Archive: February 2010   |   View all recent posts

The Drumms ~ Family Time
WHAT: Families, Kids   |   WHEN: February 26, 2010
Two weeks ago the Drumms came up to stay with us for the weekend.  As I mentioned in my ealier blog post, unfortunately our time was cut short when Claire, the girls, and myself started feeling a little less than Stellar.  Well, two weeks later I'm still trying to shrug off whatever it is that I got that weekend, but I'm almost there.  I've been laying a little low since then, but I did take some time to finish up the images from the 40-some degree session we did down in Highland Park.

Here's a few of my frigid favorites.




You'd never know they were freezing in the image below.











Jason grabbed my other camera and took this photo....



.... of me taking this photo of Sophia.



I think what I like the most about this next image is because these two are the real deal when it comes to affection towards one another.



Sweet Alaythea.  So precious.











And finally, our session came to an end after little Alaythea's encounter with a patch of mud.



And finally, our session came to an end after little Alaythea's encounter with a patch of mud.



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Quarantined
WHAT: Personal   |   WHEN: February 23, 2010


Had the sniffles last week, handed it off to Kylie, and then was feelin' pretty swell ( yes, swell, Beaver) by the weekend.  Went out to dinner with friends Jerry and Tina on Saturday night, and by the time we got home that evening I knew something wasn't right.  Sunday was abismal, but serendipitously I had scheduled my annual physical exam for Monday with my regular doctor.  Sweet, now I could turn my head & cough and get some good meds all in one trip.  Of course, the way insurance works, even though you're only there once, they have to charge you for two office visits.  Oh well, it was worth it.

Long stoy short, my cholesterol's great.  My flu resistance?  Not so much.  The good news is I got what I think is my first official Dr's excuse to play hookie since 6th grade.  The bad news is, I'm quarintined to the house.  Actually, I can go out in public, but according to the handy "Home Care Instructions for Patients with the Flu Virus" sheet I was given, "a sick person (i.e. me) should wear an [awesome-looking] surgical mask when near uninfected persons to prevent the spread of the flu virus.  When he/she is unable to wear a surgical mask" - and this is my favorite part coming up - "everyone else should wear a surgical mask when around that person." 

Don't get me wrong, there's both pros and cons to wearing the mask.  The biggest pro is that you tend to get expedited service when you wear it out in public.  I mean, c'mon... who wants to be stuck by a guy wearing a mask and sniffling every couple seconds, right? Seriously, stuck in a line at the walk-up ATM?  Put on the mask and cough a time or two.  Line gets a whole lot shorter pretty quick.  8 people ahead of you at the grocery deli?  Not for long.  People seem to get particularly freaked out when germs get close to their food.  Welcome to the front of the line.  I'm filing away this little experience for the holidays this year.  I expect any last minute shopping will get a whole go exponentially faster when I dawn the mask and where a CDC jacket.

So what's a con to wearing the mask, you might ask?  Well, I'm pretty sure the poor girl at the CVS pharmacy drive-through window nearly offered me all the money in the cash register when I pulled up with mask covering my nose and mouth to pick up my prescription.  Yah, kinda wigged her out for a second.

Anyway, so for the last 2 days me and the couch have been gettin' reacquainted. I've got a steady diet of Sprite and crackers goin' with an occasional bowl of soup or stack of pancakes mixed in.  I apologize in advance to the environment, though... I think I've killed 3 trees worth of Kleenex tissues so far.

Other than the phot above that I fired off this afternoon, I haven't picked up my camera in a couple days.  In fact, the 2 images below were from Saturday afternoon; the last time I felt good.  Hmmm... maybe one of the spots below is ground zero.




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Workflow Tip ~ Color Code Your Actions
WHAT: Tips, Tricks & Tutorials   |   WHEN: February 18, 2010
I've been surprised by the number of photograhers I've talked to recently who didn't know about color-coding actions in Photochop to make finding their actions easier.  I guess I thought everyone did this, but in the words of Yoda, "Incorrect, I was." 

Years ago when I was starting out, I bought nearly every action under the Photoshopped sun hoping to create magical images just like the people that were selling said actions.  If only I could create images just like them... then I'd be succesful and have a "style". It took me while to figure out the only thing successful about that approach was how well I could mimic other people's images.  At the same time I was spending more time than ever in Photochop, not less like the people advertising the actions said I would, because I spent for-ev-er playing with every new action on each image trying to figure out if the image would look better as a photographer X styled image or like photographer Y styled image.  My "style" was all over the board because all I ended up with was such a wide range of image styles that I didn't know who I was as a photographer.  Not to mention my images were looking way over-Photoshopped.

Since those early days I've really worked to define what makes my work [hopefully] unique to me, and along the way one of the most important - and time-saving - things I've learned is not what actions to use, but instead what actions not to use... and that's most of them.  Don't get me wrong, I still fully-embrace digital technology - including actions - in adding emphasis to my images as quickly as possible.  I've simply worked to define my style and then pick and choose the actions that help empahsize that style.

Sorry abou tthat little tangent.  Anywho.  One little trick that's helped shave time off my workflow is color-coding my actions in Photoshop according to what function they perform.  For example, I'll group b&w actions with a color, utility actions (cropping, sharpning, formatting for blog, etc.) with another color, effect actions with another color, texture actions with yet another color, etc...  Color coding helps me visually locate a set of actions and then a single action faster than if they were all the same color.  And honestly, I've been a little sloppy in some of my color coding with some random outliers here and there, but it's amazing after a while how quickly your mind memorizes where actions are based on blocks of color.

The following is a quick little tutorial in case you want to give this a try. 

Step 1 - Click the actions palette options icon to access the option to toggle from Button Mode to step-by-step mode.  Note - if your actions are currently set to be viewed in non-Button Mode, you can skip Step 1 & 2.



Step 2 - Click "Button Mode" in the actions palette options menu to toggle off Button Mode.  You need to be in non-Button Mode where you can see each recorded step in your actions.



Step 3 - Double-click in the open area to the right of an action title.  IMPORTANT:  If you double-click to the right of a step in the action rather than the action title, Photoshop will run that step instead of opening the Action Options dialog box.

Step 4 - With the Action Options dialog box open, you can change the color assigned to an action in Button Mode.  Unfortunately there's still no way to select a group of actions and change their color all at once.  I've been waiting for a while on that feature, but my feature request emails to Adobe have likely ended up in their Mailbox of Broken Dreams never to be seen or heard from again.

Bonus Points (optional) - With the Actions Options dialog box open you can also select a function key or combination of function + modifer keys (Shift & Command) to create a hot key(s) short cut to run an action.  I do this for all of my most commonly used actions to save even more time in my workflow.



Step 5 - Repeat steps 1 & 2 to open up the actions palette options and click on "Button Mode" to toggle button mode back on.  BTW, in case you were wondering, Button Mode allows you to run an action or set of actions recorded as one action with a single mouse click.

For some of you, this is old hat.  Hopefully, though, this is helpful for a few of you out there.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I seem to run into a fair number of people out there that didn't know abou tthis little gem.  If that's you, give it a try and see if - once you get used to it - you don't find yourself shaving a little time off your workflow.


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The 14 Days of Valentine's Day
WHAT: Personal, Random   |   WHEN: February 17, 2010
Take that, 12 Lords-a-Leapin'..  This year Kylie one-upped you by taking your 12 days and besting it by 2.  Yep, this year I was introduced to - and pleasantly surprised by - the 14 days of Valentine.  For those that didn't know, Kylie is more than a little crafty with her hands and her surprises, and on February 1st the mini-mailbox she had decorated (see below) showed up on my desk in my office.  Something different followed each day through the 14th... well, almost each day.

On about day 8 Kylie had acciedentally forgotten to put that day's gift in the mail box, so when I sat down at my desk to do some work that night and looked inside and didn't see any new "mail", I joked to Kylie sitting in the next room that it musta been a holiday that day because the mailman didn't  come.  One other day we got just over 6" of snow outside and I told her the mailman musta took the day off due to weather because the mailbox on my desk was empty that day. 

In all seriousness, though, it was great to walk in to my office each morning and see what had been delivered.  Most days it was a little card with a hand-written message to start the morning, and occasionally instead of a card there was a thoughtful little gift inside.  Ridiculously sweet, right?



The next two images are of the cards Kylie made me along the way.  I told you she was crafty.  In fact, she's recenty started her own venture into small business by becoming a Stampin' Up demonstrator... which reminds me I'm supposed to get lost Saturday afternoon while she hosts her first party at the house. 




And finally here's my ghetto tabletop set-up I've been using whenever Kylie asks me to take a few photos of her creations.  Pretty elaborate, eh?  Don't attempt this at home unless you're trained in handling aluminum foil.  I used this set-up to take the images above using my Nikon D700 with an 85mm 1.4 lens set at ISO 1250 and a shutter speed at 1/80th of a second and an f/stop of 2.0 (f/4 on the top down shot of the cards above).  The 30" Lite Balance reflector I used is one I've had for a long time, and if you're interested you can find it here.



13





Remy - Newborn Photography
WHAT: Newborns   |   WHEN: February 15, 2010
Say 'hello' to Remy.  Francis and Debi are the proud parents of this charming little rookie, and he's just 4 days old in the photos below.  In fact, it was only a couple weeks ago that we did Debi's maternity session.  Hard to believe how fast this year is already flying by.  

This handsome little guy was born with a cleft lip and palate, and I think it's pretty amazing that they can do surgery as early as 10 weeks from birth to cosmetically reconstruct everything.  For our session, he was a rock star as far as newborns go... not to mention very accommodating; it was 45 minutes into our session before he decided it was time for an impromptu bathroom break, and I'm pretty sure that's a record for me when doing newborn sessions.  Could be that with the space heater nearby set at what felt like 140 degrees, he was just too toasty and comfortable to care about taking care of his bio business... at least for awhile.  I'm looking forward to photographing this guy another time or two as he continues to grow and change this year.  In the meantime, though, here's a few favorites of mine from our session.











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