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Friday, May 28, 2010

Stuff I Love: GBX Sandals

I just received these yesterday night and I love them!!!  In fact, I love them so much I bought them in every color: white, brown, and black.  They're my new GBX sandals!!!

GBX sandals leading up to door


GBX white sandals


GBX white sandals

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Venue Spotlight: La Jolla Country Club

Last Saturday I had the privilege of taking some photos at the beautiful La Jolla Country Club in, well, La Jolla.  A few weeks ago I shot a 50th wedding anniversary there so I was really excited to be able to go back.  I really LOVE taking detail and location photos that really illustrate how beautiful an event is.  And this event was no exception.  Unfortunately I didn't know whose wedding it was but I'm sure they were stoked!  I'm really looking forward to shooting more events there in the future.  But for now, please enjoy these photos I took!


La Jolla Country Club


Here you can see the restaurant looking out over the hill driving up to the club,
La Jolla Country Club


The amazing banquet room.
La Jolla Country Club


With the adjacent patio overlooking the La Jolla ocean.
La Jolla Country Club


One of preferred wedding ceremony locations is actually on one the golf course.  Here you can see the view while you walk away from the club down the fairway. 
La Jolla Country Club


And when you turn around, you can see the clubhouse and the ocean view behind it. 
La Jolla Country Club


Some prefer to have their ceremony closer to the ocean view.
La Jolla Country Club


Walking back inside you can take a peek into one of the three ocean-view restaurants (can you sense a theme here? :)
La Jolla Country Club


I had the pleasure of meeting the executive chef, Matthew Moyer. 
La Jolla Country Club


All the tables are exquisitely adorned with these beautiful flowers. 
La Jolla Country Club


La Jolla Country Club


And there's that ocean view again :)


La Jolla Country Club

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Closer Look: Memory Books

Today's post is dedicated to those of you who haven't seen the Generational Memory Book. (For the curious cats out there, the awesomely fabulous KISS Books make these) These are absolutely GORGEOUS and well-made books. This example here is done in rich red leather. You really have to see it in person, hold it, and smell it to get the full experience but hopefully these photos do it partial justice. The last two shots are how you'll receive your book wrapped and packaged. You can see this previous post with shots of Maree receiving her book.


Generational Memory Book made by KISS books


Generational Memory Book made by KISS books


Generational Memory Book made by KISS books


Generational Memory Book made by KISS books


Generational Memory Book made by KISS books


Generational Memory Book made by KISS books


Generational Memory Book made by KISS books


Generational Memory Book made by KISS books

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Memory Book for Maree

I LOVE seeing the look on my friend's faces when they unwrap something from me. Earlier this year I took photos of Maree Mossmer's two adorable kids and made a Memory Book for her Mother-In-Law. Today, she received her own book and I was able to capture the precious look on her face when she saw it for the very first time. If you want to check out the photos from the shoot, please take a look at this blog post of the Mossmer kids.


maree mossmer with her CelebrationPackages.com Memory Book


maree mossmer with her CelebrationPackages.com Memory Book


maree mossmer with her CelebrationPackages.com Memory Book


maree mossmer with her CelebrationPackages.com Memory Book


maree mossmer with her CelebrationPackages.com Memory Book

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stuff I Love: Macbook Pro

I enjoyed the shots I took for the last "Stuff I Love" installment that I took some photos of my new Macbook Pro and Magic Mouse. After years of being a PC user I can say that I do love my new Mac.


macbook pro laptop


macbook pro laptop


macbook pro laptop


macbook pro laptop


macbook pro laptop


macbook pro laptop


macbook pro laptop


macbook pro laptop


If you're curious how I shot these, I put clear plexiglass over a white foamcore board that sat on top of my coffee table. I had a single large softbox lighting the scene and more foamcore on both sides to reflect more light to fill in some shadows. This setup makes the lighting very, very soft and keeps the reflections manageable to where there aren't even any blown out highlights--even on the extremely shiny metal surface.


macbook pro laptop lighting setup


macbook pro laptop lighting setup

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Stuff I Love: Arbonne

The other day I received a package full of stuff I love: Arbonne. I've been using their skin care products for years and it's awesome. And no, I don't do the whole pyramid marketing scheme thing....I just buy the stuff. And boy, do I buy lots of stuff!! Yah yah, I probably know more about fashion and skin care than basketball but I'm ok with that. Anyway, I thought it'd be fun to start posting photos about Stuff I Love. We'll start things off with some fun Arbonne product shots.


box full of arbonne products


arbonne products


arbonne products


arbonne products


arbonne products


arbonne products

Friday, May 14, 2010

Athletes for Education Charity Event

The other day I posted a blog with photos from an event for Athletes for Education. Here's a slide show with more photos from the night.

If you were at this event, please go to Pictage and register. You'll be notified when all of the event photos are available. PLUS, I want to thank all of you for giving back to an awesome organization so when you register you'll receive a $10 credit toward any photos you'd like to purchase. I will donate a portion of the proceeds back to Athletes for Education.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sneak Peek: Athletes for Education Charity Event

WOW!!  I am exhausted right now!!  The past seven hours I have been volunteering my time at an amazing charity - Athletes for Education.  It was such a cool opportunity that I am lucky enough to have been a part of.  If you're not aware of this organization, please check them out!  Tonight's event was at the always phenomenal Omni Hotel, San Diego organized by my wonderful friend, Julie Larsen.  If you're ever in need of a venue, large or small, please give her a call or send her an email!     

I have to give a very, very special thanks to Meaghan of Weddings Made Splendid.  She was gracious enough to come help me out at the event and changed my life.  Everything went so smoothly that I am definitely hiring her to coordinate any event shoots that I do.  And if you're getting married, you should call her up to coordinate your wedding as well!

I am so excited about the photos and this event that I'm up right now at 1am getting a sneak peek of the event up on my blog!

The setup for the night was that restaurants and stores from around San Diego donated their food and time for guests to nibble on some delectable delights.

Athletes for Education Charity Event at the Omni Hotel San Diego - Food


While people wandered around drinking and being merry, they were able to silent auction bid on wonderful gifts and items that people donated. One of the coolest things were a collection of drawings made by autistic children.




And of course there were a ton of signed sports memorabilia.








I was also able to donate a $750 portrait session complete with 4x4" Brag Book. People actually bid on it!

Welp, it's 1am right now and I am exhausted!! Bookmark this blog and stay tuned for more photos from this event! If you were at this event, go to Pictage and register. You'll be notified when all of the event photos are available.

PLUS, I want to thank all of you for giving back to an awesome organization so when you register you'll receive a $10 credit toward any photos you'd like to purchase. I will donate a portion of the proceeds back to Athletes for Education.  

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to Make Your Portrait Photos POP Using Lightroom

Hello and welcome to another episode of Masterpiece Theater. Today, we will continue our discussion about how to make your Portrait Photos really POP using Lightroom. Check out the first post if you missed it.

Our example today comes courtesy of the fabulous Meaghan from Weddings Made Splendid. She's a wedding planner that I got to know yesterday. In order to show her a couple things in Lightroom I ended up taking a couple quick photos outside. Meaghan has such a warm smile and captivating blue eyes so it was easy to get a great capture of her!  I wanted to use this photo for my example because I felt like it was a great shot of HER.  Unfortunately, it wasn't MY best shot.  Fortunately, Lightroom has a bunch of tricks up its sleeve to come to the rescue! 

Because I was just taking a few quick pics I didn't take the time to find some better quality light.  Also, I somewhat underexposed the shot.  As a result she is a little too dark, her eye sockets have a little more shadow than they should, and there isn't quite as much pop.

On the left you can see the before straight out of the camera, unprocessed version.  And on the right is the after. 

Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - before/after


When editing a photo, there are a sequence of steps to follow. And the first thing to do is to get the foundation setup right. Leon Sandoval runs the post-processing shop, Colorati, and this is his recommended workflow (ps - I started using them for all my event post-processing and they are AMAZING).

In order of execution, there are four key things to adjust: 
  1. White Balance
  2. Highlights (White Point)
  3. Shadows (Black Point)
  4. Mid Tones 
Before you do anything else, it is important to set these properly. Once you have these foundation elements in place you can then play with all the other fancy/artistic/improvement techniques. I am going to breeze through these four very quickly so if anyone has questions please feel free to post a comment or email me.

Here's our original photo:
Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - before


First up: let's set the White Balance. For this shot I'm just going to use the "Daylight" preset.  For a normal shoot I'll go through and set a custom white balance to ensure the most accurate color (well, technically Colorati does that now) but doing that is a whole series in and of itself...

Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - white balance


Second thing we'll do is dial in the highlights. Another way to explaining this is that we want to adjust the photo so our whites are as white as possible without "clipping". To do this we'll use the Exposure slider. One really cool trick is that while you're adjusting the slider, if you hold down the ALT key you'll see a version of your image that shows where your highlights are being clipped. In this photo, you can see that I've increased the exposure a little too much.

Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - exposure

I'll bring down the Exposure slider slightly just until I don't see any clipped highlights.

Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - exposure


To adjust your shadows, or black point, you do the same thing but with the Black slider. You have the same ALT key trick available to help you see the clipped low lights. For this photo, I didn't need to adjust anything.


Finally, I'm going to lighten the mid-tones slightly by increasing the Brightness slider.

Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - brightness


OK. So now we have a foundationally sound photo. From here, we can start making our tweaks.  First thing I'm going to do is bump up the contrast slightly from the default of 25 to 50.  This will give a little more pop to the photo.  (You should note that our foundation adjustments already increased the contrast to a nice level already)  The next thing I'll do is boost the colors with the Vibrance slider.  I use this instead of the Saturation slider.  Saturation adjusts ALL of the colors equally.  Vibrance adjusts the color saturation on a sliding scale basis.  For those colors that are already rich, it leaves them more or less alone.  For colors that are lacking in saturation, it will boost those more.  This results in a much more pleasing and "normal" photo. 

Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - vibrance/contrast


At this point, many photographers will stop and call it a day. But if you have a photo that wasn't taken quite as good as it could have been there are a few simple tricks to help them out.

The tool that we'll use now is the Adjustment Brush. After clicking on the Adjustment Brush I zoom in on the image to see her eyes better. 

Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - adjustment brush


What I'm going to do is lighten her eyes but setting the brush to increase the brightness. Then I'll "paint" over her eyes to lighten them. Even though the sockets of the eyes still might not be receiving as much light as they should, the brightened eyes trick the eyes into thinking they're lit better. And because eyes are one of the first thing people notice when they look at a face, it really helps make the photo.

Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - vibrance/contrast


For extra credit, you can even use an adjustment brush to increase the exposure over the catch lights. Catch lights are what really put life into the eyes and portraits.


The last thing I'm going to do is apply a slight vignette to really bring the attention inward to Meaghan.  This is a technique that has become quite trendy and as such, I won't use it on things like canvases or albums because I want those things to be timeless.  However, for a slide show or blog post sometimes I'll do this as a quick and easy trick to give a photo an extra something. 

Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - vignette


Ohhh wait. Just kidding. I've got one more trick for you. If you look at Meaghan's jacket you'll see that we don't quite have as much detail in the white as we'd want. If you want to go another extra mile on your photo here is a way to bring that detail back.

We'll use the adjustment brush again. To bring out the detail we'll decrease the exposure and increase the Clarity and Sharpness. In the screen cap below, you can see how I'm painting on with the adjustment brush.

Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - adjustment brush


Here again is the final photo. Thanks again Meaghan for being my unknowing model!

Lightroom Tutorial - how to make your portrait photos pop - final