April 15, 2015

Adventures in Editing - The Gleam In Her Eye

I recently purchased a new lens - the Canon 50mm 1.4. I shoot clients exclusively with prime lenses, and felt this would be a good fit for the type of photography I do.

This is a lens photographers either love or hate. There is no in between. Those who love it say if they could only have one lens, this would be it. So far, I am in Camp Love. But I have learned the lens is a bit tricky. You really have to spend some time with it to get to know its nuances and be able to get the best performance from it.

It is not a lens you can just put on the camera and be good to go. I've been playing around with it for a few weeks now, and have developed a good feel for it.

When you get it right? Your image is stunning. When you miss, you really miss. Turns out there really isn't any in between in that respect either.

Obviously, I'm not going to practice with a new lens on a client. So, my child gets to be the victim, I mean my subject. When she's in the mood. Which on this day, she was. She was just doing her thing, and I liked the look of the light and the way she was resting her face on her hand.

I asked if I could take a few shots and she said, "Yes." In the end, we looked at the images together. She pointed to this one and said, "I like it, Mommy. You can put your mark on it and post it to Facebook."

I really like it, too. Her personality shines through. I love the gleam in her eye, the smirk on her lips and the hint of the dimple on her cheek.

So, here's what I did with this image in Lightroom...

Right off the bat I went with my Greater Than Gatsby, "Dreamy" preset. I love what this preset does with color and skin tone, especially in children. And it adjusts exposure to keep the focus of the image on the face and eyes, where I want it to be.

I did some overall sharpening/noise reduction; a standard step in my post processing. Then I played around with white balance and settled on, "Tungsten." I applied a very slight vignette. Used the heal tool to remove a red spot from her cheek. And then added some additional sharpening around the eyes.

I have been shooting wide open with this lens to see what I can get away with. For this shot, I knew one eye would have a softer focus because her face is turned slighting from the camera. It was an effect I liked, but would not always necessarily choose.

This one? I'm printing and framing. And I know years from now it will be a favorite...

April 1, 2015

Zoology For Kids: A Review

My child is passionate about animals. She's a human encyclopedia, full of all kinds of fascinating facts about them. And loves to demonstrate she knows more than we do.

For a while, she wanted to be a zoologist when she grows up. At the moment, her focus in on becoming a zoo veterinarian. So when I found out about the book Zoology For Kids: Understanding and Working with Animals, I knew I had to get a copy for her. The fact it has a Foreward written by the Kratt brothers sealed the deal.

My first impression of the book was that it is gorgeous. It is full of incredible animal photographs. It also has tons of interesting information about a wide variety of animals. I do wish it was a hardcover book. It feels a little flimsy, and with as much as we have been paging through it, I worry about how well it will hold up over time.

Photo credit: DC Wagner/Nyaminyami Photography, LLC

As a parent, my favorite part is the activities. There are 21 in all. SB is very keen to try out:
  • Conduct An Experiment: Keeping Warm
  • Construct A Food Chain
  • Eat A Bat Fruit Salad
  • Interview A Zoologist
  • Invent A New Species
  • Mold Tiger Teeth
  • Plan A Zoo Exhibit
  • Train Your Friends
Actually, she was enthusiastic about pretty much all of them. The tiger teeth activity was the one she was instantly excited about. Does that come as any surprise?

She wants to make those teeth RIGHT NOW! I'm not exactly sure what we will do with the mold once she's made it. I guess she will keep it in her room with all her other tiger things.

The book includes chapters on what it takes to be a zoologist or zoo veterinarian. What is involved and what an "average" day might look like for those professionals. It includes profiles and interviews with real people, as well as detailed information about the positions.

The book is targeted to kids age nine and up. But it was great for my six year old. She loves to delve deep into subjects, and devours any and all information she can get about animals. 

I'm not sure it would be a good fit for every six year old. My recommendation would be to check out the book online. If your child is in to animals and/or science, this would be a great addition to your home library.

I think it would work particularly well for home schooling families, or those looking for enrichment opportunities outside their child's normal school activities. We fall into the latter category.

We have only been able to skim the surface of all this book has to offer so far. I envision us digging deeper and having fun with the various activities over the summer.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for this review. However, all opinions expressed are my own. See full disclosure statement here.

March 30, 2015

An Open Letter To The Stranger Who Felt The Need To Tear Me Apart

We don't know one another. We've never met. We're not connected online. We have not interacted in any way. Our paths had never crossed until the other day.

That's when you tried to make me look bad to my employer. Attempted to discredit me and rip apart my work and my credentials.

Calling me "talentless," "delusional" and, "phony" is one thing. I don't expect everyone to appreciate my work. But making false accusations and attacking my character? That crosses the line.

I could turn this into a point-counterpoint post, detailing the many ways in which your claims were erroneous. But I don't feel the need. I know what is true and I stand by my work.

I don't do what I do for affirmation, or accolades, or even for money, although all are nice. I do what I do because I am called to create. I have to tell stories; my tools are a keyboard and a camera.

The only people who have to approve my words are my editors. And the only people who need to be delighted by my photographs are my clients. You are entitled to your opinion, as is everyone. But you will not discourage nor dissuade me.

If that was your goal, I'm afraid you have failed.

You didn't even hurt my feelings, if you want to know the truth. What I saw in your words was bitterness, resentment, and what could be interpreted as a tinge of jealousy. That is how you made yourself look, whether or not it is an accurate representation.

Through your words you appeared small, petty, and intolerant.

I don't know you or why you did what you did. All I know is you created an online account just so you could belittle me. You had to set up an account on the site in order to comment, something you had never done before that day.

Personally, I always look to see the good in people. I believe in giving others the benefit of the doubt. And I want to do that with you. I want to assume you were not trying to be cruel. That you did not think about how your words can impact others. That you were simply having a bad day and acted impulsively.

Yet your words demonstrate you took time with them. That you researched my background and experience and familiarized yourself with my work before crafting them.

I am part of many communities. Writers. Bloggers. Parents. For the most part I have found them to be incredibly supportive as well as inspirational. My experience has been positive.

I've been offered encouragement along the way. And some constructive criticism. But I've never had anyone malign me until you did.

Perhaps the photography community is a bit more cutthroat. I'm going to hope you are the exception to the rule.

So far, the photographers I've encountered have been wonderful. They have offered encouragement, insight and have been happy to discuss their profession with me. Even when we work in the same market and could potentially be competitors. Which is not the case with you, because you are across the country.

Yes, I know who and where you are. You used the same name in leaving your diatribe as you do professionally. It took all of five seconds for me to Google you and find your website, Facebook page, Instagram profile.

You are neither nameless nor faceless to me now. Learning you are a photographer put your words somewhat into perspective. Though I will never understand your motivation.

I don't know if anyone has ever made a concentrated effort to defame you. If so, I hope you ignored it, and continued to pursue your dreams. Nurture your passion. Practice your craft.

Because no one should ever be given the power to take those things away. And I most certainly will not grant it to you, just because you chose to use your keyboard to sling vitriol in my direction from 3,000 miles away.

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