Making everyday shots special.

Hey gang,

Happy Valentines Day!  I hope you all are lovin’ it up with those you all love today!  This has been the sweetest Valentines day for us because our little boy is finally at that age where he really is so cute about it.  He’s in love with the girl next door (they are both 5, mind you, so we’re not too concerned yet…) and his teacher, and one of his instructors at Tae-Kwan-Do and a few others.  What can I say, he’s a regular Romeo. We’re enjoying it, and I made up this little shirt for him in the spirit of all things lovely, which he wanted to show off this morning.  But the first picture I took turned out like this:


In an effort to jazz it up a bit, I turned it into this at first:

But then, I decided I liked it better in this black & white version, which is now sitting in a frame in our entryway.



I cut a video showing you exactly how I did each, but wouldn’t you know it, something went wrong, and I just don’t have the time or patience to re-cut the whole thing this morning.  So here’s a quick recap of the post-processing.

First image:  Shot in RAW and applied my “Seashell” preset from my Storyteller’s collection to it.  Opened in Photoshop & applied a little Lens Blur around the edges.  Then I applied the texture “Balance” from the freebies found here and removed the texture off of my subject entirely.  Easy Peesy.

Second image:  Applied “Black & White Crafted” from Storyteller’s in ACR, opened in Photoshop and then applied the same texture I used in the first image, and removed it from my subject.  Applying a colored texture to a Black & White image – especially a subtle texture like “Balance” – is a great way to add a little definition and interest to your black & whites while still retaining it’s overall Black & White feel.

Important note:  You don’t necessarily have to use my products to create these looks but if you choose to, please note that the Storyteller’s presets are for RAW shooters only.  If you don’t know whether or not you are a RAW shooter, chances are you aren’t one yet. 

***Quickie Meatless Update***

You all crack me up.  I think I received about 10 emails regarding my last post – Meatless Mania! – and one comment.  I typically get more comments and fewer emails.  And the funniest thing is that you all were asking me (in your emails) to keep you updated, so here goes.  Yes, I’m still “meatless” but I did try to eat seafood this weekend and became ridiculously sick.  Yes, I’m still losing weight.  Yes, my energy levels are still crazy high.  No, I did not realize I was joining yet another “Dark Side” (man, I’ve gotten pretty dark this year….) and, once again, there is absolutely no political motive whatsoever behind my meatlessness.  It’s purely for health reasons, and for me at least….it’s been SOOOO amazing.   I will do another, more extensive update about it soon but honestly, I could write a book on the subject, which clearly you all may not want to read.  Or maybe you would want to, but only in a secret, quiet and non-public type of forum.  Smiles.

Alrighty gang, I’ve got a very excited little boy to pick up from his Valentine’s day party at school and I’ve got to figure out how to get the mass amounts of sugar out of his teeth before his dental appointment this afternoon.

Hope you all have a super-happy hearts day!  XOXO – PB




Getting to know Nikon.

Hi Friends,

Nikon and I have been getting to know one another lately.  It’s been going well.  In this post you heard me tell all about why I switched to the dark side.   Since taking the plunge,  I’ve been practicing, practicing, practicing and I can report that the differences you’ve heard about Nikon & Canon are absolutely true.  I was emailing with a couple photog friends about this the other day, and we’ve all come to the same general conclusions.  Here they are:

1.) Canon’s colors are much more saturated SOOC.  But that’s an easy fix, so it doesn’t bother me at all.  It’s actually sort of cool because I found it harder to get light & vintage-ey looks out of my Canon than I do out of my Nikon.  But, with a little Photoshop work (very little) I can match the color saturation from my Nikon to that of my Canon work pretty easily.

2.) Verdict is still out on overall “sharpness” but the AF is completely different.  I was always a “focus then re-compose” shooter rather than a “utilize the AF points” shooter, and I’m finding this challenging with my Nikon.  However, since there are a zillion or so razor sharp AF points on my Nikon, it’s no biggie.  I just switched how I shoot.

3.) It is incredibly easy to blow out images in Nikon.  Nikon just flat out lets in more light, which I am loving, but it’s true about blow-outs. You’ll hear a lot online about the ISO capabilities, and I’m at the point where I no longer think it’s about the ISO capabilities, but it seems that Nikon & Canon’s ISO’s are just fundamentally different somehow, which changes the overall Camera’s capabilities.   I’m not nearly TWACish enough to be able to tell you how, though.  They are, truly, two different animals.

4.) As a designer, this has been incredibly enlightening.  Literally.  I’m finding that all of my textures, presets, actions, etc. are showing up much lighter and brighter on images that I shot in Nikon vs. images that I shot in Canon.  This is beginning to explain a lot about the mixed reviews you hear online regarding different actions & presets. And it’s  another reason to focus as much as possible on getting your image correct in-camera.

5.) From a students perspective, I’m starting to think that it may be fundamentally essential for workshop instructors to spend some time shooting both.  In fact, SO much makes sense to me now based on both my personal workshop experiences and those that I’ve discussed with my friends – mainly how two different people can have two such different experiences – and I think a lot of it comes down to whether or not the instructor shoots Nikon or Canon.  If I ever decide to teach someday, I am incredibly thankful that I will have shot with Nikon (my Nikon experience will have been extensive at that point….if it ever happens) and Canon.  The differences are huge, and I just don’t see how you can teach photography effectively to an audience of mixed-shooters if you haven’t shot at least a little bit with each.

Alrighty, I told you all I would keep you up to date, so there you have it.  Now, here’s a few practice images on what was, I think, my second non-familyish shoot since the big switch.

This little girl belongs to an artsy Mom-friend of mine who is always up for anything.  Even dragging her daughter out into 40ish degree windy weather.  She was a trooper. I grew up in Texas.  I was stinkin’ cold.  Therefore, I forgot to close my aperture a bit (1.4 caused a few eyes to be out of focus) and I didn’t even bother changing my AF point because my fingers were numb to the bone.  Did I mention we were by the water?  Even colder.  I’m setting up a studio in my garage.  It has been decided.

I really loved how the colors turned out in this one.  I didn’t touch her skin.  I ran her through Lightroom, sharpened her eyes a tad, ran my “Angel Glow” action and multiplied the edges a tad.  Took 5 minutes.


Here I was just playing around with black & white conversion, contrast, and a “High Pass” technique.  Nothing fancy.  Again with the AF spot I was too cold & lazy to change….

The PP on this was incredibly easy.  I ran “Angel Glow”  (Erin shows you how to achieve “Angel Glow” for Elements users here) and sharpened her eyes a tad. Painted on a little blur here and there.  One of these days I’ll do a tutorial on blur for you all, but not today.  I’ve got a work-out to get in, a play-date to prepare for and a house to tidy up.   So for now, gang, it’s back to my day job.

Until next time….

xoxo – PB


August 12, 2013 - 5:18 am

Patti - Great thoughts! I need to do an updated post on this – still loving Nikon, but yes, there are differences. Love your point that gear is just a small part of photography. 🙂

August 10, 2013 - 2:45 pm

Mauricio - I used to shoot with a 5D until I got sick of the ergonomics. Tried the D700 and am still shooting with it. While the colors do appear different to me, the focus seems so much more accurate with Nikon bodies and lenses. I never miss a shot with Nikon. I can live with the color difference since most of my images undergo color correction and basic LR tweaking anyway.

While I do miss the 85 1.2L and Canon’s color rendition, I find that the 85 1.4G on a full-frame body does 90% of what the Canon 1.2 can. It really comes down to lighting and connecting with your clients. You can have the most technically perfect shot but if you cannot trigger a connection between the client and the image, the shot is pretty much useless. Gear is good to have, but there’s so much more to photography than just equipment or knowing how to use what you have.

By the way, nice images Patti. Keep shooting and posting.

February 11, 2012 - 11:14 am

Linda - Love your blog. I’ve learned so much from the few hours I’ve spent reading it.
I used to shoot with Canon and now switched to a Nikon D700. It was very interesting to read your views on the differences between the two brands.
Looking forward to more of your blog entries & tutorials. Thank you for sharing your time & knowledge. I really appreciate it.

February 7, 2012 - 3:33 pm

Patti - Laurie, you are the sweetest. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I know what you mean – I barely have time to comment on the blogs of my closest friends these days. Thanks for taking a moment to stop by. 🙂 PB

February 7, 2012 - 3:32 pm

Patti - Hi Debbie, Canon is great too! As a hobbyist, you could do a lot worse! 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts – PB

February 1, 2012 - 6:11 pm

Debbie - I enjoyed reading your thoughts on your recent switch to Nikon. It seems every photographer I admire (including you) all shoot Nikon now! Im just a hobbyist and heavily vested in Canon, so I doubt any changes will be in my future.

These images are so beautiful! I do love your products and appreciate you developing them for us photographers. 🙂

February 1, 2012 - 10:17 am

Laurie - Love hearing all your views on photography. Just know that alot of us are working full time jobs and trying to do photography on the side…so time is so limited. We DO appreciate all you do for us on this website. Blessings to YOU and thank you for your time!!!

January 31, 2012 - 9:09 am

Vinita - Hi Patti, enjoyed catching up on the posts of your blog! Hope all is well and what a great analysis!

January 26, 2012 - 6:35 pm

Angie - Having only shot Canon, it’s very interesting to hear about the Canon vs. Nikon differences! Thanks for the post. 🙂 Beautiful images.

Before & After & After. And a video showing you just what I did.

Hello friends,

First of all, let me start by wishing each of you a late Happy New Year!  I hope you all enjoyed the holidays as much as we did.  My big resolution for 2012 is going to be to blog more.  I have such awesome readers so I’m declaring (isn’t that what you’re supposed to do with a resolution?) to blog at least once a week, and I want you all to hold me to it!  To kick the new year off with a bang, I thought I’d share a mega-video tutorial.  I mean, this one has TWO parts.  Wow.  Bigtime.

As always, I have to do my little OCD disclosure prior to releasing any footage into the universe that contains my voice, so here we go:

1.) In the ACR part (first video)  I say that “I always shoot in Auto.”  Please do not send me emails about that.  I do not shoot in Auto, P, AV, or utilize any form of green boxes in any way.  If you do, that’s fine, I’m cool with that.  But I don’t. I shoot in Manual. I meant to say “I  always shoot Auto White Balance” and if you’ve got a problem with the White Balance thing, well then I guess you can go ahead and send me an email about it.

2.)  I know I sort of jump around on both of these videos, but I also think they provide some solid photoshop tips & tricks, or I wouldn’t have created them.  So don’t laugh at them.  Plus, you shouldn’t laugh at people who divulge free Photoshop info.  You should only leave them sweet comments below letting them know how helpful they have been to you.  Hint, hint.

Alrighty, here we go.

Here is the Before image.

Here is the after.


And below are the 2 videos that show you exactly what I did.   The first one shows the slight ACR tweaks I made, and I gotta be honest, it’s not my finest blog-video-graphic production. But if you’re new to ACR (or even Lightroom) you may find it helpful.   The second one is much more Photoshoppy.  It starts in Photoshop CS5 where we left off in the first video (the very average ACR one) and walks you through everything I do, step by step by step by step. The links below will take you straight to the videos.



Video number 2  also focuses a lot on skin, and answers the specifics about how I get that “glowey skin” look in some of my images.

While we’re at it, here’s another little tweak I did.  The only thing I changed is the background texture utilizing the methods outlined near the end of Video #2. I just lowered the lightness a bit, and got a completely different look.  Textures are so awesome, and the crazy way I photoshop always allows me to make lots of little tweaks until I achieve just the look I want.  (Note: the image below isn’t featured in the video.  But I just told you exactly what I did, so you should be able to figure it out easy peasily.)

Alrighty gang, look for a few more fun posts coming soon.  Until then, happy photoshopping!



August 2, 2012 - 8:38 pm

jennifer - WOW WOW WOW this was great!!!!

February 15, 2012 - 10:32 am

Toni Burks (DFW - Grapevine Photographer) - Thank you again, Patti. I always enjoy watching your really really good stuff!

January 18, 2012 - 9:48 am

Dana Moran - Loved the video, thank you. Your work is beautiful!

January 17, 2012 - 4:45 pm

Isabelle - Dear Patti, How come I just discovered you????? You are so talented, and all the tutorials are amazing. I will be reading all of them, and hopefully will get better at taking pictures. Thank you!!!!

January 14, 2012 - 2:48 pm

Lori - Thank you so very much for the videos!!!
I never thought about adjusting the hue/saturation of the
texture….always more to learn!!!

January 14, 2012 - 8:37 am

Linda Christian - Thank you so much for so graciously sharing your knowledge with us! I have purchased all of your products and love using them… These tutorials help so very much. Thank you

January 13, 2012 - 8:49 pm

Sarah - Thank you so much for taking the time to make this and share it. You shared some really valuable tips that are going to save me a lot of time! Can’t wait to try it!

January 13, 2012 - 4:47 pm

susan blatchford - Thanks for the great tutorial. It was really helpful and I appreciate you taking the time to make it!

January 13, 2012 - 4:10 pm

Ally White - Loved the videos Patti! Can’t wait to give it a try on my own. Thanks for sharing!!!!

January 13, 2012 - 1:21 pm

Merri - Awesome tutorial. You helped clarify some things that had been giving me problems! Thanks so much and can’t wait to try your techniques on my images!

January 13, 2012 - 12:54 pm

Angie P - Thank you for these two videos! I especially liked the ACR video since I haven’t used it much before. I really appreciate that you generously share your talent and knowledge!!!

January 13, 2012 - 9:45 am

Jen Evans - Before I even get to watch the videos I wanted to thank you for sharing. I would never have been able to turn on a DSLR let alone edit and produce my images without people like you spoon feeding me education and inspiration. So thank you so very much for all you do for passionate photographers such as myself and growing newbies soaking up knowledge.

January 13, 2012 - 8:23 am

Carla LaBrosse - Thanks so much for this wonderful tutorial! I didn’t find it scattered at all. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and your gorgeous work!!! Happy new year to you too!


Every year I purchase an ornament for my son, and take some time to write him a letter about our year.  I include really basic things, like who is currently President, how much a loaf of bread and a gallon of gas costs….those types of things.   I also include personal reflections and thoughts about the year, what was going on in our family, and of course, quite a bit about him specifically.  This typically ends up being a fairly lengthy letter – at least two pages – but it’s something I love doing every year.  It brings me a sense of peace and closure about the year, and it also makes me feel like I will somehow be able to be connected to him down the road, even after I’m gone.  I’m very honest in the letter – I share with him the struggles we have faced during the year, and how we made it through.  Inevitably, because our faith is very important to us, I typically also share something about that.   I fold up the letter, and tuck it in with whatever ornament I purchase for him, and store it in a box that will someday accompany him when he ventures into adulthood.   I  try to purchase an ornament that reflects something about the year.  This year I chose this ornament, and I’m about to tell you why.  And, hopefully, give you a little inspiration.

I’ve gone back and forth over the last several years about sharing something sort of special with my readers, but today I’ve decided to go ahead and let you all know about it…since after all…most of you are the ones who make it possible.   Since the inception of Patti brown Photography LLC & Kaleidosope  we have made it a point to  religoiously give away 10% of all after-tax profits, every year, to charitable causes.  No matter what.  I think that my first year in the photography business, before Kaleidoscope came to life, I gave away something like $100, because I was so broke.   These days, thanks to my amazing customers, I’m able to give away thousands of dollars annually.  And let me tell you what, friends….it feels absolutely amazing.  And if you haven’t figured it out yet….I’m going to challenge you to do a little somethin’ somethin’ similair.

Whoa. You weren’t expecting that one, were you.  I know, I know….it’s borderline uprightous/preachy/weird/etc. for me to be suggesting such a thing.  In fact, there are going to be a few of you out there who are going to call me out by bringing up the fact that the Bible suggests we give quietly and thereby writing about giving is in effect a sinful thing to do.  Well, save it sister, because I’m here to tell you that after much thought (and prayer) and deliberation, I’ve chosen to shout from the mountaintops how incredibly wonderful and easy it is to get into giving…in sincere hope that I inspire someone out there to do the same thing.  Please keep reading…this isn’t going to be hard, I promise.

Okay, here is the general idea….you pick a percentage of what you earn each month, or each year (we use the after-taxes amount) and you give it away to a charitable cause!  That’s it. Easy, peasy.  The actual percentage – whether it’s 1%, 5%, 10%, or more doesn’t matter…you just want to be consistent with it.      If that is still too tough of a commitment, consider sponsoring a child for $35 a month or making a loan to a place like Kiva, where you’ve got a really good chance of actually getting 100% of your money back. That, my friends, is likely the very least you can do.  And I’m here to tell you all, if you decide to start to give, you will thank me.  Why?  Because you truly do get back so much more than you give.  Plus,  it gives you super-powers.  It’s amazing.  Allow me to illustrate my point.

There can be a lot of pettiness in this business.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the majority of my photog-peeps to death, and overall, this is an amazing industry. But let’s be honest, there are certain souls out there, who allow their own insecurities  to infiltrate an otherwise happy industry, and they seem to be working hard at constantly causing controversy.  They can be like a poison…slipping into your consiousness and rocking your confidence with their negativity.   However, if you work to not only work, but also to give…you become completely immune to them.  Instantly.  It is the most amazing thing in the world….all of a sudden, once you start to give, you truly know that you are part of a larger purpose, and  anyone who tries to tear you away from it becomes completely irrelevant.  Therefore, friends, you wind up with a super-power that nobody else has: the rare and magical combination of your unique talent+your unique vision+your unique ability to focus on improving your work in order to ultimately improve the world.  It’s amazing. If you don’t believe me, just try it.  Try it for just one month.  As December comes to a close, determine your monthly profits, and write a check to a charitable organization of your choice..  If you can, stop and do it right now.  Then, see how you feel.  Chances are you are going to feel incredibly inspired and creative and focused and free.  You will also feel humble and rich all at the same time.  It is a happiness that you will only understand once you do it, and I assure you, not only will it make you become immune to those pesky industry nay-sayers, but it will also infuse a happiness and a joy into your life (and work!) which you have not yet experienced.  And, dear friends, the absolute best part of all, is that you will be able to infuse the joy of giving into your children.  I can’t think of a better present this holiday season.

So, in this season of giving, will you do it?  I mean, today is Christmas Eve people.  What better day of the year to reflect on all that you have, and commit to start a regular program of giving in 2012.  If you have chosen to take action after reading this, please please let me know about it.  I cannot imagine hearing happier news.

On that note, I’ve got a house to clean, a party to prepare for, a few cakes to bake, and…oh yeah…a check to write.  Once again, please consider joining me.

With all of my heart, I thank each of you who have supported me this year either by purchasing Kaleidoscope products, or by just visiting this blog.  May the spirit of giving, truly, fill you all year long.

Blessings & Love – PB

PS – Bonus points to the first person who can let me know which word, that really doesn’t belong on a Christmas card, snuck it’s way onto mine….

May 12, 2012 - 2:55 am

Cheryl Hanner - All I can say is WOW! I was to the point ready to give up my photography because I have been searching for direction when I came to your site. I too am a Christian. I work a full time job in orthodontics but my love is photography. My style is very much like yours and it is refreshing to know that it is up to date. A photog friend once “explained my style” to a person inquiring about photography as a traditionlist. I am not that….totally. Artistic lifestyle portraiture sums it up. Thank you for your inspiration!

January 10, 2012 - 5:41 pm

Linnae - Hi. I just came across your site. Love your work. Bought a light kit. Yippee. Excited to try it out. I’ve been reading some old post and look forward to reading more. Thanks for the freebies too.

January 7, 2012 - 3:30 am

Vinita - Dearest Patti, What a lovely blogpost…Thank you for sharing! One more thing we have in common….

December 27, 2011 - 9:43 am

Ornament boxes - […] love what Patti Brown wrote about her family tradition of an ornament and letter every year, and would like to do […]

December 27, 2011 - 8:13 am

Jessica - …and that would be ‘government’?

December 24, 2011 - 6:34 pm

StacyB - Is it circumcising?

December 24, 2011 - 3:18 pm

Paula - Patti, you are truly an inspiration. Thanks for sharing with us how much it means to you to share your blessings. May we all take heed and do the same. Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2011 - 12:06 pm

andee - Patti, this is awesome! I feel the same way about giving back and how good you feel inside and the wonderful and valuable lessons you can teach your children about giving and helping others. Each year we find someone who needs help and we fill up a box of food and add an envelope of money. We do the ding-dong ditch thing. My kids think it is the greatest thing ever! I love getting them involved and you feel so warm inside when you know you have helped lift another!

December 24, 2011 - 9:42 am

cee - Well, there may be be people today who think that word doesn’t belong on a Christmas card; but it IS Scripture, older than the 1st Amendment. Good enough words for Handel’s greatest piece, good enough for me.

Nice blog entry, Patti. ♥


I try not to do any real work this time of year, so that I can enjoy all the fun little crafty things I keep bookmarking in my brain under the “when I have more time” category.  Here is one of them.  It’s quick, easy, cheap and anybody can do it.  Camera not required.

I wanted a meaningful & elegant gift to make for my group of mom-friends this year, and was inspired by Pinterest to incorporate something into a glass ornament.  I had a really specific idea in mind, and it turned out well, so I thought I’d share.  I wanted a sort of word circle encased in the ornament, and I wanted the verbiage to be personal and heartfelt.  Since most of my friends are also Air-Force-Wives (btw – most of my friends & I really don’t care for  that term- but it illustrates my point) I wanted something that they could take with them down the road and use in their future homes.  This is what I came up with:

The message on the inside says “May your home always be too small to hold all of your friends” and it actually is printed on both sides of the paper, so you can sort of see the words from all angles, but that’s not clear in this picture.  Of course, you can write whatever you want.  A bible verse, a little Christmas saying, your anniversary, a joke, whatever – make it personal.  I did create mine in photoshop, and used a font called “urania czech”  from Eaglefonts at about 20 point.  If anyone wants the .jpg I used, just email me – I’d be happy to send it to you. I printed it off on BOTH SIDES of a piece of parchment (the parchment is important  to use – otherwise the paper won’t work as well, and it looks much more elegant).  Then, I just cut the paper into little strips with a scrapbook scissors.  If you don’t have one, I got mine at Ben Franklin for about $2.  I worked each strip into each glass ornament so that it sort of cradles and clings in a circle around the  inside, and held either end in place with the little wire bows of the ornament topper thing that you insert into the top.  Then, I added a bow.  For 8 of them, it took about an hour or so, and cost under $20.  They are so much more elegant and pretty in person, I really haven’t done them justice in these images.

They also look really pretty as accents to my tablescape:

Next year, or maybe later this year, I’m going to fill a bowl with them, sans ribbon, and use a different quote or greeting as the verbiage for the inside of each.  I’ll probably also use them as teacher gifts, neighbor gifts, etc.

A couple tips to make it easier:

1.) I purchased a package of bulbs from both Michaels & Ben Franklin.  Don’t ask me why, but the Ben Franklin ones were much easier to work with.  They had less “grip” on the inside.

2.) Make sure you print your message on both sides of the same piece of paper.  You’ll have to mess around with your printer a bit to do this, but it’s pretty easy.  You’ll also need each side to sort of “mirror” the other side.  And use parchment – this makes a big difference.  I bought a whole notepad of it, for about $6, from Ben Franklin, but you can still find it by the sheet at some office supply stores.

3.) If I was to do this again, I would probably put the quote on one side, and then something like “Merry Christmas 2001, Love the Brown Family” on the other side.  I think that would be even sweeter.

4.) This isn’t really for kids.  I didn’t, but I could see someone cutting their fingers a bit on the insides of the glass.  Be careful.

I hope I’ve inspired someone out there to have some fun during their off time!  If so, I’d love to hear from you. Enjoy! – PB

December 21, 2011 - 9:26 am

Debbie - These are so beautiful & elegant!! I’m going to make some of these today! Thanks for sharing your wonderful idea!!
Merry Christmas

December 12, 2011 - 1:49 pm

cee - Beautiful! I think crafting is in the genes, or maybe it’s the influence of an elementary schoolteacher mom/grandmom. But nobody else in the family ever made anything so elegantly lovely!