So this weeks challenge on Iheartfaces is pets.

osita's portrait

I don't know if you agree with me but I think that terrier's have old men faces so I wanted Osita's photo to look like an old chiarusco painting (like the paintings of the artist Caravaggio I once saw at the Smithsonian) with dark shadows and light shining on the face.  Osita is backlit slightly by the late afternoon sun above and behind her with a reflector on my right side only on her face (not her body).  

I would love to take this kind of portrait of an old man.  It's hard to ask old men, they are so self conscious about their age and what they can't do anymore.  I love them for the things they can do, like encouraging my children and loving them no matter what, for their stories, for loving their wives so dearly and for knowing how to do all kinds of things (today my dad told me how to make a baby bottle out of a coke bottle and a rubber glove...I lost all my grandpup's bottles and he was hungry!)  In case you didn't notice, I tend to digress alot...Hey!  Give me a break cuz' I'm an old mama dog!

See more cute pet photos from others trying out this challenge at Iheartfaces

Photography Terms to Learn from this Photo - Shallow Depth of Field (DOF)
Depth of Field or the acronym DOF is a description of how much of your photograph is in focus. A shallow depth of field simply means that one specific area of your photo is sharp while other elements are blurred.  A great use of DOF is to single out your subject while at the same time reducing the effect of distracting background.


So I like to use textures...

Fix It Friday/Iheartfaces.blogspot.com

I love how textures can take a boring photo and give it dimension and interest.  It's also an easy way to "scrapbook" a photo for giving away to the grandma's, aunties and friends.  Today on I heart faces, it's Fix-It Friday where we can edit a photo they give us however we like to make it a better photo.  It's so interesting to see how lots of people come up with different ways of editing.  Of course, many people crop the photo...they may give it a totally different angle and play around with the color or make it black and white. 

Fix-It Friday #60
before editing 

Because I knew I wanted to add a texture and lettering, I cropped it with those in mind.  (I am using Photoshop CS4 by the way)...I always make a couple duplicate layers and those are the ones I change so I always have the original to work with.  My daughter taught me a cool way to sharpen a photo and bring out the color, I just go to "filter" on a duplicate layer choose other/high pass usually set to around 30 and after that's done choose overlay/softlight/hardlight and decrease the opacity if needed.  I add the texture by making it a layer (copy/paste from a texture image) and choosing the overlay/softlight/hardlight thing the same as the filter I just described.  I then added the lettering.  On this photo I wanted the backround color to be more intense so I made another layer and erased the boy out of the photo (which was easy because of the light halo around him).  Then I just saturated the color and changed the hue a little.  It took me 10 or 15 minutes to do and it's lots of fun.

I have a collection of textures on flickr you might like to try (I used one from the Guadalajara textures I made from a trip to Mexico) and you can see them here:  Guadalajara Textures on flickr or another collection here:  Fine Art Textures on Flickr   Please feel free to download them and use them, I would just appreciate a credit for the texture and that they don't get posted online anywhere without the credit/link or offered for sale.  You can learn alot about textures from a great blog by a very generous artist called Shadowhouse Creations and you can see his latest post from my blog list to the left.  It's also great fun to see the artistic efforts people create by posting them under the texture that gets used.  I've learned much seeing how others see things differently just like I am learning with this Fix-It Friday challenge that you can view here.

Here are a few photos I have posted on flickr with textures, sometimes I am inspired by old faded postcards and photos, sometimes a style of painting or art medium and it's fun to play around with.  Have you used textures?

iris bouquet on pinkIheartFaces PhotoWalk 9born freeFresco Iris -from my garden with textures   


So I went on this Iheartfaces photowalk...

Iheartfaces photowalk 1
I really like the Iheartfaces blog and everything they offer to improve my photography so when they announced their first Photowalk across America...it sounded like fun and I wanted to go.  I wanted to meet some of the people behind the photography I'd seen on Iheartfaces AND an added bonus was an outing to Dana Point Harbor.  One of my first dates with my husband was a restaurant called "The Jolly Roger" overlooking the harbour...sigh, good memories.  I hadn't been that way in years since I moved inland to the  country.  I signed up and my friend Trish  who loves photography more than I do (without telling her - SUPRISE!)

Trish and ME!
taken by Amy Nguyen, click on the image to see her flickr photostream!

Although we had been on flickr photowalks (the guys mostly ignored us) before, we were looking forward to this one hoping we could learn a few things and meet some supportive photographers in all ranges of ability.  There was a group leader (professional photographder Susan Keller) but she had to leave early for a wedding shoot.  That was a little disappointing but "we go with the flow where ever we go".  She starts us off with the opportunity for headshots of each other since we often don't photograph ourselves and it was a good idea for our personal blogging profiles.

IheartFaces PhotoWalk 4IheartFaces PhotoWalk 8IheartFaces PhotoWalk 7
the group leader, angry julie who has a cute blog & unknown

Then we headed off to a jetty to take a group photo and any shots we wanted on the way.

IheartFaces PhotoWalk 2IheartFaces PhotoWalk 3IheartFaces PhotoWalk 11IheartFaces PhotoWalk 14

Right off the bat we met a couple of young moms that were like a version of us 20 years ago (except they knew way more about photography than we did).  I feel bad I could not remember both their names...one was Sharon and she gave us pointers on manual settings, her friend had this cool loupe around her neck that fit over the lcd screen and enlarged the view of the photos taken.  We LOVED that and must have one!  She sent me the link to buy it here... bhphotovideo.com Another photographer had a white balance ring for over the lens hanging around her neck, she said it really helped and was easy to use.  It seemed handy to have helpful tools hanging around your neck but I would need a personal instructor hanging there too and that might be a little much.  

Sharon  IheartFaces PhotoWalk 18
Sharon and Shannon (after looking at almost 5000 photowalk images...figured out her name)
Sharon's beautiful photo was taken by Shannon Flores, click on the photo to see more.

I had a hard time leaving the beach.  It was so peaceful and beautiful but this was a PhotoWALK not a PhotoSitonyerbuttatthebeach.  I love the photos I got there.  By this time the crowd was headed through the dock area to the lunch restaurant.  We were straggling in back with Sharon and Shannon having a good old time.  By the time we got there the group leader was long gone, there were only a few people left and the lunch was ...meh.  Actually my lunch was terrible but the manager came out and replaced it with a pound of unbelievably flavorful just out of the smoker smoked salmon to take home.  I wish it wasn't a 2 hour drive to go back and get some more!  After lunch those cutiepies Sharon and Shannon gave us more tips and then we said goodbye.

IheartFaces PhotoWalk 15

Trish and I walked around a took a few shots of interesting things and people on the way back to the car and ate a wonderful lunch she packed of fresh spring greens with poached fish and greek yoghurt with fresh blueberries.

IheartFaces PhotoWalk 21IheartFaces PhotoWalk 24IheartFaces PhotoWalk 25

On the way back to the car a woman was searching the trash for recyclables.  I am always still moved by the resourcefulness of those with less to provide for themselves in such a well to do area.  If I was in a really bad predicament, would I be humble enough to do such work?  Hmm

IheartFaces PhotoWalk 22

Over all it was worth the 4 hours of driving we did that day to go.  There is another photowalk hosted by Scott Kelby in July.  I might try that one even with all the real professionals and "dudes" that will be attending...Will you be going?  Did you go on this one?  Link your blog in the comments!


photo by the group leader, Susan Keller (a REAL and talented professional)...click to see this and her other photos on flickr

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So this is one of the ways I learn...this week - "Celebrating Teens"

Everyone (at least most of the opinions on Flickr) says that "the more you shoot, the more you learn" and they say things like "challenge yourself, "try new things,  typical motivational speaker speak.  I've been jumping around the internet discovering photographers websites, blogs, competitions, seminars, youtube videos and have been so totally overwhelmed that I can't remember what it was I was trying to accomplish. 

I knew I had to start somewhere and so I found a blog that seemed pretty supportive and encouraging of everyone's efforts from newbie amateur to professional.  They have challenges every week that were the type of things I wanted to improve on, mostly taking pictures of people.  I've only just started with a couple of entries so far.  I love having a theme to work on so I only have to focus on what I want to learn from the challenge.  Here's the link to the blog (they make it easy with the html for the cute icon)...

This week's challenge is all about the teenager and it just so happens I know some!  Lucky for me, I no longer have any, my youngest recently turned 21.  By the way, has anyone else noticed that having teenagers is often accompanied by perimenopause and aging parents who sometimes act like the teenagers, worse yet they join up and "get all up in yer' grill".  My 77 year old mother has actually used phrases like this along with my kids(with a heavy spanish accent no less)BUT I digress...don't get me started.

I decided that I would use this challenge to use fill flash on African American skin.  The girl I am featuring is 14 and a little self conscious about being the darkest in her family and disappearing into darkness in photographs.  Her skin color is so beautiful and perfectly even, she glows in natural light when she smiles and I wanted to capture that.  I decided to pose her on my shaded patio with the sunlight reflecting off the fence walls as ambient light to one side of her as well as using fill flash on the other.  The spot was perfect for her, another spot I used on her sister prove to have to much light drop off and there was too much contrast darkening one side of her face too much even for fill flash.  I used a super fast and easy solution...an inexpensive flash diffuser that fits around the lens and will diffuse the on camera flash (either built in or on the hotshoe). It diffused the flash set to 1/4 power and softly lit the side of her face opposite the ambient light.  It is inexpensive and one of the first accessories I bought for my camera that I keep in my purse along with my camera.

So this is my entry for this weeks Iheartfaces challenge, you can see the other entries which are equally as inspiring as the challenge itself here at: iheartfaces.blogspot.com/week 25 - celebrating teens
Read about the teenage judge, it a beautiful thing that talented teens are being encouraged to follow their bliss and be supported.  It is because of my youngest daughter Samantha that I have rekindled my love for photography as an old mama dog and it's been great fun to share it with my pup.  Can't wait til I post about her photography, she is soooo amazing!

Below you will see a few thumbnails including the diffuser as well as some other shots of her younger 12 year old sister.  They are the same age difference as my sister and I, it's funny how that relationship is loving, spiteful, fun, crazy, supportive, divisive and soooo important to treasure for life!

Inspired!... Virginia


So I like to take pictures...

   Yeah, lots of people take pictures.  So many of them take way better ones than I do, so other than my friends (and even then!) who really wants to look at mine.  Thats the thing, the "it", what I want to learn.  How to create a photograph that draws you in, that conveys feeling, draws out emotion from the viewer or helps them to see what is being expressed whether it's an idea, an inspiration or a point of view.  I know I have a good eye trained from being a visual person. But I want to be a photography ninja, one with my camera and a master at that!

   I like to be good at what I do.  I can cook really well and I am always being asked for my recipes.  Its always "a little of this and throw some of that in" so learning to write the recipes has required patience and taking my time.  (Let me tell you right now I am an old mama dog with the attention span of a puppy)...sigh.  Okay, now I think I got that down but then people lose the recipes and I gotta find them or write them down again...AAAAAAAACCCCCKKKKK!  So then I thought about blogging (anytime access for everybody) BUT that means pretty pictures of beautiful food!  That means styling the plates, finding a clear spot in the mess I just made cooking the food, making sure there is enough light and taking the picture before it gets cold or the family has started eating it!  There is no do overs for a bad photograph without waiting for another meal and nobody is going to want to eat more of it right away no matter how good it was.  That became the first reason to improve my photography skills.
   I bought a new camera and learned that the 50mm lens from my old camera would fit and work perfectly for my food photography photos blurring out the unnecessary backround enough to add mood but not detract from the FOOD!  This, I learned is called "bokeh".  Still not sure how to pronounce it but I love the effect.  So now I am taking nice, pretty photographs of food for my friends to be inspired by on my recipe blog... vintagerecipesmith.blogspot.com

   But then DSLR cameras were changing at lightening speed because they still didn't take as nice of photos as an SLR film camera.  That meant an upgrade especially because a great need was brewing for great photography efforts...A...GRANDCHILD!  That's a whole other post and then some.  So I will leave it at that and here we go.

   I have posted a slide show of my flickr account photos for all to see my evolution as a digital photographer.  So what do you think so far?