Photo Journal

Intentions: Write 31 Days

You know, this “Write 31 Days” challenge has been around awhile. I discovered it three or four years ago, back when I still used the craftroom as a sort-of office for the photography “studio”—meaning, I had no studio except the outdoors. I read a series of 31 days of editing in Lightroom, which really changed the way I do things. At first, Lightroom was very convenient for downloading and cataloging my images, but I really didn’t understand how to use Lightroom to edit. I’m not sure I do, yet, but I am constantly learning new things.

I thought after reading this series that, surely, I could use Lightroom to edit, and that I could write a series of blog entries for thirty-one days. I start strong every year (I skipped last year). I am trying it again this year.

My theme is pretty general: Thirty-one Days of Photography. I’m envisioning this as a kind of “photo-a-day” project: one or two really good images from that day. This first week, I’m simply going to focus on everyday images—the things that are right in front of my eyes that I see day in and day out, that I barely notice. Like the light on the yellow wall in the living room, the orchids that are not in bloom right now, the birds at the feeders, the hibiscus in the backyard planters. . . . I drive by those daily as I head out to work. There is such beauty in the ordinary and the everyday.

Although I know the intent is to WRITE everyday, sometimes, I will let the images speak for themselves. Other times, I will write about the day, the events, or the thoughts that surround my images. There is always a contemplative element to my approach to photography, thanks to such writers as Christine Valters Paintner and photographers and teachers like Kim Manley Ort and Kim Klassen and a host of others I can’t think of right now. Sometimes I may write about technical aspects of photography or editing and post-processing. I am keeping my options open.

Today, I begin with my first image: nothing fancy, just a simple cardinal at the bird feeder. Beauty in the everyday:



A Tuesday Technique and a Texture Tuesday


I wrote about my cherry blossoms on Saturday. Today, I’m using one of the images to made Saturday. I played with my Lensbaby Composer Pro and Sweet 35 optic and a set of extension tubes to try for some macro photography. Let me tell you, it is sometimes much harder than it seems. There was a light breeze that kept shaking the tree branches. I knew that shooting wide open (2.8 on the Sweet 35) would allow me to use a fast shutter speed, which would minimize the shake. But I had to put the camera in the branches, and I kept bumping them. I finally resorted to hauling out the tripod. Even then I still had some problems getting close enough to the blossoms to make the image I wanted. I had hoped to get some images with the water drops from the rain that morning.

So, I chose the image above to work with. The first thing I did was make a few adjustments in Lightroom—white balance, tone, exposure, contrast, clarity. I have to admit that I make adjustments “to taste” as opposed to formula or correctness. If it looks like I want it to, I call it “correct.”  I also cropped the image to focus on the larger bloom. After my basic adjustments, I opened the image in Photoshop. (I may be one of the few photographers who still use CS6 rather CC.)

One of my favorite actions is the Levels Boost Action from the girls at Love That Shot. I’ve used this action for years. I think it boosts the contrast just a bit more and brightens the image. Then I had fun applying textures. I like textures with some kind of script on them. I think these old-fashioned papers can give the image a vintage look.


I used a vintage postcard paper from a collection of textures and overlays. I use a free action from MCP Actions to place textures (texture applicator). I used that MCP texture application action, set the blending mode to soft light with an opacity of 60%. I did not like the script over the flowers, but I wanted to retain the color of the texture. I took a Clickin’ Moms’ class last summer, and I learned a trick that helps me retain color but lose texture. Here’s the trick:

1. Make sure you are working on the image itself and not the layer mask. This is important.

2. Use the lasso tool and outline the area where you want to remove the color.

3. Select Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Pull the slider to a high number—10 or higher. On this image, I think I pulled the slider to the right to 25. This removed any traces of the script but left the color.

Then I added Kim Klassen’s Magic Texture (KK2). I reduced the opacity to 30% and set the blend mode to soft light. I brushed a little of the magic texture off the lighter portions of the image. 

By the way, the water drops are evident in the cropped version.