Wednesday, September 10, 2008


NO TEARS AT ALL at school today. None. She went in with such a brave face and was so happy when we picked her up. In fact, when we got there, she had to wait a few minutes to come to us and she still didn't cry. They went on the playground, went to music, and played with sand. She had a great day. I am SO proud. I couldn't be happier. What a big girl.

Today I was missing my baby when she was at school, so I went and stole (okay not really stole) Steve and Christy's baby, Ava. She is now 2.5 weeks old and has already changed so much. Christy had just fed her and wanted to take a shower, so I insisted she came to my house for a bit. We are neighbors, in case you didn't know. Sweet baby girl was such a trooper because what do you think the first thing I did when she got to my house was? Started taking pictures. It was so fun and I think a few of these really turned out well. I could seriously snuggle with this girl all day long. She is so good. Does anyone recognize this hat???

My personal favorite - she is whistling for her daddy, who is very musically talented.
Sweet Baby Ava
She already smiles all of the time.
Times up. My watch says its time for you to hold me again!
Here is my very sleepy school girl.
Tired School Girl

I am kind of embarrassed to even be answering photography questions because I am still learning and I have a few real photographer friends who read blog who I aspire to be more like. I want to be able to have pictures like this and this. Someday, maybe. Here are the questions I got in the last post.

How do you focus on a subject and get the background blurred out?

This is not a photoshop question, it is based on the camera and lens. I now shoot with a Nikon D200. I used a D40 for about a year, and sold that one and got a new one. The blurred background has to do with the depth of field, which from what I know is determined by your apenture setting. Different lenses have different ranges of apenture settings. My new 50 mm lens can get as low as f1.8, which is great for low light settings. It also goes up to f22, which is best for outside in bright light and wanting every single thing in crisp, sharp focus. The apenture controls how much light is coming into your lens. It works opposite of what you would expect it to, but a low number, like f1.8 lets in the most light. It opens your lens wide up. If you have a small number for your apenture setting, like f1.8, you will get a shallow depth of field. This means, whatever is closest to your lens will be in focus and the background will be blurred out. As the apenture number rises, more and more will be able to be in focus. If you want your entire field in focus you need a higher numbered f stop. If you have no knowledge of your camera or the different settings, this is going to be of very little help to you. I am terrible at explaining things. I always understand perfectly what I am trying to say, but am not sure that others do.

I just want to know if you do anything "special" to get your b and w's looking so great and what do you do to get that "vintage" look?
This was my biggest frustration when I started playing with my pictures. I HATED my black and whites. After reading a lot of other blogs, websites, and books about editing, I figured a few things out. First, Christina at Momology taught me that in order to get a good black and white picture, make it first look really great in color. For instance, I will boost the colors, sharpen, and adjust lighting or whatever else I need to do. Then I turn the picture to black and white using gradient map on Elements. After it is changed, I almost always add a photo filter of sepia to it on a low density. Then I also go under the Enhance menu and adjust the color variations. If you are new to Elements or Photoshop, you are going to have to have a working understanding of layers. Again, there are great books out there for this and great websites. You have to understand layers to make any picture work in photoshop. Anway, once I add the color variations, I go to that layer and turn the opacity way down, like around 15%.

I love vintage looking pictures. Go to the hue/saturation layer and bump the saturation way down. This will make the picture still have color, but it will be very faded. I usually will go under the Enhancement menu-Lighting-Brightness Contrast and bump up both the brightness and the contrast. I hope this helps some. Again, I apologize for not being very good at explaining things. Check out this website for lots of great editing tips.

I can not find/figure out how to do the shadowing around the entire picture (like on the 2nd picture of lucy on this post). i can do the dropshadow but it is just on the right and bottom. if you just point me to the right page number.
This is called adding a vignette to a picture. The page number in The Photoshop Elements 6 Book for Digital Photographers is pages 305-307.

Do you just have a "natural eye" or did you take a class about photography?
I have never taken a class, but I am looking into taking some. I just want to know more. I think that developing an eye comes along with taking more and more pictures. You start to see things differently and the more pictures you take, the more you see things in a more appealing way.

How do you change the color tones of the picture?
I almost always boost the colors in my pictures. I do this different blend modes or bumping up the saturation in the picture. I prefer bright color pictures, for the most part. I almost always add two additional layers and set one on Soft Light and the other on Screen. You will have to turn the screen layer way down most of the time with the opacity slider. Detailed versions of how to do these steps are on several websites, like the ones I listed above. I don't know how to save all of the screen shots and do all of that. I know this is not helpful at all. I am so sorry!

What lens do you use the most?
My favorite lens is my 50 mm. I just got a 18-200mm which is great, but the sharpness and clarity of the 50 mm is hard to beat. I can be in pretty low light situations and still not have to use a flash because it goes down to f1.8.

My photo question is how do you get rid of shadows that surround the outline of your subjects?
I am guessing that you are taking pictures with your flash, which will put the shadow around your entire subject. I NEVER shoot with my flash, so this does not happen in my pictures. Basically, I don't know how to get rid of it other than not allowing your cameras flash to fire.

This is all of the questions from the other day. I hope you go to the websites I pointed you in the direction of and search through them because they are WAY better at explaining things photography related than I am. There is so much great information there. I get very inspired by seeing and learning from other photographers.  I think that the best thing that I can do is to point you in the direction of those that I have learned from.  Also, just get on Flickr and start exploring.  There are AMAZING pictures on there and I love going to the Explore section and just checking things out.  Here are my favorites:
Christina at Momology
The Pioneer Woman Photography
Dolce Pics
The Land of K.A.
Shutter Sisters


melissa said...

what a beautiful baby and great pictures! so glad lucy is doing so well since the "incident" at the mall. maybe it was just a fluke? Thanks for the photoshop Q&A and the other sites!

Mom2J&I said...

Thank you Kelly. You were a lot more helpful than you think.
(And I'm so glad Miss Lucy is doing well in school.)
Your pic's of Ava are great (lovin the hat!)

Susan said...

I'm so proud that Lucy is enjoying school. I know you received some great advice from people, but the fact that you're a terrific mom -- who knows her child so well -- made all the difference, I'm sure. Congrats to you both!

The photos are extra sweet today. I could almost smell the freshly-bathed baby through them. Ahhhh!

Mab said...

Ava is the pictures. I know you enjoyed "stealing" her today! :)
Glad Lucy had such a GREAT day!

Nicki said...

YAY! I'm soooo glad Lucy loves school!!!!!!!!!!

And yes of course I recognize that hat!!!! Lucky Ava!!! Beautiful pics!!!! I'd love to hear more of what you think of the d200. I'm trying to decide between it and the d80 which are both the same price.

mika beth said...

Kelly, you are doing to awesome! You have learned so much so quickly! You do have a natural talent! I am sad that you are so good now, I wont get to take that sweet girl's pics anymore! I am so happy she is doing good in school. What a relief for you!

Jess and Paul said...

Great post and thank you for answering my questions...I can't wait to try out your suggestions! Have you ever thought of starting a photography blog? I know it would be time consuming, but I bet you would have a ton of followers.

Kate said...

Oh..all that baby goodness!!! How can you stand it?!!

Question: I've been considering upgrading my current camera (as soon as I save enough milk money!)--I currently have a D40. I've been looking at the D300. Do you think there is much difference between the 200 and the 300? I know the 300 is more expensive, so I'm trying to figure out if it will be worth it or just stick with a D80 or 200. Also, you mentioned you sold your D40. Where did you sell it and did you get a fair price?

If you don't mind, can you email me?


MKH said...

So happy about Lucy's day at school! That is a relief!
Thank you so much for the camera tips and the time you took to type all of that!
The pics today are absolutely beautiful. Megan

Jena said...

ok, I need to bookmark this post, I think it is going to come in handy....

I am so happy for you and Lucy- that is so awesome!!!

C-mon said...

Way to go Lucy!

Mom said...

Love my sleeping angel! LeeLee

Christina said...

I'm so thrilled that Lucy did well at school! What a little trooper, and what a proud Mama.

Ooooh, little Ava is a doll! So sweet, and your pictures are terrific! I want some newborns to cuddle and photograph...

You need to give yourself more credit - you did a great job answering the questions and obviously there are a lot of people out there that appreciate your talent! I understand how you feel, tho, as I too feel like I really don't know enough to be teaching anyone. I just make it up half the time. ;o) Thanks for the links!

S. said...

so happy and excited for you and Lucy! That is fantastic!