2 years ago, I had the honor of photographing this sweet baby girl. What a treat it was, then, to photograph her little brother who is turning 1! This shoot really could not have gone better. For one thing, his parents were ultra-prepared, from clothes to props to extra lighting in the nursery (a photographer’s dream!). On top of all that, Baby G just hammed it up for the full hour – smiling and laughing and playing with his airplanes. I could not have asked for a better little model. Take a look:
I decided to post a few personal photos of mine for a couple of reasons. First, because photoshop is so fun and layering photos is sooooo easy. Stay tuned for a tutorial in the future on how these pics were created. Second, because this is what I love about photography – you can capture so much more than simple moments in time. These photos represent three very distinct phases of my life and they say more to me than pages of journal entries would.
People are complicated and multifaceted – these photos were my attempts at capturing some of the complication that I saw in myself. Now, as a Christian and a seminary student, I see more clearly why I am such a riddle even to myself. Not only do I fill multiple roles in my life – student, daughter, friend, photographer – I also have within me a constant struggle between my sinful nature, my dignity as a creature of God, and my identity as one who has been saved by the blood of Christ.
A few days ago, I took photos of the N family (which you can see in this post) on a lovely sunny morning. The weather was perfect for the park – bright but not too hot. There are a million good things about a bright sunny morning. The bad thing about it is the shadows. Morning shadows are not as harsh as midday shadows but any time the sun is bright, shadows will be a problem. We did a lot of maneuvering to stay on the sun’s good side that morning. But sometimes it can’t be helped – a magical moment will occur and the sun will not cooperate. I ended up with this precious photo of Katie and Abigail next to the fountain:
I knew that this photo was well worth saving but that something had to be done about the harsh, angular shadow across Katie’s face. Luckily, darkening or lightening parts of a photo is easy to do in photoshop. We photog types call it “burning and dodging.” Here are the steps to follow:
1. Create a new blank layer and change the blending mode to “overlay.”
2. From the edit menu, choose “Fill” and select the contents to be “50% gray.” This will fill your overlay layer with gray pixels. You won’t see them because gray pixels in overlay mode have no effect on the underlying photo. Your photo should look exactly the same.
3. Choose the paintbrush tool. For color, select white. White pixels in overlay mode will serve to lighten the underlying photo. You want to do this a little at a time so change the opacity of the paintbrush to 15%. Choose a size that will allow you to paint over the shadow in one or two strokes.
4. Begin painting over the dark area. You may have to go back over the same spot several times – it will get lighter each time you paint it. Don’t get too carried away here! If you go too far with this handy tool, your photo will begin to look unnatural. If you make a mistake, simply paint back over the entire layer with 50% gray. Your photo will go back to its original state and you can try again.
5. If there are any areas of the photo that need to be made darker, follow the same procedure but use black instead of white.
During Joelle and Luke’s engagement shoot, I had the happy couple pose under a low-hanging branch that I thought would create an interesting composition. I was right – the resulting composition was nice. The light, however, left something to be desired. We had started our photo shoot a little late and by the time we made it to the tree, the soft morning light had become harsh and unforgiving. The stark silhouette of the tree drew my eye away from Luke and Joelle. I needed a subtle tweak that would gently soften those lines. Lucky for me, there are all sorts of free photoshop tutorials on the internets just waiting to be found by a well-crafted google search. In this particular case, my solution was here. The author gives a simple step by step method of creating rays of light shining through tree branches. The tutorial uses Photoshop’s “Radial Blur,” which gives the light rays the look of bicycle spokes shining outward. For my purposes, I chose “Box Blur” instead, which gave the illusion that the sunlight was softly enveloping my tree branch. As a final touch, I added some slight vignetting using the Photoshop gradient tool. The result: soft morning light in the middle of the day.