Halloween Photos!

I’ve had several requests for Halloween pictures. I’m sorry it took so long, but I am a Photoshop junkie so I manipulate and crop the photos before I upload them, and that took awhile. Hopefully they are worth the wait.

Damian was a dragon, but he did not wear his mask or wings.
Lily was a pink cat.
31 October 2011

Lily saved her money for three months to purchase this wig.
It is a very fun wig.
31 October 2011

This was the very first house, and the kids
are already dipping into the candy.
31 October 2011

We all met at Uncle Rick’s house. Rick ordered pizza, and we
had a great time. The neighborhood was packed with children
trick-or-treating and many of the houses were decorated
like this yard is.
31 October 2011

The adults at this house were having a great time with all
the little kids coming to trick-or-treat.

Clara was a pink Batgirl. There were quite a few Batgirls.
Batgirl is popular.

Cody didn’t dress up but I think he’s scary enough. 🙂

I’m not sure what Logan is dressed as, but his was
the biggest hit. The green lines glowed in the dark.

Lily being a kitty, and
Damian being a dragon.

Adam looked great. 🙂

After trick-or-treating, all the children dumped their candy out
and started trading. After everyone finished the trading,
one of the kids said, “Any candy you don’t like, throw it
into someone else’s pile!”

Clara with her haul for the evening.

Clara is very pleased with her loot. 🙂

A top view of the kids sorting through their candy.

We had a very good time. Rick’s neighborhood was really into the spirit of Halloween.

Matt wants to upload some more photos of the houses. I felt that many of the photos weren’t that great, but Matt said that England doesn’t do Halloween on the scale that Americans do, and he wanted to post the photos for the Brits to see. My flash skills are incredibly weak, and the Halloween night photos really highlight that weakness. But I’ll ask Matt which photos he would like to upload, and I’ll put them on the next post.

As a hardcore hobbyist photographer, it’s very interesting to see my weaknesses in photography accentuated so strongly. It shows exactly where I need practice and improve.

November 4th, 2011 | Photography, The Life of a Suburban Mommy | 1 Comment -

Why I ♥ Photoshop

I will let the photos speak for Photoshop.

The first photo is straight from the camera without any Photoshop manipulation:

Damian and Lily
17 March 2011

The second photo has been processed through the Photoshop Magic Machine:

Damian and Lily
17 March 2011

For those interested, I used a Brightness/Contrast layer with a gradient sunburst to create the darkened edges. Then another Brightness/Contrast layer to beef up the brightness and the contrast of the entire photo. And then finally, a Color Balance layer to add more blue into the photo. I use layers so I have more flexibility.

Photoshop rocks my world.

ps. Thank you to everyone for being so supportive of my blog. It’s very very very very kind and awesome of my family and friends to encourage me so actively. I am a lucky woman.

March 18th, 2011 | Photography | No Comments -

Never apologize for your art.

Photoshop is extremely good at making muddy photos
look a million times better. This picture was taken
in the shade, and therefore the lighting did not give
much depth or variation. Photoshop had to do that.
Damian
02 February 2009

I saw this quote the other day:

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

and I liked it very much. I was curious who said it, so I Googled it. This is a quote from George Bernard Shaw.

My Google search led me to an essay by Scott Ginsberg on this webpage. I like the article very much, but I especially like this line:

Never apologize for your art.

I apologize for my art all the time. In fact, I never even thought about not apologizing for my art until I read this article. It didn’t even occur to me.

I love my art, even my crappy art. And by art, I mean my photos, my drawings, my blog, my writing, anything that comes from deep inside of me. And that’s why I love it. But, externally, I do realize that some of it is crap and could use improvement.

But that’s not the essence of art, is it? Art is not about perfection; art is about self-expression. And therefore, Scott Ginsberg is right. We should never apologize for our honest communication with the outside world.

February 4th, 2009 | Photography, Podcast | No Comments -

More on the awesomeness of a well-used flash -or- Why I need to take the time to learn the proper use a flash

I took some photos yesterday of the children playing in the back garden. In the first few photos, due to the settings that were set on the camera, I unwittingly used fill flash.

30 January 2009

I turned the fill flash off, which is how I normally have my camera set, and this is what the pictures looked like:

I still have so much to learn (or relearn — I had learned about fill flash in college, but dumped the knowledge as soon as the course was over). Using fill flash really helps a photo on a very sunny day. I can use my Photoshop skills to somewhat compensate for my lack of photography skills. I played with the levels of the second photo to find detail in the darkness.

Poor little guy had no color in his skin after making such drastic changes to the levels, so then I had to correct for color and add pink back into his skin.

Of course, I played with the levels of the first photo as well to bring out more detail. This is the fill flash photo again with very slightly tweaked levels. No color compensation required.

Fill flash is pretty awesome. Maybe I shouldn’t have disregarded that knowledge so easily. 🙂

January 31st, 2009 | Photography | No Comments -

Flash Photography

Daddy and the kids played with blocks.
24 January 2009

I cannot take a decent picture with a flash. I mean, sure, the content is great and the composition may be good, but the lighting is just crap. If I were to take one photography course, it would be how to take pictures with a flash.

And all my photos are of a photojournalistic nature. I don’t do studio or set photography where you have time to set everything up precisely how you would like it. I need to learn how to take good immediate photographs with a flash. I would say, at my current level, the use of a flash is definitely my weakest skill.

January 25th, 2009 | Photography | 2 Comments -

A bit more Photoshop fun…

Okay, I was not quite pleased with the last beautiful photo of Lily because, by raising the brightness and contrast, I also completely blew out all detail of her hair in the sunshine. This is where we left the photo:

It was kind of nice because the white halo made her look like an angel in the light, but I really wanted to turn the brightness down for just that part of the picture. So I experimented with the Photoshop burn tool, and this was the result:

At last, I am completely happy with the photo. Photoshop now officially rocks my world. 🙂

October 4th, 2008 | Photography | No Comments -

Playing with Photoshop

Matt and I have been playing with Photoshop a lot lately. I have always used Photoshop to brighten and resize my photos.  For example, here is the picture as the camera took it:

Lily
01 October 2008

Much too dark. So I would brighten it:

But lately, Matt and I have been brightening, upping the contrast, and then adding a faux-dodge look to it:

A lady had written on her photo blog that she had to tweak a photo so it represented what she had seen with her eyes. This last photo of Lily is what I saw that morning when I was looking over my desk at her and grabbed my camera to capture her beauty. The first photo — the photo straight from the camera — is a muddy version of the reality. I had to digitally tweak it afterwards to reveal what I had originally seen and wanted to photograph.

I wonder if this is a problem with digital cameras, or if film cameras also photograph a slightly watered-down, muddy version of what was so brilliant in reality.

Let’s look at another photo, one of my recent favorites. This is how the camera took it. It was a nice exposure, so I didn’t tweak the brightness that much:

But recently, I brightened it, raised the contrast, and added a faux-dodge look to it:

Very cool.

Here we have the contrast and brightness increased, but the faux-dodge has not been applied:

Of the two, I’m not sure which I like better.

I have a lot to learn about Photoshop. I didn’t realize that it could take a nice photo and turn it into a beautiful photo.

October 3rd, 2008 | Photography | No Comments -

Photography, blogs and procrastination

I’m supposed to be writing the next chapter of my great American romance novel right now… but that’s a bit intimidating — you know, trying to bend my artistic ego into narrative poetry — so instead, I’m writing a blog entry! Procrastination comes in many forms.

I took a lot of photos last night of the children. As dark fell, Damian was screaming and laughing and I had to switch to flash to catch the moment. I love comparing different factors that compose a great photo.

No one can deny the beauty of the lighting in the first photo. The photogenic baby just makes the picture that much more beautiful:

Damian in the back garden.
30 September 2008

But sometimes, catching the “moment” — emotion revealed on a person’s face, an action shot, etc — can definitely make up for inferior lighting:

Damian in the back garden.
30 September 2008

I used the Photoshop burn tool on both of the above pictures to make the subject pop.  Having a dark circle around the subject of the photo acts like the perfect frame for the action.

Photography is fun.

October 1st, 2008 | Photography, Podcast | No Comments -

The natural beauty of sunlight

Today’s blog entry is another photography lesson.  Today we will be discussing flash vs. natural lighting.  A camera flash, though it gets the job done and is necessary for low-light situations, creates a very flat picture.


Damian
08 June 2008


Damian
08 June 2008

Natural light bestows an ethereal quality onto a photo.


Damian
08 June 2008


Damian
08 June 2008

Sure it’s an extra $500 for the “fast” lens that goes all the way down to F2, but it enables you to use natural lighting in low-light situations and is therefore definitely worth the money.  🙂

June 11th, 2008 | Photography | No Comments -

Photography and campus bookstores

I’m still trying to get the feel for the wide-angle lens.  I feel that I take much better photos with the telephoto lens, so the poor wide-angle has been gathering dust.  While taking pictures this weekend, I decided to experiment again with the two lenses.

This was taken with the telephoto (telephoto lenses compress space):

Here is the wide-angle shot (wide-angle lenses extend space):

And here is the shot that I feel is the best, taken with the wide-angle but on level with the subject and “in” the action instead of outside and above:

I definitely felt the wide-angle took the better shots, but I would have never guessed that.  I pulled out the wide-angle simply to experiment with it, assuming the whole time that the better shots would come from the telephoto.

I still have a lot to learn.  I think it may be time to start reading books on composition and photography again.

I just realized that I have a piece of advice to pass on that I have never actually passed on.  I live in a college town.  There are five colleges within a 30-mile radius of Austin, including the nationally-ranked University of Texas.  So there are a lot of college bookstores.  Whenever I want to learn about a subject, I go onto UT’s website and pull up the required courses for a degree in that subject.  I find a class that sounds interesting, and then I go to the campus bookstore and buy the books that are required for that class.

For example, say I wanted to refresh my photojournalism skills (which actually I do).  First, I go to the online UT photojournalism course descriptions.  I find a class that appeals to me. “Hmmm… J316 Photographic Communication sounds good. They discuss visual design and recent photographic trends.”  Then off I trot to the campus bookstore which will have a list of the required reading for that class and buy the books that interest me.

I have never been able to find books that deal with a subject better than the books at a campus bookstore.  Campus bookstores beat the socks off of Barnes and Noble any day of the week when it comes to non-fiction titles.

April 7th, 2008 | Austin, Photography | 2 Comments -