Natural Bokeh in a Photo

_ri_5239Bokeh in a photograph is determined by the lens and aperature settings used to create the photograph.  To achieve bokeh, you need a fast lens with at least an aperature of f2.8, f2, f1.8, f1.2.  Prime lenses work great for bokeh. Shoot in Manual or Aperature Priority, wide open – meaning at your largest f stop (which is the smallest number)

If you do not have a lens with a large aperature as described above, you can also achieve bokeh by increasing the distance between the background and your subject, and increase the distance between your subject and the camera. To achieve highlights hitting the background, shoot with backlighting, or sidelighting.

Bokeh – Wikipedia In photography, bokeh (originally /ˈboʊkɛ/, /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay — also sometimes pronounced as /ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə, Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”.





Kraft Azalea Park Outdoor Location for a Photo Session


_ri_5290_8x10cKraft Azalea Park is a a great destination for an outdoor location photo session, but it is no secret! – It seems all the local photographers know about it. We went out on a Thursday at 4 pm hoping it wouldn’t be as crowded as a weekend.  There were several photographers out this day. One photographer brought a leather ottomon couch as a prop for a family photo session, with a few light reflectors and lights. Unfortunately for us, they were set up right in the front of my favorite back lit area.   Meanwhile, a couple was getting married in front of the large tall columns.  We waited patiently. As we walked around, we saw the many photo opportunities there are: beautiful scenery with tall trees with moss canopies, a lake behind, boardwalk, park benches and more. Through the shade of the trees, there were many lighting opportunities available. Sidelighting, backlighting and frontlighting – every shot lending itself to a new lighting condition.

The gallery below are a few sample photos taken in this outdoor location: beautiful greenery and trees, park bench, and columns. We used afternoon lighting in the shade which gave a warm tone to the photos.

Outdoor Location: Kraft Azalea Park: 1429 Alabama Drive, Winter Park, Fl 32789

BELOW: An alternative outdoor location: THE NEIGHBORS YARD!
In a pinch, you will find yourself wandering outside your own home to find a great outdoor location. It may not be your own yard, but if you look hard enough you will find a good spot.
We didn’t have enough time in the day to make a trip to Kraft Azalea Park before the Homecoming dance, so we looked around a little and discovered our neighbor’s yard!  I just don’t know if Kraft Azalea Park can top the beauty of the colors in this landscape – the way they compliment her plain colored dress, and the pink in the landscape repeating in her skin tone.  What do you think?


Making Kitten Flowers Bloom …

Kitten Flowers – Kittens in Full Bloom was one of the most fun photo shoots that we have done. We got very crafty making kitten flowers blooms and designed the head pieces ourselves with craft store supplies: artificial flowers, syrofoam discs, scissors, exacto knife, and craft glue. We took photos as we created to give you an idea of how it was made.  We were inspired by Mother’s Day and Summertime Sunflowers for these photo shoots. We wanted to create something special that all moms would love for products. We tried two different types of flowers: a sunflower and pink hydrangea bush flower.
The first was the large sunflower. It is sold at craft store in this huge size! The headpiece is pretty much pre-assembled, you just need to cut the center out to fit over the kitten’s head. It was fairly easy to do.
First we took the sunflower heads off of the stems. Then we went to work peeling off a few layers off the back to make it thinned. Then we cut through the top, pointing our exacto at an angle, much like the angle you use when cutting a matte for a frame.  _MG_7787We used a drinking glass as our guide to make a circle. We cut through the back layers like a star and and glued the layers into the inside to cover up the foam that was showing through.



Cute tabby kitten hiding in the middle of a pink flower bush inside of a terra cotta garden pot, photographed on an isolated white background.

The second floral headpiece was not pre-assembled like the sunflower, so it took a little more time to make. We used an artificial pink hydrangea bush stem that we purchased at a craft store. To build the base we used a green styro foam disc. We used a glass cup to trace a circle on the foam disc and cut out. Then we took the leaves off the bush. We peeled the leaves off of the wire veins and glued them on first. We left some areas of the green disc empty of the leaves, so we would have a place to secure the flowers. We added a layer of leaves to the bottom to ensure there was no green foam showing from the sides. We also used the leaves to wrap the inside center.  we kept the flowers together in their bouquet groups and stuck them in the foam and glued to secure.



Hydrangea macrophylis bush, pink flowers, with ten young tabby kittens peeking through.

We shot the pink flower kittens on white, so that we could isolated them from the background and create the pink flower kitten collage. We loved it so much we made it into a desktop wallpaper, it is on the wallpaper page for you to download. We hope you enjoy!  We would love to see this adorable flower collage become a large piece puzzle. We think both seniors and children would love it!





Watermark Action Tutorial

Orange and white tabby kitten thanksgiving decoration on burlap and blue
Orange and white tabby kitten thanksgiving decoration on burlap

Creating a watermark action for any image orientation and size. This is very important and better than any watermark action I have seen because it will place your watermark in the center with an automatic alignment feature. No matter what size your image is, the watermark will always be in the center. See image above.

**Some knowledge of Photoshop tools and menu options is needed to follow the steps in this tutorial.

1. Open a photo in Photoshop you would like to add a watermark to.
2. click create new action at the bottom of the actions pallette, name the action: watermark.
3. click record to start recording
4. press ctrl-K to go to photoshop preferences, choose units and rulers pop-up menu, choose percent. click OK
5. Press D to set Foreground color to black.
6. Select the type tool click on the photo (do not create a text box) and type what you want for your watermark. For example I use a copyright symbol with my name. To make a copyright symbol on a keyboard hold down the alt key and then type the numbers 0169. ©kellyrichardson.
7. change font size as neccessary. then click the commit checkbox on the right side of the Options Bar.
8. to put text in middle of document: ctrl-A choose layers>Align Layers to Selection>Vertical Centers. Then choose Layers> Align Layers to Selection>>Horizontal Layers. This will ensure the watermark is exactly in the center of the image no matter what the dimensions are. press ctrl-D to deselect.
9. Add watermark style: dbleclick the watermark layer, click on bevel& emboss, use default settings. go to blending options, drop the fill opacity to 0%. click ok
10. From Layers panel choose flatten all layers.
11. stop recording.
This action can be used from the bridge with Tools>Photoshop>image Processor to batch watermark  groups of files.

Using Backlight Photography

Kitten on Windowsill
IMG_4226 Gracie Rescue Kitten


Shooting a backlit scene can be more technically challenging. Backlight photography exposure can be tricky.  And as we all know, an important rule in photography “101” is to avoid shooting against the sun. If you do, you will usually end up with either completely over exposed photographs, or a dark and indefinite shadow. However, certain subjects, such as pets  may warrant backlit exposure – as they wander into their own purrr-fect candid pose (on a windowsill with the sun shining behind them!).

It is always best for photographers to know how to handle lighting techniques for every situation, and backlight is one of them.  Backlight can prove to be a beautiful source of light in its own, creating dynamic beautiful shots that glow!

kitten sitting windowsill
IMG_4219 Abby Rescue Kitten

The tricky part when it comes to backlit scenes is getting the proper exposure. When your camera is set to evaluative metering it meters the entire scene to determine the best exposure. In the case of a backlit subject, evaluative metering will fail because the background is so brightly lit by the sun.  Your camera can’t meter for both the bright background and the front subject at the same time.  To over come this technical issue, you can set your camera to spot metering to tell the camera which part of the picture is the most important to you.  You can then meter the subject’s face (kitten face in this case) and let the highlights go completely white.

In the image above, the majority of the sunlight was coming from behind the kitten through the window, causing the fur around the edge of the kitten body to glow, with still enough ambient light to capture detail in the front. I used spot metering and metered the kitten’s face.  Light was reflected all around creating the catch lights in the kitten’s eyes from the white shutter doors that were opened on each side.  Settings are as follows: ISO 250, f2.8, ss 160, canon macro 100 mm lens, Canon mark II 5D


  • Change your exposure mode to spot metering, and meter the subjects face.

  • When there is not enough ambient light to capture the details in the foreground subject,  you can use fill flash or a white reflector.

Gracie & Abby

The foster rescue kittens photographed for this weeks blog and newsletter are Gracie and Abby, two sisters who were rescued with their mother from a high kill shelter. They have had very little contact with humans and came to us very frightened and scared.   We have been working with them 24/7 showing them as much love and attention as possible, to help them overcome their fear of humans and prepare them for adoption as a sweet loving pets.  After the third day in our care, they began to trust, became very playful,  and accepted our touch, with much more relaxed personalities.  They were still just too shy to be posed. These are candid natural images of them sitting alongside the windowsill with ambient backlight.  This is a time when knowing how to backlight a subject with correct exposure comes in handy!