Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Punching Up the Drama in Photos

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Today I want to show you how to go from the photo above....
To an edgy, contrasty more dramatic look like this:
I have photographed several senior boys this week
and I love that Chris is very laid back and
 wanted only outdoor, woodsy portraits.

He brought two T-shirts with him...
one white and the other blue because I told him
it would really bring out those hunkin' blue eyes!
I love casual senior pictures compared to
the stuffy, suited studio shots from my era.

He also brought along his SUV to pose with, which gave me
lots of creative photo options.
While I like this photo below...

I wanted to punch it up with some drama.

I especially like this simple editing technique for
It gives the photos a bit of edge and looks

I find that when I give the seniors an option between
the normal photo and the one with added drama...

They usually buy the one with drama.

I want to share this simple editing method that works with nature portraits...

or really any photo where you want to impose more edge and contrast.

It even works for Black and Whites:

I do this in Photoshop Elements 8, but it works in Photoshop, too.
Open your photo in Elements and click on Ctl-J to duplicate the layer.
See the duplicated layer by the yellow arrow in your layer's bin.

In the panel at the top of your on Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur

A control box will pop up.  Move the slider by the yellow arrow until the photo
is very blurry, but you can still make out the subject.
There is no perfect here...just move it until it's blurry.

At the top of your layers bin you will see a window that says NORMAL...
those are your blend modes.  It's by the pink arrow, but under that drop down menu
that is covering it in the photo.
Click on Overlay as seen by the yellow arrow.
(If you want less on soft light.  Play around and see
what you like best for your photo.)

With Overlay, the drama is often too intense, so lower the
opacity to your taste.  (See opacity to the right of the blend modes.)

This fast and simple technique really enhances photos!

I find myself using this often for senior boys.

It also works for girls...especially if they're wearing
bright colors or you want an edgy feel.

Play around with this method and I hope
it gives you an exciting new option for portrait photography.

Friday, August 24, 2012

SHEER Beauty

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The best part about summer portrait photography is the
endless sunlight!
Once I learned how to see and capture it,
I started to PLAY with it.
First the SEEING part.
This took me a long time to grasp, but it is as easy
as stopping to notice where your the sun is falling on your subject.
By placing the sun to the subject's back, you get
beautiful rim light around the hair.
Back light will also virtually eliminate those
awful face shadows.
Now for the PLAY part.
I have been looking for props to play with the light.

                                     I found this long length of sheer fabric at the thrift store
and had lovely Sagal hold it up and let the sun shine through.
I actually held up the fabric against the light in the store
and could imagine how it would photograph with the sun.
The same thing happened when I found this pretty netted canopy.
I knew it would glow with the sun.
Sheer fabric makes a brilliant prop in sunshine.
Sheer fabric on clothing is awesome, too! 
Back lighting will illuminate the sheer fabric.
Look for that spot in the grass where the sun is shining through
and place your subject in that spot with the sun
BEHIND them...
(Can you see the sunny spot?)
Anything sheer will PLAY well...try a shawl.
One thing DIFFICULT to shoot in sunlight is someone
wearing glasses.
This is when I really have to pay attention to every shot.
While looking through the viewfinder, I carefully check the glasses
for glare.
If I see glare, I have the subject tilt their chin down just a tad.
That usually solves the problem...
There will always be a bit of glare, but using the tilt trick,
and checking the glasses through your viewfinder in EVERY shot,
you can dramatically improve the situation.
If that doesn't work, move your subject around until the
light hits the glasses differently.
I love Natalie in her glasses...adds so much of her
I also like that Natalie, at age 17 is an avid photographer, too!
To learn more about how to capture and edit
back lit photos check out my
Have fun playing with the sunlight!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Up...up...and Away...

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I can finally cross another portrait wish off my bucket list.

All summer I have envisioned portraits of a gal with balloons
up in the clouds.

My friend Rol has a large trampoline in his yard and
I searched all summer for a person who had the ability to
jump and pose at the same time.

I had pictured a girl about ten years old, but of all the
people I photographed this summer...none fit the bill

Alyssa came with her brother for his senior portrait shoot last week.
She was wearing what looked like a cheerleader outfit
and she was stunningly beautiful.

Turns out, she is on the high school pom pom squad,
took gymnastics when she was younger...
and she has a trampoline in her back yard!


Alyssa brought my vision to reality!

We were totally blessed with a pretty sky.
I was dreading having to add a pretty sky around
all those balloons, but I didn't have to....YES!

This is one of my favorite shoots of the summer.

And, just to show how pretty she is...

I had so much fun with those dang balloons and

Isn't she gorgeous???

After all that, she deserved a rest.

These are FUN!  If you have a trampoline, try it.