Sunday, June 3, 2012


So Scott and Ava both graduated last week, and I had like an hour to kill one morning between drop off and a ceremony, so I naturally headed to Starbucks for some mini donuts and a caramel frappuccino (three points for the light!!!).  Daisy and Warren were being good and cute and I had my camera with me for the ceremony (in my breathtaking new Kelly Moore bag) so I pulled it out and snapped a few pics.

Okay.  I snapped one hundred and twenty four pictures.

But I narrowed that down to nineteen as soon as I uploaded them, and I've only got like fifteen for day.  So it's not THAT bad.

They were pretty cute as is, but since it's Saturday and Nick is around to fill in while I drink coffee and listen to Amos Lee Radio on Pandora and ignore my children (as opposed to weekdays when there's no one to fill in while I drink coffee and listen to Amos Lee Radio on Pandora and ignore my children) I spent a good two hours editing the nineteen I had left.  And since no one has ever asked me anything about my pictures and no one cares, I decided to do a whole post on what I do and how it looks.

Hey, it's my blog. You know?

Here's what we start with.  She's filthy, with crumbs from the donuts all over her face, dried snot right under her nose, and drool all over the shirt.  Everything is super yellow because I NEVER adjust  my white balance, and there were SO many windows in that place.  And the expose is off because I don't even really know what exposure means.

But I was using my 50mm, I had my aperture at 2.3 the entire time (I think) and I really liked what was happening with the light and the background.

And OBVIOUSLY my subject was gorgeous.  That helps.

This was my first big edit because it was my Favorite Picture of the Day.  Well, except for the pictures from the graduation.  I feel like, as a Good Mother, one of those should actually be the Favorite Picture of the day.  But I'm not.  So this is.

I can't quite get all the crumbs off her lower left jaw because it's starting to distort, so that's why I left some Reality in there.

After I was satisfied with my edits, I broke it down so I could see if this is worth it.  I've never REALLY spent a lot of time comparing the befores and afters.  What do you think?

The Cooler and the Perfect Portrait 3 are both actions.  Meaning, I open the picture, drag the actions on, click YES and it does all the work for me in seven seconds.  But then you have to tweak it, and that takes a few minutes.  The Cooler I usually cut down to 50, but this time, I ran it on 85 because they were REALLY yellow.  I have a hard time tweaking the Perfect Portrait 3, so I just left that as is.

But the eyes? The eyes took me twenty minutes, at least.  It was my first time doing any eye work, so I'm hopeful that maybe if I practice, I can cut that time down, but for today, it was twenty minutes.

And I can't tell if it was worth it...what do you think? Do you notice any difference at all? The tutorial I used was for brown eyes, maybe I should find one for hazel?

Why, oh WHY, don't my girls have the boys' blue eyes?!?!?! It's not fair!!!

Anyway.  Warren was there too, he was watching Team Umizoomi and hoarding the donuts the whole time.  Such a sweet boy.  It was too much work to even THINK about trying to clean up his face, so I left it alone. I ran 2020 and Cooler and cropped and called it a day.

And obviously, for these, I ran 2020, Cooler, and BW Beauty.  I always completely delete the Boost layer and then cut the BW Beauty down to 85 or 90 to soften it up a little.  I wanted her bow to stay colored, but I don't know how to do that in layers, and just toning it down to 70 or 75, her shirt was coming in too, and it looked weird.  The pink line on the middle I pulled from the bow before I blacked it out.
Oh, and then I flipped the small one on the right horizontally.  I don't like it when they don't like...make a circle.  I don't know how to explain it.  Originally, Daisy was {obviously} on the right in both shots.  So it looked weird, so I flipped it so that she was on the outsides for both shots.  I just like it better.  Does that make ANY sense? I feel stupid talking about it.

Eh.  I feel stupid all the time, what's one more thing?

This shot, I'm sort of bummed about.  It was when I started, and my ISO was too high, so it's a little grainy.  It was high from being inside for Ava's graduation the day before and I didn't fix it because I'm stupid (see above) and didn't notice until twenty minutes later.  I ran Slight Light and a bunch of others, but nothing worked, so I just kept Slight Light and Cooler.  Sigh.  I think this could have been great!! So, take home lesson? Actions and post processing are amazing and can work miracles, but NOTHING takes the place of knowing your camera and ADJUSTING YOUR SETTINGS BEFORE YOU SHOOT.

This one sucks so bad I almost didn't post it, but I love her expression.  This was RIGHT when she first got her hands on my drink and she's SO excited to be getting away with it.  Devilish little smile, I could just lick her face off.  Same thing, Slight Light and Cooler, cropped it and called it a day.  Ugh.

Now this one, this is to teach you a lesson about focus.  I hate my new camera, I don't think that's a surprise.  I have a D5000, I had to get it after my D60 broke.  I did some research and basically decided that the D5000 wasn't as good as the D60, but it had video, so the D60 was out.  The D90 is the top, but it was two hundred more, and the guy I was using (and still trust) said that the D5000 was good ENOUGH and that the D90 wasn't worth the extra money until you know what you're doing.

That being said, I fucking hate my D5000.  I want the D90.  I can't get it to focus how I want it, and it ruins my life on a daily basis.  Will the D90 focus better? I have no idea.  But I'm clinging to that hope and just praying for it for Christmas with all my heart.

ANYWAY.  When you're using a super wide aperture, be SURE to focus on what you WANT to focus on!! For example, do not focus on your baby's ARM if you want to focus on her FACE.

So naturally, this was in better focus, but she has a dumb look on her face.  Enter BW Beauty. Black and white just makes any picture look a little more elegant, no? And also Cooler and 2020, before I blacked it in.

This was Cooler and Perfect Portrait 3 again.  This was a close second for Favorite Shot of the Day, and it didn't win just because her eyes aren't looking at me :( I think she's slightly cuter from the side.

So, there you go.  That's what I spent all morning doing.  And I do that a lot.  It's fun for me, and actually relaxing, and I like having something to show for it.  I just realized that all my linky work for the Cooler action was wrong, but I don't feel like fixing it all throughout the post, so here is the link for that.  PW has two action sets, BW Beauty is in one and Cooler is in two.  I have a soft spot in my heart of the PW actions because they were my firsts and they're all good and easy and look nice, but honestly, for me, The Coffeeshop Blog is where it's at.  Her tutorials are life altering.  I LOVE that everything is free, but honestly, she's so amazing that I'm seriously considering paying for everything just to support her.  Haven't decided yet, but I think it's gonna happen.  I just want to do my part!!  It's only like forty bucks, and she really is the most awesomesauce thing on the internet that I've ever found.  And you get the watermark!! Not that I think my pictures are watermark-worthy, but wouldn't that be fun?!?!

Is there another website out there with free actions and great tutorials that ya'll know about?  Anyone?

Update: Wait! I just figured something out! I got the bow to stay pink (mostly) and everything else blacked out!! I've been trying to figure this out for MONTHS!! Okay, if you're interested, here's how I finally did it.  I used to magic want tool to select the bow, it took me a few minutes to tweak it, and if you look closely, you'll see a few mistakes.  Anyway, I then went selection>inverse so that everything BUT the bow was selected.  Then, I dragged over PW's BW (not BW Beauty this time) and it ran on everything but the bow.  Now, I swear I've tried this exact same thing before and it didn't work, so the only thing I can figure is that I didn't make a closed selection, so it ran on the entire picture last time.  This time, the bow was completely unselected.  Then, this part sucked, for some reason I lost my selection and had to go back and redo it, select the bow all over again.  Then I ran BW Beauty on just the bow this time, and cut it down to 20%.  I guess I could have just left the bow totally bright in full color, but it looked a tiny bit strange, so I wanted to tone it down a little.

So there you go!! Pink bow, everything else (including that ugly shirt) totally BW at 100%.  Best day ever!!!


  1. To get something to stay in color can't you just select that layer (the B&W layer) then erase the area you want to stay in color? I think that's how I've done it before.

    BTWs, your baby is super adorable.

  2. these are very cool! what program are you using to edit? i really want to start doing this!

  3. you know way more about photos / editing than I do.
    I'm pretty much lost on your entire post, but read it anyway, cause I do like your photos / your kids and your blog.