Hey everyone!

I’ve been asked many times how I edit portraits, specifically up-close portraits. Let’s face it, no one has absolutely perfect skin, we all have blemishes that we would rather not expose to the world. ;)
Even models have HOURS of work and editing behind their good looks, perfect tans, lack of blemishes, and ideal makeup.
We all love to look a little bit better.

Today I am revealing a few of my editing secrets to show you all! Welcome to my workshop and behind the scenes of Danica Clark Photography! :)

Now, before I get into this, I will warn you, to get a full effect of this editing of blemishes, I took my picture WITHOUT makeup and without brushing my hair. (Prepare yourself, it IS kind of scary!) ;)
I also shot this picture a little underexposed to make every bump, lump, scar, and red spot more visible. Normally, I would shoot it a bit lower to bring in more light, so you may NOT have to brighten your subjects as much as I do.

SO, without further ado, here’s my tutorial of “How I Edit Portraits”:

To start with, here’s a Before and After:

Before you edit the exposure, color, white balance, or anything, I strongly suggest you work on facial edits first.

1- Open RAW image in Lightroom, and zoom into the subject’s face.

2- Spot Cleaning
Start with basic spot cleaning on any rough or obvious blemishes on face. I also do spot cleaning on “Heal” NOT “Clone”.

3- Soften Skin
Normally I DO lighten up the skin a smidgen too. I run a second layer over the skin on the darker and rougher spots

4- Sharpen Eyes
I love a good shot with SHARP eyes. (Truly, the secret to a good portrait is SHARP eyes!)
I sharpen and lighten the eyes up a bit. It really makes a huge difference.

5- Burn Eyes
Every woman especially loves bright eyes, a burn over the eyelashes, and shadowing the surrounding creases around the eyes helps bring out the eye. It deepens the eye, and makes a sharper contrast between the whites of the eye, and the eye socket.
Generally I just darken around the entire eye, sometimes I even darken the eyelashes to bring them out more.

6- Enhance the Irises
I admit, I lightened the iris a little more than usual, because I underexposed this picture (as I mentioned before). One of my favorite things to do to the iris, besides lighten and sharpen it a little more, is add a bit of color. Not too much, because it will look too fake. But just enough to bring out some pretty color!

7- Burn the Pupils and Whitening the Whites
(Whitening the whites is a little self explanatory so I don’t have a screen capture for that)
Burning the pupils is important to me, because after enhancing the irises you have a bright iris, and by darkening the pupil and around the iris you bring out the eye more. I find it adds more depth to the eye brings out the eye making it more inviting to stare into. (That sounds creepy, I know, but try it and find out for yourself!)

8 – Edit colors… etc.
NOW you can do your own editing of the colors, white balance, exposure… etc. And admire the finished product of your image! :)

That’s all I have for you today, guys! :) Hope that helps you in your post production work.
Now, open Lightroom, find an awesome portrait to edit, and enjoy! :D

Thanks for reading, hope you have a fantastic week.
Blessings,
~Danica

I’m trying to catch up these next few weeks. :)

Today I’m SO excited to display the ADORABLE Clark James! <3 We are especially excited about Clark because his daddy was one of my closest cousins growing up. ;)
So watching him switch to daddy mode is just so exciting to us!!!
Welcome Clark James, we LOVE you dearly! Can't wait to do more of your pictures.

 

 

It has been a while since I have written anything much in the way of a personal blog. I know it’s been long over-due, but recently I truly have disliked the idea of blogging about me. Truly, it seems so selfish and self-focused. I’d much rather spend the time on Facebook, stalking, talking and encouraging my friends in their lives, and sharing bits about mine.
But tonight I have to write. If I don’t, I think I may explode, as my deep emotions of sheer joy and happiness won’t have any other way of coming to the surface.
(If you don’t want to take the time to read an entire blog, please do not feel like you have to! I do, however, ask you to please, at least read the last few paragraphs, they reveal the deepest truths of how He has touched my heart tonight, and I truly want to share it with you all!)

I am in love. Deeply, deeply, deeply in love. The burn in my heart and throb until it aches, yet it’s the best feeling in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, type of in love. Even after saying that, I feel like it cheapens the amount of love I have growing in my Soul.

I have always loved my Savior. Even as a child, when I barely knew who He even was. My mother often caught me in bed late at night “just singing to Jesus”, (I’m not entirely sure if I was singing to Him because my heart was full of love for Him, or if I figured He was the only one who who would be awake at those early hours in the morning, and therefore would be the only one up to enjoy the sweet sounds of music coming from my wee mouth. ;) )
I floundered a bit in my teen-hood, as I think we all did. I was so caught up in the things I did or said, or the horrid emotions carrying away in my heart that I wasn’t able to truly focus on His love. Yet, even though I barely gave anything into my purpose for Him, He always gave to me. I would be in the middle of a screaming battle in my head against my emotions that were raging in my heart, when out of nowhere I heard His voice deep in my heart. It was always words of Wisdom, Truth, and Love. It spoke at the times I needed it most.
At times I could literally feel Him sit back and wait while I raged on and on about issues, and when I finally slowed down or didn’t have anything left to say, He would speak. Never condemning, never angry, always patient and loving, despite the fact that I hadn’t made an effort to truly talk to Him for weeks or months.
He knew what to say, and He knew when to be there, even if I consistently pushed away or just wanted to be alone and by myself.

In my later teens, on the most random moments (during a football game to be exact), I suddenly realized that His presence wasn’t just some kind of distant-God thing, but He was more real and personal than that. My heart opened and I realized I was willing to let Him show me how a personal relationship with God truly would be like. I truly had some doubts, because I had always had this distant thought of God as a HIGH Being who had more important things to do than to pay much attention to me personally. (-Sure He’s omnipresent, but isn’t there a limit? There’s murders out there to be prevented, starving kids in the remote corners of the earth who need fed, homeless people on the streets who all need His attention. I’m healthy, moderately happy, have a good family who are all healthy, and I have a pretty decent life… heck, I even go to Church, so I’m not even Spiritually unhealthy. I’m pretty well off right now, so why would God waste His attention on me? I’m not in need of His time or effort at this time of my life.) Yet, I was still wanting to find out if there was a place for me, a mere human and sinner, to be in communication with my Almighty God.

Once I even expressed willingness and the even the desire to allow Him into my personal life, and get to know Him more, He took over completely.
Gently at first, little by little showing me a little more of Him here and there. Revealing more of Himself, His love and His character to me perfectly at the right moment when I was ready for it. (Somehow, of course, He knew the perfect time when I was ready to hear/learn more. I never knew until He revealed it to me.) Every time I heard something new, my heart grasped Him tighter and my love grew a little more.
I constantly asked “I don’t think my heart can love you any more than I do right now!”, yet somehow, every day I proved myself wrong my heart grew fonder and fonder.

You know when we’re kids, and our Sunday school teachers tell us that Jesus wants to come and live in our hearts? Well I never imagined that He would show me places where my heart was empty, and He would gently fill it in with Him. I never imagined that my heart would expand to make more empty places for Him to fill. I never realized where my LIFE was empty with places for Him to fill… not until He showed me… always gentle, always loving, and ever more patient with me.

Now, quick side story, but my family and I… well, we know we’re different. Very different, to be exact. God hasn’t just taken me on a wild Spiritual roller coaster, He’s taken all of us on a Spiritual and life-changing roller coaster.
The last near-decade has been… well, honestly? It’s been really hard. But what He has taken us through has made us so different.
So much has happened, and most of it, we just haven’t shared with many people. It’s been very personal and close-to-home. Most people don’t know what all has happened in the last 10 years. (Truthfully, I know that *I* don’t even know what all has happened in the last 10 years, a lot of it just happened within the knowledge of my parents, protecting us kids from having to know everything.)
Now… some things are meant for our destruction by the enemy, but with a willing heart, God truly can make it for your benefit, using it to mold you into the person He has for you to be. So what was meant to destroy you has only built you up and made you stronger in the One you love most.

The past 5 years especially have been the building foundation for our lives and our faith. At times it feels like God put our lives and our faith into a bottle and SHOOK it until everything was swirling into strange masses, everything seemed upside down and out of place, then He slowly started making sense out of the chaos.

Recently, the most intense changes He has been making in me Spiritually have been changing my understanding and faith on HIS love and grace.
I don’t have the clear picture yet, but I see pieces of how the past 10 years has been building up to this. It has been so hard to grasp.
My Savior, JESUS… God, you know, the one who created the very foundations of this universe with nothing but His breath of the Word? … how can HE love me individually? I’ve always had the mindset of “Jesus loves the little children… all the children.” It’s the mindset of a broad sweeping love. Sort of like the broad sweeping love we have for the starving people in Africa. A broad love of “Yes, I will pray for you and love you from a distance. I love all of you and wish health on you, I don’t want to see you suffer, but from here in America, there’s not much I can do but send you $20 every now and then.”
You don’t know anyone’s name particularly, but they still tug on your heart strings a bit.
I just couldn’t wrap my brain around individual love. Yes, yes, I always heard “God knew you before you were born, and He loved you very much.” I knew it, I had it in my head, I tried to shove it in my heart, but there’s still the niggling feeling of guilt of knowing there’s so many other people who need His time and effort, not me.
I found myself easily slipping into the mindset of “Oh Lord, I love you and all, and I know in my head that You love me, but I’m not worthy. You know I sin. How can you love a worm like me?”, or the “Lord, how can you love me when I don’t feel love for all Your people? How can You love me when I am just a stupid human being? How can You love me when I’m not following all of your Ten commandments perfectly?” Know what I mean? (Don’t leave me hanging, I know I’m not the only one who has felt that… right? :P )

Little by little those thoughts got into my heart and kept me from my deepest love. I would feel so ashamed of myself that I would emotionally run away and hide from Him… me, the little unworthy being, can’t be in the presence of the Almighty God.
I still found His heart comforting, I would still have moments where I would be able to listen to His words touching my heart and Soul… but I continually would wind back up into feeling worthless and hiding from Him.
When I wasn’t allowing Him to touch my heart, from shame and worthless feelings, I was longing to be back into His presence, His love. I wanted to be back in His favor, but I keep sinning or doing something to feel like I had fallen out of it.

That is when pastor started preaching on grace. On His grace, and HIS righteousness. I could write another blog on that at some point, and I just might soon, but for now my focus isn’t on that part yet.

My heart slowly understood HIS grace wasn’t dependent upon my works. HIS righteousness wasn’t tainted by my sin. HIS love wasn’t based on what I have been doing for Him. No. All of these were because of HIM, and HIS works, and HIS deeds, and HIS love for us… and me. :)
Don’t get me wrong, this was not an over-night change. This has been months and months of Him working in my heart constantly, and speaking truths into my Spirit before I understood it, and yet I know I still haven’t comprehended it all, what I do understand is a tiny partial amount of the depths of truth. That thought alone just thrills me and makes me giddy. I have eternity with Him to be able to comprehend the depths of truth about Him.

For the last few months I have truly felt His presence with me and around me. It started shortly after a very intense part of my life. (I received a spinal injury while working at a wedding, and spent the following 3 and 1/2 weeks in bed. It’s now been almost 3 months later and I still am recovering from it on a daily basis. To my sheer delight though, He has been my healing, peace, joy and wisdom through this entire experience.) I have always heard His voice, though over the years it has become clearer and clearer to me. Becoming more familiar to my Spirit than my own voice. But now… now I was feeling His presence. During some of the most intense times of healing the last few months, when my brain was barely focusing on just one thing (HEAL!), I could feel Him over my shoulder, lovingly, patiently, tenderly there. I could feel His breath on the back of my neck… yes, I will admit, at times it even tickled.
I spent most of my down-time talking to Him. I could feel His smile and hear His gentle whispers in my ears.
I was slightly afraid that as soon as I was on my feet again, that His presence would disappear. But to my absolute joy I have found that the feeling of His presence has only increased since then.
I almost truly feel like I am talking to someone one-on-one now during my Bible study and prayer time. I feel Him in the room. Other times when I am talking with people I feel someone walk up beside me and join the conversation… though my physical eyes cannot see anyone, I can feel Him there.

My moments of getting to know Him has been so odd at times, He’s taken me through some wild situations, He’s confused me to the core and somehow made sense out of the chaos raging through my head when I read something in the Word that grates against my “religious ways”.
He has never pushed me, always been gentle, always been loving and has always allowed me to determine just how far I was willing to let Him go in showing me more about Him.

Tonight has been no different. My heart has been full, overjoyed and singing of His love for weeks. (It’s been off and on for months now, but the past few weeks have been constant)
Tonight He’s still the same patient and gentle One, anxious to smother my heart in His love, and always eager to talk with me.
But tonight He touched me in a way I’ve never been touched before.

While studying parts of the Old Testament, He reminded me, as He loves to do, of His love for me personally. Not the broad sweeping love I had often-times accused Him of, but of His My-Heart-To-Yours love. His deep personal love for me, and who I am.
I grinned and just marveled about Him having loved me for so long, and patiently waited beside me as I pushed Him away so many times, He never gave up and was the only constant thing in my life for all these years. I felt Him smile as He quoted the phrase “Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady” to me. I laughed it off and went back to reading Scripture… then it slowly started to sink in… He won my heart. He took the time to actually win my heart. I asked Him why? “Because it’s a heart worth winning.” He replied with. I started to go back to my “No Lord, I’m not worthy” mindset, but He stopped me mid-thought. He gently added “To me, your’s will always be a heart deserving to be won by Me. I not only won your heart with My Love, but I bought it with My Blood.” I was so caught up in that, until He added more to my new revelation. If I were the only human being on earth, He would still have gone to the cross, purchased me and MY heart with His Blood, then took the time to slowly win my heart and love to connect with His own. He didn’t go to the cross saying “Okay, I guess dying and being separated from the Presence of God is worth the 13 billion souls that will walk on this earth. That sounds about right.” No… He did it for one, and for all. He’d do it again if there was only one human being on this planet… even if it was me.

His love for me, for us all, was more than enough to sacrifice Himself, and on top of that, He wants to win MY heart! (Our hearts!)
It overwhelmed me so much. I’ve never thought my heart (or myself) was worth much of anything, let alone being won by the Almighty GOD. He truly took the time to win my heart? He truly wanted (wants to) know me? Me… know me. Know me as who I am now, not know a perfect servant who never sins. But me! He wanted to win my heart, as I am… imperfect and always making mistakes. He wanted to intimately know me and my heart, and touch it with Himself and His own heart.
I couldn’t help but sit there with a stupid grin on my face, giggling. My heart has overflowed with JOY and LOVE!!!
I’m STILL amazed and shocked and so caught up in the idea of it… ME!!!
Me!!! Who was once a worm, but was made important in my Beloved’s eyes!
Me, the undeserving one who was made deserving by the sacrifice of Himself for me!
Me, the one whose heart that was once full of raging angry emotions, touched and filled with King’s Love.
Me, the one who kept pushing Him away countless times, yet He patiently and gently waited until I was willing again.
He just told me that my heart, the same heart that I despised so many times, was worth winning… by HIM! The God who created the UNIVERSE with His breath. The God who brings empires to it’s knees with His presence. The God who, constantly through out History in the Bible has swiped legions of armies out of existence with His own hand. The God who can bring to life the dead by just touching them.
THAT God…. He just told me that me and my heart was worth His winning.

Can Love be more perfect than that?

While I was in California I got to see a dear friend of mine! <3 Miss Melissa Jane, otherwise known as "Emmy". :P

Even though we only got to be together for about 2 hours, we still had a blast!
Here's some of the "MANY Faces of Emmy".

And, of course, my favorites!

 

Having been married for 50 years, this couple knows one another VERY well.

I’ve known this couple for almost my entire life, they haven’t seemed like they’ve aged at all since I first met them 20 years ago. <3

This is so sweet to me, seeing them together and still so much in love. They are so much more in love now, 50 years later, than they were in their first years of their marriage. :)

What an encouragement they are to any and all couples! <3 Love you guys dearly.