How to Make Reusable Templates in Photoshop

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Hi everyone!  I am so excited to announce that I am teaching a class on Skillshare called Creating Reusable Templates in Photoshop: Photo Collage!  Skillshare.com is an amazing website where you can learn all sorts of great skills in short bite sized classes.  Its perfect for busy people who love to learn!

I have seen classes on everything from cooking to photography to painting and writing!  I LOVE Skillshare!

A couple months ago the creative team at Skillshare asked me to teach a class.  I love to teach!  I love photography!  Its a win win!  So here is my very first class, Creating Reusable Templates in Photoshop: Photo Collage.

In this class we will be learning to make your own templates in Photoshop!  So many photographers buy templates or just use what they can find on the internet for free.  This is so sad because it is SO EASY to make your own and you can do SO MUCH with them!  If you want to check out the intro video you can find it here!

In less then 20 minutes this class will give you the skills to create your own

  • photo collage
  • facebook timeline
  • business cards and flyers
  • calendars
  • design albums and photo book pages
  • scrapbooking
  • and so much more!

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Plus, right now is the best time to join Skillshare!  Right now you can get your first 3 MONTHS of Skillshare for only $.99 cents!  After your three months you can cancel or continue for only $12 a month.  For me, its totally worth it.  I watch videos on Skillshare almost everyday.  When I am washing dishes, when I am in the car, when I am waiting in line at the doctor.  The classes are so short that I can complete one in the time it takes the guy to wash and vacuum my car!

Please head on over to my class, Creating Reusable Templates in Photoshop and support me!

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Valentine’s Day Mini Sessions – Antelope Valley Photographer

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When was the last time you got pictures taken with the love of your life? Your best friend? Your Mom? Never? Well this session is for you!

This is the first of my Client Only Mini Sessions for 2017!
These are discounted sessions that are available to clients who have had a session with me in the past year. If you have never had a session with me that’s ok! If there are still openings by Jan 28th then I will offer those open slots to a waiting list. If you are interested on getting on the waiting list please PM me.

I have 4 slots available on Feb 4th, 2017 for Valentine’s Day Mini Sessions. The available times are:

330pm
400pm
430pm
500pm

Location will be based on the weather and flora of the desert at the time. Clients will be notified of the location a week prior to the session date. Location will be in the Antelope Valley. If it rains the session will be rescheduled for Feb 5th or 11th.

Included in Session Fee is:
– 20 minute session
– One 8×10 print
– Digital Valentine’s Day Card to share on social media or print
– Facebook Timeline

Your gallery will have about 5 images to choose from.
Print packages start at $60.00.

*These sessions are for 2 people ONLY, no exceptions.

**Sessions must be paid in full to hold your spot. Session amount is non-refundable, so please make sure you can make it! Arrive early and be ready to go! If you are late, you forfeit your session fee and time. I will try to squeeze you in after the rest of my sessions are finished, but there are no promises and no refunds.

Family Portraits at the Lake – Antelope Valley Family Photography

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Isn’t this beautiful!!  I usually avoid using parks for sessions because so many other photographers use the same parks, but I made an exception for this family and I am so glad I did!  I love how these pictures came out!  The light was great and the water was so pretty!  This location is also in the Antelope Valley and perfect for a weeknight session where the park is fairly empty.

If you are interested in booking a portrait session in the Antelope Valley please visit my website www.melissabeach.com.

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Fall in the Antelope Valley – Palmdale Famiy Photographer

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I drive by this beautiful park in Palmdale just off the 14 freeway every morning on my way to work and over the past few weeks the Autumn colors have slowly been taking it over.  When this client asked for something fall-ish and with a county feel.  I knew I had to take them here.  Here are just a few of the images in their beautiful gallery.

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Interested in booking a session?

Find out how it all works on my website www.melissabeach.com.

Family Reunion Session – Antelope Valley Family Photographer

Nineteen people!!  This was by far the largest family session I have ever done and it went splendidly!  I photographed them at Apollo Park in Lancaster, California.  They have beautiful man-made lake, ducks, geese and three playgrounds.  It is a huge park right next to a small rural airport.  It’s always fun to look at the planes when we drive by.  If you head out there, be sure to drive down the musical road going westbound Ave G.  Its really cool.

If you are interested in booking a family session please visit www.melissabeach.com for more details.  Also be sure to follow me on Facebook

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How to Learn a New Lens – A Tutorial for Photographers

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85mm, f2.0, ISO200, 1/3200 sec

Hi everyone!

Recently I bought an 85mm 1.8 lens as a gift to myself for accomplishing so many of my goals this past year.  It’s been a couple of years since my last lens purchase, which was a 35mm 1.8 lens and as I started to use the 85mm lens I realized just how much I have learned about lens choice over the last couple years.  I thought that writing a post on how to learn a new lens would probably be very useful to a lot of photographers so here it is.  I hope you find this insightful.

I am not going to go into the basics of lenses and how they work in this article.  I am going to assume that you know what changing the F Stop does, are aware that changing the focal length will change the compression of the image and the depth of field.

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85mm, f2.0, ISO200, 1/800 sec

One Lens, One Month

Commit to using only your new lens for one month.  If you have a portrait session use whatever lens you need to use, but for personal use, stick to your new lens.  By using just one lens and shooting everyday you will have ample time to become very familiar with all its quirks.

For example, I used my new 85mm on a portrait session recently and had several beautiful photos come out slightly blurry because I forgot that I needed to use a higher shutter speed for the longer lens I was using.  If I had waited and spent some time getting to know that lens I would have learned this lesson in a practice shoot and not in a paid shoot.

Pay Attention to Distance

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85mm, F1.8, ISO640, 1/250sec

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85mm, F1.8 ISO640, 1/400sec

One thing you may want to study is how far you need to stand from the subject to get the image you envision.  You can get similar pictures using a 35mm or 85mm lens.  However, the distance between you and your subject will change quite a bit to get the same composition.  By knowing these approximate distances you can concentrate more on the artistic side of photography and less on figuring out where to stand.

Practice

  1.  Find a willing model who can sit still for a while.  Teens and adults are best for this activity.
  2. Place your model in a chair and compose a headshot.  Then measure the distance between you and your subject.  Note that distance in your photography journal (more on this in a later post).
  3. Next, compose a waist up shot.  Measure the distance between you and your subject.  Note in your journal.
  4. Continue this process for a full body shot and an environmental portrait (that uses the enormity and beauty of the landscape in the portrait).
  5. Extra Credit: Do this exercise with a different lens and compare the distances.
  6. What do you notice?  How will this information help you in your photography?

The Blur Factor

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85mm, F2.2, ISO400, 1/500sec  He is about 20 ft from that tree, 5-8 ft from me.

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85mm, F2.2, ISO400, 1/500sec.  They are about 8-10ft from the tree and 20+ ft from me.

Many photographers want to have that beautiful blurry background behind their subjects. What many don’t realize is the distance between your subject and the background as well as you and your subject really makes a difference in how blurry the background is.  To learn how your new lens deals with this try this exercise.  In the first image above my son is closer to me and farther from the tree.  In the second image he is closer to the tree and farther from me.  Notice the difference in background blur, bokah, and how the antennae looks.

Practice

  1.  Place your subject right in front of an outdoor wall.  Have them lean back against it.  Compose and shoot a headshot.
  2. Move your subject 3 feet from the wall and compose the same headshot.  You will have to move back 3 feet as well to get the same composition.  Take another headshot.
  3. Continue to do this at 6 feet, 12 feet, 20 feet and 50 feet.
  4. Bring your images into Lightroom and compare them to each other.
  5. How does the distance from the background change its blurriness?  Which look do you prefer?  How can you use this information to help your photography?

Create a Depth of Field Series

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85mm, F2.0, ISO400, 1/500 sec.  This grass is about 2-3 ft away from me.

Different focal lengths affect the depth of field differently.  Practice using and studying the changes in depth of field with your new lens so you are familiar with how much focal space you have at each F stop.  Keep in mind that your distance from the subject will also affect the depth of field.

Practice

  1.  Put your camera on a tripod, or balance it on something (safely) and focus on your subject.
  2. Start at the lowest F stop and take a picture.
  3. Change to the next highest F stop and take the picture again.
  4. Continue to take the same picture of the same subject and each F stop until you have done them all.
  5. Go into Lightroom and study the changes to each image as the F stop changes.
  6. Extra Credit:  Do this activity again, but drastically change the distance between you and your subject.  Compare the depth of field between the images taken at the same F stop, but at different distances.
  7. How does the DOF change based on the distance between you and your subject?  How does this affect the background?  How does it affect the subject?  How will this information help you in your photography?
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85mm, f2.0, ISO200, 1/2500 sec

Practice & Analyze

The most important trick to learning a new lens is to practice a ton then analyze your images.  Use the EXIF data to compare your camera settings to your pictures.  Decide if you met your vision.  What could you do differently in camera to better achieve your vision?

I hope this tutorial was helpful to you!  I would love to know how this helped you in your photography.  Please leave me a comment and let me know!

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85mm, f2.0, ISO200, 1/2500 sec

Family Session at the Creek – Palmdale Family Photographer

We had so much fun out at Big Rock Creek in Littlerock, California.  The creek is in the mountains looking over the Antelope Valley and is a wonderful place to take your family swimming.  It is also a fabulous location for family portraits!  So many wonderful backdrop possibilities.  I can’t wait to do another session up there.

If you would like to book a family photo session please contact me through my website www.melissabeach.com and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook.

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