Posing Workshop

Last week we ran a mini ?Posing Workshop? for the first time in Edmonton and it went fantastic! I?ll admit, the hours leading up to this event were a bit of a nail biter… even as Susan drove to meet up with the students at Whitemud Park, we wondered if we should bail and began discussing some indoor locations because the sky was a scary shade of green, and as she merged on to the Whitemud, the rain started pouring! NOOO! Alberta weather is so unpredictable and as a Wedding and Portrait Photographer for Picture That Photography, Susan is pretty used to coming up with alternative locations on the fly, but with students and models a half hour away, there was definitely some added pressure to pull this thing together.

After getting pelted with rain in the parking lot for awhile, at 6:30 when the workshop was to begin, suddenly the sky started clearing up and the rain stopped! Amazingly enough, the weather held just long enough for the workshop and then as she and the students loaded their gear to leave, the rain began again – talk about lucky!

We had beautiful models for this event who came dressed to the nines and willing to try anything! And by anything, I mean this brave model laid down in the mud at the end of the night and the result was stunning! Here is a photo submitted by a student in the workshop, Rodney King:


A common question we get asked from students is, What should I bring on a photoshoot? Here is a quick list of items you shouldn’t leave home without:

  • A step ladder for taking photos from a higher angle,
  • Blankets for covering the ground,
  • Paper Towel for wiping off places to sit, and
  • Bug Spray! The mosquitos in the wooded areas of Alberta can be super irritating so douse yourself and bring extra for your subjects! It’s pretty hard to get relaxed, candid moments like this, when your clients are getting eaten alive by mosquitos!


We covered a lot in a couple of hours at this workshop, if you missed it – don’t despair! We have a family edition of this workshop coming in August! We already have some great models lined up for this workshop as well and it will be focused on posing families and children – ?Register today!


Background Fade in Adobe Photoshop- Video Tutorial

Background Fade in Adobe Photoshop CC- Step by step

Well, like most things related to social media and online, we’re late to the party! Today, we took a big step into 2005 and created our very own YouTube Channel! I was <finally> able to convince our Edmonton Adobe Photoshop CC instructor, Susan Temme, to record herself editing and the result is fantastic 🙂 Here is the first in a collection of Adobe Photoshop Tutorials! Be sure to comment and give this one a lot of love so she’ll keep doing them- ?LOL

We started with a fairly simple Background/Backdrop Fade. Often when you’re photographing in a studio, you will notice that you wind up with an abrupt transition between the floor and the background:


If you want to smooth this line out you can:

  • Select a color from the background of your photo, in this case you want to choose something light and close to the hair
  • Add a new layer (?+SHIFT+N)
  • Using your fill tool (paint bucket), drop your new color
  • Add a layer mask
  • Select the Gradient Tool (g)
  • Hold down your shift key on the rug and drag up to just below the transition line.


Almost There!

  • Create a new Copy of your background (?+J)
  • Merge your layer 1 with the background copy
  • Add a Layer Mask
  • Paint off the color from your subject with your brush (b) tool.

That’s it!


Here is the video tutorial for you! If you have any questions or run into any problems, either comment here or email us at administration@cplc.ca and we’re happy to help you out!

Happy Editing!



Street Photography Tips


If you?re into the look of candid, natural, unposed photos, you can?t beat the genuine quality of street photography. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it?s? not so much about taking pictures of people on a street, it?s a style of photography. It?s about capturing people doing their everyday things; like a musician playing his guitar on a street corner or the captivated expression a person has while they listen to it.

As beautiful as people can be in their natural state, generally speaking, people don?t like to be photographed without their permission- maybe?they?re just having a bad hair day or in this digital age, they could be worried that their photo might wind up as the subject of the next?viral meme.

So how do you photograph people if they might find it objectionable? Well, you could ask permission- which depending on your artistic goal, might destroy the authentic, candid look you?re going for. Or you could get crafty and do it on the sly. Here are some tips and tricks that we?ve found to work well.

Don?t be creepy

Although it may seem like a great idea to employ your best ninja photographer skills and stick to the shadows and back alleys and catch people unawares, people are going to think you?re up to no good or worse, a pervert or something. So, avoid creeping around like you?re doing something illegal.


Be Discreet

All of the best street photos have something in common: They?re genuine shots of people doing normal, everyday things. If your plan is to take street photos, do so in the least conspicuous way, not only to avoid being detected but so that your subjects are relaxed and doing what they do. If you?re racing from corner to corner snapping photos like the paparazzi, you?re going to destroy the mood of the people around you. So, just take the photos you actually want and do so discreetly.


Be Ready

When you arrive at a destination, like a market, and start feeling inspired by the sights around you, take a few photos right away and get your exposure settings correct so, when the time comes to take your photo, you can quickly snap it and be done. Pretty hard to look casual when you take a photo of someone, stop and adjust, take another photo, stop, make adjustments?.

And since every blog post needs a class plug, let?s go for it here- if you understand the manual settings on your camera but still struggle to achieve proper exposures quickly, check out Getting Proper Exposures!


Be Prepared for Confrontation

Even if you follow the ?rules? and use common sense, chances are you?re eventually going to tick someone off at some point. If you?re approached by someone who you?ve offended by taking their photo, usually a sincere apology and escorting yourself from their vicinity is enough to appease. But if that doesn?t work and the situation starts to escalate, decide if the shot you just captured is worth the fight. Chances are, it isn?t- apologize, delete it and move on.

Interested in trying out some Street Photography? Come May, we’ll be hosting Photo Walks?again and we often hit up urban locations, with fantastic photo opportunities! Was that another shameless class plug? 😉

Mirrorless Cameras

Can you take our classes?with a mirrorless camera?


Mirrorless cameras are becoming more and more popular- they?re lighter, often less expensive and have some great features.?Looking back a few years, we probably saw these cameras sporadically in classes, maybe one every few months but in the last year, every Using Your DSLR Camera class probably?has at least one mirrorless camera user. Students approach us all the time, through email, social media, etc about whether or not they (and their mirrorless camera) are welcome in our DSLR Classes so, I decided to pose the most frequently asked questions to our instructor, George Mach.


What are some of the challenges that mirrorless camera users have over DSLR camera users in class?

Mirrorless cameras offer similar image quality as DSLR’s, but generally in a smaller package. However, the inherent design of these cameras requires that their sensors and viewfinders/ lcd screens on the back of the camera run continuously when the camera is on, so battery life is often shorter with a mirrorless camera than a traditional DSLR.

If I was in the market for a mirrorless camera, is there one brand you would recommend over another?

I wouldn’t recommend any one particular brand over another, but you should know that the various camera manufacturers offer models that have different sensor sizes relative to each other. For example, the Nikon 1 series of mirrorless cameras have the smallest sensors of most of the manufacturers. Olympus and Panasonic models have micro 4/3rds sensors which are slightly smaller than the Canon and Fuji mirrorless cameras, which have APS-C sized sensors similar to many DSLR’s. And then Sony sells cameras with APS-C sized sensors, as well as full frame sensors.
The larger the sensor size, the greater the ability to capture high quality images under low light conditions, but also the higher the cost for both the camera as well as lenses. So there are lots of considerations to take into account.

Word has it you own a lot of cameras… Do you own a mirrorless camera?

My camera count maaaaaaay be currently north of 50, but yes, I do own a mirrorless camera. It has become my main go to, simply because of its compact size – it is very convenient to carry around everywhere, without making any image quality sacrifices when compared to a DSLR.


There you have it! They’re lightweight, great for travel, often less expensive and suitable for all of our classes, including Using Your DSLR Camera! In this 12 hour introductory course, we’ll teach you how to utilize the manual functions on your interchangeable lens camera.?By the time this class over you will be experienced in: manipulating ISO, shutter speed, and aperture to produce artistic results and proper exposures, as well as metering differently for specified reasons. We will also explore changing your autofocus settings and using them in the right situations, as well as navigating playback of images, reading histograms, when and why to use the various auto-exposure modes (including the priority modes), and in manipulating the white balance to alter the color temperature of your?photos.

Register today!

Texture and Patterns in Photography

Adding Design Elements to your Portrait Photography

Texture is a key player in creating beautifully designed?photos, and will give your photography that artistic edge you?re looking for. If you?re feeling uninspired or struggling to capture drama in your photography, start seeking out some textural elements. This is one of the design elements we cover in our class The Art & Design of Photography.

A common challenge for an emerging photographer is learning how to see the world through an artistic lens. If you find yourself looking at award winning photos on Instagram?and wonder where these amazing photographers find?their inspiration, you’re not alone! One thing these noteworthy photos have in common is they contain artistic design elements that bring the photo to life and tell the story.

To take your photography to the next level, start by looking around for patterns, textures or a point of interest and use that as the foundation for your photo.

edmonton-photography-composition-class-add-texture-to-photographyIn this shoot, the couple wanted some interesting street photos to highlight the local flavour of their tropical destination wedding. This wall was perfect because it is?an interesting background?for the photo and the perfect contrast color for this couple.

Here is another example of how a combination of pattern?and color, can really bring a photo life- for this photo to work, the bride and the groom needed to be placed within the pattern (between the windows):


Sometimes, especially in the case of candid street photography, you can grab the perfect shot of your subjects but wind up with someone bombing your photo in a loud plaid shirt- LOL. When this happens, you can either learn how to remove people, we cover this in our Adobe Photoshop CC class, or you can try turning your photo to black and white- In this case, the result is amazing- I love this photo, the fence is a great design element and I think the cyclist definitely adds to feel of it.


Now, granted not all of us have the advantage of a beautiful destination like Cuba to shoot our photos, but it’s really all about learning?to see the beauty in the seemingly ordinary. This next photo may look like an adorable two year old playing in a picturesque park,?with lush grass and wildflowers blooming but that couldn’t be further from the reality! This photo is actually captured in an?untended?field, surrounded by warehouses, bordering a really busy street in Edmonton. WHAT? It’s true. The photographer, Susan Temme, wanted to take some photos of her daughter but had little time to do it, so she drove to the nearest field and made it work! With overgrown grass and weeds as her inspiration (and the textural component of this photo) she got a beautiful shot of her daughter and cropped the photo to make it look like a girl in a Spring?garden- no one needs to know otherwise 😉


If you’re struggling with the “nothing to shoot” blues or perhaps you need help uncovering your artistic side, our Art & Design of Photography class is the place for you!

T?is the Season for Indoor Photography

Trying to achieve great photos indoors, on the fly, can be quite challenging even for a seasoned photographer. Whether it?s the lighting obstacles or composition, trying to take a candid indoor photo that is instagram worthy is a tough order. Typically, heading outdoors to take your family photos would be the best route, however taking them outside in their pyjamas on Christmas morning might bring on another kind of trouble for you 😉

Tips for Better Indoor Photos

Consider your light sources and choose only one. If you?re a novice photographer, your best bet is to try and use ambient light. Turn off all the lights, open your blinds and use the sun to light your photo.

If you have an accessory flash you’ll want to bounce the flash off the wall behind you so that when it touches your subject, it is not only diffused but?big enough to surround?your subject. This technique gets a bit dicey if your wall isn’t a neutral color, as the color of the light surrounding your subject will take on the color of the wall behind you. If that’s the case, try and bounce your flash off the ceiling.


Take the time to compose your photo.?Is there background clutter? For myself, this is the biggest challenge when taking indoor photos, I have two kids and the house is always just not quite tidy. So, take 5 and tidy up (or just shove everything to the other side of the room- haha) and you?ll?be more happy to share your photo.

calgary-photography-classes-art-and-design-of-photographyIn this photo, we didn’t want to deal with the clutter, so?someone is holding up the rug she is on to form a “backdrop” of sorts. Great trick!

Understand the manual functions on your camera. It is frustrating to try and take great photos with your camera in auto mode. If your camera is perpetually in auto, start experimenting with white balance and shutter speed with your indoor photos- this will help you up your game. Oh, and if you didn?t already know, we have a class for that!

Camera Tricks and Photo Tips

What do you do when you host a Christmas photo walk, register a bunch of students and then the day that once seemed so far into the future, comes around and you look outside and discover there is no snow?? Well, first you throw a bit of a tantrum but then you channel all of your creative energy, raid your craft cupboard and come? up with ways to capture awesome winter photos, without snow. Here are the awesome tricks that ?Susan Temme?pulled out for the photo walk in Edmonton on Friday.

Making Magic with An Acrylic Picture Frame

Even with the absence of snow, we were able to create a really cool reflection that gives the look of ice or a reflecting pool in front of the Alberta Legislature Building. You can make this happen by inserting a piece of black construction paper in a plastic dollar store picture frame and then hold it underneath your lens. Experiment and tilt it around a bit until you get the effect you want, and voila!


This photo would actually be quite ordinary without the addition of our acrylic frame trick. In reality, there are actually no lights to the left of the snowman. To add some extra color and make things more interesting, we again hold the acrylic picture frame up to the lens, this time on the left side, and it reflects the lights from the right of the snowman. This definitely added some?drama to our snowman photo.


Fun with Filters

Have you ever tried using a shaped filter for your bokeh shots? First, grab some black construction paper and cut a circle larger then your lens. Next, cut a shape out of the middle of your circle (Susan sort of free handed a multi-edged star). Then, tape it around your lens, set your camera to manual focus and start experimenting!


Even without snow, our last photo walk was a success! If you weren’t able to come, give these techniques a try and show us your crafty camera work on instagram @thecplc or send them to us at administration@cplc.ca



Winter Photography Tips

Icy roads, freezing temperatures, dead batteries and unbearable wind chill are just some of the many joys we have living here, in Alberta. But once in awhile, you can?t help but look around and think how beautiful everything looks under fresh fallen snow? The way it accumulates on the branches and how it seems like you can stare off into the landscape and see white forever. Those are the days you need to grab your camera and get out and capture something that you could never capture in one of those lame tropical countries that are just boring sandy beaches all year round. (dare to dream!)


Now that I have you feeling all inspired to capture the beautiful scene around you, shooting in the winter is not without a few challenges- preparation is key.

  1. Grab extra batteries! Nothing sucks your battery power quite like the cold.
  2. Use the biggest memory card you can find so you can save your freezing fingers the challenge of changing it out later on.
  3. Be smart with your gear and don?t shock it with sudden temperature changes. Coming directly inside from a -25 afternoon feels like a warm hug to us but your camera might hold a grudge. You could wind up with condensation in your camera or lenses so, acclimate your gear slowly afterward to avoid costly problems.

camera-gear-in-winter- calgary-photography-classes

Get Creative

Ever stare at a beautiful winter scene, take a photo and realize that you just didn?t do the scene justice? It winds up looking flat and boring? A great way to add some dimension to your winter scene is to practice shooting with a shallow depth of field- if you?re unfamiliar with this, we cover it in our class Using Your DSLR Camera. Also, try adding something interesting to the foreground, maybe a splash of color or, instead of trying to capture the entire landscape around you, focus on something small.


If you’re every feeling starved for inspiration or you want to connect with other photographers, join us for a photo walk! This is a great way to practice and reinforce the principles learned in class. Have fun! Be sure to share your winter photos with us on instagram, @thecplc!


Back to School Photography Tips

A mom’s guide to school photos

Tomorrow is a big day in our household?. the first day back to school!? My kids are going into Kindergarten and Grade two this year- eek! As I was helping them choose their outfit for the ?big day? tomorrow, I decided it was good timing to collaborate with Susan Temme on a post for taking great ?First day of School? photos!

Photography Tips:

Lighting is the key to making your photo look pro. When you?re taking your photo tomorrow, choose a time of day where the space you?ve picked is either completely lit by the sun, or shaded. Your best choice is shade. If this means you take your photo after school, no one will know 😉

Utilizing levels is a great way to make your photo more interesting. A common place to take the ?first day of school? photo is on the front stairs of your house. If you decide to go this route, grab a chair, step ladder or whatever you need to put yourself slightly higher than your children. By doing this simple trick, you?ll be shooting at a downward angle which will make their faces the focal point of the photograph and their eyes will also appear bigger as they?ll be closer to the lens.


Add some creativity to your photos!

Chalkboards are really popular in ?back to school? photography. You can use these to record fun facts about your children. What do you want to be when you grow up? What are you most excited about? Who is your best friend?

You can also have your child write something on the chalkboard.?I love this photo because it feels really authentic having the little girl design her own chalkboard- awesome keepsake!



Our final tip, be mindful of your background choice. If you decide to shoot in front of your house and you have a burgundy door, don?t dress your child in red. Consider utilizing neutral backgrounds in your photos as well- brick wall, fences, trees, etc!


Most of all, have fun with it! If you?re having fun, your kids will be having fun and they?ll reward you with their beautiful, natural smile!

If you’re looking to take a great beginner photography class to learn how to use your DSLR Camera, this is the class for you! We’ll teach you how to use all the buttons and functions on your camera and how to achieve professional exposures.

Photographing “Perfect” Cherry Blossoms

Achieving Epic Cherry Blossom Photos

My neighbour has a cherry blossom tree, so I always watch their’s to try and get an indication of when these beautiful trees will be in full bloom. In Edmonton right ?now, they’re starting to come out already and it makes for a spectacular display of pink and purple. ?The window to capture these in your photos is tight… only around two weeks!?Here is an example of a pretty basic shot of a cherry blossom tree that you could accomplish with most cameras, using the auto function.


As you can see with the next picture, we have really given these cherry blossoms a new look!?Once you understand your camera’s manual mode, you can completely transform the way something looks with just a?few clicks. What makes this next photo look so much more interesting than the first (besides the beautiful model!) is we used a shallow depth of field. To achieve this, you’ll need to practice by positioning yourself so that you’re shooting through?the cherry blossoms in the foreground,?and then?adjust the aperture on your camera to?a lower f/stop (ex. less than f/4.0)

edmonton and calgary photography class, how to capture cherry blossoms.

To achieve the effect of this next photo, understanding lighting is key. We cover this (and much more!) in our Portrait Lighting?workshop. When you’re photographing outdoors, it is important to understand the magic hour. This?is when the sun is at it’s lowest point in the horizon so, you’ll want to plan your shoot near?sunrise or sunset. If you get the timing right, you’ll be treated to gorgeous soft?lighting.

IMPORTANT TIP: ?You might not appreciate how fast the sun actually moves until you’re trying to get your shot so, be ready! You have a narrow window and you don’t want to spend it fiddling with lenses and memory cards 😉 Also, you may need to slow your shutter speed down as it is getting darker,?so perhaps plan to bring along your?tripod to reduce camera shake. ?Most of all, Have fun!

shooting cherry blossoms edmonton and calgary photography class

Do you live in Edmonton or Calgary? We are now offering photo walks in these two cities! So, grab your camera, some comfortable shoes and join us!