Friday, November 17, 2017

Improve Your Holiday Photos With These Helpful Photoshop Tutorials

Photo of a camera with a Santa hat on top
"Taking an image,  freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is." — Anonymous

There are many instances over a lifetime when the notion of 'freezing a moment' is yearned for. Often, unfortunately, after the fact. There are those precious times with loved ones that we wish we could hold onto forever. There are those vacations we took, those events we attended that were so enjoyed we wished they could go on forever. The best we can hope for typically is that we have a camera with us to at least preserve the memory for posterity.

Thanks to technology many of those memories are safeguarded these days. With digital cameras, tablets and smartphones, there are a lot of snap happy people out there running around here and there, grabbing pictures of this and that along the way. So much so that in the extreme they are often too busy capturing the moment to realize they aren't actually enjoying it.

Having long ago recognized the value of picture taking, I've been known to be one of those aforementioned people. At family events I always seem to be on the move, trying to ensure I've taken at least one picture of everybody, and that I've managed to catch at least some of those wonderful candid moments to cherish in later years.

It was after hearing someone mention at a concert one night, though, that all of those people frantically snapping pictures  were missing a good show,  when I realized I maybe needed to rethink how I'm using my camera. Photographing everything that's happening so I can cherish the moment isn't really so good if I'm not actually part of any of it.

Given the time of year that's upon us, the opportunities for picture taking are plentiful. From the laden Thanksgiving table to the chaos around the Christmas tree,  the photo ops we can look forward to over the next few weeks are endless. And while you too have maybe decided to not spend quite as much time trying to get a picture of every treasured moment,  you will want to be sure that the pictures you take are worthy to be called a keepsake.  The quality needs to be there.
Photo of a family portrait taken by the Christmas tree

At a recent family gathering at our home, in keeping with my decision to cut back on my shutterbug role,  the plan was to opt for a few organized group photos. It seemed a brilliant idea at the time. We all know, however, how much fun it is to organize a group of kids into a portrait picture. When half of them are under six and dozens of adults are offering advice and instruction, the resulting melee was not conducive to art.

The subjects were beyond adorable but the results not so much. Impatient, energetic kids in constant motion tend to make for some interesting pictures. For that matter, the reluctant, truculent adults weren't a whole lot better when it was there turn either. Adding more to the mix was the fact that on this day the required lens decided to have an issue.

Thanks to digital photography, with no film to process and having the ability to see the picture you've just taken, photographers have more chances to get it right. They can take dozens of pictures of a group, and make adjustments to improve what they're seeing. That said, there are still times when the end result disappoints.

Fortunately, with today's image editing software many problems can be corrected. In a perfect world we'd all get the lighting and exposure right every time, but seizing a moment often means we take what we get with little time for adapting. These links will offer novices solutions on a number of common problems:

Enhance Colours With Photoshop Filters

How to Adjust Exposure

Fixing Brightness and Contrast

How to Fix a Blurry Photo

Photoshopping People from One Photo to Another

Swapping Heads in Photoshop

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thanksgiving and the Season Begin with Wonderful Holiday Clipart

Clipart image of a Thanksgiving background with pumpkins and falling leaves
Little remains of the kaleidoscopic canopy that autumn created. The foliage began its slow fall weeks ago, littering the ground with colour and crunch. The days have shortened, the air is crisp and in this corner of the world we are anticipating snow's  appearance.

Now we can turn our minds to the special celebrations that will dominate life for the remainder of 2017.  There was an early start for my extended family this past weekend as we gathered for our annual 'Christmas' dinner. Too early? Maybe. But we have our reasons.

As time aged us, as it moved us along different paths, as work schedules became more complicated, as more people were added to the clan, my siblings and I, along with our now-grown children, found ourselves distanced by hundreds of miles in various directions as well as conflicting work schedules. The busyness of the traditional festive season makes it challenging enough to co-ordinate a special holiday time, let alone when you have to drive a couple of hours to get there or have people working shifts. We knew long ago,  if we wanted some time together we had to figure out a plan that would work for the majority.

Clipart image of a family saying grace at the Thanksgiving tableSo, we removed the 'hectic season' from the equation and found our solution in partying before the rush.  Some might argue it's too soon. We've maintained, however, that if this is the best we can manage then it's better than nothing. The main event might still be weeks away, but we've never had any difficulty getting into the spirit of the celebration. Especially since the unofficial kickoff is only a short time away.

Even on this side of the border it seems that once the American Thanksgiving is on the horizon, everything just starts feeling a bit more festive. It really isn't long now before folks in the United States will be taking time from their regular workday routines for this significant holiday. They will gather with friends and family to give thanks for their many blessings. And to watch football.

The occasion is held in recognition of the feast that followed the Pilgrims first harvest in the New World in 1621. Attendee Edward Winslow recorded that in addition to the 53 settlers,  90 Native Americans were also on hand. The day became a federal holiday in 1863 when President Lincoln called for a national day of thanksgiving and praise.

Clipart image of a Thanksgiving turkey carrying a footballWhile the holiday was founded as a religious observance, events today aren't restricted to the spiritual. New York City hosts its annual Thanksgiving Day parade for example. And while families gather to enjoy a feast of roast turkey and all the trimmings, pulling them away from the weekend's NFL and college games to partake of that meal can be
tough. American football is as much of part of the holiday as sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce.

With the holiday always marked on the fourth Thursday of November, people take advantage of an opportunity for an extra long holiday weekend with Black Friday. The inspiration to get that holiday shopping started, the day offers bargains and discounts guaranteed to entice massive hordes of people to retail outlets with the promise of helping them stretch their holiday gift-buying budget.

Clipart image of a Black Friday background
Between now and then, promos and advertisements will be letting everyone know about deals and discounts, events and celebrations all geared towards the holidays. So really, how can you not start feeling a little festive these days?

If you're preparing for Thanksgiving by creating invitations, flyers or retail promotions, you'll be looking for som great clipart to enhance them. Here are two excellent resources:

iCLIPART.com American Thanksgiving Clipart

Clipart.com Thanksgiving Clipart