Last year, I wrote a series of blog posts to help you get a great portrait of your loved ones for Valentine's Day (Put the word "valentine" in our search box above right of this post to see them). This year, I wanted to get adventurous and suggest you try a photo using the most popular and often used imaging effect used this time of year: highlighting a portion of the picture in color while the rest of the picture is in black and white. To do it, I used an easy and free website that allows you to do some great imaging editing and manipulating called The subject was my 85 year old Mother In-Law's hands and some glittery hearts we have in a vase for seasonal decorations. Using a gray flannel cloth as a background, I used my Olympus E-PL1 a with it's 14-42mm kit lens to capture the image to the left. I got the initial effect I was looking for: a set of aged yet beautiful hands holding symbols of her affection & care.Then, I got to work. I am by NO means a photoshop wiz but I found the following process to be easy and encouaged me to try other effects, which resulted in the final image below. First, I uploaded the image to Picnik, then began the process by changing the color of the entire photo to black and white, then proceeded to draw back the red color onto the hearts in her hand.The easiest instructions I found on the web to do this is from an article found in photographer Linda Sellers' blog called "Welcome to Linneyville". Here it is: (copy & paste to access) By following her instructions, I was able to color the hearts while keeping the rest of photo in black in white. Once done, Picnik allows you to save and rename the file, allowing me to go back to the site with the saved image & adding 2 additional effects. Upon uploading the image onto Picnik, I hit the "create" icon on the top menu, which allowed access to a number of special effects, including the initial black & white mode that I used on this photo. I added the 'vignette" effect, which is also called the "pinhole" effect, which darkened the corners of the photo, then used the "focal soften" effect that's found if you scroll down 2/3's of the way on the effects menu.I highlighted the hearts are and softened them ever so slightly. And, here to your right is the result.... This was my first stab in manipulating a photo this way, so it's not perfect but by following the instructions and being patient (I am SO NOT a draw within the line type of guy), you can easily get this kind of results in less than an hour. You can use this effect to highlight anything you'd like for your recipient . One of the great things about digital photography is the ease that one can change, manipulate and edit a photograph with any number of different results. If you have an I-Phone, you probably know about Hipsamatic, the app that easily allows to change a photo in a number of different ways. Why not use that, or any number of other resources to make a Valentine's Day photo for your loved ones... Once you do it, the logical next step is to print and frame the results, then give it as a gift to your special love one(s)! See Erik in our lab, or ask any one of us in the store to help you select the right size print and frame to go along with the photo. Flowers and chocolates are great, but they're gone soon afterwards. A gift like this will be cherished and remembered for years to come. A reminder to check our articles archives for tips on taking the perfect Valentine's Day portrait. And from all of us, we wish you happiness and fond memories on this special day. After all, as Elvis (Costello) said, "What's so funny about Peace, Love and Understanding..." (Photos by Fred Bonilla)

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