Before & After

Before & afters are fun to see.

I always enjoy seeing other photographers photos, pre & post processing. I love that little peek of what they really look like before using the wonderful tool that is Photoshop. Or for those of you that use it, Lightroom.

Most of the time it’s just color adjustments, maybe filters and some actions, but nothing too different from the original.

Photoshop can be good and bad. I’d rather take a really great photo and spend a short amount of time processing it than take a photo that could have used more thought and spend too much time in Photoshop.

I think the test of a great photographer is how much time they have to spend in the editing process to make their photos look good. You shouldn’t have to let Photoshop speak for the quality of your photos. Your photos should speak for themselves!

I’m no professional photographer. I don’t claim to know it all. I don’t even claim to actually know what I’m talking about at any given time, BUT in my experience the more changes you make to your photos, the more it takes away from them. I don’t even like to use vignettes as much as I used to because I’ve come to appreciate the naturalness of a photo without all the fix-it-ups.

But there are exceptions. Believe me, there are exceptions.

Let’s start out with this before & after.. very simple, no big changes.

Here you have my beautiful sister Danae. I shot this photo behind my Minnesota home in the swamp area where everything is shaded, lush and green. The original photo had lots of green tones in it, but a good photo overall. All I did was lighten it up and add some yellow and blue tones. It is still green, but her skin tone improved a lot and she stands out more.


This next photo was taken of little Olivia in her backyard on a bright sunny day.

The original colors and exposure aren’t too bad. Definitely fixable with little trouble. In this case it was more of what was going on in the background. A rooftop, fence, and mom’s hand. I didn’t want it to look like I tried too hard to fix it, and her pose was too cute to scrap it all together, so I had to do something. I cropped it slightly, which helped with some of the background, but the hand and rooftop were still there. So I took those out. Then I blurred and lightened the fence quite a bit which made Olivia more of the focus. Even though the fence is still there, you don’t really see it as much as before. Then I ran a PS action and called it quits!

This photo was taken with the stock lens that comes with the Canon 50D, before I got my 50mm lens. So now with my 50mm I have more control of how blurry the background is.


Another one of Danae on a very sunny day.

I was very worried this photo was completely ruined. I’m totally convinced that this was 70% my fault and 30% the elements. Her back was to the sun and the background was over exposed because of it. But I placed her that way so she wasn’t making faces and squinting into the sun. That doesn’t make for flattering pictures. :) Also the wind was blowing through her hair facing the way she was.

This is a perfect example of why I shoot RAW.

No, that doesn’t mean I photograph in the buff.

When bringing a RAW photo into photoshop you are presented with this wonderful pre edit screen where you can adjust exposure, tones, fill light, recover washed out pixels, contrast, brightness, clarity, vibrance etc. I was done before I even started!

So I did what I could in that screen and everything else was “by hand”. Or by which ever tool I needed. I had to fix the really bad shadows on her face. That was tedious. But in the end, it turned out to be a nice picture. You can’t really tell I did much unless you were to see the before picture, which I have shamelessly presented to you.

Why am I doing this again?



One of my more recent, drastic photo edits was from the Kramer Station shoot.

For my die hard fans, (Hi MOM!) I’m sure you’ve seen this photo of Anna from our shoot a few weeks ago.

I bet you never would have guessed there used to be a cute boy standing next to her. So I’m here to tell you.. there was!

I really loved how Anna was standing. A natural, relaxed stance. No posing. So I decided I’d see if I could take Elias out, and see what it looked like after.

I personally think it turned out good! Almost like he was never there. It’s not perfect, but you wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t show you!

Sometimes I thank God for the Content-Aware function in PS.


One last one.

Danae again during one of our days shooting her senior pictures.

We were in Bemidji, MN for a mini vaca and I snapped a few senior pictures of her. It was dusk and this was one of the last photos I got of her that day. In the original photo you can see Paul Bunyan and Babe in the background. That wasn’t going to do. Again, with the Content Aware function, I was able to fix it up in a snap! Then all that was left was brightening it up, and having fun with PS actions. It actually ended up being one of my more easier fixes.

So there you have it. Normally I do small fixes, but there are times where that just isn’t enough. The drastic changes are always more fun to see. :)

They’ve got to grow up sometime..

Last summer I went home to Minnesota for an extended visit. I was lucky enough to be able to be there for a while, and really got a chance to fall back into being at home with my family. My brother and sister were just finishing up their junior year of high school, and knowing I wouldn’t be back for a while, we planned to take their senior pictures.

It really was fun, a lot of work, and totally rewarding.

My sister Danae had 15 outfit changes(give or take), and 20 different locations. We took 4 or 5 days to take her pictures.

She’s lucky I love her. :)

My brother Dylan was much more easy going and we did his pictures in a day.

I can’t believe how fast they’ve grown up! Being six years older than them, I really remember them at all stages growing up. I remember holding them when they were babies, and when they were just starting to walk. I remember Danae being 3-4 years old and already independent and the boss, and Dylan following around her saying “me too” about everything she said. She did enough talking for both of them so there really wasn’t much for Dylan to add.

With them graduating high school, it doesn’t make me feel old like it would most people. It just makes me wonder where has the time gone! It feels like yesterday that I graduated high school and moved out to go to college. That was six years ago. It’s ages ago, yet just the other day at the same time.

I’ll get over it. They’ve got to grow up sometime. I knew it was coming. I sound like their mother.


Click collages to view larger.

Congrats to Dylan and Danae! I’m so very proud of you! I may miss the little yous, but I love the amazing people you’ve become.


To view more of Dylan and Danae’s photos, please visit my website,, or my facebook page,

Dittany Baby: School Photoshoot

What a beautiful weekend for a photoshoot! Ashtyn and Anna were my models, and they did a wonderful job.

This was my first time photographing Ashtyn, and she really was fun! So cooperative, and always had a smile on her face.


The girls were instructed to do what they would normally do while waiting for their moms to pick them up from school. One picked up her book and said she studies because she doesn’t like bad grades!

Wish I had been that studious at 8 years old!


One of my favorites.

These girls made such a good pair. Can’t wait to work with them again!

Pantry Organization

I’ve been slowly working on getting my pantry from it’s current state of disarray into a more organized, functional pantry.

Maybe even something more pretty to look at.

I’m worlds away from any of that, but I’m slowly getting there.

Let me show you what my ideal pantry would look like.

Via House Of Smiths


Via Whatever

Both beautiful to look at, no?! And organized!!

If I wanted to take the time, I could paint mine. Mine is identical in layout to the first picture. But… eh. Maybe in my dream home I’ll take the time. :)

So here’s MY pantry. I feel like I’m baring my soul by showing this photo!

This can be considered a “before” photo even tho, believe it or not, I’ve done some organizing. It used to be worse.

Hold all gasps until the end please..


Okay, it’s not that bad. But it’s definitely not anything pretty to look at.

Maybe it’s because I took this on my cell phone.

Or maybe it’s just because it’s a mess.


So today was a big day.

I got an Amazon order in the mail!!

It’s always a big day when that happens.

My order consisted of three big boxes full of pantry organizational goodies!

Here’s what I got..

One of the more important items… two dividers for my pans. They’re actually heavy duty file dividers. Before the pans were stacked on top of each other in this same spot.. which is well above my head. I had to perform a circus act everytime I needed a pan. Problem solved. The circus has left town.



Sturdy baskets for the vegetables I keep in the pantry. These will be going on the bottom shelf as soon as I move some stuff around.


This awesome space saving bag holder is a HUGE change from what I had before. The pantry picture above showed my lovely big white bag full of bags on the bottom shelf. I’ve needed one of these for way too long.


This awesome contraption is pretty handy. I used to stack my foil and bags anyways, but now they aren’t falling all over, and it utelizes more height than shelf space.


This isn’t in my pantry, but it’s something I really needed. The knife organizer/supports was $4 and my drawer has never looked better! I’m kicking myself for not taking a before picture. It was horrible. And probably dangerous. ha


Spice Stack I love you!

This is what my spices look like now…

A mess! The spice stack will help. I’ll tackle this after the weekend.


This is what I’ve done with all my baking stuff. Don’t stack your glass canisters, I just did this for a picture to show them all. :)

I’ve had these “organized” for a while, but as you can see, you have to move one or more to get to what you want. I plan on changing that. I also plan on changing the wire basket with the rest of my baking stuff.. but I’m not sure yet how I’m doing any of this.

You can stick anything in containers like these. I love them! I got 98% of my glass canisters from the dollar store believe it or not!

I use it for candy..


And granola bars..

Pretty much anything! That’s my goal. To container everything in my pantry. Well anything that will fit. :)

I did some sorting and resorting of my pantry today.. here’s an “after” picture.. although it’s not to the point I want it, it’s just more organized.

Maybe the mess is more evenly distributed. But I swear it looks better. I hope?

Oh well. Once I figure out this pantry situation I’ll be posting again about my progress.

I think we have too many travel coffee mugs.

Over and out. (oh no. Pete’s new Ham radio obsession is getting to me. help)