Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Little Help Never Hurts...Part 2

Same kind of post as yesterday.... going to show you a progression of a photo from the Straight out of camera version to the final edit...

I am learning so much in the Arcanum and I cannot sing it's praises enough!!
Seriously, if you are interested in increasing knowledge and skill in your photogrphy, give some serious thought to joining. You can cancel at any time if you feel it's not a good fit!!

>>> The Arcanum Website <<< here is the flower of today....

This is the photo straight out of my camera..... I really do enjoy getting down in the nitty gritty of flowers and showing the layers and textures!!! God is an amazing designer!! He perfected beauty way before man felt a need to have perfection!!!
I like this photo pretty well here, there are obvious issues. One being the petals on the bottom are cut off.... that is not a problem though!!!


This is what I presented to my Cohort (July 2015) for Level 8 (where I had to narrow down a selection of my photos from 10 to 3 for a critique!)...  I simply cropped it so all of the sides are evenly proportioned. No biggie... All of the post-processing adjustments for this version were made with Picasa. A FREE editing software offered (and supported) by Google!! It's all I had at the time and I really enjoyed working with it. It is a great way to "get your feet wet" in the world of post processing!!!

Here is the link if your interested  >>> Picasa Website <<<

After I cropped the image, I did a few color adjustments. In Picasa the first thing I always did is darken the shadows... it's a slider bar adjustment that really makes the photo begin to pop a bit.
I did a soft focus on this one too!! =)  I thought it made it look kind of dreamy.... I also added a vignette. Usually vignettes are black. I chose to go lighter on this one and use a grey tone. One of the things I LOVE about Picasa is there is a rainbow selection for vignettes which mean the option of vignette color are pretty much limitless!!!! =) =)   I thought the grey vignette added to the dreaminess of this photo and I really liked it!!!

For my Level 16 work in the Arcanum I had to reprocess photos presented to my Cohort in any of the Levels of 1 - 8. Just like the first flower I showed you yesterday.... here is the link in case you missed it!! (gasp!!)
(just kidding!!)
>>> A Little Help Never Hurts (Part 1) <<<

I probably should mention here that for almost a month now, I have been using the Free trial of the Creative Cloud Photography plan!!! Here is a link to that....
>>> CC-Lightroom & Photoshop <<<
I will be starting my subscription in September as I don't think I can do without them now!!! Lightroom and Photoshop can do so much more than Picasa, although, I will keep Picasa because it does a few things better!!! =)

Now for the reprocessed ones!!

This version I processed only in Lightroom. Started by cropping (again! because I started back with the original photo!). Did some spot removal because there were a few white spots on the petals (I may have forgotten to mention that previously...) Did a "Vibrance" adjustment. Also adjusted Shadows and Contrast. The photo at that point seemed to have some "noise" going on so I did a "Luminace Smoothing"... it helped!!

Then I went even further.....

I took the photo from Lightroom into Perfect Effects (I have Perfect Effects because my generous Master in the Arcanum saw something in me that would respond to this program!!)
As a military wife, stay-at-home mom I do not have much any extra income. FREE is ALWAYS better for me. I do pay my Arcanum dues ($79 per month)  myself (as to not burden my family with that cost!) with the small amount I get paid to keep the books for my church...

This is the final (and again, best, IMO) version of the image....
In Perfect Effects I did a noise reduction again. I used a filter called "Bleach Bypass" which reduced the saturation quite a bit! and I did a filter called Grunge which gave it a bit of texture and ended with a Vignette. One of the things I like about Perfect Effect's vignette is it is not just a standard dark or light fading.... there are MANY options and I chose the one called "Strong" but it uses the color of the photo, not black, which I really liked!!!! =)


Friday, August 28, 2015

A Little Help Never Hurts!!

I have been learning in the Arcanum for almost 3 months now.....
I have learned much and the way it is taught you really don't even realize you are learning!!!!

Here is a link to the website  >> The Arcanum <<
Go visit... tell them I sent you!!!

I'm going to show a progression of photos to you today and let you decide for yourself if I am learning a thing or two!!! All comments and questions welcome!!

This is a photo I took this spring of a Gladiola growing in my yard... Pretty things, these flowers!! They don't need help to be beautiful..... but I'm gonna give it a bit anyway!!!  This photo is what I began with....straight out of camera.


This is the version of the photo I presented to my Cohort (my group of people led by a single Master within the Arcanum guidelines) at Level 3.
 At the time this photo was presented (June 2015) I had a GE x500 camera (a very small dSLR) and a *free* post-processing software called Picasa which is supported and offered by Google.
 >> Picasa website <<
For the longest time I really struggled with the thought changing a photo into something different than what I saw.... post-processing was a thing to be -scorned- avoided, but as I worked on this photo in Picasa and watched the way is sort of "woke up" as I made adjustments to lighting, focus, saturation and a slight crop I really had to reevaluate my hesitation of post-processing!!!
On this version of the photo, I used what is called a "soft focus" on this where the edges get soft, but the center has an enhanced focus. I really like the effect a lot, and I use it quite often on my flower photos.

But there is more, so much more......

As part of my Level 16 work in the Arcanum my Master wanted me to select three of what I thought were my best photos from any level between 1 and 8 and rework them with my newly acquired program "skills" .....Lightroom and  PhotoShop!!! No small task, I tell you!!! I am technologically challenged, but it is good for me to stretch my abilities and grow my skills!!!  This photo is a result of that effort and I really like it!!! My new skills are coming out and making the flower come alive even more!!!
Exciting stuff here!!!!!

But then......

This is the latest (and IMO, best) version of the same photo!!! The only thing I have changed is the program I used and myself!!! =)
I have one more "toy" to play with now thanks to my Master seeing something in me and for pointing me in the right direction!! I now have a tool called "Perfect Effects" and wow!!!! What fun!!! There is so much to do and explore!!! SO many things that can make a photo more!!!!!  I used Lightroom and Perfect Effects in this version...

I am hoping you can see the progression in my skill and artistic interpretation of photography!!
The Arcanum, my Master, and my Cohort have made such a huge impact on my desire to do better!!

I recommend to you that if you in the least bit interested in improving your photography skills check out the Arcanum!!! It is definitely worth it!!!!!


If you have some free time and are so inclined.... here is the link to my Facebook page if you would like to see more of my work.  >>> Bretta's FaceBook Page <<<

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Most Epic of Mom Fails

Oh yes, I know y'all think I am a have-it-all-together, stay-at-home, home-schooling, house cleaning, clothes washing, child raising, photographing, freakishly awesome mom!!!!

Make no mistake..... I am....
....most of the time!!!


Today I had to meet my Army Man "in town" briefly, and I thought while I was there I would get the kids a movie from Red Box to have for a movie night tonight!!!


I was going through the movies on the selection screen and saw "Pixels"!!!
<<<Watch Pixels trailer here>>>

I was just SO excited!!! I just new I was going to get major Mom Bonus Points for this one, because they are at home and not even expecting a movie!!!

So I mosey on home and rock out with my mom music (because I NEVER get to listen to my CD in the's always the kid's choices playing!) (not that it's awful music or anything...)(just not mine...)

I get home and start hyping up the night we have in store for us with an awesome movie to watch!!! The kids are really getting into it and looking very excited!!

It was then, at that exact moment when I was pulling the totally awesome movie out of my purse, that I noticed what looked like bugs flying around or something on the picture on the disc.    I thought to myself, that looks odd.

On closer inspection of the disc, I realized they were pixies, not bugs.

I had, in fact,  picked up a movie called "Pixies" NOT "Pixels" at the Red Box!!!!!
<<<Watch Pixies trailer here>>>

Big, Huge, EPIC difference here!!!!!


So, yes, I had an EPIC Mom Fail today.
I am after all, only human, and being awesome ALL the time is exhausting!!!