Photo Collage Templates for Photoshop

My friend Katherine introduced me to some awesome storyboard templates from a company called GingerPixel. They are basically a set of PSD files that you open in Photoshop, add/arrange photos and save. The full instructions on downloading and using the templates can be found HERE. It can be a little time-consuming, but it is the easiest tool I have used to create collages.

There are eight different arrangements to chose from. 

Below is a “Red” themed storyboard that I created using the Nine Square Grid template. The templates all have a white background. I played with the background color after flattening the file to a JPG image.


Link Summary


A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into." -Ansel Adams

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Bokeh: What Is It?


Wikipedia defines bokeh as follows:

bokeh is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.

The normal shape of the out-of-focus points of light is round or octagon because that is the shape of the aperture.


The photo above is one of those lawn decorations that is in the shape of a Christmas tree. Just aim, make it out of focus and presto, you have bokeh. Now the photo would be more impressive with an object in focus in the foreground, but I like pretty lights. <wink>

Lensbaby has a set of creative aperture discs that produce different shaped points of light (ie heart, star). You can also make your own shapes using some blank discs that come in the set. These only work with the Lensbaby systems.


If you want to do creative aperture with normal lenses, Photojojo has an SLR Bokeh kit that has many more shapes available.


I conducted an experiment in which I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up one of those paper punches used for scrapbooking. I picked a leaf shaped punch. Took some black construction paper and punched it, then taped it to the front of my lens. Presto, it worked. I was able to obtain leaf shaped point of light.

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Check out my full gallery of Christmas light bokeh on Google+

This is a great time of year to play with bokeh because of the abundance of Christmas lights, but it is actually fun anytime of year.



Additional Information


Happy shooting.

“If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment.” – Linda McCartney

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Book Review: Within the Frame

within the frame

Within The Frame – The Journey of Photographic Vision 
by David duChemin

David duChemin is an inspiring humanitarian photographer that has been around the world. He is one of those people in which just about everything he says inspires me to be a better photographer.  I love how he has the belief that you should work on the way you see things rather than buy a lot of expensive gear. 

His book, Within the Frame, is all about vision and how to merge it with the craft. How to see things differently and transfer that vision to your photography. Below are some of the high points that I gleaned.

  • The first two chapters are about your vision and how you are responsible for each element within the frame. duChemin explains how you should know how the elements interact as well as what elements should be excluded.
  • Chapter three is mostly about the meeting of vision and technique (or craft).

“Gear is good, vision is better”

To me, this quote means that no matter how much or what gear I have (or want), I should never neglect the way I see things. I should continually hone my vision.

  • The next several chapters go into photographing people, places and culture. He is very good at explaining the different aspects of each.
  • The Forward is by Joe McNally
  • The Afterward is by Vincent Versace

David duChemin defines this book as follows:

“It is a book about chasing your vision and telling your stories as clearly and passionately as possible with compelling photography.”

I recommend this book to any photographer, whether you are beginner, intermediate or advanced. Simply because duChemin’s writing style and photography are so inspiring.


"The more you understand what inspires you, the more readily you can put yourself in it’s path." - David duChemin

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Book Review: Night Photography


Night Photography: Finding your way in the dark
by Lance Keimig

Below are some points gleaned --

  • The book starts with a detailed, rich history of Night Photography. From the long process of recording an image on a pewter plate to the latest digital techniques.
  • The book also goes into the equipment needed to accomplish photography at night.

"As a general rule, fixed focal length, or prime, manual focus lenses yield the best results and are easiest to work with in low-light situations."

  • A tripod and remote cable release are also pretty much required. The author even goes into detail on how you should dress when going out for night photography.
  • Next, the basics of Night Photography are explained...and explained well. Keimig gives great overviews of light sources, color temperatures and how they affect your photography.
  • There are also chapters on Film Based vs Digital Night Photography. Great information on the camera's sensor and histogram is given as well.
  • This book goes into the workflow aspect very well and then ends with a nice tutorial-ish chapter on photographing moonlight and star trails.

Lance Keimig is very knowledgeable on the subject of Night Photography. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to venture into this area of Photography.


“All life is of a past nature, photography enhances this fact.” – Patrick Summerfield

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Sima SL-20LX Ultra Bright LED

I was listening to Episode 11 of the Digital Photography Café podcast and heard a recommendation for the Sima SL-20LX Ultra Bright LED light. Since they run about $30, I thought I would pick one up and try it out.


It is fairly bright and has a built-in diffuser to disperse the light nicely. I am still experimenting with it, but below are a couple of shots I have taken with it.


The light stays cool to the touch even when on for several minutes, which is nice. The only thing I see so far to be aware of is that while charging the plug itself gets pretty hot.

I am looking forward to more experimenting with this very portable light. If all goes well, I will likely pick up another.


“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” -Ernst Haas

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The Lensbaby Scout

I received the Lensbaby Scout for my birthday this year. It is the first Lensbaby that does not bend and offers an affordable option for fisheye photography.


The Scout offers creative lensflare and unique focus, which makes it a fun tool for the photographer’s bag. It is available in mounts for the following cameras: Canon EF (EOS), Nikon F, Sony Alpha A / Minolta Maxxum, Pentax K / Samsung GX / Sigma SD, Olympus 4/3.

Below are some of the photos I’ve taken so far:


It takes getting used to, like others in the Lensbaby line, but it is a creative and fun lens.


Happy shooting!

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Photos To Look At - Beautiful Eagles

Paul Randall has posted a set of articles containing some AWESOME eagle photos that he and Kimberly Tripp have been taking in Alaska.

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Bald Eagles in Alaska (Part 1)

Bald Eagles in Alaska (Part 2)

Bald Eagles in Alaska (Part 3)

Bald Eagles in Alaska (Part 4)

I thoroughly loved looking at the beauty of these mystic birds. I do plan to make it to Alaska one day.


“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” ~ Dorothea Lange

Book Review: National Geographic Ultimate Field Guide to Photography


The National Geographic Ultimate Field Guide to Photography is an all-encompassing intro to everything photography. It touches on just about every topic in photography that I, as an amateur, can think of. Things that range from Buying your digital camera to scanning and archiving your photos. Some other topics covered include the digital darkroom, film photography and doing projects.

The basics of Aperture, Shutter Speed, etc are also covered.

The book also goes into detail on the different types of lenses and photography.

Types of Lenses

Wide Angle Telephoto Fisheye
Zoom Macro Tilt/Shift
Standard Split field  

Types of Photography

Portrait Landscape Wedding
Wildlife Macro  

The book even goes into how to shoot better with your mobile phone/device.

In closing, I enjoyed reading this book and reviewing the photos with awe. I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you are a beginner wanting to learn photography.


“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” ~ Dorothea Lange

Mobile Phone Photography

I love to take photos and I use whatever is at my disposal to do it even if it is my mobile phone.  I have heard so many photographers say "It's the photographer, not the camera." - I am working toward taking cool photos whether it's my iPhone, point-n-shoot or DSLR. Heck, I am even considering buying one of those disposable cameras from Walgreens to see what I can do with it.

Here are few photos that I have taken recently with my iPhone -

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Full iPhone Shots Set on Flickr

My favorite iPhone apps at this point in time are Camera+, Hipstamatic and PhotoShop Express.

Below are some great links that I have run across on the subject of mobile phone photography. 


"There are always two people in every picture:  the photographer and the viewer."  ~Ansel Adams

Photo Op: Sheldon State Park

We found a great place to take photos last weekend. Sheldon Lake State Park is located in East Harris County. I actually remember my Mom taking me fishing here when I was a kid. There is so much great subject matter in this area.

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Flickr Sheldon Lake State Park Set -- Flickr Photo Stream

The park is quite a bit bigger than I remember. The best time to go is in the early morning (or late evening) for that great lighting. In a couple of the photos I took, it was actually getting too late and the Sun was starting to cause some washout.

My main warning is to watch yourself on the piers during the humid morning hours or after a rain. They can be extremely slippery. I wiped out pretty bad and was really glad I had just handed my husband my camera. Whew!


"A good snapshot stops a moment from running away." -Eudora Welty

Great Series - Becoming a Photographic Magician

I ran across a great blog series titled Becoming a Photographic Magician from Trevor Dean Photography.

If you are just starting out in Photography, I highly recommend giving this series a read.