Posts tagged ‘baby’

February 3, 2011

Lightroom, I love you.

She’s got lots of faces and I think they are all fascinating. I love her.

I also have a love for Adobe Lightroom that grows every day. Thanks to a quick and easy tutorial from Allison Torgesen Photography, I was able to create a few storyboard templates in Lightroom.

I love, love, love that I don’t I have to export the images to Photoshop Elements and mess with layers to make a simple storyboard. Each little block is safely watermarked and the look is simple and clean. Yummy.

I saved my jpeg to the same folder from today’s mini living room session and was able to run my regular blog publishing preset to create the perfect sized image for this post. And exporting the same image to Facebook at my husband’s request was only a click away too.



February 3, 2011

Pro or No? Choosing a Print Lab

Do you take a lot of pictures? Do they all live as virtual recluses on your hard drive? Too often these images get trapped on our hard drive in endlessly complicated files and folders. Honestly, when is the last time you looked back through those folders to revisit your images? Many of us don’t back-up our hard drives regularly, so we take a risk that we’ll lose all of our precious memories with an unlucky computer failure.

It’s time to pull the images, the best ones at least, out from hiding and give them a new life in the real world.

I enjoy the photographs hanging on my wall every day, especially the beautiful ones by local Albuquerque baby photographer Tammy Staley. Jerry and I hung her photographs of our precious baby girl in our hallway so we can appreciate them each time we walk through our house. Baby girl even likes to blow them kisses on her way to bed. (I hope she’s not becoming to narcissistic).

Now I’m taking more of my own photographs and spending time perfecting my images in Adobe Lightroom. I’ve been searching for a photo lab that would create the best prints of my images.

I sent test prints to a number of professional labs, and also a few common consumer labs for comparison. Because I chose to do my own color management rather than opting for each lab’s color correction, the images from the pro labs were almost indistinguishable. All the pro labs printed the images on Kodak Professional Endura Paper. This paper is relatively heavyweight and sturdy. Most labs also offered a luster finish on the prints. This finish gives a subtle texture for the print that helps protect them from smudges and finger prints. All of the pro labs closely match my screen images. (Please ignore the dust specks in the image below.)

scanned print from professional lab

Isn’t my niece gorgeous? I love those deep, dark eyes and her pouty cupid lips.

I also had my images printed by 3 consumer labs: Walgreens, Shutterfly, and Walmart. I don’t have much to say about Walmart’s print because they managed to lose my order. After navigating through the mess of our local superstore, waiting in line for service, and then being told to go home and try submitting it again after they’d sent me a text message to say my photo was ready to be picked up, I decided to not waste any more time.

Shutterfly’s print was not equal to the professional lab, but it was at the top of the consumer lab prints. Shuttefly prints on Fujifilm Crystal Archive Paper and I was able to select a matte finish that is similar to the luster finish offered by the professional labs. When uploading my images, I had to check each image I ordered separately to turn off their color correction services and it was really a pain in the rear. In the end, the print lacked some of the rich color seen on from the pro labs and I especially noticed the difference in my niece’s skin tones. And those are probably the most important colors in portraits, right? Can you see the slightly pale pallor? Not so pretty.

Shutterfly test print

Walgreens pick was my least favorite. Actually, let me take that back. At least they got the print to me. Their print was my second least favorite. I only had the option for a glossy print. I don’t like the glare on glossy prints. The no-name paper Walgreens uses is flimsier and cheaper in feel. The skin tones are closer to real life, but I noticed a too strong red tint in her hair.

Walgreens test print

If you’re looking for a place to print your next masterpiece, I definitely recommend trying a professional lab. If that’s not possible, Shutterfly would be my second recommendation.

PS I definitely recommend that you avoid scanning prints if at all possible. Each time you have to retranslate the image, you’ll lose some sharpness and detail and introduce the possibility of dust and funky color changes due to inaccurate color calibration.

February 1, 2011

Snow Day Excitement

Not even old enough for school yet…but she gets pretty excited for snow days!

Loved the effect of the window light for this picture. The snow covered ground was a fabulous light reflector. We stayed close to a large glass door and shot with a wide-open aperture. I set the exposure compensation up 2/3 stop and love how well-lit she is and how the background is so dark you don’t even have a hint of the mess that is my living room. For once, I didn’t have to play with the exposure in Lightroom (although I did touch up a few boogers and smooth out her dry skin).

By the way, that’s her new favorite word, “mess.” She’s mastered making them and pointing them out with an insistent repetition of “mess” that stops only when I clean it up for her. Then she quickly moves on to making another.

I’m so thankful the extra day to spend with my baby girl!

January 31, 2011

I Heart Faces Challenge: Best Face Photo in January

Here’s my entry for this week’s challenge at I Heart Faces. I love her eyelashes. They make me so jealous.  And the color in her lips and checks kill me.


January 29, 2011

Ready for College Already?

Jerry and I took the little girl on a walk around UNM’s campus this afternoon to enjoy the warm weather. I love the catch lights in her eyes as she claps with joy here. She definitely enjoys getting out of the house to stretch her legs.

When she discovered this bike rack, she couldn’t get enough of racing through the tunnel. I kept the camera’s focus mode in AI Focus (Artificial Intelligence Focus), but should have switched to Al Servo for more consistent tracking of her quick movements. Most of the time, the camera guessed right and the setting was much better than the One Shot focus I tried earlier in the day. One Shot is great for still subjects, because you can lock focus and then reframe your shot. But, One Shot is horrible for a constantly moving toddler–almost nothing was in focus on that setting.

Jerry had a tough job keeping up with her this afternoon as she ran in every direction. He was careful to take hold of her hand when we stopped to watch the ducks at the Duck Pond. I think if she had her way, she would have gone for a swim with them.

She had a blast looking for things to climb on and we had a time keeping her from falling down.

After more than 6 months of walking, she’s finally able to crawl without a gimp leg. She’s ready to travel the long road.

January 17, 2011

Yumminess 7 Ways

1. Sleeping in until almost 10 am. Thank you, baby girl.


2. It was too late for breakfast by the time we headed out the door, so we had a delicious lunch at Cafe Green in downtown Albuquerque. Hello gouda soup. It is very nice to meet you. I think we should become best friends. (Is it okay to eat new best friends?)

3. Off to a hike at the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area. Yummy view #1 was the mountain with its cloak of moody clouds.


4. View #2 is even more yummy. My handsome husband.


5. The sharpness of the cactus spines. Okay, so this is probably the least tasty of all today’s yummy things. They would probably hurt quite a bit going down my throat. But, I still think this picture is pretty yummy.


6. The spicy aroma as I made Chai Tea Concentrate. Thank you to thecatnipcat via Tasty Kitchen.




7. Afternoon tea. I love afternoon tea. I like afternoon tea at The Bonbonnerie. I love afternoon tea in English novels. I love afternoon tea at home.


January 15, 2011

Life is Messy, But Beautfiul

Somehow my daughter never seems to have a clean face. I hate trying to wrangle her into a still position to wipe her face and listen to her angry screams. Even my not-so-clean husband sometimes gets bothered by the ickiness before me. So, most of the time I let her run around with a food-slathered, somewhat crusty, dog-hair covered face. That sounds really gross. But, even really gross can be really beautiful.

I did some minor editing in Adobe Lightroom for this beauty. I changed the white balance to make the picture a touch warmer and softened her skin just a bit. I did not edit out the food on her face–she just wouldn’t be my daughter any longer if I did. If you look close enough, you might even be able to find a stray dog hair.

I’m loving how the pink in her shirt is picked up by the flowers on the silk pillowcase. Thanks mom for the gift from Singapore!

What’s messy but beautiful in your life?

January 11, 2011

Tutorial: Silhouettes in Adobe Photoshop Elements

Part 1: Extracting the Subject

I’ve seen silhouettes popping-up all over the place! I love the classic look that you can mix-up with modern backgrounds and colors to match your decor. Best part, it’s a quick and easy DIY project with no fancy scissor-wielding skills necessary.

It’s important to start with a clutter-free background for your picture. Ideally, your

subject will be backlight. You can expose for the background so that your subject appears dark. Of course, wrangling a 15-month old into just the right position is difficult. I settled for a profile shot of my baby girl with a solid background.

I imported my best profile shot into Adobe Photoshop Elements. Crop the image if your SOOC shot was not ideal. I needed to crop the corner of the futon out of my shot to simplify the image.

Then, open the Magic Extractor from the Image menu. The Magic Extractor isolates a subject from a background with a few simple steps. First, use the Foreground Brush tool to highlight your subject in red. You don’t have to fill the entire subject, just trace it roughly being sure not to go outside the lines. Did you know you only need kindergarten level color skills for this project?

Then, click on the Background Brush tool from the menu at the left. It looks like a highlighter with a negative sign. Click in several parts of the background to mark them with blue. Again, it’s not necessary to mark every portion. You can always refine the selection later if needed

Don’t worry if you’ve made a mistake. Click on the eraser to delete your foreground or background marks.

When you’ve marked the foreground and background, click the preview button to see the first rendering. Magically, the background disappears and most of your subject should be left on the screen. Now, you can refine the extraction. At this stage, I zoomed in to do some fine tuning, especially around her beautifully long eyelashes, hair fringe, and neckline.

As I worked, I found it helpful to switch back and forth between displaying the Selection Area and Original Photo using the drop down menu on the right.

When viewing the Selection Area, use the Add to or Remove from Selection tools to refine your selection. Changing the background to mask in the preview box helped me to see the isolated silhouette and identify areas that needed revision.

When you are satisfied with the extraction, click OK and the Magic Extractor window closes and your subject reappears in the Elements window on a transparent background.

At this point, you could simply add any background you choose to the image. Maybe my girl would like to visit the Eiffel Tower or relax on the beach? Nah, her new favorite activity is walking to the mail box and barking back to all the dogs along the way.

Next week, I’ll show you how to convert the extracted image to a silhouette for a more traditional application.

January 2, 2011

Sleeping Beauty

I spent most of yesterday playing around in Photoshop Elements 9 and Lightroom 3. These were probably my 2 favorite gifts after my camera and f1.4 50mm lens. Jerry seemed a bit disappointed that I spent so much time on the laptop, so I decided to spend some of my afternoon behind the lens.

Natalie’s peaceful face during her nap was too tempting. I waited until she had slept long enough, then snuck into her room, pulled up the roman shade and began snapping. She only stirred once and didn’t wake up until long after I left her to continue her peaceful rest.

Here are some of my favorites from this afternoon.

Thanks to Rita from The CoffeeShop Blog for her wonderful storyboard. This was my first attempt at using the clipping masks. I hit a couple of trouble spots in selecting the right pictures for each spot, but I think the end result is wonderful.

I also managed to sneak in a great naptime profile shot of Natalie that I plan to use for a silhouette later this week.

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