Photo Editing Trick: Fixing Blown Out Windows

April 11th, 2013

Last week a crew from BH&G came to photograph both my kids’ rooms for an online story and I had the chance to work again with a stylist and professional photographer for a day and watch them create their magic in front of and behind the lens. Several shots included windows and I watched as the photographer took two different exposures of the window view in both dark and light settings.

For any one of you who photograph interiors with window scenes, you know that when you’ve got your camera set with a wide aperture and/or slow shutter speed to pull more light into the lens and brighten the room, often you end up with a window that is all white, or “blown out”, meaning the interior looks great but you cannot see the garden or scenery beyond, or any of the architecture of the window.

You can minimize this by waiting until the absolute perfect time of day when there is no direct sunlight coming through the window but that requires excellent timing, and there is an alternative. The photographer showed me this simple way he eliminates the problem by taking two different exposures and combining them with a Layer Mask.

Here’s an example of how it works using Pixlr – that free online photo editing software I’ve mentioned before with same tools as Photoshop. (If you have Photoshop or PE, the technique uses the same tools and similar steps.)  Here is the picture of our dining room table with plenty of light coming into the lens to show the details of the table and chair.

dining room bright


The problem?  You can barely see the detail of the doors or that there is a garden beyond because the French doors are blown out from the light entering through them. Quicken the shutter speed and the interior falls flat and the room gets dark but you can see the divided light panels of the door and the garden beyond.

dark dining room


In the real world, you can see both the room in bright natural light and the outside view, but the camera has limitations in these light conditions and can have difficulty capturing both, which is where clever photo editing comes in.

layer mask combined exposures

You can combine the two and reveal the outside view while maintaining the brightness of the interior (seen above). Here’s how with a handy photo editing trick to combines the two exposures in a few simple steps.

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Aulani Tour

April 10th, 2013

Midweek greetings all – did you catch Mad Men this past week? Ack! I’m totally hooked again! I loved that opening scene in Hawaii with all the retro aloha prints, didn’t you? And speaking of, I promised a tour of the Aulani where we stayed while vacationing in Oahu a few weeks ago.

The Aulani is one of Disney’s several vacation spots so at first we had our skepticism as to just how relaxing this place would actually be and since it’s Disney, we had “theme park” expectations. We picked it because we knew our kids (age 7 and 9) would enjoy it. Truth is, we found the resort to be just as fun as they did, and the entire experience was incredibly relaxing. Here are some scenes of the amenities and perks that are included when you stay at the Aulani resort in Oahu.

oahu aulani


The hotel sits on a manmade lagoon in KoOlina where you can lounge and little kids can play in the gentle lapping waves. There are plenty of water activities, including paddle boarding and canoeing, and morning yoga to start your day.

aulani beach lagoon

aulani lagoon boating

aulani morning yoga


The greeting is impressive, you’re welcomed with smiles and leis upon arrival and the check-in process is smooth. After a long plane ride and the jostling to pick up your bags and rent a car and find the place 25 minutes up the highway, there’s something so so AMAZING about stepping out of your car, and being welcomed to the islands like this.

aulani lei greeting


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