Saturday, November 7, 2009


Curves - and no, I'm not talking about the Curves fitness centers... :-)


I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because we have become accustomed to high-definition images. Maybe it has something to do with digital cameras. Whatever it is, your images can be improved greatly simply by increasing contrast.

I became a fan of Ansel Adams work when I purchased my first SLR. His Zone System caused me to become aware of the vast range of tonal values visible and of the limitations of representing that range within a photograph. He was methodical both with the camera and in the darkroom to ensure he had a broad range of tones in each of his images.

Today, the kind of careful attention Ansel Adams gave to each of his images can be achieved by, first and most importantly, working diligently to capture the best image possible. There is too often the temptation to take a sub-par image and then crop and Photoshop it to death. Work to create a good image and then you can adjust it in Photoshop, much as Ansel Adams would have done in his darkroom.

For this mushroom (which was conveniently growing in our front yard), I adjusted it with one simple Photoshop tool: Curves. I created a Curves Adjustment Layer and brought the highlights up and the shadows down ever so slightly. The Curves adjustment in Photoshop allows you to ensure that your highlights are bright and your shadows are deep while not losing important detail. That's it. That's all I did. No secrets. No formulas. Try it for yourself.

Read about Ansel Adams

Monday, November 2, 2009

As I See It

For the past week, I've been on somewhat of a quest - trying to find a way to capture Fall 2009.

Through the years, I have taken a lot of photographs of trees and their leaves. This year I hoped to find something just a little different.

I also did NOT want to capture images that in order to share, I would have to alter it in Photoshop first. So I went back to the basics. Back to the days of using a manual 35mm film SLR working diligently to get the exposure right, to get a proper saturation of color, an effective composition, and most of all, the feeling of the moment.

Here's the result:

The following photograph has NOT been altered by Photoshop except to rotate the image. This was a reflection in a pond....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Best is Yet to Come

As soon as Liz told me she wanted pictures when the leaves changed for Fall, I began to imagine the shape of pumpkins and her tummy. I have known Ryan for a few years and it is such a blessing to have been part of his life, watching him mature into the husband (and soon-to-be-dad) that he is today. Liz is and has been from the beginning an answer to prayer. To see the two of them.....the almost three of them....all I can say is "wow"!

This little sign does truly sum up this stage of life:

To see more pictures, visit and click "Recent Work"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Long Overdue

Sandy, Thank you so much for your patience with your pictures. I know you are a historical purist regarding photographs so I created a version that is just like the original only without the age spots (wow, don't I wish it were that easy to eliminate my personal "age spots"!). However, I couldn't resist the opportunity to actually enhance this image.

I wanted the baby to have greater separation from the background. I also wanted to bring attention to him rather than to the surrounding detail. To do so, I "painted" over existing shadows and detail and then slightly darkened and blurred the background. The final version is 5x7, double the original size.

To finish, I scanned the back of the postcard and layered his name and the date as the title. As the last touch, I added the frame which draws even more attention to the baby. Again, don't worry, there is a version for the purist....

Monday, October 19, 2009

First Roll of Film

This pretty little lady above is my niece, the pictures shot with my first SLR with my first roll of film. Years later, (shall we reveal how many years, Shelley?) my niece had some pictures shot of her daughter. Little Lizzie's blue eyes reminded me so much of her mom's that I pulled my picture out to compare. I had to tweak exposure of my original a bit due to darkening of the print that had occurred over time, but other than that, my print is as shot. Here's the fun part - look at their Shelley and her baby, Lizzie........

btw: Shelley, your friend, another Beth, did a fantastic job with Lizzie's pictures!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Watch the Birdie"

I remember having my first grade picture taken. I wore a green plaid dress that was trimmed in rick rack and had a coordinating brown corduroy jumper. The dress had ties at the shoulders that kept the straps of my jumper from sliding down my arms. My Mama made it - she made all my clothes - and they were all creative and beautiful.

For my first grade picture, I remember being a little scared (deep down I'm a shy person - don't laugh - I really am) and as always, obedient (ok, really don't laugh!). The photographer simply said, "Watch the Birdie" so I did. Then it was over, and here I am, watching for the birdie.

I like to take a vintage picture (yep a picture of me is considered "vintage"....guess that makes me "vintage" too) and not only clean up the obvious flaws, but also brighten the eyes along with the overall image. Unfortunately, sometimes the color on my computer's screen doesn't match what shows up on blogger. The updated image really isn't washed out in print. It is just nicely brightened.

Friday, October 2, 2009

24 Years

In September, we celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary at The Dancing Bear, a wonderful lodge in Townsend, TN. Each night they built a fire in their outdoor fireplace and provided supplies for guests to make S'mores.

Although it rained much of the week, we had a fantastic time hiking in the Smoky Mountains.
We discovered that our jackets were "water resistant" rather than "water proof". We discovered how nice it is to have quick-dry clothing (remember "water-resistant"?). We saw bears. Yes, indeed, black bears in the wild. And when the day was over, we delighted in the atmosphere, the service, and the food at the Dancing Bear. (Thanks, Simon!)

For more information about the lodge visit

Hope all of you have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Almost Time

Had a wonderful time Sunday evening taking pictures of our good friends, Matt and Ari. They are just about ready to have their first baby and wanted some pictures capturing this moment of their lives. They are both fun, full of personality and a bit of mischievous (no, Matt, I wasn't quite quick enough to catch that ONE little moment and aren't we all glad!!! :-)

It was actually hard to get a bad shot. Sometimes a photograph can flatter the subject. In this case the subjects flatter the photographer!!

Sharing this time with them reminded me of all the excitement of preparing to be parents. But just you wait.....soon, very soon, there'll be that sweet little baby girl to hold, to kiss, to cuddle, to love....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bellevue Baptist Church

For our Far Hills friends:
Some pictures from our church. And yes, that's me in the first one.

One way to show size and scale of landscape or architecture in your photographs is to include a familiar object in the shot. So here I am....and here's our church.....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Just for Fun

Recently I was invited to be one of a group of photographers shooting at a community non-profit event. I asked these girls if they would allow me to take their picture. They asked if they could jump. Yes, and yes....

Monday, August 10, 2009

1942 Redo

This is one of the more challenging projects I've done. While there is always the temptation to make the "old" look "new again", I intentionally keep much of the original color and texture. I like the aged look - the patina that come with time. I'm having to learn to stop and declare it "good enough". The finished product is still "good enough" to make me smile. Must have done the same for my client. He ordered additional prints of all the photographs I restored for him.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Presentation Counts

For this client, I created a folder from watercolor paper, silk ribbon, and traditional photo corners. This gave him an acid-free, yet attractive means of presenting his restored photographs to his family. Thanks to Katy, my "Creative Bookbinding" instructor at the Memphis College of Art, who taught us to tear art papers to size. This creates a delightful, soft edge to a finished project.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Little Baby Boy

This was taken in 1938 - the baby is the gentleman who contracted with me to restore these photographs of his mother. I'm especially fond of this image. His mother's hair, the headband, the quiet expression on her face - together illustrate the wonder of holding your new baby boy.

1940's Restored

These pictures were taken in the early 1940's and as you can see, there has been extensive damage. This one was torn across the middle, the two halves taped together with clear tape - the end visible on the face of the photograph. In addition, the studio's colorization had, over time, bled and faded. An upcoming family reunion, along with just a little luck, led the owner of these photographs to me. It was a delight to restore this lovely lady....Edward, I hope you have a wonderful time at your reunion!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Raspberry Fun

As we drive I,ve discovered that I can make blog posts from my red Blackberry "Raspberry". Beginning to understand the "crackberry" addiction. :-)
We've been visiting with family over the weekend. Stopped in a park in Little Rock that was in the opening scene of Gone With the Wind.

A young family expressed interest in me as a photographer so I stopped and we had a short informal photo shoot. Very fun.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Today I had the opportunity to take pictures at a local VBS. The assignment was to "take pictures of kids faces having fun". Perfect. A couple of hours into the project, I was being called "The Picture Lady". The kids were such a delight - and getting "...faces having fun...." wasn't a problem at all!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tired Little Baby

The mom is this photo asked me to remove the scratches from the baby's face. That, along with some color and exposure correction revealed a sweet little baby - a baby who is now 23 years old.

It's the Stories

It is the story behind the photograph that is particularly touching. Many of the stories shared with me are simply too personal for me to include in a forum like a blog. But the stories make the work I do even more meaningful.

Thanks to each of you who has shared their story with me. Thank you for trusting me with your vintage photographs. Thank you.

More Fire Damage

This is another photograph damaged by fire.

Combining Vintage with Current

This layout combines a heritage photograph, a letter she wrote to her mother-in-law, and a current photograph.

Fire Damage

This is a rather spectacular change. This is a photograph of a great grandmother taken in the early 1900's. It, along with several other photographs had been damaged in a fire. This restoration took a great deal of time since so much detail was obscured by the discoloration. It was worth every minute when I saw the reaction of the great granddaughter, and her grandmother.

Another School Day Picture

This School Day picture from the 1940's had been copied and the blacks in the image had turned blue. Color correcting it along with putting a bit more sparkle in his eyes made the daughter of this little boy (who would now be 80 years old) smile. (Notice his overalls.)

Like Mother, Like Daughter

The little baby on the left is now 30 years old. The baby on the right is the baby's baby. Happy Birthday, Shelley!

School Day Picture

This little 6 year old is now a grandmother. Her daughter brought this first grade picture to me to see if I could repair the cracks in the original.

Taking Someone Out

This is the first photograph I altered for someone else. The story is that the young woman in the before picture did not become the wife of the handsome young man.

His granddaughter wanted the picture of her grandfather - WITHOUT the mystery woman.