Thursday, December 3, 2009

The right tools make all the difference

Several years ago, Mr. at Home got a photography bug and ended up with some fancy equipment and software. He has since gotten busy with work, work, and school, and the photography stuff sat gathering dust. Whenever I'd read another mommy blog about cool photography tricks, I'd sigh and click on past. Because, let's face it, while it all looked really awesome, I had no interest in delving into a bunch of technical stuff to take professional looking photos. I have enough going on in my life without adding another time suck.

Then little motivators cropped up. L's dance pictures cost a fortune and stunk anyway, so I grabbed the digital SLR and held an informal photo shoot in front of a shopping center fountain. The sports associations *always* mess up our order, so I snapped a few of K on my own. They were better photos than my point-and-shoot could take and the "auto" setting seemed to do all I needed it. Maybe this isn't so hard after all.

Today, I got the girls all spiffed up to try for a Christmas card photo. Even the puppy had a bath (that was for a completely different reason and you really don't want to know). With exactly 14 minutes before L had to leave for dance class, we raced down to our simple and pretty neighborhood display and frantically clicked away before we had to get on the road.

Tonight I loaded them into iPhoto like usual, but there was a tiny little prompter in the back of my mind. MckMama raves about a photo editing software called Lightroom. And you know, I think Mr. at Home might have bought that one. And it might just happen to be on the desktop I'm using until my laptop screen gets repaired.

And it was.

So I opened it and easily got the pictures imported. Then the whole user-interface scared me. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. So I went back to MckMama's most recent tutorial and within the first 2 sentences of the tutorial, I had figured the whole thing out.

Ok, maybe not the WHOLE thing. But enough to where I could click around and make some really amazing things happen without any amount of trouble because a lot of the effects are preset for you and you just have to pick the one you like best. Then there are all kinds of detailed changes you can make in another frame, but they're all easy and you can just play around until you find something you like.

For example, this photo is edited in iPhoto.

And here's the same one using Lightroom.

The difference is breathtaking. Sharper, bolder, more detailed. Just think of all I've been missing!!!! And all because I was scared of what turned out to be nothing!!!! It's just a easy to use one as it is to use the other.

And with Lightroom you can do really cool effects like this with a couple of clicks.

Don't worry. These pictures are great, but they did not make the cut for the actual Christmas card, so you still have a surprise to forward to in your mailbox soon. I was so proud of myself for not freaking out and making the girls wear matching clothes. I went with the flow and let them choose things that matched their own style - L in a lovely smocked corduroy dress and K in corduroy jeans, a Christmas t-shirt, and a blue jean jacket. Surprisingly, they coordinated very well and made some really cute pictures.

Especially with a little post-production magic courtesy of Adobe Lightroom.


jinksto said...

Pretty easy for those two to make cure pictures I think.

Good article.

jinksto said...

GRR.. cuTe pictures... you'd think I'd learn to type eventually.

Unknown said...

Great work! As you "play" with photography software you'll build and build your knowledge. Hey, you might even become dangerous. lol