10.25.2012

Make a Card in Photoshop!

A few of my friends have photoshop elements, but aren't photographers, so they really don't use it enough to know the ins and outs of it.  One of the MANY, MANY things that PSE allows one to do is to create custom cards using photos (or not!).  The process is fairly straightforward, but it can be daunting if you've never done it, and without the knowledge of the little "extras," they can appear kind of flat. 
 
In no way am I pretending this is a fancy example, but it's just to get those of you who want to play around comfortable enough that you can start creating your own cards!
 
Wyatt's piano teacher rewarded him recently with a carton of ice cream and sugar cones, so a "thank you" card is in order...here's how it was done:
 
1.  Open a "new" file in Photoshop.  I typically know what size I'm going to print it (in this case, 4x6) so I format the size of the file accordingly and set the resolution at around 200 (so it doesn't pixelate on edges of the shapes).  Also open any photo(s) you plan to use in the card.
 
2.  Next, I hop over to the tab where I usually see all of my effects and actions, and select "CONTENT."  You can use that little drop down to further filter (by color, season, activity, etc), or you can click one of the little icons to filter by type (backgrounds, frames, shapes, etc).
Since this is for a piano teacher, I picked a sheet music background...double click, and voila!
 
3.  Next, I wanted to create a window for the photo I chose.  On the left hand margin, I selected the shape tool (looks like a heart, but if yours looks like an ellipse or rectangle, right click it, then pick the heart from the pop-out menu).  Once you select the shape tool, the shape tool bar appears at the top of your screen (see photo below).
Click the drop down and scroll through the shapes until you've found one you like.  Once you've selected your shape, simply click and drag the shape onto your background.  You can resize or reshape it by selecting the "move" tool (looks like a 4-way arrow) from your tool box on the left margin.   
 
I selected two shapes:  one large rectangular shape to be my picture window, and one elliptical shape to serve as a plaque for text.
 
Let's say that you're NOT using a photo for a particular shape...
Photoshop's default foreground/background is white on black.  If you click on the top box (foreground), you can select any color from the little pop-up box, and THAT will be the color of the shape you make. 
If you want to reset it to default, click the teeny tiny boxes at the bottom left of the boxes...the double arrow swaps them, in case you're wondering.
 
 4.  Once you've made your shape, you might want to add dimension to it.  Reselect the shape tool, and make sure that the shape-you-want-to-work-on's layer is highlighted in the layer box on the bottom right hand side of your screen (that shape's box will be black, while the rest are gray).
With that shape highlighted, go to the top toolbar on your screen and click the style drop-down box.  From here, you can add bevels, shadows, glows, patterns, etc to that shape!  The teeny double arrowhead on the right corner will pop out another list of options so that you can layer. 
I added a bevel and a drop shadow.
 
5.  Now that your shape is all 3-D and junk, you can do the fun part:  add text or a photo!  To add a photo, highlight that shape in the layer box, then, click and drag the photo of choice from the open files at the bottom of your page (remember that one you opened right after you created a new file in step 1?).  It'll be all the wrong size and in a totally idiotic place, so you'll have to resize and move it.  Select the MOVE tool from your toolbox and work with it until it's the right size, then move it directly over your shape.  Next, click the little green check mark that pops up to signify that you like that placement.  Now, to set the photo to the new shape, hit CTRL + G.  Voila!  If you need to move it around again, just highlight the photo layer in the layer box, select the move tool, and nudge it until you like it.
 
 Although usually my insistence on "eye-balling" everything works out just fine, it was obvious that I didn't have anything centered, and it was bothering me.  If you need help lining stuff up, go to VIEW and click GRID.  It'll give you a nice little grid to measure off of, and you can turn it off the same way when you're done with it.
 
6.  Next, I wanted to add text to the ellipse shape.  Select the text tool from your toolbox (it's a capital "T") and choose the font, size, color, and any effects...bold, italic, centered, etc...from the toolbar at the top.  Click the cursor on the shape where you want your text.  DO NOT freak out if you can't see it...it's on the background, not the shape.  See...mine did it, too: 
 
What you've got to do is go over to the layer box and click the eyeball for that shape's layer to turn it off.  Now you'll see your text (sometimes, you have to turn off two or three layers if you've gotten really ambitious!).  Right click your text and select "bring forward" or "bring to front" depending upon your situation...in this case, bring to front.  Then click the shape layer's eyeball again to turn it back on! 
 
7.  I was feeling all artsy-fartsy, so I used the shape tool again to add little music notes and base/treble clefs to the card as well...I just reset the foreground to black first, then I used the move tool to place them.
 
Like I said, this is a very simple example.  You can go all crazy, layering shapes and textures and adding banners, yada yada yada.  At least now you know how to get started!


9.20.2012

Rock the Shot Photo Challenge:: Pets

Whenever I see pet photo contests, I'm usually pretty bummed because we have no furry little critters for me to photograph.  We tried the whole dog thing last year, and it was a debacle of great proportions.  My hubby hates cats, and I don't want to deal with the STINK that comes with rodents or reptiles.  One day, while wasting time after church, the three of us ran into a pet store "just to look."  Twenty dollars later, we were on our way home with these guys and all of their get-up.
 
Wyatt calls them Sponge Bob and Patrick, but we all know that after two days, they became MY fish, so I renamed them:  GOP and DNC.
 
 
 
To get this shot:
I set this up perpendicular to my front window, which lets in lots of natural light.
I set the clear tank on top of a book covered with a white piece of printer paper, and put my white reflector behind it as a backdrop (you could use poster board).
I used a stack of books to sit my camera on (my tripod was too tall).
My camera settings:
50mm 1.4 lens
Spot metering (my focal point was on the center divider)
f/2.5 (+1 stop on the exposure meter)
1/160 sec shutter speed
ISO 100
Auto white balance
My SOOC was decent, but I adjusted the color, sharpness, brightness and levels in photoshop, then cropped it. 

                                                                 

7.05.2012

4.25.2012

Rock The Shot Photo Challenge:: Water

Hello.  I'm Cindy, and I'm a pinterest-aholic.  When I see the "everything" link on the home page, it's like an invitation to spend hours drooling over photography poses, decorating ideas for houses I'll never live in, links to tutorials, clothes I can't afford, crafts I'll never get to...I know I'm in good company, so I needn't go on.

Anyhoo, I've seen many of these reflection shots...usually of couples...and I've been itching to try it out.  Problem is, Oklahoma has been suffering a drought for a little over a year, and though we've had some hefty rainfalls in the last couple of weeks, puddles are sort of hard to come by.  For a recent shoot, I was way early, so while I was waiting for my client family, I took a stroll and found me an epic puddle!  Bonus:  it was in the shade, and there was no wind!  As soon as they pulled up, I drug them across the street and got the shot!    The littlest guy wasn't quite sure about me yet, so we settled on a traditional pose, but now that I know I can do this, I'm so going to experiment...if I can find the puddles!



4.19.2012

Wyatt is Growing UP

I haven't written a blog post about nothing but me and the boy in awhile, so here goes.
Yesterday I met a new friend at one of my favorite photo locations: Gilcrease Museum.  We both packed picnic lunches for us and our kids, and she brought along her mom and two girls.  Since her youngest is about to celebrate her first birthday, I took portraits of the girls while we were exploring nature. 
After the picnic and photo session, my friend and her family left, but Wyatt and I stuck around for a little while to do a little mini session of our own.

Here he is, having climbed atop a giant boulder.  He was pretty proud of himself, and kept yelling, "take my picture, Mommy!!!"  Any of you with an eye for detail, please know that his closet is brimming with a plethora of t-shirt choices.  And he wears them all.  Somehow, this is always the one he's wearing when I decide to take his pictures.  It's his picture-taking shirt, I guess.

 Okay, I have to admit I forced this pose on him...at first he was planking with his arms behind him, pretending to be a whale.  I pulled his little hands up under his chin and begged for a smile.  I took a few shots of his "dead in the eyes" look...you know, the one most photog moms get when they ask their kids to look at the camera and smile.  When I could see he was going to be a turd, I started telling corny jokes.  Got him.

Can you believe this pose?  LOL!  What am I going to do with this kid?

This is pure Wyatt.  A real, unprompted smile.  That little glimmer of wonder in his eyes that I always see, but rarely catch on camera.  Plus, you can see hints of the freckles that are starting to pop up on his face.  Oh my, I love this.

Gosh.  Here he is being all grown up again.  I wish he would stop that and go back to being my tiny baby boy.  How have five years gone by?  He is a real person!  This is not happening!

He tripped on the deck of the gazebo and got a whopper of a splinter in the tip of his pointer finger.  If you have never seen Wyatt when he's injured, I should tell you:  the splinter remains in his finger.  I have only been able to look at it from 10 feet away with my arms behind my back while swearing that I won't even imagine touching it.  Wyatt does not like to be physically comforted when he gets hurt, nor does he allow you to tend to his wounds without a psychotic episode.  A lot of festerin' goes on in this house.

Being serious.  Way too serious.  Moments after this photo, we found a little ring neck snake, and it was all I could do to keep him from chasing it down and taking it home with us.  Later in the day, when I asked him what his favorite part of the day was, he excitedly reported finding the snake as the best moment.  Wanna know what my favorite part of the day was...?  Every second of it.

Tutorial Tuesday:: Low Key Photography

Anyone else loving Tutorial Tuesdays as much as I am?  This week's prompt of low-key was the inspiration I needed to finally capture a scene that I get all giddy about every single night.  Low key means that there is only one light source illuminating your subject in an otherwise unlit backdrop.  Pooh Bear can't sleep without his Tyke Lite.  I love and hate this thing...it's a portable nightlight, which is awesome, but it devours batteries at an alarming rate.  We use rechargeables thankfully, but I seem to have to change them every other day.  Anyhoo...that's neither here nor there...sorry for the rambling.

Every night, before I go to bed, I do my final check on Wyatt to make sure he's not dangling from the bed, sleeping on the floor, in between the bed and the wall...all true stories...and this is exactly what I see.  His darling little face, puffy little lips, cute button nose.  And yes, he really sleeps with his hands tucked under his face like a little cherub.  Almost makes me forget the insanity he puts me through during the daylight hours.  Almost.



I know this is tutorial Tuesday, so I'm obligated to tell you how I got this image.  That being said, please note that I had one shot.  The click of the mirror woke him up.  Oh well, I love it anyway.

1.  I set up my camera on the tripod at bed level before I even entered the room and attached my camera.
2.  I took a guess at the settings I'd need...I did okay, but I wish I'd been able to take a few more.  I set the ISO to 1600 since it was literally pitch black in the room other than the Tyke Lite.  I opened the aperture to 1.8 (I used my 50mm) and set the shutter to 1/30. 
3.  I set the timer to take the pic so I wouldn't blur the image with handshake.
4.  I manually focused since the lens was not able to lock onto anything in the dark.
5.  I pressed the shutter and waited the 5 seconds to wake up and infuriate my little angel.
6.  In photoshop, all I did was brighten the image slightly and ran a noise reduction filter.


Tutorial Tuesday

4.11.2012

Tutorial Tuesday:: Double Exposure in Photoshop

I've been itching to play around with double exposures for some time now after seeing several intriguing images on pinterest.  While waiting on a client on location a week ago, I spotted a fantasic old Chrysler just begging to be photographed.  I took tons of shots from every angle possible, but I thought these two seemed to want to be married in a double exposure.


I loved this angle of the hood ornament.  Something about it just screamed for a rich, high contrast edit.  I got this effect by using a sharpening brush on the bird, then I created a new layer.  On the new layer, I ran a high pass filter, then applied it with a hard mix blending mode.  I was really in love with the effect, and I don't think I lowered the opacity much.  Lastly, I flattened & saved.

Here's my second image...a little more traditional editing.  The car was coated in a thick layer of pollen, and I wanted to bring that out.  I opened another layer and ran a high pass filter, this time using a soft light blending mode.  I also ran a sharpening action to the entire photo, leaving it at 100% opacity to bring out the sharp details in the lights and bumpers.  I used a black and white action to convert the image to black and white...I reduced the opacity on the desaturate layer a tad so that some of the greens of the car's paint and grass would subtly bleed through.  Finally, I flattened and saved.

Now for the double exposure:
I opened both images.  I wanted the hood ornament shot for my background, so I went to the front end photo, clicked CTRL + A to select the photo, then CTRL + C to copy the photo.  I then went back to the ornament photo and clicked Edit, Paste to paste the front end on top of the ornament.  This created a new adjustment layer.  I lowered the opacity to about 10%.  While the front end layer was selected, I created a layer mask and used a black brush to brush off the ghosted image of the front end from the bird and hood of the background image.  When I was happy with the image, I flattened and saved.

I seriously love this piece of art!  I'm going to print it and present it as a gift to the owner of the body shop who lets me use his property for my photo sessions!  This car is his, and he loves it.  I think this gives it a new life!


Tutorial Tuesday

4.08.2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

God has been giving me nature's softbox this week: lots of bright, yet cloudy days!  On one of our nature walks this week, I managed to get all but one of the prompts for this week's challenge!  The other I was blessed to capture while visiting with a dear friend while admiring her new daughter.

1.  New
Meet Sofia.  She was one week old in this photo.  Is she seriously not the most incredibly beautiful newborn ever?  Her Mama and I have been friends for ages, and I am beyond happy for her and her hubby!  Congrats, Muge and Andy! 
To see the rest of this photo session, which is my first lifestyle newborn session, head over to my photography blog, Cindy Kay Photography

2.  Life
Ah, spring.  A time full of new life.  Here is my sweet boy, helping to spread dandelion seeds all over creation so that they can sprout up new life all over someone else's lawn. 

3.  Fragrant
While exploring, we found this random patch of bright yellow wildflowers.  Admittedly, their aroma was not too appealing, but they were definitely fragrant nonetheless.

4.  Pink
I admire my neighbor's green thumb.  Her roses seem to bloom so effortlessly in nearly every hue under the sun.  I especially love these that are so crammed with petals!

5.  Obvious
Is it obvious that I wear my Toms almost non-stop?  Poor things.  They are faded, stained, raveling, smelly, and they're starting to get holes in the toes.  But I love them so.  I can deal with ugly, as long as they're always so cozy!


4.07.2012

Stacked Mexican Casserole

This meal requires two skillets and a casserole dish in the oven...but it's totally worth the dirty dishes because it is gooooooooood.  I adapted this recipe from one I found in Better Homes and Gardens last year.  I had to eliminate some carbs, so I use corn tortillas instead of flour, I omit the corn from the original recipe and replace it with red peppers, and I nix a final layer of tortillas on top.  Plus, I seasoned mine differently...so I guess you could say I just used their recipe as a jumping off point.

Here's what you need:
1-lb ground beef
1/2 can black beans, rinsed & drained (you can use more, I just needed low-carb)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet yellow pepper, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup green salsa
6-8 corn tortillas (depends upon size of your casserole dish)
1 cup shredded cheese, divided
salt & pepper
cumin
chili powder
cilantro (optional)
taco seasoning
ground red pepper
sour cream (optional, but you'll want it, trust me)
chopped tomatoes and black olives (optional, but so yummy)

Here's what you do:
1.  Preheat oven to 375. 
2.  In one skillet over medium heat, brown beef then drain.  Add beans until heated through.  Add cilantro if you're using it (however much you like...I like a lot).  Season to your taste with taco seasoning...I use it sparingly since the other mixture has so much seasoning in it...about a tsp is fine.  Also, you may add salt & pepper if you wish....just a dash.
3.  In another skillet at the same time (you can do it!), cook red and yellow peppers with onions and garlic until everything is nice and tender.  Add green salsa, about a tbsp of cumin, a tsp of chili powder, and as much or as little ground red pepper as you can stand.
4.  Spray the bottom of your casserole dish (I used a 2.5 quart sized dish).  Tear up a few corn tortillas and layer the bottom of the dish with them.  Add beef and bean mixture.  Top with an even layer of shredded cheese...about half a cup, more or less. 
5.  Add another layer of torn tortillas, then the pepper mixture.  Add the remaining cheese for an even layer (you have my permission to go beyond the prescribed one cup total...I did).
6.  Pop it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the cheese is all melty.  Mmmmm. 
7.  Serve with sour cream and chopped tomatoes and olives.  Try not to choke while you're shoveling it in.  Seriously.




4.03.2012

Paper Mama Photo Challenge:: Eyes

I love Wyatt's eyes.  When he was born, we thought he'd be a blue-eyed red head like me because they were literally navy blue.  But sometime around his first birthday, little streaks of brown and green started showing up, crowding out the blue entirely.  Now he's a little green-eyed goober like his Daddy.  His right eye even has a brown patch. 

Here he is, demonstrating his Blue Steel.  I love this photo so much, mostly because of how much his eyes stand out, but also because this pretty much sums up my kid.

The Paper Mama Photo Challenge

iHeartFaces Photo Challenge:: Happiness

Yesterday was just gorgeous.  The boy and I went with our MOPS group to Shepherd's Fold Ranch for an Easter egg hunt with all of his buddies.  The ranch serves as a campground for summer camps, and is absolutely rich with beauty and serenity.  After the egg hunt and a picnic lunch, a couple of us moms took the kids on a long nature walk.
Wyatt was thrilled!  For him, outdoors equals HAPPINESS!

Please forgive the high-noon harsh lighting...even still, this is such a sweet moment of my little guy...captures him perfectly!


Photo Challenge Submission

3.29.2012

Quarterly Top 5 Photos of Wyatt

With my photography business booming, I realized that I haven't taken nearly as many photos of Wyatt this quarter.  Whoops.  He is probably a little relieved to get a break from my camera in his face, though.  Even still, he will always be my favorite subject!

Here are my favorite five since January.


This may be one of my alltime favorite photos, ever.  Days before his fifth birthday, I needed a quick invite, and this idea had been swimming in my mind for months.  It turned out exactly as planned!

Currently my computer wallpaper because it makes me burst into laughter every time I see it.  What luck that we got a red mustache from the vending machine! 

Another funny one.  He accompanied me on a photo shoot, and I was playing around while we were waiting on the birthday girl to change outfits.  This is sooooo Wyatt. 

I promise I take photos of him making sweet, normal faces, too, but I love all of the expressions he makes.  And he makes more funny faces than normal ones, so hey, can you blame me for loving these? 

Such a goober.  This one makes me chuckle.  The boy was going to town, acting like a total lunatic.  See that mammoth sticker on his chest?  He had just gotten two immunizations, and I think it made him extra loopy. 


Click.Pray.Love.

Cake Batter Cookies

I'd like to apologize in advance for your future addiction to these cookies.  They're insanely delicious, and you can easily transform them into so many varieties, it's not even funny.  I got the original recipe from Jason's aunt Cember, and they've quickly become our little family's favorite.

Here's what you'll need:
1 stick butter, softened
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

1 box cake mix (any flavor you choose! This time, I used Funfetti)
1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar

Here's what you do:
1.  In a bowl, use a hand mixer to beat egg, cream cheese and butter until blended well.
2.  With a spoon, stir in cake mix.  Sometimes I've needed to hit it with the mixer to break up lumps, but don't overdo it.
3.  Refridgerate dough for about an hour, or until stiffened up a bit.
4.  Preheat oven to 350.
5.  Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll balls in bowl of powdered sugar to heavily coat.  Place sugared balls onto cookie sheet (I use parchment paper rather than grease).  Very slightly flatten balls with thumb or spoon...they spread out a tad when they bake.
6.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until they begin to set.
7.  Cool completely, then store covered in the fridge...if any survive the first few minutes out of the oven.
Yields about 3 dozen cookies.

The Funfetti ones seriously taste like raw cake batter...they are my absolute favorite!  Other variations include red velvet, carrot cake, chocolate, yellow cake...you name it!

3.20.2012

Counting Change

You do not realize the everyday skills you take completely for granted until you have to teach someone else how to do them.  My Wyatt has no concept of money at five years old.  I mean, he gets that a penny is one cent, a nickel five, and so on, but that the coins can be added together to make a larger amount, not so much.  Thanks to garage sales and vending machines, he does understand that two quarters equal 50 cents, but that's as far as it goes.

After a little brainstorming, I came up with this concept for counting change.  On a plain ol' piece of paper, I wrote out the numbers 1-110 in sets of 10.  To pound into his head the values of each coin, we put a nickel on every fifth number, a dime on every tenth, and a quarter on every twenty-fifth...we skipped the monotonous task of a penny on every number because he thankfully understood the gist of it.

After we played that "game" for awhile, I chose small, random fistfuls of coins to add up.  We started with the largest value and worked down to the smallest, but it will work any which way you choose.  We counted out the 25 cents for the quarter and placed it on its spot.  From there, we counted 10 spots for each of the two dimes and placed them on their corresponding numbers.  Then we did the same for the nickel and pennies.  The final penny landed on 52, therefore we have 52 cents. 

I know this really works best for small quantities, but I think it reinforces the general idea so that the munchkin can get the hang of it before moving up to bigger numbers.  Hey, it worked for Pooky!

3.15.2012

Monkey on the Loose!

The past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic.  Wyatt and I have been running all kinds of random errands and our days seem to be filled from dawn 'til dusk with activities.  Yesterday was no exception:  bible study, lunch, shopping for a birthday gift, doctor's office for immunizations, photo shoot at the park, and picking Daddy up from work. 

We arrived at the park about 20 minutes early, so I decided to use my little muse for my test shots while prepping for the photo session.  I don't know if it was the shots or what, but Wyatt was in a particularly hilarious state.  I seriously love this kid.

Note to my photog pals:  these are SOOC...I have plenty of editing on my plate today!

Here he is, taunting me by sending handfuls of sand down the slide.  Where I was standing, it was filling my shoes and sandblasting my shins as it exited the slide.  Ornery.

 His impersonation of a crab walking down the slide.  I am not making this stuff up.

One of the many, many tiny flowers he picked for me.  

 Taming a wild dolphin.

Scaling the giant slide.

I'm not sure I'm ready for him to look so grown up!  How is this my tiny baby?!  

His favorite:  the swings!