May 31, 2009

God is Good.

Tallie 251

Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD.

Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forever.

From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised.

The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.

Who is like the LORD our God, Who is enthroned on high,

Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,

To make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people.

He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 113

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May 28, 2009

Unapologetically JPG

(maybe I should whisper that. JPG vs. RAW is a hot topic in photographic circles). Here are some excerpted thoughts I put forth in a question/answer dialogue back in January at I Heart Faces.)

JPG vs. RAW is almost as big a discussion as Free Will vs. Election.

Ok, not really. But, almost. [grin]

Entire volumes (I'm not kidding) have been written about the merits of RAW vs. the merits of JPG.

I've chosen to continue shooting JPG. Though I have experimented a couple times with RAW. Here's the deal with RAW - it's like an insurance policy. If you screw up the exposure, you've got a "backup policy" that will let you recover some of your losses. RAW will let you tweak up to, like, 4 stops of exposure. In JPG you can probably only tweak half that. RAW also allows you greater ability to post-process in terms of recovering detail and taking control of every aspect of color. In simple terms, RAW absolutely lets you tweak more than JPG does.

The down side of RAW: the files are HUGE. They take a ton of time to download and extra time up front to bring to a viewable level (they're very "flat" sooc). They also take up a ton of hard drive space. For me, the biggest down side was all the extra time required to download & process.

Plus, for me, I don't think my "style" is ever going to be one of ultra-processing-snazzy-tweaking-artistry. So I don't need the extra tweakability that RAW provides. I want to take a good, classic photo that will be as appealing 10-20-30 years from now as it is now. And I really want to learn to expose properly, and not to depend so strongly on RAW to save me. So, for me and my vision of what I want my style to be, RAW isn't a hardcore necessity.

That said, if I'm on a shoot, and the lighting conditions are really tough (ie. like bright sun & harsh shadows combined with rapidly changing lighting conditions), I might go ahead and switch into jpg + raw shooting mode. Just in case.

Which brings me to the only advice I've got to share re: you possibly transferring over. Try it and see if you like it. :-) I know, I'm, like, soooo knowledgeable and helpful. ;-)

But, truly, check your camera manual. Your camera more than likely allows you to shoot in JPG + RAW. Take a bunch of practice pictures. Make sure you really screw some of them up. Then open up the JPGs & RAWs side by side. Compare. Process. See what RAW will allow you to do. See if the greater tweakability is worth the extra time/space for you.

For what it's worth - there are highly paid pros who shoot ONLY jpg. And there are highly paid pros who would never consider NOT shooting in RAW. It seems a very personal decision with valid arguments/rationales on both sides.

coastal road trip

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May 26, 2009

Yearbook Woes and Why I Love Lightroom SOOOO Much...

Warning: I'm about to use a whole bunch of words. And they'll probably sound whine-y. If you just want to get to the punch line -- why I love LR soooo much -- just skim right over all my blah-blah-yada-yada-yada-blah-blah and go straight to the end.

So, here was my process to create Middle Dude's School's Yearbook (and I surely hope to skip some of these steps next year!)...

1. Take LOTS of pictures. Collect pictures from teachers/students/parents.
2. Pull all pictures into Lightroom. Key word tag by grade, activity, etc.
3. Pick usable images. Edit EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM (yes, even the head shots supplied by the portrait photographer).
4. Export every usable image.
5. Pull exported images into Fotofusion to design each page according to specs supplied by company who will be printing the yearbook.
6. Export designed page.
7. Import designed page back into Lightroom.
8. December - Mac computer crashed. I panic and lose sleep. Big Dude saves the day ... and the data.
9. Get everything up and running on new computer. School pictures now reside in two different LR catalogs. For this year, I'm just resolved to do a bunch of jumping in between catalogs.
10. I resolve to regularly back up everything to house network/drive and export full-res files to Flickr also.
10. Export low-res copies of all pages & email to school to get clearance.
12. Upon completion of design, I renamed each file according to the printer's requirements; exported to a brand new folder; imported to Photoshop to convert each 300 dpi jpg to a pdf (a requirement by the printer), which I might add, made each file H.U.G.E.
12. Then I knocked my head against a wall trying to figure out how to upload to said printer using their ftp uploader. Wanna know how long it took to upload 42 pdf pages? 16.5 hours! Crippled my internet.
13. Sigh a huge sigh of relief when upload is done and yearbook is out of my hands.

Til this afternoon when the printer emailed that my measurements were all wrong for full bleed (remember, I was using their specs that I downloaded back in Sept). And they no longer needed crop marks, so I should remove those (I won't even tell you how long it took me to figure out how to include them in Fotofusion in the first place ... and yes, they were recommended by the printer back in Sept. but no longer due to new printing process). And, oh yeah, my pdfs were too large and were shutting down their computer, so I needed to reduce the size.

Now, please don't think I'm complaining about the printer. I'm actually quite grateful that they were so careful with my project and didn't just go ahead and print the whole thing as is, cutting off images.

But. I won't lie and say this little "hiccup" didn't make me want to vomit. I was picturing in my head redo-ing all these steps, and having to recreate from scratch some of the Fotofusion-layer-pages that got lost in the December computer snafoo. Having to move all these darn files back thru Fotofusion & LR & PS. ugh ugh UGH.

***Ok, here comes my LR rave...***

Long story short. Printer allowed me to send jpgs, not pdfs, to get smaller files. And LR saved the day on everything else. I resized ONE file and also cloned out the crop marks. I then copied those edits to the other 41 files with one click. PS does NOT let you do this. I LOVE LR. Upload to the printer only took 1.5 hours this time and didn't cripple my internet access like on Friday.

Sigh. I'm soooo NOT a techie. I just want to take pretty pictures. All this other hardware, software, stuff just makes my brain hurt. Oh yeah, and makes me feel very, very stoopid.

Ok, that's all. I'll now go back to being sparse with my words...

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Day Trip #3744

Wherein Big Dude drives and I take pictures out the window...



note: This last pic is for you, Lisa. :-)

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May 24, 2009

Earthen Vessels

earthen vessels 1

For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;
we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not despairing;
persecuted, but not forsaken,
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.

But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE," we also believe, therefore also we speak; knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

earthen vessels 2

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
while we look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen;
for the things which are seen are temporal,
but the things which are not seen are eternal.

For we know that if the earthy tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven; inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, Who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord -- for we walk by faith, not by sight -- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

2 Corinthians 4:6 - 5:9

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May 22, 2009


...because all this week's blogging time (and then some. and then some more.) has been spent finishing this little project for Middle Dude's school.

2009 yearbook

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May 18, 2009

Contest of the Week at I Heart Faces...

I'm pretty sure Amy & Angie rarely sleep. I think they stay up all night every night dreaming up new things to keep I Heart Faces fresh, surprising, generous, inspirational, and fun. This week is no exception. Go see what they're doing. And hey, even I get to participate for reals this week. :-)

which crop?  so hard to decide.

per requisite: I am submitting this photo into the Blurb Book photo contest. I am granting I ♥ Faces permission to use my photo in a printed version of a book for commercial use and possibly advertising of a photo book on both the Blurb and I ♥ Faces web sites.

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Dig It! :: Laguna Niguel Photographer, California

Middle Dude participated this weekend in his first production, Dig It! - a musical-comedy journey through Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. It was darling. And educational. And really, really cute. (oh, did I already say that?)





Middle Dude and all his schoolmates were awesome!

note: please excuse my blurring. I didn't want to presume that everyone is comfortable with their children's images being posted on the great wide internet.

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May 17, 2009

Lovingkindness, life, light ...


Thy lovingkindness,O LORD, extends to the heavens,
Thy faithfulness reaches to the skies.
They righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Thy judgments are like a great deep.
O LORD, Thou preservest man and beast.
How precious is Thy lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings.
They drink their fill of the abundance of Thy house;
And Thou dost give them to drink of the river of Thy delights.
For with Thee is the fountain of life;
In Thy light we see light.

Psalm 36:5-9

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May 16, 2009

Sometimes the best things in life are free...


And no, I don't mean the big, huge balloon that the grocery store gave to Littlest Dude for FREE this week. I mean what Littlest Dude DID and SAID ... he wrapped the balloon around himself, grinned and told me that he was my best Mother's Day gift. :-D

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May 15, 2009

Special Fix-it Friday

This week I Heart Faces has some of its guest judges back (including the rad-tastical Nate Kaiser of The Image is Found, whom I esteem greatly!!) to participate in Fix It Friday. It's always fun to see what a variety of different people will do in their photo processing. And, 'twas fun this week to "play" along with them and not have to keep notes of each step I was taking ;-).

I was super excited when Angie let us all play with her gorgeous picture of her daughter, Weslea. A picture, by the way, that she was intentionally trying to make bad. Really! And despite all her best efforts to be bad, she ended up with beautiful portraits that all take edits surprisingly well. I favored going with a very light, ethereal mood with this image. Here's what I came up with:

Friday Fixit Weslea

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May 14, 2009

Silhouette Sequel



silhouette sample sequel



I'd like to sum up the last couple posts with a maxim, a phrase from Plautus in the Mercator (that I found in an essay my 12yo son wrote this week!!!): "Happy is he who learns wisdom at another's cost."

And in the spirit of that maxim, I offer up to you my last photo with a list of dos and don'ts. Do: encourage your family to act like rockstars! Do: place your subject right against the light. Don't: forget to check your focus! Don't: fail to select a smaller aperture.

The Men in my Life.  :-)

Do: Remember that Silhouette Week is happening at I Heart Faces on May 25. Now, go shoot some silhouettes!

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Silhouette Tutorial ...

SIMULCAST!! I'm waxing on poetic over at I Heart Faces today. And I'm doing so during the same week that Pioneer Woman is judging. In some circles that makes us practically BFFs. Ok, perhaps it's more like we've just passed each other on a virtual sidewalk, smiled, and said "good morning." Anywhooo, here's the "simulcast" ...

silhouette post 500px

sil⋅hou⋅ette [sil-oo-et] –noun,
1. a two-dimensional representation of the outline of an object, as a cutout or configurational drawing, uniformly filled in with black, esp. a black-paper, miniature cutout of the outlines of a famous person's face.
2. a dark image outlined against a lighter background.

In photography, a silhouette is defined as an outlined shape that appears dark & without much discernible detail against a lighter/brighter background. This effect can be achieved with any kind of bright light source; of course, the most commonly used source is the sun, often around sunrise or sunset. The backlighting from the sun (or any bright background) shadows everything towards you. Your goal as the photographer is to expose correctly for the bright background, thus forcing everything else in the photo to be underexposed, producing, [tada!], the silhouette.

Ok, now that the requisite “technical” detail is out of the way, let’s move on to our less esoteric list of helpful hints.


Firstly, let me assure you that this is Easy. Really. Any child could do this. With any kind of camera. It’s truly as simple as pointing a fully automatic point and shoot camera straight at a bright sky and pressing the shutter. Truly. Cameras can practically do this with their eyes closed.


That said, here are some tips...

1. You have to TURN OFF YOUR FLASH. This is imperative.

2. Try using a smaller aperture (larger number) to increase the depth of field - this means you’re more likely to have a sharper foreground and background in your shots. A smaller aperture might also reward you with a sunburst effect if the sun is your bright light source.

3. About metering (if you're shooting in manual mode): if you're using spot or center weighted metering, you need to meter for the SKY, NOT the subject. Full evaluative metering should work fine all by itself.

4. Try placing your subject directly in front of the sun to cause a "glow" effect around your subject.

5. Be very intentional about placing as much of your subject as possible against the bright background. I'll show an example below of a picture I took that could have been much improved had I placed my son more fully against the sky, above the horizon.

Notice the difference between these two. I failed to get my youngest son fully against the light. But my oldest son is clearly profiled against the sky.

sunset park2sunset park6

Here's a picture that could have been a much stronger silhouette if I had changed my perspective, shot from closer to the ground, thus placing my men above the horizon:


Here's my attempt to place the sun slightly behind my son to get that lovely glow-y effect. If I had used a smaller aperture, I might have gotten a sunburst appearance.



So that's about it. My long-winded account (ironic, since I usually use words sparsely) of how to take a really quite simple picture. To sum up:

1. Find a bright light source.
2. Stick something in front of it.
3. Turn off your flash.
4. Press your shutter.
5. And, of course, be sure to share your favorite one with us all during Silhouette Week!


For more silhouette samples, feel free to drop by my Silhouette Sequel post on my blog. I promise I use almost no words. ;-)

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Susan Keller Photography

May 13, 2009

The Continuing Boys will be Boys series...

You do all know that boys will turn EVERYTHING into guns, right? Even if you have a gun-free, violence-free, peace & harmony household, your darling little, precious, innocent sons will know, somehow, seemingly by osmosis, how to chew their piece of toast into the silhouette of a gun. And they know how to shoot it.

On Sunday, Big Dude found an abandoned fishing pole at the beach and passed it off to Littlest Dude. The rest is history.

fishing pole & brett


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May 10, 2009

Laughter is the best medicine...

Head on over to I Heart Faces this week for a good dose! Pioneer Woman is da judge in the house this week.

laughter week ihf

As an I Heart Faces contributing photographer, I'm not eligible to win. But Big Dude is hoping Ree sees our pictures, falls in love with our family, and invites us out to the Ranch to ride some beautiful horses and share some sushi. ;-)

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The Best Mother's Day Gift

A photo with my boys!


... ALL my boys!


Photos credits to Big Dude and Nice Lady Walking by on Beach. :-)

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Perfect Peace

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

Trust in the LORD forever,
For in God, the LORD, is everlasting strength.

Isaiah 26:3-4

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May 8, 2009

The Bestest Workshop. Ever.

Ok. It's the only workshop I've ever attended. But it really was quite excellent. And I'm soooo glad I went. My only regret ... I somehow failed to get a photo of my friend Shelley and me together (nevermind the headshots we planned to take of each other. sigh.) There was just not a spare moment anywhere to be found during the daylight hours of this workshop. Which is a good thing. Not a wasted moment!








secret workshop models

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