Category Archives: Questions for Photographers

Cow Herd Colorado

I came across this vast field in the middle of Colorado, heading north towards Saguache, CO. That whole area is beautiful plains surrounded by this mountain range on one side. I saw how interesting the clouds were and decided that I needed to take a photo. The cows and tree made the image that much better, I think.

I read somewhere lately how “contemporary” photographers often create black and whites but warm them with filters or lightroom highlight and shadow colors. I’m definitely noticing that I often want to do that. I’m not sure if it’s because the photos are often “old-westy” and I want to add a sepia look, or what. But I love this type of image. It also looks great with people portraits (case in point, yesterdays child portrait). The warmth really shows through the image.

Anyone else out there find this to be true with their photos?

Many of my best images are found on Check it out if you are interested! The links to the right on this page also lead you to many websites which feature my work or my thoughts. Delve in and stay awhile if you choose. 🙂

Enjoy and have a good day!


Lifescapes… a mix of portraits and landscapes. Nice, huh? And a Child Portrait to post…

2 versions of a sweet portrait I took this weekend at a clients house. I used my new portable black background… came out a bit grey in the flash but still a nice thing to add to my photo arsenal! I LOVE the look on this 3 year olds face. She was very smiley most of the photo shoot but this was one of the first pictures and I think she didn’t quite know what to make of it. The look in her eyes is priceless. She had pulled up one knee and was sitting on a white chair, and I like how those shapes repeat themselves in the image (although I may try to black out the chair behind her, just for a different look). Overall, I think it’s a little extreme but I love the glowing skin and the deep, serious look. More to come from this shoot and from the landscapes promised.

Lifescapes. Do you like the idea? I am equally drawn towards portraits of families and individuals (Lifestyle photography- maternity, infant, child, family, events) and landscapes, so I thought I would work those two into a sort of “mission statement” on what I’m trying to accomplish.

See more of my work at

Let me know which you like better? I think both are beautiful, but I’m often not the best to nitpick photos I’ve taken. Although I’m trying to become better at choosing!

Up and Away, 2 Views

Compare. Which do you like best?


I think, for me, it’s the black and white version which wins. BUT I like the yellow anticipatory color of the balloon, the excitement… and the look on the guys face. That, thank god, doesn’t change in either. And it’s the best part of the whole image for me.

Taken at the Snowdown 2011 balloon rally in Durango, CO. Love it if someone can find out who this guy is for me!

See more at, or any of my links to the right. Enjoy your day… I hope to!

Colorado Mesa Roadwork and a Mini HDR Tutorial

Here’s an HDR for all of you hungry for HDR images. To review: HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. HDR images are technically HDRI (if you want to sound like you REALLY know what you are talking about). HDR allows more light options to be shown in the image because you take several different exposures of the same shot, essentially allowing for a dark, light and normal version of the image (3-9 is the usual amount of shots taken)- that are then combined in a computer program (I use Photomatix Pro 4) to create your image. You can tone map the photo from there, which allows you to control the amount of detail in shadows and in highlights. Tonemapping also can give you the look of a realistic image, or a SUPER CRAZY OVERCOOKED HDR, depending on your settings. So play cautiously. Sometimes an image needs the overcooked look (I tend to get my slider as close to the left as I can get away with on the “micro smoothing” tab, which definitely adds noise and the grungy HDR look I like. But I try to temper it with sanity. Really I do!). I’ve found (and the vast majority of photographers out there with HDR tutorials seem to say as well) that you need to take that noisy image into Photoshop and play with it there before you have a clear final image. I will sometimes take parts of the original images and mask them into the HDR image in spots where the HDR didn’t work so well. I also play with the colors of my images A LOT- in this, I desaturated and darkened the blues to get the sky look I like, and changed around the yellow and rust colored equipment until I liked it better. I think noiseware of some kind is a must with HDR, and I always use either Noiseware Professional or Topaz DeNoise (both have their positives and their negatives, look up my reviews of each in this blog if you are interested in pros and cons… but know that as I’ve learned how each works, both have become very usable and friendly). Noiseware desharpens the image, so sharpening of some kind is needed to finish the picture- either in Photoshop or Lightroom. But be careful, as sharpening brings back some digital noise if you aren’t watching!

This particular image was finished with a hard light layer added over the main layer and mixed in. But that’s just my work… and a recent obsession (adding lighting layers to change the look). Totally not HDR-specific.

I’m not the best out there with HDR, but there are several places and people you can check out to see and learn from the real experts. For me, Trey Ratcliff at is the master for HDR landscapes. I’d also look at Rick Sammon’s work at his blog site. Trey has a great HDR tutorial for free on his site, and Rick might also have something. Finally, to be inspired I go to The featured images on the home page are always well done HDR, and the editors picks are amazing. If you can get invited to join, then share your work there. They rarely deny submissions, but to get on the featured page or editors picks requires a great image (and sends TONS of people to your website or flickr page, which is a plus). Contact me if you want an invite code, I have one free, or go to the HDRspotting facebook page and show your work there- maybe you will get a code from that. I suggest contacting artists directly from the HDRspotting website, complement their work, and ask for a code then. I am sure there are many more great HDR artists out there- I’d add Laurie Shupp, Brian Matiash, RC Conception and Scott Frederick on the short list of photographers that I really admire.

For other programs to create HDR, I’ve heard great things about the Photoshop CS5 program, and also Nik Software’s HDR Pro. It’s becoming more common, so look around and see what you can find. Photomatix has been around a while (Pro 4 just came out in 2010 though) but does quality images- and is fairly cheap. You still need Photoshop to really finish the images, though, and I heard that the Nik Software works well even without Photoshop… haven’t tried it though and so I can’t vouch one way or the other.

If I get comments on this, I’ll be glad to go back in and add more detail to any sections you want- well, more detailed. So feel free to comment good or bad on it! I’d also love more “go-to” people to suggest out there, so if you know a great HDR artist, let me know who he/she is! I have a “Check This Out” category on this blog where I suggest great artists I admire, so this could work into an article there in the future!

I wouldn’t say this is the best of my HDR. Here are some others which have gotten good comments or view counts:

To see more of my work, head to and enjoy. I have a whole gallery just for HDR at There you can see my good images (and some of my bad HDR, I’m sure). Lastly I love to get connected with you on flickr, facebook, buzztown and twitter. Links are above to the right… and you can always search “Kelley Bard” or “Kelley Bard Photography” if you want to find me on one of those sites!

Spring Bulbs, Textured

Lets pause a moment to celebrate… SPRING!!

Usually I desaturate my colors a bit. Todays pic isn’t saturated any more than what came out of the camera, but I did lots of post processing that added to the joyous color explosion seen above. Enjoy these glorious flowers in their prime.

BTW, I’m starting to add a light layer over my images more and more… this is using a layer of soft light in Photoshop at about 60%. It really does crazy, beautiful things to your photos. I’m glad I took a suggestion from one of the PhotoVision artists to try all of the light layers and learn what they can do… I also did a homemade vignette here for the first time, burning around the edges. Good/Bad/thoughts?

See my photography at and on flickr, facebook, buzztown and on twitter too!

Enjoy your day, hope it’s sunny and warm.

Easter Toddler and Why Kids Don’t Need to Smile for Every Picture

Another portrait from my studio! I think I really like this look, but I had some questions when I started finishing this image. I usually don’t go all the way to blown out whites (even here, although the whites are close, they aren’t overdone- according to my version of Lightroom and it’s controls, anyways). I’ve seen several child portraits lately, though, that had gone to blown out whites in sections of the image and they looked great. So I was deliberately trying to get there with this image. I love how the skin looks, as well… I started adding a “soft light” layer on top of the photo lately and it is a look that I really like. I doubt it will work for every image but I think I will be going for the dark, intense eyes and glowing skin as much as I can.

Anyways, I think this is just unbearably cute. In my mind, with child photography, you don’t have to get a smile with every image. I personally like the images without smiles 9 times out of 10… kids don’t know how to do a soft smile, usually, so they do the big crazy grins which ruin their eyes. Catching them in a laugh, though… that is quality. I’ll have an example of that soon. I feel like I get a lot more of a true look when the child is engaged, busy, thinking… and generally not smiling. But I also try to get a few smile images with every shoot, and sometimes those end up being my favorites of the session!

Love to hear what other photographers do when faced with photographing children. I’ve got lots of tricks up my sleeve for keeping a kid entertained, interested, and if necessary, smiling. But it’s always fun to hear how others approach the situation!

Catch this and other images on, or check me out on flickr, facebook, twitter or buzztown (links for most are to the right).

Keep checking back, I’ll have a killer offer for my April deal, and it’s coming up in just a few days!


Lines and Organics

Here is a black and white HDR… so I’m hitting all bases (strict photo/art purists vs. photoshop using radicals). 🙂

I saw this while exploring around a nearby elk farm a month ago or so. The lines vs. organic, flowing shapes caught my eye immediately. I liked a lot about this and wanted to show off the details in the wood, the lines going every-which-way, the delicate tree limbs in the mid-ground, the great clouds and how they seemed to mix the line and organic shape phenomenon. HDR was the obvious choice for the wood detail, the clouds, and the snow detail to be properly represented. I processed this with Photomatix for the HDR, then hit Photoshop for some tweaking with Topaz Adjust and Topaz DeNoise. The black and white look seemed perfect from the start and more so by the end. If nothing else, this has that feeling of “college art project”, so I got that going for me. Which is nice.

This went into my seasonal gallery on I’m not sure if I’m overwhelming people with the number of galleries I have… I was able to finally move all my proofs into a secret folder so they aren’t clogging up the “all my photos” area… anyone have thoughts, tips, suggestions from your experiences with varied photos and how to show them?

See this also on flickr or facebook or buzztown, links are at the right for all. Enjoy!