Blogstomp – My Newest Assistant

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As I am trying to be much more consistent with my blogging, I was thrilled to come across a new app to help remove just one of my many excuses: Blogstomp

Preparing photos for the web can be a real hassle.

My pre-Blogstomp process:

  • open photo in Photoshop
  • process in “save for web”
  • open my watermark in Photoshop
  • drag watermark to new layer of the photo
  • position and size watermark
  • flatten layers
  • sharpen for web
  • save as a new file to my web folder
  • repeat for each and every photo I want to post

Then, if I want to post several images in a single photo collage, well that is a whole other long process.  I have used other “blog/web” prep processes and even some Photoshop actions which have helped to cut the time, but they just were a bit too limited and didn’t do everything I wanted.  The result from all my fumbling around with different methods has created some less than pleasing and very inconsistent results.
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Blogstomp to the rescue! With Blogstomp I simply drag my image into the app and literally click one button and the image is automatically resized, watermarked, custom framed, sharpened, saved as a new file, and, if I want, it will even post it to Facebook and Twitter for me, all with one click!  But what if you have 30 images you want to process? No problem, drag them into Blogstomp and with one click it will process them all.  Collages or Blog Boards are just as easy.  Select the images you want to include in the collage and “stomp” it with one click.  Blogstomp will create a collage for you in less than 5 seconds, and even give you several layout options.

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Single image

 

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5 images – one option of 13 different layouts

Or how about 20 images in one collage? No problem.

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First 20 days of 100 Days of Summer Project

Blogstomp will even allow you to customize the frame in any color or size, with or without image stroke line, background images, square or rounded corners, and more, all in one click.  Even if you don’t blog, Blogstomp will make sharing your images easier and faster.  My new assistant has taken one more excuse for not blogging off my list.  I guess I will be posting more in the future.

What is your image processing system?

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My Not So Secret Secret – Photo Editing

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I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant to post this.  I mean, it is kind of like a magician showing his audience how he does his “magic”.  But, I think you all need to know, so in the spirit of transparency and honesty, and to stop any misconceptions, here is my little secret.  I use Photoshop!  Gasp!

Often my non-photographer friends will comment on my images, or those of other professional photographers, with, ” My photos never look like that!” “Nice image. I wish I had an expensive camera like yours.” or “Wow! How does she get all her photos to look so dark and moody like that?”  The answer is not necessarily new camera equipment.

A good photograph is created, not taken. It starts with “seeing” the subject, placing that subject in the composition in a compelling way, controlling the light on the subject, and knowing your camera well enough to “get the shot.” However, for most images, that is not the end of the creative process.

Photoshop and other editing applications are almost always used to enhance the image. In fact, since I always shoot in RAW format, most of my SOOC (straight out of camera) images look flat.  I need to use editing software to define the shadows and bring depth to the finished image.  This is not cheating.  This is part of the creative process and it is one of the ways photographers put their “signature style” into an image.

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Here is an example of a portrait before my editing and after.  I used both Lightroom and Photoshop; Lightroom to crop, correct the color and exposure, and increase the contrast, Photoshop to smooth the skin, remove the small bit of black undershirt showing at the armpit, and brighten and sharpen the eyes.
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Above is a perfect example of how Photoshop can take “bad” photo and improve it to passable.  The original image was taken without any real thought to composition, one of those quick point and shoot situations.  When I first saw this image I thought it was trash, no real definition, hardly any separation of the subject from the background, no real interest.  However, with just a bit of editing in Lightroom (crop, darken greens and edges, lighten bird, sharpen) I was able to salvage the image.

In this last image, I wanted to create a specific mood, a dark dreaminess. This was not possible to do “in-camera.”  While I exposed for my main subject, my granddaughter on the rock, this left me with the shadowed creek bed and palms looking rather flat and boring.  To get the image I saw in my mind’s-eye, I had to do some tweaking in Photoshop, bring down the midtones and shadows.

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So. the cat is out of the bag!  While a great image is not just the result of great editing, editing is an important part.  So don’t be intimided. Get started on your own photo creating!  I would encourage you to take some time to learn how to use some simple editing software. I recommend Lightroom as a great starting point as it is not too expensive and it can do so much.  Adobe now offers a monthly subscription based software solution that includes Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99 a month with a 30 day free trial if you want to try it out.  There are also many different free options like PicMonkey and Fotor, not to mention the great editing and filters available on your own phone.

I’d love to see your own photo transformations.  Shoot over to my Facebook page and share your creations.

 

 

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100 Days of Summer

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One photo a day; one for each of the 100 Days of Summer.  It certainly is not a new idea, but when I saw the post in my inbox, I thought, “this is one I should do”  I have wanted to do a personal documentary type photo project for several years but have shied away from larger projects like 365’s and such, knowing that I would not be consistent and the pressure would take the joy out of the process.  But this year, I’m taking the challenge.

 

Most of the lifestyle photography blogs I have seen are by young mothers and documenting their daily life just makes sense.   Children change and grow so quickly and provide a constant supply of humorous, tender, adventurous moments in each and every day to photograph.  But my children are all grown and gone.  My 100 Days of Summer will look very different, and that’s ok.

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My summers are filled with various house guests, family BBQ’s, museums, concerts, beach days and outings with the grandkids.  One of the highlights of my summer is the annual month-long visit of my two oldest grandchildren who live out of state. With the eldest entering her senior year of high school, this just may be my last chance to document our summertimes together, a fact that was on my mind when Courtney Slazinik’s blog post hit my in box.

 

No matter what your summer holds, whether it is filled with dripping popsicle sticks and plastic wading pools or quiet solitary strolls by the lake, committing to taking a single image each day could be the start of a new tradition.  At the very least, you will stop, look at your surroundings, and the people in your life, just a bit more carefully and pause to enjoy them a bit more completely.

Won’t you join me in discovering your own unique 100 Days of Summer?

Happy Summer!

 

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My Two Dads

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When I was four, I wanted to marry him.  He was tall, dark, and handsome. Everyday he would take me to work with him at Muscle Beach.  He was funny, kind, playful, proudly showed me off to his friends, talked to me like I was a real person.  I was head-over-heals in love with him.  And then, he was gone.  Divorce.

Nowadays, divorce usually means weekend visits or even two entire homes.  For me it meant the end.  He didn’t come to take me for ice cream or trips to Disneyland.  There were no arguments over who “got me” for the holidays.  Even though I seldom saw him, I carried him with me always.  It is from him that I got my artistic eye, my love of adventure, and ability to dream no matter my age or circumstance.

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I was six years old when I met him.  He was not adventurous, artistic, or particularly attractive, while not unattractive.  However, he had a cool about him, a Mad Men, golf and martinis kind of cool.  He was awkward at best in showing affection,  playing, or engaging me in conversation, but in those early days, he did give it his best effort.  I could tell he was trying and I liked him for it.  And then, he moved in.  Marriage.

I never called him Dad.  I did try at first, but if felt wrong.  However, he moved in to the empty space that need to be filled and I felt grateful to him for it.  He worked to help provide a home, food, and necessities of life.  I felt secure.  From him I learned to value education,  independence, and to seek the finer things in life.

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My two dads were so different from one another but I am forever thankful for what they brought to my life, both the good and the hard lessons.  I lost both of my dads to cancer in a short six month period, but they will be with me always.  I love to look at early photos of us together and treasure the memories they bring back, not of events, but of their character, their humor, their love.

When I do a family portrait session, I try to get a few photos of each child separately with their father. There may be other photos, those taken at birthday parties or camping trips, photos that tell the story of their lives.  It is my hope, however, that the image I take will be different, one focused on just the two of them, lost in affection.

Happy Father’s Day!

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