Rays of Hope

We just returned from a breathtaking trip to my absolute favorite place in all of creation- the Redwood Forests of Northern California. If you have never been there… you simply MUST GO!!! Never will you set foot in a more mystical and wondrous part of the world. I have visited this region as often as possible over the last ten years, trying to capture its beauty on film… a daunting task for any photographer, let alone one with the entire  family in tow!

Redwood K

“Hey Mom, look at me” snapshot

(and now for the semi-philosophical rant)

As much as I dream of being the next Ansel Adams, I have learned to be content working within the confines of my daily life. Otherwise photography would still be a distant dream!

I realize that most die-hard nature photographers hike to remote locations, stake out their scenic vistas, time the lighting and pack all the proper gear. And then there’s the rest of us… walking the well-trodden pathways through the park, kids racing ahead, dog wrapping its leash around the bushes, and the husband, a hundred paces behind, diligently studying his smart phone, (presumably mapping our way through the wilderness, oblivious to the myriad of signs that read “Stay on the Trail.”) And in the midst of this chaos we wander, eyes focused through the lens, dreaming of all the amazing images we will take home.

Even worse, have you ever gotten home and found that 90% of your shots were bunk? Too light, too dark, too much contrast- and always a blurry kid, or a dogs tail somewhere in the corner of the image? Face it. It’s hard to shoot when people are running circles around you. It’s hard to shoot while walking. Or when distracted. Or when you step in dog poo because you were focused on “the amazing light” overhead.

Sound familiar?

Redwoods BK

Typical Family Vacation Snapshot

Hopefully this post will offer a ray of hope to photographers like myself, who have to make the most of shooting within their “real” life.

Afterall, few of us can quit our day jobs and chase sunset vistas. But you CAN do amazing things in these crazy situations, if you follow a few basic rules.

Rule #1.

NEVER (I repeat…NEVER) go exploring at mid-day. The light is harsh, the contrasts are fierce, and worse- the entire family will be HUNGRY as soon as you get to your destination!!! If you can, wait for late afternoon light, especially if you are shooting in the trees. Shadows will be longer and softer, and you will have more room to “play” with the available light.

Typical "Mom, watch this!" blurry snapshot

Typical “Mom, watch this!” blurry snapshot

Rule # 2.

Slow down. Breathe. So what if everyone else has made it back to the parking lot already? Give them the keys and a good snack- you can catch up with them later. It’s hard to switch between vacation snapshot mode and serious artistic work. So get your kid pics out of the way and then focus on really “seeing” through the lens. Even if you only come home with a few good shots, it’s better than a hundred mediocre ones.



Redwood poo

Photo Courtesy of my husband and his ever-ready iPhone

Rule #3.

Make somebody else walk the dog. And make ‘em pick up the poo, too. ‘Nuff said.

Now a word about sun flare.

Sometimes sun flare can be your worst enemy. Other times it can be your best friend!!! If you are shooting in a high contrast area such as dark trees against a bright sky, use the flare to your advantage. When the light source is hidden behind the subject, the obvious result is a silhouette- or extreme contrast. If you boost your exposure on the tree, you blow out the sky. On the other hand, if you allow too much bright sun to fill the frame, the resulting image is rather dull, lacking drama. And the giant Redwoods are nothing, if not dramatic!  In this shot, I kept making micro adjustments to my position until the sun magically illuminated the space IN FRONT of the tree, even though it was peeking out from behind. You can see the subtle difference in the images below.

Redwood sunflare diptych

a little sun flare can help illuminate an otherwise high contrast image

In both images, the camera settings were the exact same- the only difference was a slight readjustment of my position and VOILA! The sunflare magically illuminated the forest. Of course these images are slightly underexposed. That’s because I wanted the aperture small enough to capture the light rays. Too much light would ruin this effect. So I erred on the darker, more dramatic side, expecting to do a few touch ups in Photoshop.

So here’s the final image! Gotta LOVE those glorious sun rays!

Redwoods sunflare

California Dreamin’

So I have a quick entry for you today.

The way I figure it, if I shoot, edit and blog at least once every six months, that should make me an expert in about…never. Ha! What can I say? Life’s been busy!

But I’m grateful we’ve traveled at least ONE place in the past year that truly inspired me to dust off my camera.

***Disclaimer** It’s not that I don’t take photos regularly. Belive me- I have ZILLIONS of photos! But the purpose of this blog is not to inundate you with images of my kids on the playground, or riding bumper cars, or performing science experiments (yes, we do that occasionally)… The purpose of this blog is to inspire creative photography… which requires, well… creative photography. And photography (at least by my definition,) is not typically somethingthat happens when I’m snapping shots of the kiddos as they twirl past me on the teacups.

Of course, we all have our own definitions of art :)

Here’s just a glimpse of the Northern California Coast at sunset. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I could have stayed there forever. SoCal can keep its crowded beaches, its rivers of highways and its endless sea of strip malls. THIS is the part of California where one can truly BREATHE!!!!

CA Trail sunset SM

This image was edited 100 different ways as my Photoshop skills are rusty (at best.) I used a few actions from Oh So Posh Bohemian Symphony- at a very low opacity. Lots of trial and error. I created layers and layers of masks under which I adjusted curves, vibrance, contrast, etc. Somehow I enhanced the natural sun flare on the left side- but it was between steps 378 and 497 so I don’t remember the details. Last of all I overlaid two textures from Isabelle LaFrance, called Strong Canvas, and Brushed Canvas. I wanted to add a painterly effect- hence the “brushed” and the “canvas”. Haha! These textures were added several times, each time in a different blend mode.

Tip: You will find when applying textures to large open sky, you may need to use one blend mode for the sky and another blend mode for the foreground. To do this, a basic working knowledge of  masks is required. In this image, I used multiply mode to texturize the sky (with Brushed Canvas), and simply masked off (or “erased”) the region where the texture looked bad (in the dark grasses.) Then I added the same texture a second time, using soft light blend mode, being careful to “erase” the texture off the sky. Last, I added a color pop with Strong Canvas, which is a very magenta and purple color wash. You know me and purple :) They say in color theory that lavender is the friend of green. I couldn’t agree more! This time I blended the bold texture with Soft Light, at low opacity, brushing it off here and there, letting the image determine the color flow.

And now that I have been staring at this gorgeous piece of coastline for the past hour, I am MORE than ready to start planning our next trip up north!!! Maybe we can leave tomorrow…


Adobe Alchemy

Hi there- I’m excited about a little project I’ve been working on. So I have to spill it here. Not to mention that if I “put it out there” into cyberspace, you know- in writing-I actually have to follow through, right? Certainly SOMEBODY out there will hold me accountable. Right? Ha.

There’s a little something I’ve dreamed of doing that I’ve never tried before- OK there are a lot of things I want to do, but life is short and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be a concert pianist or a world famous architect. That’s OK, so long as I can still listen to Chopin and occasionally wander through some cool buildings (preferably with my camera). Life is simply too short to live ALL our dreams!

This dream is small and simple- but you must understand. I don’t FOLLOW dreams- I just dream them up- by the thousands. It’s a little hobby of mine.

I’ve always wanted to create art. More than that, I’ve always wanted to SELL my art. But frankly I never found my “medium,” because, for some reason, pencil drawings don’t fly off the shelf.

It all began several years ago when  I had the most amazing opportunity to live in Japan. I ran all over the countryside with my camera- capturing every single little detail, trying to savor every idiosyncrasy, every element of beauty, at every turn in the road- just like any other tourist would do.  Of course, most of the images are pics of my children standing in front of this temple or that… but occasionally I landed a really good shot, in between chasing my kids. I learned quickly that it’s nearly impossible to be both a photographer and a tourist at the same time. True photography is very intentional- one must slow down, seek out the shot, and learn to WAIT for the moment. On the flip side, tourist photos are merely reactionary- you round the corner, see something new or different and “snap,” now you have a picture of it. That’s not photography, no matter how much we kid ourselves. At least I didn’t think so. Meanwhile, there were several other self-proclaimed photographers armed with automatic DSLRs, all of whom were hocking their wares, selling their images and getting glory for photos that were no different than mine. Being a purist, I stayed out of the fray. And did a lot of thinking.

What IS photography? Is it just about the perfect shot? Or is it simply about being being bold enough to put your work out there? Is it about editing? Is it about telling a story? Capturing a moment? What separates a real IMAGE from a snapshot? What makes photography ART?

Well, I’m not going to get philosophical here (feel free to exhale now). Let’s just say, I’m on this journey to discover who I am as an artist. What I’ve discovered is, art is different for every person. (Profound, I know. But there’s a difference between knowing it in your mind and knowing it in your heart.) This was a truth that I had to internalize- and I’m still working on it.  What speaks to me may not appeal to you. AND THAT’S OK! I love lines, and buildings and glass reflections and rusty textures. I savor color the way some people taste a fine wine. I’m obsessed with light- I don’t care if it’s dancing on dewdrops or filtering through the vertical blinds. Both have a tantalizing effect on me.  (in case you’re wondering- yes, I have lots of photos of my blinds!) Whatever it is I create, what matters most is that it moves ME. And if it does, chances are, it will move somebody else. And if not- oh well, I’ve enjoyed the process.

So what does all this have to do with Japan you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. For me, it’s a second chance. Rarely in life do people get to return to the scene of a missed opportunity. On our first tour overseas, I was too afraid to “put myself out there,” too offended by the ruthless competition, too undefined in my own style. As I worried, fretted, and withered away in my insecurities, the time slid past, and pretty soon I found myself relocated back to North Carolina, where nobody is even half interested in buying my photo of the Kinkakuji Pavillion. Most North Carolinians have never been, and will never go, to Japan… much less purchase my Japanese photos. Everything here is about ocean waves and fishing boats and dolphins silhouetted by the sunset.  It’s absolutely beautiful, but it’s just not my thing.

Now, we are going back to Japan, and I feel like I’ve been given a second chance. Americans in Japan actually WANT photos of Japan. And that’s exactly what I’m going to give them! I have time to work on this collection, and I’m learning a TON. I can’t wait to share some of my Photoshop discoveries.

But for now, since I’ve spent so much time babbling about ME, I’ll just get to the good stuff- which is why you’re here… photos.


First a word about ASPECT ratio! Most DSLR sensors capture an image in the ratio 0f 2:3. I won’t go into detail here, but suffice to say, the PRINT sizes in the U.S. are NOT 2:3!!! I’ve learned the hard way that you need to know what size you plan to print your image before you shoot it. If you want to make a series of 8x10s, be sure to leave plenty of room around the edge of your image for cropping. In this case- I goofed- or rather, I didn’t know any better- as most people don’t. I filled the 2:3 frame with my composition and never thought twice about getting it printed. Now that I want to create art prints, I need to seriously rethink my framing! You’ll notice on the second image, it is more square. I cropped and resized it to 11×14, which is a standard print size. Fortunately for me, this image was an easy save. All I had to do was cut off the bottom. But WAIT! I had carefully composed this image to include the grass and rocks at the bottom as a framing device. Photoshop to the rescue. I cut out the bottom two inches and repasted them higher in the image. Then using a mask, I blended the two layers together smoothly. Taa-Daa! The only way to tell it wasn’t shot in these proportions is when you see the long, skinny original.

And that annoying black dot (above?) Dust on my sensor- I just spot healed it out… and then gave my camera a good cleaning!

Golden 1 resize

OK, so this is step one. After I cropped the image, (you can see the bottom grass and rocks are much closer to the building’s reflect now.) I added a texture from Joel Olives. He has a fabulous texture club- his textures are beautiful! And sometimes he gives free textures away  (like this one- called July freebie)- so it’s worth following him on Facebook at the very least! I added this texture in multiply mode and brushed some of it off over the pavilion itself. Of course, the texture is great, but the colors in this image are rather dull. So, it’s time to do some painting…

Golden texture 1

Ahhhh, much better. I’m sure I’m not following Photoshop protocol, but in this case I just added paint directly to my texture layer. There are probably other, more non-destructive ways to do this, but for the sake of time, I just started dabbling. You can see I added some purples to the sky, some yellows to the trees and some red here and there. The paints were all applied at very low opacity with a soft brush, to just give a little color pop without smoothing out the grungy texture.

Goldern texture color

Next up I fiddled with layers, adding color here and there, lightening certain areas and darkening others- generally trying to establish a painterly effect and mood.You can see the biggest difference in the reflection. The lights are lighter and the shadows darker to create more contrast.

Golden texture light dark

Last, once I was satisfied with the color- I ran the image through a couple of Photoshop filters. One effect I think is fantastic is Plastic Wrap! It is so much fun and creates such a unique look- you will probably see me using that a lot in the future. Then I created an oil paint layer and experimented with the masks on both of those layers. Some areas of the image have more of one effect than the other. It is subtle and hard to see on the screen- but printed at 11×14 it will be really visible.

Golden texture logo

It may not be a dolphin swimming off into the sunset- but I am happy with it!



Winter Tree

I’m so excited about this image I just had to post it right away! The two things that make it special to me are: 1. I really tried to stretch my creative boundaries with this one- it was conceptualized as art from the moment I saw it and took the picture. 2. I achieved the effect with my very own texture!!! Hooray! I LOVE TEXTURES! 

First, the original. It’s really nothing special. I intentionally shot it light so I could blow out the snow and sky and produce a “floating effect”- kind of like a white backdrop in a studio. There was just something about this unassuming little stone bench, sitting quietly under the tree, patiently waiting to be noticed. They almost look like friends, in a way… the tree and the bench.  I’ve walked past this scene a hundred times without so much as a glance. But this time, blanketed with freshly fallen snow- it seemed to tell a story.

OK. So here’s the down & dirty on editing. This was SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!

I fiddled and fiddled, trying to bring this story to life. I tried a few different textures, but nothing seemed to stick. Then I threw this texture on, just for kicks.

Firey Sunset

Here’s the FUN part- It’s one of my own textures from a collection I’m working on.  I call this one Fiery Sunset… bet’cha can’t guess why! Haha. It’s one of the first textures I ever attempted. But I never used it because I’m still learning HOW to use something with such bold color. In this instance, I just tried it at random, because nothing else had been successful. Sometimes, after a series of failures, you just throw caution to the wind and do something zany, which turns out to be your best move yet. I would have NEVER (never) paired this texture with this image. Especially since the look I wanted to achieve was COOL and MOODY. Not necessarily happy sunshine (or in this case, forest fire) But I was feeling frustrated, so I figured- what have I got to lose?

I wish I could tell you step by step what I did- but it was a LOT of experimentation- especially with blending modes. I believe the blending modes I ended up using were Hue and Difference… you know those ones at the bottom of the blending list that always make your photos look so bizarre???  Yeah, those. I LOVE THEM. I blended the texture in Hue mode (I think) at 50%-ish. That gave it a cool, sepia type look- it totally drained all the green out and replaced it with a hint of red front he texture.  Then I copied the textue layer (cmd-J) and blended it again, this time in Difference mode. That added the blue, mysterious tones.  Last, I ran a quick MCP action- Ellie’s field of Dreams. I knew it would enhance the blues (which it did, a little too much, so I turned it waaaaay down) But I love the way MCP Fusion actions are written. Every action has two parts- the color tweaking effect (where the name comes from) and the One Click Color- a series of layers that aloo perfect customization of things like vignette, gradients, color saturation, tightening shadows… etc. I absolutely adore One Click Color- it makes life SOOO easy!!!

SO without further ado- here’s the final image. It’s a little bit melancholy, a little bit lonely- and sweetly charming all at the same time. It reminds me of The Giving Tree by Shell Silverstein- a childhood classic that  warms my heart to this day. I hope you like it!

Winter tree

Software Surprise

Greetings Photoworld!

I am so excited to share some FABULOUS new software (well, new to ME at least) that I’ve discovered… all thanks to social media. You may know that I use Facebook primarily as a means of following other photographers, and photography related vendors. Often they will post good articles, tutorials, freebies and links to photography products. Yesterday as I was numbly perusing my feed, my jaw dropped open as one photog posted a link to OnOne software. They were GIVING AWAY a Photoshop/ Lightroom plugin  called Perfect Effect 8. I don’t know WHY they were giving it away. Naturally I assumed it was either a joke, or very cheesy software. So I thought I’d check it out.

Next up was a recommendation by the amazing glam photographer, and a professional hero of mine, Sue Bryce- she posted a sale by Alien Skin for a plugin called Exposure. I figure if Sue can’t live without it, then neither can I. Haha.

Keep in mind that I’m new to the plugin world- up till now, so don’t take my word for gold… or even copper, for that matter. Until now, I’ve done all my editing in Photoshop, either by hand or using actions I’ve purchased. Don’t get me wrong- I love Photoshop. But these plugins are pretty powerful little tools!!! They operate very much like Lightroom presets, but UNLIKE Lightroom, once you’ve made your final adjustments and click “save” the images populate your Lightroom library but DO NOT slow you down.

I love Lightroom. I first got started in photography using Lightroom. I WANT to sing it’s praises, but I’ve learned the hard way that I simply CAN NOT use it for my main editor. If do any extensive editing in Lightroom, it starts running about the speed of cold molasses… slower, if that’s possible. This sluggishness is the main reason I never got into using Lightroom presets. I’ll be the first to admit I’m probably missing something, but for now, I’ve gotten some fun software and I want to brag on it a little bit :)

So here goes.

We had a winter storm here in eastern North Carolina, which is a big deal because even the THOUGHT of snow shuts down the entire coast… for days on end! We received exactly one inch of the white, sticky stuff, which promptly turned from slush to solid ice. You can’t drive on it, or even walk on it without risking your neck. But is IS white, nevertheless. And even the Marine Corps has had the entire week off work- so my hubby has been home… and he cooks, so I’m not complaining! Anyhoo, seeing as the last snowfall I or my children have seen was nearly 6 years ago, it was a fairly exciting event. And I was determined to get some GREAT snow pictures… until I realized just how COLD it is when it snows, and just how FROZEN my fingers would be trying to operate a camera!

But I did manage a few macro shots of the BEAUTIFUL red berries on the bushes outside my house. I love the coating of ice all over them.

So here’s the original. It makes me happy just the way it is…

Snow Berries


OK wait, that might not be THE original. I see a texture on it- but the color has not been altered… here I was just playing around with canvas settings. I think this one is “cardboard”.

Moving on…  Having NO IDEA what I was doing, or what these little programs were capable of, I just started playing around…


This lovely little light leak effect was in Exposure, by Alien Skin. LOVE IT!!!

You can also see, with tremendous clarity the ice on the berries. You may also notice the color gradient (although I made it subtle) which moves from warm (top left) to cool (bottom right.) This is where Perfect Effect 8 blew me away. Seriously, I even called my husband out from the spare room to show him (he’s been tasked with organizing his mountain of  military GEAR that has buried the spare bedroom since October… snow days are GEAT for “honey do’s.”)  This little plugin has the most incredible gradient tool! There’s not only a blur gradient, but a sharpening gradient, a clarity gradient, color tone gradients, lightening/ darkening gradients…you name it, it has a gradient.  It is seriously AWESOME!!!!!!!! Of course, all this you can do in Photoshop… with very much trouble and a lot of expert knowledge. Not only do I lack all the knowledge- I seriously lack the patience. So this little program is GENIOUS!

So after messing with some more gradients, I applied the oil paint effect in Alien Skin’s Snap Art plugin. Super fun!



Lastly, I added a lovely little texture by Kim Klassen. If you don’t know Kim Klassen (and if you are a texture junkie like me) you can subscribe for her newsletter and she sends out free, hand painted textures every week. Not to mention her artwork is beautiful and her blog is refreshing to read. You will love her!





Leaf Pile

Hi there! Today, I want to share two before and afters of an easy, quick edit.

I  followed a super wonderful little guy outside (on a FREEZING winter day) to see the giant leaf pile he had discovered. Sure enough, the leaves were at least two feet deep, covering the entire side lawn. What pure, unadulterated childhood BLISS!!!Of course, as impromptu moments often go,  I was NOT adequately bundled for a long photo session- in fact, I almost didn’t grab the camera- so I only managed these few shots before scurrying back to the warm house.

What I learned is

1:  I am clearly a fair-weather photographer.  I must work on endurance & learn how to suffer for my art. Ha!

2: Sometimes less is more. I could easily have snapped a hundred photos , had I been prepared for the wind chill. But, at the end of the day, these two images capture the moment.

Of course there were a handful of other shots, all taken in rapid succession, some with eyes half-mast, some with a smirky smile. That’s why you must take several shots with kids. But we didn’t pose him, we didn’t rearrange him. I just moved quickly, grabbed on to the moment, and dashed back inside as quick as my frozen legs could carry me!


So here’s the original image. Shot in JPEG. My camera was already set to JPEG for all the family holiday photos- you know, the ones that never make it off the computer, let alone to the website or portfolio. Normally for portraits or showcased work, I try to shoot in RAW. You can see some seriously dark shadows (and you can see that the leaves at his feet were REEEEALLY deep!)  I naturally tend to shoot dark- (it’s a tendency I often overcompensate for and end up blowing out my highlights- but that’s a post for another day!) In this case, I’m happy with the image but it is too contrasty and needs some brightening.

So here’s what I did.


First off, I needed to add LIGHT, both to the leaves and especially to his face. So I copied the image (cmd-j) and pulled my curves layer up… ever so slightly. Then I copied the layer again (cmd-j) and pulled the curve up again, but this time, I used a black mask over the layer and brushed around his face, etc. The mask kept the background from further lightening and allowed me to brighten the subject only.

Secondly I addressed the color. I love the brown background because it means I have TONS of freedom to choose from different color actions. So I went to The Bohemian Symphony collection by Oh So Posh and used an action called Gracefully Glowing. All of these actions add a LOT of very intense color- I personally find them a bit hard to use on images that are already colorful. In this case, however, the original color palate was rather dull, so I knew anything would add some much- needed drama. You can see it added lots of warmth and popped the  color. But brown is brown, so I left it at that.

Last, I wanted to reduce all the contrast in the leaves and allow the subject to pop out of the background, without the visual distraction of the leaves deep shadows. In effect, I wanted to remove some of the surrounding texture. It’s a personal decision. Since I didn’t have a nice creamy blur to work with, I opted for a haze instead. For this, I applied Khaki- an action by MCP in the Fusion collection. I adjusted the colors tones as needed, and masked the haze off the subject and his immediate surroundings. The effect is noticeable. For one thing, the haze significantly lightened shadows and dulled the colors I had just applied. But again, I wanted the focal area to be on the child, not the leaves. And you can see, the contrast and color pop where the haze has been removed.

Then, a quick sharpen and voila. I am quite satisfied!




Same editing steps as the first. What a sweet little face!!!!

Family Fun

Hello world,

Here’s a quick run- through of a family session I did a few weeks back. One of my 2014 resolutions is to “discover” myself as an artist and photographer. Part of that journey is to discover my own editing style. Or discover if I even have one. So what you are about to see is a series of repeated images, all with some slight edit changes. It will be interesting to see which style you are most drawn to. For me, I always like the image with the most “flare.” But the reality of lifestyle photography is that “flare” is not usually what your client is after. They want nice, beautiful photos of their family. And can you blame them? Not everyone wants blue clouds and newsprint collaged over their faces. Haha!

Before we proceed, I feel I should warn you. Sometimes as your eyes move from one edit to the next, they have to “color adjust.” So beware!

Now a quick word about shooting in RAW… whenever you shoot in RAW, your photos will ALWYAS require some level of post-processing. Whenever you shoot in JPEG, you will notice sharp lines, crisp contrast, even in your camera’s LCD. That’s because as the camera’s computer compresses the information (to JPEG), it discards many of the gray/ mid-value tones. Most of the time JPEG images work great, but since I have a custom white balance phobia (yes another irrational photography based fear- but I’ll save that for another post) I decided to shoot in RAW to eliminate any unwanted color cast. JPEG images are notoriously stubborn when it comes to changing white balance in post processing! Am I ever so glad I chose RAW, because my white balance fear was proven to be completely rational. Everything shot with Auto white balance came out slightly BLUE!

To demonstrate this problem, I’m going to show you the SOOC RAW image (choke!) You will notice that it is not sharp and not well balanced. The fuzziness is an effect of the RAW file (all RAW files require sharpening) but the dull blue/ gray is the fault of my inept Cannon camera.

Just Kidding

I shoot Nikon.


SO here’s what I did. First off,  I felt like the sandbox on the left was a distraction, so I used the clone stamp to fill it in with leaves and texture. Secondly, since the colors were dull and gray, and I wanted to show the warmth of the fallen leaves, I used a few gorgeous actions from the Bohemian Symphony collection by OhSoPosh Photography. Her actions add SO much color that sometimes I feel  overwhelmed using them- but I knew in this instance they would be perfect! First I used Pure and Gold (because I was after that autumn sunset light, as the name implies. I turned the opacity down to around 30% and ran another OhSoPosh action called Simply Charming. The blend of the two color sets perfectly represented the colors I saw with my naked eye!

Steps Diptych 1

But they also added alot of contrast (LEFT) and deep saturation. So I added a haze, and masked it off their faces (right) It’s subtle, but the shadows are much lighter and the colors less saturated.

Next up- the black and whites:

Steps BW Diptych 1

For this I used the hazy edit (above) and ran a Black and White action by MCP called Sunkissed. I thought the name was appropriate for the warm light we has all around us. The action adds a heavy warm tint, which I turned WAY down, and also massively reduced the richness, contrast, brightness, etc. On the right, I simply added another hazy film over the top, which diminished the contrast in the leaves and background. Again, subtle but effective.

You will see the same progression in the rest of the photos, to varying degrees.


Another SOOC RAW, just to show you the power of editing!

family blanket Diptych 2

Top is the clean edit- same actions as before. Bottom adds the haze, which pops the family out of the background and dims the colors.

family blanket Bwand the black and white applied to the hazy edit

Here’s one of the kiddos. Love this shot. It was the ONLY one with everyone looking at the camera! So happy it turned out!

kids blaket

Ok. I don’t want to bore you to death showing you the same images over and over again. So here’s just one more set. The following is SOOC. The sun was BRIGHT!!!! This time my Auto white balance got it right. But the picture is terrible!!! Cute family, terrible image! That’s where editing comes in. Let your eyes roam around this image and see all the distracting items. Here’swhat I see… POWER LINES all over the place. I see MY shadow! DOH! I see ugly yard signs, street signs, and a little black culvert that distracts my eye. The white fence post sticking up out of nowhere. Seriously, what IS that? While the colors are pretty good, this image could use a good crop and some healing magic!

family street

Never underestimate the power of a good edit. THIS is what you pay a professional photographer for. I don’t knw about you, but i don’t want power lines in my family portrait. I know I know. You say I should try to AVOID those things in the image. And you would be right. Except… power lines are awfully hard to avoid. And BOY are they annoying to erase!!! And I wanted a wide angle shot, so I knew I would suffer the editing consequences :)

Check it out!!!!     I absolutely LOVE it!

street front Diptych 2

Top image – bold color edit, using the same two OhSoPosh actions.  Bottom image – adds a haze, dimming colors and lightening shadows.

And here’s the black and white. I love it. I added the B&W to the already hazy image. I love how the family pops off the page!!!

family street bw

OK, ONE more I PROMISE!!!! You know me, I saved the best for last. THIS is my favorite.

But first- a word from your editor.

The following may not look like a lot of work, but if this image didn’t have 16×20 potential, I wouldn’t have bothered. If you know my work at all, you know I LOVE taking rear shots- shooting people as they walk away, or turn away, or in profile. There is something about pointing people away from the camera that makes them relax. And that relaxation definitely translates to the image. So, I turned my family around and had them walk up the road. I LOVE it!!! There was only one problem… FIDO. I won’t get on my soapbox about bringing pets to photo sessions (at least not here), but let’s just say DON’T. In this case, FIDO made a bold leap through her electric fence, so she was in the pictures, whether she was invited or not. Ha! In all seriousness though, the front facing shot works great with the dog. But turn this scene around, and FIDO’s other end is… not so cute. So we put the dog on the ground. But FIDO doesn’t walk in a straight line as you can see in the image below. In fact, none of the smaller people (dog included) walk in a straight line,so I had ONE  low angle image to work with.  ONE!!!  Artistic license prevailed.  FIDO had to go.

Let’s just say this:


Again, look around. POWER LINES!!! Yard signs. Blood stains on the road (yes, that’s what I said- someone ran over the Easter Bunny the night before) Random lady walking her dog. And some strange things over the horizon of the road. But most of all… FIDO!!!!! There simply was NO good way to leave her in any of the pictures without it being either too tangled or too obscene. So, let the editing begin.

Normally I wouldn’t bother unless it was for my portfolio, but there was something about this shot I just knew I would love

street rear Diptych 2

In case you are wondering how long it takes to remove a dog (and her shadow) reconstruct a pair of jeans, clean up the road, erase power lines and generally edit, the answer would be a little over an hour.  So PLEASE don’t give your photographer any grief if they need to charge you a custom editing fee. It really DOES make a huge difference! And again, this is not something most photos would do unless there was some serious image potential… which there was!

Drumroll, please. This is hands down my favorite from the session, and NOT just because I worked so hard on it.

It’s Just. Plain. COOL.  Enjoy!

family rear art edit


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