Photoshop Tutorial- Editing in Camera Raw

Hey! I have been working on re-vamping my photography website, information pills and so I decided to make a couple tutorials showing how I edit my images. Click here to check out what photography equipment I use :)

When I’m doing an photo session, myocarditis I try really hard to get the lighting and everything correct in the camera, because that makes it much faster to edit later and improves my skills as a photographer. But sometimes I still mess up the exposure, and even when I get it correct, there are still edits that I do in Photoshop. Because of this, I shoot in RAW rather than JPEG because when you shoot in RAW, your memory card stores more information about the photo and so you can do better editing to it later. What is RAW? It is an image format that preserves most of the information of the captured image. The purpose of the RAW image format is to save the data obtained from your camera sensor when you took the image. RAW images are processed in Photoshop where adjustments can be made, and then the file is saved as a psd (photoshop file), TIFF, or JPEG so that you can store, print, and upload the photograph. Let me show you what I mean:

Here is the SOOC (straight out of camera) photograph of my lovely sister. This was the first time I used my new 5D classic camera, and I was still figuring out where all the buttons were :) Clearly this photograph is way too dark, and if I had shot it in JPEG, it might be totally unusable. But with raw, I can make major adjustment and fix the image.

When you open up a RAW file in Photoshop, this is what you will see:

On the right are a bunch of things you can adjust. Make sure you have the preview box checked in the top right so that when you make changes, you can see how they affect your photo.

The first thing I did was adjust the exposure, dragging the sliding bar to the right to lighten the image. Look how much better it looks already!

I then slightly adjusted the “blacks” and “brightness.” This increases the dark and light parts of the photo and gives it more contrast.

Then I adjusted the temperature by dragging the bar to the right. When you drag the bar to the right, you warm up your image. Trivia tidbit: temperature is measured in Kelvin.

Lastly, I increased Clarity and Vibrance a little bit, which makes the image a little sharper and brighter.

Now I’m ready to open the image up in Photoshop. The Open button is at the bottom right (you can’t see it on my screen). The photograph is so much better after the RAW edits!

Usually, my edits in RAW are a lot more subtle, but they still make a difference in the final image.

I will post another tutorial soon about how to make basic edits in Photoshop, what Photoshop actions are, and how to use important Photoshop tools.

Absolutely feel free to leave questions about this tutorial in the comment section. Also, if there’s anything else you’d like to learn about photography or Photoshop, let me know!

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Daniel Fast Foods

So I’ve written here before about my experience with the Daniel Fast and have posted Daniel Fast recipes. A lot of people find me on Google by searching “Can I eat ____ on the Daniel Fast, recipe ” so I thought I’d put together a post specifically answering those questions.

First of all, what is the purpose of any spiritual fast? It is to set aside a period of time to draw closer to God by giving up a lot of the foods you generally eat. The Daniel Fast is based on when Daniel ate only vegetables and water (Daniel 10:3), and can last for however long you want it to (traditionally it lasts for 21 days). I have done it for 2 weeks, a month, and 3 weeks.

So what do you eat on the Daniel Fast? Essentially just plant-based foods and you only drink water. This includes fresh fruits and veggies, canned fruits and veggies (as long as there is no added sugar, etc), nuts, seeds, and non-processed whole grains, like those found in triscuts. It is important to read ingredient labels while on the fast. Added sugar, corn syrup, etc. are all no-nos. Here is a good site that further explores what you can eat on the fast.

So here are some foods people have been wondering about:

Can I have tortilla chips on the Daniel Fast?

This is up to you. I have done the fast both including and excluding tortilla chips. There are tortilla chips that are just made of yellow corn and salt, both of which are ingredients that are ok on the fast. However, you’re technically not supposed to have fried foods. So this one is up to you.

Can I eat Nutella on the Daniel Fast?

Ummm no. Nutella is definitely a no. You can eat peanut butter (as long as the only ingredients in the peanut butter are peanuts and salt).

Daniel Fast Dessert Recipes/Daniel Fast Cookie Recipes:

The Daniel Fast is supposed to be more of a cleanse when you eat really simple foods. I don’t know of any desserts that you can make from fruits and veggies (besides just eating fruit).

Smoothies that are good for the Daniel Fast:

Here’s my recipe for a Daniel Fast Smoothie :)

Can I eat pretzels on the Daniel Fast?

Nope, sorry! You can’t have any yeast, shortening, butter, or most of the other ingredients.

Daniel Fast Peach Cobbler

You can each slices of peaches and umm..triscuts?

Are tomatoes on the Daniel Fast?

Yep! Any fruits or veggies :)

Can I eat Taco Bell on the Daniel Fast?

Afraid not! No meat, fried stuff, cheese, sour cream. So I suppose you could ask for some lettuce…

Is almond milk ok on the Daniel Fast?

Yep! As long as it’s the plain, unsweetened kind, not the vanilla or dark chocolate kind.

Muffins and the Daniel Fast:

Muffins tend to have butter, flour, sugar, and a lot of other things not on the fast. I’d be seriously impressed if you came up with muffins that were on the fast.

Can you have rotel on the Daniel Fast?

I believe so, just check to make sure that there’s no added sugar.

Daniel Fast brownies:

I’m afraid such a thing does not exist!

My Daniel Fast Recipes:

Daniel Fast Chile

Daniel Fast Lettuce Wraps

Daniel Fast Smoothies

Daniel Fast Taco Salad

Daniel Fast Vegetable Soup

Potato Wedges and Veggies <-My favorite

If you are interested in doing the Daniel Fast, feel free to contact me and ask me about my experiences (I’ve done the fast 3 times now).

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Camera Gear

Hey! How’s it going?

I have recently re-designed my photography website, capsule and so I am starting a series of photography and photoshop tutorials on this blog, starting with my photography gear.

This past Christmas, I got a Canon 5D Classic from my grandparents. I could not have been more thrilled! If you are a serious amateur photographer or are considering starting a photography business, this is really the camera to buy. Canon doesn’t sell these cameras anymore (at least I don’t think they do) because they now have the 5D Mark II and brand new 5D Mark III out on the market. However, you can find these camera bodies used for pretty cheap prices (around $800), especially now that more photographers are upgrading to the new Mark III.

Before having the 5D, I shot with the original Canon Rebel, and that camera was really great to me! But because it was 7 years old, it was getting pretty worn out and there were things that I couldn’t do with it. So what’s better about the 5D? Well first of all, it has a full-frame sensor which means that when you put a 50mm lens on the camera, you’re really taking a picture at 50mm. The rebels have a crop sensor, which means that with a 50mm lens, you’re really shooting at more like 80mm. I wanted the full-frame to get the most out of my 50mm lens and be able to capture the entire image I was seeing in real life.

Another thing I needed was the ability to raise my ISO higher. The ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to light, so the higher your ISO, the easier it is to shoot in low-light conditions. However, the higher you raise your ISO, the worse the image quality is. With the rebel, if I brought my ISO above 400, the picture was terrible. With my 5D, I can easily shoot at 400 or higher and still have a decent image. The newer rebels, like the T2i and T3i, handle shooting at higher ISOs much better, as do the Mark II and Mark III, but I’m happy with the 5D for now :)

What lenses do I use? I mainly use the Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. This is an amazing lens and it’s only like $100 (which is crazy cheap for a lens). I keep this lens on my camera all the time and shoot all my portrait photography with it. This lens produces really nice images, and you can lower the aperture to f/1.8. Aperture and shutter speed can be tricky to grasp, so I’m linking to Pioneer Woman’s explanation. Basically, the smaller your aperture number (1.8 is very small), the more light you let into your image, and the blurrier your background will be. This low aperture enables me to shoot in low-light settings, which is great. It also lets me shoot really nice portrait photos with beautiful, blurry backgrounds like this:

I would recommend that anyone who is buying a new camera would just buy the camera body without a lens (the 18-55 kit lens you get when buying Canon Rebels are horrible!) and then buy the 50mm 1.8.

The 50mm 1.8 is the only lens I own for my 5D, but when I can, I borrow lenses from my photography class at school. I love this 50mm macro lens for food photos! You can find this lens used for around $200 and new for about $300, which isn’t too bad but I just don’t have the money for it right now. But I seriously love how much detail I can get with the food I shoot when using this lens!

So that’s the rundown on the equipment I use. But here’s the advice I would give to anyone who loves photography: don’t let the equipment you have limit you as a photographer. I shot some of my favorite images with the original rebel, photographs like this one:

I was able to take photographs like that one because I knew my camera inside and out. If you have an SLR camera, I would encourage you to learn how to shoot in manual, and to learn all the other amazing things your camera can do.

But what if you don’t have a fancy SLR? Well then learn everything you can about your point and shoot camera, or your iPhone camera, or whatever it is that you have. Great photographs come from all different kinds of cameras, and buying a $3000 camera will not make you an amazing photographer. I am not saying that your equipment doesn’t have anything to do with how your photographs look, but a camera is just a tool. If you don’t understand how to use it, it doesn’t matter how expensive it was…you’re still not going to take amazing images.

So yeah :) Please feel free to leave any questions/comments you have below. I’d love to hear what you want to learn about photography or editing, and see if I can cover it in the coming posts.

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Gooey Peanut Butter Reese’s Bars

Last week at school we had a “senior shadow day” where we were supposed to spend the day learning from someone who works in a profession in which we are interested. I contacted Jen and Chris Creed, advice two wonderful and kind photographers who I have been lucky enough to get to know the past couple of months. I have to admit I was nervous about asking if I could shadow them because I didn’t want to be annoying, visit but they were so kind and enthusiastic about it. They asked me what I wanted to get out of the experience, what I wanted to improve on, and got a couple for us to shoot in Downtown Franklin. The photo session was so fun! I’m posting a couple of my favorites from the session (you can see the full session on my photography website).

I loved watching Jen and Chris shoot. They really try to push their creativity and some of my favorite shots are things I never would have taken on my own. Absolutely check out their photography! They are amazing people and super talented :)

I knew I wanted to make something for Jen and Chris as a thank you for allowing me to spend the day with them. After checking that they both like peanut butter (which they probably thought was a little strange ;) I made these Gooey Peanut Butter Reese’s Bars. Oh my goodness. These were incredible!

I had asked my dad to get the ingredients for the bars while he was at the store, and he accidentally got fat-free sweetened condensed milk! I was afraid the bars wouldn’t taste good or bake as well with the fat-free version, but I asked Jenny from Picky Palate on Twitter what she thought and she said it would be fine. And it was! So you shouldn’t feel guilty about eating these…they’re practically a health food ;)

Jen and Chris loved these, as did my family. The next day I brought in leftovers to school and my teachers and classmates loved them as well. Success all around! I will have to say that you do want to eat these at room temperature…I usually like things when they’re all warm and melty but definitely preferred these after they had cooled down the next day.

Gooey Peanut Butter Reese’s Bars

Ingredients:

1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk (fat-free works great!)
15-20 (or however many you want) Reese’s peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with foil and spray generously with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, butter, and egg until a dough forms. Press the dough onto the bottom of the prepared baking pan.Top the dough with chocolate chips.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter until well combined and pour over the dough. Top with the chopped Reese’s.
  4. Bake at 350 for 23-30 minutes, until the bars are golden brown and the center is set (doesn’t giggle when you move the pan). Let them cool completely before you cut them into squares.

Enjoy!

Note: The original recipe says the cook time is 23-25 minutes. I ended up cooking mine for closer to 30 because the bars wouldn’t set. When you take them out of the oven, they will be incredibly gooey. That’s ok, just let them cool completely (I know…willpower) before you eat them. It’s worth the wait!

Source: Kevin and Amanda

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Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

I have a confession to make. I know as a food blogger, story I’m supposed to be all sorts of snobby about the food I eat and make everything from scratch. Oh and I’m also supposed to love eating all this fancy food and talk about organic ingredients all the time. Well, about it if you hadn’t noticed, cialis I don’t do any of those things. I am a (somewhat) picky eater and I love boxed cake mixes and canned frosting. The other day when I made that…interesting cake for Einstein’s birthday, I used canned frosting and ended up dipping pretzels in it and munching on it all night (it was delicious!). Usually I make my cakes from scratch and I think that there is no cake mix (that I’ve tried) that can beat a homemade chocolate cake. However, I have never successfully made a yellow cake that I thought was better than the boxed mix. In fact, I think I’ve only ever made yellow cake from scratch once! I knew I wanted to attempt it again and make vanilla vanilla cupcakes. It was hard for me to resist adding chocolate to these cupcakes, but I resisted and they turned out great!

I made these on St. Patrick’s Day, hence the slightly green frosting. The store only had Easter pastel colors, so I couldn’t get a deep green. Oh well! I practiced piping on frosting and think I did ok-ish…I just need to make lots more cupcakes so I can become a good cake/cupcake decorator :)

I used Sweetapolita’s yellow cupcake recipe (I love her recipes and photos!). The cupcakes were easy to make and tasted delicious- the vanilla flavor really shone through. I made two different buttercream frostings to see which I liked better, but they tasted pretty much the same to me. I combined them both for the frosting recipe bellow. I’m not a huge fan of buttercream frosting because it’s so sweet, but the vanilla frosting I made wasn’t over-the-top sweet and the cupcake helped tone it down.

So…what’s the verdict? Have I turned from my evil box-mix-cake-using-ways? Hem…probably not. These yellow cake cupcakes tasted really good, but honestly I like ones you get from a yellow cake mix just as much (they taste really similar). But, if you want to make something from scratch or if you don’t like using cake mixes, these cupcakes are really good. I can definitely see myself making them again and maybe putting chocolate frosting on them :)

There’s a slight possibility that I took these photos in the morning and a tiny chance that in order to get this shot, I had to eat part of a cupcake at 7am. But that probably didn’t happen *cough cough.*

Oh and how do you like my new logo thingy? I had fun designing it this afternoon. The font for the “Amilia” is called soymilk! I think it’s super cute :)

Vanilla Cupcakes

Source: Sweetapolita

Yield: 24 standard cupcakes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (190 grams/6.5 ounces) self-rising flour

1 1/4 cups (160 grams/5.5 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks/227 grams/8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups (400 grams/14 ounces) granulated white sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (250 mL) milk

1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners of your choice (24 total).
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
  5. Use a 3 Tablespoon cookie scoop to spoon the batter into the cupcake liners (you can use a spoon but the cookie/ice cream scoop makes them uniform in size). Bake in the middle of the oven for about 18 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out just clean (a few crumbs is okay).
  6. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Note: Makes enough to generously frost 12 cupcakes. Double this if you are making the vanilla cupcakes above.

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter (with a stand mixer or electric hand mixer) until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the powdered sugar until completely incorporated.
  3. With the mixer on medium speed, add the vanilla and salt and beat for about 2 minutes, until fluffy.

Note: My frosting had an almost grainy texture for some reason. Once the frosting was on the cupcakes, though, you couldn’t tell.

Store cupcakes covered or in a plastic container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

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