Using a Gradient Fill Layer To Alter Color, Tone or Mood

The Courtyard at Castello di Amorosa

You can use them boldly or subtly, but the using a Gradient Fill Layer in Photoshop (I use CC) is a great tool for finishing touches on a photo. I’ll give you an example of subtle use from a photo I processed recently.

We visited Castello di Amorosa last fall for a photo shoot. A bunch of great images and 3 episodes of The Chat (owner Dario Sattui, photographer Annette Biggers, model Jennifer Freeman) came from that fabulous 2 day visit. I’m still smiling!

As our final evening was winding down, after a lovely glass of wine and noshes (The Castle is a fabulous winery), we wandering back toward our cars. The evening light was gorgeous… and the lights of the castle were on. Of COURSE, we had to shoot just a little bit more! This was a fun one of the courtyard… which I took with everyone tapping their toes, eager to drive down the valley for dinner. I could’ve stayed all night!


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Shooting Nicholas

Let’s Try Some New Stuff!

If you know me at all, you know I like to try new things, experiment. If we’re just meeting for the first time… well hello! I like to try new things, experiment. Now we’re up to speed.

Last week, I went down to Southern California for a meeting – but I also made some time to go shooting. I stayed with my great friend Annette Biggers, who is an amaaaaazing photographer. (In fact, I did a Chat with her! If you haven’t seen it, you can check it out it here)
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The Incomparable Annette Biggers

My recent Chat with Annette Biggers was so much fun – and so enlightening too! Lots of good stuff to think about and feel into to start the new year.

Here’s a quick snippet with just one of them. It’s where Annette talks about why she’s passionate about her fairy tale photo shoots – and why she thinks she’s seen so much transformation happen as a result of them:

In the beginning of the full episode she shares one of her favorite quotes; “It’s more tragic to be alive and not know why – than to be dead and not know life.” I love that Annette truly walks her talk… and lives life fully with her heart wide open. It’s amazing to be around people like that! They just lift you up.

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THE CHAT with Karen Hutton: Annette Biggers!

Photographer, artist and humanitarian and my friend Annette Biggers is my guest on this fabulous episode.
Annette was my #1 choice for a holiday episode, because I can think of no more inspiring person to share with you as we wrap up one year and envision our next, sparkling new one!

Annette and I met up on a 2-day fairy tale photo shoot at Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, California and sat down in the Great Hall for our Chat. There could be no better place to talk about the transformational power behind her famed fairy tale photo shoots, the power of prophetic words and how they saved a nation, the role she believes artists play in culture, how she sees her work as prophetic art, her orphanage in Uganda and the importance of believing in yourself.

Every time I talk to Annette I walk away inspired like crazy! This was no exception… except that this time I get to share it with you.
We’d actually been trying to do this episode for MONTHS! Originally, I’d planned on doing The Chat as a Google+ OnAir Hangout series. But once I got a taste of having them on-location it was so awesome, there was no looking back!

Annette was part of my original group of scheduled guests… but every single time we’d try to connect via Hangout to do our episode, there’d be some problem. Computer, connection, internet, you name it – something always glitched and hamstrung our attempts. Looking back, think it was because if we were going to talk about such royally inspiring and uplifting things, THIS Chat just HAD to be done in a castle! Hahaha!! It was entirely worth the wait!

Big, huge mega-thanks to Dave Bell for his help with cameras and audio. We did 3 Chats that day and it took two sets of brains and hands. Dave was – as always – totally awesome!


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New Zealand and The Chat

New Image: Milford Sound

Today I’m in the mood to share a couple of things: first, a brand new photo. It’s from my trip to New Zealand earlier this year for Trey Racliff’s New Zealand Adventure in which I co-taught. We visited Milford Sound, of course… got rained out one night, but woke up to a properly mystical morning!

MilfordStrand

The Chat with Annette Biggers: Sneak Peak!

Then… this coming Monday is an all new episode of The Chat! They just keep getting better and better… and more and more fun. This one was no exception… but add “inspiring as all get-out” to the mix. heh. My guest is photographer Annette Biggers… who is also an artist, humanitarian and Deep Thinker About Life.

In this clip, she talks about her belief that “artists are the creators or life in culture”… and explains what she means by that. You might find yourself agreeing with her! It was certainly true in the Renaissance… and I think its as true now as it ever was then! As artists, I personally think we need to consider carefully what we’re putting out there.

Tune in on Monday for the full episode!!

Castello Di Amorosa & THE CHAT

The Castle

I visited Castello di Amorosa in the Napa Valley for the first time recently. I went to hang with my great friend Annette Biggers – and to help out on one of her fantastic fairy tale shoots. She’s done them at the castle before, so I’d heard a lot about the place. I couldn’t wait to see it! And yet… nothing prepared me for what I saw! My jaw about hit the floor when I walked in. This is basically the first thing you see when drive up. Y’know, just a basic Napa Valley winery. NOT!
Castle in gold. Its best color of all.
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LIL Galleries: Love

I love photography. I love music. I love them together, separately, it just doesn’t matter.
I love Love and know for sure that in the end, Love is All. So there you have it.
LIL Galleries is my passion project: photographs, music, voice and story (two more things I love), all rolled into one. I see it as a new form of arts gallery, really; presenting artists’ (photographer and musician alike) work in a way that tells a story. Soothes souls. Gives folks a break. Reminds us of our hearts. This particular show is a blend of old and new: it’s about a group of 20 photographers who all met and became friends on the modern day phenomenon that is Google+. Whose story of “Love” is set to a truly old fashioned tune by Bing Crosby, dated 1937. All about… yup. Love.

The “LIL” in LIL Galleries stands for “Life is Light.” Because life is, in every way possible, an expression of light. It also, of course, means “small.” Continue reading “LIL Galleries: Love”

Captain Hook & The Bay of Emeralds

I have a wonderful friend named Annette Biggers who photographs weddings. Brilliantly. And she does this other really cool thing; fairy tale photo shoots. She has a whole philosophy about why she likes to do this… and it’s awesome deep. One day she called up and said “I want to do ‘Captain Hook at Emerald Bay'” (Lake Tahoe, in the area where I live)… “And I want you to do some HDR photos!” Well, of course I said “YES!” I was really excited, since I’ve loved Annette’s work since the day I laid eyes on it… and the idea of getting to play in that realm AND do some HDR had me bouncing up and down. Literally!

Cap'nHook

She picked up the costume in Los Angeles, at a shop that rents them for movies and such. She chose a few spots around the lake from photos I’d taken previously, and away we went. Her son Daniel was a fabulous Cap’n and put up with us setting him up in all kinds of positions all day long! What a gem.

I used a shallow depth of field for this, so the background would blur out. Shot 7 bracketed exposures, combined them in Photomatix. That created my base image… then I went to town with NIK Software, onOne Perfect Effects 4, some Photoshop techniques and Lightroom too. But here’s the thing when you do HDR on a person… don’t HDR the face! The process makes skin look strangely gritty and unnatural. I used one of the mid-range raw exposures for Daniel’s face, making sure to lighten and brighten his eyes just a little. The costume lent itself particularly well to the process, which made all the details in the fabric and necklace really pop. I wanted an old fashioned movie poster vibe – but with more modern colors and details. I love how it turned out – and want to do more! Don’t know when I will, but it was sure fun to play and experiment with a type of photography that I don’t do very often.

Tried anything new lately?