I am the world's worst secret keeper. Ask my husband how many times I have waited until Christmas or his birthday to give him his presents. (Never!) I can't stand the anticipation.

I have been waiting to post this session for 2 weeks and it has been killing me. It was definitely one of my favorite sessions of the year. They said they wanted funky and it was to be a Christmas surprise for Aaron (my BIL).

Here are 4 reasons why this session rocked:

* I about died when I saw L and N get out of their car. Funky layered goodness!
* We found a new awesome urban location.
* Hearing L and N say things like "look how the light hits that wall over there." Music to my ears!!
* Being beautiful doesn't hurt.

I love this picture of my nephew

Here is a short version of the slideshow I did for Aaron :


Squishy Cheeks

After reading a photography book yesterday, I set out to get this shot.

And ended up with this:

and this:

Most of the pictures looked like this. I TOLD you he was wiggly!

Park has been sick for a couple of days. Yesterday I was stroking his head and he said, "Don't PET me, I am NOT AN AMINAL!!" Today the fever is gone, but he is still raging with some sass.


Answers (part 2)

I hope to cover Chiemi and Cristi's questions in one post.

I just want to know how you get them (pictures) as vibrant and clear. What is your favorite editing tool to make your photo's so crisp?

Melissa's tips for getting great pics from start to finish: (are you ready?)

#1. Get a decent camera that gives you creative control. (allows you to select your aperture, shutter speed, ISO and focus points. I think the entry level Canons and Nikons are great. I have the Rebel and have finally outgrown it, but it has been a great learning camera.
Get a good lens! The kit lens is bad. Chuck it (or sell it on ebay). I never ever use mine. I would recommend getting a good prime lens like the 50mm1.8 or the 85mm.

#2. Turn off your flash. I never use my flash! I even have an attachable flash and I only use it when I absolutely have to. If you're shooting in low light bump up the ISO and shoot more wide open to get a good exposure.

#3. Get familiar with aperture and shutter speed. I'm going to assume you already know what aperture is and give you these tips: Try shooting more wide open (smaller number). The more wide open you are (4 and lower) the more bokeh, or background blur you get. Notice the blurry dots in the background? Bokeh!
Grasping Ap and shutter speed and shooting in manual is what finally pushed my pictures up to the level I wanted them to be.

#4. Use your auto focus points! I pick a focus point on every single shot. If the eyes are out of focus, the rest of the picture will look out of focus so focus on the eyes. Focus tends to drop a little behind your AF point so I try focusing in between the eyes.

#5. Find some open shade to shoot in. Great portraits can be shot in harsh light, but it's a lot harder to control- especially when you are just starting out.

Okay.. Now that we know how to get a great exposure, let's talk about post processing. There are 1 million different ways to go about using photoshop, and my method is just one way to go about it. These are things I do to almost every single picture.

#1. Shoot in RAW. Exposure issues are so much easier to fix in RAW.

#2. Remove any color casts using Color Balance Sliders. (Layers>New Adjustment Layer>Color Balance)

#3. Bump up the contrast. I use curves and form an S-curve. And I usually brighten my pictures a little using curves.

#4. Sharpen. Go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp mask. I usually do about 80-100% at .7-1.0 radius. This really varies depending on the picture.

**I do these four steps on almost every image and clean up any blemishes.

I hope this helps. Happy shooting! I have barely scratched the surface so if you have any questions that are more detailed, let me know!


Answers (part 1)

Tamara asked:
1. What is your favorite lens and why?

I love my 50mm 1.4 lens. It grabs focus quickly, and it's a good sharp lens. I like to work closely to my subjects, which is why I chose the 50mm over the 85. I have the 28-75mm 2.8 Tamron and I don't like it as much. I feel like mine hunts around for focus and tends to underexpose. I included the shooting info on my most recent session to show how often I shoot more open than 2.8. The 1.4 has saved my little fanny so many times!

2. Where do you focus?

I focus in between the eyes. If one eye is closer than the other, I focus on the closer eye. In a group shot I focus on the eyes of the closest person. Tamara- Maybe try testing out a different lens and see if it grabs focus a little better. I know my Tamron takes a little longer to focus.

3. What are your favorite color pop actions?
Usually all I do to pop my color is a contrast adjustment layer in curves, and occasionally a saturation bump. I have some actions, but I rarely use them. Bumping up my exposure helps to pop my color. Bumping up contrast when the picture is underexposed (or has color casts) makes the color (especially skin tones) really muddy. I have also used this method:

4. How do you get nice creamy skin tones?
This is a tough one! Color cast issues are my biggest problem when it comes to skin tone. If I find great light and get a good exposure, I rarely have any correcting to do. If I DO have a color cast, I open an adjustment layer and play around with color balance. My Canon tends to bump up blues, so it seems like I'm always bumping up the yellows and reds. I fixed the color cast in this picture with color balance.

I learned a great photoshop trick to even out skin tones, but it is kind of complicated. The online tutorial I found has been taken down. I would love to walk you through it if you'd like!

5. On average, how long does it take to edit a single image?
It takes me about 3-4 minutes to do a basic edit. I usually do a few plays and can get a little carried away doing that. I try and keep it pretty simple so editing isn't too overwhelming!


Harvey is Here!

Yesterday I was able to visit my friend, Tiff, and take pictures of her baby. (After I got over hating her for looking so good ONE WEEK post partum). Tiff was so natural in front of the camera, and Harv wasn't so bad either. ;) Enjoy the preview, Tiff. I am exercising restraint and refraining from texting you at 10:30!

*All pictures shot with natural light*

ISO 400, f/3.2, ss: 1/80
ISO: 800, f/1.8, ss: 1/250
I love doing newborn sessions in the baby's room with the mom. There is something so personal and sweet about it!
ISO 400, f/2.5, ss: 1/160
ISO 400, f/2.5, ss: 1/60 ISO 400, f/2.5, ss:1/125
ISO: 400, f/2.5, ss:1/160
ISO: 800, f/1.8, SS:1/160


T-Day Weekend

We had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I should say most of my family did. Park started getting THE cold (meaning the cold that almost everyone caught by the end of the week), and wore this expression all day.
Notice the snot on his nose and his sleeve? Niiice.
Poor Park. And poor family. I think he growled at everyone at least once.

The rest of us enjoyed good food.

And a football game:

I love that my husband is taking my nephew out in the background for no apparent reason

The nephews "being tough."

I'll take a week of being sick if it means I get to hang out with these cool people I happen to be related to.

I hope your Turkey day was fabulous!


Conversations with a 3 yr. old

Parker (gets out of bed 20 minutes after we put him down): Moooom!

Me: Get back in bed, Park.

Parker: But Moooom, I need to tell you sumping.

Me: What, bud?

Parker: My pillow smells NASTY!

Me: What?? What does it smell like?

Parker: (long pause) It smells like...... It smells like....

Daddy's..... BREATH!


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