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I rarely get truly negative customer service trouble tickets, because you all are so awesome, but recently I had one. In one comment the customer said that (because they were having trouble with the link) they weren't sure if they had made a "bad internet purchase". At first, I was totally offended and really upset, after all, I have dedicated the last 5 years of my life building and running Magic And Light Collection. Then, I thought some more. In the first years of this company, I posted A LOT of my own work. A lot about my daughter and my dogs and our life. In recent years, I have let the personal side of MLC slide. I think this is why some might get the impression that there isn't anyone busting their butt behind the curtain.
Here I am y'all. I'm busting my butt. I care about every single customer. I care about every single problem. I answer emails and tickets as soon as I receive them, and I am ALWAYS here to help.
Going forward, I am going to share more of myself and my personal photography. I never want anyone to think that I am absent from this or that they sent their money out into the internet, never to get something in return.
With all of that said...check out my sweet 15 year old Cocker Spaniel, Copper! My baby boy!
He is attached to my three year old, they are best friends. She was in the pool swimming with her Dad and it was pretty hot outside (try 125°). Copper doesn't enjoy the hot weather anymore but he still needs to keep an eye on his baby. This is him, literally on the edge of his seat, waiting for anything to happen that might require his immediate attention.
I noticed the amazing backlighting and knew I had to run and grab my camera. Backlighting is everything to me these days. I can't tell you what Actions I used on this image because it was a month or so ago.
That's a little glimpse into what I am shooting these days. I still dream of being at National Geographic photographer, but for now family life will do.
I'm here y'all, working hard for MLC- whatever you need, I'm here to help.
In my last post about my own photography, I told you all that I have spent the last year really focusing on seeing the light. I set out to really watch where the light is coming from, where it is falling, how strong is it, what color is it...and many more questions. Many, many, many times I just observed, without my camera. I wanted to become a master of the light in the same way that we attempt to become masters of our equipment. The equipment is only a piece of metal and plastic that allows us to capture the light. Sometimes you have to sit back and drink it all in. You have to watch without trying to capture the moment. I feel like over the last year of truly focusing on the light I have nearly mastered it.
"Ask yourself, where the light is coming from, where it is falling, how strong it is, and what colors can you see"
This year, I have decided to focus on perspective. Sometimes, the best pictures are the ones where the subject is not looking directly at you and smiling. For instance, my dogs look out the window every evening, waiting for my husband to come home. With my eye newly trained on perspective, I would take a picture from behind them to capture what it looks like from their perspective. Here is an example of a composite I did last week.
I took three separate images (because life just doesn't happen like this in my house) of these three looking out the window waiting for Daddy to get home. I used the Absence Collection (Actions) and Light Bokeh (Overlays) for the lights.
This year I really want to focus on mastering perspective, it truly makes images much more interesting and ultimately better quality.
In the image above of my 14 year old cocker spaniel, I got down really low and photographed him on his level, head on, and centered. You can see how I achieved the dark, moody, edit below in the video tutorial using the Absence Collection and Moveable Haze from Spring IV.
We're Celebrating 4 Years Of Magic!
I can't believe it has been 4 years. I started Magic And Light Collection 4 years ago not knowing what the future would hold, and really not know much about digital design. It took nearly 60 days to make the first sale and that moment has catapulted us into the most rewarding experience.
Our first customer from that sale was Steph Barber from Steph Bee Photography. The only product we had available at that time was the Gypsy Collection. From then on, Steph and I have been great friends. She has offered so much encouragement to me in times where I was ready to give up on MLC. The greatest thing about Magic And Light Collection is that I have had the opportunity to meet customers that have turned into friends. Did I tell you she lives in Hawaii? Did I tell you her florals are amazing!?!
Another example of this is Hayley Warren of Hayley Warren Photography. We met through MLC and became instant friends. She is always around to talk, not only about photography, but about life in general. She has done testing for me, contributed images when I needed new material, given me feedback, and generally been awesome.
That is what I love the most about MLC. The people. Hearing from customers, helping, and getting to know you all has been the most rewarding experience for me.
Going forward, in the years to come, I would love nothing more than to get to know more of you. We of course offer products, but also friendly advice. Please don't hesitate to post on our Facebook page, send us a message, or send us an email. It makes my day to hear from you.
Going forward, we are considering a few new things like bringing on additional designers and offering an affiliate program (where you post our products on your website and get a large percentage of the sale). Please keep an eye out for these new programs this year.
In honor of how much I have loved the last four years, we are offering all of our products at 30% off! When you checkout, use the discount code BIRTHDAY4. This includes all of our 5 for $5.00 products (which end up being only $3.50 each)!!!!! Grab them all up for that price y'all!
Here's to another great year!
Magic And Light Collection
I just want to tell you how beautiful the crack of dawn can be. That moment the sun rises and starts our busy days.
Take a moment, in the middle of the week to drink in the silence of dawn and be mesmerized by the worlds beauty.
Happy Tuesday! -Amy, Founder Magic & Light Collection
Early on in my pursuit of digital photography, I noticed other photographers had really beautiful "blurry" backgrounds (and sometime foregrounds) in their images. I wondered (and wondered, and wondered) how they were getting that gorgeous "blur".
In post processing, I would shoot with my kit lens (18-55mm f5.6) and then use a blur filter to try to achieve the same results. In time, I learned that the beautiful out of focus backgrounds I was looking for were actually called Bokeh and simply blurring in post processing would never achieve the same results.
What is Bokeh?
Bokeh is the way your lens renders out-of-focus points of light.
What Is Blur?
Simple Blur can occur in many different ways. Motion Blur occurs when an object is moving at any distance away from the lens and the shutter speed does not compensate to capture the object in focus. Other types of blur can be caused by camera shake, zoom, and other human errors. For the purposes of this article, we want to explore the kind of blur that is created in post processing by using a Gaussian Blur Filter, and how it does not equate to bokeh.
The visual difference between Bokeh and Blur?
How Do I Achieve Bokeh In My Images?
There are few ways to achieve beautiful bokeh in your image. My greatest advice is not to use your kit lens. Bokeh is achieved by narrowing your field of focus and opening up your aperture. The widest aperture on a kit lens is typically somewhere around 5.6. Unless you are getting very close to your subject with a kit lens, it isn't going to happen. You should instead, be on the lookout for a lens with a wide aperture. Keywords to look for would be f 1.4, f 1.2, f 1.8. Even at a reasonable distance you will achieve a beautiful bokeh and bring the focus to your subject. I have laid out some product recommendations at the end of this post.
My Own Out-Of-Focus Photography
Incidentally, in the last couple of years I have fallen in love with out of focus photography. The painting-like quality is captivating to me. This is one of my prints. On top, I have used a texture that is currently in testing. It will be one of several that we (MLC) are hoping to release this spring. The texture I used gives it a beautiful canvas quality.
Wide Aperture Lens Recommendations
I have heard from many of my photography friends that they notice much sharper images with their widest aperture lenses. I personally use the Canon 85mm 1.8 as my every day lens, and I did order it from Amazon as I do all of my equipment, even my Canon 5d Mark iii. I love them since they are one of the few companies that will ship to me when I am overseas.
Disclosure: Please note that some on this page may be affiliate links and MLC may earn a commission if you purchase through those links. It is important to note that I only post products that I personally would purchase from companies that I trust. Any reviews of products are based on my honest opinion.
About two years ago, I noticed my photography getting steadily darker and darker. There was no problem with my camera, and no problem with the lights. It was just me. I think that as photographers our personal art flows with our personal life. Two years ago our family made some major changes that affected me profoundly and as a result, my photography.
Let me just tell you a secret.
I was so upset that I didn't take my camera out for nearly 6 months. Since I take at least 100 pictures a day, that is profound.
As I started going darker and darker with my exposure, it changed my photography and it changed how I saw and ultimately captured the light. I made it a point to really see the light. Where is it coming from?Where is it landing? Where is it concentrated?
Here are some images I took around that time.
What I learned through this process is that there is power in under exposure.
The next picture was taken on a an overcast, freezing day, in Dachau, Germany. I have been there twice, and twice it has been miserable. I have been there once in summer and once in winter. Recently, I was there in December. It was so cold, and the skies were so gray. There wasn't much ambient light to be had when I walked up to the Jewish Monument. The light and the air was so gray. The thing is, I remember it this way in the summer as well. Haunting.
I usually snap away and then deal with exposure issues in post processing but I knew this time I really wanted to go dark and "find the light". This is a dramatically haunting location. I followed my husband and my daughter down the ramp and into the chamber. They walked through and left. I hung behind because I knew there was something poignant to capture.
I'm happy to say that while things are not as difficult as they were a couple of years ago, I am still intentionally underexposing to find the light. I love dramatic photography, which is something that has taken me years to figure out.
While in the past, I have specialized in commercial photography, my photography has evolved into something that is not commercial. I'm okay with that.
Are you wondering how to under expose your images to find the light?
Look through the viewfinder of your DSLR that is set on "evaluative metering". Do you see this:
This is your in camera light meter. The center (in theory) should represent correct exposure. The numbers to the right of the center represent a brighter exposure, and the numbers to the left of the center represent a darker exposure. Depending on how your DSLR is set up, you will use a dial to move the exposure up and down. Moving the exposure even slightly to the left will help you get a feel for how your camera responds to under exposure. I recommend playing with it to see the results that you get. I should note that I don't believe in this as rule but rather as a technique used to achieve a specific outcome.
Ready to take the next step in post processing?