Monthly Archives: December 2010

Fun with photo editing

Happy new year’s eve!

In light of my recent pattern of posting photos of my home state of Kansas the day before a major holiday… I bring you… more Kansas photos. Don’t ya love me?

For today’s post, I decided to not only post the final product, post editing, but also to show you a few fun edits I created.

I love photo editing! I could do it all day long for days on end and never get bored. I especially love editing landscapes. There are so many different ways a photographer can go when editing landscapes. From natural adjustments to high-contrast, highly-saturated edits, photos can look very different when edited than when captured in camera.

Here are a couple of my favorite edits from a group of photos I shot last week.

Barbed wire. Beautiful and classically rustic. Nothing says prairie and open range better than a barbed wire fence.

Did you know there are over 530 patented kinds of barbed wire and over 2,000 variations of it?

I have no idea what kind this is. If I had to, I would classify it as “regular” because that’s the kind of intelligent farm girl I am.

Hardy har.

This shot is SOOC (straight out of camera). It’s a simple photo and nice enough, but look at what happens when I boost the contrast and saturation and add a little bit of an “old west” effect.

Kinda nice, huh? I like the added definition and vibrance in this one. But the next one is my favorite.

Mmmm, black and white. Love it.

There are so many ways to turn a photo to black and white. It’s a whole different world than color. For this particular edit, I muted the overall tones and gave it a warm tint.

The end result? Timeless and aged and sort of vintage-y.

I’m a sucker for vintage.

Here’s another shot of my backyard that I edited in much the same way as the photos above.


Old west.

Black and white.

To perform all of  these edits, I loosely used some of my favorite actions from The Pioneer Woman and The CoffeeShop Blog as starting points then added my own tweaks and tricks to create the final images.

If you haven’t ever experimented with Photoshop actions, I encourage you to try them! They are an easy way to enhance your photos in ways you might never have thought to edit them yourself. There are a ton of high-quality free action downloads out there. If you’re looking for a good starter set, check out either of the ones I mentioned above. Both are great.

Happy editing and happy 2011!


Why I love Kansas: reason #7

Greetings from southwest Kansas! And Merry Christmas!

I have been back in my wonderful home state for almost a week now. Finals are over. Classes have been passed… thank goodness! And I am living the good life of a college kid home on Christmas break.

I have slept. I have been shopping (last minute Christmas gifts, anyone?). I have ate my little heart out and doubled the size of my stomach and the size of my jeans. It’s a problem. But I just can’t say no to home-cooked food.

Somehow I got it into my head that if I eat a whole bunch of good food now, maybe I won’t have to eat yucky cafeteria food once I get back to college. I’ll just go on a five-month fast and burn off all the calories I’m eating now. Yep, that’s the plan I’m going with.

One of the things i have most enjoyed about being back home though is getting to see my good ol’ Kansas sunsets.

I’m pretty sure they are more beautiful here than anywhere else.

Seriously, they are stunning and gorgeous and beautiful! Thank you Lord for creating Kansas sunsets.

And today… because it’s Christmas Eve and there is no snow on the ground here (but there is in Arkansas sadly) and because I love ya, I’m going to share a few of my favorite sunset photos from the past week.


Ok, so this photo isn’t of a sunset per se, but these deer were right in my backyard as I was shooting the sunset one evening and I just had to take their photo. They were posing for me after all!

Then they saw me and started running away. Look at the dust they kicked up and the way the evening light is reflected in it… amazing!

And just a note about these photos… all of them are SOOC, or straight-out-of-camera. No editing was done on these photos, except for some minor cropping on the deer photos. The colors you see aren’t enhanced in any way… they are all straight up God’s creation!

Isn’t the Creator amazing?

Christ is the reason we can find beauty in this fallen world. He has redeemed us through His precious blood shed upon the cross at Calvary. And none of it would have been possible had God not sent Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to this world in the flesh over 2000 years ago.

Here’s to remembering His birth, His death, and His resurrection.

I wish you all a wonderful and merry Christmas!


Shooting blind

Allow me start off this post by saying I am by no means an expert photographer.

I simply love holding a camera in my hands, looking at the world around me through a viewfinder and doing my best to capture little moments and pieces of God’s great creation.

Photography has always been a hobby of mine. I remember going through one disposable camera after another during my junior high years. Pets, clothes, grass, refrigerator magnets… there was nothing out there that didn’t warrant a picture in my eyes. Then my mom got her first digital camera, and oh boy, was I a happy camper. I’m pretty sure I single-handedly kept Duracell batteries in business all through my high school years with my constant self-portrait photo shoots. That Kodak went through batteries like there was no tomorrow.

Then, in April 2009, I purchased my first dSLR, and that’s all she wrote. I was hooked.

I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve learned how to manually control the settings on my camera. I’ve learned about framing and composition, and even photo ethics.

I still take photos of anything and everything, and I still have a lot to learn. But during my photographic journey, I have developed one theory that has given me some of my favorite shots.

I like to call it shooting blind.

The gist of the theory is that you simply hold your camera in the general direction of your shot and without looking through the viewfinder or framing the shot, you simply snap the photo.

Not everything has to be meticulously composed. Sometimes you just gotta shoot a blind shot.

(Note: I do not recommend putting this into practice with real guns, arrows, darts, or any other potentially harmful projectile. That could be bad news bears for you or others…)

I’ve found that some of the most interesting angles show up when you just point and shoot. I’ve discovered angles and perspectives that I might not have ever thought to shoot from otherwise.

Here are a few of my favorite examples:

I love everything about this shot. The hole in the tv, the window in the background, the cool tones of the foreground compared to the warm tones of the background, the drama and the interest created by the composition… awesome.

I had knelt down on the floor of this great abandoned house (more on that in another post!) and shot a couple of similar shots prior to this one but I had just been focusing on the cracked tv. The photos were very cold and not super interesting. I knew this was too cool a subject to just be content with a mediocre photo so I decided to try something different. I laid down flat on the floor and propped my elbows up in front of me. I set my focal length and focus point to approximate values that I thought might work for the shot I wanted and then I took a couple photos. And I got a great photo!

Here’s another:

Funny story about this photo. I actually got it out the drivers side window of my car as I was flying 70 miles an hour down the highway. (Don’t tell my mother… or the cops.)

Too many times I have been driving down the road and seen something that would make a great photo but didn’t have my camera with me.

After kicking myself and asking myself why a photographer wouldn’t have their camera with them at all times, I vowed to keep my Nikon in the passenger seat of my car forever. Except when I take it other places.

And that’s how I got this photo. I was driving back to college last January and as I drove up a hill close to the Kansas-Oklahoma state line, I saw this little clump of trees in the valley below me. I reached for my camera right away, popped off the lens cap and right as I passed the trees, I took the photo. I basically got lucky on this one, but hey, it works!

Now here are two examples of the same subject I shot blind. One of them turned out well, one of them not so much, but they are still interesting.

This is the photo that didn’t turn out so well. Just in case you were wondering.

A couple months ago, I was doing a photo shoot in the downtown area of my little college town with a group of women. I had a co-photographer along with me and she started setting the group up for another shot. I wasn’t doing anything at that moment so I found this sign and decided to try and get an interesting shot of it.

I gripped my camera in my hand and held it down at my side. Then I tilted the camera up toward the sign and took the photo. This one missed, obviously, but I still find it interesting.

I took a couple more photos and ended up with this one:

I love this. I think the angle is intriguing, the shadows are nice, the composition is somewhat surprising but pleasing and the simplicity of the photo draws me in.

And to think, I got it without even looking.

So I encourage you, the next time you take a photo, to try shooting blind. Don’t look at or through your camera or anything. Just point and shoot and see what you get. You might be surprised!

Happy times and happier times

Drumroll, please.

Duuuuuurrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmmm….. symbol crash.

I finished my fifth semester of college classes today!

Fertig. Finito. Finished. Done.

Now I just have to make it through a couple of not-too-hard finals and I’m home free!

Oh what a feeling, what a wonderful emotion… (name that song!)

I love college. I really do. It’s such a blessing to go to such a great school and have the opportunity to learn about things I love every day. I’ve had great profs this semester, I’ve had great classes.

But I’m so ready to be done.

I’m ready to…


–read a book for fun


–use my computer for something other than writing papers


–cook my own food instead of eating in the cafeteria

–sleep, sleep, sleep.

One week from now I will be living the good life of a college kid home on Christmas break.


It will be a happy time.

I was reminded of even happier times last night as I was organizing the hundreds of files of photos on my computer.

I was skimming through a photoshoot I did for a friend of mine back in October. She’s an RA in one of the dorms and for a hall activity she and her fellow RA decided to take their girls out on a photoshoot. I had the wonderful privilege of being the event photographer.

It was super fun looking at the photos and reminiscing and seeing such happy faces. Faces that weren’t tired and sick and drained from a rigorous semester of studying and rhetoric.

I have beautiful friends.

See for yourself.

Amidst the photos of all these beautiful women, I stumbled onto another little gem.

Isn’t this flower just amazing?

The colors… oh, the colors. They are simply stunning. A computer screen absolutely does not do them justice.

This pretty flower was in bloom just two short months ago.

There’s no way you’re gonna find a flower anywhere outside this time of year. Not a live one anyway.

Nothing is alive outside.

Remember the post from about a month ago where I put up a picture of the vibrant view out my window? I thought about taking a picture today from the same place and doing a compare and contrast thing for this post.

But I couldn’t bear to do it.

It’s just so gray outside.

Gray and dreary.

I’m not a fan.

I know winter is one of God’s perfect creations too, and bless it, I know it’s probably wonderful, but it’s to daggum cold for me.

I admit it has been a milder winter so far in Arkansas, but I’m going back home to Kansas in less than a week and I know what’s waiting for me.

Winters in Kansas go a little like this…



–no snow


It’s lovely.

So, being the optimist that I am, I have devised the perfect, happy plan.

I will go home, sit on my couch with a mug full of coffee, read a book for fun, take a nap, and print this photo out huge then tape it to every window in my house and convince myself it’s actually summer.


(soon to be) cold in Kansas… aka: kskristy

Why I love Kansas: reason #6

My first post on this website consisted of a short list of why I love living in the middle-of-nowhere Kansas. If you missed it, you can check it out by clicking here.

A couple of weeks ago, I went back home to my great state of Kansas for Thanksgiving. And again, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the place.

Yes, I said beauty.

Kansas actually does have beauty.

And hills!

I know… who knew?

While I was home, I went for a walk in the pasture right behind my house and hiked up to my favorite old windmill.

(I’m a sucker for windmills… just FYI.)

I snapped a few photos and edited them later that day. I put them in a folder on my desktop so I could post them on here when I had a little more time.

But because I’m a college kid and my MacBook is my life, my desktop often gets cluttered. And things get lost.

Such is the story of today’s happy Kansas picture.

It was lost, but now it’s found.

It was blind, but now it sees.

(Just kidding on that last part!)

Here is my favorite windmill photo from that day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

And because I love ya, I’ll even blow it up big. I want you to see it in all it’s wonderful Kansas glory.

Much love,


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