Ghosting on Halloween

I would first like to state that this project is best suited for those who can sit still for a long exposure. Let me share some of my more successful attempts at this strategy before going into the tutorial.

This image of the water spirit was my first attempt at "Ghosting" back in 2011. It took a couple tries, but luckily my parents were good sports.

 On Valentine's Day this year, I drove down to Tombstone for an assignment and met some very agreeable patrons who willingly posed at the Birdcage Theater and Doc Holliday's Saloon.

I needed one more so I called a friend and put her in a costume that my brother altered for a previous event and took her out to the desert to pose as a frontier woman. 

Just this morning I got the great idea to attempt "Ghosting" my kids in their costumes out on the road. 
The technique is not too hard. Like I said though, it takes a model who can hold a pose for a few seconds.

What you need:
SLR or DSLR Camera  set to manual mode
1-2 constant light sources
1 strobe
dark or dim lit location

Here is the diagram I made using an online Diagram Creator

These are suggested camera settings. Feel free to bracket them as you see fit. The lights can be moved around as well. This is just how I set them up this evening. 

I set the shutter speed to 30 seconds with the aperture at f/8 and ISO100.
With the shutter being open that long, it is imperative to have a tripod so your background stays sharp. 
The constant lights will be on the whole time aiding in the exposure of the image. 

Now here is the trick for the treat.

Have your model pose at the desired distance from the camera. Press the shutter release button on your camera. If you have your strobe synced to your camera, that works great; if not, fire your manual strobe quickly after pressing the shutter release. 
Count to 3
Have your model hastily move out of the frame until the shutter closes. 
This will take a few tries, but in the end, it is a fun effect. 

I would love to see the images you create with the "Ghosting" effect!
I hope you all had a safe and fun Halloween.

Color Correction Tutorial - PS

I finally found a moment to edit an image for a tutorial for all of you. I chose shot from my very first wedding. At that time I was still shooting Auto/JPEG and didn't have Lightroom or Photoshop to edit. Basically, I was as amateur as you could get. This tutorial is for very basic color correction in Photoshop without the use of Auto Color or Auto Tone.

As you can see, there is a blue color cast from the shadow of the building. 
Let's take care of that with Curves!

Select the Adjustments icon and click Curves. The easiest way to take care of the white balance is by using the eyedropper tool and picking a black, grey or white part of the image. Since both are wearing white, I chose the white eyedropper and picked the lightest white in the image. I believe I chose a spot on the groom's collar. I highly suggest visiting Digital Photography School - Practical White Balance

Well, gosh, there is still that blue color cast on the bride's dress, so let's choose the selective color adjustment layer and lighten the blue and cyan. That's better!

Time to merge those layers!

I personally like to add a curves layer and then blend it as an overlay at 20 percent opacity, but that's just me. 
Hmm, their skin looks a bit flushed, lets's take care of that.

This is why you don't use an action on every image, because they usually need to be treated individually. I just made a few adjustments in the Red selective color adjustment layer. 

Their skin looks a lot better now. Let's put some pink back in the bride's lips.
Select the mask (the white part) and pick out a small paintbrush and paint her lips with the black paintbrush. This will put the red back. 

We are going to stop here. Stay tuned for teeth whitening and eye brightening in a later tutorial. If you liked this tut, leave a comment. Thanks!

Q&A - What do you value in photography?

I asked a handful of you what you value in photography. Here are your answers. Thank you for your participation.
  • Lighting
  • Composition
  • Reasonable price
  • High quality images
  • Style
  • Photographer’s ability to direct a shoot
  • Willingness to listen and implement client’s wishes
  • Ability to catch special moments
  • Lively images
  • Quality of the images
  • Quick time it takes to receive said images
  • Punctuality
  • Creativity
  • Compatible personality / quick to build a rapport
  • Convey a story and do justice to their subject by setting a mood and depicting true character, whether it's the character of their subject or their opinion.
  • Friendly
  • Edited well
  • Individuals in image look good
Are there any they missed? What do you value in photography? Please leave your answer in the comments.

My interview with Eric Cassée

      For my Portfolio Exploration course at the Art Institute, I got to interview a professional photographer in my area. It was awesome, so I want to share it here on the blog!

1.       Who is your target market?
Eric Cassée –That is a tough one. I have primarily 3, High end portrait, fashion, and beauty. High end is like Esquire, Wire, that kind of thing.  Shooting stars, politicians and regular people. In art and commerce, beauty, that is subjective. It is up to the beholder to determine if it is appropriate for advertisements as opposed to commercial.
 ©Eric Cassée
2.       Do you have a printed portfolio? What do you usually use it for? When did you stop using a physical portfolio?
Eric -Yes. It is invaluable as a tangible way to market myself to have something to talk about at a meeting. I can tell people about the prints they are passing around. This way people remember me as well as my art. It is an association thing. Even if they will be seeing stuff they have already seen on the site. Secondly, when it goes with Wonderful Machine (a company that represents artists and drive art directors, publishers to their site as well as assist the artists with marketing).  Then all the prospective clients will look at the portfolio along with several others to choose which artist fits their bill.
©Eric Cassée

3.       What types of portfolios do you use?
Eric - Both printed portfolio and website. You have to have a website.

4.       What colors and fonts do you use in your marketing materials and/or portfolio? Did you choose these or hire a designer?
Eric- I chose them. It is all custom; some people used designers. The color is white and minimal linear font as not to distract from the images.

 ©Eric Cassée
5.       Where have you shared your portfolio (if printed)?
Eric - Anytime I go to a meeting with an advertising agency or magazine. Any meeting where I am trying to get hired.  Editorial publications and even businesses.

6.       How often do you update your portfolio?
Eric- The web one is always in flux, sometimes with a magazine, I have to wait until it is published. With personal stuff I post it already. On my Tumbler I update it at least once a month. The books are about 600 dollars to print, so I don’t update it any more often than once a year.

 ©Eric Cassée

7.       Are your images displayed in any particular order?
Eric- Nah, yeah, sortof. They are scategorized. Online they are pretty organized, in the print they are organized by mood. I like to open and close the book with vivid images with a lot of red in them.

8.       Do you have any advice for emerging photographers when it comes to portfolios, what to do, what not to do, etc?

Eric- Yeah, I think that a lot of people get stuck in the rut where they fill their portfolio with market specific stuff. It is better to demonstrate what you love that you are good at and something that is different while also showing that you are technically proficient to do what the client wants. These shoots generally take 12 hours. Clients need you to be honest about your skill set so they can pair you with the right project. Be identifiable. Shoot what you love. Don’t clutter it up with a lot of subject matter that is all over the place. You need to tell who you are in just 25 to 30 images that leave a distinct impression. Don’t clutter the page with crazy text or graphics either, keep it simple. 

To view more of Eric's amazing work, check out his website at or like his Facebook page at /EricCasseePhotography

What does a photographer do on Date Night?

After dropping off the kids with a friend, my husband and I went to Chipotle, watched Despicable Me 2 and then with my camera, tripod, remote shutter release and a bag full of glow sticks from the 99¢ Store, we hunted for the perfect location. It didn't take long to find a deserted unfinished neighborhood development where a playground, and streets were established, but no houses were built. The playground had no lighting, which was what we wanted.

It took 4 tries to get this image. In retrospect, I should have picked a night where there were no clouds and a high moon. I also need to work on better focusing the camera ahead of time. I look forward to trying this again. The idea came to me and my husband after watching this video.

Woohoo! Check it out!

Short post, because it is a link of my photo series "Adults eating like Babies" on  How To Be A Dad ! Please go check it out and share!

Sugar Addict

For this series, I wanted to look into addictions. My father passed away 5 years ago with hardened arteries due to chronic alcoholism. I have had other family members and friends who have faced and beat addictions to harmful substances like marijuana, prescribed pain killers or cigarettes. Dietitians now say that America's expanding waistlines are due to sugar addictions. I wanted to share some images that express our need to fill a void in our lives, or at least attempt to make it more bearable. Some people escape from reality with books or internet. Others do it with hours at the gym or gossip. Reality TV is the most popular way for people to escape these days. What is your fix?

M&Ms in a pill bottle.

Candy cigarettes. We learned that they burn and char quite quickly like marshmallows.

She wasn't fond of the candy, but super stoked about the Sprite!

Big League Chew bubble gum. She spit it out and handed the bag to me. I really like bubble gum, but chewing it is not "lady like".

Can you guess what the powdered sugar was supposed to represent? My model had fun getting messy.

Mind your Manners!

Here is another personal project that I ended up using for class. Please note, I don't have a fascination with food, it is just easier to get people to model for me if I offer it to them :-) .

First off, I would like to thank Jim's Burgers and Eggs for allowing me to come take photos during their down time. I also want to thank my lovely cousin for modeling for me.

I want to challenge what is expected. As a youth, my mother made me walk around the house in high heels and books on top of my head. Elbows were never allowed on the table. In our house, the children were taught manners which aren't priority these days. This group of photos titled "Mind your Manners", has a 2-fold message. The first is pointing out how the youth these days are not expected to learn table manners. The second is for some reason manners are expected to go hand in hand with young ladies in the pageant world.

The burger and fries were delicious!

Courtney did everything perfectly wrong with little direction; it was great! Gotta make sure the dress doesn't get dirty. 

Who needs napkins? Hands work just as well!

Jim's uses shredded lettuce, making the burger even messier to eat!

She couldn't let go of the burger while eating the fries. Who knows what might happen to it?!

I was so grateful that Jim's allowed us to set up my lighting equipment. Luckily there were no other patrons there at that time to make Courtney self conscious. 

Still not gonna put that burger down to get a drink. I love her dimples!

The messy burger was to delicious to look at the camera. Did you notice her elbows on the table the whole time? Winning!

My artistic genius is recognized by my instructor as well!

I am currently taking a Digital Darkroom course with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division.
This assignment was to produce a creative collage. My 7-year-old (autistic) son was quite wiggly, explaining that he was purposely giving me different angles to capture. He is a boy after my own heart. The background is just my front yard, nothing fancy. I didn't use any special lighting technique. ISO 100,  f/14, at 1/160 sec. Golden hour sun light and my 55-200mm lens. 

They really like me!

I just got an email yesterday from the guys over at How to be a Dad in which, well, I will let you read it.

Hey Danielle,
          A friend shared a link to your series of adults eating as babies and I ruptured something from laughing so hard. Amaaaaaaaaazing. I'd love to feature them on my partner Charlie's and my site,, or on our Babble Voices platform. We're really sensitive to crediting and linking, so that would happen of course.
What say you? Can I please? Pretty please pretty p!ease pretty p!ease?! ;)
P.S. I have cherries to put on top of my pretty pleases and I'm not afraid to use them.

So, yeah, I am pretty stoked. I can't wait to work on my other projects and get them out there for all of you to enjoy the silliness that is in my head.

Transcontinental Family Photos

I was contacted a couple months ago to help a client in New Jersey with a special family photo.
One part of the family was here in Arizona, the other part in New Jersey. 
I took a group shot of the Arizona family members.

And the other photographer Allan Reider took photos of the New Jersey family members.

Allan took a stab at combining the images in the composite below. 

When I worked on the composite below, I warmed up the skin tone of the family members from Mr. Reider's shoot, edited out the backgrounds, placed them as if they were sitting in the original group shot and added shadows to help them blend as well. Considering where the chair seats would have been, I positioned the additional individuals accordingly. I removed the shine from direct lighting and scaled them to fit. I also had to consider where the dog would have been positioned in respect to the seated family members. I noticed that there would be a discrepancy in the little girl's dress so I used another photo from that shoot to fill it in. Over all I think this was a good collaborative work. I would have preferred for the other photographer to use the same backdrop and lighting pattern as discussed in a phone conversation prior to my shoot. I am not certain I will work on another collaborative project again, but we shall see. 

Adults eating like Babies!

Babies enjoy food more than adults because they don't have to worry about propriety. Sometimes it is good to get messy. I am so grateful for all of the awesome volunteers who came out for this messy and super fun shoot!
Aaron is a High School English teacher.
Lindsay is a circus performer.
Mike is a costumer.
Mikayla is a High School graduate
Remy is a model. 

Prom Paparazzi Winner, Her Essay, and Photos (of course)

My name is Rose, I am a student here at Agua Fria. I just started attending this school at the beginning of the semester and at first I didn’t know anyone since I came from a different state. After my first few days here though I noticed that the students here are all very nice and I have not personally seen any form of bullying here. It appears that all the students are connected and all together supportive of each other. If we had a way to show our support of a good cause such as anti-bullying the vast majority of the school would show this support together.
We can show our support in different ways, my proposed way is something smalls and should be easy to obtain. As a symbol for anti-bullying encouragement I would be willing to hand make support bracelets. It would be a non-verbal way to say that the person wearing it is against bullying and wants a change. This small start is one step forward towards a bigger goal to raise awareness. These bracelets would be sold through the schools for a very small profit, with a paper explaining what the bracelet represents attached. The profits could go to an organization for teens such as a Boys and Girls club. This all may not sound like much at first but if even 100 people buy a bracelet, that is a start and more kids would hear about this thru the grapevine, plus those hundred kids would have just helped give $100 to the Boys and Girls club or whatever organization needs it. Little things can make a change.


Sweet Salon donated hair and make-up services

A corsage was donated by Thompson's Flower Shop

And her beautiful dress was donated by Molina Bridal

...And of course Bright Photography was there to capture it all, even the Prom!
I am so happy to have made a new friend and I can't wait to do this all again next year! Congratulations again Rose, you are awesome!