Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vignettes? Yes Please!

Some people have been asking me how I add the dark to the edges of my pictures. The dark is actually whats called a Vignette. I love the way the look on a picture. The lovely and very talented Trista Lerit uses the effect on a lot of her photos. I think that it allows you to focus on the center of the photo, plus it just looks really artsy and cool.

Step 1 Open your picture in Photoshop and duplicate the background layer: Ctrl + J.

* Note it is always good to have a backup of the original layer. Keep it for 'Just in Case' purposes.

Step 2 Go to Filter > Distort > Lens Correction.

Step 3 You are going to be using the two sliders under Vignette. Moving the Amount slider will control how light or dark the Vignette color will be. The Midpoint slider will effect how big the Vignette is. Play around with the sliders until you are happy with the result. Click Ok to save and apply your settings.

You are Finished!

Try using this tutorial with some of the others posted. You might really like the way they turn out.
I added a blur to mine so you had more of a point of focus.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Park Pictures

Happy Tuesday all! I hope everyone is having a great week. Mine is will be better on Friday @ 5:00pm. I had mentioned in a previous blog entry that I got to take some pictures of my sister's kids at the park. There was this creepy old guy at the park. He was in his 40's and he was swinging on a swing. He kept talking to the kids. I thought that it was super creepy. Suffice to say we watched the kids like a hawk until he left.

One of the things I love about taking pictures is getting to work with them in Photoshop. I know most Photographers like to do batch editing, meaning editing a bunch of pictures at once. However; I'm not a "Photographer" and I think that each picture should be tweaked on its own. What works for one picture doesn't always work for another. Although I'm sure when you are amazing at photography then you don't need to edit the pictures as much as I do. This is totally just a hobby for me. I love playing around with my new toy and then making the picture better in PS.

Anyway, here are some of the pictures I took last weekend.

Hope you enjoy,

Monday, April 28, 2008

J'adore Photoshop

Ahhhhh Photoshop, I do love thee. Photoshop has got to be the best photo editor there is. Sure its kinda confusing and really intimidating when you first start, but there is just so much you can do with it. I have had people ask me how I make my monogram stuff and edit pictures. Well, I do everything in Photoshop. The next question I get is; how did you learn it. MH helped when I was starting out, but I learned most of it online..exp. all the photo editing.

I started using Photoshop for work. I used to edit the screen shots we used in our FAQ's. All I knew how to do was; crop, drop shadow, paint bucket and a few minor things. When I started planning my wedding I knew I wanted a really great invitation. MH and I had a limited budget so I thought I would try to create my own monogram and invitation. I eventually got better and better at Photoshop. Eventually, I started playing around with more options and started to become more comfortable with it.

It wasn't until I was really unhappy with my wedding photos that I started to play around with picture editing in PS. I have to tell you, there are sooooo many PS tutorials online. What's nice about them is that you get to know new features, what they do, how to manipulate them for your own ends and (my fav) shortcuts. **sidenote: I am one of those girls that doesn't like to use the mouse. I am all about the shortcuts.**

Anyway, if you are trying to learn Photoshop at all I would totally suggest going online and checking out all the cool tutorials. You could also take a PS class, but let's face it...who has time for that?

I just found a new option, well I guess I didn't just find it as I always knew it was there I was just to scared to play around with it. The new option is Curves. I Love, Love, Love playing around with the Curves option in PS. There are lots of tutorials that tell you about Curves, or they just tell you to use a specific settings in the Curve tool. What I have found is that you really need to play around with it because each picture is so different that what works for one will not work for another.

I will do another tutorial on curves where I will have screen shots and whatnot. For the time being, check out some of the pictures I edited with the Curves tool, verses other settings.

Here is the original picture. It's not too bad, but the sky and her skin is a little lackluster (sorry Ella it's the camera not you).

Here is the Photo with some editing done. I added a layer and changes the blend mode to Overlay. This is usually one of my favorite things to do. In fact a lot of times I mix and match the Blend modes until I am happy with the finish. The problem with this is that you don't have a lot of control. You cannot just edit one part of the photo, like the midtones (we will discuss in the next tutorial) and whatnot. Yeah you can erase the effect from part of the picture, but its kind of a hacky way to do it. Still, the picture is nice, the side of her face is really dark, but they sky becomes a nice blue.

Here is the picture that I edited using the curve tool. It gives you a lot more control over the different tones of the photo. Meaning, I can make the dark darker while making the light lighter. I can edit each piece of the photo as needed. I think this gives the best effect.

So I will show you how to do all this in the next tutorial.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Me and Mason

I hope everyone is enjoying what is left of their weekend. I am just trying not to die of heat!! This weekend was really nice. I got to spend most of the time with my sister and her kids. On Friday, after work, I met up with my sister and her kids at a local park. I brought along my camera to snap a few pictures. They didn't turn out all that great. I'll post some later on. On Saturday, Denielle and I were able to sneak away to the Fisherman's, on the San Clemente pier. It was such a nice day. The best kids. We were able to hang out just the two of us, it felt like old times.

Later in the day my sister asked if I would hang out while her youngest took a nap. The poor kid was having a rough day; his two bottom teeth just broke through so he must be in a lot of pain and his sister woke him up while he was trying to take his nap. So I turned on Enchanted and waited for my sister to come back. Mason ended up waking up before she got there. He was so cute and in such a good mood that I grabbed my camera. I FINALLY got a picture of him smiling. He doesn't usually want anything to do with me and the camera......although Ella more than makes up for it with her constant posing.

Anyway, here are some of the pictures I got of Mason. I will post some more of the weekend at a later time.

I love this picture of Mason.

Trying to grab my camera.

Here is a sneak peek of the picture I took of the girls on Friday.

As always, thanks for looking :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Painted Veil

Last weekend I got a chance to watch the best movie. Oh crap I guess I should not have said best, now when you go to watch it you are going to be disappointed. Anyway, it was pretty good. On Saturday, I was getting ready for my Mom's bday party when I happened to find this movie on TV. I had no idea what it was about, and I missed the first 30 minutes....but the movie totally sucked me in. It's one of those movies that are kinda slow, kinda boring depending on the mood you are when you are watching it, but it just kinda sucks you in. Like a book that doesn't have much going on but for some reason you cannot put it down.

The movie has Naomi Watts and Edward Norton, who I adore! It is set in the 1920's in Shanghai. Basically, Naomi Watts ( the name) marries Edward Norton (Walter)to get away from her Mom. Naomi is kinda spoiled and Edward is a soft spoken scientist who is totally in love with her. Well...........Naomi ends up having an affair and Edward finds out. So he takes her into the middle of a cholera epidemic in an unstable political environment. Edward is all pissed, understandably when you find you wife with another man. So he is treating her really bad.

As you can guess they both fall madly in love with each other because they get to see things in each other that they couldn't before. I'll let you watch it to find out what happens in the end. The best thing about the movie is how good the writing is and how the cinematography is just beautiful. They really create characters that you care about. Plus, I LOVVVE Edward Norton. He looks good in the 1920's clothes.

Go and rent it this weekend.

Vegas....Hooters Style

So, today my love of Hooters finally paid off. I, as on of the first 100 customers, receive a free two night stay at the Hooters Casino in Las Vegas. It is limited to Sunday - Thursday in June - August....but hey a free trip is a free trip. Plus DH and I were just saying we have not been to Vegas together. I also won $200 worth of free slot play and two free show tickets annnnnd I am in a drawing to win 50k. Not bad for just going to lunch.

YAY for me!!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


'There were never such devoted sisters. Sharing, caring, every little things that we are wearing....'
If you have ever seen the movie White Christmas you would know this song. Its from the part where Bing Crosby and Danny Kay go to see their army buddy's sister's performance to give them some tips. The act (the Haynes Sisters) do this great number where they sing a song about being sisters. To get the girls out of a jam with their landlord Danny and Bing do the second act for the sisters. The wear the costumes and lip sink and everything its pretty funny.

Anyway, when my sister and I were young we did the act in a talent show. See, we love the movie. My family doesn't have many Christmas traditions due to the fact that my Dad is a Jehovah's Witness, watching this movie is one of the only traditions I can remember doing every year. In fact when it came time for me to give the toast for my sister wedding, all I could think of was this song and how special my sister was to me. I mean, I couldn't put into words how much she meant to me. So I sang that song...she was a good sport and joined in. Luckily most of the guests had been at the talent show so they knew what it was all about.

My sister means the world to me. We are only 16 months apart and we have alway been really close. You know those things that you have that you don't tell anyone about? Those are the things my sister knows about me. We are so much a like that its scary. I was just so blessed to have her in my life. She is the one, out of anyone, that really knows me....really really knows me. Its hard to not be so close to someone who shared your the toilet (yes, you read that right when we were kids we shared the toilet).

Anyway, last night my sister came over to pick up her sunglasses. She was supposed to hang out with her hubby but he got held up at work. So she decided to kill some time with me. I was secretly happy because I always love spending time with my sister. Especially when the kids aren't around. Don't get me wrong I love them like the day is long, but it's not often we just get to hang out alone. We went to Starbucks for coffee, the bookstore and then over to have some sushi, beer and sake. Let me tell you coffee does not mix well with the others. It made for an interesting time trying to go to sleep. I know, I know, I should have had decaf. We had a fab time gabbing and drinking.

Thanks for the fun times Nellie


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thoughts for a Tuesday.

While I was reading a friends blog I came across a part where she mentioned that she wrote her blogs in her head. I thought nothing of it until I was in the shower this morning and I was doing the very same thing. I never noticed it before, but I totally do that! I cannot tell you how many blogs I have started in my head, while getting ready for work, falling asleep at night, fast forwarding my DVR or driving around. So here is the blog I wrote in my head....although it always changes as I start to write it.

I had a chance to assist the amazing Jennifer Johnson of OCs Finest Weddings on a wedding last weekend. Most of you probably know that Jennifer was the one who was the Day of Coordinator for my wedding. Over the last year I have gotten the chance to assist her on many of her weddings. It is always fun for me because I just LOVE weddings. I am sure most brides cannot wait for the wedding to be over so they can move on, I am just the opposite...I cannot get enough. I love talking about them, planning them, watching them, helping create them, etc. I love to see how everything comes together on the day of. I show up at Jennifer's house and all I see are boxes of stuff. Then the florist comes in and there are buckets of flowers but no centerpieces. It is amazing how in just a few short hours all those things because a beautiful wedding. In fact, after seeing so many of Jennifer's weddings I wish that I had used her design services as well. I am just floored by some of the lovely things that she comes up with.

But, I digress. I got a chance to bring my new camera to her last wedding. You can see the pictures on her blog:

I got some really nice compliments on those pictures. In fact some people have told me that I should go into the photography business. I don't think I'm quite to that point, in fact I don't think I ever will be. I just enjoy weddings and photography. I don't think I would ever combine the two. I just don't think I could stand doing to a bride what my photographer did to me. It is a lot of pressure to be in charge of the only tangible memories that a bride can take away from her wedding. Although I wouldn't mind taking some shots for free, just for fun. I would love to make take some; getting ready, engagement, TTD or other photos. Just because I enjoy them.

Those are my thoughts for a Tuesday,

She is NOT 50!

Happy, Happy Birthday to my wonderful mother who just turned 50! That's right, 50! Although it is hard for me to believe that someone who looks like this:

Is 50!

Last weekend my sister and I planned a fun filled day for mom's 50th. Since she already had a bunch of bday plans,going to New York and Palm Springs, we just planned something small. We met, in the morning, at my sister's house. We started the day with some coffee and shopping. Then, we headed over to lunch at Cedar Creek Inn in Laguna Niguel. Little did she know that we planned to have some of the family join us for a fun girls lunch.

After lunch we headed back to my place for some Champagne and snacks. We had a blast just sitting around drinking and having fun. Later we headed to my spa...which it was a perfect day for.

Here are some of the pictures from the day.

The bday sign I created. I didn't work so great on that chair, but Mom loved it and that's what counts.

Flower arrangement my sister made. Apparently my skills do not extend to working with flora.

Shelley and Aidan, he was not super happy to be with so many ladies.

Yummy hand!

Mason is ok with being with the ladies as long as there is food around.

Poor Aunt Holly was super sick.

:)Cute face Shell

Grandma and Alexa...I guess that's great grandma to her.

Aunt Susi and Jenny look like two peas in a pod, two blond, blue-eyed peas.

Little Alexa in her Princess dress.

Auntie Shelley I don't need help!

Mmmmmm my wine.

My 'Nigel' salad

Mom's Pasta

The cute little cake my sister made.

Denielle passing out her yummy cupcakes.

Set up at home.

I couldn't resist adding this one. There are hornets all around our apartments, expecially this time of year. MH got a great picture of one right by our door. I have to note, that this was right before he sprayed him.

Happy Birthday Mom, I love you!!!