Monday, June 22, 2009

I ♥ Faces Entry - Week 24

Well I'm excited to enter again this week at I Faces after last weeks surprise win! This weeks theme is "Let's Hear it for the Boys!" Be sure to go check them out and enter a photo yourself!

For my kids entry, here is baby Asher with his mommy. This was taken a few weeks ago when he was 3 weeks and 3 days old. He is such a cutey. I totally love how laid back and relaxed he looks, chilling in mama's arms. (Click to make bigger).

And for my adult entry, here is my boyfriend's brother, Justin, being an octopus on the beach. Shh... don't tell him I entered this. I think he'd be mad. :D Although he's not officially an adult (he just turned 16 last week), I would feel weird putting him in the kids category. (Click to make bigger).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I ♥ Faces Entry -Week 23

Update: I can't believe I won best photo in the adult category!!! I saw on twitter, Angie and Amy remind everyone to go check out the winning photos, and my heart literally stopped when the page loaded and I saw my photo right there! Wow! Totally unexpected!
I had to laugh when I read what Jenny wrote:
'Jenny wrote: "What draws me to this photo is the suggestion of the story behind it. Where is he, what caught his eye and why is he grimacing? "Here comes the elephant!" or "I should have tied down the hot air balloon!" The curious facial expression combined with the softness of the photo makes an interesting contradiction." '

Ok so to answer all that, he is at the beach, and the story behind it is, well nothing. Sorry to disappoint. That's just my boyfriend, being his usual self. I can count on one hand the number of "normal" looking photos I have of him. But the explanations for the photos that Jenny wrote, wouldn't seem out of place at all. Knowing him, I could have easily put one of those as the caption, and it would seem totally normal.

He, on the other hand, wasn't as thrilled with my win for some reason. He was more concerned with the fact that I had posted that picture. Why I'm not sure, as nothing seems to embarrass him.


This week at I Faces, it's sepia toned week! I'm not gonna lie, I don't use sepia tone all that often in my photos, but I like the look it gave to these two. I took these this weekend at the beach. Be tuning back for more from the beach later this week.

For the kids category, here is my boyfriend's sweet little nephew. I love him so much! He's about the sweetest 4 year old you'll ever meet.

For the adult entry, here, once again is my goofy boyfriend. This was also taken this weekend.

Be sure to head on over to I Faces to check out all the awesome entries! And while your at it, enter one yourself!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Edit those photos! Part 1

I've gotten lots of comments from people, non-photographers, mind you, and most in real life, about how amazing my pictures look. Well thanks, and yes part of it is just creative shooting, but much of the pop and pow happens in post-productions. Did you know that no picture that I have posted anywhere in the past, oh, 6 months, at least, has not had some form of editing performed on it? It's really what you should do. Yeah, it's time consuming, but it's really worth it. It can take a very blah, amateur looking photo, and make it look amazing!

So, I'm going to take you through what you need to know and do, in order to start producing some entirely fabulous photos. This series is meant for the completely amateur photographer, so no matter how much of a novice you are, you should be able to follow along. Let's get going!

In order to start editing, your going to need a program to edit with. Here are a few to get you started.

For the reluctant editor:

You are the person who is reading this and going "edit photos, what?" You personally have never edited a photo and wish to continue with that trend.
  • Many people use and upload to sites like Snapfish, Shutterfly, and Kodak Gallery. These sites have some basic editing tools build right in. So if your already uploading pictures to share and print, for heavens sake, take a moment to edit the red-eye out. The power of these tools isn't anything to write home about, but it's better than nothing. You can typically crop, edit red-eye, adjust color, and make a few other simple edits.

For the editor wanna-be:

You are the person that doesn't have much experience editing photos and you just want to get the basics, without having to spend the money and take the time to learn a more advanced program.
  • Picasa is a free program from Google, which you can download straight to your computer for free. (You can also take advantage of their web albums, which I have yet to try). The one thing I use Picasa for the most is organization. I always leave it open, and it imports everything from my computer automatically. At first I didn't like that, but I've found that I've gotten more organized because of it. Sometimes when I download pictures of my computer, I have pictures from various events. It's so easy to scroll through, put only the ones I want in a named album, then export that out, leaving me with a neat and tidy, named folder, which I can then open into PSE 7 or upload to SmugMug. It has a good array of editing tools, such as red-eye removal, cropping, straightening, adjusting lighting and contrast, and various simple creative options. I've typically found the "I'm feeling lucky" does a pretty decent job, for the lazy or in a hurry editor. I also really like their collage feature, which is a great way to take an album and make a cool looking collage, quickly and pain free!

  • There is also Picnik, which instead of being downloaded, it is used online, right in your browser. It had a been a while since I had visited the site, so I decided to check it out a couple of days ago. Maybe I just didn't stick around long enough on my first visit, but I was fairly impressed. They have about every basic editing and creative features the average person could want. And even more if you are willing to pay the modest $24.95 fee to upgrade to premium. I played around with some photos, and it's pretty easy to take a photo from "blah" to "wow!" in just a few minutes. They also have lots of great tools if you like to have fun with your photos, like collage and scrapbook layouts, stickers, lots of cool fonts for text and more.

For the serious editor:

You are ready to move up in the photography world and are willing to try your hand at learning the ways of some of the more advanced programs. You want more precise control over your photos and want to take them to the next level.

  • I adore Adobe Photoshop Elements (versions 5 and 7)! It's a great program packed with punched. You can do virtually anything with your photos, as long as your willing to take a little bit of time to learn how to use the features (There are some great tutorials out there, just look around). This is a awesome program for under $100, and I can't recommend it enough. I also love actions, which are prerecorded commands you apply to your photos, which can save you loads of time. There are lots of free action sets out there, so again, just look around.
  • Now a couple things to note regarding Adobe Photoshop
  1. Don't feel like you need to buy the $700 Adobe Photoshop CS4 in order to do great things with your photos. I've come across many run of the mill, very amateur photographers that decide to buy the pro version (instead of the consumer version, Elements) because they feel it will make them "cooler" or something, and then struggle with understanding how to use it and such. Hear me out people, until you have become an expert at Elements, and I mean an expert, don't even consider CS4. Elements is much cheaper and much more user friendly. So save your pennies for better photo equipment and take some classes, then consider a pro version. (Sorry for the rant, just kind of a pet peeve of mine, and I've seen the mistake all too often). Personally, I'm not sure I'll ever buy CS4 (or CS5, etc.), although I would love Lightroom.
  2. If you have a computer that more than 2 years old, you may want to see if you can find one of the older versions of Photoshop Elements (click here to see the list of release dates to see what version you need). If your computer is 4 years old, you may find the PSE7 runs painfully slow (like my poor father).
  3. Download the trial version, and try it out. See if it's a program you think you can master and are willing to invest time into (and some money) before you buy.

Take some time to identify which category you think you fit into, and what will work for you. Even the most amateur photographer, with a terrible camera, can make their photos look amazing, if they have some editing tricks up their sleeves.

Up next: What makes a good photo, and why edit?

Play Day 09

My brother's school had it's 2nd annual play day on Monday, with some of the other local school's special ed classes. It was lots of fun to go watch and I was beyond impressed with the regular ed middle schoolers present! Most of the special ed students were part of Best Buddies and had their buddy along, and then the SGA students ran the stations. The teachers were mere observers and the occasional assistant or participant. I took tons of pictures, and it was hard to choose the ones to edit and post. Here are a few favorites. And of course, no photo session would be complete without an animoto video!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I ♥ Faces - Week 21 Entry

Well I didn't enter in last weeks competition, silhouettes, mostly because I didn't have any silhouettes already, and didn't have time to shoot any. But I'm back this weeks for birthday week and the special pets category!

For the kids birthday, here is Mr. SL on his first birthday. He wasn't so sure about his cake at first, but in the end, he gobbled it up and begged for more. He is glancing over to his dad in this picture who is telling him to eat it. I love the face he is making, kinda a "are you sure about this stuff?"

And for the pets entry, here is Zoe, my boyfriend's family's Maltese. This was at the alumni lacrosse game a few weeks ago. It was cold and rainy, and well, when you only weight 3 lbs. and your mom shaved all your fur off, you get a little chilly.

Be sure to head on over to I ♥ Faces to check out all the awesome entries and maybe even enter your own! Oh and I can't be the only one who is dying to know the results of the blurb book contest! Seriously Amy and Angie, let's move it! Not that I really think I won, or even made into the book, I'm just dying to see the beautiful faces that did!