Jan 20, 2009

Our Son and the Mucus Monster

Our son loves Cookie Monster. He bounces his legs against his car seat while singing "C-c-cookie" along with the song "C is for Cookie." He exclaims with joy, "Mon-ser! Cookie!" whenever he sees a Sesame Street toy in the store. And of course, he loves his own little mini version of the fuzzy blue monster.

But there's another monster in our life that isn't so friendly and not nearly as cute. It's the Mucus Monster, cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that causes his body to make extra thick, sticky mucus. The mucus coats and clogs organs of his body especially his pancreas, intestines, lungs, and sinus passages. We fight the monster everyday. One of those daily treatments includes 40 minutes on a machine called the Vest, an airway clearance system that vibrates his chest to shake loose the mucus in his lungs. Meanwhile, the nebulized albuterol helps open up breathing passages.

Recently, our son had a CT scan so the doctors could examine his upper sinus passages, a problem area for many cystic fibrosis patients. Although the scan went as well as could be expected, the results showed severe blockages on both sides of his sinuses. So despite the fact that our son is not yet 2, he is scheduled for sinus surgery the first week of February. In addition, he will be going in to the hospital for a week of IV antibiotics (a cystic fibrosis "tune up") before the surgery. With the tune up, surgery, and recovery time, we are looking at up to 2 weeks in the hospital.

Despite being scared about the surgery and the hospital stay, we know that this is the best thing for our son. The tune up and surgery will allow him to breathe easier, gain weight faster, and get back to focusing on the favorite monster in his life--the one that loves cookies.

Jan 17, 2009

Windy, Wonderful Day: Couple Portraits

I spent a glorious couple of hours editing photos this morning and finishing the faux antique image you see at the top of this post. It's nice to be back doing some creative work after all the doctor's visits, pharmacy phone calls, and insurance hassles I've had to deal with these past two weeks. (Our son has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes chronic lung, sinus, and digestion problems.)

I love the images from this shoot, especially the ones set against the sky. And that wind-swept hair (though it was giving my clients a bit of trouble) makes for a romantic look, especially on the second image. We were lucky to have some time to take both indoor and shots, so we took advantage of the brightly-colored walls as a background. And then we had to do a few at the pool table.

While the guy channeled Paul Newman from The Hustler, I asked the gal to pose beside the table as his "moll." It was a fun image to set up. Then came the post processing. Oh, it took a long time. Such a long time. Because this was the first photo I'd done as an antique, it took me a while to research and try out all the methods to get it right. This image has over 17 layers in the uncompressed file. Whew! Well, it was worth it. I'm pleased with the look of the old parchment-style paper, the tears, the rips, and (if you look carefully) the subtle spot color of the green felt.

I was inspired by these images and tutorials for the vintage-style photo:

Jan 14, 2009

Post Processing: College-Age Portrait

A post! Finally! I had a wonderful Christmas vacation and a great opportunity to photograph some of my family over the past couple weeks (including this gorgeous shot of my little sis). But I had to take a bit of a hiatus from the blog for the vacation, unpacking, and getting my family life in order for the new year.

This post is a little of a "how to" about post processing. When I first started, I did little if any post processing on images. But as I've grown in photography, I've come to realize how much of a difference subtle changes can make. I've also had a ball doing some experimental work as per clients' requests. Enjoy!

1. The original image. We both liked the pose and the wind-blown hair. The image itself is beautiful and would have been a keeper without any editing.

2. A bit of face cleanup. We all have blemishes we would rather not be preserved for posterity. I do cleanup work on faces pretty often. It can be tedious, but the result is very nice.

3. Some hair fixes. There was a bump on top of the head that wasn't too glamorous, and then the hair across the neck didn't look quite right. The first hair fix was easy. That second one was tough because I had to recreate the parts of her neck where the hair had been.

4. Saturation and levels adjustment. I upped the saturation (deepness of the colors) and adjusted the levels (black, white, and midtones) of the photo to make her really "pop." It also added a lot of warmth to the photo I like.

5. Screen layer. This is a new thing I've been doing to my images: adding a screen layer on top to lighten shadows and give the face a kind of glow. On step 4, I generally oversaturate a bit so that the screen layer doesn't take away from the color of the image.

6. Vignette. Adding a subtle vignette really focuses your attention on the subject. It's usually my last step before finishing an image.