Saturday, July 30, 2011

A lot to learn...

I have learned so many things this summer... how to set up a blog, how to edit HTML code (still a beginner on this!!), how to use clipping masks, how to edit using actions, how to use storyboards and frames, how to save photos for web display vs. printing, how to create transparent images in photoshop, how to adjust my camera for aperture and ISO... and the list continues to grow! Right this moment, I am learning about the difference between prime and telephoto lenses... and that there are way too many choices even if I know I want a prime lens vs. the telephoto!  I am ready to add a new lens to my collection, but deciding what to get next has been overwhelming!   Every time I think I've made a decision, I learn some new bit of information and then I'm not sure again!  Eeek!  No matter what I decided, it will be a challenge to learn how to best utilize its features.  That's part of the fun :-).  
Today I'm just posting some Senior picture collages that I've been putting together for my nephew and for Samantha.  I love the photos individually, but there is something special about a grouping.  I hope you enjoy seeing them as well!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Self Portrait

When I was a student at BGSU (many years ago!) I had to take an Art class.  It was designed for "non-majors" but still involved creating "fine" artwork... which was a challenge for me.  I consider myself a creative person, but if you ask me to draw a person, I'm pretty much limited to the stick figure!  There are 2 assignments I remember very clearly.  The first was to create a pinch pot from clay.  This involved rolling out the clay into a long "snake" and then coiling it into the shape of a pot.  Finally, you pinched the clay together to smooth the sides and bottom.  Mine looked ridiculous and I don't remember what grade I received, but I did give it to my Mom for Christmas that year as a joke (all moms have tons of "original" artwork created by their children that they love... and I thought it was funny to give my pathetic pinch pot to my mom!  Original artwork from her 20 year old daughter!  She thought it was funny but proudly displayed it in our bookcase - eek!).  The other assignment I remember was to do a self portrait! I can still remember the horrible feeling in my stomach when this was announced.  I didn't think the instructor would like my stick person drawing and I was terrified of failing the assignment.  I did try to draw my face by looking in the mirror, but with no instruction, I didn't have the skills to create anything that looked remotely like me.  I am amazed when I see the the self portraits that my first graders produce.  Our elementary art teacher is AMAZING and if she had been my college instructor, I would have had the tools to complete this project successfully!  Needless to say, I created a horrific self portrait (and I'm ashamed to admit I had a friend do my nose so it was not entirely my own work).  So, how is this all related to photography?  Well, there are times when I need a picture of myself and finding something "acceptable" is always painful.  We are all so critical of ourselves, but now I'm critical of the photo as well as how I look in it!  Hence, the self portrait project.  I used my laptop's camera and the photo booth application that came with my Mac to take the photo (so the quality is low and the resolution is not great).  I experimented with angles and poses and finally found 2 photos that I thought "looked" like me.   Then, I went to work in Photoshop trying out all kinds of actions of the photos.  It's a little freaky looking at yourself magnified to individual pixels!  I found it interesting that various effects and filters changed how I looked in the photo.  Am I happy with the photos?  Of course not... but I do have a few photos that I can use if needed. :-)  I wonder if the photos above or below would have been acceptable for my self portrait assignment in college?  Wish I could have been bold and brave enough to submit them for my assignment... photography is a media that I love and feel I can use to express myself!  If I have to use a pencil, I will just embrace the stick person!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Before.... before and after

The first "before" in post title is because I am posting a photo that was taken "before" I learned how to edit in photoshop and was only using my D40's kit lens (which still takes great photos BTW!).  I was thinking about this family photo that I took for a friend.  I love the photo as it almost seems to have some "action".  Check out the little one trying to "escape" - I love that the moment is real... little ones don't like to sit still, they are always on the move and often don't "hold still".  This photo shows that perfectly.  ...and even better, the parents were relaxed and not trying to force the kids to sit for the perfect picture.  So, what we got was THIS perfect picture!  It is still one of my favorites and I had a great time hanging out with this family on a crispy fall day.  I still like the original photo, but I REALLY like the updated edited version.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Many looks from one photo... continued

I have continued to work on multiple edits on the same photo.  Not only do I think it is interesting to see the same photo edited in a different way, I really like seeing them side by side.  It looks more like "art" to me than just a great portrait.  Thanks to Rita at the CoffeeShop Blog, I have some great frames and storyboards to display my multiple edits.  It seems I find more free photography stuff each day... there are many generous people out there willing to share their talents and materials!  Many of these people also post tutorials in text and video forms to help people like me learn new things!  I told someone the other day that I feel like I've taken a photography class this summer... but, without the big BILL from the bursar's office (BTW, I worked for the Bursar at BGSU for 4 years - smile).  Thank you photographers on the internet for sharing your knowledge, talents and materials!

Monday, July 25, 2011

One photo... lots of looks!

Today I have been working on taking one photo and applying various effects.  Photoshop allows me to apply various effects to a photo and then to raise or lower the amount of the effect.  What is so interesting about this is that a photo can end up looking VERY different from the original shot.  I think a lot of us are used to seeing color and black/white effects.  However, there are literally hundreds of effects to apply to a photograph and thousands of looks that can be achieved based on how much or little of this effect is applied.  I worked on a photo of my friend and her daughter today. The first photo shows regular editing, the second shows a version of black/white (it is more of a chocolate filter), the third is a combination of 2 color brightening filters and the last shows a muted, softened effect.  I love seeing how the different effects change the look of the photo without changing the subjects.  ...and I'm still working on before/afters so I posted another of those as well.  You can see that I've applied various effects to the original photo in the "after" version.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Clipping Masks

I found some GREAT freebies today and of course, I had to try them out.  I have tried using clipping masks before, but couldn't quite figure out how it all worked.  Then, I found this amazing blog/website with TONS of freebies and tutorials!  It's called The CoffeeShop Blog and if you are getting started with photography and want lots of free downloads, check it out HERE!  I have to say THANK YOU to Rita for offering so many FREEBIES.  
I downloaded so many incredible materials and I have been having so much fun trying them out.  Rita has made it so easy to use clipping masks!  I'm posting a few projects below using photos from a session with my dear friend (see my first blog entry for more photos from this shoot).  I may add a few others as well... having too much fun with my new "toy"!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A few more Before & Afters

I've been playing around with some photos I took last summer.  A very good friend and her daughter allowed me to "practice" on them.  The results were amazing because these two women are absolutely beautiful inside and out!   I thought it would be fun to pop a few of the photos that I edited only with iPhoto into Photoshop and see what I could do to take them to the next level.  The original shots were pleasing to me last summer, but now I like them even more!  Check out the before / after below... and I had to include the BW conversion I did as well because... well, they just look so beautiful!!  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Before and After

When I started taking photos with my Nikon D40 I was thrilled with the quality of the pictures compared to my point and shoot camera.  I did minor editing in iPhoto and thought... "these are great photos!".  I still use iPhoto for minor editing on those large groups of photos from family events (i.e. The Birthday Parties, The Holidays etc.).  I still think my Nikon does a great SOOC (straight out of the camera) shot, but I have finally learned how photoshop can make a good picture become a great picture and sometimes, a piece of artwork.  Sure, it's still important to get a "good" picture to start with... photoshop can't fix out of focus shots (darn!).  So...  since I'm on summer break from teaching and I absolutely HATE being outside in the heat, (it's been over 90 for quite a few days now... which means I'm hiding in the AC!) I've had a lot of time to learn how to use that powerful piece of software called Photoshop.  I'm using the Elements version (which is plenty complicated enough for me!) and what I've learned has allowed me to create some really beautiful effects on my photographs.  I can correct lighting issues, make those colors pop and add interesting filters that changes a photo into a little piece of art. I thought I'd post a few before/after so you can see the difference.  It takes time to edit in Photoshop, but it is so worth it!  I can be working on photos for hours and it seems like minutes.  I hope you enjoy looking at my before and after photographs. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Movie Trailer

I am a tech junkie... I admit it... my husband often complains that I'm "always on the computer"... he just doesn't understand that this nifty little machine allows me to communicate with friends, learn new photography tricks and tips, watch movies, create lessons for my smartboard, download TONS of free educational and photography materials, SHOP for almost anything you can think of and most importantly, edit and create "art" with my photographs!  It's a "one stop shop" for all things techie! That being said, when I shoot photos, I also like to catch some live action with my little Flip HD Video camera.  This cute little camera is EASY to use and with the help of some great Apple software, I can create a trailer or a movie highlighting some action from a photo shoot or an event.  The nieces and nephews have been the "victims" or "benefactors" (depends on how they are feeling that day - smile) of my video obsession.   Yes, all their birthdays, holidays and various activities have been documented with my little flip camera as well as my Nikon.  I hope that they'll have fun watching them when they are all grown up. (although I need to seriously re-think my sound track choices as 2 of my nieces cried through my Easter 2011 movie because they thought the song was "so sad" - the song was Dream by Pricilla Ahn - not a sad song, just kind of sweet in my opinion!  Perfect for egg hunting and Easter outfits.  Maybe they'll feel differently in 20 years!).  Samantha allowed me to shoot some video during her Senior Picture shoot and I'm posting the "trailer" I made below.  I hope it will be a happy memory for her!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Story Boards

I have just returned from a short vacation with my husband... we had a wonderful, relaxing 5 days!  However, I did some surfing on my iPad and found some great freebies to use for photo editing and displaying.  One freebie was a photoshop file for putting together a story board... a group of photos that tell a story or just show a certain look.  Since I'm back at work on more of Samantha's senior pictures, I thought I'd try out the story board with a few of her photos.  I'll post more story boards as I finish more photos.  I think it's a great way to see more than one look for the same photo!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Samantha's Senior Picture Shoot

Today I had the pleasure of photographing an incredibly beautiful senior!  Samantha and I go way back... and I mean waaaaay back!  In fact, I was talking with her mom on the phone the day she was born... however, when we were chatting, she had not arrived yet, her mom was in labor and her Dad was not home.  Samantha's mom was really calm about the whole thing, but I sure wasn't!  Fast forward six years and this adorable little girl walks into my first grade classroom.  She was adorable and smart and I LOVED being her teacher.  Fast forward again and she is now going to be a senior!  She has grown up to be such a lovely girl.  I absolutely LOVED photographing her today.  We started out early, but it was still hot (even at 8:30am) and by the 
time we finished up, it was blazing hot.  Despite the heat, I got some great shots of Samantha and I can't wait to show you her glowing beauty!  I'm posting one now, but will add more to this post as I get them done.  Thanks Samantha for an amazing shoot!  (p.s. Thanks to Samantha's mom and little brother for being my assistants!)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Girl's Day

My 13 year old niece and I spent the day together... lunch at Chipolte (yum! we love that place!), shopping, shopping and more shopping (she picked out a little "bling" at TJ Maxx -we LOVE that place too!) and finally, cold drinks (root beer and orange soda) in frosty mugs at a local place where you can still drive up in your car and get window service!  A perfect day!  Of course, we had to take a few photos with her "bling".  We have had many photo shoot days in the past so she knows how to be natural in front of my camera.  I've posted a few shots below.  Isn't she lovely?  I sure think so!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Still working on those Senior Pictures

Ok... I am still working on my nephew's senior pictures.  Every time I think I'm done, I find another shot that looks amazing and it lures me into photoshop yet again.  That being said, my fingers are actually getting sore so I really need to take a break.  I am just having so much fun trying out different effects and playing with the compositions.  Not that my nephew will even notice (smile)... he was most concerned to get the pictures I shot of him with his girlfriend (I took a few photos of them during the shoot as his request).  His exact words were "can you text me those pictures Aunt Lisa?"   That just makes me laugh!  I'm sure the rest of the family will appreciate my "art" work (smile).   I am posting a few more shots... and one is purely for my own entertainment!  It is so "17 year old boy is so done taking photos"!