Archive for 2010

This is a “What-to-Wear” guide for family sessions in December but wouldn’t these clothes work great for a Valentine’s session also? What could be sweeter than a gift of a family portrait for grandparents or a gift certificate for photography? Maybe you missed the busy Christmas season but, remember, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner!

What to Wear

I’m looking back today at the beautiful fall that enabled me to produce images like this! In NW Illinois we were in near-blizzard conditions this afternoon and I already long for the return of spring and outdoor shooting. My blog is badly in need of updating and just realized I have only posted one senior session. So, I’ll try to catch up a little starting with Karly. We worked solo at both of her sessions so I hauled my light stand through Krape Park. It’s more work for me but so worth it when I can get a shot like the one below. Congratulations on being a senior, Karly!

A Model

Last week, Paige and I finally tried the very first recipe in our cookbook. It was pretty chilly and she thought hot cocoa sounded warm and tasty. Only three ingredients were needed but when you’re cooking with a child, you have to be constantly wary of near disasters. Cocoa powder is kind of sticky and difficult to clean up and she nearly crashed the new can onto the floor – we got by with just a mound of it to clean up off the counter. She has taken the term, “leveling”, to a new level (ha-ha). She thinks she needs to get as huge a mound as possible so she can, then, level it off. While she was whisking the three ingredients together we had a lesson on the proper way to “whisk” something and I made a quick save to keep the entire bowl from flying off the counter. Despite her initial rating of “four stars” she drank very little of it. She’s a picky, picky girl. Loves her meat and can eat an entire steak but dislikes almost all salty snacks except popcorn. She doesn’t like any kind of pop either. It has been a challenge to figure out which school lunches she likes and what she will pack for her cold lunch. More on that later …

Paige and I made our second recipe when she was home sick with strepp throat. By late afternoon of the second day on antibiotics, she was feeling pretty good. We thought Mommy might like this one because it’s healthy! Of course, Paige didn’t even want to try it because she detests anything with mayonnaise. How can that be?? The most difficult task was slicing the grapes down the middle. It struck me at how many cooking tasks I just take for granted but to slice a grape you must finesse it from the top down, at an angle and definitely use a serrated knife. She wanted to muscle her way through each and every one of them. She really did great chopping the apples, though, and based on my recommendation we gave this one three stars.

I came across this book during our extremely quick trip to Edward’s Orchard in Poplar Grove a couple of weeks ago. I thought, Paige and I haven’t been cooking anything together for a while and maybe this would give us (me) the motivation to start again. 121 recipes might be too much and take us a very long time but we will definitely have fun along the way.

The very first recipe in the book, Cooking Fun 121 Recipes to Make with Kids by Rae Grant, is for a Blueberry Smoothie. Despite the fact that Paige adores blueberries practically more than anything else (except ice cream), we only gave this one two stars after deciding upon a four-star rating system. Two stars means it’s, “so-so.” She did learn what it means to level off a measuring cup of plain yogurt!

The cookbook is so cute, though, with easy to read recipes and helpful hints. I just love the cute retro cover, too.

I’m really going to try and go farther this time with a photography project. Gosh, I admire people who can keep up a 365 Project.

Checking Out the Recipe


Juicing the Lemon

Funny that I’m using that as my blog title today but all of a sudden I have several seniors to photograph. How fun for me. I’m just enthralled with portrait photography and especially the wide variety of ages and daily life that I get to be a part of. In the last month I’ve had newborns, seniors, a 50th wedding anniversary, scholarship photography plus a fabulous vacation to Aspen.

However, this senior girl is very special to me. I’ve known Jill since she was a two-year-old coming over to my house to get cookies. She learned quickly to hold that cookie in the air so our big golden wouldn’t take it out of her little fist. Even though we don’t live across the street from them any more, it has been pure delight to watch her grow into this beautiful young woman.

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!

At the end of last month, I was scheduled to do the kind of assignment I love! Antonia needed someone to photograph her family before they moved to the Netherlands for three years and to remember the beauty of her husband’s parents’ gardens. Their home was scheduled to be on the Gardens United 2010 Garden Walk in mid-July and all of their children and grandchildren would be there at one time. Their yard had something special and unique in every corner and even in a Secret Garden.



We started at 8:30 am to take advantage of the lower, directional light and to avoid the hottest time of the day. There was a misty fog dripping onto the plants and made this Lady’s Mantle look like crystals of sugar outlined the leaves.

It was a delight to observe the candid interactions between grandparents and grandchildren and between cousins.



The past week was everything an idyllic summer week should be. The first weekend was spent at Apple Canyon Lake with the whole family. We went out in shifts since there are too many of us to fit in our red boat. The lake gets pretty rough when there is so much boat traffic out there, but the big boys especially love being bounced around on the tube. Most of the time I was back on dry land relaxing with the rest of the group. We enjoyed brats cooked by the Scales Mound fire department and then stayed for the fireworks. It was a perfect day. We laughed so much and the five grand kids caught lightning bugs, played games, fished and just hung out together. It’s my favorite time of the whole year.

Before the rest of the family arrived, we enjoyed some 1:1 time with Kelby who was surprised with a go-cart from his Uncle Andy. Hopefully, he will be safe, but he does remind us of Andy at that age who started with a wooden go-cart that coasted down our street in Decorah and progressed to a motorized go-cart that he ran up and down the alley in Manchester. Next, came a moped that he hoped he would drive after we moved to Illinois but due to a later license age he sold it and bought a dirt bike which was perfect for our then-empty subdivision. Erin was swapped for Kelby on Thursday when Dawn and I met at this restaurant in Port Byron that’s right on the river. Usually, we meet in Cordova so the kids can play at the park there. It’s cool and shady and a welcome respite between turning around for the drive back to Freeport.

We usually find a movie that we are all dying to see but this time we had to create a movie matrix. Between the 13 of us we were interested in at least three different movies so we created a signup sheet to keep track of where everybody was going and what time they were going there. My group went to Karate Kid and we were enthralled. It’s a huge improvement over the old movie.

Molly’s family came back the next weekend to get in some extra lake time and we were so thrilled to see Jason get up on skis the very time he tried and to see Molly ski, as well. Considering what Molly has been through the last few years with her surgeries this is especially remarkable and wonderful for her Mom and Dad to see. The girls were scheduled to go to the Eclipse movie this time. The guys weren’t very pleased with it – in fact, Jason pronounced it the worse movie ever. Popular games for the week were: Mexican Train dominoes, Euchre, Monopoly Deal and Uno.

The weeks were super busy and now I’m returning to my outstanding photo orders. But I just loved going to Krape Park with the kids to run a remote control boat, watching them grow from year-to-year gauged by their size on the carousel, running round around on Kid’s Kastle and playing putt-putt golf. Oh, and their visit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Union Dairy – lovely memories from the summer of 2010.

NIC TOOK THIS PHOTO

WHAT A POSE

MUST-HAVE Swords after THE KARATE KID MOVIE

PAIGE’s “Little Sally Walker” song

JASON and NIC – “Tube Me Gramps”

NmB Photography has a new senior rep for Freeport High School. Meet Taylor Taylor told me she has two loves: singing and the color purple. I think she already has a perfect stage name … Taylor Bloom. It’s such a pretty name. We had the opportunity to try different things and her mom and sister were great to have along on our little road trip through the park and around the country and city. Taylor will have referral cards soon to benefit FHS seniors. If you are looking for a photographer that works with you to create a session a little different, a little unique – just ask Taylor!