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: ‘Lighting’

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:


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:


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.


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:



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!


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”



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

~ Cindy

By candlelight

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Every photographer starts somewhere. As you are seeing, I practice. I actually practice quite a lot. On March 23, I was doing just that, practicing on candlelight.


I look at images and am wowed by the perfect lighting I see. It is not as easy as people think – to make it all look good with different kinds of light. The flame, to me, is not easy at all. But it is oh, so beautiful!


The affects on the skin in different lighting situations. Such as – near a window, mid day or turned away from the window mid day. How exposed will she be at the different distances. All of it has to be taken into consideration.


If the focus is on the light – how in focus do I want the subject photo’d with the candle? How exposed or unexposed to I want the background subject? What am I trying to portray? Then there is texture, feel, clothing. Tying it all together to bring a certain feel is part of the entire shoot.

And of coarse, in editing I then am practicing different techniques to editing. Creating a soft feel vs creating a crisp feel is one I tackle in my mind all the time. I personally love a more matted look to the images, but do not want to loose contrast – if that makes sense. It does in my mind :) I also struggle with the love of Black and Whites vs Color. I have an appreciation for both ways of editing.


With a candle – the glow of the light on the subject’s skin adds a gorgeous golden shine. But sometimes – black and white still wins – even with candles:


This actually throws me back to my black and white movie days. They mystery, the feel, the moment.

Thank you for taking your time to look into my practice files as well as the year 2013. It has been a great learning and growing experience for me as I look back on what has brought me to this point in my life now. It would never have been possible without my children or husband. Their support and willingness to be models at my every crazy adventure. As a kid I was told to work on your talents and to let my light shine. Well – I could not let that light or talent shine so bright without them coupled with lots and lots of practice.

Such a fun vault for me to be peaking into. Thanks again!

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.

Model and SPA

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

At the SPA Studio they would have a Wednesday Feature model night.  This is where a model would come.  We would choose the location in our studio we wanted to work in, set up our set and our lights (as a photographer) – then we would take turns working with the model.  She or he would cycle through each of the 2-5 different photographers.  The great thing about this program is that the model would get some fun images for their portfolio, practice working with different photographers, and experience working the camera – the photographer would get to work on their lighting, posing, techniques, communication.   Here are some images from a model that the camera absolutely loved.  For me she was a model that made my job as a photographer a breeze!  (Again – thank you to When for this opportunity to work in your studio and for finding amazing models to work with as well.)

Before I show her images I have a couple images of fellow photographers.  It is great because we work as a team while setting up in that we will stand in and let the photographers shoot us to test their lighting and tweak it as necessary.  These guys John Clark and Ted Leung both were kind enough to stand in and let me test my set up before shooting my model.  Thank you guys!!!

John Clark has a great understanding of studio lighting.  He is quiet and sweet as can be.  Photography is not his day job – he calls it his hobby, but he sure knows how to rock that camera!

Ted Leung is a husband, father, hard worker – and adds photography to his other jobs.  He is creative in his shooting.  It was fun shooting along side him because he is innovative and does not settle for less!

Ok back to our model for that night:

If you are a photographer and you have the chance to work with Kristen Rey do so.  She will make your job that much more enjoyable and very easy to accomplish.  Thanks again to SPA – When, John, Ted, and Kristen.


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