How’s The Family These Days?

Are the old folks looking a little worse for wear? Are their smiles fading along with their puka shells and bell-bottoms? I really like doing family photo restorations. Instead of just helping a company sell more widgets (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I get to see how it impacts people to have precious mementos of loved ones restored. The challenge is good for the brain, and the result is good for the heart.

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Now this next one was a real challenge. Okay, they are all challenges, but this one was a REAL CHALLENGE!

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Check out more examples on my website on the “Everything Else” page–scroll down!


Don’t spill a drop–retouch the whole glass!


Last June the fellow in front of me at the Grand Canyon inadvertently provided me a great photo op by placing his wineglass where I wanted to photograph the setting sun. I loved the shot, but it always bothered me that the glass was tilted. (Yes, I am the person who straightens the pictures in the doctor’s office.)




I raised the shadows slightly in Lightroom first. In Photoshop, I used the pen tool to make a selection of the wine glass, placed it on its own layer and hid the layer until later, used content-aware fill to fill in the now blank spot on the original (copy of the original). This took several attempts; I’m not great at the pen tool. I touched up the background where content-aware fill tried its best but went a little wonky. Two suns? Only in Star Wars. Then I revealed the isolated wineglass layer, adjusted the angle, blended the edges, and copied a little faux rock foreground to obscure the base so the wineglass did not appear to be floating in space. Oops! The glass was now straight but the liquid inside was still at an angle. That darned gravity! Used the liquify filter to even that out, and also to touch up the rim of the (inexpensive) wineglass. I touched up some but not all of the smudgy fingermarks; this was a real moment and a real person, not a staged commercial shoot. I added an oh-so-suble lens flare because, believe it or not, I thought the sun rays almost looked fake without it, even though it isn’t in the original photo.

So there you have it. With Photoshop, you won’t spill a drop!

(Thank you, Friend, whoever you are, for having the foresight to bring a glass of wine with you to enjoy a spectacular sight.)


Backblaze Saved My Butt

When my 21″ iMac went belly-up and I had to get a new computer in a hurry (hello,  super-speedy 15″MacBook Pro!), the backup migration from my external HD went pretty well. BUT…and it’s a big but…I had turned Time Machine OFF while Ol’ Mac was in the last stages of dying because I needed to finish a project and the Time Machine backup (which is not frequency or time customizable*) was slowing things down waaaaay too much. Well, the unimaginable happened. I forgot to  turn it back on, and when I returned a few days later, the hard drive in the iMac had followed the Light. Dead. Dead as a doornail.

Once I got the new unit, like I said, transfer went well. I did it myself and saved the $99. But that last work I did of course wasn’t there. Thank you, Backblaze! I was able to find the Lightroom and Photoshop files I needed to load on Lil’ Mac. The Lightroom adjustments were still there. I don’t remember on which blog I first read about BB, but so glad I checked it out last March and signed up for a year. Seriously, people! $5 a  month for UNLIMITED cloud backup. DO IT. Simple, easy, cheap, works, saves your butt.

You’re welcome. Tell ’em I sent ya, and we both get a month free.

*Apple Folks: please let us decide when and how often we schedule the automatic backups in Time Machine. Pretty please?

Photography Gear Masquerading as Everyday Tools: Save Money, Space, and Time

Frustrating, isn’t it? You’ve tried turning it lightly, firmly, squeezing it, swearing at it, invoking the Benevolent Photography Fairies* for help, all to no avail. That ?#&%*! filter is still stubbornly jammed on your lens for eternity, and no amount of forehead sweat is going to loosen it.

Calm down. There is help, and it’s closer than you think.

I’m sure the inexpensive filter wrenches from B&H work just fine, but they are specific to the size of the filter, so they are one-trick ponies. You’d better have the right size wrench in-house because you want that thing off NOW, don’t you? (Before you judge me for incorrectly screwing on a filter or buying the wrong one in the first place, I’m  not the only one who has had this happen or they wouldn’t make filter wrenches. So there.)

Enter…The Garage. No, really. Go into the garage.

You may not have an arsenal of mysteriously appearing This Old House implements like rubber strap wrenches hanging around collecting cobwebs, but for some reason I do. When and why I bought them (yeah, there’s two), who can say? But today…light bulb moment! I used the small one to loosen and remove the jammed UV filter that’s been living on my Canon 50mm 1.8 for the past five years. I wrapped it around the filter edge, adjusted it to fit, and Boom. It took two seconds and minimal effort to do what previous years of abject failure could not. Probably any decent length strip of rubber and a torquing stick would work. Check your junk drawer(s) or ask your favorite DIY neighbor.

IMG_7127The handle and locking mechanism did the trick. It’s all about leverage, baby, leverage. PVC pipes, pickle jars, lens filters–there are many jobs for this little guy. He needs to come and live with me in the big house in a place of honor: Le Junque Drawer.

What everyday items have you engaged or re-purposed as photography tools or accessories, either in a pinch or as a frugal stroke of genius? Please leave a comment and share. Do-it-yourselfers would love to know.

Happy defiltering.

*These are the same Fairies who get you to snap the shutter at exactly the right moment to capture that perfect shot. Clap your hands if you believe. Do not clap your hands if one of the fairies is between them.

The first real test of the macro lens

I recently purchased a Canon EF 100mm 2.8 macro lens that I use for portrait photography, but on a recent camping trip, this gal made an appearance, and she held still long enough for her portrait. I know, those of you with arachnophobia aren’t going to be thrilled with this, but honestly, she was harmless, didn’t try to hitch a ride back to Illinois in the equipment, and I have to say being able to see her eyelashes made her more Charlotte’s Web and less Stephen King. And she didn’t jump. Jumping spiders are not invited to any of my parties!


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