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Monday
Jan072013

Guest Post Monday - Candice Stringham

Hello! I am Candice Stringham, the photography instructor at JessicaSprague.com. I would like to introduce you to one of the secrets of great photography (and one of the least understood): An External Flash. I’ve developed a five-week class that walks you through the ins-and-outs of great flash photography. It’s called Flash of Brilliance, and registration begins tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time! The class itself begins January 21.

Why should you take Flash of Brilliance?

In my beginning digital SLR photography class, “Oh, Shoot,” I’m constantly telling my students to turn off the flash, use natural light, and use basic camera settings instead. This is because the tiny little pop up flash on your DSLR simply cannot be used to light objects or people in a flattering or interesting way. The light source is small and comes from right above the lens, giving you direct harsh light, red eye, and squinting subjects.
With an external flash (a separate flash unit you can use on or off camera- see video below), you have a larger light source that can tilt, angle, and bounce; a light that is much more dynamic, flattering and interesting. Having and knowing how to use an external flash can be of a huge benefit to your photography in lowlight situations.

Here are a few circumstances you’ll love using an external flash:

  • Low light images taken with a high ISO, creating noise in your images later.
  • A party in the evening with a high chance of great images in really low light.
  • A husband or son that is never seen without a baseball cap on. When you expose for the overall scene, you get a great exposure on everything but their face, which is dark and shaded from the hat.
  • Christmas morning or when children wake up before the sun comes up; there is never enough light to get great looking photographs.
  • Needing to photograph things at night for an ETSY or online shop.

These are just a few of many situations that an external flash can really help!

If you haven’t used an external flash in the past because the settings and information in your manual seemed overwhelming, don’t let that stop you now. After years of teaching, I have found the best ways to communicate how to use your camera and flash in the simplest and most clear way possible. With the help of Nancy Riley, Kimber Hodson, and myself in the forums, live chats, videos, flash cards, and PDF’s, we will be there for you every step of the way. You will find that it’s a lot less intimidating and a lot
more fun to know that, in any lighting circumstance, you can get great photographs!

I’ve recorded an introductory video so you can see what you’ll need, and get inspired to take the class!

I hope you’ll join us for Flash of Brilliance - there are two tracks you can take - one standard, and one extended that includes comments from your instructors. Either track you choose, you’ll have access to ALL of the class materials FOREVER. Let’s start the New Year off with gorgeous photos!

Friday
Jan042013

Introducing Photoshop Friday 2013

It’s crazy, but I’ve been hosting Photoshop Friday since 2006, in the form of tutorials here on my blog, posts for Creating Keepsakes, and last year in the form of weekly tutorials with templates released each week at JessicaSprague.com.

Even though the format has changed through the years, my love for learning and teaching Photoshop hasn’t - and it’s because I have seen thousands of women (also men!) learn the skills to tell the stories of their lives. It’s a marvelous process, and I’m humbled and grateful to be a part of it.

This “being part of it” is one of the reasons we’ve decided to revamp a lot of the Photoshop Friday stuff for 2013. You’ll catch it all (and hopefully won’t catch anything else, sniffle, cough) here at my blog, as well as our Facebook page (note: I hit my friend limit on my personal FB page a long time ago, so the best way to stay connected is through the page.) 

So for 2013, we’ll have a new Photoshop Friday each week, plus monthly challenges, a Q&A, and a live webinar. And probably more stuff as well, all tied up with a monthly THEME (and possibly a theme SONG, and also a LOGO, and even maybe a cool RECIPE which you can Pin and claim as your own at the next potluck. I won’t tell.)

But definitely a theme and a Photoshop Friday. That I can do. And I’m excited to get started!

Friday
Jan042013

Happy New Year!

I am so excited to begin a new year! Everything feels so fresh, so uncomplicated, so full of possibility, and I love it!

Let me be honest for a second. Well, blogs always call for honesty, yes? But let me not be selectively silent for a second. I’ll be honest: 2012 was a really tough year, both personally and professionally. I watched and waded through a bunch of hurt and sorrow and sadness and confusion - of stumbling and wondering and praying and listening and hoping,

and

finally,

in the last few weeks of the year,

felling like I was really getting back.

My feeling at 12:00 on December 31 was one of immense relief. Done with that. Never want to do it again. I’m not sure what exactly this means, honestly. Getting back. Going back to basics.

I do know that it has meant a whole lot of changes. Lots of comings and goings of both people and priorities, and a lot of asking, “How much does this matter?” “How can I fix this?” “How can I let this go?” “What do I do now?” The answers sometimes haven’t been (and still aren’t) clear. But moving is so, so much better than being completely stuck.

I think the New Year is a real time - a literal time - for that recommitment to our best selves. The “angels of our better nature,” as Lincoln called it.

This year, I’ve chosen a word. It’ll be my word until it isn’t meaningful for the place in my life I’m at right now, which may not coincide with this year. But for now, it is my word:

Jesus said (and anything Jesus said is a promise - straight from the Savior), Seek and Ye Shall Find. So why isn’t my word, “Seek?” because my word implies seeking - focused and sincere, but also faith. That in the midst of seeking, I know I will find. Answers to my questions. Hope. Inspiration. Forgiveness. Courage.

With an eye toward that, I’m revamping a bunch of aspects of my personal AND my professional life. I’ll share some of those in the coming days and weeks.

So as we begin our New Year together, I’d love to know - what is your word? What are you recommitting to? What do you seek?

xo

-J

Friday
Dec212012

Teacher Gift Idea - Teacher's Secret Stash

So here it is, the 21st of December, and my kids are getting out of school for the holidays today. No time like the 11th hour (and I do believe it was about 11 p.m. last night that we finished) to get gifts done for their teachers, right? :) I wanted to share this idea with you, and the nice thing is that this idea can be used for any teacher at any time of year. No Christmas/holiday theme needed!

Here’s how they ended up:

First off, I must say that I have been loving mustaches as a design element for several months now. They are cute and quirky and make for a really fun play on words. So I decided on the theme of Stash (of candy, stickers, erasers, etc.) that a teacher could keep either on his/her desk or hidden away.

Many thanks to one of my FAVORITE digital designers, Dani Mogstad, for the supplies from her SO-BEAUTIFUL Snap Happy digital kit.

And here’s the full view of the jar:

The Supply List

Download the Cuteness

First step is to download the images. In the PDF file, you’ll get two images like this:

You’ll also get two .jpg images so you can arrange them on a document for printing multiples. However you’d like to roll. I’ve zipped them all together with a sample photograph.

Click here to download the Teacher’s Secret Stash Printable.

 

The Recipe

  1. Print each image on to Presentation Paper (not white cardstock) and trim out.
  2. Adhere the circle image to the top of the jar.
  3. Wrap the glitter tape around the neck of the jar.
  4. Add the rhinestones to the tag just above the owl image
  5. Layer the doily, the tag, and the paper star together, with the doily centered behind the tag, and the star in the top right corner of the tag. Punch through all 3 layers. (You may want to add a bit of adhesive to the layers to keep them together.
  6. Wrap the baker’s twine around the jar so that the two ends come together and are facing you. Pull the ends of the twine through the hole in the tag from back to front, then tie in a bow to hold the tag to the jar.
  7. Add the brad through the hole on top of the twine and bend the prongs out to hold the tag to the twine.
  8. Fill the jar with any awesome thing, and prepare to knock the teacher’s socks off!

 

 Supply Details

I purchased four flat-topped glass jars from A.C. Moore. The brand is Anchor Hocking and they look like this:

The lids are circular and the sides are flat, which makes the possibilities with this jar pretty endless. I got the 32-oz size, which has a lid size of about 4 1/2 inches across.

Here is the gorgeous Snap Happy digital kit from Dani Mogstad:

I’d love to see anything you make with this!

Have a wonderful Holiday and Happy Friday!

-JS

Tuesday
Dec182012

What Font Are You?

Anyone else get Mrs. Eaves? :D

 

Wednesday
Dec122012

Happy 12.12.12!

For the last time this century, we have a very auspicious triple date today! Luck will change, stars will align, the universe will smile on us.

And to get that started, we’ve cooked up a great deal on one of my very favorite projects this year - Photohsop Friday 2012! Every Friday this year (and for the next 3 weeks), I’ve created an awesome video tutorial showing a specific technique in Photoshop, and tossed in a digital scrapbook template, AND a printable PDF showing 6 ways to use the technique. The year-long subscription included a GIANT (350MB) kit of digital items (papers, brushes, embellishments) that can be used in all these templates and beyond.

At the beginning of the year, this collection of awesomeness was $70.

Now that we are winding down what has been a year full of change for me, and in honor of this Day of the Smiling Universe, I’m putting the 2012 Photoshop Friday on sale for $24.

With 52 tutorials, templates, that is basically .50 a lesson, even without the 52 templates to help you complete the pages right along with me. Merry and bright? Oh, I think so.

Photoshop Friday 2012 disappears on December 31. It might resurface broken up and in other formats, we’ll see. 

But this is the last opportunity to grab this screaming deal, that will help YOU:

  • get more done
  • learn a whole lot of Photoshop, and
  • feed your digital supply collecting habit (ahem)

All in one shot. Seriously good.

Here is a little preview of some of the (52!) pages you can make:

You can purchase the entire Photoshop Friday tutorial set for instant, permanent access, OR you can tell someone you really, really love them by grabbing the gift version of Photoshop Friday!

FREE HOLIDAY TEMPLATE

AND just because the universe is smiling on YOU particularly for reading this far, how about a FREE HOLIDAY GIFT? I’ve created a free template to celebrate the season, and here it is:

Click here to download the template in a .zip file.

Pretty nice, no? I would love to see a linkback here, or in Pinterest (my board or the JS.com board), or on our Facebook page when you complete a layout with this template!

(If you aren’t sure how a template works, consider registering for my new upcoming digital scrapbooking class called Photoshop 1 for Digital Scrapbooking. You’ll love it!)

Monday
Dec102012

12.12.12 is Wednesday!

For the last time in this century (I plan on being long gone before it comes around again), we have a triple date “singularity” coming up on Wednesday when it hits 12.12.12.

Of course we are going to celebrate with a special FREEBIE and a deal. Here’s a sneak:

Can’t wait!

Friday
Dec072012

Holiday Card Winners!

A few weeks ago, we had a great class called Invitations & Announcements. In that class, we had a contest to design the JessicaSprague.com Christmas Card for 2012. We had one Grand-Prize winner and FIVE runners-up. Here they are!

The winner is:

Amber Shook

And the runners-up:

Ann Daly

Melanie Bussey

Lynette Gatherums

 

Janai Maughan

Linda Roos

 Congratulations, Ladies! Your work is so beautiful!

 

Thursday
Nov082012

{Mo}Tography begins!

Tonight is our Kickoff Party for {Mo}Tography, and I can’t wait! The fun begins at 7MST/9EST, and even if you aren’t registered for class, you’re still welcome to join us!

Here is where we’ll be holding the par-tay:

Heidi Swapp UStream Channel

During the party we’ll be showing you how to set up and use Instagram, as well as how to play our class-long hashtag game! Heidi will also show off the projects we’ll be creating using our own Instas! I’ll be there in the chat room, and we’ll have a blast! See you there!

There’s still time, of course, to register for {Mo}Tography right over here: Register for {Mo}Tography for $19!

Tuesday
Nov062012

{Mo}Tography: 10 days, 10 apps - Day 10}

Today is our tenth day, and our 10th app! Available for both iPhone and Android, Pocketbooth lets you take four photos in quick succession and save them as a single image - just like the old-school photo booths you love! You can even order prints straight from the app if you like!

Click here for Pocketbooth for iPhone

Click here for Pocketbooth for Android

Class officially begins Friday morning, November 9 - but we’re having a special LIVE web show tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Mountain/9 p.m. EST!

Plenty of time to register still, right over here:

Register for {Mo}tography RIGHT NOW! Just $19

Tuesday
Nov062012

{Mo}Tography: 10 days, 10 apps - Day 9

Hi there! Happy Tuesday, and voting day here in the United States! After you pick your favorite candidate, pick one of OUR favorite (and FREE!) photo editing apps, available for both Android and iPhone. You’ll like Pixlr-o-Matic, and the upgrade to the Pro version is just a buck! :)

Monday
Nov052012

{Mo}Tography: 10 days, 10 apps - Day 8

I have fallen in LOVE with this sweet little camera app, that mimics what you’d see looking through the viewfinder of a point-and-shoot camera. All of the features are right there for you to manipulate without menus, and it’s so nice! Again this one is iPhone only. 

Click here to check out Pocket Camera Pro!

Sunday
Nov042012

{Mo}Tography: 10 days, 10 apps - Day 7

Welcome to Day 7! We are getting closer and closer to our class starting on November 8! For day 7 of our 10 day app list, let’s go grab PictureShow, another of my favorite (and Heidi’s #1 favorite) photo editing apps for iPhone.

Click here to learn more about PictureShow!

Saturday
Nov032012

{Mo}Tography: 10 days, 10 apps - Day 6

Hi there!

We’re on Day 6, and today’s app is the iPhone app Snapseed. They say it’s coming soon for Android, but unfortunately it’s not currently available. This is probably my favorite photo editing app for iPhone. It is easy to navigate, has different categories of effects, and its tilt-shift (the focused blur effect) is unbeatable. It’s also the most expensive of the apps we’ll be talking about in our class, at $4.99. Of course it isn’t required, so you can choose to get this one or not, or wait til my video in class before you decide!

Click here to learn more about Snapseed for iPhone

Friday
Nov022012

{Mo}Tography: 10 days, 10 apps - Day 5

Our next app is an awesome way to combine LAYERS in your iPhone - meaning that you can add in your own effects above your photos. You’ll love this app!

Click here to go to the PhotoForge 2 information page

For the Android users, in looking for an app that supports layers, I found this one:

Click here to go to the Stacker Pro for Android page