Economy springing back to life. Now I get to use some of those new cameras and lenses! Hooray.

 All of a sudden we're getting booked for assignments. It started out slowly; a big project in March followed by a growing number of corporate portrait bookings. Some here in the studio but more out on locations. The early wave is mostly comprised of bankers and lawyers and we're even starting to hear rumblings of corporate events being scheduled in late Summer and Fall. 

I'm ready to get back to work. We'll keep wearing our masks and taking all the precautions we've learned throughout the pandemic but with everyone I work with having been vaccinated it's starting to feel less risky. 

Even though I've always been an extrovert I'm finding that it takes some practice and effort to get back into a more authentic give and take with photography clients. I guess I've "talked" more here on the blog over the last year than I have in the real world. I have to re-learn how to talk "out loud" again and also how to patiently listen.

I did five portraits last week and the most fun were two that were shot in the studio but composited into out of focus backgrounds I'd shot earlier in the week. With the backgrounds already shot it was easier to make portraits that "fit" the look and feel of the whole assemblage. Getting a good selection with good feathering at the edges helps a lot. I use the "select and refine" menus and tools in PhotoShop to separate the subjects from the studio background and to create a file with an image layer that is, except for the actual subject, transparent. That makes it a simple matter to open a background image file in the same window and just pull the person over into the scene. 

You'll have to a do a few adjustments and maybe blur the edges of your person a bit to match better with the background. I also find it helps, once the compositing and adjusting is complete, to add "noise" or grain to the overall image as it reinforces the appearance of the photo being homogenous instead of leaving tell tale signs that it's a fake collage. Keep it subtle but pay attention to some of the subliminal cues that happen when joining different images together. 

And now for the exciting news. It seems a mother raccoon has made my home's chimney into a nursery. She has somehow dislodged the cap on the chimney and, while she was not in the chimney yesterday the young raccoons were down at the bottom; just above the flue. Isn't that special?

We have experts coming tomorrow but I realized that the mom might not have been able to get in for the last few days since I reattached the cap. I'm torn but my reverence for all life and my ignorance of what might be best for the little raccoons. The expert and I talked and I think I'll head back up to the roof and take the cap off the chimney for tonight and also dangle down a thick, thick rope to help with an exit. If we play talk radio in the fireplace and occasionally bang on the bottom of the flue there is the thought that the mom raccoon will evacuate her brood and move on. But for now maybe I should drop in some apple slices for the young ones so they get some moisture and sustenance. 

Anybody here a raccoon specialist? And, yes, I know they are primary disease vectors and can be vicious to boot. But I'm willing to take both animal behavior advice and ethical treatment advice. Please- no gun talk. I'd like them to exit alive.

On a happier note. Elon Musk is coming to save Austin! (sarcasm alert!!!).