Sunday, July 20, 2008

Our first visitors at the new house

My husband's parents came today and brought their granddaughter, (and our niece) Colleen, with them. Most of you have seen her before, here in this picture I doctored up from Christmas last year. And the picture in this post, unfortunately, needed doctoring up today.
I am not a great photographer, by any stretch of the imagination. My camera is too much for me sometimes and I like things simple. I tend to get lazy and use the automatic settings more than I should, and the original SOOC of this picture (see below) is a prime example. I took it on the auto dial with the landscape setting. It was a bit shy of light under the eves of the barn and I should have gone to manual and used a different aperture. But pictures happen too fast for me sometimes and I tend to do the easiest thing and correct it later.
To me, this says that I am not a photographer, but rather a manipulator of the digital image, which is a much lesser standing than a real photographer, in my opinion. So when people say, "oh, you're such a good photographer" I quietly disagree. I may have a good eye, I will admit that, but I am nowhere where I'd like to be.
And so, I'd like to share how I shamelessly manipulated this cute shot of my soon-to-be ten year old niece, using Photoshop. And speaking of my niece, do you remember what it was like to be ten years old? I'd like to know. Because I do remember. And when I first moved here, I saw a tree that looked like the perfect climbing tree. It's right next to the house, and my sister Charlotte, upon arrival to visit me for the first time, noticed the same thing. It surprised me~ Oh, but I digress.
So here's how I made the picture you see below, the original straight-out-of-camera (SOOC), into the picture at the top of this post.
I opened it up in Photoshop and duplicated the image. That's the image I'll work with. I ran an adjustment on it called "shadow/highlight" and set it to about 35%. It's looking better at this point.
Then I ran two actions on it. First, I ran Pioneer Woman's Soft & Faded and lowered the opacity to about 75%. After that, I ran Totally Rad Actions Super Fun Happy with the opacity set at about 70%. This gave it a creamy finish for the skin tone.
Then my husband brought me a glass of wine. So this next part may get a little fuzzy. The picture was looking good at this point, but was still a little dark. So I did PW's Slight Lighten, lowering the opacity to 85%. Then I lightened both her teeth and the whites of her eyes. These are accomplished by using the lasso tool and drawing around the area you need lightened. Then choose Select>Feather and go to about 2. This slightly rounds out the area you're going to whiten. Go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation. For the teeth, choose Yellow in the edit screen and slide the Saturation bar down some. Then go to the edit screen again and choose Master and slide the Lightness bar up some.
Am I talking too much? I hope not.
The next thing I did was to make her eyes sparkle. I used PW's trick, and if you have Photoshop, this is such a simple trick to remember and use when you want to make someone's eyes pop a little bit.
I flattened all the layers at this point and was just about to call it a day. In fact, I had finished the picture at this point and loaded it into this post and still, I thought it was too dark. So I ran PW's Slight Lighten on it one more time and lowered the opacity to about 30%. Which means I should have it at 100% the first time I ran it.
I hope I haven't gone too fast for all this. And if you have Photoshop and want to download some free actions, please stop by Pioneer Woman's site and do so. They're great and they're free. Totally Rad also also has free actions to try out, but you'll only get 3 of them, so check them out as well.
Ok. Here's another question for you: Do you know of anywhere else to pick up free Photoshop Actions? And please, don't forget to let me know the burning answer to the question: Do you remember being 10 years old?


Shimmy Mom said...

I remember being 10. And I climbed trees too! I only had brothers so I could climb a tree and play cops and robbers as well as any boy in the neighborhood!

I think that having a good eye is the biggest part of photography. Either you have it or you don't. The rest can be learned, but the good eye is innate. So you are a good photographer, even if you have to tweek them every once in a while!


Rosezilla (Tracie Walker) said...

I remember being 10 - I LOVED being 10! I spent all summer riding my bike, swimming, climbing to the very top of tall trees, and when I did go in, I had a brand new baby brother to play with.

Country Girl said...

Being 10 was great, wasn't it?

Anonymous said...

I actually DO remember being 10. I was in the 5th grade and we were going to St. Joseph's school (in NJ). I loved school and loved my teacher (Bernadette, "Bernie", Rush- I can't believe I remembered her whole name). My two friends, Teri Richter and Terry Quinn we starting to be my best friends. These are great memories.........


Anonymous said...

OK, that's not "we starting" but "were starting" to be my best friends. My fingers move faster than my brain, go figure!


Anonymous said...

Actions! You can get some really, REALLY great ones from Totally Rad Actions ( They have a couple of free "samplers" that give you three or four new actions for no charge.

Ten years old... I was in fifth grade. I listened to a lot of Wham and Cyndi Lauper. I was in the process of BEGGING my Grandmother for a horse (I got one, but not for two more years).

Chocolate Cat said...

I do, it was easy, uncomplicated and it was fun! I still have one of the same best friends now as I had then.

Jo said...

Note to self - buy Photoshop. Wow!

Yes, I remember being ten years old. I remember being on a hike with my Brownie group, and I found a four-leaf clover. I picked it up, and I remembered thinking at the time, "I am going to remember this forever". For some strange reason it's one of my favorite memories. Life was simple then.

Anonymous said...

10-years-old? A time of no worries, staying out all night (or at least until the street lights came on), running through the backyards of the neighborhood with friends, playing hide and seek, listening for the ice cream truck, playing in the lawn sprinkler, "camping out" under the laundry on the clothesline, rolling down the hill, block parties, homemade ice cream, hot dogs on the grill, warm tomatoes from the garden, ultimate freedom while under the watchful eye of parents.

RiverPoet said...

I love what you did with the picture. It's great!

And yes, I remember what it was like to be 10 years old. Honestly? I wouldn't want to be there again.

Peace - D

dlyn said...

I feel the same way Kate - that my subjects deserve a better photographer than they get with me. Thanks the good Lord above for Paint Shop Pro, which I use cause I'm too cheap to spend what Photoshop costs. I think this shot came out very nicely.

And I do remember being 10 - we lived in town, in a neighborhood where I was the only girl. I was a tomboy though so I didn't care. And as girls at that age are usually ahead of the boys, they were glad to have me around to be on their various teams for baseball and basketball. Back then our parents didn't have to worry about something happening to us as much as parents do now so we left the house in the morning and stayed out all day except coming in for lunch.

Anonymous said...

Well - I have a lot of links for free photoshop stuff. Here's list to start with.

Most are free.

Debra (a/k/a Doris, Mimi) said...

I remember being 10 years old MUCH better than I can recall last week! I'll be 53 in less than a month. Life 43 years ago was less complicated, less polluted, less crime, less of everything, especially money. But we didn't care. My parents divorced before I was 5 years old and my Dad and his new family lived on a farm in Minnesota. I spent all my summers and school breaks with my Dad. After my Shetland pony passed away, my Dad bought a lovely Arabian-Quarter horse for me. Dusty was a barrel racer and lightening fast. I loved her immensely. Not only was Dusty my best friend, but she was my transportation to friends at neighboring farms. We swam in creeks, played flashlight tag in corn fields, had "knock out" contests tossing shucked corn cobs at chickens, had awesome tree forts in tall trees, rode cows for fun, and camped out in the back yard for days on end. Although I didn't appreciate my life at the time (what 10 year old does?), it was the most wonderful, amazing childhood!

Love your photography tips, Kate! Do you think I would be as good as you if I also had a glass of wine...or two, or three? Right now I'm rather partial to Pomegranate Martinis, but it hasn't helped my photography one bit :) I'm going to give a couple of your tips a try out. I am presently taking a 6-week course using Photoshop CS3. So far I've learned to lasso the head of a Chihuahua and replace it with Doughboy's head. thinks this would make a good blog post. Stay tuned...

Egghead said...

Great job on making that photo stand out. I do remember being 10. It was one of the best times of my childhood...making tree forts, swimming in our swimming hole, riding horses, sleeping outside under the stars with the neighbor kids and oh so many more fun things.

Anonymous said...

Kate, great job! Don't you love playing with pictures? I'll see if I can look up some of the free actions I have and send you links, okay?