and just show one thing at a time.

Today, I'll show you how changing those little numbers by just the smallest amounts can make a big difference in your images.

Here's the info:  
My camera was set on the Aperture mode.  I did that just for these shots so I didn't have to change all my settings for each one.
Most dslr's have "modes" on a top dial button.  The aperture mode is usually listed as "AV"...

Setting your camera to aperture mode lets YOU choose the aperture and your camera chooses the shutter speed and ISO.  This is easiest way to start experimenting with aperture if you're not wanting to shoot in full manual mode. 

Apertures or F stops are those numbers listed on the side of your lens.  For example, you may see a lens described like this:
50mm F/1.4
70-300 F/4-5.6
24-70 F/2.8 

The F numbers list the smallest aperture that the lens will open up to at any given focal length.  Here's a very basic explanation:
The smaller the number, the fewer things are in focus, the blurrier the background.
The bigger the number, the more things are in focus, the sharper the background.

You will not find that definition in any camera manual, but it's helped me in sorting out all this camera stuff!

So here's some pics to help explain what the aperture actually does in your image.  
I took my first picture after I set my aperture to the smallest number it would go.  On my lens {50mm} 1.4 is the smallest.  Not all lenses will go this low, some start at 2.8 and others at 3.5 or 4.  Check the side of your lens to see what your smallest aperture is.  I've labeled the pics as I changed my aperture setting each time and went up in numbers.

Take notice of how the tree branches and the house behind her are almost completely blurred at the 1.4 setting but definitely recognizable by the time I get to 3.5.

Now take a look at the next 3 images, you'll really be able to tell a big difference in the background at these higher apertures.  Look at the details in the tree trunk from 4.5 to 9.  

Can you tell the difference?  
Because I just love making collages {and more because Princess wasn't done modeling} I've made one more set for you to take a look at.  Check out the tree in the background and the lines of the fence...

I hope this helps someone but of course the best way to figure it all out is just do it!  Get out there and start changing up those dials and see what happens.  The more you experiment with it the more it will "click" with ya~ 

By the there anything cuter than a little girl in piggy tails???
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