Fresh Start

I signed up for a six-week online course this year to give my photography a fresh start. That was the name of the course given by Matt Kloskowski, a very talented photographer and instructor. Although not all of the weekly sessions were right on for me, the majority was and it got me out of my comfort zone. I would like to share some of what I discovered during the six weeks, and hope that you can find a way to challenge yourself as well.


The first week was not only fun but also tasty. We were challenged to take photos of food. I haven’t done much of that and I found it interesting to create the space inside my home to take photos. I bought some black matte wrapping paper to use as a backdrop and moved around various windows until I found a couple of spots where I could feature the food. I used some glassware and dishes from my various trips to Russia to create moody images that I liked.


I experimented with different lenses, but found that my Lensbaby Velvet 85 was the one I liked the best. It compresses the background while focusing on the subject. I added a texture to the one above to create a different backdrop. The worst part of the first week was that I was left with some very tasty chocolate and cookies to consume. Oh well, what we do for art.


Another week we were tasked with photographing our hobbies. Since most of my free time is spent on my photography, I reached out to one of my friends and asked if I could photograph her painting. One thing that I learned from this week was a quick trick to brighten my photos in Lightroom using the auto function in the basic slider. It is an easy way to start and then adjust the highlights and shadows from there.

The next session we focused on eliminating distractions in our photos in Photoshop. Matt encouraged us to take some animal shots to experiment with, so I dug deep into my files and found some images from Woodland Park Zoo to use. Here is the original shot of a giraffe I took.


Although this image is fun, using Matt’s instruction to edit in Photoshop, I filled in the background with black and then added a texture to create what I think is a more impactful image.


I took one of a penguin that wasn’t bad to start with, but playing with shadows and highlights I was able to create a more mysterious mood in the second image.


The last week was about framing the subjects when we capture them in camera. It was a good refresher and I found that I generally do think of framing when taking an image. Here are a couple examples that I shared with the group.


I found the course was inspiring, especially since the weather wasn’t very inviting to go outside. I am eager to take other courses this year to jump start my creative juices. It is a great way to affirm your skills and learn new ones. I love hearing from you, so comment below, post on my Facebook page, or send me an email at carol(at)

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