September 30, 2009

Overexposure Can Be Your Friend...

Goal of this tutorial: 1. For those of you who are already exposing manually ... to encourage you to experiment with intentionally overexposing some of your images.
2. For those of you who are still exposing using "full auto" ... to encourage you to dust off your camera manuals and learn how to manually expose or use EV +1 +2 (exposure value adjustment) ... in order to encourage you to experiment with intentionally overexposing some of your images. :-)

Ok. First things first. If you're not shooting/exposing manually, I highly recommend that you play around and experiment with shooting manually (why not? you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain - it's the digital age - there are no high costs of developing to discourage you from making mistakes and learning from them!!). Or at the very least, you should learn how to choose EV +/- 1 or 2 when you want to override some "auto" choices. Dig out that camera manual. Read. Experiment. Toss the losers; keep the winners. Learn. Grow. Enjoy. :-)

And in the process of learning, be sure to experiment with overexposure. Intentionally "overexpose" an image and then peek at the results on the back of your camera. Read your histogram to see if you've lost too much important information. Don't know how to read your histogram? Awhile back our own Jodi at MCP Actions posted a really wonderful 3 part video tutorial by John Mireles on how to read/understand the histogram.

When is a good time to try overexposure? At the risk of sounding simplistic, any time you want to expose for faces when the light is behind your subject (back lighting) might be a good time to play around with overexposure.

Here is a series of photos (SOOC) that I took on our recent vacation. We were at a park early in the morning, so the sun was somewhat low to the horizon. I took this first photo of my youngest son *facing* the sun. Not so pretty! (ugly shadows, harsh lighting).


So I moved to the other side of him, putting the sun *behind* him (back lighting). I intentionally overexposed to compensate for the bright sky, knowing I would be blowing out sky detail and lighting. Guess what? I didn't overexpose *enough*. See how his face is still too dark? But you can see from the histogram that some of the detail is spilling off the right side (evidence of "blown" or lost detail). The parts that are showing as RED on the photo below are illuminating the parts of the image that are blown.

overexposure tutorial example 5-2

Here's the next image, where I overexposed even more than I did originally. Now my son's face is nicely illuminated, though I have lost quite a bit more detail. (by the way, did you know that many cameras have an info setting that will similarly show you blown areas? usually a white flashing lighted area...)

overexposure tutorial example 1

To give you an idea what your camera thinks is an ideal exposure ... Here's the first picture I took of my eldest son. It's slightly overexposed because I regularly-intentionally-slightly-overexpose everything (you can see the bulk of the detail is on the right side of the histogram), but there is little to no detail that is lost - see how none of the data spills off the right side of the histogram? And there's only a tiny bit of detail blown on the edge of his shirt. But. His face is not at all illuminated. So while it might be a "proper" exposure, it doesn't accomplish my goal of capturing my son's expression.

overexposure tutorial example 2

Here's another exposure example with my middle son. The first image is overexposed, but not *enough* overexposed. The second image is better/brighter exposed for his face.

overexposure tutorial example 3

overexposure tutorial example 4

You can see that I've lost a bit of "important" detail on his cheek. That's probably a photographic no-no, but it doesn't bother me too much (LR can recover some of that detail).

And now that I've shown all of you my soft underbelly of SOOC images (smirk), here's how one of my overexposed images "cleaned up" with a little help from LR and PS.


You can see the rest of my edited park pictures at my Orange County Portrait Photographer blog...

So I'm hoping that I've made a compelling case for why you might want to learn how to override occasionally (and maybe forever) the "proper" settings that your camera prefers.

Now go forth and overexpose a little ... or a lot! :-)

Btw...this post is also running today over at I Heart Faces, which is a great place to find all sorts of helpful tutorials. Be sure to head on over and peruse your way through them.

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Orange County Lifestyle Photography

September 29, 2009

My Favorite Lightroom Links

lightroom link snipit

It's no secret that I love Lightroom. So very much. This is my list of go-to sites for help and enlightenment. I'll try to keep it updated as I find new links, and I'll keep it linked inside my Photo Gear tab that's always easily available in my linkbar.

Amazing & vast collection of Lightroom video tutorials - FREE! (from Adobe)

Exporting Images (Helen Bradley) - the trickiest concept, I think, for newcomers to Lightroom to understand is exporting images. This is a fantastic link to explain exporting...

Extensive link list for using Mogrify to add watermarks and borders. (XEquals, Michael Gray) - LR is sadly lacking watermark support. Timothy Armes' plug-in fills in the gap.

Using Photoshop actions as droplets in LR. (The Lightroom Lab, Scott Rouse)

When/how to use Snapshots instead of Virtual Copies.(XEquals, Michael Gray)

Using a Graycard with LR Sync. - my own quickie tutorial on using the gray card to simply and quickly color correct a whole series of photos at once.

Sharpening. (DPS, Helen Bradley)

List of 8 great sites that list free presets. (Digital Photography School, Christine Dickson)

A plethora of plug-ins. (XEquals) - including all sorts of helpful exports to such places as Flickr, Costco, Wordpress & Blogger, Facebook, Smugmug, Gmail, etc.

Introduction to Lightroom Plug-ins (Lightroom Blog)

Web Module Galleries + ftp uploading (XEquals)

Step by Step Creating a Slideshow for the Web (Digital Photography School, Helen Bradley)

Favorite Lightroom Sites:

Lightroom Killer Tips (Matt Kloskowski) - tips, videos, free presets, upgrade/update announcements


Helen Bradley - Lightroom and Photoshop tips and techniques

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Orange County Baby Photographer

September 28, 2009





And while many of the "responsible" parents were encouraging their kiddos to stay OUT of the former wastewater/sewage recycled water ...


... I was the crazy lady who saw all that pretty water and flare and sunray and silhouette opportunity and BEGGED my own kiddos to come on out and play in the water. Pretty please!!!



Thanks, Dudes. I know it's not always easy being photographer's kids. ;-)

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Orange County Family Photographer

September 26, 2009

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth...


Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

"To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

Isaiah 40:21-28

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September 24, 2009

Fall Bokeh ...

The lovely MizBooshay posted a fun assignment over at Pioneer Woman Photography, and I'm joining in.

Fall here in my neck of the woods is not exactly traditional or spectacular. Palm trees just do NOT turn beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow (and if they do, it's not a good sign!!).

But here's a pretty evidence of fall. During spring and summer this wall is covered with a green vine. In the fall, it turns into a bunch of berries.


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Orange County Baby Photographer


My idea of P.E.:




Their idea of P.E.:

pe - boys_ style

The goal: to shoot the "dart" into Scooby's mouth.

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Orange County Child Photography

September 23, 2009

My Husband Loves Me

He really does. Just look at the proof from this week:

dumpster sunflowers

He brought me a whole, huge bunch of cheery sunflowers.
Just because he loves me.
Not just because he found them in a dumpster by his work.
For free.
Just waiting to be taken.
Nope. I'm pretty sure he brought them to me just because he loves me. ;-)

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Orange County Portrait Photographer

September 21, 2009

The Gray Card.

It's magic. Truly it is. It takes away color cast. With one click.

So here's the scoop: I had Littlest Dude stand in the shade and hold the gray card. He's a good gray-card-holder. :-) Upon opening the image in Lightroom and/or Photoshop, one click on the gray card (in the image) simply and quickly fixes any color cast. In Lightroom, I click on the white balance eye-dropper/sampler. In Photoshop, I click on the gray eye-dropper in the Curves box.

Observe the following before (SOOC) and afters (SOOC + click):

gray card 1

gray card 2

This next one shows 1. SOOC; 2. LR SOOC + click; 3. PS SOOC + my manual curves adjustment.

gray card 4

And here's where the beauty of Lightroom comes in ... if I take a series of pictures in the same place, I only have to 1. fix the first picture; 2. select the rest of the pictures (that don't have the gray card in them); and 3. click on "sync" to fix the rest with just one click. So fast. So efficient. Just one more reason to love Lightroom.

Before sync:
gray card 5

After sync:
gray card 6

And more good news: my gray card was free. And yours can be, too :-). Get thee to a home improvement superstore. My "gray card" is a Wilsonart Laminate sample: D90-60 North Sea.

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Orange County Family Photographer



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Orange County Family Photographer

September 20, 2009

Thy word I have treasured in my heart...

b&w daisies

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Thy word.
With all my heart I have sought Thee;
Do not let me wander from Thy commandments.
Thy word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against Thee.
Blessed art Thou, O LORD;
Teach me Thy statutes.
With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Thy mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Thy precepts,
And regard Thy ways.
I shall delight in Thy statutes;
I shall not forget Thy word.

Psalm 119:9-16

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September 19, 2009

A chip off ye old block...

Middle Dude brought my old camera along on our trip. Here's some of his documentation. Notice that fine self-portrait technique!

middle dude_s roadtrip pics

He was especially well-pleased with the story he felt he was telling with the following images. Please ignore my butt. Thankyouverymuch.




Such rebels we Kellers are. ;-)

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September 18, 2009

It's that time again.

Time to train for the Turkey Trot. The dudes quickly left me in their jogging dust.
Because I don't run. ;-)



So while they ran, I walked and simultaneously chased down some flare.




Look what Big Dude found. Ewwww. In all our canyon experiences, we've never seen one of these; which leads Big Dude to think that perhaps someone let their "pet" go. Double ewwwww.





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Laguna Niguel Portrait Photographer

September 16, 2009

Funky random things seen along the way...

... that I took pictures of, through the windows. 'Cause that's how I roll on our roadtrips. :-)

Pronunciation, please?

Very dramatic canyon that the interstate curves through, near AZ/UT border ...


I wish I could give you some better idea as to the sheer hugeness of this poster/banner (???). The silos were gigantic. The banner made them appear small in comparison.



How's this for a "room with a view?" (somewhere in Montana)




You know you're back in Cali when everything is all golden waves of really dry amber...




Water rights? Oh yeah, hot button in the valley. Signs like these seen all up and down Hwy 5. It's not pretty. Sad to see dead almond tree orchards. It's one thing to shut down a crop here and there; but, orchards, too? It's not like they can exactly be recovered when it finally rains again.


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