Friday, August 29, 2014

The Anatomy of An Image: Editing

I went to a wedding back in May, and I'm sure my friends are wondering what happened to all of the images I took?

Yesterday I decided to begin tackling at least one that I was particularly happy with. I'm still new to editing people and it makes me incredibly nervous to do so. People, I've found, are so very judgemental of themselves and the camera is absolutely unforgiving. If you shoot at the wrong angle no matter how skinny a person actually is, they will still look like they weigh 50 lbs more than they actually do. Unfortunately, people take that to heart. They see images of themselves and think "dang! I need to lose 50 lbs!" when losing 50bs could very well result in someone who is anorexic. So in the end, it is the photographer's responsibility to take photos that truly emphasize the beauty of an individual.

… But who likes to have their photo taken?

I know one person who actually likes it. Justin just puts up with me taking his photo because he's married to me. In essence, I don't get much practice shooting people, and I get extremely frustrated with myself when I struggle at editing the images I've taken. If I don't get the image right, the prospect of taking said person's photo ever again dramatically decreases.

When I took the above image(s), I was trying to channel a bit of Julie Paisley Photography with the flowers in the foreground. The image above is actually 2 images. I took a full shot of the couple including the flowers, but the couple was moving or something when I did that, so they were a bit blurry. After deciding (quickly, within moments of the first shot) that the flower bit wasn't working, I zoomed in on just the couple and shot again.

Pulling the images up on the computer, it was obvious to me that my image needed to include the dandelions. Think about the added depth of meaning: the idea of wishes, dreams, imagination and childhood on your wedding day? *sigh* Very romantic. :)

Of course my dad saw the image and said something negative and confidence reducing that I will not repeat here. *sigh* There are definitely things that could be improved upon, but … DANDELIONS!!!!! Love!  Seriously?!?!

I've been putting off editing this image for months, because I just never felt I could do it justice. Their skin was blotchy and red in some places and green in others thanks to reflections off of the blanket and grass. Then, their clothing choices make her skin far brighter than his. (Clearly both of them should have worn a neutral gray! It would have made my job far easier!)

To get my final image I…

  • learned frequency separation!!! YAY!! –– This is where you separate the skin color from the skin texture in photoshop. It makes it easier to even out skin tone without losing the gorgeous texture you need to give the image a classy look.
  • upped the saturation. –– When I tried to get rid of the red skin tones, their skin looked amazingly flat which is not something anyone desires. Ever. 
  • used a gradient mask to brighten the left side of the image to give his face the extra light it needed.
  • ran OnOne software to give the image more blue. –– I seriously didn't know it needed it until I tried it.
  • Contrast and the High Pass filter combined with a gradient mask allowed me to bring out even more texture in their face while a Gaussian filter blurred the background.

I just sent the image to my local Costco to be printed so that I can "see" the colors and make even more judgements regarding the continuation of editing that will probably happen later this weekend since I am always seeing one more thing I missed… You see, there is never any definite end to editing, you just keep going until you are happy. Unfortunately, I'm never happy. ;)

After going through this process with you, the thing I want to be most clear about is that photography is more about vision and imagination than truth telling. My goal is to give the image a feeling, an emotion…and make it pretty. On your wedding day you look vibrant and beautiful to those who love you most, so who really cares what the camera captures anyway? :)

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

TBT: Deutsch Kochen

Way back, when I was in high school, my German teacher had my entire class make some sort of German food for a class picnic we would be taking. It was a great idea, in my opinion. Everyone made something different. We became a little bit more familiar with another culture, but we also got to enjoy a day of relaxation, fun, and socialization at the local park, within walking distance of the school.

I'm not sure what I made. Thinking back, I seem to remember it being "Apfelkuchen", but it wasn't a pie or a cake…It was more like pancakes, I think. (My memory has gotten foggy at this point.) To be honest, I was the spoiled kid that you only wish you could have been. All I really had to do was find the recipe and my dad made it for me. He's no chef, so it's probably impressive that it was even edible. (That's mean. Of course it was edible!)

Anyway, while the German party was fun and the pancakes (or whatever they were) were delicious, there is one part of the story you are missing… :) That particular Saturday, my brother had a friend over. When the pancakes were done, my dad had me take them outside to share with my brother and his friend. That was when the friend decided that I should be his new babysitter; he wanted me to cook him more delicious things!

As you might can guess, given how much you hear about my husband cooking, I am not a great cook. I LOVE watching great cooks, pushing them to do better, challenging them with the foods I choose…All of it, really! I'm sure I learn so much by merely watching Justin in the kitchen, but when it comes to actual practice though, I am far better on the sidelines. The other week I burned brownies…from a box. I'm quite certain I could burn water if I tried. I'm just not patient enough with cooking (or baking); things are either overdone or underdone when I make them. I typically know what I like, but rarely do I have the patience and attention-span to achieve what I am after.

Nevertheless, it still makes me laugh when I think back to that day that kid thought I could cook and cook well. I will always have a special place in my heart for "Apfelkuchen" even if the kid never had me babysit him again!

Has anything like that ever happened to you? Someone thinks you did something amazing and is surprised later to find out that it wasn't actually you? Or did you get to do anything fun, like make food, when taking a language class? Share with me! I'd love to hear some other TBT stories! :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Something New

Monsieur Peacock was hanging out at the petting zoo last year in Charleston just waiting for me to take his picture…so I did. Now he will be internet famous!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Little Person

from June 2013

Today I've been culling images from forever. I've deleted so many images that I've lost count all the while looking for my August Break image. This doesn't feel like a "break" to me, but at least some cuteness came out of it… :)

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Monday, August 25, 2014


*cue Barbara Streisand* :)

view from the Holiday Inn Resort at Panama City Beach, June 2014

One of the worst parts of summer is that it has to end eventually…

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Following In Your Shadow…

When One2One asked me to blog about Tori Amos' new music video "Promises" I was a bit apprehensive at first. What did I have to say about mother/daughter relationships when I myself am not a mother and there are no Mother's Day holidays in sight for another couple of months? At that point I realized that Tori Amos' video is not just about mother/daughter relationships, but it's really about women and people relating to one another in general.

Last night my sister-in-law came over and said something I've heard quite frequently from a lot of women over the years: "I don't have any female friends".

Why is that the case? What do women do to one another that causes such isolation among our gender?

This really made me think about how I relate to the girls I watch and encouraged me to think about what it is that I do or say and how it can affect their life outlook. Is there anything that I am doing or saying that could cause them to continue this trend of isolation?

My relationships with the male gender are some of the best in my life because these men optimistically tell me that they will always be there to listen to me and help me without (too much) judgement (or complaint), offering me the opportunity to grow, become more confident in myself, and blossom as an individual. I realize that I may have some very unique (and awesome) male relationships in my life and that not every guy out there is like that (or every girl as lucky as I am), but what if women offered those same promises to other women? How much stronger and more capable would the female gender be? 

I try to do that with the kids I watch letting them know that even though I'm not their parent, I am there to fully support them and back their decisions or at least help them get through tough decisions whenever they need me. My support goes for both the boys and girls I watch, but unsurprisingly it is typically the females more so than the males tearing one another down, talking badly about one another, and just simply not being supportive of one another. It's starts as early as elementary school and only gets worse as the kids get older and enter middle school, high school, college … and begin their careers as an adult. This is why Tori Amos's song with her 13 year old daughter is so poignant. It is absolutely lovely to see a promise made between a mother and daughter, a younger female and an older one, that no matter what happens they will always be there for one another.

Today I encourage you to promise someone you love (male or female) that you will "always be there". Whether you are 13 or 82, life is hard enough without consistency, security, and support; let's make it a little bit easier on ourselves and the others in our lives by always choosing to be there for them no matter where their life takes them.

* This post was sponsored by One2One Network. I was not paid or compensated for this post; all opinions are my own. Check out Tori's youtube channel to see more music by her and check out any of the 6 youtube videos created by One2One members that were inspired by the song. You can also follow her on twitter @TorAmos.
** Interested in buying the song? Buy on Itunes, Amazon, or GooglePlay.
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

TBT: Treasures

I define treasures as worthwhile, unique items that only I have or that are hard to come by, so how appropriate is it that today's August Break theme of "treasures" fell on throwback Thursday!

This dress was purchased at Stefan's Vintage Clothing (now Ambrose Vintage, named after his cat) in Little Five Points a really long time ago. Justin and I were going to a murder mystery party, and about the only thing I was looking forward to was finding the perfect vintage dress. I'm not sure this dress really suited the time frame we were looking for, but it suited my character and was a delight to wear. The dress has a bit of wear and tear to it and I'm certain I paid far too much for it, but it still has a place in my closet even though I haven't worn it since.

My grandmother made these Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls for my second cousin in the 1960s. Unfortunately (or fortunately) my uncle ultimately (and oddly) decided that my mom's dolls also made during same time frame were made for him (in my mom's favorite color?) and gave them to his daughters, my much younger (and only blood-related from that side of the family) cousins. Luckily, my grandmother has since (in the 2000s) made me my own set of the dolls in my favorite color (and made my mom a replacement set). It is so meaningful and I feel so special knowing that my set was made just for me by someone that I love. :) I didn't even need to receive a passed down set from my mom; I got a set directly from the source!

Not so much an object but more a memory at this point, Justin put our initials on a gazebo seat up in Young Harris, GA at one point while I was attending school there. He had come up from Georgia Tech to visit me, and we were having a rough time getting along. In an effort to prove his love, he pulled out a knife and etched our names into a gazebo seat. I'm not sure I believed him that night despite his driving two hours to be with me and despite the etching, but looking back it certainly was a sweet gesture. It is a gesture that I may never be able to hold in my hands or wear, but so long as that gazebo exists (with the same wood, of course), our initials will always be there. Sweet, right? :)

What are a few moments or things that you treasure?

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