In the studio: Michael Powell

2 01 2021

Having fun with my studio partner, Michael Powell—shooting with the mirrorless Nikon Z50 and the 16-50mm kit lens (and a fun, inexpensive (less than $20!) paint splatter background I ordered from Amazon). You can see Michael’s gorgeous nature photography on his blog here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Spot the differences!

4 03 2016

Barbara Kelley (acting executive director of HLAA and editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine) came up with the idea of doing a “spot the differences” photo game for this issue. I had fun making changes to the original cover photo. Can you spot the 21 things I’ve changed in this photo?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Want a free photography lesson on photographing flowers and gardens?

18 07 2013

Read my feature, “Garden Photography,” in the summer issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. I share tips on shooting, what’s in my bag, notes on specific photos to teach about composition and light, and my favorite resources and websites. The issue will also be available for purchase through (at cost + shipping; see link below) on our website, soon.

View the issue as reader spreads (my favorite!):

CHM Summer 2013 Spreads

View the issue as single pages (suitable for printing):

CHM Summer 2013 Single Pages

Splurge and purchase a beautiful print copy on (no markup; at cost + shipping):

Help us spread the word! Share Celebrate Home Magazine with your family and friends.

Photography and design by Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

CHM Garden Photo


17 07 2013

I photographed Marisa a few days ago and we just finished converting one of our favorite images to b&w using one of my actions from Florabella. I like the warm tint to this particular action. More shots to come…

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Marisa B&W

Re-post: Playing with Totally Rad Actions—Portraits of Lauren

1 02 2012

Originally posted March 3, 2010

Using an image I shot of my niece, Lauren, I have applied nine of my favorite Totally Rad Actions from photographer Doug Boutwell—just to show you some of the effects you can achieve with portraits. I love his action names, too—Prettytizer, Cool as a Cucumber, Not-So-Magic Glasses, Rusty Cage, SX-70…

The first photo in the series is a “normal” shot (with minor retouching, but no action applied). Some of the actions were used at 100% strength; some were dialed back to about 60-75% strength (particularly in the case of Technicolor Dream World, Grunge Rock and Pross Crossessed #1). I just love these Photoshop actions—they’re well worth the investment if you want to take some of your photos to another level with very little effort. And no, I don’t get a kickback from endorsing Doug’s store—I just love to share a great product when I find one! I don’t use them in my garden and nature photographs, but they’re great used occasionally with landscapes, portraits and architecture—and when you want to add an artistic effect to a dull “record” shot.

Go play on his site here and try out his “recipes” for cool effects. Now I’m thinking I might have to add his “TRA 2—The Revenge” to my arsenal. When I ordered my actions and had a little problem completing the download, Doug was very quick to respond personally. Very nice guy with very nice products!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Re-post: Photographs? Well, not technically.

18 01 2012

Originally posted 1.28.2010 and 1.28.2011

A few years ago I dabbled in scanning flowers on my Epson flatbed scanner and got some pretty good results. The technique works best if you can cover the flower arrangement with a dark piece of fabric or black cardboard. While the original images were nice “record” shots of my flowers, I wanted to do something more with them. I ran the scanned images through some artsy Photoshop filters to give them a romantic, soft-focus glowy look. So there you have it…photographs without a camera!

Not long after I toyed with the process, I saw an exhibit of photographer Robert Creamer’s images at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. These large-scale works were amazing! He scanned all sorts of things—dead birds, flowers, fruit, bones, and more. You can read more about his Smithsonian exhibit here and see more of his work on his website here. Watch the video here for a demonstration of his setup.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

There aren’t enough hours in a day…

13 12 2011

I was trying to open a jpg image in Photoshop and got this progress bar below. I guess I have plenty of time to make more oatmeal cookies if I felt so inclined.

Joe McNally Presents: A 9/11 Remembrance, In Pictures

6 09 2011

Joe McNally is one of my very favorite photographers. He has been shooting for more than 30 years and was LIFE magazine’s staff photographer from 1994-1998. He has contributed to National Geographic magazine for 20 years and is the author of The Moment It Clicks and The Hotshoe Diaries (which I highly recommend adding to your library!). Wikipedia reports, “McNally has been described by American Photo magazine as perhaps the most versatile photojournalist working today and was listed as one of the hundred most important people in photography.” Check out McNally’s website and blog here.

I attended one of his Flash Bus Tour workshops in Austin this past spring. He paired up with local photographer and flash guru, David Hobby of fame, for the entire tour. Dave lives in nearby Maryland and his website is a great resource for lighting tips. (I intend to blog about that fantastic workshop and share photos soon. I shot this photo of Joe during the workshop).

McNally recently guest blogged on Scott Kelby‘s Photoshop Insider blog. Scott, another of my favorite teachers, is a graphic designer, photographer, the editor-in-chief of Photoshop User magazine and the founder of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals). Scott is a best-selling author as well, having penned more than 40 books. He is also president of Kelby Media Group, an Oldsmar, Florida-based software training, education, and publishing firm. He is most definitely a Renaissance man—there’s not much he can’t (or doesn’t already) do!

In his guest spot, McNally writes about shooting 246 portraits of NYC firemen with the Giant Polaroid camera in the aftermath of 9/11 in Joe McNally Presents: A 9/11 Remembrance, In Pictures. It is an inspiring read with amazing photos accompanying it. Head over to it here.

New Photoshop collages for Hearing Loss Magazine

23 02 2011

Just added some new collages to my layout archives from the Hearing Loss Magazine

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

First studio portraits using the Westcott Spiderlite TD5 system

7 02 2011

I got to use my new Westcott Spiderlite TD5 2-light kit system for the first time last night when I photographed my friend Karen for her website and business promotion. She owns Karen Wyatt Skin Care in Burke, Virginia. (See how pretty her skin is? You could have skin that nice, too—book an appointment with her now!) Although I usually use strobes or my Nikon Speedlight setups in my studio, I became an instant fan of these “constant” what-you-see-is-what-you-get cool lights. I can’t wait to experiment with them more!

The TD5 system uses five fluorescent bulbs (in each light) to provide daylight balanced light, but without the intense heat that my old Lowell Tota-lights would produce (which reminds me—I should sell those things since I never use them!). My main light had a 24×32 shallow softbox and the other softbox (used as a hair light in most of the shots) was a stripbank measuring 12×36. My only complaint (and it is a small one) was that Westcott didn’t include any instructions on assembly. The one sheet of paper included showed us how to screw in the lightbulbs. Duh. We figured it out despite the lack of direction—smart women that we are!

Scott Kelby, my favorite Photoshop guru and an all around genuinely nice guy, highly recommended them after seeing wedding and portrait photographer Monte Zucker use them at a seminar. (A Washington, D.C. native, Zucker died of pancreatic cancer in 2007 at his home in Florida. He was 77).

I met Scott Kelby way back when he was teaching his wonderful $99 day-long workshops, right before he founded NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals). Scott is the editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, editor-in-chief of Layers Magazine, training director and instructor for the Adobe Photoshop Seminar Tour, President National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), CEO of Kelby Media Group, and the author of a slew of bestselling technology books (many of which I own!). I attended the very first Photoshop World Conference & Expo in Orlando with my friends Cammie and Paula (can’t remember the year, though). I’ve been a member of NAPP ever since and try to attend at least one day-long workshop each year. Check out Scott’s website/blog here. I’m a die-hard Scott Kelby fan!

Check out the seminar schedule for the Photoshop CS5 for Photographers Tour with Matt Klowkowski here, the Photoshop CS5 Power User Tour with Dave Cross here, and the Photoshop CS5 From Focused to Finished Tour with Ben Wilmore here. If you have the opportunity to attend any one of these workshops, it will be the best $99 you’ve ever spent! NAPP members pay just $79 for the day-long seminars. If you’re serious about photography and Photoshop, consider joining NAPP. You’ll receive Photoshop User Magazine, which is $9.99 per issue if you buy it at a bookstore—the $99 annual membership includes that subscription and many other discounts—including savings on hardware, software and NAPP’s excellent DVD training series.

In the two videos below, Scott talks about the first time he used the lights, how they work, and he also announces the holiday light kit special from Westcott.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Kristen in blue

31 12 2010

Mamiya 645J medium format negative; very minimal digital retouching (yes, her skin was that flawless, lucky girl). I did her hair and makeup and the “shrug” is just a few yards of textured satin fabric!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Mamiya 645J archives: Kristen

31 12 2010

I shot this photo (original was in color; I converted to b&w digitally) of Kristen back in the 90s, using my Mamiya 645J medium format camera and Kodak VPS film. I worked with Kristen when I was doing freelance graphic design and photography work for the Visiting Nurse Association, but lost track of her a few years later. She was just as sweet, funny and bright as she was pretty—and she was the consummate model, even with no experience. If you’re out there, Kristen, give me a holler!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Baker’s Dozen Link Love

3 11 2010

1. Joe McNally: Common Mistakes by Photographers
One of my favorite photographers, Joe McNally, created a list of common mistakes people make when starting out in photography. Go check out this great post here:

2. Larry Becker’s Cheap Shots
Through Scott Kelby’s blog (love him, too!), I learned about Larry Becker and his new DIY blog, Larry’s Cheap Shots. This blog resulted from his regular segment on the photography web-based tv show, DTownTV. He offers great DIY projects and inexpensive solutions to your photographic needs. Visit his regular blog, also a great site, here:

3. Dan Williams, Bird Photographer
I met Dan Williams, bird photographer extraordinaire, when he was exhibiting during a Craftsmen’s Classic Art & Craft Show at the Dulles Expo in Chantilly, Virginia last year. I had the chance to talk with him at length about his photography career, including his choice of equipment—the full frame 24.9mp Sony A900. After seeing his work, I have concluded that there is no one better at this genre—so I’m leaving avian photography to him! His work is clean, graphic and filled with color. He describes his approach to composition in his blog post, Keeping It Simple Can Produce the Best Results, here. Another insightful post, Breaking the Laws of Nature Photography, can be found here. Check out his website here and his blog here.

4. Bob Krist’s Compact Location Lighting Kit
After seeing freelance photographer Bob Krist on the Nikon Creative Lighting System video, I decided I had to put together a compact lighting kit like his. My only change was a cheaper travel case—although now that I see his Stormcase has wheels, I’ve got that on my wishlist again. I already had many of the items; I just needed to add some of the accessories—such as the smaller collapsible light stands and shorter umbrellas. (The video is well worth the price—lighting guru Joe McNally and Bob Krist show the amazing results you can accomplish using Nikon Speedlight flashes on location. Check out the DVD here). Krist works on assignment with magazines such as National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian and Islands. His website is beautiful—check it out here. I traveled with my newly-assembled kit for the first time when I photographed musician Richard Reed in Providence, RI, earlier this fall. I was on assignment for Cochlear Americas and posted the results of our two photo sessions here. Richard wrote an article for the November/December 2010 issue of the Hearing Loss Magazine, which went to print last month. I’ll be posting a recap on that issue shortly.

5. Erik Gauger’s Notes from the Road
I discovered travel writer and photographer Erik Gauger’s blog a few years ago and have had the pleasure of corresponding with him via e-mail regularly. I will be interviewing him and profiling his career in a future post on this blog, so stay tuned. His website is not only beautiful, it will make you want to hit the road in search of adventure! His blog has garnered accolades: “Unexpected frontier of the travel blogosphere…” —Boston Globe; “Sumptuous Site” —Time Magazine; and “The best-looking blog we’ve seen” —Forbes Magazine. Erik’s blog is definitely a must-see, must-read virtual trip. Find out why at

6. Kolby Kirk’s Travel Journal
I met webmaster/graphic designer/photographer/traveler Kolby Kirk through my blog. Check out his newest blog—The Journal. He has several other websites that can help you plan your own travel adventures. Click here to peruse that list.

7. It’s (K)not Wood
I have a thing for anything faux bois (fake wood), from vases to dishes to table runners, so I love Emilyn Eto and Jonathan Lo’s It’s (K)not Wood, the blog “dedicated to all things faux bois.” Oh, and did I mention I also love anything emblazoned with leaves, trees, twigs, birds, bird eggs, bird nests, or bird feathers, too?

8. The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies
If you’re an “old school” graphic designer, you’ll appreciate the trip down memory lane in Lou Brooks’ The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies. Click on any item from “the ghosts of graphic arts past” to relive its use.

9. The Pantone Hotel
On my list of places to rest my weary head, I just added The Pantone Hotel in Brussels, Belgium. For those of you who don’t know what the heck Pantone is, click here.

10. On my nightstand: A Homemade Life
A few weeks ago, I read A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg, the creator of the blog, Orangette. I found myself sniffling in the airport during some of the passages she writes about her dying father, an exuberant gastronomic. Food and memories are intertwined in this short, sweet read. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry…so good, it even made me want to cook—one thing I just don’t do much of, I must confess. Learn more about the book and Wizenberg in this review here. In honor of your father, Molly, I promise to utilize (soon, I promise, soon) my shiny new white KitchenAid mixer—a well-received birthday present last month from my friends Gina, Karen and Rob. I have always thought that if only I had one of these, then I would be a real cook. Guess now I don’t have any excuses to stay out of the kitchen, do I?

11. Matt Bites Blog
I just love food photographer Matt Armendariz’ blog, His blog tagline reads, “a man obsessed with food, drink & everything in between.” A former graphic designer and art director in the food industry, he is one of the charter members of Martha’s Circle, a selection of lifestyle blogs selected by the editors of Martha Stewart Living. Check out his food & drink, travel and photography portfolios while you’re there. Just reading his recent recipe for Chicken & Potato Patties makes me hungry—oooh, and they include cilantro, one of my favorite herbs!

12. Mark Berkery’s Macro Photography
This site was featured on the “Freshly Pressed” page in WordPress last week—Mark Berkery’s Being Mark blog. His macro photography is jaw-dropping and if you click here, you’ll learn how he gets these amazing shots (it’s not just equipment—he knows technique, too), as well discover that there’s an inexpensive piece of equipment to add to your arsenal to capture images like his—a Raynox Macroscopic Lens. I’ve never heard of this company until now, but was thrilled to find their inexpensive products at Adorama. I first ordered the DCR-250 ($50 + shipping), which allows really high magnification and includes a snap-on universal mount suitable for lens that range from 52mm to 67mm size (I’ll try it first on my Nikkor 105mm micro, but it can be used on any of my lens, macro or not. They can be used on other cameras, too—not just Nikons). After reading the various entries on this Pentax forum here, I decided I also wanted the option of pulling back from my subject, so I also ordered the DCR-150 ($42.95 + shipping). I’ll do some experimenting shortly and will report my findings.

13. And finally, this one is just plain fun!
I learned about HEMA’s site here a few years ago (via graphic designer Chuck Green’s Design Briefs, if I’m not mistaken) and I still think it’s still one of the coolest retail sites online. HEMA is a Dutch department store chain. Unless you’re from the Netherlands, you probably won’t be able to read any of the product names, but wait a few seconds to see the reason this site is so much fun anyway. Do turn up the sound or you’ll miss some of the action. My flight attendant friend Gina has a penchant for visiting grocery stores in her international travels, so I’m sure when she sees this link, she’ll be making plans to patronize HEMA the next time she’s in Amsterdam!

Margot, b&w conversion

7 09 2010

Earlier this summer, I posted the color original of this portrait of a friend’s daughter. This one is on my top ten list of favorite portraits I’ve shot recently. When I shot film, I shot mostly Ilford b&w and loved the results I got with portrait shoots. I converted this image using b&w actions from a Totally Rad Actions set. Which image do you prefer—color or b&w—and why?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


28 08 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Could Photoshop get any better?

26 03 2010

Thanks to F.T. for sending me this sneak preview of Photoshop CS5’s “content-aware fill” feature. I’m looking forward to this version!

Playing with Actions: Mission San José

3 03 2010

Next, I applied some of the Totally Rad Actions to an image I shot of Mission San José in San Antonio, Texas. Learn more about the mission and see more photos in my August 12, 2008 posting here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Playing with Actions—Portrait of Lauren

3 03 2010

Using an image I shot of my niece, Lauren, I have applied nine of my favorite Totally Rad Actions from photographer Doug Boutwell—just to show you some of the effects you can achieve with portraits. I love his action names, too—Prettytizer, Cool as a Cucumber, Not-So-Magic Glasses, Rusty Cage, SX-70…

The first photo in the series is a “normal” shot (with minor retouching, but no action applied). Some of the actions were used at 100% strength; some were dialed back to about 60-75% strength (particularly in the case of Technicolor Dream World, Grunge Rock and Pross Crossessed #1). I just love these Photoshop actions—they’re well worth the investment if you want to take some of your photos to another level with very little effort. And no, I don’t get a kickback from endorsing Doug’s store—I just love to share a great product when I find one! I don’t use them in my garden and nature photographs, but they’re great used occasionally with landscapes, portraits and architecture—and when you want to add an artistic effect to a dull “record” shot.

Go play on his site here and try out his “recipes” for cool effects. Now I thinking I might have to add his “TRA 2—The Revenge” to my arsenal. When I ordered my actions and had a little problem completing the download, Doug was very quick to respond personally. Very nice guy with very nice products!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Yes, another wedding photo…

28 06 2009

Can I help it if these two are so photogenic? I used either the “Rusty Cage” or the “Super Fun Happy” filter from Doug Boutwell Studio’s Totally Rad Action Mix to achieve this warm and dreamy effect.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.



10 12 2008

Amazing what you can do with a blank wall, a bounce flash, a pretty teenager, her mother aiming a blowdryer at her from below, my sister serving as hairstylist, and some Photoshop creativity to jazz up the background! It was a quickie shoot last year to give Tara photos to create a modeling portfolio. I didn’t have much equipment with me so I worked with what we had on hand. In a pinch, I’ve used torchiere lamps as my major light source and dealt with the inherent color problems on the computer later. Just shows you what can be done with minimal resources.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Pressed between the pages of my mind…

7 12 2008

This past week Dad and I drove by one of our old neighborhoods near Lackland Air Force Base. He likes to drive by to see how the house changes through the years. The last time we drove by it sported a rather bright coat of bright blue paint. This time around, the present owners have done a nice job of bricking the front of the house and part of the sides, and we were surprised at how much better it looked. We slowed down so I could get some shots with my point-n-shoot and one of the neighbors popped out her door and asked, “May I help you?” When I told her we used to live in that house many, many years ago, and that the current owners sure were spiffing up the place, her face softened. We told her we last lived there in 1972 and like to see it from time to time.


The house was just two years old when we moved in. Mom told me they paid $12,000 for the property in 1964. Actually, they paid the owner $250 down and agreed to take over his payments, which were about $80 a month. My younger sister Kelley had just been born and I was just over three years old. My older sister Debbie was starting junior high and went to school just at the end of our street—Sam Rayburn Junior High. We lived at 155 Farrel Drive until I turned 12. We rented the house out for a year when I was in 5th grade (Dad got stationed in Alexandria, Louisiana), then returned to spend 6th grade back in San Antonio. Then he retired from the Air Force and got a job with U.S. Customs in the Rio Grande Valley. We joined him in June of 1972 after each of us finished out the school year. I went to Lackland City Elementary School, which was within walking distance at the end of our street in the cul-de-sac and across the alley.

dadkellsmileLeft: Dad with my younger sister Kelley. My memories of that time, that place, those years—in no particular order and off the top of my head—are:

• organizing a pool party for kids in the neighborhood with my sister Kelley as co-hostess. For us a pool party meant BYOP—Bring Your Own Pool! Our friends brought their own plastic wading pools to our backyard. We provided the water hose and voila—a pool party was born! It is my earliest recollection of playing hostess.

• I remember I didn’t learn to ride a bike (without training wheels) until I was eight. Talk about a late-starter. That’s me in the photo below—such a fashionably dressed little cyclist I was!


• The long brick and concrete planter that ran across the front porch was still intact when we drove by yesterday—it’s in the middle of the photo above, to the left of the concrete birdbath…I remember it was filled with Purple Heart plants (Tradescantia pallida—although I didn’t know the name of the plants at the time)…Darren, a boy my age who lived a few streets away, had a crush on me. On Valentine’s Day, he dropped a yellow heart-shaped Whitman’s Sampler chocolate box on the planter, rang the doorbell and ran away. I have never liked those samplers because I’m a chocolate purist and I could never tell if one might have nuts (nuts on a plane are fine; but not in my chocolate, please), or coconut (blechh!), or some oozing gel-like substance. Mom and her friend Dot were only too happy to indulge in the sampler on my behalf. I was in fourth grade at the time.

sharontharplorez• My sister Debbie’s best friend during those years was Sharon (that’s her, at left, standing on our front porch), who has a beautiful singing voice. She sang occasionally at a local country and western place in San Antonio and she even appeared with Wolfman Jack on stage. Remember him? She convinced her parents to let her go to Nashville and record a 2-sided 45rpm record. Johnny Paycheck’s band was the backup band. I was thrilled to be able to say I knew a  potential country singing sensation! To this day, I still recall the words to one of the songs. “I’m a thousand miles from Dallas, in a small California town. Trying to forget you and the love I thought I’d found. I sold all of my possessions, for money just to buy some time. Cause I know my leaving you will never mean goodbye. Leaving you will never mean goodbye…” And I can still sing the melody and the verse to that song. I wonder if Sharon can remember it and would she be impressed that it is imprinted on my brain?

• One of my best friends was Melanie Stewart, who lived at the end of the cul-de-sac on our street. I don’t remember her mother’s name, but I remember that she was madly, madly, madly in love with Elvis Presley. When Elvis died in 1977, five years after we moved from that street, I immediately thought of Melanie’s mother and wondered how she was handling his demise. Another thing I remember about Melanie was her parents let her buy a dyed Easter duckling from the pet store at Valley-Hi Mall. Kelley and I desperately wanted a duckling or a chick (plain or dyed, we didn’t care—although as an adult I’m well aware that dyeing an animal is cruel (and even illegal in most states) and that most Easter-inspired pets end up released in the wild, abandoned, or turned over to an animal rescue group—not to mention the risk of Salmonella poisoning). But our mom said, “Ducklings grow up to be big messy ducks, so NO!” Mother Knows Best—Melanie’s duckling grew up to be a large (aggressive) duck who delighted in tormenting the family’s German Shepherd. (Mom also vetoed the idea of a dyed baby chick, too. Grown-up baby chick would have probably ended up in a frying pan or a pot of dumplings when we weren’t looking.)

cindykindergarten• Directly across the street lived “Aunt Opal.” I’m not sure why we called her “Aunt,” because she wasn’t a relative. She operated a kindergarten out of her home and had 11 kids enrolled when I attended. She, along with my father, were the first two people to encourage me to draw when they saw my creative potential. At left is our class graduation photo. I’m in the front row, second from the left, with my mouth hanging open. I certainly don’t look like the brightest of her students, but I’d truly like to believe I was. (Girls in front—as it should be!) I remember that she wore June Cleaver-like starched flowered dresses and a single strand of pearls, had perfectly coiffed hair and sparkling blue eyes, looked a bit like the TV character Hazel, and drank Tab after school was out. I know this because I shared it with her on occasion. Ah, my first diet cola—let’s blame Aunt Opal for our affinity for them now, shall we?

• Another good friend lived a few doors down at the end of the street. Her name was Lisa Meffert. My father loves to tell me how I couldn’t pronounce her name and when I saw her I would holler, “Yeeta! Yeeta!” I recall her babysitting our pet turtle Jerry while we had to go out of town for some reason. She or her younger sister (who had dark hair, blue blue eyes, and fair skin—a little mini-Liz Taylor) took it to school for show and tell, left it in the classroom, and Jerry perished. At least this is how I remember his demise. Mom says Lisa is a biology professor now. Perhaps she became a biology professor out of guilt? It was an especially sad ending since earlier he had escaped from the bathroom while we were cleaning out his plastic enclosure. A week later we found him on a stack of Nancy Drew books in our closet, still alive. He lived for awhile longer until we went away and left him in the care of the Mefferts. That was one awfully hardy turtle. We named him Jerry after my sister Debbie’s boyfriend-at-the-time. Debbie reminded me that Jerry died years later in a local San Antonio bar—killed by a knife-wielding woman.

• Speaking of childhood pets…I had one of those cheap round glass goldfish bowls with a few beautiful Angelfish. I was away one afternoon and my then 4-year-old sister saw fit to feed the fish saltines because she had heard someone say that fish like saltwater. She thought the closest thing would be crackers. I knowing I’m stating the obvious—Angelfish and saltines don’t mix too well. I came home and both the fish and the saltines were floating on the surface of the bowl. I’d like to think that I organized a befitting burial—I wasn’t much for the “just flush ’em down the toilet, they’re fish!” route. Dad also used to bring us leftover minnows from his fishing trips, which means we were never without fish for long.

• For Christmas one year I asked for a telescope. (Remember Sear’s Wish Book?) Santa brought me a Crissy doll instead. Crissy was an 18″ redhead with dark eyes. She had a knob on her back that you could turn and her ponytail would magically grow out of the top of a hole in her head. Qué fun! The next year, I asked for a telescope. Santa brought me a microscope instead. (Doesn’t he know the difference? One is for viewing things really, really far away. The other is for closeup. Do your research, dude.) I enjoyed it despite the mix-up. The next year I asked for a parakeet and got two of them, one blue and one green. I named them Anthony and Cleopatra, although I can’t honestly say what sex either were. Santa finally got the order correct that year!

• I found a horned toad on our back porch one day and kept him as a pet for just a day. He wouldn’t eat the lettuce we gave him (duh—they normally eat ants, grasshoppers, beetles and spiders), so we released him. They’re called horny toads, but they’re really lizards. I haven’t seen one since and recently, my dad told me why. The primary cause for their decline is loss of habitat and they are listed as protected in Texas. It is illegal for anyone to take, possess, transport, or sell them without a permit. And there’s even a Horned Lizard Conservation Society (of course).

• Dad reminded me of the time he bought back freezer pops from Mexico (he had retired, then got a job with U.S. Customs in the Rio Grande Valley, and was working down there for seven months before we could join him). I started a freezer pop stand out of an ice chest in the front yard with Kelley as my cohort again. He said when we ran out of freezer pops to sell, I grabbed a box of Oreos and started selling those. Kelley remembers us pricing the pops at 10 cents each and the Oreos at 2 for 25 cents (which she now says seems like highway robbery). See there? I had the makings of an entrepreneur as far back as that!

kelleywithball• Whenever Kelley and I got home from school, a neighborhood girl babysat us until our older sister Debbie got home from junior high. One afternoon I came home and found out our beloved Chihuahua, Bimbo, had climbed the fence (yes, he knew how to climb fences!) and ran away! I was so upset that I remember flinging myself on the driveway and bawling my head off. Although I do remember we found him two streets away, Mom reminded me that it was three months later that we found him. She said we were driving down the street and she recognized him with a little girl. She called him and he came running over to her. Right: “Kelley Pelé” kicking the ball in the backyard.

• I remember it was very difficult to buy Christmas presents for my father. He didn’t wear cologne or ties, but despite that fact, I remember buying him a large bottle of Hi Karate and putting in a handful of ballpoint pens in the box (as a nifty bonus gift!). That box of Hi Karate traveled with us from San Antonio to the Rio Grande Valley when we moved. I know he used the pens, but the Hi Karate remained unopened. It could still be in that cabinet over the washer in Donna, Texas. It’s vintage by now, I’ll bet!

kelleydenise• For several years we had an aluminum Christmas tree with cobalt blue balls hanging on it. It was illuminated by a rotating multi-colored floodlight (called a color wheel). Later, for a science project at my elementary school, my father disassembled the wheel and we used the motor to create my mock solar system. He made the stand out of wood, adding a flat white metal curtain rod (to string the cord through), then added a yellow bug light bulb to the top to serve as the sun. Radiating out from below the sun was a series of coat hangers to which each end was affixed a painted styrofoam ball to represent each planet. When you turned the motor on, the sun lit up and the planets revolved around it! I was so giddy about the project that I checked it to make sure it worked several times a day leading up to the Lackland Elementary Science Fair Day. My father told me repeatedly that if I kept doing that, the motor might give out. Come Science Fair Day, I stood proudly next to my high-tech solar system. I was extremely confident that my project would win first prize. When the judge came by, I turned on the switch. Nothing. Off, on. Nothing. I told them that it had worked that very morning. Although I didn’t win first place, I did get an A on the project. Father Knows Best—but hardheaded Cindy didn’t listen. If I had, I might have won the Science Fair and been destined for a future with NASA. Wait…you need to be good at math for that career, right? Scratch that, then. The photo above shows Kelley with her best friend Denise on our back patio. Take a look at the background—our metal kitchen playset—we loved playing with that setup. Why is it that I don’t find a kitchen as fun now? Oh, and I made many a tiny cake in my Easy-Bake Oven but I don’t spend much time near the real thing these days! A few years later my father enclosed that patio and carport and created our first den (that’s the den on the far left in the top photo). Kelley told me that one day she went home with Denise and Denise’s grandmother asked her, “Honey, who’s your little boyfriend?” Kelley was so embarrassed that she didn’t correct her.

While we’re on the subject of aluminum trees, check out the ATOM—“Aluminum Tree and Ornament Museum” website!


• I remember the last 4 digits of our phone number were “1952.” I remember that not just for my uncanny penchant for recalling many phone numbers but because that was the year Mom and Dad got married.

• On Sunday afternoons Mom washed our hair in the kitchen sink and afterward we watched the Wonderful World of Disney.

• After school we watched shows like Gumby & Pokey, Lassie, Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched (still can’t wiggle my nose), Family Affair (I can still hear the theme song in my head), and Gilligan’s Island.

momwork• When I was in the 6th grade (girls matured much slower in those days!), I was in line to get shots from the school nurse. A chubby girl preceded me and before giving her the shot, the nurse asked her, “Have you started administrating yet?” The girl mumbled something, got the shot, and moved ahead. I waited for the nurse to ask me the same thing, but she never did. I was a tiny thing and underdeveloped for my age. When I came home that afternoon, Debbie was in her bedroom studying, Mom was at work, and Dad happened to be home. He was in the living room reading the newspaper. I asked him, “Dad, what does administrating mean?” He put down the paper and asked, “Where did you hear that?” I told him what happened. He realized what the nurse had really asked the girl. I remember so clearly him saying, “Oh, jeez. DEBBIE, come here!” Debbie came running in and he asked her, “Has your mother talked to her about you know what yet?” When Debbie said, “I don’t think so,” he asked her to do it. She told him no and ran out of the room. I stood there patiently awaiting an answer. He grimaced and began telling me this horrible, horrible, horrible tale about what happens when a young girl matures into a young woman. I remember thinking, “Well, that may happen to some girls, but that won’t be happening to me!” I wasn’t embarrassed…I was mortified at the prospect. Couldn’t I just opt out of that program? That’s Mom in the photo above, wearing her fancy wig, ready to go to work at the Lackland Base Exchange. Lots of women wore wigs in the 60s and when I did a search online about that very subject, I found this funny article here.

off2church Every Christmas eve, Mom and Dad would give us one present and one year we got orange-dayglo-colored sleeping bags with tiny yellow daisies on the outside, and soft yellow fabric on the inside. We slept in them that night. I still have mine and it’s in perfect shape. In the photo at right: the women-folk in their church finery, standing next to a ’67 Chevy Biscayne.

• One Christmas Santa brought us a giant see-through box with Barbie and Ken, their marriage frocks, dating and beach clothes, and little plastic shoes. This will surely show my age, but this was in the day where Barbie was very hard plastic and definitely not bendable. She had a molded up-do hairstyle, cat-shaped eyes with heavy eyeliner and blue eyeshadow, and she stood on tippy-toe so you could slip on her plastic pumps when she and Ken went out on the town. I did a search online and I think it might have been this boxed set.

backyard1• We loved playing in our backyard. When you stepped out the sliding patio doors, there was a huge fig tree (which bore ripe figs steadily through the years) on the right. This is where we held our BYOP (Bring Your Own Pool) party. This is where Bimbo climbed the fence and ran away from home for three months. From the back fence, I could wave to my friend Andrea, who lived on the street behind us. We had a swing set and in the summer we had great fun (hoping to avoid a concussion) when we turned on the hose with the Wham-O Water Wiggle attachment to it. Apparently it took some time for the Consumer Products Safety Commission to notice that it wasn’t the safest toy around. Wham-O Manufacturing Co. voluntarily recalled the product in 1978. Photo above, left: Bathing beauties in the backyard…I’m the tall gal second from left (and I was not a tall kid, so that gives you an idea how short my friends were). On the right: how the backyard looks today.

• The wall between the living and dining room didn’t go all the way to the ceiling (a decorative detail). Mom put a glass vase or two up there. Kelley said she and I tossed the couch throw pillows back and forth to each other over that tall wall and eventually broke a vase. We weren’t too bright, were we?

• I also remember that on December 31, 1971, we were taking down the tree, packing away ornaments, and Debbie had the radio on. They announced that one of her favorite actors, Pete Duel of the tv western series Alias Smith & Jones had committed suicide. If you were also a big Peter Duel fan, check out the youtube video here. I watched the video and had forgotten just how handsome he was!

• Last night I talked to my sister for several hours and she reminded me of the time she and I tried to hatch an egg from the refrigerator by passing it back and forth between our little cupped hands. We didn’t know how long it would take, so we could have been there for a very, very long time. I think our thought process was that if our mother wouldn’t buy us a baby chick at Easter, we would hatch one for free, and do some explaining later. That is, until we dropped it on the floor!

• And finally, I remember when I was about eight years old, I wanted to give our Chihuahua, Bimbo, a piece of bologna (his favorite treat). I had to cut it up but didn’t want to a) pull out a cutting board and b) mess up the counter by cutting it up there…so I held it in my left hand and used the knife with my right. I’m sure you can see where this is heading—I sliced through my index finger on my left hand. It was a pretty deep cut, but didn’t require an ER visit. You can still see the 1/4 inch scar on that finger!

Scott Kelby’s first-ever Worldwide Photowalk

24 08 2008

Yesterday Michael and I joined about 50 photographers in Founder’s Park in Alexandria, Virginia for Scott Kelby‘s first-ever “Worldwide Photowalk.” I met Scott over a decade ago when he was just starting the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), and the regular Photoshop (and other Adobe programs) seminars. At the time, he was operating a design studio in Dunedin, Florida. My friend Bret and I attended one of his first one-day seminars in Richmond (his other business is Kelby Training). Cost: $99. We were amazed and thought, “what could you possibly learn for just $99?” Most software seminars are two-day events and run upwards of $800-1200! We figured if we just learned a couple of tips, it would be worth it. We were blown away by Scott’s knowledge, humor, and his all around good-guy-ness. If you get a chance to go to a seminar, you will not be disappointed. Along with fellow instructors Dave Cross, Bert Monroy, and Ben Willmore, he teaches seminars across the U.S. throughout the year.

Membership in NAPP is $99 per year. As a member, you get the Photoshop User Magazine, which without membership is $9.99 an issue on newsstands. That alone is worth the price of membership. Membership also gets you great discounts on Scott Kelby’s numerous books, videos, and great products from other vendors. Members get a discount and pay just $79 for the one-day seminars.

Cammie and Paula and I attended the first-ever Photoshop World Conference and Expo, which was held in Orlando, Florida. This year’s event (now in its tenth year) will be held September 4-6, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sure wish I could go…but work beckons.

Scott is President of NAPP, and editor and publisher of both Photoshop User Magazine and Layers magazine (the how-to magazine for everything Adobe). Layers was formerly Mac Design Magazine. He is also now an accomplished photographer, as evidenced by his portfolio. I just read here that he was named the top-selling computer book author three years in a row. Since 2001, he has sold over 1,000,000 units! Two of my invaluable favorites are The Digital Photography Book and The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2. He dedicates one page per topic and they are great quick reference guides for photographers. I own enough of his books that I can claim that I’ve put at least a couple of meals on his table. 🙂

Is there anything this man cannot do? He does all of this, plus has a wife and two kids. Good on ya, Scott!

Our group was led by Manassas photographer Jeff Revell. Learn more about the Alexandria walk on Jeff’s blog, PhotoWalkPro. We were blessed with beautiful weather, a nice spring-like breeze, blue skies, and puffy white clouds all morning long.

I finally got to meet Maryland photographers Patty Hankins and her husband, Bill Lawrence, of Hankins-Lawrence Images, LLC. Patty and I have been corresponding for a few months and visit each other’s blogs regularly. Visit Patty’s blog to see her latest postings. On her blog, you can subscribe to her “Photo Notes,” where she directs you to new products, reviews, shooting locations, workshops, seminars, articles and more. It’s worth subscribing to because you get some great links such as the ones she found this week.

Bill was the only photographer on the walk not shooting with a 35mm SLR. He was shooting with Polaroid and Fuji Instant Film (color and b&w) on a vintage Graflex RB Series B SLR camera.

Below are some of the images I shot during the walk through Old Towne yesterday. (I think I did more talking than shooting, but wasn’t that the point of gathering anyway?) I talked to a few photographers (names to come later when I remember them!) and picked up some very handy tips on shooting with flash and ways to trigger off-camera flashes. Thanks, guys!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

…and then, halfway through the walk, someone remembered there was a Saturday Farmer’s Market! Jeff remarked that had he known this, we would have started out at the market. I went a little crazy and photographed virtually everything edible!

Coco & Mimi

8 08 2008

I had a lovely lunch this afternoon with my friend Karen and her two daughters. I got to photograph their two 2-year old kitties, Coco and Mimi. I told Karen she should call Mimi “Yin & yang” Yin-yang. Doncha just love these extreme closeups?

Click here for the definition and history of Yin-yang. (Thanks, Dad).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Cover girl Alexa

24 06 2008

The July/August 2008 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine will feature Alexa Vasiliadis, a high school student and dancer from Virginia. I first blogged about Alexa here after I photographed her in a performance of The Nutcracker. In early May I photographed her at a dance studio and posted those images here and here. Images from both shoots were used in the feature layout of the magazine. Below is the cover and the opening page of the article on Alexa.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Check out these other Hearing Loss Magazine cover subjects:

Preparing for pointe

12 05 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Getting some action…

21 02 2008

Now that I have your attention…but it’s Photoshop Actions I’m getting. I just bought “Totally Rad Actions” from Doug Boutwell at

If you don’t know what a “Photoshop action” is, here’s a good description/tutorial on the subject:

Doug has a funny and insightful personal blog as well. I enjoyed his “Rants” category.

I found his product on another photographer’s site and after previewing the effects of his Totally Rad Actions set, I knew I had to add them to my arsenal of Photoshop tricks. Here’s my first attempt at using a few of the actions on a portrait I shot recently.


© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.