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Archive for May, 2009

OK so you
1. take a cute and vivacious two year old
2. give her plenty of frilly pink dresses to wear
3. you stick her in front of a camera
and what happens? Nada. Nope. Nothing. That’s how Rylee’s photo shoot started out. She was not having any of our ideas and no amount of pleading would work. So what did work to bring about the amazing cuteness you will see in the following excerpts of Life with Rylee?? Well, after attending the Sandy Puc Tots 2 Teens seminar recently, I was surprised to find that everything Sandy Puc recommends does work when it comes to children’s photography!! I tickled with my feather duster. I bribed with treats and I promised all kinds of rewards for a few seconds of Rylee’s big smile. Special thanks to my daughter, Rachel, who whipped up some homemade chocolate chip cookies for bribery (they did work and next time I will buy the candy in advance!!).

Rylee, as a flower child,  turns on her charm

Rylee, as a flower child, turns on her charm

Rylee takes flight

Rylee takes flight

Our girl has Personality with a capital P!

Our girl has Personality with a capital P!

She looks like she likes my flowers after all!

She looks like she likes my flowers after all!

There were so many great faces going on I thought I would put this together:

The many faces of Rylee

The many faces of Rylee

Mom, Rae, has a tattoo of Rylee’s name on her back and I thought it would be great to incorporate it into a mother daughter portrait. Unfortunately, Rylee had other ideas and we were only able to get this one pose in (which I happen to love!)

Rylee and Rae

Mom and Daughter

I thought I would leave you with a few outtakes and a big thank you to Rae for letting me have fun with Rylee! See the rest of Rylee’s photos on my Facebook page Maria Agustin Photography

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Always for my photography peeps, these were shot with my most recent lens purchase, the now retired (bought used on ebay) Nikon f2.8 35-70mm. I think it was recently retired to make room for the majorly expensive f2.8 24-70mm but for the buck, the 35-70mm can’t be beat. Tack sharp. My only niggle is it takes a little bit to get used to the push/pull zoom when you are used to the rotating zoom…
For light setup, I used my AB800 with the usual Amvona strip box camera left and sliver reflector camera right. Shot at f4, 1/250 sec. I do have a window to the right also, which may add a little fill but it was overcast on that day.

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This was the last regular track meet of the season, therefore it was senior night. This made for some mighty fun viewing for the fans as the seniors ran or participated in any event they felt like competing in even if they had absolutely no idea what they were doing.
It was my first time heading over to the shot put and discus. Photographing those two events was not as fun as I had hoped. They actually made me stand out of the way so I wouldn’t get hit. Sheesh, I got to stand right next to the hurtling spears the week before, how bad could a discus be?? Anyway, I wanted to share a few shot put and discus photos just so those participants wouldn’t think I was playing favorites.

xxxx starts his windup

Andy Kapinos enjoys his discus throw

Greg Maconi lets it fly

Greg Maconi lets it fly

xxx with discus

Discus thrower

Kevin Warren with the shot put

Kevin Warren with the shot put

I got to see my son, Garrett do the high jump in competition for the first time:

Almost over

Almost over

And start his 100 Meters:

Garrett on the blocks

Garrett on the blocks

I want to give a shot out to family friend, Dave Nataloni, who ran his last regular season race…

Dave Nataloni starts off

Dave Nataloni starts off

And then a finish up with a few favorites. As usual, more photos on my website at www.mariaagustin.com. Go to Featured Galleries/The latest. See you next year!

Matt Nataloni starts the relay off

Matt Nataloni starts the relay off

Dave Nataloni over the hurdles

Dave Nataloni runs the hurdles

Cast doesn't stop Ray Howard

Cast doesn't stop Ray Howard

Tyler Hanford passes the baton to Garrett

Tyler Hanford passes the baton to Garrett

100 Meter runners get ready to race

100 Meter runners get ready to race

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So I’ve had a few requests to share how to make a composite image like my self portrait entitled “Anything for the Shot”.
"Anything for the Shot"
I’m happy to share and once you see the photos behind it, you will probably have a good chuckle and the mystery will be solved. I’m a bad teacher so I will assume you know how to use Photoshop layers, brushes and the clone tool. I will give a quick lesson on my technique for how I make a mask. Masking is a technique to allow certain portions of a photo or effects applied to a photo to be concealed or revealed. There are plenty of tutorials online to help.
I like to take shots of things that interest me. You never know when you might need a photo of a cool sky or airplane later on. I actually got the idea for this shot back in December when I was flying home from Florida in the early evening and the sky from the plane was really cool looking so that’s where the sky photo is from. I did do some cloning out of the little glare and dirt spots caused by the window of the plane.

Actual sky - Not a Photoshopped sky

Actual sky - Not a Photoshopped sky


In January, I went to Key West and there was a great opportunity for a photo of an airplane because you walk out on the tarmac at the Key West airport so I quickly snapped this photo on my way to the airplane.
The plane, the plane
Now you can see that this shot required some masking to eliminate the background and separate out the airplane. My technique for masking is non-destructive – I use the magnetic selection tool to outline the object I am interested in (you do not need to be overly careful as you can fix the selection in the mask later on). Duplicate the layer while it is selected. Select the inverse (so in this case, everything except the airplane is selected),then while pressing the alt key, click on the add layer mask icon (looks like a circle in a box) and there you have it, you have your selection with the background removed. While the mask is selected you can paint on it with black and white brushes (remember black conceals and white reveals) to clean up the edges of the mask, or add and subtract little portions you may have missed in your selection. My final step is usually to use the blur tool on the edges of the mask to make the edge softer and more realistic. I also had to do some cloning to eliminate the stairs from the bottom of the plane – can’t have those in the photo.
Next is the me with the camera shot. I took this photo in my basement.
Me in the cellar -not as glamorous as the final product

Me in the cellar -not as glamorous as the final product


I did try to use a fan to get my hair to look windblown but my fan was wimpy or my hair wasn’t cooperating so Photoshop to the rescue. The trick here is to select little portions of hair, duplicate, move them around and use the warp resizing tool to change angles and shapes.
Now you need a flying scarf:
The scarf on a foam core board

The scarf on a foam core board


Again, use the warp tool to tweak the end of the scarf to match the place where you want to attach it.
Next to the flight attendant. I originally wanted to use a friend (who actually has skirts, pumps and blouses) for the flight attendant but our schedules just never seemed to jive so I had to volunteer myself. Uggh, I don’t really have any of those types of clothes so I had to improvise with what I have and luckily I knew it was going to be very tiny….
The soon to be mini me as a flight attendant (using my Chinese Photix remote)

The soon to be mini me as a flight attendant (using my Chinese Photix remote)


And the final product with the layers shown (I’m sloppy about naming my layers so don’t learn all my bad habits).
Working my Photoshop magic

Working my Photoshop magic


There you have it! I admit to being a lazy typist and a not-so-great teacher but there are great resources online to learn PS techniques. Some of my favorites are Russell Brown, Photoshop Mama and the retouching Forum on DPReview.com. Good luck and I look forward to seeing all of your Photoshop works of art!

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As usual, more track photos on my website at www.mariaagustin.com. See Featured Galleries/The Latest.

This week, for my track photography experience, I went down to the javelin field. I like it down there. First of all, it’s shady which makes it easier to photograph and there’s some nice trees in the background instead of all the junk laying around the track. Plus, something about spears flying erratically through the air just makes it kind of fun!
This is Senior Justin Siekierski, New England champion in the discus, and Western Mass champion in the discus and javelin. He is a pleasure to watch:

Justin Siekierski starts his throw

Justin Siekierski starts his throw

Justin Siekierski mid throw

Justin Siekierski mid throw

Justin Siekierski lets her rip

Justin Siekierski lets her rip

Justin Siekierski's great follow through

Justin Siekierski's great follow through

OK so I cut off his foot in that last shot.

Some other great javelin throwers are:

Matt O'Neil

Matt O'Neil

2950's kids name

2960's kid name

2975 kid name

Evan Kline

2971 kid name

Tyler

2943 kid name

Tyler Bask

Love the determination on their faces. I also have to throw some love to my friend, Greg Marconi, who bravely volunteered to “cover me” in case an errant spear came my way when I wasn’t paying attention.

Thanks, Greg....

Thanks, Greg....


And a couple of other shots from the meet including Garrett making a hand off in the 4×100 relay.

Garrett and xxxxx

Garrett and Joe

Garrett Agustin hands off the baton to xxxxxx

Garrett Agustin hands off the baton to Joe

Feel free to help me out with some of the names. If you would like your name listed with your photo, leave me a comment.

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More track photos on my website: www.mariaagustin.com – go to Featured Galleries/The Latest

This week was the meeting of rivals Minnechaug and Longmeadow. I must say it was quite a meeting. The score was tied going into the final event and the fate of the meet fell on the eight young men running the 4×400 relay. It was an exciting race, with both teams almost getting disqualified as members of the team and fans ran alongside the track, shouting encouragement and cheering on the runners.

This photo of the Minnechaug team sums up the results perfectly:

Celebrating their victory

Celebrating their victory

Shawn Martin is in the middle there, the hero for his anchor leg run against his Longmeadow opponent. You can’t see him in the center of the celebration, but I like this shot anyhow. As they say on Sports Shooter, this is a great jube shot.

Here he comes crossing the finish line in this shot, holding off his opponent:

Martin wins the race

Martin wins the race

Also, in this race was Freshman runner Matt Nataloni who ran a great leg:

Go Matt

Go Matt

Alex Bandowski

Bandowski on the run

Bandowski on the run

and Nick Hummel

Nick starts things off

Nick starts things off

Congratulations, guys!

I need to add a shot of my son, Garrett who shaved some time off his 100 race.

The 100 Meters

The 100 Meters

And add a few more that I like…

Hurdler in Action

Hurdler in Action

Bandowski starts his vault

Bandowski starts his vault

Big brother Dave Nataloni

Big brother Dave Nataloni

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Some things I tried to improve on was to get back further and use a longer focal length to minimize the distractions in the background, throwing it out of focus. It’s easier said than done as there are a lot of people there and they sometimes absentmindedly step between myself and the subject. Most of these were shot around 100mm with my favorite 70-200mm f2.8 VR lens. The sky was cloudy but bright, bringing the issue of the dreaded blown out sky to the forefront. Maybe next week will bring some better weather.

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This is my first time shooting a track meet. Actually, it’s my first time even attending a track meet. I thought it was a lot of fun. I want to give a shout-out to my son, Garrett as this was his first track meet also. Keep up the good work!

Go Garrett

Go Garrett

I was especially enamored with the pole vault. What an awesome subject to photograph…

Dan starts his vault

Dan starts his vault

Up he goes

Up he goes

Plenty of Room

Plenty of Room

I need to do some more scouting for the best shooting locations at the next meet. There’s a lot of junk laying about the events (kind of like my son’s room). If they picked up after themselves, it would make for some more compelling photography. Maybe if they read this…..

High Jump

High Jump

The Pack is on the Run

The Pack is on the Run

The Start

The Start

More photos to see at my website: www.mariaagustin.com. Go to Featured Galleries/The Latest to see more track.

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