Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday #56: La La Land

A lovely candle on a beautiful day.

Hello, friends!  Over here in Los Angeles, it is hotter than I can bear.  I've been fairly comatose from the heat and I've spent the majority of the weekend with the fan aimed at me because our AC doesn't really work.  Thankfully, its cooled down a bit during the nights (though this coming week will be a scorcher) and we could watch Game of Thrones comfortably.  Did anyone else see it?  I can't even deal right now.


I mentioned that I was sick last week.  This year, I've noticed a tendency for me to get hot, overheat, and generally be intolerant of higher temperatures.  I've always love the cold and ran a little hot, but after I had another overheating/nausea spell this past Tuesday, I decided to go to my university's health center.  We've ruled out the major culprits like diabetes and pregnancy.  We suspect a medication I've been on for a large part of this year is the root of the problem so I'll be getting some blood tests and having follow up appointments in the coming month.  In the meantime, I'm doing my best to get moving when I can, eat a healthy diet, and stay hydrated. 


I had a discussion with my advisor and I'll be pursuing a new avenue of research in the last few months of my doctoral research.  I'm pretty excited though also stressed because I have exams as well as searching for employment.  In less stressful news, I managed to get in three photoshoots this week.  Whew!  It's been a pretty crazy week.  Here is an image I shot on Friday.

Yes, I know, I know.  I'm getting boring.  All I post are photoshoots and I still have Alaska / beauty / and new haircut posts to write.  Holy moly, it's been two months since I've been to Alaska.  Where did the summer go?


As I've mentioned above, I cut my hair short this week.  It feels so much lighter and I may never go back to long hair again.  On Saturday, Roberta made me a lovely homemade meal that included handmade pasta an slowcooked sauce.  We ate it outside under fairy lights with lit candles.  I always end up doing the stereotypical "romantic" things (biking down the shoreline of Santa Monica, walking through the gardens as the sunset) with my female friends!  I wouldn't have it any other way than to be in good company and having nice moments. 

Well, that was my week?  How was yours?  Tell me the most interesting thing that happened!


•  Kyle's street photography during the solar eclipse in NYC.
•  Michelle's take on the "busy" norm.  Definitely worth a read!
•  Victoria Sand's article on the commercialization of self-care on YouTube

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Look Into My Editing Process in Photoshop and Camera RAW

post processing, camera RAW, photoediting, Lumiere and Lens
A peek into post-processing after a photo shoot.

Hello!  I asked if you would like to see a photo editing post and there was some interest so here it is! A few FYIs before we begin: (1) I have only taken one photography course in my entire life and it was analog film in high school, (2) I am completely self-taught in digital photography, and (3) I am all about "the ends justify the means" so these might not be the recommended methods.  Let's begin!

Every person has a different photo aesthetic -- I don't believe there is a "right" way to create pictures.  In general, I aim to create images that enhance and showcase natural beauty.  First and foremost, I try to take a photograph that is good straight out of the camera.  I shoot in full manual or aperture mode where I set the ISO, exposure compensation, focus, metering, and white balance.  I always shoot in RAW -- this method creates digital files that retain ALL the data in an image which is optimal in post.


On the left, I have the image as shot.  It is not under or overexposed and the model is centered in my composition.  I browse my images in Adobe Bridge and open it up with Camera RAW in Adobe Photoshop (just double-click if you use PS).  I start on the Basic Menu.  Believe it or not, you can enhance the colors in your image simply by adjusting the shadows and highlights.  I typically bring down Shadows and Blacks while increasing Highlights and Whites.  To increase the contrast a bit more, I will increase Clarity.  I also increase the Vibrance in the image.  Saturation is increased, but always at less than half of Vibrance.  I will also adjust the Temperature/Tint sometimes.  Exposure typically gets a slight increase because you know I love bright, airy images!

post processing, camera RAW, photoediting, Lumiere and Lens


HSL stands for Hue/Saturation/Luminance which is the second menu I go to in Camera RAW.  I like to enhance colors in my images, but not to an extent where it's not believable.  For example, the model's hair is actually quite vibrant in real life, but was less so in the shadows.  In this image, I've increased the saturation of Reds to make her hair more vibrant.  I increased Oranges to bring warmth into her skin.  I also increased Blues/Aquas to bring out the color of her eyes to how I remember them in real life.  Purples and Magentas got slight boosts as well! 

post processing, camera RAW, photoediting, Lumiere and Lens

The depth of colors can be adjusted by changing the Luminance.  I increased the luminosity of the model's skin so that the orange wasn't as deep.  The Blues were bumped up to +42 to bring more light into her eyes.  Again, I'm making the edits as natural as possible.  In this case, I did not adjust Hues.  I know that at first glance, these two images look identical, but I promise they're not!


I don't add a whole lot of bells and whistles into my photos.  My last alteration in Camera Raw is to Dehaze the image slightly and, occasionally, add a Vignette (darkens the edges of the photograph).  I've been playing around with subtle vignettes on some of my photos recently.  I think it's a nice way to draw focus into the more luminous center of the image.

post processing, camera RAW, photoediting, Lumiere and Lens

At this point, I'm typically done with tweaking in Camera Raw and I open the image into Photoshop.  I crop the image to my liking and start retouching, which is the most time consuming part of the editing process.  I use the Spot Healing Brush to smooth over blemishes and more extensive work to remove the bra that is showing under the model's clothing.  I also start to Burn and Dodge.  Burning darkens parts of the image and brings things into focus.  It's useful if you have areas that might be slightly over exposed.  Dodging is the exact opposite: it increases exposure.  I like to do very light Burning on facial features, hairlines, and the jaw.  The idea is to enhance the subject without making it the editing obvious.  My motto is to leave no trace.

When I'm completely done with retouching, I sometimes add Adjustment Layers, such as Curves.  I add in contrast by tweaking the shape of the curve: a prominent S will product a more visible effect.  Like the other adjustments, I've keep changes very slight here to keep things natural.  The goal is to enhance, not completely change and obliterate things in the picture.

Now, I'm done!  I typically resize the image for my usage purposes and save it.  The final product you see the top of the post is what makes it to the Internet!  Occasionally, I brighten it even more on platforms like Instagram because I love adding more light into images.

I hope this was a useful post!  Everybody has their own aesthetic and ideas so this is by no means the way you HAVE to photoedit.  Let me know what you think and whether you're interested in more of these posts!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday #55: Focus on the Good

Hello, lovelies!  Hope you're all relaxing on this Sunday night.  Confession: this photo from Huntingdon Gardens is from last Sunday and not these past seven days, but I have my reasons!  I'm sitting on my couch, getting some rest after an eventful afternoon as our house watches Game of Thrones.  No spoilers, but it was NOT a restful episode.  


Eena, Nancy and I made plans to get food together this weekend.  We decided to meet at Arcadia Mall and . . . here's here it gets extra eventful!  I'm notorious for getting motion sickness easily.  Even though the trip up to Arcadia was only 15 minutes, I somehow managed to get overheated, carsick, and extremely nauseated.  Yours truly managed to upchuck twice in the multiple hours.  I had to cut the trip short and ask to be taken home by Nancy.  I spent the rest of the afternoon resting and trying to rehydrate.  I think it's mostly intense motion sickness, but it could've been something I ate, too.  *shrugs*

The dumplings at Din Tai Fung. 

It was really nice to see Eena and Nancy -- I appreciate hanging out with great gals!  I felt incredibly embarrassed and kept apologizing for putting such a damper on our girls day.  The real MVPs here are the two of them for being incredibly patient, caring, and making sure I was as fine as I could be.  I said it many times today and I will say it again, "Thank you and I really appreciate it."  Kindness is never taken for granted by me.  I'm also grateful to my other half who brought home saltines, Gatorade and ginger ale for me.  Let's focus on the good things!


Since we're focusing on the good things, I made some strides at work (science) this weekend (more if/when things are final) about which I am both excited and nervous.  In non-science related work, I've recently booked a regular photography client where I shoot images that end up on an online clothing boutique.  It makes peanuts because I quoted the client before I settled on my minimum rate, but she's a dream to work with and I'm getting commercial photography experience!  I also managed to see my friends Liz, Ana and Roberta so it's been a good week for nurturing female friendships.

Oleanders in my neighborhood.


I've been perusing some newer photography accounts and I have realized I am in a bit of a rut.  I always use natural light around golden hour.  How about if I challenge myself more?  Edit differently.  Shoot in difficult situations.  Be less reliant on soft light?  Here are images of Ana and Roberta that were shot outside of my comfort zone.  This time, they're both shot in poor, fading light and edited with more darkness in mind.  What do you think?  Next, I want to try challenging lighting situations at night.

I'm also forcing myself to take pictures on my iPhone because, if I am good, then I should be able to make great images on any device.  Right?  Right!

Here is a parting questionnaire:

1.  What did you do this week?  Highlights and lowlights?
2.  Do you want to read a post on photo editing?
3.  Are you watching the solar eclipse on Monday?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday #54: Sunflowers


Hello, friends!  I've been a little off the radar, but I'm back after two weeks of missed Sundays.


I've finally bitten the bullet and made myself a real photography website!  After consulting with some friends who suggested that naming my photography after my blog might be confusing, I've settled on Alyse Liang Photography.  There are quite a few things I still want to work out, but I think it's time I took this more seriously.  I've been building up my portfolio and have gotten a few (very small) photography jobs in town.  I'm making peanuts, but I'm chasing my dream, you know?  Here is some recent photographic work! 


This week, I got to spend time with a lot of my girlfriends!  Interestingly, all our time together usually involves food at some point.  On Thursday, I had Ana over for dinner and she was kind enough to get me the sunflowers you see at the top.  We went Griffith Park on Saturday to watch When Harry Met Sally on blankets, under the stars.  This evening, Roberta took me The Huntingdon to stroll through the gardens as the sun set.  It's funny how I do more "date" things with my girlfriends than my boyfriend!  

I've just finished Game of Thrones with my roommate and I'm heading to bed soon.  I've had a raging headache for most of today and I want to rest up before Monday.  How was your week?

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Snapshots with Printiki

{I was sent a voucher for prints from Printiki.}

I really like the idea of Polaroids - instant film, a square snapshot, a capture of a moment in time.  What I don't like is the expense of film and a single function piece of equipment!  Call me a millennial who's been raised in the age of digital media, but I like the flexibility of multi-functional devices.  A phone that takes texts and takes photos?  Great.  A DSLR that captures both stills and moving picture?  Even better!  

Even in the digital age, however, I can appreciate the physicality of holding pictures in my hands and mounting them on walls so it was an easy yes when Printiki asked if I'd like to try their prints.  Those closest thing I have to an instant camera is Instagram (and I'm sure was the idea behind the original app).  I was offered 30 Square M Prints.  Once you're on the website, you have the option to upload photos from your computer, Facebook, Google, or Instagram.  I opted to get all my prints from Instagram because they're the perfect square, instant photograph shape!

Square M prints - 4 x 4 inches. 

The prints arrived about a week after I ordered them.  I like that they're printed on photo paper so they aren't flimsy to handle.  There is the option to put text on them when selecting photos, but I prefer to hand write my own.  The resolution of the prints were pretty decent, as you can see!  Your resolution will be correlated to the quality of your original image, but I had no problems with pixelation or blurriness.  I think the prints stayed fairly true to color and saturation as well.  One of my favorite photos taken of Manhattan Beach Pier (see above) turned out beautifully!

I'm waiting to move in to a new place to hang these prints up.  I'm envisioning a grid of friends, family, and pretty landscapes.  In some ways, like an Instagram grid brought to life on my wall.  I'm thumbtacking a few up on my cubicle at work as well,  I mean, look how pretty the images look just arranged next to each other!  I appreciated this collaboration a lot more in hindsight.  Almost all my photography work is in digital media; it becomes easy to forget how satisfying it is to hold real images in your hands.

Has anyone else tried Printiki before?  What do you think of have physical prints of your Instagram photos?  Let me know in the comments!