Fix-it Friday #62

•July 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Man… it’s been a LONG time. Thanks to I Heart Faces for making me want to blog again! 😉 This is my submission the Fix-it Friday… fixes. 😉

Immediately below you will find the end results of my Fix-it Friday fixes (say THAT five times fast). Below that you will find the steps (with screenshots) I took to achieve each look.

(you can view the “full” resolution by clicking here)

(you can view the “full” resolution by clicking here)

How I achieved this look:

Here is the original photo…

…and the photo after cropping.

“full” size

(Note: Each photo will have a link below it (“full” size) in which you can view the largest size of the image I have available. It’s not much bigger but I’m just so sweet I thought I’d add the link anyway.)

Next is sharpening.** Now, when I sharpen a photo, I never ever EVER do it to the original image layer. I duplicate the image layer, title it as the image with sharpening, and THEN sharpen. Here is what it looked like after sharpening:

“full” size

After cropping and sharpening, I started by bumping the levels a little bit. (11 – 1.35 – 255)

“full” size

Then I did a little curves work. (Pictured below are both the photo and curves dialog box. I know, I’m WAY too sweet.)

“full” size

Important to note: The next step will completely rid you of all previous layers. It creates it’s own new flattened image. Because of this, I usually save the the file now, as is, and duplicate. I run the action on the duplicated file and then COPY the result and paste it back into my original file. I then delete the duplicate file as I no longer have any use for it. Did any of that make sense?

I then ran the (free) “Soft Gold” action from Ginnie J Photography and set it to 75%.

“full” size

I used The Pioneer Woman’s (free – can you see a theme?) action called “Quick Edge Burn” (from her free action set #1) knowing that it would wash the entire photo with a light gray transparent layer (as it is set using linear burn). After applying the action, I used a large brush (300px) set to 70% opacity to go over the entire photo. This brings back the gray a whole heck of a lot. (I’m such a technical person!) Then I used a 35px brush to paint just Amy’s lil one and the chair in which she is sitting.

“full” size

If I’d thought of it, I could have taken a before and after of the brush work I did on the Edge Burn layer… but I didn’t think about it. Sorry!

After that I ran The Pioneer Woman’s action called “boost” and set it to 60%. (Someone developed an action called “Color Pop” that I thought would probably be awesome with this one in combination with the next action I’m about to reference. I can’t remember who that someone was. Also of note: I would totally love to use Totally Rad actions and WILL someday when I have my own business. … Hey! Let a girl dream!)

“full” size

Then because I’m ridiculous and can’t take advice, I ran The Pioneer Woman’s action called “Seventies.” (And now because I’m tired of typing out “The Pioneer Woman” every time, I will call her “Ree.” Thanks for understanding.) I set the action layer to a measly 15%.

“full” size

Thus endeth the lesson… unless you want a black and white image. Ha!

Okay.. so there is probably a much simpler way to do this but because I hate going backwards, I pushed ahead to create the black-and-white. Here’s what I did:

I applied another levels layer. (0 – 0.66 – 255) (BTW, I guess I should have mentioned this before: Whenever I am applying “adjustments” to my image, I NEVER apply it directly to the image. I always use adjustment layers. You can find these under Layer > New Adjustment Layer > *whatever layer you want*)

“full” size

Then I applied Ree’s “B&W Beauty” action. That is the only action set to… you guessed it you brilliant editor you… 100%.

“full” size

And for an extra bit of fun (because you read to the very end), here’s the same b&w with a layer of Ree’s “PW’s B & W” action set to 50%.

“full” size

Thanks for letting me host a ridiculously long blog post session on how to edit a photo like I did. I’m a little tired of myself now so I’m off to check out all of YOUR edits at I Heart Faces. Woohoo!

**I was torn on whether or not to leave this image “soft” but went ahead and sharpened it. The image is easily taken back to soft as I created that duplicate layer to sharpen. Turn off that layer and you see the soft image with the same adjustments applied. Also, these look REALLY sharp. That must be why people have the “sharpen for web” settings…


On loving life

•May 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’m sure I’ve had this “realization” before and will likely have it again, but it literally just hit and I wanted to get it off my brain so that it doesn’t disappear. People mock me constantly for my “obsessions” in life. Be it Pink or ukuleles or Tara Whitney, they call me obsessed (with a mockingly negative connotation) and try to avoid talking about it. Now, on the one hand, perhaps I do need to grow more in the area of understanding and respecting people’s limits on subjects that do not interest them. However, on the other hand, I refuse to not express my love for or excitement about those things in life that make me feel more whole. Work now, more later…


•March 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Okay… one month, one day = ridiculous. How could I have left this place for so long? It’s not for lack of things to say. Lord knows Elle always has something to say. Like the fact that “Elle” is not clever. And I’m happy to report that I did not incorporate it into my company name. But someone else did. Someone else DEFINITELY did. Oh my.

Hmm… in other news…

In other news, I am sitting in Cafe Express people-watching while I type and thinking about describing to you everything that I see. Would that be boring? Tell me it would be boring. I love the posture of the woman at the veggie bar thing. She’s standing so perfectly straight as she reaches for those olives. And what’s even more impressive is that she isn’t even looking at what she’s doing.

I can do that. I’m typing. But her? Impressive, lady.

She’s looking around and she doesn’t even notice the boy in gym shorts right behind her standing awkwardly, waiting for her to finish with this impressive task

You’re right. This is lame.

Let’s talk improv. I started taking this improv class eight weeks ago and when I started I was all HOLY HELL BATMAN because like WHO DOES THIS and HELLO. I DON’T DO CLASS. Yes, I talk to myself in all caps. It makes my thoughts feel more important, you know?

Oh my. Lame song.

Ever feel like you’ve made some serious progress on something only to fall right back to square one in less time than it takes to boast about it? Damn pride.

And don’t you hate when shrinks say to you, “Your behavior won’t be consistent but I’m glad you did that.”

Wait, what?

Yeah, I know. Good thing that didn’t happen to me. It happened to this friend of mine named… Elle.

Oh man. I crack myself up.
Not really, though, because I’m not actually laughing.


I’m lucky to have any friends at all.

these are the days of my life

•February 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

there are days – frustratingly rare but there are days – when i just know i am okay. when i know things are going to work out. when i know i am loved and know there are people in my life whom i love. when i can laugh at my mistakes and not recoil in horror, ashamed to even recognize that something *might* have happened. when i can own my shortcomings as well as my accomplishments. when i can love everyone around me and still maintain my sanity. when i am a worker among workers. when i trust, stopping for a moment here or there throughout my day to feel the wind moving quickly around me, the cold biting at my nose, and thank my creator for loving me.

these are the days i know that all my hard work is paying off.

i want to tuck days like these away in a special place – in a silk-lined, embroidered pouch to protect them (and me) from the muck of the world. i want to pull them out when my breath seems to have slipped away and the anxieties of my life have begun to overwhelm me. i want to rub a day like today between my thumb and forefinger until i can breathe again.

there are nights that i can quite literally feel the weight and warmth of arms wrapped around mine. i feel myself resting like a babe in the palm of my creator. i experience a sense of peace which pervades my entire being and follows me effortlessly into slumber.

these are the days of my life i want to remember always. these are the days that make it all worth doing…

An Unlikely Family

•January 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’ve heard so many times in my few years of life about “family of birth” versus “family of choice.” For so long I called it hogwash and wrote it off as silliness and a lack of respect for “real” family.

I thank my loving creator for showing me that it is far from silliness or a lack of respect. It is quite the opposite. Family of choice is a beautiful thing and I love love LOVE mine. Family of choice doesn’t “have” to stick around. They don’t “have” to call you on your birthday, send cards when you’re feeling blue, or invite you into their homes on holidays. But they do. They do these things not because they “have” to but because they WANT to. Because they love you. And respect you. And want you near.

This is a photo of some of my family of choice on Thanksgiving day, 2009. I love everything about this image. I love J (far left) talking with her hand. I love M (middle left) enjoying her dinner. I love K (middle right) focused on J, with her hand near her face and a mild smile across her lips. I love JR (far right) smiling and watching J while petting sweet Xochi with a free hand.

We each come from different birth families. We have different skin colors, financial circumstances, educational backgrounds, and stories. We are of varying ages, interests and abilities. We are people who would normally not mix. Here we do. And I love every bit of it.

I Heart Faces: “We Are Family”

•January 18, 2010 • 5 Comments

I ♥ Faces “We Are Family” Photo Challenge

I was so completely torn about which photo to enter in this challenge. I have an image of my “family of choice” from Thanksgiving this past year that I just LOVE! It’s such a sweet photo to me, but this one eventually won the vote. The faces are more prominent in this photo and the smiles warm my heart. It’s not the best technically but I love it all the same. (I really wanted, coming into this, to have the uncommon one. The family you don’t think of. The family that gave me my life. Look for that in the next post.)

My family has been hit with a lot of heaviness throughout the years. Tears are often abundant, so when I am with my family and I watch them interact and smile and love each other and best of all, laugh, my heart sings. I love watching them appreciate each other and all the BLESSINGS we’ve all received. Both my father and brother “should have died” a long, long time ago. Each have been through the wringer physically i am so grateful that they survived. Many do not.

what gets us through | eve and daddy, laughing, thanksgiving 2009

This photo is of my sister and dad from thanksgiving day. My sister laughing like this is SO typical. She and I both have hearty laughs that are hard to control. Once we get going, we find it difficult to stop. My dad, however, doesn’t usually laugh this hard so I thoroughly enjoy it when he does. I don’t remember what was said or done, but he was genuinely tickled this day. I have a series of about 10 from this moment, but this one is definitely my favorite. (A cool thing about this one: that photo of the little girl in the background is my mom!)

Laughter: It’s What Gets Us Through!

Visit I Heart Faces to view all the wonderful “family” entries! 🙂

Together or Apart

•January 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Together or apart, there is a certain group of women in my life who absolutely fill me with happiness and peace and joy and gratitude. When I think on them, I think (almost) always of how abundantly I am blessed despite my great flaws and shortcomings. (Let’s be honest: There are times I just won’t have it. I am determined to be pissed. I am determined to hate my life. I am determined to find a reason to give up.) These women are near and far in age, learning, and background. (I tend to be “lowest on the totem pole” in each category, if you were wondering. One of them only beats me in age by a handful of days, though!)

Today I was working earnestly on a project I started some time ago with a local runner. He publishes a small running newspaper of sorts and wants to take it online. As I was working through this process, determined to work harder and faster this time while still achieving a desirable result, I was struck with this deep peace about changing my life.

You see, I was reading article after article on these runners and the obstacles they had overcome in their careers. I was inspired by their stories of running and the stories shared about them by friends and family. “That’s what I want to be,” I thought. “I want to be genuine and loyal and fun.”

Last night as I lie awake in my sleeping recliner, I thought to myself how rewarding it would be in later times to write more often in my journal. To write down the thoughts I was having instead of calling a friend and letting the words vanish into the air. It was not that I valued my best friend any less or thought it any less important to speak these things out loud to another person (especially her), but rather that I had realized on some level the beauty of being able to reflect on these moments in my life that inspire me to take that next big leap.

I have walked around lately with this feeling on my heart that I am approaching big changes. You know that funny feeling you get in your chest which signifies approaching the readiness to change? That’s been the feeling, I think. My mind wanders and always lands in this place of big dreams and a desire to be something more authentic than what I am presently. It’s a place where I love myself and take care of myself first and above all else. It’s the place which allows me to stand firm in who I am and equally enjoy the souls occupying the bodies moving in the world all around me. It’s happy, joyous and free.

Last night I sought out three very important people in my life. I wanted to share with them my dreams. I wanted to say out loud these things which have occupied space in my heart but which I have stuffed and asked to keep quiet. I had to get it out. I had to vocalize to my committee what was going on in order that I might keep my sanity… and continue steadily on in the direction of my dreams.

It all sounds so silly sometimes. Some of it probably even sounds foolish. But it is neither silly nor foolish. These are my dreams. This is my passion. These are the things – the people, the places, the experiences – I was meant to live for in this lifetime. These are the people, places and experiences which allow me to feel at peace and to connect to that which is greater than me.

Sometimes I sit and wonder where my life might go, where it could go. What is possible? What is impossible? Are these words – possible and impossible – keeping me from seeking out that which is pleasing to me?

It is at these moments that I am most grateful for the women in my life. There are six of them and I don’t know where I’d be without them. They are my cheerleaders, my confidantes, my companions in this world. Each know me to a varying degree, but all know me well. And all support me. Encourage me. Have faith in me.

I fail in front of them constantly and they never turn away. They always push me, even when it’s difficult, to be more than I am. To aspire for greatness. To recognize and seek out that which is fulfilling for me.

I decided yesterday – January 12, 2010 – to save up and buy a dSLR. I want to be a professional photographer. I won’t stop until I am.

When I wrote to the first one, there was no hesitation. It was as though I said I was going to put on socks. Or brush my hair. Or drink a glass of water. It just was what it was and it was time to do it. There was no doubt in the response and oddly, no encouragement. It was as if this is just what was supposed to happen. As if this is what I was meant to do.

When I wrote to another, the response was similar. “I’m going to be a real photographer one day,” I said. “I refuse not to be.” “You absolutely should be,” came the response. Again, no encouragement. No doubt. Nothing, really, except the confirmation that I should continue to follow my dreams.

I hope every woman in the world has friends such as these.