The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Playing With Photoshop Elements

Many people want to rush out and buy the big Photoshop program. I am completely satisfied with Elements -- it does way more than I will ever need, want, or use. The last Friday entry shows a tough restoration completed with the aide of Elements.

When I teach a Photoshop Elements class I will show how to make a water background. I believe I originally found the directions for this in Photoshop Elements User. I have never used it for
anything except to show what you can do with Elements.

A couple years ago I took a photo of my mother's cat -- I use that photo in the class often as my example. Here I have placed Rora's head in the swirling water (the created background).

I have also used Rora's face to merge it with my daughter's. My daughter all of a sudden will have cat ears and eyes. I have also used Rora to show how you can blur a background and keep the subject sharp -- but of course when I do it -- I do it to the extreme! Besides blurring the background -- you can completely remove the background and replace it with what you would like. Here the back of the couch was removed and it kind of looks like a weird sunrise behind Rora.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Making Belt Buckles

I have always enjoyed doing any kind of craft project. Over the years on my own and doing classes with children I think I have tried just about everything -- except making a belt buckle. Last night I did it!

Dogwood Gallery and Framer has started a Ladies' Night at the gallery. These nights feature an art or craft project -- hands on and how to. Jenni Horne was the instructor this evening for the belt buckle class. She had quite a collection of papers to use to create your own one-of-a-kind

As usual, I had just as much fun taking photos of people working on their buckle as I did making my own.

When it came to making my own -- I decided to go with simple black and white -- typical me. I did think about taking my photo from my ad in the arts & expressions magazine. I think it came out nicely with the black and white ad on the black and white background paper. A few words thrown in and dates. I like this -- and I do plan on making more with my photos on the buckle!


Friday, June 26, 2009

From the Barefoot Files...

When I first started playing around with digital photo editing my main purpose was to work through the mountains of old family photos restoring where necessary and just digitizing the rest. (Am I finished -- NO!) Every now and then I will get a request from someone to restore a cherished family photo. Just being able to digitize a photo is a great way to insure it will be around for generations.

OK -- I hear you on copyright (and everyone knows how big I am on protection of intellectual property). You can check this link to read about how long certain works are protected. There are certain rules in effect for work created after January 1, 1978 and those created prior to that. In some cases of photos the original copyright owner is either dead or cannot be found to secure a release. Most of the photos (probably 99.9%) I deal with were created prior to 1978. It is my feeling that in the case of some that still might be protected by copyright -- if the original photographer is not around or can't be found -- the family needs a good photo. Perhaps the caretaker of the photo did not know the best way to care for it or perhaps there was a tragedy like flood or fire.

In contrast to my feelings on this -- when I hear of someone getting school pictures of their child, purchasing one of the least expensive packages, and then copying the photos to get more without compensating the photographer -- well -- we all know -- that is totally wrong.

Back to the photo on the blog. My dentist was one of my first big clients. In her office hang many of my backyard photos. She has been a great supporter of me as a photographer. She told her assistant about me. The assistant had some photos of her mother and other family members that were damaged. She wanted a "fixed" print. The one on the blog is her mother. This has been one of my favorite restorations. I love being able to take something that is what many feel is beyond help and bring it back to almost as good as new.

The photo was restored using Photoshop Elements (my editing program of choice) and using Silver Efex Pro to tweak it back to the original black and white. Some people are amazed that an inexpensive program like Elements can do the job. I used to use Microsoft's Digital Image to do it until I switched to Elements. You don't need an expensive program -- Elements does way more than I will ever need or want. Just some basic cloning and healing got the job done here. I did not scan -- I took a photo of the original photo and then want to work.

Since I repaired this one -- they have given me a stack of photos! I think I will be busy with those for quite a while!

(and if you did not notice -- Vintage Photo Friday has a new name)


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kitchen Series

I like to cook and spend time in my kitchen. I also like to take photographs. Combining the two is perfect. During the past few months I have been working on photos of simple kitchen items. The main items selected so far have been forks, spoons, a ladle, and a tea kettle. There are more to come.

Many people like to have art in their homes. To be able to have something artistic in your kitchen is a plus. The photos I am working on are unique and eye catching. Of course, these photos are in black and white. I think being it black and white it also adds a dimension of something different. The black and white also compliment the choices we have today in kitchen decor; the stainless appliances and natural stone counterops.

In addition to the kitchen implements -- I am taking photos of veggies and fruits. It sounds rather trite to have photos of an apple in your kitchen -- but I think the photo I have of a Granny Smith is a little different and really gets your attention.

The studies of the fork, spoon, and scissors are very compelling. Not only is it s study of the object, it is a study of light and shadow. When composing the photos of the object, great attention is paid to the shadow of the object and where it falls in the composition.

Some of the items are sentimental to me. The ladle came from my grandmother's kitchen. I have written about it here before. I used the wonderful new search feature on the blog to find the ladle post and link it in case you wanted to see that photo. (I love the new search -- how handy is that?) I love the photo of my old kitchen. This was taken the day before the white-white-white kitchen was literally torn out and replaced with nothing white. This photo of the old kitchen -- taken in black and white with the color accent feature selecting red it a nice reminder of the old kitchen. The only thing remaining in the new kitchen is the red tea kettle.

These images are a study of subject rather than technique. I have used various lenses and photographic techniques to get each one. When framing my photography, I am kind of boring leaning toward the simple black frame and white mat. That choice -- especially when grouping a series of photos adds to the group. Even if the frames are different (and I like when they are), if they are all black -- they are "the same."

I have quite a series of kitchen images -- but this group will always be a work in progress.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blog News

Just a quickie post to bring to anyone's attention that I have added a search box to the blog. This search is for the blog only -- but does go back to all old posts. So if you feel like searching -- just look to the top left.

Also -- the blog is available at Amazon for the Kindle! How cool is that? Here is the link to get the blog sent to your Kindle.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday

This past week there were a couple birthdays in my family. One member is no longer with us. My great grandmother pictured in the photo (with me on her lap) was born in 1888. We all called her Mammy, my granddaddy called her "Old Edith."

When I was a little girl I would spend time at her house with my grandmother. My great grandmother was known for her needlework. She crocheted and hand quilted. In the early 1970's her cathedral window quilts fetched over $200. I have one of those quilts and I have a few afghans she crocheted. Two of those afghans are a rose pattern. One has a red rose center in each square and the other has a yellow rose. The backgrounds in the afghans are green and white. Somewhere in my house I have a basket made from bread wrappers (Wonder Bread most likely) -- they were crocheted to make the basket. I believe she made a lot of things from other things -- she was reusing, repurposing, and being green!

She had a large organ in her living room. There were two small wooden canes always by her fireplace. I used to play with them when I was at her house. Those little canes are by my fireplace in my home now.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In the Woods...

A few days ago I walked around the edge of the woods with Sadie. I cannot take photos while I have her with me on the leash. This day -- when walking Sadie -- I spotted a pretty, little, bright blue flower at the edge of the trees. After taking her back to the house and grabbing the camera -- I returned.

The little blue flower was blooming at the end of what looked like flat grass -- about 12 inches in length. After looking it up in my field guide, I find this to be Pointed Blue-Eyed Grass, AKA; Blue Star, or Eye Bright. It is a member of the Iris family. The grass like plant part did resemble the green part of an Iris -- but much smaller. The flower is only about 3/4" in diameter.

Also, I was checking out the wild cherry trees that bloom all along the edge of the woods. In the spring the trees are full of very fragrant, pale-pink blooms. In early to mid June the fruit ripens to a deep plum-red. These are small cherries, about the size of my pinky nail. I have been looking up wild cherry varieties to see what they are exactly. I am thinking they are a pin or fire cherry. Not many of the cherries are left -- the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks have been dining on fruit. As soon as these are gone, the blackberries will be ripening.

Also on this short photo walk I took this photo of the tip of a pine branch. I really like the abstractness of this photo.

The photos on the blog today were all taken with the 50mm 1.4 attached to an extension tube to get extra close to the subjects.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Printer Issues

From time to time we all have to deal with printer issues. Last week I had a small one. As soon as I printed a contact sheet I knew what was going on. I have a bad habit of not turning my printer off when I am not using it. If you print infrequently, you should turn off your printer until you need it. This seats the print heads and keeps them from drying out and, of course, clogging.

You can see from the contact sheet that there is a pinkish tint to the photos. Then looking at the contact sheet after I cleaned the print heads -- true color.

The do-you-need-to-clean-your-print-heads test print shows no yellow at all; and the dark cyan is very spotty. If a print head is clogged -- even slightly -- the color in your photo will be off.

After I cleaned the heads, I printed another test to check the effectiveness of the cleaning. Everything checked out and the test is perfect (my photo is a little icky, but you can get the idea).

After I printed the contact sheet -- I turned off my printer until the next time I need it.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday

Today is my parent's wedding anniversary. They were married in 1960. They were married in a small church and the reception was held in the small activities building next to the church. This photo shows them walking down the steps in the activity building. I can't remember who the guy in the background is -- I know my mother will tell me later.

I was married in the same church twenty three years later. (Photo of that coming on a Vintage Photo Friday in August) My reception was in the small activity building next door as well. When I got married in August, the temperature was 105 degrees. There was no air conditioning in the church or other building. At the reception I remember my dad saying if it got any hotter he was going to take off his tux and finish out the rest of the reception in his underwear. Knowing my dad, I was afraid he was serious. I hope that when they got married in June it was much cooler -- I am sure it was.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Macro Master Class July 25

I have scheduled a Macro Master Class at Dogwood Gallery & Framer for July 25. Space is limited. The class will begin at 10am and end at 4 pm. We will have an hour break at 12 for lunch. There are many places close by the gallery to go for lunch or bring something and have lunch at the gallery.

The class will explore all of the wonder of macro photography. You will learn about using other lenses as a macro lens, the Lensbaby macro kit, and more accessories to get that very sliver thin depth of field.

We will look at subjects -- beyond your usual bugs and flowers. Ever wonder why the symbol on your camera is a tulip? Everyone takes macros of flowers -- it is very overdone and hard to be unique with a flower for a subject. Of course, the fact it is overdone does not stop me from doing it -- but I do like to think outside of the macro box from time to time.

You will need to bring your camera and fresh batteries to the class. Also a flash drive would be helpful. I will have my laptop and projector for review of photos. Yes! We will take photos!

To sign up for this class email me as soon as you can. As I mentioned, space is limited for this event. The cost of the day is $85. I look forward to hearing from you -- email me with your questions or to reserve your spot.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Spinach Lasagna

I am reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It is a very interesting book. And it is funny, it is kind of how I remember eating as a child. Both sets of my grandparents had gardens and would can vegetables and fruits for use in the winter. You ate what was in season -- and it was good! I remember visiting a hen house to get eggs. (I also have a memory of a chicken, minus a head, running across the side yard.) My granddady had hogs that became bacon, he fished, and he hunted deer to fill the freezer. Much of what was consumed in their homes was very local. Having vegetables out of season is something that I don't remember much about until recently.

You might think what does this have to do with photography? Well, so far, not much. But I have been looking at a variety of blogs lately -- many (even the photography blogs) feature a lot of food. I admit I like to read cookbooks like a novel and the more pictures -- the better. These blogs with luscious photos of the food -- many are showing the steps as you go as well as the finished dish -- are very enticing. They make me want to cook the dish -- but they also make me want to keep my camera handy in the kitchen.

Tonight we had spinach lasagna. The recipe was very simple, few ingredients, and delicious! I found the recipe on the website for Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a couple days ago. I like veggie lasagna but have a hard time finding some I really like, if you know what I mean. This is something I will make again. And -- it made for some nice photos.


Loving The Extension Tubes!

There are so many cool things outside to take photos of these days. Plants and flowers, bugs, rusty metal yard things in my backyard and more. I have found myself more and more reaching for the extension tubes and the 50mm 1.4. I can get very interesting macros with this set up and I have written about it before and I am sure I will again. One the blog today is a trio of photos from the backyard just a couple days ago.

I need to get back out there and look at the Black-Eyed Susan that had a few blooms ready to
open. When I was out on the deck
yesterday I noticed the hydrangea was full of pretty blue blooms. And the baby Mr. Stripey tomato is getting larger!

The Black-Eyed Susan; shutter speed 1/250, f5, ISO 250, Red Rose; shutter 1/250, f5, ISO 400. Coneflower Bud; shutter 1/160, f5, ISO 400. All were taken with the 50mm and the 21mm extension tube.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday

Since it is near another birthday, I am posting a photo of my grandmother (my father's mother). She was born in 1915 and had a twin brother. I remember spending time at her house as a child. She had a tiny kitchen -- very tiny! Along the top of her wardrobe there were hat boxes that held the hats she would wear to church. Behind the door to the bedroom I had a library (stack) of Little Golden Books.

When I think of her in the kitchen I remember her making coconut cakes and lemon meringue pies. She would give me a taste of the coconut milk and coconut meat. It was very exotic. Her lemon pies were also delicious. After they cooled, there would be small dots of a sugary, carmel-colored liquid collected around the meringue. There was a cherry tree in the yard. I would help her pick cherries and then she would make a delicious cherry roll with them.

My grandmother was one of the church ladies. It was fun for me to hang around with her at church. On the days when we would have a big pot luck after service was over, she would leave church early to help set things up. She would let me leave early to also come along with her. Of course she would have made a coconut cake or lemon pie to bring along with potato salad and ham biscuits.

Grandma Mildred (what my kids called her) had Alzheimer's in her later years. She did not know me for the last few years of her life. Throughout her life she was a healthy person. I remember the last time I saw her. When I visited I did not try to get her to remember me or certain things. I talked to her about cakes and pies. She smiled a big smile when I asked if she liked chocolate pie (yes, she made those too).

I am not sure when this photo of her was taken -- she looks around 6 years old. The background of the photo makes me think it was taken in the yard at her home. I remember that fence.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dinner Tonight

In the summer I like to grill dinner as much as I can to keep the heat out of the kitchen. I had planned to grill steak tonight...until I remembered the bok choy in the refrigerator.

Steak Stir Fry --
lean steak sliced very thin, two cloves of garlic, bok choy, carrots, broccoli, soy sauce, fish sauce, thin spaghetti (cooked), oil

Stir fry the steak in a little oil with garlic and soy sauce in a very hot skillet. Take out of the pan and reheat the pan for the veggies. When the veggies are just about ready, put the steak back in. Toss with the veggies and add a tiny bit of fish sauce and more soy if you like it. Toss in pasta. Serve. I like mine with red pepper flakes sprinkled on top.

I don't take many photos when I cook. A few years ago I put together a couple family cookbooks, without photos. I wish I had taken the time to add some! Lately I have been peeping at a lot of blogs and I am really liking the ones with the food photos. So tonight, with my husband standing over me waiting to dig in, I took photos of dinner. It was delicious!


Monday, June 1, 2009

Baby Mr. Stripey

Just days after bringing home a few plants, I have loads of material for photos. The Mr. Stripey plant has a couple babies and some new blooms coming soon. Over the weekend I spent a few minutes out on the deck taking some shots of the baby tomato.

One of those photos is on the blog today. This photo was taken with the 50mm 1.4 lens attached to the 21mm extension tube. My settings were aperture priority, 1/250, f2, ISO 250, auto white balance. I have no idea what my minimum focus distance was for this shot. The way I am working the lenses on the ProOptic tubes is to go manual focus and move the camera ever so slightly to get the point of focus I am looking for in the shot.

Last year I planted sunflower seeds -- to enjoy the sunflowers -- but also for subjects. These plants were on the deck -- easy to get to and set up a tripod. I documented the buds, blooms, and the dead flowers. Don't wait for the bloom of a flower -- take photos of the entire plant and the buds as the open.

This year I am taking photos of all the plants, of course. But the tomato plants on the deck will get more attention than any of the other plants.


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