Sun Flower Portrait

I had some fun over the past few weeks learning a new Photoshop technique to give a bit more of a 3 dimensional look to a simple image.  I’m be curious to hear what you think.

It is a pretty simple thing to do, now that I’ve done it once.  But, trying to figure out all the different layers and how to appropriately add the drop shadow to the flower was a learning experience.



The vacation is starting out with very nice weather.  Sunny conditions with a high in the mid 60s.  Since we are expecting rain tomorrow, we decided to take a bus over to the north of Victoria to a famous place called Buchart Gardens. This is a very popular place to see in this part of the world and was well worth the trip.

Some of the flowers were simply amazing to see.  But some of them had personality, in-particular, this one which was about the happiest flower I’ve ever seen.

Later in the afternoon after we returned to our boat, we became better acquainted with a man on the next dock from us.  David (Australian), was the skipper of a very ocean worthy North Winds 58 foot sloop.  It was a beautiful vessel, sporting a dark blue hull and a mast that reached for the clouds.  After much conversation with David, it was discovered that he did some amazing racing, most notably the BOC, a single handed around the world race. He did this one and a half times. The half time was when he lost the keel from his boat after hitting a small “growler,” which is a small chunk of ice floating in the southern ocean off the coast of Antarctica.  When the keel finally fell off, his boat went upside down, at which time he took up residence in his life raft and waited for help to arrive.

He loved to talk about sailing, and my wife and I loved to join in.  He encouraged us to pursue sailing even more than we do now, but both of us are quite certain that we don’t have enough salt in our blood to do anything close to what he has done over the years.

I was recently hired to shoot a 50th anniversary celebration for a very nice couple.  It was amazing to see how many friends a couple of 70 year old people could have.  Not only that, these people knew how to have a great time with one another.  I could only hope that I’m as limber and spunky when I am their age.  🙂

The following is a photo of one of the table decorations.  It was taken with a fairly wide aperture (f3.2) on the lens which gave a very nice blurred background.  Some of the shapes in the background gave some interesting lines in the image as well, mimicking the curved shape of the glass.  I also added some dark vignetting to help draw the eyes to the main subject.

The detail of a wedding ceremony is truly amazing.  Let’s see, invitations to send, fancy clothes buy, renting the church, decorating the church, baking the cake…and the list goes on and on.  Today, my final shot in the “Retouching Wedding Photographs” series is all about the detail of the flowers.

This was the simplest one of the series to retouch as outlined below:

  • Increase the exposure ever so slightly
  • Add some vignetting to soften up the image and make it look a little “dreamy”

Weddings are a bit dreamy as you will notice when you watch the bride and groom look into each other’s eyes.  Looking back on my wedding day, I remember that feeling too.

Congratulations to Amanda and Will and I wish you the best as you start your married life together.

Experiencing Fall in the Idaho mountains is a great thing to do. There are many pretty sites to see as nature dies down for Winter. This photo is taken on my parent’s ranch just a few miles east of Boise. It is a fun to place to visit, allowing oneself to quiet the mind and enjoy the things nearby.

These daisies are normally fully yellow until they start to die in the fall, at which time they take on a new beauty with the darker colors on the petals.  It’s kind of like everything else, I guess.  We as people get older and change.  One form of beauty takes over the old, but the beauty remains.

When I took this particular photo, I opened up the lens to a very wide aperture to keep the background blurry. I also positioned myself so that the bright yellow of he petals would be contrasted against a dark background.



Lavender FieldsNear the center of San Juan Island is “Pelindaba Lavender Farm.” It is a fun place to visit and is open to the public. Not only are the views spectacular, but the aroma is very nice too.

We visited late in the day which gave some pretty nice shadows next to the plants.

There were so many good angles of the fields to shoot that it was hard to pick a favorite. Using a digital camera is nice because you can take as many pictures as you like and it doesn’t cost you any extra.

Here is a link to the the Pelindaba web page.


FlowersHere is another idea for you all to try. The original images was in full color.

Using Photoshop (other image editors can do the same thing), create a second layer of the image. Convert the bottom layer to black and white. Create a mask on the upper layer “hiding all” of the layer. You will now see a totally black and white image because your color layer is totally masked off. Using your editor, remove the mask from the area you want to have the color show through. This is what I did on one of the flowers.

Something else I did was to use the flash to take the image. Since the flowers were just a short distance from the wall, you can see a shadow of the flowers on the wall. I thought it gave what would normally have been a flat looking image some depth.

Keep shooting!

Olympus E-10, lens at 30mm (not sure the 35mm equiv), 1/125 at f2.8, ISO 80

Simple CompositionHere is a very simple photograph I took late last fall in the studio. Sometimes simple compositions turn out the best.

I used 2 Alien Bee studio lights, one for some good backlight and the other for a little fill light from the left front. Both lights were shot through grids to keep the light contained. The background was a roll of pure black seamless paper about 5 feet in back of the grass. Since the lights were shot through grids, I was able to keep the background pretty much totally black.

Experiment with your photography. Get out of any photography ruts you may be in. Try something simple. Enjoy.

Canon 20D, Canon 24-70 f2.8L at 44mm, 1/125 at f11, ISO 100