CJ Wilkes

About CJ Wilkes Photography

Capturing Your Dance In The Rain is such a thrill and joy to me. Being able to look back on those special times through beautiful artistic imagery makes it a worthwhile challenge.
Learning to Dance in the Rain has been very easy for me. I am drawn to Water & Life! The exciting part for me is to teach you to enjoy your moment in the dance as I capture it from behind my camera.
Looking forward to Capturing Your Dance In The Rain
CJ Wilkes

Tag: ‘Daughter’



Concept Generation

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

There are many parts to a concept From A to Z. I am going to cover the first few steps, which I find to be the most vital, and that is making the concept a reality. Of coarse the first step is to have an idea. Second step for me

is to go and shoot some images that can possible work. Of coarse, getting it in the first shot would be awesome, unless I change my mind – so I shoot several ideas and then some closer details. Once I get home, I cull

through the images until I have found the ones that would work nicely. In this case we are starting with the following 3 images of my daughter just taken yesterday:

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These images won the lottery for the project. They will become the third image in the “Cross My Heart” series. So now that I have the images I need to put them together so that they seamlessly fit together. I started with

Images A & C c being the image on bottom and A on top. Before I did that though, I had to extend the walls from image A (This is going to be a vertical layout.)
To extend A I made duplicates of A. 4 to be exact. Sure I could have free transformed, but I did not want much distortion. Instead, I duplicated and masked back. Once I did that, I merged the copies and placed c on top

with a mask.

 

Once C was on top of a I lowered the opacity so I could see the image below and still see C. Next used Free Trasform (locking it so the dimensions would not warp) and altered the size of the image so it lined up almost

perfectly. I then put the opacity back to 100% on layer c. By inverting the mask I had less to paint, so that is the option I chose. I painted the legs in. For any areas that did not mesh perfectly, I cut and pasted new layers of

the back wall and masked where I needed so it blended well enough.
Here it is with the legs extended:

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I knew this image would be a darker image so I did not stress about it being too perfect. The legs would not be the highlight of the image.

 

Nathanya’s face is lovely here, but the series as a whole is a bit quirky. The first image of my son crossing his heart – his lips were puckered. The second image with my daughter Miriam, her lips were semi puckered and her

eyes were opened wide. When deciding on this particular image, I wanted it to match in flow – not only by color. By tying actions I felt that I could achieve this particular goal. So with this image I had taken some images

where her eyes were open very wide.

 

I had made a copy of all the below work. Next I placed image B on top with a mask again. (When shooting for a concept I try to shoot several images in a row that are similar. Little details really matter. Same with the close

ups. I try to have those done in the same spot, angle, lighting.) The image with her eyes open were a close up, this helped me not only to get the look I wanted, but the clarity as well. I did the same as I had done with the

other 2 layers. I added a mask to B. Lowered the opacity so I could view the image below. Free transformed the image, locked it so that it does not warp when transforming. I then proceeded to use the eyes as my guide. I

matched the inside of the eye near the nose. Once I matched those fairly well I then set the transform and put the layer back up to 100%. This time, I was using more of the image so I did not invert my mask. (Again, less

painting for me.) Using the black I masked until I was satisfied that it blended well enough.

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Now many of you may think that the changes are too subtle, well they are quite subtle, but attention to detail will make and or break an image.

 

Can you see that mark on my baby girl’s hand? Well that would be one of those stick on tattoo’s. Kids love them. My children are no different. Only problem is, they are a pain to get rid of and fade into an ugly mess. I could

have taken a picture of her other hand and covered it – but instead, I thought – This is another chance for me to learn a new skill! So I decided to make a new rub on tattoo for her hand. Hopefully one that would match the

scenery nicely.

 

Talk about control freak! Hahahaha I guess I am when it comes to my art. I simply used my brushes to create this little piece:

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Sticking it on her hand did not go so great. I had to duplicate the image, add noise and lens blur. Then I added it. I played with a few mode options to see what I liked. I had a normal layer and I believe a linear burn layer.

Lowered the burn layer to the opacity where it blended best. The end results were perfect!

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Once I have my piece ready then I can go crazy with color, lighting and overall feel. This is exactly what I wanted to start with. Turned out great! Because of the patience of my girl, I had the shots I needed and was able to

add on to the collection. Introducing the newest image “Lost-N-Found”

 

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If you have questions feel free to ask. Would love your feedback. Thank you!

~ Cindy

Color Changes Everything

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

I was going to just post on Facebook a small write up and then decided this deserves a more detailed explanation. I find the blog

is much more suitable for such things. I have been training between shoots. Working on new techniques and honing in on my

skills. (New techniques to me). In this quest to better my work I have started a new collections titled CROSS MY HEART

COLLECTION . It all started with a concept I had (Inspired by Nicole Wells of Australia, work. More specifically, her piece

done of her daughter without a mouth).  I am continually telling my one son to try not talking so much and watch his

surroundings. By watching he will be able to perceive so much. Listen with your ears and not judge with your eyes. Use your

senses and not always your mouth. So my idea was to create a composite where I placed an eye in the place of his mouth and

then his ears where the eyes are supposed to be.

 

Well, the piece turned out to be a bit on the freakish side and there were mixed reviews. Let me say – in this piece – he is NOT

intended to be any sort of demon. The mouths to me represent beings with no bodies just spewing whatever. The person with

the misplaced mouth and ears was more whole because they utilized some very vital parts of their body – Ears and Eyes. Not just

the mouth. Now everyone will interpret the image for themselves, I am sure. But this was my intentions when creating this piece

with my son.

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In creating this piece I took extra careful measures to make sure that the face did not have hard edges – but soft smooth

transitions. All because I did not want it to appear as a monster, so to speak. I also altered his eye color to be a blue color and

added a tear that ran down his chin, because words can be hurtful too.

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I was shocked at the response received from this piece. Everything from admiration to deep distaste. Emails, private messages

and so forth. So I decided to re edit it into a more suitable piece (even though this was not anything but a learning – practice

piece for me).  I took the image originally used and did not alter any features. It still had a dark element to it, but it was all in

fun. I altered my son’s eyes to be blue again because brown just looks Darker in images, and it was good practice for me to play

with color.

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This piece was titled         CROSS MY HEART” 

Again, surprisingly enough, this piece received great response both positive and negative. The positive outweighed the negative

so I decided to try adding to it. Since I have 5 children that are all willing to help me with my crazy ventures I was easily able to

work on the very next one to this series. This one is titled “Tug-O-War”.

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Just a bit of background. My children have vastly different personalities. The titles of these images may not makes sense to you,

but they really do to me. This child has the hardest time making decision. She is quirky, fun, sweet – but decisions are very

difficult for her.

 

This piece was interesting because my biggest struggle was with color decisions. She had on a red sweater. Anyone who knows

me knows that RED is my very very favorite color. I will lean red when a choice is at hand almost always! That is, until now. I am

going to walk you through my process in color choices.

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The first choice I came across was actually with her eyes. Her eyes are a gorgeous dark brown. I love them. The problem I had

though, this piece was so dark in the shadows that her eyes would not be seen. I had taken pictures of her and then of her eyes

opened widely. This particular shot, her eyes were not so open – so I swapped the eyes for an image where her eyes were opened

to my liking. The clarity was gorgeous – so then came the transformation using color. I had altered my son’s eyes to be blue, and

since this was going to be part of the same collection it made sense to alter her eyes to be blue.

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As you can tell – her eyes are lovely! The blue was great. The colors seemed great…..   BUT my eyes just kept looking at the

gorgeous red. It is lovely and compliments the scenery perfectly. What is the problem then? The problem is that my daughter

was lost in the scenery. I did not even notice her eyes. I was so mesmerized by her sweater color.

 

I could have chosen any number of colors. Green, Yellow – but in the end I decided on purple. She loves purple and yellow, but

purple lent itself to the image nicely. I also altered the lips slightly to have a purplish hue to them vs the oh so red like in the

above image.

 

Little details really do matter when playing with images like these. It can make the image or break it. After getting the lovely

purple how I wanted I looked back and saw that my eyes enjoyed the color, but even more importantly, my eyes were drawn to

her face and her eyes. That is exactly what the aim was in altering colors in the first place.

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Here is a quick practice to train yourself in the affects of color. Here is the image with both versions. Purple and Red. Place your

hand over the purple image. Look at the red. Stop and honestly ask yourself what your eye is drawn to.

 

Next – Do the same but this time cover the red image. Ask yourself what your eye is drawn to when you are looking at it.

 

Do you see the difference? For some it will have a great impact, for others, well, you may think it is a useless practice. Either

way, thanks for participating. This was just meant as a small look into my minds eye. Stay tuned for the next few images to this

series. :)

 

Cindy

 

Wakeena Redsky DeLaCruz ~ Native American High School Graduate

Friday, January 25th, 2013

I have had the honor and privilege of photographing this beautiful young woman in her cultural regalia for her high school senior portraits. To tell you about her I have asked her mother Kamimi Ogemahgeshig-Estavillo to write in her words their heritage and about the clothing in this photo shoot. Here are her words about her daughter Wakeena and Wakeena’s heritage:

“Wakeena Redsky DeLaCruz is Quinault and Squaxin from the Northwest coastal nations and Anishinabe from the Eastern woodlands region. Wakeena has participated in canoe journeys since a young girl on the canoe Haynisisoos, which was named after her Uncle Phillip Martin Sr. She skippered this canoe (pictured) for the first time on the last canoe journey to Squaxin Island. Wakeena’s regalia is representative of her coastal and Anishinaabe ancestry. The cape design consists of a winged Eagle (zaagi) which is her Anishinaabe family clan (dodem). The buttons on the robe are representative of Anishinaabe fire signs, the buttons on the tail wing represent the council of three fires, the buttons along the body represent seventh generation and the four in the heart of the Eagle represent balance consistent with the four directions. Wakeena actively participates in her coastal nations traditions through drum and dance group, and is now in preparation to start jingle dance from Anishinaabe which will also be shown in her senior pictures. These photos taken are consistent with who Wakeena is and the traditional values she has carried and exemplified through her life. Participating in canoe journeys, drum and dance, potlatch, and jingle dance are very important aspects of her life and these photos represent who she is as a young Native American woman.”

This particular photoshoot is a series of three or four different shoots I will be bringing to you. As mentioned Wakeena is now in preparation to start jingle dance from Anishinaabe. Her grandmother is currently working on her jingle dress. We have some other shoots in the works to bring that to you and a few other very special images as well.
These photo sessions are dear to my heart and that of my family because of my husband and our children being Northwest Coastal Natives as well. The regalia with the button blanket is something that we are very familiar with ~ something we hold dear to our hearts. The art is a part of our home too which you will see represented on the canoe. There is symbolism and legends to the art you see on the blankets, canoes, totems, long houses. As you can see from Kamimi’s words, even the buttons have meaning.  My husband often includes the legend to the art that he draws (which can be found at WilkeronArt.com). Culture is a huge part of our life, so bringing this to you is more that just a thrill of a life time, it is a sacred honor. Thank you Wakeena and Kamimi. Thank you to all those that also helped in putting this shoot together.

I will start out with the unloading of the canoe and the owner Phil Martin Sr. with his wife Lynnell Martin.

There were others there helping. I wish I had more images with everyone in it so you all have your proper thanks. My gratitude is with all of you!

We were at the Point Grenville beach (which is currently in the process of being renamed to a native name that holds significance to the Quinault tribe). This next image pictures Point Grenville behind Wakeena.

The button blanket in the images above is Wakeena’s. The button blanket below in the next few images is that of her sister, Tashia Sky Delacruz.

Here you can see Wakeena wearing a traditional Northwest Coast hand woven hat. The next image was done so that you can see the design of the front of the canoe as well. I love the look of the canoes from all the different tribes. Often you will see a similar piece on many canoes. It sometimes goes along with the name of the canoe, or the crest of the clan, or just a legend that speaks to the canoe maker or family. I felt the angle here not only showed it while capturing Wakeena very flatteringly, but it also gave you a better view of the different paddles. Some useful and others for design as you can see with the artwork.

Of coarse ~ I love to play with different lenses. My fisheye gives such a fun view on life and worked wonders here. The first image here is awesome because it has some of my equipment and Wakeena’s mother with 2 sisters. I see this and just love that we caught this moment. (I am weird that way – where I love the back behind the scenes shots hahaha.)

In this next image Tashia (Wakeena’s sister) if straitening the heirloom necklace for the following shot. At that moment her mother Kamimi told me that the necklace there is close to 150 years old or older and had been in their family this entire time.

The colors of the sky and the beach are ever changing. Wakeena out on the beach near sunset was no less than breathtakingly stunning. She was such a trooper and it has all paid off beautifully.

I am looking forward to the next few sets from our series to be brought to all of you! Please feel free to leave love on the blog.

Thank you again to all involved. This is not just one moment in time. This is historical. Looking forward to the years events that are coming up and am grateful that all of you have touched my life.

Twilight Costume on the Beach

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

When I was a kid I had the most amazing costumes EVER because of a mom who was a wickedly awesome seamstress. I remember everything from cougar cubs to genies. We felt so cool in our costumes. Nowadays it is so easy to purchase costumes and life seems to busy to spend time sewing costumes… so I have to admit that Amazon.com and I are best friends at Halloween time. Horrible I know. But I do try to make it up by capturing my children in their coolness by taking their pictures. So before branding me as a neglectful mom (which, ok… it is a bit lazy of me) take a look at these and let me know if you still feel the same.

Miriam chose to be a Zombie Angel for Halloween this year. It was one of the coolest outfits I have ever seen. At the same time I was challenging myself to shoot in darker lighting conditions to create an almost twilightish appearance.  I have to say that I am quite pleased with the outcome of the shoot.

I love the quirky zombie feel to this image!

When I am editing I try out different ways and then settle on one that suites a shoot best. Personally I love the ones above best and will probably re edit all the others… but for now the feel of the following is great too. I love them both really. I have had them printed and they each lend well to the image. Here are a few more from that evening.

I think it would be hard for anyone to claim that the Angel part does not fit.  I hope to get my little Ballerina Devil’s shoot completed soon. We are waiting on nice weather for it. My boys have masks so their shoots will be done in other costumes that don’t hide their face.

There is so much I love from these images, I don’t know where to begin. The lighting, the colors, the bare feet. This was all done on a very stormy afternoon. We laughed all the way home that we had the chance between major wind blowing to get this done. If only I had the courage to post the one image of me and my muddied entire front. All of it was easily taken care of with a nice Hot Tub and a cup of Hot tea.  This was a moment that we will always remember!  Love you Miriam… thanks for humoring your mama!

This photo session was taken at the Roosevelt Beach in Washingon.

 

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