Wednesday, February 22

Have you ever been to that website? Well, you should go. :-) It's my photo page on Facebook, and where I post what I think is the best of my work, as well as previews from portrait sessions.

But wait, there's more!

I ordered the aforementioned photo packaging this morning, and I'm pretty excited about it. I still need to find the ribbon I want to pair with it, and I need to get started on designing my logo labels, but in the meanwhile there's a giveaway on the Facebook page!

Isn't that what all good bloggers do? Give away free things?

So here's how it works - visit the page, 'like' it, and post a note letting me know you're a new fan. That will qualify you for a random drawing for a free 8x10 print of your choice, all packaged pretty and delivered to your doorstep.

Easy, right? Just make sure you do it before midnight on Feb. 29. And guess what? If you also refer a friend who likes the page, you'll both be entered for the drawing, and yourself for the second time. So those of you who already 'like' the page can also get in on the fun.

Clear as mud? Can it get much easier? I'll see you over there!

Tuesday, February 21

The perfect snow

Sunday was one of those perfect days where the snow fell straight down all day long, light and fluffy without a breath of wind.

Fortunately for me, Sunday was also the day I'd scheduled to take some more photos of Edith and her two Bassets - Royal and Court. We met at 2 p.m. at a place just outside town, and spent an hour wrangling dogs for what we hoped would end up to be some great portrait shots.

I don't have final edits of any of the outdoor photos ready yet, but I was working on some of these from the barn loft earlier this morning. Because there was no wind we were able to open the south door of the loft to let in a flood of natural light, and it was perfect.

Whenever I get back from a shoot and review my photos, I'm very hard on them, and there are always things I would do better or differently, and I always learn something new to try next time. In this case, I was fortunate to have a second chance at the same location with almost the same subjects - the old dog Hank stayed home this time. I put my previous experience to work, and as a result I do love this second round much more than the first.

If I had a third chance, I would do more shots like the ones above, with Edith interacting with her dogs, rather than everybody smiling for the camera. The whole point of these photos is that these are dogs she's had for years, and she has a special relationship with them, so I like the more casual shots.

I've used my new actions a little bit on these photos, but I'm still becoming familiar with them, and most of them are a little much for the style I'm going for with this setting.

I also used my new 50 mm lens a little bit with this shoot, and I really liked how it did. The one thing I learned, though, was that I needed to set my aperture a little higher, because the area of focus was a little narrow for three subjects - it would focus perfectly on Edith's face, but the dogs would be blurry, for example.

Just when I start to figure out how to make aperture work for me, I got on a rabbit trail of photo blogs this morning, with very technical tutorials, and realized how much more I have to learn....

In addition to learning the new lens and actions, I will also add packaging to my photography in the near future. I'd like to have an extra touch when I deliver prints or CDs of my photos, and simple but classy packaging is just what I need. I am also going to look into designing logo stickers and either printing them myself, if I can find the labels I want, or having a printing website do them for me.

A brown paper package tied up with rustic ribbon and sealed with a C} Images label would be just the ticket, don't you think?

Friday, February 17

New photo actions!

It was quite some time ago that I downloaded my first Photoshop actions - the two free sets that Pioneer Woman has available on her website.

Since then I've used them heavily, and gradually learned that actions are best applied like makeup - you want them to subtly enhance a photo, without being too gaudy and overdone. Also, they're best used in combination at varying levels.

After gaining a thorough understanding of PW's actions, I got the itch to add a few more to my collection. I tried downloading some free ones from random sites, but they just didn't cut it and I ended up deleting almost all of them.

So when I saw that My Four Hens Photography was offering a sale on her action collections, I decided to go for it - after all, I have some money in the bank from recent portrait sessions, so I decided to reinvest.

The photo at the top of this post is straight out of the camera, one of many from our Valentine's Day shoot. The photos below are just a few with actions applied - the set came with about 24 different ones.

Although the original photo is technically correct, and would have been good to go with a little lightening and a few tweaks, I like that added drama that actions add to a portrait.

I suppose the next step will be to learn to make my own actions, but for now I'm delighted to have a whole new set to work with, and to use in conjunction with PW's.

Right now a popular style of portraits is to be a little 'vintagey,' and that's what most of these actions do, and I'm ok with going along with the fad. I like it. :-)

I made this pillow for Levi from scrap fabric in my sewing room, and stuffed it with old t-shirts. Now that I made one for him, I might have to make one for each kid on their first Valentine's, and repeat the portrait sessions each year with individuals as well as the whole group of them. I think that would make for pretty cute Valentine's. :-)

I tell you what though, Levi is a willing model, at least so far. At this point he's not quite crawling yet, so I better get my portrait practice in before he starts moving, because we all have the feeling that once he starts moving he won't stop.

All the actions are just applied at 100 percent across the board on these photos, which I normally wouldn't do, but I ran them all at full strength just so I could see what they could do.

I'm excited to keep using them - I have another portrait session scheduled this Sunday, so it'll be a prime opportunity to use both my new camera lens and my new Photoshop actions.

Monday, February 13

Keeping track...

If I were Foxy, all I'd have to worry about is bounding through the grass on a sunny winter's day.

But I'm not. :-)

As usual, we're keeping busy with the many details of life. My birthday was over the weekend, and Scott and friend Jamie planned a very nice surprise party for me at Jamie's house. I also finished a sewing project, did some cleaning around the house and took a nap on the couch with Levi on Saturday morning.

It's obvious I don't take much time to relax when Scott asks me if I'm feeling ok when I lay on the couch. :-)

Aside from that, the paper continues to be a full workload, as we're into the weeks of more pages because of increased advertising for the customary spring bull sales.

And, Scott and I have a meeting set up with FSA today to put things in motion for financing for the purchase of either land or livestock. In addition to FSA, we're putting ourselves in position for further education on ranch financing and management, so there are several courses throughout 2012 that will keep us busy with continuing education.

I figure that I bought the house and got married in 2010, had Levi in 2011, so we had to do something red-letter for 2012, right?

I also bought a new 'Nifty Fifty' 50 mm camera lens with my birthday money, so I'm excited to get to know it and get some photos with the new addition. :-)

So that's the quick update. Hope your year is going well so far!