Featured Vendor + Giveaway: Smart Albums by Pixellu

We are so thrilled to welcome Pixellu Smart Albums to the Rock the Shot blog today! Take a moment to learn more about their Smart Albums software.  Also… be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Smart Albums {$299 value} – how SWEET is that?!

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” - Leonardo da Vinci

Founded by photographers who have a deep appreciation for beauty and simplicity, Pixellu creates industry leading software for photographers. Our zeal for excellence translates to tools that are intuitive, reliable and easy to use.

World renowned photographers choose Pixellu’s SmartAlbums software to create their signature albums. Download SmartAlbums today for free to begin enjoying the album design process, increase your profits, and give yourself more freedom to enjoy life.


“Pixellu SmartAlbums does to album design what digital did to photography. A total revolution, there is nothing like it. I’ve tried many solutions in the last 10 years and SmartAlbums blows everything out of the water” -Sergio Photographer – Named Top 10 Wedding Photographers in the World by American Photo Magazine 2012

“Pixellu nailed it; their SmartAlbums software combines powerful functionality with a sleek, user friendly interface. An incredible achievement! Designing albums has never – ever – been this fast and efficient.” - Ross Harvey – Best Wedding Photographer in England – 2013 AND 2014 Wedding Industry Award


Visit SmartAlbums at their WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER pages today

Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter app below for a chance to win a free copy of SmartAlbums, valued at $299:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hurry! Giveaway ends Tuesday, August 5th. Winner will be announced on Saturday, August 9th, 2014.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items


How to Install Actions in Photoshop CS and CC

by guest contributor Amanda Padgett

Note: I used Photoshop CC for this tutorial, but the steps are exactly the same for Photoshop CS 3 – 6 (and possibly before but I am not familiar with earlier versions).

The good news is that installing actions in Photoshop CS is very, very simple. The first step to loading the actions is to locate the Action Panel. If you cannot find it, go to Window in the top menu bar, then down to Actions and your action panel will pop out.

If your panel icons are reduced, meaning the names are not showing, the icon for the Action panel is the “play” button, a triangle on its side.

Once the Action panel is open, go to the top, right-hand corner and click on the small icon of a few lines and upside-down triangle. When the menu drops down, click on Load Actions option. Navigate to where your actions are saved and install the .atn file.

If something happens and you suddenly cannot see your Actions panel, do not worry. Just go back up to Window, then down to Actions. Some how you closed the panel and while it was not showing, it was not deleted, just closed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please, please, please back up your actions should your computer crash, get damaged or stolen. This is very easily done using a thumb/flash drive or a cloud service likeDropbox.

Below is a three minute video showing the steps to install actions in Photoshop CC.

Hello!  I’m Amanda, a quirky, introverted Mom of four, who is passionate about helping others learn their cameras and editing software. I also currently homeschool my four kids, ages 13 to 6, all whom run away when they see me carrying my camera.

Visit me at my WEBSITE and FACEBOOK page!

Photographer Spotlight: Diana Elizabeth

We are excited to welcome the fantastic Diana Elizabeth to the Rock the Shot Blog today! Take a moment to learn more about Diana, and visit her website. Thank you so much Diana for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
I had a personal blog and yearned to take better photos to show I saw the world to make my posts more personalized. I bought a Canon Rebel and quickly became addicted, took workshops to learn and a passion began. Making it an actual profession soon followed a year later, and a year after that I left my marketing job and went full-time with photography and online instructing.

How would you describe your photography style?
Finding my style was a challenge as I didn’t gravitate towards over processed images. I shoot fairly clean, editorial like, but it all depends on the client as I’ve been told my images can also be romantic and sweet. My goal is to evoke feelings of happiness through my images.

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
I received a B.A. in journalism but took a photo journalism class. I believe my background in graphic design helped with understanding light and the rule of thirds fairly quicker than if I hadn’t had an artistic eye already. My self-taught photography schooling consisted of attending several WPPI conventions, private mentorships, flying around the country to attend a handful of styled workshops to work along side some industry professionals.

Do you shoot Canon or Nikon, and what is your favorite lens?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III. My favorite lens is the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX. It creates the loveliest portraits with a compressed background. I also like that I don’t have to stand so close to my clients which allows them to feel more relaxed.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
While backlighting is a quick go-to, I highly suggest not being afraid of having the light come from different directions, shadows on faces for artistic purposes can be so dramatic if done correctly or for a specific purpose like editorial. To achieve an airy look, backlighting still remains faithful to giving that sweet look.

What is the most challenging thing about photographing editorial/couples?
A challenge with shooting editorial is sometimes an art director has a specific vision of what he or she wants. Already knowing that can hinder my creativity, but it’s still my job to deliver what my client (the magazine) wants. It’s a fine balance of shooting for the client, but also shooting for myself and seeing what is selected for final publication.

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
This year I have learned that work is work, and a job that pays is a great job and not every shoot has to be portfolio building. This year I have done lots of corporate work which doesn’t sound exciting as some jobs, but I truly enjoy because of the clients I work with and how I structure my corporate jobs. I have come to acknowledge that a paycheck is more important than a bragging right or byline and to be a working photographer is a complete blessing in a competitive industry.

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
Continue your education in photography, you will never know it all and you should continually learn your craft. If you have questions, seek a photographer you admire and pay for mentorship. As you scroll through other’s photography blogs and magazines guard your mind and heart as sometimes too much can also be discouraging and create a sense of inadequacy – perhaps even creating a burnout. Just remember – there can be a room full of artists with the same equipment – a blank canvas and a paintbrush with paint and look at the same model. At the end of class, everyone will have a different perspective. Embrace your unique perspective and forget about what everyone else is doing.

What do you love most about being a photographer?
I enjoy that every assignment is unlike the last, even if it’s shooting a model or a wedding – it involves a different crew and personalities and setting. The concept of being able to photograph a person or landscape is a unique way to share the world around us with others.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
It changes on a weekly basis to be honest. This week, I hope my photography takes me to amazing places to capture other parts of the world as I have become addicted to international traveling. I definitely hope to continue using my photography and writing experience on my blog to inspire and encourage others to pursue their dreams and stay true to who they are.

About the Artist: Diana Elizabeth is a photographer and instructor based in Phoenix, Ariz.  Formerly focused on weddings, she now primarily photographs editorial, portraits, models, and corporate headshots.  She shares her work, travels, and personal stories daily on her blog.

Visit Diana at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER PINTEREST pages today!

Photographer Spotlight: Lexi Vornberg

We are excited to welcome the fabulous Lexi Vornberg to the Rock the Shot Blog today! Take a moment to learn more about Lexi, and visit her website Lexi Vornberg. Thank you so much Lexi for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
I would have to say my inspiration came from wanting to capture my husband and my first dog, JD.  At that point in my life I was not really into photography, but I asked my mom to teach me to shoot manual so I could capture our new puppy growing up.  That is where it all began.  I originally started a pet photography business, but that only lasted a year and didn’t do so well.  Everyone has to start somewhere!
How would you describe your photography style?
It’s always hard to describe your style. I would say my style is very light filled, romantic, with hint of fine artiness.  I love capturing emotion, but also textures and light.  My favorite images are the ones where no eye contact is made.  I always felt like if you can see someone’s eyes in a picture you can see into the photos soul.  If you can’t see the eyes the image is more mysterious and therefore pulls your attention in more.
Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
I am 100% self taught.  This doesn’t mean I didn’t ask questions or have photographers I looked up to and learned from.  I was lucky enough to have a mom who is also a professional photographer to look to when I had questions.  Anytime I got stuck trying to figure something out myself, I looked to her.
What brand/model camera do you shoot and what is your favorite lens?
I shoot primarily with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon EOS – 1V, but enjoy renting and borrowing other film cameras that make up a lot of my portfolio, including the Contax 645 and Mamiya 645.
Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
A good rule of thumb I go by for amazing, dreamy back light is if it’s soft enough for you to stare straight at, then it’s just right.  Two hours before sunset is my favorite time to shoot, but since we are surrounded by hills here in the Ohio Valley, our sun sets a little earlier than the surrounding area.
What is your favorite subject to photograph and why?
I love photographing senior girls.  It has always been my passion to connect with young girls and hear about their dreams.  I also love capturing couples in love.  There isn’t anything more raw and real than two people getting ready to make a commitment to each other.
What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
Running a photography business is 50% photography and 50% business. You can’t just be a great photographer.  You need to be a great business person as well to succeed.  It’s so nice to be able to do what you love for a living, but if you don’t know how to manage that and run a business, it will fall apart.
If you could encourage a new photographer in one area,  what would it be?
You need to stay strong when it comes to your self confidence.  Don’t compare your images to others, because it’s not your work.  Only compare your images to past images you have taken.  It’s the only way you can grow.
What do you love most about being a photographer?
Creating my own hours.  I love sleep more than anything else in the world.  Being able to sleep in til 10am every morning is truly living the dream. :)
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself with a family.  I am so happy where my business is currently I feel like I am done trying to make it “better.”  Of course, I will continue to grow as a photographer and see my business evolve, but I love my current clientele.  In the next few years I am ready to put my energy towards a family.

About the Artist: Lexi Vornberg is an on-location natural light photographer located in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area. Her work has been internationally featured in blogs and magazines and she has also recently become a mentor for other photographers.


Balance Colors With Levels

by guest contributor Amanda Padgett

Color balance is an adjustment layer in Photoshop that allows you to easily alter the color channels of an image. The changes made can be made via a curves or levels adjustment also, it’s just that the layout and labeling in the color balance adjustment layer is very easy to understand and use.

If you want to reduce a color, say blue, in an image, you simply click on the slider for that color and move it towards the opposing color. You can use the layer mask and conceal areas you don’t want the change or invert the mask and use a brush to reveal the change is small, local areas.

To make similar changes to an image via levels (and/or curves) you need to understand how the colors work. (This is illustrated more thoroughly in the video tutorial at bottom of post).

  • Red channel controls both red and cyan – as red go up, cyan goes down and vice versa.
  • Green channel controls both green and magenta – as green go up, magenta goes down and vice versa.
  • Blue channel controls both blue and yellow – as blue goes up, yellow goes down and vice versa.

Below is a short video showing quickly how to use the color balance adjustment, then how to produce the same effect with levels, in both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.

If you would like to learn more about layers in general, check out my All About Layers workshop recording and notes. Also, there is a Levels workshop/webinar available in the webinar bundle, if you would like to delve deeper into the levels adjustment.

Hello!  I’m Amanda, a quirky, introverted Mom of four, who is passionate about helping others learn their cameras and editing software. I also currently homeschool my four kids, ages 13 to 6, all whom run away when they see me carrying my camera.

Visit me at my WEBSITE and FACEBOOK page!

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