Graduation 2012 + Childhood Pictures

I suppose it’s time for a post from my brother and sisters graduation.

It only makes sense, since it took 3 weeks of prep to get to the party!

You betta recognize.

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The day came so fast, and went by in a blur.

No time for crying, only for taking photos. :)

Going through old pictures for the slideshow was really fun..

I can’t believe these little munchkins graduated. It feels like just yesterday they were this little.

Growing up is bittersweet.. and takes forever but goes by in the blink of an eye.


Can you stand it?


We were pretty cute :)


By our sunflower field at the farm.


One of my favorites! In one of our fields after dad baled straw.


Seriously, how cute were they.


Yes, that’s me. hahahaha, oh boy. Husking corn, and feeding it to the horses… this was probably 13 years ago.


Love this family photo! Us at Itasca State Park.

Now for some graduation pictures..


Getting ready for the big day!


Dylan helping out before the party.


The guys hanging candles from the tree around the new firepit area my parents put in just before the party. The benches around the firepit, my dad made! And I lucked out and got to take a couple back to Texas with me :)


The grads, then and now. They’re still pretty cute. :) Dylan was homeschooled and although he wasn’t walking with Danae, he graduated too!


Mom and Dad.


I love these two.


The grads and me


Then and now :)

And then off to the school we went, for some pre-graduation photos, and to find our seats.


My beautiful cousins (who also grew up quickly!), came to watch Danae graduate.


Here she comes! And a very proud boyfriend looks on (in the blue plaid). :)


She did it!


Best photo of the day.

Then it was time to party :)

But first… a family photo.

And finally party..


I snapped this before the party.. the cute slideshow display we did for the party. It had all their baby pictures on it, and this one of me and Danae. :)

Obviously the cutest picture on the slideshow.


Oh, and this cute boy came to see me again!
It was a good day!
A busy, good day.
Filled with memories, and the beginning of a new life chapter for my “little” brother and sister.
So proud of them!

Beautiful Minnesota

I took so many pictures while were up north that I forgot about these photos!
I know a lot of my recent posts have been nature/landscape related, but I promise, a graduation post will be coming soon!
I had to share these… I took a walk one night around my parents property.. the lighting was perfect.


This old playhouse has been around forever. So many memories.


This place has lots of memories too. I used to play here nearly everyday with the neighbor boys. This is the lot that still separates our houses. The grass has taken over, but years ago had trails, tree forts, salamanders in the slew and fireflies at night. A great place for a kid to grow up.

Just wanted to share all the more reasons why I love this place.

A Sunday visit with a cute little boy

Last year when I was home in Minnesota, my friend was pregnant with her first baby, and was so excited.

I was excited!

We were excited. :)

I was also sad.

But only because she was due a few short months after I headed back to Texas, and I had no idea when I would be back to see her and her sweet little bundle.

So, we skyped a few times after Grady was born..

And it was fun! But just not the same as seeing them in person.

Now it’s “next year”, and I’m home, and I finally got to meet him!

And last night I even got to take some pictures of him.

I had to post this one. His mom was trying to catch him to put a diaper on him.

He doesnt like the grass, so we put a blanket down. He wouldn’t get off the blanket, but he’d touch the grass with his hands.

And then he’d try eat it.

:P

All though most of the time was spent picking grass out of his mouth,

I was able to get some cute ones like these…

He’s such a happy little guy! I’m going to miss him when I leave.

And I suppose I’ll miss his parents too. :)

Prom ’12

For the past two years, my sister has been asking me to come home for her prom and take her photos, and this year we were able to make it back early enough to be here for prom and my brother and sisters high school graduation!

 

Danae’s so photogenic, and never takes a bad picture. >jealous<

 

 

I asked him to pretend she was poking him with the pin. A natural response, I think. :)

 

 

 

 

Her hair was gorgeous.

 

And so was her dress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So happy I got to take her pictures. It was a blast.

 

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.

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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.

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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?

:)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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To view more of Dylan and Danae’s photos, please visit my website, http://www.lifesjoyphotography.com, or my facebook page, www.facebook.com/lifesjoyphoto

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.

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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!

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One of my favorites.

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