Monday, November 29, 2010

I Heart Faces - Scenic B&W

Image shot at f/8, ISO 800, 35mm

This week's challenge, a black and white scenic shot, gave me some trouble! We've got lots of scenery around here, but so much of it is based on color! (Golden Gate Bridge, anyone? LOL)
I took Max to a nearby state park/working farm, Ardenwood, and we explored the paths and kept our fingers crossed that it wouldn't rain on us too much! He kept taking off like this to explore... "Come on Mommy! It's an adventure!" and I just had to snap a few like this, as he heads off into the "unknown"

This photo is my submission to this week's I Heart Faces challenge. Want to see more amazing photos? Click here:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Funny Face"

Catching a funny Max face on camera is a challenge, and the funniest ones always seem to come when the camera is across the room or, worse yet, I don't have it with me at all! LOL
As soon as I saw the subject for this week's challenge, I just *knew* which photo I'd use, even though I took it more than 2 years ago!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

November Color Challenge - Rust

From a rainy day visit to Ardenwood Farms

Image shot at f/5.6, ISO 800, 35mm

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Week 7 - Shooting Outdoors

So the topic is "shooting outdoors," but the assignment was to shoot macro (super close up). I don't actually have a specific macro lens, so I had to make do... I zoomed in as close as I could, and then (more for my own curiousity) cropped in as close as I could to see what happened... in chatting online with others on my photo board, someone mentioned that putting an SLR on "macro" mode doesn't really *do* anything; it just sets the aperture as large as possible, making a shallow DoF.
I also have a little point and shoot Olympus, so I tried the same shot utilizing the macro mode that's built in to the camera, and without macro turned on, just as zoomed in (optical) as I could go.

From my SLR, SOOC for composition
Image shot at f/4.5, ISO 800, 18-70mm @ 70mm

And that same image, just cropped in to get a truer "macro" look

Here's the same set-up shot in Auto (non-macro) mode with my Olympus (notice that the flash fired, darkening the background and putting quite a bit of distracting glare on the highlight points... this is the only image of the three posted here that had flash)
Image shot at f/5.4, ISO 320, 18.4mm

SOOC from my Olympus point and shoot, set to Macro mode
Image shot at f/2.7, ISO 64, 4.6mm

And again, the same image cropped down

It's hard to choose which image I think is "better," I really like the background blurring on the SLR shot, but the P&S shoot was able to get closer in... until I'm able to save my pennies for a true macro lens, I'll have to pick and choose which option shown here better suits my situation!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Heart Faces - Paper

The inspiration word for this week, paper, is so open ended and versatile, I spent quite a bit of time trying to come up with an idea. The more I thought about it, the more I kept coming back to origami, and the more I thought of origami, I thought of the single thing I can make from memory, a Samurai helmet!
I didn't have any butcher paper laying around, but I do have wrapping paper, so he's a very Christmas-ey samurai!

Image shot at f/2.2, ISO 400, 85mm

This photo is an entry for the I Heart Faces weekly photo challenges... click on the button below to see more great "paper" inspired photos!

Upload and Display Quality

In my previous blogging experience, I uploaded tons of photos, mostly to share Max's development with friends and family; the quality of the display was never much of a concern to me... I'd noticed some image loss with Blogger, but it was never enough to bother me at all.
Now that I'm paying more attention to my photography, and as I participate in various classes and challenges online, I'm looking to get what appears online to appear more like what I see on my computer screen.
(This is especially important to me as I spend more time in editing and post-processing; I spend a bunch of time making an image look *just so* and then upload it, to see the colors get tweaked and the photo get pixelated/filled with artifacting.

I'm going to upload the same digital file to a variety of sources; it's a 400 x 550 pixel, RGB jpeg image, saved from Photoshop at maximum quality (12)

First, uploaded straight to Blogger, using their image hosting:

Now, I'll upload the image to some other hosting sites and compare what happens.


Walagata (An inexpensive hosting site I've been using for years)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


Pretty much, it appears that the Blogger hosting is the only one that zaps the image quality quite so dramatically... I'll continue using it for my other blog, to share photos for my parents and in-laws... for for this blog, for this project, I'll be uploading to Flickr and posting that here, to get better image quality. As an added bonus, you'll notice my images will be a tad larger as well...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week 6 - Shooting Indoors

I've long known the "put your subject by a window" trick for indoor photography, but I've never put much thought into actually using that light to my advantage.
My friend and "model," Laney, is due to deliver her first baby any minute now... she's 39w6d in these pictures! Gorgeous, right?

Put subject near a window in indirect light and meter for the subject
Looking back, I wish I'd had a sheer curtain or something to cut the harshness of the light for this one; the front of her belly is so close to blown, softening that light might have given a better effect.
Image shot at f/2.2, ISO 400, 85mm

Then take the same photo, but meter for the background
This is the same approach I used for our silhouette photos the other day; doing it indoors? A new idea for me! :)
Image shot at f/4.5, ISO 400, 18-70mm @ 55mm

Put your subject parallel to the window and place yourself (me) perpendicular to it:
Image shot at f/4.5, ISO 400, 18-70mm @ 50mm

Get catchlights in the subject's eyes by getting in between them and the light source. I'm standing with my back to the window here, with Laney further into the room. Catchlights are the little flecks of light in her eyes; making them seem much more "alive" (I think this is my favorite of the photos; getting her further back from the window really helped!)

Image shot at f/3.8, ISO 400, 18-70mm @ 27mm

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Image shot at f/4.5, ISO 800, 18-70mm @ 50 mm... and all manual settings, I might add!
I love words; when I was a kid, I was always reading; the cereal box at breakfast, the shampoo bottle in the bathtub, my nose was buried in a book the rest of the time.
The poems of Shel Silverstein were my favorites, and I can't wait to introduce them to Max! He has his very own set of the books, shown here, just waiting for him to be ready for them!
I can't wait.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Heart Faces - Silhouette

This week over at I Heart Faces, the challenge was to take a silhouette photo. It's one of those things I've always loved, but could never get just right.
With my recent studying and practicing, I feel like I'm finally getting a grasp of the concepts enough to accomplish certain looks on purpose. I dragged Max and Jamie out to the beach this evening to get a chance to get some nice sunset/silhouette shots, and I'm thrilled with how they all turned out!
This is basically SOOC; I couldn't decide what to do in post, other than straighten the horizon... any suggestions?

Here's my "official" I Heart Faces entry for this week:

Image shot at f/22, ISO 800, 18-70mm @ 46mm

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week 5 - Composition

This week's subject is/was composition; how you actually frame the subject within the photo. I actually had a LOT of trouble with this assignment! I can't decide why exactly... I think it's a combination of things. First, this is something I'm really comfortable with already, that comes pretty naturally to me, so it's hard to switch to where I'm consiously thinking about it. Also, the assignment was so vague, I had trouble deciding what to do! LOL
The white balance assignment was simple; set an object on the table and take some pictures of it. Same with the aperture one... this is totally open to interpretation, so I had trouble deciding which direction to head in!
In a perfect world, I would have done a shoot with Max; well dressed, clean faced, and just run through the six assigned objectives.
As we all know, none of live in a perfect world, so I've had to make do! Boogery faced Max, a coffee cup, and some pictures I had taken previously are the elements that came together to complete this assignment!

First, the pictures I did manage to get "on purpose" for this challenge:
Fill the Frame
Image shot at f/4.5, ISO 800, 18-70mm @ 70mm

Rule of Thirds
Image shot at f/4.5, ISO 800, 18-70mm @ 48mm

Horizon Line / Rule of Fifths
Image shot at f/3.8, ISO 400, 18-70mm @ 22mm
And in the interest of full disclosure, I Photoshopped the *hell* out of this picture, because I'm not generally a fan of sunflare/glare, and I wanted to get as much of that effect out of it as I could. I actually think it turned out kind of cool! If you'd like to see the SOOC shot, click here

And then here are some older/not taken on purpose photos that fit the specs of the assignment:
A New Perspective
We took Max to the beach last month; my instinct and first inclination is to shoot stuff like this:

Image shot at f/10, ISO 800, 18-55mm @ 52mm
He's my kid, after all, so I want to get good shots of *him*
But look what happens when I make him smaller in the frame, zoom back out, and hold the camera horizontal:

Image shot at f/13, ISO 800, 18-55mm @ 18mm
It's not just about Max anymore, but about the scene surrounding him as well.

Frame Your Subject Image shot at f/6.3, ISO 1600, 18-55mm @ 18mm

Keep it Simple
This picture could easily have gone horrible awry; see the little triangle of bench in the bottom left corner? It's attached to a picnic table that is *covered* with food, toys and other detritus. By positioning myself so that that mess is cropped out, I got a darling shot of the boys!
Image shot at f/10, ISO 400, 18-55mm @ 32mm

Friday, November 12, 2010


The inspiration word for this week was "Morning" and I knew right away I wanted to get some of Max's morning routine; he always sits like this while eating his Cherrios and banana, and he has some quality bedhead!

Images shot at f/7.1, ISO 800

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Taking it Old School"

The challenge for this week was to apply some "old school" effects to a current digital photo. In keeping with the theme, I chose to shoot one of Jamie's "old school" coffee grinders. I had a few plays with this one, just because I was having so much fun!
So here are a few versions with various film effects applied:

And now, for a little "behind the scenes" information... here's what the image looked like, SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera): I used a couple sheets of my scrapbooking cardstock for the background, and then strategic cropping and Photoshopping to make it appear seamless. I'll definitely be using this method in the future to photograph small objects, so it gives me almost limitless options for colors! Goodness knows I have enough scrapbook paper!

And then here's what it looked like after making the ACR and Photoshop adjustments (where I started to then add the film effects):

Image shot at f/7.1, ISO 800, 18-70mm @ 40mm

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adding Texture in Photoshop

I've long been fascinated by the look of textures on photos; the effect can vary from grunge-y to Victorian to graphic to...only your imagination is the limit!
I'd never made an effort to actually play with them, though, because I never felt like my photos were right for them! But again, the purpose of this blog is to add to my knowledge and skillset, so I might as well play with them, right?

This is a photo I shot at the pumpkin patch over the weekend Shot in RAW at f/6.3, ISO 400, 1/160 SS, 18-55mm @ 30mm

Bringing it into Photoshop, with all RAW setting zero'ed out:

The original image with some ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) adjustments made:

From here, I started adding some different textures to see what they do to the photos; all of these textures were found on Flickr, using the Advanced Search. (Make sure to click the "Creative Commons" licensing button at the bottom, so you can be sure you have permission to use the photos!) If you're already confused, go here for a super easy explanation on how to use textures! Seriously, it's like 3 steps!
Several of these aren't things I'd ever actually use, but for the purposes of this blog entry, I wanted a variety of options, so I'm going to go ahead and include them.

OK, so on to my experiments...

You can also layer the textures together to get even more options! For this one, I used two; the first and fourth ones shown above. I used a fabric texture first, to give the whole photo a nice rich texture and sheen, and then the radiating burst just added a little *oomph* to bring the focus to their faces!

So that's the super mega basics of using textures in Photoshop! I'd love to see what you come up with too!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Around and Around"

Image shot at f/4.5, ISO 1600 18-70mm @ 35mm
I had some trouble with this challenge prompt; I had lots of ideas, and no realistic ways to execute them. I wanted a spinning record, but have no record player. I wanted something at the end of a string, caught in motion, shot as a long exposure, but I have no tripod and no willing model/assistant to do the spinning for me... Lots of ideas, but nothing concrete enough to actually set up and shoot.
We woke up to pouring down rain this morning (as I mentioned in my previous post) so Jamie decided to make a big batch of chili for this week; as I was helping him straighten up the kitchen (he's an amazing cook but makes SUCH a mess! LOL) I was noticing all the empty cans and the pot and thought "Hey! These are all round!" so he helped me set up the shot. How did he help me, you ask? Well, we have a microwave over our range, so I couldn't get the camera right where I wanted it, at the angle I wanted. He went and borrowed our downstairs bathroom mirror! Check out the pullback: