Actions in Action

February 22, 2017

The kind folks at SleekLens offered me the opportunity to try out their Portrait Perfection Collection actions.  I was a little reluctant as first because after over a decade in the portrait photography business, I am a little set in my ways and have done little to update my editing workflow after I found something that worked for me.  But I thought it might be fun to take a look at what they had and see how I could make it work for me. 

I used two personal photos that were underexposed as a result of shooting as the sun was rapidly setting as samples.

The first photo was one that I took at the beach and it actually popped back up on my Facebook feed recently.  It bothered me that the photo was a little dark and the girls’ skin didn’t have the warm look I had hoped for.  Because I was new to this set of actions it took a little trial and error to figure out what would work best for this photo.  Luckily, many of the actions have pretty obvious names, so I was able to jump around without having to do too much research.


I used the BASE- From Golden Hours, followed by EXPOSURE-Bright.  Then I used the PORTRAIT RETOUCH-Honey Skin Brush one their skin, COLOR CORRECTION-Purple Honey on the girls’ white dresses, COLOR CORRECTION-Reduce Greens on the water, and finally I added a brown vignette, which I found under VIGNETTE-Toned Vignette. 

The second photo I chose was a portrait of my daughter.  Again the original photo was dark because the sunlight was going down faster than I had kept up with my exposure.  So I wanted to brighten up the photo and also soften up her skin and add a little more softness to the photo in general. beforeafter2

I started with BASE-From Scratch and EXPOSURE-Bright.  I used Soft Glow Skin and Honey Skin Brush from the PORTRAIT RETOUCH just on her face, which gave her skin a softer texture.  I used the LIGHT GLOW-Soft Warm to add some more highlights to her hair.  I brightened her eyes using the 20% Brush and reduced some reds using the COLOR CORRECTION.  Finally I added a brown vignette and used the Paint Effect from FROM A CANDY STORE.  Here’s what it looked like in Photoshop while I was working:


As with most action sets I have purchased, I found that there is a bit of a learning curve in figuring out what is available to you and selecting which actions will work best for each particular image.  This set covers a lot of portrait retouching needs and I’m sure I am just at the beginning of the possibilities that it offers.

If you would like to learn more about these actions offered by SleekLens you can find them here:

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Posted 7 years ago at 9:49 pm.

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Need a Cute Camera Bag?

January 5, 2010

So you got a fun new DSLR for Christmas, and now you’re realizing that it’s a little more to tote around than the old pocket camera was.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking for the right bags for me–things that don’t scream “I’m a camera bag, please steal me” during international travel, and that are a little feminine-looking–not your daddy’s camera bag.


Kelly Moore

I love the variety of color and design options available from Kelly Moore Bags.  I am lucky enough to have the fuschia classic (there’s just something about a pink camera bag that’s so fun!) and it just brightens my day.  Unlike some of the other bags it has a magnetic snap closure on the top which allows for quick, easy access to my camera while shooting (ie no flap or zipper to deal with).  They are constantly coming up with new, fun styles in great colors.  One of my new favorites is the Chapel Convertible Backpack.  You can use it as a messenger bag or backpack and the padding is removable so you also have the option to use it as a daypack.  They also have some options for the stylin’ man in your life.  You can buy them directly on the Kelly Moore site, or from Adorama.




A great option for fashionable women’s camera bags is Epiphanie, designed by professional photographer Maile Wilson.   I like the more purse-like look to these, and at $165, the price is not bad at all.   I have the Slate Blue Ginger and it just gorgeous.  Here’s a pic of it in action.   It’s just the right size–big enough that I’m not rearranging to fit everything and ergonomic so that you can wear it comfortably without feeling like you have a bulky bag behind you.  And it comes in my favorite color (slate blue), so what more can I ask for?  Follow them on Facebook to find out information about their newest styles and see their series of client photos of their bags from around the world.  They are available through Adorama with free shipping.




My first splurge of a camera bag was a brown suede medium-sized Jill-e bag.   It looks like a posh carry-on bag, and fits my camera, a few spare lenses, my flash, my light meter, etc.  The ergonomics are not fabulous–I do not carry it with me on daytrips, or times when I will have to use the shoulder strap too long–but it is fun and functional.  And unlike many of the bags I found, it is made of real leather.  They are easy to purchase through Adorama (I love that Adorama has such a great selection of camera bags all in the same place!)


“The *emera tote is designed for a DSLR a few lenses for when you’re running around town or vacationing and you don’t want to look like a tourist.”   They are cute totes with a fun, urban style.  They offer quilted and classic canvas options, and at $169 they are in the middle range of the bag options.



Designed by photographer Jessica Clare, these bags are designed for photographers to carry extra lenses while shooting.   The changeable fabric sleeves make the bags great for those of us who like to change bags as often as outfits!  They are available at Adorama.


Jo Totes

I went back to check on this site with my 9/2010 update and I noticed they have a whole new and fun selection of bags in unique colors.  They have a great retro feminine style to them.

Update 5/2010

Thanks everyone for the great comments.  Wanted to add a few more to the list!

kettiimageKetti Handbags

These pretty fabric bags are so popular they usually sell out within minutes of restocking.  Sign up for her Facebook page for updates on when new bags are available.  The “patchwork” style is my own most recent bag purchase and I have found it to be the perfect bag for my day-to-day shooting.  It’s impeccably made and since she changes the fabrics seasonally they are still rather unique.  If you have problems finding them directly, they are also sold on Adorama.



Photojojo has a selection of fun camera bags that they keep updating.  When I last checked they had a fun nautical camera bag, sunshine camera bags, a plaid camera satchel, and a camera bag/cooler.


Golla of Finland

If you’re not into the leather or cotton print look, these bags are an unique, girly alternative.   The modern look of these is really fun, and very different from the other options.  They are from Finland, but they are also available on for amazingly low prices.

theibagTheit Bag

These bags were suggested by a blog reader, so I thought I would add in a link.  Looks like they are out of Canada, and are still working a a website, so I’m linking to the blog.  Looks like a fun and different style.

Update 9/2010

Thanks to my blog readers for pointing me toward new bag options!  Here’s another one suggested by a reader… I loved what I saw so much I bought one.


Porteen Gear

These canvas and leather bags look like great bags to take along on shoots, and are still both available and affordable, so I snagged one for myself (I got the one shown above).  I have one that I loved but after a few months of use the stitching where the shoulder strap attaches to the bag has come loose, so I’ve retired the bag.  I think this is more of a fluke than a sign of overall workmanship flaws, though, since the bag is otherwise very well made.

update 12/2010

A few new bags to add to the list!


These bags were highly recommended by a reader.  I haven’t had a chance to see one in person, but from the looks of the photos, they are finely made from real leather with a pretty fabric interior.  Looks like this bag would be practical to carry all your gear to a shoot and also has room for an iPad if you wanted to use it for a slideshow or ordering session.   The bags are available with free shipping from Adorama.  They are also available through

Since I first posted the company has expanded their line quite a bit and added some classic leather styles.  Check out their Facebook page for photos, giveaways, and new product information.  And tell them I sent you 🙂

update 2/2011

Cheeky Lime

This newer brand appears to be very successful in creating practical and fun camera bags in bright colors at affordable prices.  My personal favorite is the classic in teal.   They now offer both the classic style for under $100 and a new leather-like braided handle style for $130.   They have an active Facebook page and are available on Adorama.

update 8/9/11


Gotta love leather bags that come in colors like “exotic fuchsia” and “persian peach” and also fit a long lens.   They are sold out of Latvia and prices are in Euros.

update 2/8/12

F-STOP Stowe

I love the colors of this camera backpack– it’s not your run-of-the-mill black vinyl camera backpack but the colors are such that my husband wouldn’t be embarrassed to carry it for me while we are traveling.   F-STOP bags are designed to be paired with their ICU padded equipment packs and provide a lot of flexibility for travel.  The ICU units can be put in the backpack as a carry-on, then removed and stored elsewhere if you want to use the backpack as a regular pack during the trip.  Not to mention the fact that this little unassuming bag also has a padded laptop pocket.  I have the green Stowe paired with the large ICU, and I took this bag on our African safari this summer.  It’s big enough to fit a MacBook, 2 bodies, several lenses, my binoculars, my charger and all of the extra batteries I brought along.  Plus it has handy packets on the side for water bottles, and in the front for personal items.  I’ve included this bag and more information about packing for the trip in my safari gear guide for photographers.

Update 12/2012

Thanks to Professional Photographer Magazine’s online feature I found a few more companies to add to my list.

Shutter Bag

These bags originated from Australia and now are being sold in the US and Canada.  They offer two designs made of real leather, the Heirloom and the Safari.  The Safari will carry both your camera gear and a laptop or iPad.   The Heirloom bag is very versatile and can covert from a tote to a backback to a shoulder strap.  Adorama also carries this brand.

Stash Bags

Their medium and large camera messenger bags are modernly stylish made out of upholstery-style tweeds.  I like the unique, urban look.

Drop-It Modern

Mostly know for their photography backdrops, Drop-It Modern offers a fashionable leather hard case.   They are a great deal for photographers who prefer a hard case.  They are available directly through Drop-It Modern or on with free shipping on Adorama.

Copper River Bags

I think these handmade leather bags have a great look to them and are available on Etsy.  In fact, Etsy offers a variety of handmade and vintage camera bag options that are worth checking out.

Update 9/15

I have gone through and tried to update my posting, getting rid of brands that no longer exist and updating links.  Please let me know if you have any new suggestions or updates, I find reader feedback a great way to keep this posting up-to-date and helpful to all.


Aide de Camp

Aide de Camp offers a new option in women’s camera bags, with a sleek, modern look.  Aide de Camp bags are designed to fit your camera gear, with plenty of extra room for personal items. Made with materials such as premium nylon with genuine leather trim or European canvas, they are lightweight, water-resistant and durable. All of their bags come with a fully removable padding box for convertibility and extreme comfort carrying straps.

Based in Singapore, they are offering free standard shipping to the U.S. from now through November 29, 2015. Use the coupon code ADCxUSA0915 at

Other Fun Bags on

I love the color options on the Kattee Vintage bags.   The Berchirly canvas bag is good for a more rugged style.  The Hugger bag is a nice smaller option.  Koolertron offers an inexpensive yet stylish bag.


I hope this post is helpful in giving you some inspiration for a way to carry your gear in style!  I am just a photographer myself and do not sell or market for any particular company.  I have received a few questions about which bag I have chosen for myself.   Currently my gear resides in a yellow floral Ketti bag.  It’s just the right size for my day-to-day sessions at the studio and in nearby parks.    I have a beautiful slate blue Ginger by Epiphanie that I love for going downtown and a fun fuschia Kelly Moore classic bag that I bring out when I need to brighten my day.   And for travel I have the spring olive Stowe by F-Stop.  I have retired my medium brown Jill-E bag, a red 3-million-dollar Crumpler, and an injured Porteen bag.

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Posted 14 years, 2 months ago at 3:19 pm.


Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere…

May 30, 2007

I thought it was only fitting to have this guy as my first featured subject. He’s about the size of my regular subjects, and just about as cooperative 😉 I found this fabulous-looking emu at the zoo yesterday, and had to try some portraits.

So let me introduce myself. My name is Emily and I am the photographer behind vera*lana photography. While I have been a photographer for some time now, my experience has been with children’s fashion photography. I have recently decided to take that experience and offer children’s portraits. My website is now available and offers examples of my work. (see places to go on the right)

I will be posting sneak previews from my portrait sessions, examples of my fashion photography, and other fun photos periodically.

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Posted 16 years, 9 months ago at 1:29 pm.

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