Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

After finishing up a wonderful session with brand new Abigail and her first-time parents, I started replaying the planning that was involved in capturing these images. Even though I love to photograph the spontaneity of a toddler, the newborn session is approached in an entirely different manner. Steps accomplished before the session:

Four weeks in advance analyze carefully sites like Pinterest and my Google Reader for inspiration like Shannon Sewell and Sarah Ulrich.

Order newborn hat well in advance of session from A Bit of String in case baby arrives early. Abigail did! Cost $20. And, another hat from MadAboutColour which took even longer to arrive from Canada (didn’t end up using it). Cost $33

Renew National Association of Photoshop Professionals membership (NAPP) partially to get free shipping from B&H Photo and Video. Spend time watching video tutorials on lighting and Lightroom 4.0. Cost $99

Three weeks in advance order roll of wide, replacement paper in white from B&H Photo Video. Order warm white by mistake but love it in the chair shot. Also, order three short rolls; Sea Green (used in spring shot), Sky Blue and Marmalade. Cost $124

Order ruffled romper to take advantage of sale from Ashley’s Posh Tots. Cost $15

Search for another perfect chair and find one at Grasshoppers in LeClaire, IA. Also, purchase vintage planter and Spring setup starts to formulate in my mind. Gas plus new props. Cost $150

Find paper flowers and butterfly for background of spring setup at JoAnn Fabric. Cost $20

Order two yards of caramel fur fabric from Fabric.com. Cost $28

Two weeks in advance arrange for chair painting and distressing to remove all lead paint. Labor plus materials cost $75.

Order gray throw from Pottery Barn. Cost $63

Two days in advance carefully cut caramel fur per research on YouTube (I cut my gray fur all wrong!).

Wash new clothing and throw. Test rolling throw in yellow egg basket.

Morning of session turn on additional heat in the studio and waiting room including space heater and heating pad.

Utilize iPhone womb sound app. Wait for Abby to be fed.

Position dad close by (just out of shot) for safety.

Two hour session with a marvelously sleepy baby and so, so helpful parents. Resulting images captured: PRICELESS!

Curled Up in an Egg Basket

Sleepy Girl

SpringNew Family Addition

Daddy's Boots

I’m sure this is the longest I’ve ever gone since I started blogging six years ago! I’ll never get caught up here with my sessions but I’m very anxious to share a few recent ones with you. First, there’s Brynlee in her six-month session. My fellow photographers know that six-month old babies are the best! They just smile and smile AND they stay where you put them. I actually prefer to wait until they’re sitting but Brynlee is here at six months and just one week and is a spectacular little sitter. Her mommy always brings such beautiful props, too – what a fabulous combination. Brynlee just gets Cuter and Cuter Every single Day!

I also took a series of family photos in my backyard aka Park Hills golf course and wanted to share the before and after steps:

    Recover any blown highlights in Lightroom.
    Adjust the white balance from my callibration target image.
    Open in CS5.
    Run Portraiture to soften skin and then Fade it.
    Reduce image to 8-bit from 16-bit.
    Do a Levels adjustment layer and a Curves adjustment layer.
    Flatten and then duplicate the layer.
    Use a Radial blur filter, reduce to about 20% opacity and on the mask layer, brush back in the family. This step really separates them from the background.
    I also cloned over a house in the back, left side a little and cloned over a few bare patches of ground with grass.

    Before Editing –

After Editing – just love her little toes in the foreground of the photo!

I hope to start creating some blog posts for Photoshop tips and a semi-regular basis starting with this sunflower image shot on the North side of the Highland campus. I’ll go through the steps from conception to saving the final image.

Let’s start with the exposure for this image, though. These are the technical steps to get this kind of star burst sun flare:
1. I chose early afternoon and I chose today because we had a brilliant blue sky with puffy clouds.
2. I always shoot in Manual mode so I can control all the settings on my Canon 5D AND I shoot in RAW so I can make multiple adjustments in Lightroom and Photoshop.
3. First I set my aperture. To get a star burst that’s really defined, it’s best to shoot at f22.
4. Next I set my shutter speed. I do whatever it takes to get that f22 aperture and that may mean a slower shutter speed and a higher ISO.
5. Strong back-lighting produces a challenge to expose the subject properly. Be prepared to edit, use a reflector or even a flash (preferably off-camera).
6. Choose the right angle. Since the sun was quite high in the sky I had to lay down on the warm pavement to get the sun included in my frame with my widest angle lens, the Canon 24-70L. Waiting until later in the day would make the angle easier and give the image a much warmer hue.
7. Look for star bursts shining through trees or peeking out behind the corner of a building. Squinting your eyes tight is a great simulation for a narrow aperture on your camera.
8. Shooting into the sun can be harmful and painful for your eyes. I try to compose my shot without the sun actually shining directly into the lens and then close my eyes when I actually press the shutter button the rest of the way and move my camera into position.
9. It will be impossible to review your shot in this bright environment. When in Review Mode, I press the Info button to see where the image is over-exposed apparent by the flashing areas on the screen. Make adjustments if required.
9. Use your lens hood. You will still be able to get this type of Star Burst Sun Flare with your lens hood on.
10. Memorable photography is all about capturing light in different ways to create a three-dimensional photo that is creative and fresh.

Next, I import all my photos into Lightroom and make the first adjustments there. For this image I used the Highlight Recovery slider and usually make white balance adjustments, too. That was all there was to do in Lightroom so I opened it in CS5 next. I created the first Levels adjustment layer to add more contrast to the sky and clouds, erasing back in the sunflower area. Then, I created another Levels adjustment layer to work on lightening the sunflower a bit, erasing back in the sky to maintain the brilliant blue.

I had a couple of spots that were evidently on my sensor so these were cloned out next. In CS5, the clone tool takes advantage of the new Content-Aware technology and if you go slow enough you will see great results.

As you can see in the Before Image, I had a little bit of lamp post on the top right of the image that I thought detracted from the balance. I like the three-points that take your eyes from the sun to the three light posts in the bottom left and then back to the sunflowers. The lamp post at the top right of the image detracts from that and lessens the impact of the sun and sunflower focal points.

The next step was to run one of my favorite Pioneer Woman actions from her first set (these are generously given away by Ree Drummond). The Pioneer Woman’s blog was the very first blog I became addicted to – ah, so many have since followed in her footsteps. However, hers is the most complete and funny blog you will come across and I highly recommend it.

Next I sharpened the image with the High Pass filter. These are the steps I used:
1. Duplicate the flattened layer.
2. Choose Filter…Other…High Pass
3. I usually choose a Radius of 10.0 and click OK
4. Change the Layer Blend Mode to Overlay
5. Adjust the Opacity as desired – usually to about 20%

My last step before I add a logo is to run Jodi’s High Definition Sharpening. Jodi runs MCP Actions and is another blog you should subscribe to if you want alot more PS tutorials. This action resizes to 900 pixels wide (perfect for this blog) and then does another sharpening step. Sometimes I decrease the opacity of this layer, too.

I’m sure this sounds like alot of steps to you but because they are mostly done with Photoshop actions it happens sort of magically right before your eyes! For this image I also used an action to round the corners of the images, added a texure layer and then filled a new background layer with black and added a white, beveled keyline stroke around each of the image layers.

Last, flattened everything and added my new logo designed by Danielle Zuberbuhler, a very creative and talented young graphic designer from my church. Voila!