The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Orbs -- I see this effect every now and then. Sometimes the it is really interesting. I never took the time to learn how to do it.

After looking at some awesome orb photos on Flickr -- I decided I would take a stab at it. OK -- so I have a lot of books on Elements (my choice of photo-editing software). I am sure in the books are instructions on how to do the orbs. But, since I am sitting at the computer -- I Googled.

I did not look far or long and found a quickie way to do them:

Square photos work best -- so choose something and crop it to a square. Then Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates>choose Polar to Rectangle, Image>Rotate>Flip Horizontal, Image>Rotate>Flip Vertical, Filters>Distort>Polar Coordinates>choose Rectangle to Polar -- and voila!

To give one a really interesting look -- then apply the Orton Effect. Way back in the blog I wrote about this -- you can search for the directions -- but hey -- I will put them here again.

Orton Effect:

Make a duplicate copy, make a second duplicate copy. One the second copy pull down the blending mode menu and choose 'screen.' Make a duplicate copy. Go to Filters>Blur>Gaussian Blur and choose a level that blurs but still shows shapes in the photo. (this is a very subject choice) Now go to the blending mode menu for this layer and choose 'mulitply.' You can choose the level of this effect for this layer by using the opacity slider. You can always use the opacity slider to manage the level of an effect.

The photo on this post was created from a square photo of pines. The photo was manipulated to keep the sky blue and the trees were in black and white. I created the orb and then applied the Orton Effect.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Time to Play

These few days while things are kind of quiet -- not a lot going on -- no phone calls, emails, etc. that demand attention. I have been spending a little time playing around with the plug ins that I bought from Nik -- the Color Efex has quite a collection of effects -- I still don't know all that is available.

I have been into the "popart" selection under the 'Detail Stylizer' filter.

Also -- I finally learned how to use my remote control for the camera. I have only had this handy little device for about 18 months! It is not hard to use -- and it took a few minutes to look up in my manual what I needed to do.

Yes -- I read the manual (occasionally). Always keep your manual handy and don't feel like you should just know something and not need to look it up.
The photos above show some I took over the past couple days and the manipulations of them. The close crop of the eyes came from the portrait that is a little off center. I like a horizontal portrait with the subject to one side.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Making an Image You are Happy With

The photo of the kids at Christmas got me thinking. I have read and heard from photographers that it is easier to have a mediocre image of a spectacular subject than it is to have a spectacular image of a mediocre subject.

Not that the kids or my photos are mediocre -- but it is not very spectacular.

How do you turn the usual into the unusual? That is a difficult task.

Think about those who shoot nature and landscapes. How many shots of a beach can you see, really? Or mountains? Or butterflies? What can really make something stand out -- have that extra that makes you stop and say -- Wow, look at this!

That is the task of most photographers -- not to settle for just doing what they have seen others do so much of -- but to go beyond it to have the unique take on something.

This time of year I usually start thinking of "New Year's Resolutions." Where can I improve? How can I do better? What can I do differently?

Besides the normal list of: #1 get more organized, #2 stay more organized, #3 clean up my desk -- I think I will add in #4, take unusual photos of the usual.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Photos

Every year I take a photo of the kids sitting in front of the Christmas tree. We usually do it on Christmas Eve. It is not a great photo -- it is really one of those meant to document the event. When I look back at them I can see how the kids have grown. Even at 21 and almost 17 they will humor me to sit there and have their photo made. Some years there is a dog in the photo. The cat never seems interested.

When you take photos of Christmas think about your perspective. If the kids are on the floor opening gifts -- get down on the floor with them to get some shots at their level. Watching them open gifts and capturing their face when they see what is inside is always a good photo.

If the pets are cooperative -- get them in the photos too. Our cat usually is not -- and there have been some times in the past week when my daughter put a bow on her head -- maybe that is why she avoids the presents? She may have developed a 'bow phobia?' She usually likes to lay under the tree when nothing else is there.

Besides the usual Christmas photos around the tree and unwrapping gifts -- think of other opportunities...

Christmas lights are a great subject to play around with. Don't use a flash -- this will be a very slow shutter photo -- so use a tripod. I like to zoom a lens during the photo to make a wild pattern with the light. Also -- instead of zooming the lens during the photo -- use a long exposure and move the camera around while the shutter is open. You can get some very interesting abstracts this way.

Baking Christmas cookies is also a very photographic event. All of the ingredients, colors of sugar, shiny pans, cookie cutters, etc. make nice holiday photos. Hmmmm, I might have just figured my Christmas card photo for next year!

If you are heading to someone else's house -- take along the tripod. Even if you just end up leaving it in the car; if you don't take it, you know you will wish you had. Charge your batteries, make sure you have a spare memory card, and take lots of photos.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nature, Undisturbed

A juried photography exhibition is born!

A couple months ago, I was approached by the Southern Conservation Trust asking if I would like to have a photo show to benefit the trust. Of course I would. Then I thought for a moment and asked what if we had a photo show involving the whole photo club? Then I thought another moment and asked -- what if we went bigger? I always think big.

My thoughts were of Slow Exposures in Pike Country -- the feeling and atmosphere of the show -- and the fact that it benefits the local historic society. We could do something like that in Fayette County to benefit the land trust. Many local photographers visit the Line Creek Nature Area for great photos all year round. Why not use our photography to raise awareness of the properties and help raise some funds as well?

There were a lot of questions to answer to get the ball rolling. First we needed a location and dates for the show. Abby Jordan, Executive Director with the trust, and I have been working hard to get the show going. One day I was in Dogwood Gallery, talking to Greg Blair about the show. I did not think that he would be interested -- since it was a benefit -- but he was! We had a place. And it is a very nice place to hang a show! Did I say I was thrilled to have the show at Dogwood? I am thrilled!

During the last couple months I have been networking with the photography community in the Atlanta area. I visited the director of the Slow Exposures show in Zebulon for advice. The ladies with Slow Exposures are so very nice. Chris was wonderful to sit with me for a while giving great advice. Andrea stopped by out of the blue and even offered to come help hang the show if we needed her. One of the Fayette Photo Club members knew someone with the Atlanta Photography Group. I talked with her and emailed her with information and questions. She was a great resource and she offered to forward the call for entries to many Atlanta area photo clubs. And she has -- thanks Virginia!

That is where we are right now -- getting the call for entries out there. Since this show will take place at the end of April -- time is short. Next time (2010) -- we will have a year to get the word out about the show. The deadline is to have your entry in the mail no later than January 31, 2009. The call for entries can be found on the trust website Check the upper left corner of the homepage. Click the link, read the fine print, and print the entry form.

The show is open to any photographer interested. There are two categories, the first -- Nature, Undisturbed -- is showcasing nature photography at any location. The other category is site-specific to photography at trust properties only. These properties are all in Fayette County, Georgia and are: Line Creek Nature Area, Flat Creek Nature Area (both in Peachtree City) and Sam's Lake Bird Sanctuary (in Fayette County, south of Fayetteville). Color, black & white, sepia, and manipulated images are all included in these two categories.

So get busy looking through your images and enter!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Christmas Card

I got the Christmas cards in the mail late yesterday. Usually I get them out early in December. The past few years I have been trying to use photos for the cards. This year I did not have much of an idea of what I wanted to use. I was planning on taking a photo of my Christmas tree after it was up and decorated -- but when I tried to get a photo of it -- the whole thing -- I did not like what I was getting.

Then I had an idea about using the Lensbaby for the photo. After a little playing around with the placement of an ornament and the lights. I had a photo I kind of liked. As with many of my black and white images, I took the photo in color but planned all along to use the black and white version. The card I have is a silver embossed frame that you slip the photo into. I wanted to put a black and white photo into the silver frame.

Over the weekend I printed the photos I needed for the cards. As soon as I had printed them all, I got a great idea of what would have made the photo even better (isn't that always the way it goes!). The creative aperture kit from Lensbaby has a star aperture disk (it also has a heart disk and blanks to make you own). Sunday I had to take some photos using that disk -- even though I would not use it for the card -- I wanted to see what it would do with all of the light from the tree. The photo on the blog is the one I wish I had used for the cards.

All of the stars you see in the photo were created by the aperture disk. The little 'band' of stars that crosses the photo and goes behind the ornament is the bead garland. The reflections from the beads show up as stars when I use that disk.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Southeastern Flower Show

A few weeks ago I sent in my entries for the photography exhibition at the Southeastern Flower Show. The show will be January 28 through February 1 at the Cobb Galleria Centre (I can never figure why someone decides to write center as centre -- ??? oh well). Here is the website for more info and directions

Three days ago I went to the mail box and found a big envelope addressed to me. I love getting mail so I got excited when I saw it -- then I recognized the writing -- it was mine! This was my self-addressed, stamped envelope to return my prints to me and the information of acceptance or decline. As soon as I figured out what it was -- I got nervous. I sent a few really good images in to the jury -- but you never know what a juror is looking for or will like. I had a favorite in the bunch and thought if any photo would make it into the show -- that one would. Well, it didn't. The one that did make it in was a good one, always a favorite of mine, and a friend recently said she liked it -- so I gave a print to her. She was really the one to urge me to send it in as a submission. So I did -- and now I am glad I listened to her!

The photo on the blog is the one that made it in. I took this photo with my old Fuji S7000 super zoom camera. That camera was always a good one -- and I haven't used it in a long time. It is defintely an oldie but goodie.

The Fuji S7000 was the camera that really started me on my way to taking photos for more than just fun. This camera was the first one I had with the "super macro mode." This mode allows the photographer to come as close to the subject as 1cm. The camera was announced July 2003. It is not small, not light, and not an SLR -- but it is really a great camera to have. It was the third digital camera I ever had. It also set the standard for my next camera. After using that super macro mode -- I knew the next camera I bought would have to have the same thing (and that little Canon S2 IS does).

By having the option to get so close, you can really create a unique photo. One thing to remember about coming in close is that you are blocking out most of the light and being that close there is no way a flash will do anything for a photo (if you have to use flash -- which I try to avoid if I can). One of my favorite things to do with the super macro mode cameras is to use the sun as a backlight. I have pushed the lens up into a flower with the bright sun hitting the backside of the flower. The hot sun (hot like is super bright -- not necessarily heat hot -- but you know it is hot both ways) really lights of the inside of the flower from the outside.

This white rose is no longer in my yard. The tree rose died but the gorgeous photo of the bloom lives on. I remember the day I took the photo -- it was very bright -- not a good day for much -- unless I was pushing the lens into things. I put the lens into the bloom and snapped away. The sunlight litting the back of the white bloom was plenty of light. The petals barely appear - as if they are afterthoughts. The filaments of the flower look like a collection of snakes wrapping around each other trying to get to the surface. The anthers almost look like little coffee beans floating around.

The original photo -- as will all of my black and white images -- was color. There was not a lot of color to it anyway. The very center of the bloom had a blush of gold to it and the anthers were more brown than black. This photo, to me, is much more dramatic in black and white.

I have always liked it -- I am glad to know a few jurors agree with me.

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