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How editing can transform the story of a photograph

For a while now, I have wanted to find a way to capture in an image one facet of my daughter’s personality: her strong independence.

I was looking for an opportunity for a long time and in January, during our holiday in Tasmania, the moment happened.

We were at the edge of a big dark forest and a golf course, on the yard I hired for that night. When my daughter saw the gravel, she sat there and played. I asked her to follow me as there were plenty of wallabies on the golf course and I wanted to include them in a picture.

Miss Independent said: NO (of course).

So to test her, I continued on my way and took a picture of the wildlife, maybe 50 meters from where my daughter played. Although I hoped she would follow me, she stayed where she was and didn’t look at me at all. But I was looking at her!

As I watched, I had my “a-ha” moment and decided it was the perfect time to frame her independence!

She was sitting in a tiny patch of light just in front of the dark forest. It was the blue hour and there was little available light left. My first thought was to showcase her independence in a contrasty way.

I backed up far from her, laid down in the gravel and put my camera on the ground. I metered for her and shot this image with my Canon 24-105mm f4 lens at 105mm.

Why did I make these choices?

  • Metering for her: I wanted the contrast of her in the light against the darkness of the forest. If I had metered for the scene it would have made the entire scene appear brighter than it was and the grass at the bottom would have been blown out.
  • 105 mm focal length: I wanted to use compression to make the forest appear as close as it felt in reality. Choosing a wider lens would have produced a different effect.
  • Increasing the distance between me and the subject: I made this choice as I wanted to emphasize how small she was against those tall trees. I needed the height of the trees in my frame, so I needed that 24mm “wide” look and backed up a lot. Plus, I am a wide angle shooter and like to include the environment in my images!
  • Laying down: I wanted to have my daughter at the very bottom of the frame, so the height contrast between the trees and her would be even greater.

Unfortunately, as I was waiting for the perfect moment to capture her independence, the light went by and my overall idea was not well captured within the raw image. Here is the raw, which is very dark and cool:

Back at home after my holidays, I had two options in mind for editing the image.

  • Edit it to tell the story I had in mind while shooting, a threatening giant black forest and a little girl in a pocket of light
.
  • Edit it with my usual personal preset that is bright and happy.

I chose to do both, just to see how different the images would be in terms of storytelling.

So, as you will see, editing is not only a matter of taste, it is also a way to showcase the story behind your image, and then, your voice.

Final image:

For a while now, I have wanted to find a way to capture in an image one facet of my daughter’s personality: her strong independence. I finally got my chance and this is how I emphasized that story with my editing.

I achieved my vision by:

  • Keeping the exposure almost the same as the SOOC.
  • Keeping the white balance cool over the trees and adding a warmer white balance where my daughter is located.
  • Keeping the tones cool using the hue slider to retain the blue hour feeling.
  • Bumping the clarity slider to make the trees pop.
  • Opening the shadows a tad to reveal more trees which were hidden in the darkness.
  • Adding a very strong curve to bring back the whites and the highlights that were critically missing.
  • Desaturating the greens, because they were too yellowish after the first tweaks I made.
  • Decreasing the luminance to make it rich and dark.
  • Adding a graduated filter at the bottom and increasing the exposure and the whites in the patch of light.
  • Adding a strong vignette to keep the moody look.
  • Playing with the Split Toning panel to get warmer highlights and greener/bluer shadows.
  • Tweaking the colors in the Camera Calibration panel to make the greens “greener”.

Tada! This is really what I had in mind and this edit conveyed the mood of the moment the image was taken.

Now, here is a second edit using my usual editing process.

For a while now, I have wanted to find a way to capture in an image one facet of my daughter’s personality: her strong independence. I finally got my chance and this is how I emphasized that story with my editing.

It is warmer, the vibrance and saturation have been bumped, the hue sliders are on the warm side and the white balance is on the neutral side. The shadows and the blacks are very open and while the RGB curve is the same as the previous image, I added a Red curve to add more warmth to the picture.

Suddenly, it is telling another story and the blue hour has disappeared. She is still small against the trees, but this is less threatening and only showcases a candid little girl.

Here are the two versions side by side:

For a while now, I have wanted to find a way to capture in an image one facet of my daughter’s personality: her strong independence. I finally got my chance and this is how I emphasized that story with my editing.

Some tips to match your editing with your story.

First, of course, you must know what your story is. In the e-book In Life and Dreams: Envision Your Storybook Life, I remember she strongly suggested to us to be able to give a short title to your image before, during and after shooting. No title? Hmmm, maybe you have no story or your story is unclear? Think about it.

Got a clear story? Great!

  • Use the white balance slider locally or globally.
    • Do you want to showcase the night or evening time? Play with the Temperature White Balance slider, globally or locally, to add some blue where you want to enhance the night/evening time and add some yellow where you want to show daylight.
  • Bump or decrease the vibrance or the saturation.
    • For a happy picture, use vibrance. For a timeless story, desaturate it a bit, or a lot!
  • Open or close those shadows.
    • You want to showcase the environment? Try opening the shadows. Or if you want to minimize them, keep them relatively closed.
  • Go wild with the clarity slider or go soft.
    • If you want to add textures, try adding clarity. If you would like to convey a peaceful mood, decrease the clarity to -5 or more.
  • Use the HSL panel
    • To add warmer or cooler tones using the hue sliders.
    • Get rid of a color that distracts the viewer from the story or enhance a color that contributes to your story, using the saturation slider.
    • To add richer tones or brighten others, using the luminance slider.
  • Use the Camera Calibration Panel to tweak the colors more
    • Use the red or green slider to modify the greens in your image.
    • Use the blue saturation slider to add warmth without messing with skin tones or reducing it to reduce the overall saturation.

Finally, if you want a clean look and not a matte or hazy one, be sure that your histogram covers all the chart, so that you have the complete palette of light (shadows, midtones and highlights). And be sure you have not clipped shadows or blown highlights!

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How to use “Google Images” to help protect your photos

As an Intellectual Property attorney, receiving a call from a panicked client isn’t anything new.

But one day, my panicked client happened to be the amateur photographer/blogger Mom of a small child.

My client learned that a photo of her daughter had been used on a stranger’s website to sell products (thankfully, on rated “G” products). I’m pleased to report that this particular story had a happy ending in that the parties resolved the issue to their mutual agreement.

Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, my client’s case demonstrates that knowing your photographs’ whereabouts is important. But how can you know whether someone is using your photos without your consent?

While there’s no single easy solution, there are a few tools that can help. In this article we’ll explore some nifty (and free!) online Google tools that will help you determine if your photographs are ‘traveling’ without your permission.

Google Images

You may already be familiar with Google Images, but if not, “Google Images” is one of Google’s specialized search databases. It allows users to input search words/terms (for example, for a particular color or animal) to find images. But you can also use Google Images to search for places where your artwork or images appear on the Internet.

Doing a search on Google Images is incredibly easy. First, navigate to Google Images’ search bar page. The search page has a very simple layout:

Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, my client’s case demonstrates that knowing your photographs’ whereabouts is important. But how can you know whether someone is using your photos without your consent?

Once you’re on the search page, the easiest way to search is by dragging a thumbnail of your photograph right into the search bar. Once you do that, the text, “Search by Image” will come up as your file downloads. Usually, this takes under a minute or so:

Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, my client’s case demonstrates that knowing your photographs’ whereabouts is important. But how can you know whether someone is using your photos without your consent?

Once your image is uploaded, a list of search results will come up listing the online places where your photograph appears. To illustrate, let’s give it a try with a photo I took a while back in Beachwood Canyon, California:

Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, my client’s case demonstrates that knowing your photographs’ whereabouts is important. But how can you know whether someone is using your photos without your consent?

After Google Images uploaded the photo, here are the results of the search:

Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, my client’s case demonstrates that knowing your photographs’ whereabouts is important. But how can you know whether someone is using your photos without your consent?

The first two results are blog posts where I’ve used the photo. But Google Images also located two Pinterest® boards where my photo appears.

Keep in mind, though, that web crawlers may take a bit of time to index websites where your photo might appear. So, Google Images might not locate photos that have been on the Internet for a very short time.

Google Alerts

Being the total nerd that I am, I also wanted to see if it is possible to use Google’s alert system  (“Google Alerts”) to semi-automate a web search for images.

If you’re unfamiliar with Google Alerts, it’s a free service that will e-mail you when articles having certain key words (that you designate) appear on the Internet. Unlike Google Images, though, Google Alerts doesn’t have the ability to search directly for images.  The idea, then, is to have some unique combination of keywords with your image and then set a Google Alert for that combination.

If you’ve never used Google Alerts, setting up an alert is really easy.  To set up an alert, go to the Google Alerts website and type in your keywords in the search box:

Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, my client’s case demonstrates that knowing your photographs’ whereabouts is important. But how can you know whether someone is using your photos without your consent?

Tip: Put your keyword combination in quotations to prevent the alert from pulling up everything having one of the individual keywords.

Once you enter your keywords, Google Alerts will ask for an e-mail address where it can send your search results as Google locates them on the Internet.  At this point, you can also set certain parameters from Google Alert’s pull-down menus.  For example, from the pull-down menus, you can set language, region and can choose to receive your alerts immediately as they appear, or once a day or week.

The pull-down menus are shown in the example below, where we’ll input a couple of terms from a description in one of our photos:

Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, my client’s case demonstrates that knowing your photographs’ whereabouts is important. But how can you know whether someone is using your photos without your consent?

When you first set up an alert, Google Alerts will list existing places where your keyword combo appears on the Internet. For example, our sample search tells us that there aren’t any recent results using our keywords, but identifies some older references where our keyword combo appears:

Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, my client’s case demonstrates that knowing your photographs’ whereabouts is important. But how can you know whether someone is using your photos without your consent?

The first cite is a blog post where we used the photo with a caption and description using our keywords. The second cite picked up a Pinterest post of our photo:

Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, my client’s case demonstrates that knowing your photographs’ whereabouts is important. But how can you know whether someone is using your photos without your consent?

Once you input your e-mail address and hit the “Create Alert” blue button, Google Alerts will send you an e-mail when your unique keyword combo appears on the Internet.

Some photographers (e.g., Erik Sacino at Solar Gravity) appear to have successfully used this method with unique keywords in photograph metadata.  The theory is that a photo’s metadata usually travels online with the photograph.

However, I’ve have had mixed results with this method. Part of the problem could be that I haven’t been very consistent in using unique keywords in my photos’ metadata and descriptions.

You can add metadata to your images directly from your camera. For example, my Nikon has this option in the “Setup” submenu (the one with the little wrench icon). Within the Setup submenu, the “input command” option (or analogous on non-Nikon cameras) will allow you to enter your keywords.  One caveat to this method is that you’re likely to be limited in the number of characters that you can input (e.g. my Nikon permits 36 characters total). Most post-processing software will also allow you to enter metadata, including a description of your photo.

So, give Google Images and Google Alerts a try! Even if you’re a (very) amateur photographer like me, it’s quite magical to input your photo into Google Images and have it pull up websites and blogs where your photo appears.

Oh, and just a word of advice, when using Google Alerts, the more unique your keywords, the better. I learned this the hard way. I had set a Google Alert using my extremely common maiden name- and I’ll be busy cleaning out my e-mail in-box for a very long time…

This post is intended to convey general information only and should not be construed as a legal opinion or legal advice.  Any opinions expressed are our own. Readers should not take any action, or refrain from taking any action, based upon the information contained in this post, but should consult with their own attorney concerning their own situation and their specific legal questions.

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6 playful tips to perk up your park pictures of your kids

If your spring is anything like mine, the kids are dragging you to the park every afternoon to take advantage of the warmer weather.

I love the energy, colors, play and laughter at the park but, after a while, that once exciting setting can lead to images that feel repetitive and dull.

Because we are there so often, I’ve challenged myself to find new ways to capture my kids as they swing, balance, run and hang at their favorite place.

1. Utilizing the geometry of the park

Parks are full of shapes and designs that are great for creating strong compositions. Look for visual interest in the repetition of the equipment and search for framing opportunities as the kids crawl and explore. Combining bright or primary colors with the shapes of the park helps support the childhood theme of play.

If your spring is anything like mine, the kids are dragging you to the park every afternoon to take advantage of the warmer weather. Because we are there so often, I’ve challenged myself to find new ways to capture my kids as they swing, balance, run and hang at their favorite place.

2. Showing them conquering their fears or facing a challenge

Although the park is a place of play, it’s also a place where kids face fears and conquer challenges. Play with angle and creative post processing to enhance the scale of the challenge or the root of the fear.

For example, if they’re scared of heights, get down low and shoot up at them to emphasize how high up they are on the toys. The radial filter in ACR and Lightroom is awesome for emphasizing balance or height fears, but a little goes a long way, so use it sparingly!

If your spring is anything like mine, the kids are dragging you to the park every afternoon to take advantage of the warmer weather. Because we are there so often, I’ve challenged myself to find new ways to capture my kids as they swing, balance, run and hang at their favorite place.

3. Embracing the changing light at the park

Park play doesn’t always happen during the golden hour, so you will need to embrace the idea of shooting in all types of light there. In full sun, look for fun shadow play for creating dramatic black and whites or position yourself to take advantage of the vast blue skies.

When the sun sets on your playtime, backlight those recognizable shapes of the park to create beautiful silhouettes by exposing for the background and letting the park details fall into the shadows.

Related: 4 ways to shoot beautiful photos in full sun

If your spring is anything like mine, the kids are dragging you to the park every afternoon to take advantage of the warmer weather. Because we are there so often, I’ve challenged myself to find new ways to capture my kids as they swing, balance, run and hang at their favorite place.

take-better-pictures-with-the-help-of-the-Clickin-Moms-photography-forum

4. Conquering the sameness by shooting a series

So you drag your camera to the park and your kid stays on the same equipment the entire time? If you’ve exhausted every possible angle (front, behind, above, below, from the side), embrace the consistency and shoot a photo series! Playgrounds are a place of movement and energy, and a series is a great way to tell that part of the story.

If your spring is anything like mine, the kids are dragging you to the park every afternoon to take advantage of the warmer weather. Because we are there so often, I’ve challenged myself to find new ways to capture my kids as they swing, balance, run and hang at their favorite place.

If your spring is anything like mine, the kids are dragging you to the park every afternoon to take advantage of the warmer weather. Because we are there so often, I’ve challenged myself to find new ways to capture my kids as they swing, balance, run and hang at their favorite place.

If your spring is anything like mine, the kids are dragging you to the park every afternoon to take advantage of the warmer weather. Because we are there so often, I’ve challenged myself to find new ways to capture my kids as they swing, balance, run and hang at their favorite place.

If your spring is anything like mine, the kids are dragging you to the park every afternoon to take advantage of the warmer weather. Because we are there so often, I’ve challenged myself to find new ways to capture my kids as they swing, balance, run and hang at their favorite place.

5. Stepping outside the park

Look around the outskirts of the park for more photo opportunities. Look for urban-feel settings like basketball courts or hopscotches and also natural settings like tree lines or grassy areas. And don’t forget to document the walk or ride there – some of my favorite images were taken during trips to and from the playground!

If your spring is anything like mine, the kids are dragging you to the park every afternoon to take advantage of the warmer weather. Because we are there so often, I’ve challenged myself to find new ways to capture my kids as they swing, balance, run and hang at their favorite place.

6. Realizing it doesn’t have to be all fun and games

As much as I love the energy of the park, some of my favorite images are those that embrace the quieter, more reflective times in between the play. The stillness and reflection is as much a part of the experience as the running and climbing.

If your spring is anything like mine, the kids are dragging you to the park every afternoon to take advantage of the warmer weather. Because we are there so often, I’ve challenged myself to find new ways to capture my kids as they swing, balance, run and hang at their favorite place.

Shooting in public can feel intimidating at first, especially in a place with so many people in a small space.

One of the great things about a playground is that there is so much activity that few people will even notice that you are on your back shooting up at the swings or climbing to the top of the monkey bars to get your perfect shot!

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5 beautiful ways to get the most out of your images with spring flora

Image by Anita Perminova

Spring is my favourite time of year.

I usually get into a bit of a funk every winter, so the first sign of spring has me bursting out of my rut and grabbing my camera.

One of my favourite things to do is add elements of spring to my shoots, whether they are engagements, weddings, family portraits, or even my own personal images. Spring signifies life, energy, and beauty, and these are all elements I love to share in my work.

I’m not going to lie – I grew up a little bit like Mogli! When I was about a year old, my parents bought a 90-acre mountain and an old school bus. The bus died about half way up the mountain, and that’s where I grew up.

Surrounded by forest, we cultivated a 2-acre garden. We had flowers and fruit trees, and I learned how important they are for our ecosystem and our souls.

This is where my love of all things natural was born. My photographic journey has been inspired by this experience. I’ve teamed up with some Click Pros to share some examples with you.

1. Adorn your subjects

Flowers can add a bit of texture, especially in black and white images! They are always used for decoration, so using them for adornments is a natural fit.

Your clients will love how they feel while wearing a flower crown. It can also be a fun project to make one with your children, and a great excuse for a creative photo shoot!

One of my favourite things to do is add elements of spring to my shoots, whether they are engagements, weddings, family portraits, or even my own personal images. Spring signifies life, energy, and beauty, and these are all elements I love to share in my work.

Image by Anita Perminova

2. Engage your subjects

I love these images, because they connect us directly to the feeling we get when spring arrives! Engaging and gently directing your subjects can help you recreate this feeling.

Have them pick and smell the flowers. Photograph the hands and emotions while capturing movement and light. The end product could be a short moving picture or a 4-image grid of this activity to provoke the senses.

One of my favourite things to do is add elements of spring to my shoots, whether they are engagements, weddings, family portraits, or even my own personal images. Spring signifies life, energy, and beauty, and these are all elements I love to share in my work.

Image by Gina Yeo

One of my favourite things to do is add elements of spring to my shoots, whether they are engagements, weddings, family portraits, or even my own personal images. Spring signifies life, energy, and beauty, and these are all elements I love to share in my work.

Image by Cynthia Dawson

3. Shoot through

You can experiment with shooting through screens, bags, and crystals, so why not shoot through some greenery to enhance an image?

Just as you would use a crystal to add interesting light to an image, you can shoot through greenery to add a colorful splash to the moment. Here, I used a nearby swamp weed to create intrigue and add a sense of environment.

One of my favourite things to do is add elements of spring to my shoots, whether they are engagements, weddings, family portraits, or even my own personal images. Spring signifies life, energy, and beauty, and these are all elements I love to share in my work.

Image by Ebony Logins

take-better-pictures-with-the-help-of-the-Clickin-Moms-photography-forum

4. Storytelling

Get up close and personal with the details! Focus on the floral details of a big event for a finishing touch to a client gallery.

One of my favourite things to do is add elements of spring to my shoots, whether they are engagements, weddings, family portraits, or even my own personal images. Spring signifies life, energy, and beauty, and these are all elements I love to share in my work.

Image by Ebony Logins

You can also use floral details in lifestyle, flat lays, and product photography. In this image, the addition of flowers to the foreground draws your eye through connectivity all the way to the vase at the back of the image.

It adds texture, and depth. It also helps connect the viewer to the moment. The small, white flowers create a sense of serenity.

One of my favourite things to do is add elements of spring to my shoots, whether they are engagements, weddings, family portraits, or even my own personal images. Spring signifies life, energy, and beauty, and these are all elements I love to share in my work.

Image by Amanda Ruzicka

5. Framing

This is one of my favourite ways to incorporate nature in my work. The following image was taken in a park with a magnificent willow tree.

We could have placed them anywhere, but we chose to place them beneath the tree. As I took the shot, I pulled apart the branches. This technique gives the viewer a sense that they’re peeking into a special moment between the newlyweds.

One of my favourite things to do is add elements of spring to my shoots, whether they are engagements, weddings, family portraits, or even my own personal images. Spring signifies life, energy, and beauty, and these are all elements I love to share in my work.

Image by Ebony Logins

Let’s also have a quick chat about flowers… Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but I am pretty sure that flowers make us all pretty happy. I extend this happiness to all sorts of natural flora and love adding these little mood-boosters it to my work.

If you are really keen on learning more about flowers, you can start to tell a story on a whole new level. Sunflowers, for example, can signify love and strength. The cheerful colors of yellow and orange also work to brighten your mood.

I know you will enjoy adding flowers to your images. Give it a try next time you are out on a shoot or want to capture a moment with your family. The spring inspiration is all around you!

One of my favourite things to do is add elements of spring to my shoots, whether they are engagements, weddings, family portraits, or even my own personal images. Spring signifies life, energy, and beauty, and these are all elements I love to share in my work.

The post 5 beautiful ways to get the most out of your images with spring flora appeared first on Clickin Moms.


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22 captivating photographs displaying varying emotions

Winning image above by Alison Lapczuk

Who doesn’t love a contest?

Every month on the photography forum, we throw out a theme and leave it up to members to interpret it in their images. Last month, we chose the theme ‘Emotion’.

What resulted was an amazingly beautiful collection of pictures that allowed us to catch a glimpse inside the lives of the members. We’ve compiled a few of them here for you to enjoy and we want to congratulate Alison for winning a live Breakout seat from Click Photo School with her image above!

Aimee Glucina

Aimee Glucina

Amy Murgatroyd

Amy Murgatroyd

Beth Cagnoni

Beth Cagnoni

Bonnie Cornelius

Bonnie Cornelius

Bree Bain

Bree Bain

Bree Hulme

Bree Hulme

Diane Wittenberg

Diane Wittenberg

Eva Lagardère

Eva Lagardère

Faye Sevel

Faye Sevel

Hannah McLaren

Hannah McLaren

Holly Mancini

Holly Mancini

take-better-pictures-with-the-help-of-the-Clickin-Moms-photography-forum
Julie Audoux

Julie Audoux

Katie Reine

Katie Reine

Kristin Kelley

Kristin Kelley

Kristin Rutherford

Kristin Rutherford

Lucia Vaquero

Lucia Vaquero

Maria Russell

Maria Russell

Stefanie Berry

Stefanie Berry

Stormy Solis

Stormy Solis

Tami Keehn

Tami Keehn

Tiffany Kelly

Tiffany Kelly

Would you like the opportunity to be featured in next month’s photo share here on the Clickin Moms Blog and possibly win a prize? For our next contest we’ve asked for your best ‘Faceless’ photos which you can submit here.

Not a member of the forum? Don’t forget that you can sign up today risk-free!

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