Egyptian Snakes

A few weeks ago our church had an Egyptian marketplace as part of our VBS program.  One of my friends took the opportunity to set up an animal stall there, which led to me photographing two costumed friends holding a snake.  Please enjoy.

PS  It is kinda like photographing a kid.  Snakes don’t stay still and are determined to go where you don’t want them.

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New Zealand: Introduction and Planning

Purple mountains light up at the dawn of a new trip. Those little black dots on the grass are sheep!

You can jump straight to Day One of the trip.

I am so thrilled to be sharing the recap of our recent trip to New Zealand!  This post will serve as an intro and talk you through the months of planning that we did.  If you are dreaming of  visiting New Zealand in the future,  I hope this information makes your planning quicker and easier.

Be sure to follow this blog as upcoming posts will walk you through each day of our trip with details and pictures.

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The Pose Knows

Raw unprocessed image from high-key photo session.  Notice how different the subject looks with slight pose change.
Raw unprocessed image from high-key photo session. Notice how different the subject looks with slight pose change.

So back when I was shooting these pictures, I asked my models to also relax their faces for a few pictures and even look stern or intense in some.  That is for another project I’ll be showing you examples of later.

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Alive and Kicking with Photo Reference!


This picture was originally set up to color calibrate my camera. I jumped in at the end when I saw how much of the room I was actually lighting up.

Yes, I’m still alive.  I feel like I’m back in school right now.  Most days I finish feeling like I’ve been studying for a test all day.  Maybe it is more like adjusting to a new job when you hit that stressful place during the week two to six month period.  The new guy grace period is over and everyone is angry because you don’t remember their name, where the bathroom is, and can’t do your job perfectly.  Gosh, I already showed you how to do this at least twice!

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Making a Photo Look Painted or Hand Drawn

Melanie and I had a wonderful weekend with some friends in St. Augustine.  Part of our time was spent on a costumed scavenger hunt.  After about three minutes of self consciousness, folks eased into their roles and all remarked at the conclusion that the costumes had really enhanced the experience.  Tourists had a blast seeing and photographing groups of decorated people racing around them.  The racers became mini celebrities and none were more famous than our own St. Augustine with his long curly red locks.  He and his wife are pictured below.

While I was reviewing photos from the event, it struck me that the painted background behind these two could be reasonably mimicked in Photoshop with the application of a few filters.  If I worked it right the people and the background would appear to be one painted image.  So I fooled around with the sharpness and color balance of the image then duplicated that corrected layer and applied various filters from the Sketch and Artistic folders.  Then I played around with the opacity of each layer and the way in which each interacted with the one beneath it.  It involved a lot of futzing and fooling around but eventually I came up with something that I think is quite pleasing.  Does it really look like a painting?  No, but it achieves the overall goal of unifying the image and making it look handmade.

The advantage to an image like this is the punchy contrasty color.  The downside is that if it isn’t printed fairly large, the handmade quality is lost and it just looks like a photo.  I’d love to see this image printed at 8″x10″ on canvas to see how effective it is.

Original Image
Cropped, Sharpened, Color Adjustment, Artistic and Sketch Filters Applied
Before Detail
After Detail

Point n’ Shoot Portraits

Hi gang,

On the suggestion of a good friend, we decided to check out Washington Oaks State Park.  I’ll have a post with pictures of that excursion sometime soon.

Only those that have known me a long time are aware that I used to really like photography.  When everything shifted over to digital, I wasn’t willing to drop the cash to make the switch and those skills went dormant.  I’ve had an itch to get back into it lately and the light was really nice at the beach so I decided to do what I could with our little point and shoot camera.

It was fun, but I miss the control that an SLR provides.  The pocket-sized convenience of a point and shoot can’t be beat though.

Melanie was positioned facing the light.  I did some images in direct sun and then some using my shadow to soften it.  No fill light, diffusers or reflectors.  The focal length was whatever allowed me to frame the image the way I wanted it.  Hey, I was standing on a bunch of rocks so give me a break.  🙂

I’m pretty happy with them – especially with such a difficult subject.  Melanie hates having her picture taken so I had to work very very quickly before she got crabby.  I can’t blame her though.  Her mom was a pro for many years and would use Melanie as a test subject frequently.  That would wear anyone out.

I converted everything over to black and white and tinted each image in Photoshop.  I usually prefer black and white for portraits but think that the faux sepia and selenium toning warms most images in a pleasing way.  I just wish that I had noticed how uniformly black her sunglasses were in some of the pictures.  If I had, I would have tried popping the flash for a little catchlight.  It might have helped give her dark hair a little more definition too.

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