Tuesday Tips & Pics - Guest Post by Mira Crisp

 Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm so happy to welcome Mira Crisp from Crisp Photo Works as my first guest blogger! I hope you enjoy her fabulous tutorial, and please leave her some comment love! And don't forget to link up your week's pics a the bottom! If you have any tips you'd like to see covered on Tips & Pics, or if you'd like to write a guest post, send me an e-mail, or let me know in the comments!
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Editing Portraits in Camera Raw

Hi There! My name is Mira and I blog over at Crisp PhotoWorks. I'd like to thank Jaymi for hosting this post and I hope all of you will enjoy it. Today I will show you how to edit your portraits in Camera Raw. I use CS5 so certain things may look different on your screen. I have learned many Photoshop techniques and tricks from watching and reading Scott Kelby's videos and books, and this is one of my favorites.

Don't worry, you can use Camera Raw even if you are not shooting raw files. If you are working with jpeg images, you can open them by going to File and selecting Open As instead of Open. Once the Open As dialog pops up, select the Camera Raw option in the format bar. Be aware though, all changes you make to jpeg image in Camera Raw will apply to your original file and you will not be able to reverse that (unlike a raw file). So, always work on a copy of the image so you don't ruin your original file.



If you are shooting in raw, all you have to do is click on the file and it will open in Camera Raw by default. Once your file is opened in Camera Raw, you can start working on it. There are three steps to editing a portrait this way:

1. Remove skin imperfections.

Spot Removal brush at the top of the menu will remove smaller imperfections by cloning the skin around it. As you can see in the photo below, the red circle is the area you've selected to heal and the green circle shows the area that will be cloned to heal that red circle. Just make sure the "Heal" option is selected. You can change the radius size and opacity too.



2. Soften the skin.

In the second step, we will soften the skin. To do this, double click on the Adjustment Brush and tweak the numbers in the Adjustment Brush window. The only value that needs to be changed in this step is the Clarity value. We will set it to -100. Make sure all other numbers are set to 0. The more you zoom in the face, the smaller brush size you will need. So, adjust the brush size as needed.



Check the Show Mask box to see which areas you are actually painting. Now, we will use this brush to paint all skin areas that we want to soften avoiding eyes, lips, hair line, and the bottom of the nose. In my experience, the results are the best if you move the mouse the same way you apply foundation to your face: inside-out. That way heavy touches will be around the nose and under eyes where you usually need more retouching. You can see an outside-in stroke I did on her chin on the right side of the photo and how visible press point is.

I also tend to paint the neck and other exposed skin to avoid obvious differences. The little pin (image below) is there to help you remove strokes you would like to delete. Try to avoid eyebrows and hairline since this brush will blur them and you usually want them to be as sharp as possible.

3. The third step is to brighten and sharpen eyes.
To do this, we will use the same brush. The only thing we will do differently is to select NEW (instead of selected Add option in the photo below) at the top of Adjustment Brush window. This will load a new brush selection and it will not add to the already used skin brush in step 2. The values we need to change this time are Brightness (around +50), Clarity (around +60), and Sharpness (around +60).
What you need to do now, is to paint the whites of the eyes and teeth. I usually paint loosely over the eyes to include eyelashes too because this brush will sharpen them. Same goes for teeth, if you make the center of the lower lip a little brighter, the effect is the same as you would apply a dot of shiny lip-gloss to your lips. Again, if you don't like the result, select the tiny pin and hit delete. It will delete the layer.
And that's it! While this pretty girl did not necessarily need all this heavy editing, I used her photo to show you how to edit portraits in Camera Raw. Of course, the values I used in this example will depend on your taste and the photo you are editing. I hope you found it helpful!


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Sweet Shot Day

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Fruit in Bubbles

 Sunday, January 29, 2012

I first saw this shot done by Karli at The Bonnie 5.  Click that link to see her tutorial.  I've been wanting to try this ever since I got this awesome macro lens! I set up my shot pretty much the same way as Karli except I did use all natural light and I know she had better luck with a flash.

Here's a cell phone snap of my set-up.  Basically I filled a square glass vase with sparkling water and hung some fruit by toothpicks on the edge.  I set up my reflector on the right (held up by any heavy bottle I could grab!) and had my set-up right next to my window to get as much window light as possible.


photo-6


I tried it with a cherry and with a slice of lime--these are some of the shots I got.

Cherry

Cherry

Cherry

Cherry

Lime

Lime

Lime

Lime

And do you guys use instagram? Its currently my favorite iPhone app. Just for fun I edited two of my fruit shots on instagram! Who says you need expensive editing software?

instagram

I can't wait to try this with more fruit and different backgrounds!





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Big Bear, Crisp and Clear

 Friday, January 27, 2012

Sorry I've been a ghost on this blog all week! I was off work and decided to escape the 80 degree So Cal winter weather and head up to Big Bear for a couple days.  One of the things I love about LA--in 2 hours you can hit just about any climate you want--desert, mountains, beach, city, wine country, and even Mexico!  But I was feeling the need to see some snow since we've been having an unusually warm winter, even for LA--so Big Bear it was!

And since we've been having such a dry winter, it wasn't covered in snow, but it was crisp and clear with fluffy snow covered trails here and there.

I just got home a bit ago but wanted to get some shots up since I've been neglecting my blog as of late...

Big Bear

Big Bear

Big Bear



Big Bear


Big Bear

Big Bear

Big Bear



Big Bear



And, I rarely do this, especially with zero makeup, but here's a quick shot of me, just to show off my new (8 inches shorter!) hair cut!



DSC_1457


Have a great weekend!











the long roadHappily Mother After

Saturday Sareenity
project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge my3boybarians.com

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Tuesday Tips & Pics

 Monday, January 23, 2012

Hey everyone! Today I'm guest blogging over at Courtney's blog, Click it Up a Notch!!!

So for this week, my Tips & Pics are over at Courtney's, so click over and read my article on how to get sharp focus, and then come back here and link up your pictures for the week!



Tips to Achieve Sharp Focus




Let me know what you think of my post!


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Macro Dandelion

 Sunday, January 22, 2012

I am loving my new macro lens.  It makes the most simple of things look other worldly.

Dandelion

Dandelion

Dandelion

Dandelion


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Hope everyone's having a great Sunday! Click HERE to link up for this week's Tips & Pics.






















Ni Hao Yallstudio waterstonelove.bug.

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Beef Braciole and Artichoke with Mint and Chile (and Macro Food Photography)

 Thursday, January 19, 2012

First of all, if you don't already, please click over and like my Facebook Photography Page.  I always try to post helpful photography articles when I find good ones!

Now, as you know I've been practicing my food photography lately. I've been reading this awesome food photography book, Plate to Pixel, which I highly recommend, and I was surprised to see that most of her shots are done with a macro lens.  So since I have my awesome new 85mm Macro Lens, I thought I'd try it out with some food photography.  I normally use my 50mm 1.8 for my food shots. When a friend offered to cook me this amazing Italian meal from Mario Batali, I knew I had to take some pictures of it!

First the pictures and recipes, and if you scroll to the bottom I'll talk a bit about the photography challenges of this shoot!

Beef Braciole "Pinwheel Style"

Ingredients
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cups chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced salami
  • 8 ounces Italian Fontina cut into cubes (we used smoked fontina)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano
  • 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • One 10-inch long beef tenderloin roast (2/12-3 lbs), butterflied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Preparations
  • 1. In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, scallions, parsley, salami, Fontina, Parmigiano, and bread crumbs and mix well. Add ¼ cup of the olive oil and mix well with your hands or a spoon. Set aside.
  • 2. Cut six 15-inch-long pieces of kitchen twine. Open out the beef, season on both sides with salt and pepper, and place it on a work surface so a long side is toward you. Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the beef, leaving a ½-inch border along the side farthest from you; press and gently pack the stuffing mixture onto the beef to keep it in place. Starting from the side nearest you, roll up the meat like a jelly roll,  and tie tightly with the twine, spacing the ties evenly. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap to make a compact roll, and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.
  • 3. Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Put the piastra on the grill to preheat.
  • 4. Carefully unwrap the beef roll and, using a very sharp knife, cut it between the ties into six thick pinwheels. Brush gently on both sides with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • beef braciole
  • 5. Gently lay the pinwheels on the piastra and cook, unmoved, for 5 to 7 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully turn each pinwheel over and cook for 4 minutes longer for medium-rare. Transfer to a platter and serve.
beef braciole

On the side we made this AWESOME artichoke recipe!

artichoke with mint and chile

Grilled Artichoke with Mint and Chiles

Ingredients

  • 6 large artichokes, preferably with stems
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 bunch mint, chopped, stems and all, plus about 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves cut into chiffonade (thin slivers)
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 to 4 red jalapeƱos, diced or thinly sliced
  • Coarse sea salt
Preparations

1. Fill a large bowl with about 6 cups of water and add the juice of 1 1/2 of the lemons; add the 3 lemon halves too. Snap off the tough outer leaves from one artichoke until you come to the leaves that are pale yellow toward the bottom. Cut off the top 1 inch of the leaves. As you work, rub the cut surfaces with the remaining lemon half. Trim off the bottom of the stem and, using a paring knife, trim away the tough outer layer from the stem. Trim any dark green parts from the bottom of the artichoke. Halve the artichoke lengthwise and, using a grapefruit spoon or small sharp spoon, remove the fuzzy choke. Pull out the small purple inner leaves. Put the trimmed artichoke in the bowl of lemon water, and repeat with the remaining artichokes.

2. Combine the chopped mint, garlic, olive oil, and wine in a large pot. Add the artichokes and the lemon water, along with the lemon shells, then add more water if necessary to cover the artichokes. Put a pan lid on top of the artichokes to keep them submerged and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the artichokes. Drain and allow to cool.

3. Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Place the artichokes cut side down over the hottest part of the grill and cook, unmoved, for 3 to 5 minutes, until nicely charred. Turn and cook for 5 minutes more, or until golden brown on the second side.

4Place the artichokes on a platter and strew with the remaining mint and the jalapenos. Serve with a bowl of coarse salt.




artichoke with mint and chile


We served it with some herb rice and it was one of the best meals I've ever had!

beef braciole

Both of these recipes came from Mario Batali's Italian Grill which I highly recommend--it's an awesome cookbook!

Now a note on the Food Photography with a macro lens.

The Pros - this lens got AMAZING detail.  I love how much much texture I could capture in the food.  And although they don't typically recommend using actual macro shots for food, it can be fun to get some shots like this, just to really show the texture.

artichoke with mint and chile

The Cons - it being an 85mm on my crop sensor Nikon D90 camera, you definitely need a lot of room to get far enough away from the food for your shots.  Also, macro lenses tend to have extremely shallow depth of field so focus was tricky.  Probably what would be ideal for this lens would be to shoot at f/7.1 and use a tripod.  I know a lot of people use tripods for food photography, but I find them really restricting!

Conclusion - I really find that the clarity and detail overrules the cons.  I think I just need a little more practice to really nail my focus with this lens and I'll need to always make sure there is plenty of light so I won't have to use a tripod.  But I will definitely be using this lens again for food photography!

The Set-Up - Here's how I set up my shots.  I forgot to bring my reflector with me, so I simply covered a piece of cardboard with some aluminum foil.  It worked really well! I grabbed this pull back on my cell phone so you could see!




photo-3



Ok and one more shot of the artichokes, because they're so colorful and I couldn't decide which one to post!




artichoke with mint and chile





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I hope you enjoy these recipes and food photography tips!








Happily Mother Afterthe long roadlove.bug.Saturday Sareenity

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