Rock The Shot Photo Challenge:: Water

Hello.  I'm Cindy, and I'm a pinterest-aholic.  When I see the "everything" link on the home page, it's like an invitation to spend hours drooling over photography poses, decorating ideas for houses I'll never live in, links to tutorials, clothes I can't afford, crafts I'll never get to...I know I'm in good company, so I needn't go on.

Anyhoo, I've seen many of these reflection shots...usually of couples...and I've been itching to try it out.  Problem is, Oklahoma has been suffering a drought for a little over a year, and though we've had some hefty rainfalls in the last couple of weeks, puddles are sort of hard to come by.  For a recent shoot, I was way early, so while I was waiting for my client family, I took a stroll and found me an epic puddle!  Bonus:  it was in the shade, and there was no wind!  As soon as they pulled up, I drug them across the street and got the shot!    The littlest guy wasn't quite sure about me yet, so we settled on a traditional pose, but now that I know I can do this, I'm so going to experiment...if I can find the puddles!


Wyatt is Growing UP

I haven't written a blog post about nothing but me and the boy in awhile, so here goes.
Yesterday I met a new friend at one of my favorite photo locations: Gilcrease Museum.  We both packed picnic lunches for us and our kids, and she brought along her mom and two girls.  Since her youngest is about to celebrate her first birthday, I took portraits of the girls while we were exploring nature. 
After the picnic and photo session, my friend and her family left, but Wyatt and I stuck around for a little while to do a little mini session of our own.

Here he is, having climbed atop a giant boulder.  He was pretty proud of himself, and kept yelling, "take my picture, Mommy!!!"  Any of you with an eye for detail, please know that his closet is brimming with a plethora of t-shirt choices.  And he wears them all.  Somehow, this is always the one he's wearing when I decide to take his pictures.  It's his picture-taking shirt, I guess.

 Okay, I have to admit I forced this pose on him...at first he was planking with his arms behind him, pretending to be a whale.  I pulled his little hands up under his chin and begged for a smile.  I took a few shots of his "dead in the eyes" look...you know, the one most photog moms get when they ask their kids to look at the camera and smile.  When I could see he was going to be a turd, I started telling corny jokes.  Got him.

Can you believe this pose?  LOL!  What am I going to do with this kid?

This is pure Wyatt.  A real, unprompted smile.  That little glimmer of wonder in his eyes that I always see, but rarely catch on camera.  Plus, you can see hints of the freckles that are starting to pop up on his face.  Oh my, I love this.

Gosh.  Here he is being all grown up again.  I wish he would stop that and go back to being my tiny baby boy.  How have five years gone by?  He is a real person!  This is not happening!

He tripped on the deck of the gazebo and got a whopper of a splinter in the tip of his pointer finger.  If you have never seen Wyatt when he's injured, I should tell you:  the splinter remains in his finger.  I have only been able to look at it from 10 feet away with my arms behind my back while swearing that I won't even imagine touching it.  Wyatt does not like to be physically comforted when he gets hurt, nor does he allow you to tend to his wounds without a psychotic episode.  A lot of festerin' goes on in this house.

Being serious.  Way too serious.  Moments after this photo, we found a little ring neck snake, and it was all I could do to keep him from chasing it down and taking it home with us.  Later in the day, when I asked him what his favorite part of the day was, he excitedly reported finding the snake as the best moment.  Wanna know what my favorite part of the day was...?  Every second of it.

Tutorial Tuesday:: Low Key Photography

Anyone else loving Tutorial Tuesdays as much as I am?  This week's prompt of low-key was the inspiration I needed to finally capture a scene that I get all giddy about every single night.  Low key means that there is only one light source illuminating your subject in an otherwise unlit backdrop.  Pooh Bear can't sleep without his Tyke Lite.  I love and hate this thing...it's a portable nightlight, which is awesome, but it devours batteries at an alarming rate.  We use rechargeables thankfully, but I seem to have to change them every other day.  Anyhoo...that's neither here nor there...sorry for the rambling.

Every night, before I go to bed, I do my final check on Wyatt to make sure he's not dangling from the bed, sleeping on the floor, in between the bed and the wall...all true stories...and this is exactly what I see.  His darling little face, puffy little lips, cute button nose.  And yes, he really sleeps with his hands tucked under his face like a little cherub.  Almost makes me forget the insanity he puts me through during the daylight hours.  Almost.

I know this is tutorial Tuesday, so I'm obligated to tell you how I got this image.  That being said, please note that I had one shot.  The click of the mirror woke him up.  Oh well, I love it anyway.

1.  I set up my camera on the tripod at bed level before I even entered the room and attached my camera.
2.  I took a guess at the settings I'd need...I did okay, but I wish I'd been able to take a few more.  I set the ISO to 1600 since it was literally pitch black in the room other than the Tyke Lite.  I opened the aperture to 1.8 (I used my 50mm) and set the shutter to 1/30. 
3.  I set the timer to take the pic so I wouldn't blur the image with handshake.
4.  I manually focused since the lens was not able to lock onto anything in the dark.
5.  I pressed the shutter and waited the 5 seconds to wake up and infuriate my little angel.
6.  In photoshop, all I did was brighten the image slightly and ran a noise reduction filter.

Tutorial Tuesday


Tutorial Tuesday:: Double Exposure in Photoshop

I've been itching to play around with double exposures for some time now after seeing several intriguing images on pinterest.  While waiting on a client on location a week ago, I spotted a fantasic old Chrysler just begging to be photographed.  I took tons of shots from every angle possible, but I thought these two seemed to want to be married in a double exposure.

I loved this angle of the hood ornament.  Something about it just screamed for a rich, high contrast edit.  I got this effect by using a sharpening brush on the bird, then I created a new layer.  On the new layer, I ran a high pass filter, then applied it with a hard mix blending mode.  I was really in love with the effect, and I don't think I lowered the opacity much.  Lastly, I flattened & saved.

Here's my second image...a little more traditional editing.  The car was coated in a thick layer of pollen, and I wanted to bring that out.  I opened another layer and ran a high pass filter, this time using a soft light blending mode.  I also ran a sharpening action to the entire photo, leaving it at 100% opacity to bring out the sharp details in the lights and bumpers.  I used a black and white action to convert the image to black and white...I reduced the opacity on the desaturate layer a tad so that some of the greens of the car's paint and grass would subtly bleed through.  Finally, I flattened and saved.

Now for the double exposure:
I opened both images.  I wanted the hood ornament shot for my background, so I went to the front end photo, clicked CTRL + A to select the photo, then CTRL + C to copy the photo.  I then went back to the ornament photo and clicked Edit, Paste to paste the front end on top of the ornament.  This created a new adjustment layer.  I lowered the opacity to about 10%.  While the front end layer was selected, I created a layer mask and used a black brush to brush off the ghosted image of the front end from the bird and hood of the background image.  When I was happy with the image, I flattened and saved.

I seriously love this piece of art!  I'm going to print it and present it as a gift to the owner of the body shop who lets me use his property for my photo sessions!  This car is his, and he loves it.  I think this gives it a new life!

Tutorial Tuesday


Scavenger Hunt Sunday

God has been giving me nature's softbox this week: lots of bright, yet cloudy days!  On one of our nature walks this week, I managed to get all but one of the prompts for this week's challenge!  The other I was blessed to capture while visiting with a dear friend while admiring her new daughter.

1.  New
Meet Sofia.  She was one week old in this photo.  Is she seriously not the most incredibly beautiful newborn ever?  Her Mama and I have been friends for ages, and I am beyond happy for her and her hubby!  Congrats, Muge and Andy! 
To see the rest of this photo session, which is my first lifestyle newborn session, head over to my photography blog, Cindy Kay Photography

2.  Life
Ah, spring.  A time full of new life.  Here is my sweet boy, helping to spread dandelion seeds all over creation so that they can sprout up new life all over someone else's lawn. 

3.  Fragrant
While exploring, we found this random patch of bright yellow wildflowers.  Admittedly, their aroma was not too appealing, but they were definitely fragrant nonetheless.

4.  Pink
I admire my neighbor's green thumb.  Her roses seem to bloom so effortlessly in nearly every hue under the sun.  I especially love these that are so crammed with petals!

5.  Obvious
Is it obvious that I wear my Toms almost non-stop?  Poor things.  They are faded, stained, raveling, smelly, and they're starting to get holes in the toes.  But I love them so.  I can deal with ugly, as long as they're always so cozy!


Stacked Mexican Casserole

This meal requires two skillets and a casserole dish in the oven...but it's totally worth the dirty dishes because it is gooooooooood.  I adapted this recipe from one I found in Better Homes and Gardens last year.  I had to eliminate some carbs, so I use corn tortillas instead of flour, I omit the corn from the original recipe and replace it with red peppers, and I nix a final layer of tortillas on top.  Plus, I seasoned mine differently...so I guess you could say I just used their recipe as a jumping off point.

Here's what you need:
1-lb ground beef
1/2 can black beans, rinsed & drained (you can use more, I just needed low-carb)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet yellow pepper, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup green salsa
6-8 corn tortillas (depends upon size of your casserole dish)
1 cup shredded cheese, divided
salt & pepper
chili powder
cilantro (optional)
taco seasoning
ground red pepper
sour cream (optional, but you'll want it, trust me)
chopped tomatoes and black olives (optional, but so yummy)

Here's what you do:
1.  Preheat oven to 375. 
2.  In one skillet over medium heat, brown beef then drain.  Add beans until heated through.  Add cilantro if you're using it (however much you like...I like a lot).  Season to your taste with taco seasoning...I use it sparingly since the other mixture has so much seasoning in it...about a tsp is fine.  Also, you may add salt & pepper if you wish....just a dash.
3.  In another skillet at the same time (you can do it!), cook red and yellow peppers with onions and garlic until everything is nice and tender.  Add green salsa, about a tbsp of cumin, a tsp of chili powder, and as much or as little ground red pepper as you can stand.
4.  Spray the bottom of your casserole dish (I used a 2.5 quart sized dish).  Tear up a few corn tortillas and layer the bottom of the dish with them.  Add beef and bean mixture.  Top with an even layer of shredded cheese...about half a cup, more or less. 
5.  Add another layer of torn tortillas, then the pepper mixture.  Add the remaining cheese for an even layer (you have my permission to go beyond the prescribed one cup total...I did).
6.  Pop it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the cheese is all melty.  Mmmmm. 
7.  Serve with sour cream and chopped tomatoes and olives.  Try not to choke while you're shoveling it in.  Seriously.


Paper Mama Photo Challenge:: Eyes

I love Wyatt's eyes.  When he was born, we thought he'd be a blue-eyed red head like me because they were literally navy blue.  But sometime around his first birthday, little streaks of brown and green started showing up, crowding out the blue entirely.  Now he's a little green-eyed goober like his Daddy.  His right eye even has a brown patch. 

Here he is, demonstrating his Blue Steel.  I love this photo so much, mostly because of how much his eyes stand out, but also because this pretty much sums up my kid.

The Paper Mama Photo Challenge

iHeartFaces Photo Challenge:: Happiness

Yesterday was just gorgeous.  The boy and I went with our MOPS group to Shepherd's Fold Ranch for an Easter egg hunt with all of his buddies.  The ranch serves as a campground for summer camps, and is absolutely rich with beauty and serenity.  After the egg hunt and a picnic lunch, a couple of us moms took the kids on a long nature walk.
Wyatt was thrilled!  For him, outdoors equals HAPPINESS!

Please forgive the high-noon harsh lighting...even still, this is such a sweet moment of my little guy...captures him perfectly!

Photo Challenge Submission