Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash

Anyone can have a cake smash!  Whether you’re one-year-old, eight-years-old, or hundred-years-old.  If I make it to 100, I definitely want to have a cake smash.  I just don’t want one now, because I’m pretty sure I would look ridiculous.  Heck, I think I even look ridiculous in photos without cake.  Just sayin’…..Alrighty then, moving on.

My sweet, sweet girl wanted a cake smash photo session for her eighth birthday and I was totally on board with it.  Excited even!  I mean, cake!  She had just recently assisted with a one-year-old girl’s cake smash and I think we just got cake on the brain.

Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography

So, one day, after guitar lessons the boy and I picked up some vegetables, fruit, and a cake from our little local store.  The baby cake was $4.99.  I like chocolate, so I picked chocolate. After leaving the store, it dawned on me that maybe a white cake would have photographed better. But who cares!?  I like chocolate.

Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography

We met the girl on the road coming home, she had been to skating practice.  When she got in the car, she seemed pretty excited to see I had gotten a cake.  I set up the backdrop while she changed out of her skating outfit and into some “fuffy”.  I’m the one who used the word, “fuffy.”  I think my girl came out with a perfectly fuffy outfit.  I couldn’t have chosen better myself.

Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography

It was a cloudy, dreary day here.  Usually it’s sunny and bright, so those cloudy days throw me off.  Screws up my lighting and I have no idea what to do.  Okay, I’m just being dramatic, but I’d rather have the sunshine on steady.  I decided to try out my Canon EOS M mirrorless camera with the 22mm lens for these portraits.  I use it for my daily shooting, but I’ve never done a “portrait” session with it.  Yes, yes….I was so excited!  I played with the camera and I think I figured out how to do a custom white balance.  I’m pretty confident I figured it out.  Because before I did the custom white balance,  it was way off.  As in…things were looking green.  Or cool.  I prefer warm.  And sunshine.  And chocolate.

Where am I going with this?  Oh, we did photos of the cake first.

Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography

Then my girl got in and we did some holding the cake photos.  Then my girl kindly took a spoon and dug some of the cake out of the back to give to her brother.  He has this strange fetish of not wanting to touch food that other people have touched (or even looked at), so she gave him some cake before she dove into it.

Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography

Actually, she was pretty dainty with the cake.  She started licking some frosting, which was super good and chocolately.  I’m pretty picky with my frosting and this was awesome!

Eventually, she decided to get a fork.  It’s much easier as an eight-year-old to eat your cake with a fork.  She got a bright orange fork.  That was one change I made, I told her to get another color and she came back with yellow.  That was better and yellow is her favorite color.

Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography

The girl slowly and carefully dug into her cake with the fork.  I think she was a little confused by the colorful sprinkles.  We try our best to limit the amount of food dyes she ingests, so I rarely ever buy anything with food coloring in it and I’ve been making all our cakes from scratch (lots of boxed cakes and store cakes have food dyes!).  I figured a few sprinkles wouldn’t kill her.

Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography

My girl is a character. She can make faces like no other.  I didn’t capture them all, but I got some.  I found the Canon doesn’t “recycle” as fast between photos as my Nikon DSLR.  I’ve got to play with it more and see if I can set in on a burst mode or something.  One shot at a time took a bit.

Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography

At the end of the session, there was still quite a bit of cake left.  The boy even took some more from an untouched portion.  I won’t say how much I ate.  Oh boy, did I feel sugar highish later.  I hadn’t had much sugar all day and yeppers, I felt that frosting.  But oh, that cake was good.  I don’t think I’ve had a chocolate cake in awhile.  I may have to try making one for something some time.  Mother’s Day?  Or they can just buy me a baby cake for Mother’s Day.  I even got a photo with my girl while we were eating cake.  She has my eye color and hair color.  And she’s getting close to catching up in the freckle department, even with daily sunscreen.

Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography

I always wander in my thoughts.  I’m impressed if anyone can follow me on this blog.  That’s why I get for staying up late to write posts.  Back to my girl…..and her absolutely fun cake session.  It was a clean session.  She even cleaned herself off with a paper towel and that was it.

Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography

Editing the photos was a cinch too.  I did a quick levels adjustment and then the girl wanted a soft pink fade.  Done!

Portrait Preview: A Different Kind of Cake Smash | Chrissy Martin Photography

And you know what?  I’m so ahead of my game on this one!  I just ordered the girl a 20 page photo book with her photos for her.  (We didn’t do presents from parents this year…she got activities and now this photo book.)  I have never ordered a photo book less than one week after a photo shoot (actually one day, I did the photos on a Tuesday and had the book ordered Wednesday night!).  Seriously, it must have been all that sugar!  When I excitedly told my husband that I had ordered our girl a photo book already, he looked at me and asked, “How are the family year books coming?”  Hard to make it come across on the computer, but he was being funny with that comment.  I’m pretty sure.  I think.  I need to start 2007 tomorrow.  That was the year the girl was born.  Eventually I’ll get up to 2014, but not this year.  Dang.  I’m so behind.  But at least I have my girl’s eight year old birthday photos done!  I need to pat myself on the back when I can, because usually I’m smacking my forehead.

Now I’m smacking my forehead because as I was uploading the photos for this post, I realized I either didn’t edit some of my favorite ones or I saved them in a different file.  This working late at night thing is not always working for me.  I’ve got to go see if I can locate those, because I thought I edited them. Where did they go?

Oh, my girl just lost another tooth.  So, since we took the photos she’s missing another tooth up top.  Good thing one of them has started to grow in, she’s got a lot of blank spots!  For a quick trip down memory lane, here’s my girl’s first birthday.

One Year Old Cake One Year Old

I’m off to search my hard drive.  What are you off to?  Anyone else want to do a cake photo session for their birthday?

Weekly Photography Favorites

I’m a little late on this post, but we had a weekend full of birthday activities.  So I’d call that a great excuse!  What did you have going on this past weekend?

I finally caught up a little on my 365.  I still have more catching up to do.  Some.  Day.


On to the weekly favorites.  I gradually add these throughout the week, so here’s what I’ve got for great posts.


Tips on shooting in full sun at Light Inspired.

Women in Photography: a Story Still Being Written at tuts+

Improve your photography through light.  A bunch of tutorial links at I Heart Faces.

Dad brings kids’ fantasies to life in hilarious photos from Flickr (my kids and I loved this one!  Seriously impressive!)


Canvas on Demand has an awesome deal!  I’m almost tempted to take this one again, though I’m running out of room in my house for canvases.  I adore canvases.  I’ve been fortunate to review a couple and I’ve purchased 6 from Canvas on Demand!  Check it out if you need canvases.  Two 16×20 canvases for $24.99 each with free shipping!

If you wanted to try out PicMonkey Royale, now is the time.  They’re offering a free ONE MONTH trial.  Just make sure to end your trial if you don’t want to continue it and be charged.  If you love PicMonkey, the Royale subscription might be worth it.  It’s nice that you can use it anywhere, as long as you have access to the web.

1 Day left to get Simple and Easy Newborn Posing Video from McCarthy Photography at PhotoDealCafe for $15.  Looks like a great deal if you need some help or inspiration with newborn posing.

Keri Meyers Photography has a sale on her Basic Parent and Newborn Posing Video plus Bonus Editing Tutorial.  I adore Keri Meyers and her photos are beautiful.  This has got to be an awesome video!

That’s it for now!  I’ll see what I encounter this week.  Do you have any weekly favorites?

Have a great week!

365 Update #6

Trying.  To.  Catch.  Up.  *huff, huff*

Yes, I’m a little behind.  A couple of marathon sessions of 365 photos and maybe I’ll be caught up.  I think I’ve been taking a photo a day.  I just haven’t downloaded them all, or looked at them, or edited them.  I’m pretty sure I’m at least getting one photo a day.

I will tell you…this week I seriously contemplated giving up this 365 thing.  I was in the midst of trying to school my kids, write a science book for next year, make a dozen skating skirts and hair scrunchies, and bake 7 dozen cookies.  Plus a bunch of other stuff in there.  I can not do it all.  My house is a disaster.  Right now I’ve got glitter on every surface from sewing those skirts, it looks like a glitter bomb went off.  There’s flour and powdered sugar on my counter because I haven’t wiped it up after making those cookies.  And I will not tell you about the laundry situation or the dishes.  Someday they will get done.  Something has to give sometimes and I’d rather it be the 365.  Though, this week I gave up on writing the science book.  Hopefully I can get it done by next year.  So I’m still sticking with the 365.  I’ve just decided not to worry about composition and lovely photography things.  I’ve got to be happy with capturing one photo a day of our happenings.  JOY.  I just keep telling myself it’s about “joy.”

On with the happenings.

Day 50

Goodness.  We were studying something in school.  Iraq?  Egypt?  Gosh, I’m horrible.  I can’t remember and I don’t want to look it up.  The art for the week was to make stone mosaics.  The kids crafted a shape out of clay and stuck stained glass squares and tumbled rock things into it.  It was a fail of an art project, which is typical for us.  The stones fell out and the clay cracked.  Oh well.  It was fun to try.

365 Update #6 | Chrissy Martin Photography

10:30am.  Canon EOS M.  22mm lens.  F2.8, ISO 200, SS 1/200.  Edit: Dsisk Photography Be Jeweled Actions with Alexandrite at 100% with the purple layer turned on.

Day 51

Another one of those days where I said, “Oh shoot.  I’ve haven’t shot a photo today.”  I took one of my baby girl sleeping.  There’s just something about sleeping kids.  I absolutely love checking on my kids before I go to bed and I love seeing them sleep.  I had to turn up the ISO, open the aperture, and hold still for a slow shutter speed.  So it’s a grainy photo, but that just shows I took it late at night with only the hall light on.

365 Update #6 | Chrissy Martin Photography

10pm.  Canon EOS M.  22mm lens.  F2, ISO 3200, SS 1/80.  Edit: Dsisk Photography Airy Ways Actions with Hot Air Balloon at 15%.

Day 52

This was a Saturday morning.  That’s called, “Romp with the Dog Day.”  The dog sleeps late on weekdays.  But when Daddy is home on Saturdays, it’s play day!  The dog romps all over the bed trying to play with my husband and any child that joins in.  It’s usually the girl, because the boy deems sleep much more important than romping on the bed with his dog and family.  I was able to capture one quiet moment!  Otherwise it was a ball of fur and pajamas in the bed.

365 Update #6 | Chrissy Martin Photography

8am.  Canon EOS M.  22mm lens.  F3.2, ISO 400, SS 1/160.  Edit: Dsisk Photography Hey Baby actions.  Clean Baby at 100% and Soft and Sweet at 100%.  Matte finish.

Day 53

My husband was rotating the tires and the kids went out to help him. After a while, they just drew on the garage floor with chalk.  Then they were lifting each other up with the car jack.  Fun times!  I captured photos of all of it, but chose this one for the 365.  I’m sure my hubby is wondering why I chose this one with him in the background.  That’s not probably what most photographers would pick.  But I love that man!

365 Update #6 | Chrissy Martin Photography

7:15pm.  Canon EOS M.  22mm lens.  F2.5, ISO 800, SS 1/125.  Edit: Easy, not much.  Color matched to the concrete and put a solid color layer in at soft light and 25%.  Matte finish.

Day 54

Again, another night where I realized I hadn’t taken a photo.  I had just run on the treadmill and decided to take a photo of my shoes.  Cause I run on the treadmill when it’s cold out and I wear my treadmill shoes.  I really need to get a new pair.

365 Update #6 | Chrissy Martin Photography

9pm.  Canon EOS M.  22mm lens.  F2.5, ISO 1600, SS 1/125.  Edit: Easy.  Converted to black and white.

Day 55

Real life.  Nothing staged and fancy, clutter and all.  The kids published a story that they wrote in school last year.  They made it a Kindle book and this was right after we pushed the publish button.  I’m in the mirror.  Nice.  I only took one photo, so this is it.  Fabulous (said in a sarcastic voice).

365 Update #6 | Chrissy Martin Photography

4:30pm.  Canon EOS M.  22mm lens.  F2.5, ISO 1600, SS 1/25.  Edit:  Color match to the pink shirt and put in a solid color layer in overlay and 15%.  Matte finish.

Day 56

Another day where I hadn’t picked the camera up all day.  When my husband and son started playing guitar and singing (just my husband, the boy won’t sing), then I grabbed my camera for a few quick shots.  They’re not composed great and there’s bunches of clutter, but again…it’s real life in our house.  And I love when they play together.  Music to my ears.

365 Update #6 | Chrissy Martin Photography

9pm.  Nikon D3100.  35mm lens.  F2, ISO 1600, SS 1/80.  Edit:  Matte finish.  A 5 second edit!

Day 57

This is not a photo I would normally choose for the 365, but I seem to be making that pretty common.  I took this for our personal blog to keep track of our school stuff.  (Um, a little behind on that!)  The kids had watched “Pippi Longstocking” and then we started reading the book.  We were reading the chapter where Pippi is making pepparkaker cookies and decided that we would make some pepparkaker cookies.  Ours aren’t in the shape of a pig, but we did make them in the shape of a bunny!  See that sewing machine?  That’s been out for those skating skirts.  Darn glitter.

365 Update #6 | Chrissy Martin Photography

5:30pm.  Canon ESO M.  22mm lens.  F2.8, ISO 800, SS 1/125.  Edit: Matte finish.  Can you tell I’m a little behind and just quickly editing these?  Uff dah.

Day 58

Snow!  We had a snow day and a school day!  They hadn’t plowed our road yet and we needed to go check on our 90-year-old neighbor lady.  So I pulled the kids in the sled down the road.

365 Update #6 | Chrissy Martin Photography

3pm.  Canon EOS M.  22mm lens.  F4, ISO 200, SS 1/2000.  Edit:  Matte finish.  Either I’m getting lazy with editing, I’m just ready to be done, or something else entirely.

Day 59

So we had snow the previous day and woke up to about 14 inches of snow!  Yippee!! That meant a trip to the local ski area.  We hadn’t been there all year (except for snowshoeing up and boarding down) because of lack of snow.  We decided to take advantage of the fresh snow and go support the local ski area!  This is a shot in the afternoon when the sun came out on the land below the mountain!  We were under or in the clouds all day.  It was a really fun day with family and friends!  That’s my girl boarding in the photo.  We stuck together.

365 Update #6 | Chrissy Martin Photography

1:30pm.  Canon PowerShot A2400.  Auto point and shoot.  Edit: Dsisk Photography Airy Ways Actions with Up Up & Away at 50%.  Matte finish.

Day 60

Real life.  The boys were doing their laundry.  The girl was playing with her dolls.  I have no idea what I was doing, but I decided to grab the camera and capture our happily cluttered life.  There’s laundry, the boy’s toys, the snow gear from the previous day’s snowboarding adventure, and pillows.  Oh….that’s what I was doing.  I was changing the slipcovers on the couches.  That’s why the dirty ones are piled in that bag.  Come to think of it…they’re still sitting in the laundry room waiting to be washed.  I’ll get on that next week.  Yes, my husband was a lifeguard.  I was too, but that’s not how we met.  We never lifeguarded together.  Unless you count “lifeguarding” our kids.

365 Update #6 | Chrissy Martin Photography

4:15pm.  Canon EOS M.  22mm lens.  F4, ISO 400, SS 1/125.  Edit:  Dsisk Photography Airy Ways Action of Fly On at 100%.  Messy houses call for black and white!

Whew!  Now I’m up to March.  Time to go through my photos and download some off my phone.  I’ve been using my phone the past few days to get photos.  I’m pretty sure I got one today on my phone.

What have you been up to?

Cake Smash Photos: Camera Settings & Editing

I’ve already shown the preview of this beautiful butterfly cake smash.


I’ve shown the behind the scenes.


Now it’s time for the camera settings and editing.  You’ll find camera settings first and then an editing tutorial.

Remember…even if you have the same equipment as me, you won’t necessarily have the same settings.  Your exposure triangle is determined by the amount of light you have and what you put your settings to.

For this session, I took the portraits with my Nikon D3100 with the 35mm lens.  I did a custom white balance with my Expodisc.  I used natural light for the entire session.  I tried my speedlight, but decided I had enough natural light.  I used spot focusing and manually chose my focal point.  My focus mode was set for continuous-servo AF and my AF-area mode was set for Dynamic-area AF.  I chose those because I knew I would have moving hands with a little one grabbing cake.  I photographed the entire session at F2.8 and ISO 400.  To make things even easier, the entire session was shot with a shutter speed of 1/320.  You really want your shutter speed to be 1/160 or higher to capture motion without getting blur.  I shot in RAW.

My later photos got a little darker, as it got cloudier outside and the sun was setting lower.  Since I used the same shutter speed for the whole session, that’s not too surprising that those photos would be a little darker.  It wasn’t anything I couldn’t fix in Photoshop.  This was by far one of my easier sessions to edit.  I did 73 cake smash photos in 1 day, so maybe only a couple of hours of work.

Here’s two examples of a before and after, then I’ll get to the editing tutorial.  These photos were taken near the end of my session, so they required a little more brightening to get the look I was after.  See the cake?  It was pretty much demolished by this time.

Cake-Smash-Edit6 Cake-Smash-Edit7

For editing I used Photoshop Elements 11 and Dsisk Photography Hey Baby actions, plus my usual eye editing.

1) I opened up the RAW files.  They came up into Camera Raw.  I adjusted the exposure, highlights, and shadows a wee bit.  Then I opened the images into Photoshop


2) I ran the Dsisk Photography Hey Baby action of “Clean Baby.”  For the later photos (including these 2) I left everything at 100%.  For my earlier photos, I did put the opacity of the lighten up layer at 50%.  I didn’t use the Creamy Color layer.  The little girl had perfectly creamy skin to start with!


3) Next I ran the A Little Punch action from the Hey Baby set.  I toned it down quite a bit.  I went with the layer at a 15% opacity.  I wanted to bump out everything just a wee bit and using this action was a quick way to do it.


4) After the color actions, I did my usual eye edits.  I’ve already written a tutorial on that and I followed that exactly for these photos.  The windows in my room give amazing catchlights in the eyes.  I love those windows!


5)  The last thing to do was crop, if needed.  Sometimes I started with cropping and sometimes it was my last step.  The photo below wasn’t perfect in that I was going for her face, but ended up cutting off a foot.  So I decided to crop in closer to the skirt on the left hand side of the photo.  I had enough other photos with her feet not cropped, that it didn’t bother me too much that I had cropped her foot off.  I adored her expression in this one, so I called it a keeper.  I apparently had a hard time culling these photos, since I chose 73 out of just over 100!!


Done.  Easy peasy editing.  I love that!  The seamless paper was a wonder to work with, I loved it!  If I was a serious photographer, I’d have that in so many colors and wider widths.  It’s also a breeze to clean up.  It’s so heavy duty that it would last through many non-cake shoots.  Do you use seamless paper?

Cake?  Do you have a favorite flavor?  My daughter has requested lemon blueberry cupcakes (not muffins) with buttercream frosting for this weekend.  That’s a new one for me.  I’m looking for a recipe.

Weekly Photography Favorites

Okay.  Whew.  I’m way behind in my 365.  I’ve taken photos everyday (most days I just get one), I just need to go through and pick some out and edit them.  The photo below I took the other day on a hike with my husband, dog, and son (okay, the kid was on a scooter).  That’s straight out of camera, no editing.  I think I may have to leave that one alone and use it for my daily photo.  I kinda like it!  Even though I had to run to catch up to them!


I think I can keep up this weekly favorite thing.  At least for 2 weeks.  No promises on next week.  I’ve got stuff on my calendar everyday next week.  Plus a camera setting and editing post planned.

On to the weekly favs.

Good Reads:

6 secrets to more compelling photos at Clickin’ Moms

How to correct green color cast in Photoshop at I Heart Faces

5 mistakes I made as a new photographer at Clickin’ Moms (I have so been there!)

DIY knit wrap (no knitting involved) at The Milky Way (I have done this!  I’ve also made baby hats out of sweaters!)

Enter to win a free class from The Milky Way (Good luck!)

5 ways to stay creative with your photography at Clickin’ Moms (Oh, I get in ruts so many times and don’t feel creative.  I often wish my photos could look better.)

So yeah, pretty much I adore Clickin’ Moms, since many of the links are from there.  I’m anxiously awaiting my new issue of Click magazine.  I know other people have gotten theirs and I keep checking my mailbox everyday in anticipation.  Maybe tomorrow!


Who wouldn’t want a free photo book?  (Minus the fact that you have to pay for shipping.)
MyPublisher, Inc.
That’s all I’ve got.  I’m tired.  Anyone else need to go to bed?  Or need a good piece of chocolate?

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