Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring Portrait Composites

My sister has five grandchildren and when each was a baby,
I photographed them and created a special composite portrait.

My sister ordered canvas wraps for each grandchild
and has them on a wall in her home.

The youngest grandchild lives in Cincinnati and I felt
so fortunate I got to visit when Abigail was
ten months old...perfect timing for her special composite!

The difficult was March and still cold and drab outdoors.
I want to share with you how we set up and photographed
Abigail in my sister's living room in a way that you can do, too!

I brought my tri-fold white foam core poster board and a piece of white foam core.
These two items are readily available at any craft store for cheap!

Set up your scene facing a large picture window, preferably on a sunny day.
Don't shoot your subject in direct sunlight, however...wait until the sun
is NOT shining directly into the room.

My little white "studio" makes it very easy to extract Abigail from the photo
 in Photoshop and move her to a new scene.

It also reflects light onto her.

Here's what I did with that photo.
You would never guess Abigail was photographed on a drab winter day!

I switched out the yellow flower for a tulip to match the scene.

By using natural outdoor light from the window, it's easy to move 
the baby to an outdoor scene as the tones are very similar.

Try different poses and outfits!

Babies between 6 and 10 months old are ideal for this
because once you sit them down, they really don't move.

If they are antsy or fussy, give them something to hold that would go with
your scene. In this case, we had Abigail hold some fake flowers.

 As they are looking at that object, simply call
their name and CLICK!

DO NOT use added lights, especially from lamps in the room
as they will create a yellow and sometimes blue color cast that
does not mix well with outdoor backgrounds.

I purposely posed Abigail to use in this photo with the butterflies.

Add props that you can include in your composite.
Make sure they go with the scene like this woven box:

I made the adorable hat by hot-gluing flowers from a thrift store
onto a knit beanie cap.

I used the method I shared in this video tutorial
to flip out the dress in this next composite!

Having Mom nearby to help create the smiles
sure does help!

Always have an adult right by your set to spot a child.

You can shoot so many cute angles and thus a variety of
composites with this simple
white board set!

I changed the color of her outfit to match my scene using

Since we were facing a big bay window, I also 
shot a quickie using the natural window light.

All these photos for such a simple effort!

You can purchase my exclusive, high resolution Digital Backgrounds
in my Etsy Shop.

Or, shoot some of your own for compositing.

To learn how to move the baby to a new background
watch my video tutorial.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Flower Macro Photography

I have always had a fascination with macro photography...
zooming in super close to see all the details.
But, I never had the patience and was actually a bit intimidated
 to figure out how to capture
these close-up gems!

After undergoing hip surgery in December, I was forced to
stay inside and decided to spend the winter FINALLY learning
macro photography.

I am SO HAPPY I conquered the fear and confusion!

Because I was sorta held captive at my 
kitchen table, I experimented over and over.

Here's what worked for me, so you can try it.

Equipment I used:

Canon 5D Mark III camera

Tamron 90mm macro lens 



If you don't own a macro lens, you can purchase extension tubes,
but make sure you buy the more expensive tubes with 
electronic connections so the auto-focus is
compatible with your lens.  The cheaper tubes will not allow you to auto-focus.

You can also purchase the set for Nikon or buy name brand tubes.

My first attempts at macro were exciting!

I used auto-focus but set my own focus point.

I loved zeroing in on close-up details while the rest 
of the photo became blurred art.

I learned very quickly that with macro you have an exremely 
narrow depth-of field...thus a teensy sliver in focus!

In this next photo, the focus point is on the area where the stamen sticks
out of the flower, but the end of the stamen which is just a tad further away
in the photo is blurred.

While these photos are pretty...

I wanted more than a sliver in focus.

That's when I began to study focus stacking.
For this simple pink flower, I stacked 10 photos and merged in Photoshop.
(I show you how to take these photos below.)

For the yellow daisy, I stacked 22 photos, but some of the 
closer petals are still not in focus.

That's when I realized, I need to focus in on every detail of the flower
even if it takes a TON of photos!

This photo is 48 photos merged.

Notice how all details of the flower are in focus.

 I took multiple photos with different focus points,
then stacked and merged them in Photoshop.

Photoshop is AMAZING at figuring out the prime focus point from each
photo and seamlessly merging them into one photo!

This is when macro work got me VERY excited...
these are the results I was looking for! 

The fine details are incredible on the entire flower.

Here's how I photographed for focus stacking:

I created this cheapy little macro studio facing a large window
on my kitchen table.

I simply bought a tri-fold white board and plopped a
foam core board on top and bottom.

For backgrounds, I taped scrapbook paper on
the white board behind the subject or you can 
keep the background white...or use another color.

Set up your camera on a tripod and make sure you shoot a bit
wider because when you stack all those photos and align them, you will
have to trim down the mismatched edges.

Set your camera to a 2-sec. delay or you can use a remote trigger
to avoid camera movement.

Read your camera manual to learn how to put your camera into LIVE view.
This was a new learning experience for me as I have 
never used the live view feature on my camera before and I love it
for this kind of close-up work!

While your camera is in live view, you can toggle the focus point around.
Use auto focus!

See the little square?  That's your focal point.
Take a photo with that focal point.

Now toggle the focal point just a bit to the right or left...up or down and
take another photo.  It's best to overlap the focus points
a tad for better merging.

Try not to move your camera, but some movement is likely.
Photoshop will auto-align minor movement.

Continue doing this until you have covered all of the subject
that you want to be in focus.

Make sure to focus on the all the edges of your subject for clarity.

For this photo, I ended up with 42 shots:

After you have aligned, merged and flattened your creation,
you can crop and edit your photo to your liking.

Here's my final edit:

There are a ton of YouTube video tutorials showing how

The best part, Photoshop does all the work...stacking, aligning and; merging!

I buy flower bouquets at my grocery store when they are on sale
and have a great time practicing macro photography.

The most photos I have stacked is 78,
but you can try MORE!

Sharpen the fine details a bit in Photoshop
and you have created a fine work of art!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Valentine Portrait Ideas

Valentine's Day is coming up and thought I'd share
some ideas for some LOVEly portraits.

If you live in an area with snow, try trampling out 
the shape of a heart to frame a little one as in the photo above.

Here's an idea for a little boy:

I found this great heart-shaped mug at the thrift store,
but you can use a red or pink cup.

My steam overlays are available HERE in my Etsy Shop.

Include any fun Valentine props you already have in 
your home.

I found the little bucket of kisses a few years ago at the Dollar Store!

If you don't have props...just show love in your photos.

To keep it simple, photograph your subject in front
of a white wall, or hang a white sheet,
then add one of my heart bokeh overlays.  They come in four colors
and are available HERE in my Etsy Shop.

Dress the kids in Valentine colors!
I dressed these adorable sisters in pink from the thrift store.

Try adding a texture or wallpaper with hearts to the background:

Or add a pop of hearts with a frame!

Learn how to create a frame by watching my

Add some whimsy with my Blowing Hearts Overlay
you can purchase HERE in my Etsy Shop.

Or add some of my Heart Glitter available HERE.

Jazz up a photo with my Heart Frame Overlay
you can get HERE!

With all the love in the air at Valentine's Day,
it's the perfect time to capture special portraits of your loved-ones!