Category Archives: tutorial

Fix-it-Friday time

It’s the end of the week… and that means it’s time for another

I heart Faces logo


Today’s photo was a pretty easy edit… especially compared to some of the ones I’ve participated in recently. The biggest thing was getting the image sharp because as you will see at the end of this post, it was quite out of focus. But the lighting is pretty good… so too is the overall photo. So if I had this image in my cue after a photoshoot, I’d probably spend the time to fix it up.

That said, this is what I did to this week’s photo:

1. Open in Photoshop CS5 (this is typically my go-to program for editing… I’m most comfortable editing in here).
2. Ran Totally Rad Actions – ‘Beer Goggles’: mask with gradient tool and the brush tool to make the background slightly blurry while keeping the subject sharp. This action actually sharpens the non-blurry selection at the same time just a bit which is nice. The blur is minimal though so it looks realistic.
*Here’s a screen cap of that step*

Beer Goggles Screen Cap

3. Flatten and Snapshot in the History Pallet. (I do this so I can toggle back and forth quickly after each step – especially if I didn’t like a particular effect). Here’s where that’s located for those that are wondering – “History, what!?” =) On the bottom of that menu there’s a little camera. Clicking that takes a snapshot.

4. Ran MCP Action ‘MCP Details (Mixing Bowl)’: the action will automatically pause with a pop-up menu allowing you to tweak the layers to get whatever color mixes you would like to the image. Here’s what that steps settings were for my edit:
•Bright & Fade: 55% opacity (default)
•Blue Spice: 15%
•Mint: 9%
•Nutmeg: 21%
•Cinnamon: 0%
Continue playing the action. When it stops use the brush tool to paint the mask white where you don’t want much detail. For me, this was the background. I used a low opacity soft brush and did this mask to taste. The further away the background was, the more blur it should logically have. The closer to the camera’s area of focus (the boy in this photo), the less blur you would want. You could probably do a similar mask to the one I used above on the ‘Beer Goggles’ action…. I just wanted a little more control so I used the brush.
*I also adjusted the ‘Adjust Opacity’ layer to 18%*

5. Flatten and History Snapshot

6. MCP Quickie Collection – ‘Quickie Urban Ocean’: Quickie Urban Ocean layerl opacity to 15%, Contrast Flare layer to 33% and Over Exposure Fixer layer to 21%.

Let’s stop here for a second and take a look back at the difference between the starting image and this point:

7. The last thing I did was to crop the image. So the end result is this: (I recommend clicking the image to see it larger)


Hope you enjoyed this week’s Fix-it-Friday! Please leave me a comment below to let me know what you thought of it! Thanks so much!




My hubby just peeked at the blog here and says in his opinion, the one differently colored chair is distracting? How many of you find it so as well? Would you like to see an edit where the color of that chair is changed? Leave a comment below with your opinion! Thanks! ❤

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Posted by on March 4, 2011 in general, how to, Photography, tutorial


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FiF #86 – edit by

It’s the end of the week… and that means it’s time for another

I heart Faces logo


I’ve got a few screen caps this week to hopefully help you see better what I did to this photo. Not as much needed really for this photo – especially compared to last week!

So you start out with the original photo – Again, starting by opening up in Photoshop (cs5).

Click image for LARGER version

Now comes the fun part, the editing:
1. Ran MCP Action from the ‘Quickie Collection’ – Exposure Fixer, layer opacity at 30% AND Fill Flash, layer opacity at 35%.
2. Flatten and Snapshot in the History Pallet. (I do this so I can toggle back and forth quickly after each step – especially if I didn’t like a particular effect). Here’s where that’s located for those that are wondering – “History, what!?” =) On the bottom of that menu there’s a little camera. Clicking that takes a snapshot.

3. Ran Florabella Action from the ‘Spring Set 1’ – Blossom. Opened it up and set opacity to 28% on Darken layer and 50% on Blossom layer.

4. Flatten and Snapshot from History Pallet.
5. Duplicate background layer, Command + J. Use the patch tool on this layer to remove the dust spots. I circled those in red in the screen capture so you could easily see what I was talking about. *note to the original photographer – you need to clean your sensor! lol!*

Here’s the after on the patching of the area under the eyes:

6. Flatten and Snapshot.
7. Command + J again, and this time patch the area under the eyes you saw circled on that red circle screen cap. Then layer opacity at 80%.
8. Ran MCP Action from the ‘All in the Details Set’ – Quiet the Noise. Masked in background w/100% opacity large brush for main part of background. Then went back closer to subject to refine the edge with 30% opacity smaller brush. Made sure to reverse that and unmask the subject fully. I didn’t want the effect on her. EXCEPT on her black sleeve. It was kinda noisy too… so I hit it a tiny bit with the 30% opacity brush. Below are two screen caps – to better see what effect this action had on the photo. Top is without the action, Bottom is with the action.

9. Flatten/Snapshot.
10. Ran MCP Action from the ‘All in the Details Set’ – Hi-Definition Sharpening. Layer at 60% opacity.
11. Ran MCP Action – Eye Doctor, to taste on eyes.
12. Flatten/Snapshot.
13. Ran MCP Action from the ‘Magic Skin Set’ – Powder your nose. To taste on face and hand. Overall layer opacity @ 59%.
14. Cropped and found that I would like it a little more squared off… so I added a little to the background. How I did this? Crop for the size/shape you want. Select area that’s new with the rectangular selection tool and hit delete. Make sure Content Aware is selected. It sucked for this particular photo. LOL. SO! Since my normal method didn’t work, I used the rectangular selection tool to grab a part of the background and then transformed (command + t) to fit the new crop. It looked a little wonky, so I grabbed the patch tool and cleaned it up to make it look right. It’s not perfect… but it’s better than what happened with content aware! lol!

15. The VERY last thing I did was to throw a texture from Sassy on there… I went back over her skin with a 20% opacity brush to mask out that texture over her skin… but not too much. I liked the effect the color of the texture had on the photo. I did also tweak the color of the overlaid texture to better compliment the photo. Here’s a screen cap of what that looked like:

DONE! =) As usual, I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this blog post and the results of my editing! Please leave me a comment below! THANKS SO MUCH!



Posted by on February 11, 2011 in general, how to, Photography, tutorial


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iheartfaces Fix-it-Friday – Squeek Photo image edit process

I heart Faces logoI’ve not participated in ihearfaces Fix-it-Friday before. I’ve only recently started following them on facebook… but when I saw this – it looked like it might be fun to try my hand at editing someone elses image.

So here’s the original photo (or SOOC, straight out of camera):

from iheartfaces”]I did quite a lot to this photo. I tried to be as detailed as possible in my process… and I hope you can follow along as I copy my notes here:


1. Open in Adobe Camera Raw and adjust some settings on the base image.

*exposure -.10   *recovery +30   *fill light +26   *blacks +5   *contrast +34   *clarity +17   *vibrance +19

2. Apply settings and opened in Photoshop CS5.

3. Patch tool on spittle on chin.

4. Command + J to duplicate background

5. Patch tool on bags under eyes then layer opacity to 74%.

6. Flatten and snapshot (History).

7. Square select tool – select the light. Hit delete key. Choose Content-Aware and hit ‘ok’.

8. Command + D to deselect. Then patch tool again to touch up the content-aware deleted area a bit.

9. Sent to Imaginomic Portraiture (photoshop plug-in) for skin.

*smoothing: normal.   *selected mainly the darker/shadowed portion of skin on face (across the cheek and nose) with eyedropper+ tool.   *luminance +74.

10. Back to photoshop CS5. Flatten layers and snapshot.

11. Ran MCP Action, Flashlight (‘All in the Details’ set) – to lighten shadows a bit. Command + i to invert the mask.

12. Paint brush tool at 30% opacity – started going over shadows to light a bit on face/hat/shirt and hands. Layer Opacity at 100%.

13. Ran MCP Action, Eye Doctor. Used paint brush tool at 30% opacity on each layer mask in the action – to taste.

14. Flatten layers and snapshot.

15. Image/Adjustments/Color Balance

*midtones: -1, +2, -11    *hightlights: 0,0,-4    *shadows: -16,0,-3     *hit ‘ok’.

16. Ran MCP Action, Magical Color-Finder Brush [intense] (MCP’s Bag of Tricks). Brush at 100% – masked hat/shirt/sleves/seat and legs *NO SKIN*. Then set the layer opacity to 27%.

17. Flatten and snapshot.

18. Totally Rad Action, Select-o-Pop. Masked eyes with 100% opacity brush and set the layer opacity down to 58%.

19. Flatten and snapshot.

20. Ran Florabella Action, Sharpen/Defog (Florabella Spring Set 1). and Flattened/snapshot.

21. Ran Florabella Action, Wildflower (Florabella Spring Set 1). Layer opacity at 60%. and Flattened/shapshot.

22. Command + J to duplicate the background layer.

23. Command + Shift + U to desaturate layer.

24. Command + L to bring up the layers tweak pallet. # Values [left to right] 57/1.06/249   *hit ‘ok’*.

25. Set the layer blend mode to Overlay.

26. Filter/other/hi-pass – Radius 5.5 pixels. *hit ‘ok’*.

27. Burn tool on grey layer – small sized brush, midtones @ 7%. Used the burn tool on shadows around nose, mouth, eyes, fingers and toes to help bring those back just a little bit.

28. Flatten and Saved. Edit

Edit by Squeek Photography

Click on the images to see them larger!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I hope it was informative enough for ya too. It took me WAY longer to write this up than it did to actually edit the photo. lol! I think total edit time was maybe 10 minutes, tops.

If you’ve never tried one of these before… go pop over to and give it a try! And feel free to share any links you like here on my blog too! I’d love to see what you create! =)  Maybe I’ll post an image to see what others can create with my work! Whatdaya think?! Should I? =)



Posted by on January 28, 2011 in how to, Photography, tutorial


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Photoshop tutorial – pt.1

I know it’s been a while now since I last posted a blog… but I’ve been posting on flickr regularly for my 365 project. Recently I posted this image for Day 76 – stating that I would soon do a tutorial on how to do this effect in photoshop. I think I’ll start a series on some things in photoshop that I have learned how to do…. and I think that since this is a relatively easy process… I would start here. So here goes! =D

**I would like to mention at this point that the version of Photoshop I’m using is CS3…. if you’re running a different version of photoshop…. some of these steps/menus might look a little bit different for you!**

First, you want to open your photo that you would like to apply this effect to. I think that lit images [of people] with some shadows tend to look like those Nike adds you see around…. so that’s what I’ll be using here. But you can try using this effect on any image really… and just see what you get. Playing around with all your photos is really the best way to get a feel for photoshop anyway. IMHO. =)

So here’s my starting point:

Second step for me was to go in and get rid of any blemishes that I didn’t want in the photo with the heal brush. There wasn’t much for me to touch up really with this photo – mostly because I wanted that kind of look.

Third step was to do a levels tweak (command + L for mac users like me) to black out that background the rest of the way and to make the image a little more true to what I was looking for. I followed that up with using the burn tool set to shadows at around 20% strength with a good sized brush to go in and black out the remainder of the background to make it totally black. I have some pictures up on the wall behind Parvati and the couch behind her was still kinda visible – so that’s what I hit with the burn tool.

So now you end up with this:

Next you’ll want to create a duplicate layer (command + J) and then desaturate that layer (command + shift + U). So you end up with this:

Next step is actually going for that Nike look – Go up to Filters > Other > High Pass… This is where and what it looked like on my screen:

When the next little menu thingy opens up you should have a screen that looks something like this:

You’ll note on the screen that I have this set up pretty high…. around the 80 range is usually pretty good for that Nike-Ad look. Hit “OK”….

Next step is to go over to the bottom right of the screen and set that layer to “Overlay”.

So once you have done that you should have an image that looks something like this:

Looking good so far, right?! You could easily end the tutorial right here… but there’s one last thing that I did to this image involving Parvati’s eyes.

Create a new “fill or adjustment layer” with a mask. In the screen cap below on the bottom right hand side where you see all your layers and whatnot…… there are some little buttons down there at the very bottom. It’s the circle-looking icon down there. When you click on that you go up to Levels and click to create. Now you have a new layer where you will adjust the levels – PAYING ATTENTION TO THE EYES ONLY – adjust those levels until the eyes look the way you want them.

**I know this is adjusting your whole image, but don’t worry! We’ll about to fix that!!!!**

So once you have that adjusted… you see how there’s a white rectangle attached to that layers adjustment you just did? Click on that so that the next thing you do effects that rectangle… now color the whole thing black with you paint bucket. Now it should look something like the menu below:

Now you just select the paint brush tool and make sure it’s set to paint in white…. and choose the appropriately sized brush so as to only paint over the iris (eye color portion of the eye). You can do this with 100% opacity on the brush and go back on the whole layer (via that menu on the bottom right) and set the opacity to something you prefer.

I left it at 100% on this image. But it’s a personal preference.

My final image ended up looking like this:

The last bit there with the eye is really a pretty subtle difference…. and doing that step, again, is a matter of preference.  If you would like to see the finished product a bit larger, feel free to visit the flickr page! Also, if you liked this tutorial…. or if you have any questions… please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer you! =)



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Starting a new project (GOYA)

DAY 1:

For those of you who have seen or have even followed Dustin Diaz‘s 365 project, you may recognize what I’m doing here. I have been thinking lately that there are a few areas in my skillset that is a bit lacking.

Mostly, it’s in dealing with my SB800…. since I tend to use my alien bees and a vagabond. I have been very inspired by all the FANTASTIC 365 shots that Dustin Diaz was posting and decided to give it a try myself. His style is pretty identifiable… but it’s something I’ve never really shot before… so I thought I would try my hand at it.

So I’ve decided to try my hand at doing another 365 project. It’ll be good for me to take photos each day, which is something that I don’t do right now. I am setting up a few restrictions for myself with the project in an effort to grow my skills. Firstly, I will only use my hotshoe flashes (which at this exact moment equal a total of 1 flash). Second, I will be posting the how I did it photos – as a reference for myself and also so all of you can see exactly what I did to get the photo. And lastly, I will be forcing myself out of the studio for this project.

So, that’s the project. I hope that after a year of doing this I will have grown in skill level, especially where lighting with my little SB800 is concerned. Tonight I went out with my brother (he’s spending the new year with us) to our local shopping area, called Waterford Towncenter, where a little fair has been parked for over a month. I’d been wanting to go out there and take a few shots anyway before they packed up all their stuff and hit the road. I’m pretty pleased with the result… though I forgot nearly all my light modifiers. Oh, well. It’s part of that "learn to do what you want with the gear you have" thing. So it was good practice.

STROBIST: Set up for this shot is HERE

OH! And thanks Dustin Diaz for all the inspiring 365 shots! And congrats for completing it! =)

DAY 2:

Am I too old for jumping around on stage?

YES. Yes I am. I drove up to our community stage area this evening (after the girls went to bed) and saw that they still had their pretty Christmas lights up AND on! WOOt! I found a place to park and grabbed my gear and hiked across the large lawn to set up a shot. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do… but I wanted to do something on this stage. I quickly found out that jumping from the upper stage to the lower stage was something I am clearly not coordinated enough to do. After two jumps I fell.


I fell.

Honestly, I should have known better. I mean, how many times have I fallen just walking down our stairs in the house?! Three. So why on earth did I think I could possibly jump down these? I don’t know. So now I’m sitting on the couch with ice on my knee – which has a nice swollen and scuffed up area about the size of a quarter.

No. No photos of that. Maybe tomorrow. I’m sure that tomorrow I won’t be able to walk…. so I may have to compromise on the get-outside-and-shoot thing I wanted to do and take it easy.

Lesson learned. I am not a kid anymore. I don’t bounce. And all 200lbs of me falling on one knee is NO GOOD. =)

Send my knee some good/healing vibes, please!?! =)

Set up for this shot is HERE

Both of these stories and photos are also posted on Flickr. Enjoy!  =)


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Posted by on January 3, 2010 in 365 Days, general, how to, lighting, Photography, projects, tutorial


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A little photo fun…

So I was doing my typical surfing the web today and I saw a link to watch a few of the Joe McNally videos up on NikonUSA website. So I watched them and was amazed at this video in particular. It’s a really neat video if you would like to watch it I would highly recommend spending a few minutes on it and the other two he posted which are HERE and HERE. Anyway… so I got to thinking. What if you’re not Joe and don’t have access to like 20 SB900 flashes? What if you only have one… like me? Well… I think doing something similar to THIS is still possible. How? Well…. it means a little more work…

Basically…. my idea is this – start with the same basic settings and environment Joe uses in his video. A nice dark environment and a slow shutter speed (I kept my shutter open for 3 seconds). You also want to keep in mind that you do not want a shallow depth of field… so that means a higher aperture – f8 is what I used today while playing around. Now here’s where things get a little more complicated. I was playing around during the day in the house and so the only environment that I could shoot in that I could get pretty dark was our bathroom – which has no windows. So I set up my tripod in the bathtub and my flash (a SB800) with a diy snoot straw grid on it in front of the closed bathroom door. I set the flash to 1/32 power with a pocket wizard on it and held my other pocket wizard in my hand so I could pop the flash repeatedly, remotely. [NOTE** I need another hand! Operating the camera, the pocket wizard to trigger the flash and throwing a scarf into the air proved quite difficult with only the two hands. lol!]  The power was set so that it would refresh pretty quickly. Set it any higher than that and it just can’t keep up. If you listen to Joe’s video, he tells you his are set for 1/64 power… but because of the bit of light coming in despite the fact that I was in the darkest place in the house, I had to go with a little more umph to help drown out the ambient coming in through the cracks around the door. I also shot the flash from above where I was hoping to catch the scarf, so as not to illuminate the gigantic mirror (and probably the whole bathroom) with each pop of the flash. I’m sure in a larger environment I wouldn’t have needed to do so much directing of the light, but I had to make sure that I didn’t accidently illuminate the bathroom. =)

I also didn’t have a beautiful dancer to work with and it’s been my experience in the past that trying to get my 3 year old to move in a particular way is too difficult for her. Not to mention that the bathroom was DARK and small…. so not exactly a conducive environment for someone to dance around in anyway. But I digress. So I grabbed a frilly little scarf that I had in my studio props bin and began to throw it around in the beam of light my flash created. It was a little on the crazy side to do alone, but it turned out kinda neat and proved that I could do this with the one flash. So now I have a proof of concept I guess. =)

Well, that’s all well and good… but how does that all work with a dancer who would be moving around probably in some type of line through your designated shooting space? Okay. So here’s my thoughts on it and something I plan on trying out soon. If you have someone to help you out… they can essentially be a moving human lightstand for you. They can point the light at the dancer and move WITH them. But now you ask… wouldn’t the human lightstand be in the shot? No. Not as long as the light is directed in such a way as to not illuminate them….. ONLY the dancer. That might mean using something like a snoot or a grid to help direct light in a particular direction – away from the human lightstand. This is something I’ve done before, kinda… when I did a shoot a while back with Mandala and we made her Patronus photo. There’s no real trickery there. It’s just light painting which isn’t a new concept.

The main difference in this technique vs. Joe’s is that his subject would be illuminated quite a bit more than mine. Why? Because he had a ton of lights that were popping all together and so the light was illuminating the subject from all directions with each pop of the flashes. With the one flash and directing it with a grid or snoot, you cut down on the area of the dancer that will be hit with the flash and there would be no fill to get rid of the shadows on your subject. You could try adding in another flash if you have the gear to make it work… but it probably means using another PW too – neither of which I have. Sometimes you have to find a way to make the gear you have work for you. =)

Anywho… here’s the shots I got today. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them! And if any of you out there are a dancer and would like to experiment with this with me, please let me know! Just leave a comment below. =) Enjoy!


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Posted by on December 18, 2009 in how to, lighting, Photography, tutorial


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Do you wanna ROCK?! …[the White Seamless]…

heh… =)

I’ve been asked more than a few times about my studio setup. It’s a 9ft roll of white seamless (most of the time) and some white tileboards. Often, the questions come about shooting on seamless and typically I point people to Zack’s blog where he talks in depth about this very topic.

I thought, however, that since I do a majority of my studio sessions on the seamless I would go ahead and take a few minutes to go over my setup and touch a small amount on the basics for the lighting. If you would like a more in depth tutorial I highly recommend checking out Zack’s site and that lighting on the cheap guru: David Hobby aka Strobist.

So I’ll start this whole thing off by showing you my current setup. Since my studio is currently in my house, I would like to point out the optimal size for this setup would be a bit larger than what I currently utilize, but sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got! =) The basic dimensions for my studio space are about 12ft wide by 24ft long and 9ft high. It’s not possible to utilize every inch of space – there’s almost two feet of dead space behind the seamless paper due to the stand and the length can be adjusted if needed, but it’s set up for 12 feet out at the moment.

Based on my experiences thus far with the limitations of these dimensions, I would highly recommend a larger space. Not necessarily the width, though I’ve certainly encounter situations where I needed a larger width -like with large groups of people – but definitely the height and length!

Basically, the average adult is somewhere between 5 – 6 feet tall or so (some even a little bit taller than that). So they already are very close to the top of my seamless – which is extended to within about two inches of the ceiling. This means, that if you are shorter or shoot from a lower vantage point for any reason you’re going to end up seeing the edge of the seamless and whatever is surrounding it. Sometimes I have found myself having to fix this in photoshop later – which is why I bring it up now. Setting your seamless up so that it’s taller than 9 feet is better! =)

The longer length of the studio helps immensely with separating your light sources, which is important. I’ll explain why: when you look at your basic setup for shooting on, say, a high-key white background you have two lights on either side of the seamless to light it and then the lighting on your subject. Think of them as two separate entities. Light your background to what you desire and then you concentrate on your lighting for your subject. The further away from the background the more independent you make those two lighting situations. Since I’m pretty limited on how far away from the background my subject can be, I have pulled the folding doors off of a spare closet to use as barn doors to help control light spillage onto my subject. It’s my cheap and easy solution to the issue of limited space for the moment. =)

My lighting equipment at this point consists of two Alien Bee AB800’s and one Nikon SB800 speedlight. I will often vary where the different lights are actually used based on what I want with the lighting… but my most common setup for things like headshots is one AB800 on the left side of the seamless, one SB800 speedlight on the right side of the seamless and then the last AB800 upfront with the softbox – if I’m using the softbox (because I don’t have a way to use the SB with the giant softbox at this point). If I’m not wanting to use the softbox, then it’s both AB’s on the background and the SB on the subject.

It all comes down to working with the equipment you have. I’ve found though that the list of “I wants” tends to grow exponentially the more you learn with lighting and the more you wanna play around.

Of course the setup I mentioned earlier is what I use if I wanna make that white seamless a nice hi-key or blown background. But what if I don’t want a white, blown background? Easy. Because I’ve made sure to light the background separately from the subject, I can just make any adjustments without messing up my lighting on the subject. If I want a grey background – a nice medium gray – then I just go over to the background lights and turn them off.

The further away the subject is from the actual background, the darker the white will seem. AND, if you selectively light your subject with something like a grid, you can make your white seamless seem black.


Yeah. White becomes black.

You will find that you have to play around with your camera settings too though… to make sure your exposing your shots for the background and then using the light on the subject to make them look how you want. Basically, what I’m saying here is – get the background to look the way you want and then start figuring out how much light you will need/want on your subject and try to direct that light in a way that gives you the effect you’re looking for.

I’ve found that everyone explains it a little bit differently, but when I heard that same explanation it clicked for me. We all learn in our own way. =)

It all comes down to controlling where the light will go. And trying to see that in your mind ahead of time. It’s not something that comes to you overnight! You have to play around. But that’s the fun of it! Go play around with what equipment you have! That’s how I learned what I know so far, and it’s fun too!

And one more thing, go check out that strobist site! Equipment can sometimes be a bit on the expensive side. Okay… it’s often expensive. (at least for my wallet). Strobist has links to all kinds of DIY projects that are fun to create and even more fun to use. =) Have fun!!!


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Posted by on November 17, 2009 in how to, lighting, Photography, seamless, tutorial


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