Photo Valentines

by Candice Stringham

In the February 2009 issue of Creating Keepsakes, I shared ideas for photo-based valentines. One of the ideas was to photograph your child holding a valentine—it’s an idea I want to expand here. In this photo valentine, I used two techniques to draw the eye to the heart-shaped valentine.

The first is a camera technique. I used an open aperture to blur the background so the city streets wouldn’t be distracting in the background. You can re-create this look by simply choosing the portrait setting or “aperture priority” mode and using the lowest-number aperture you can (1.8 or 2.8 would be great for this). Then make sure that you focus directly on the valentine. The valentine will be sharp and everything else will blur.

The second step is an Adobe Photoshop Elements computer technique. I made the background black and white and left the valentine in color. This is actually pretty simple to do in Elements:

1. Open the image you want to use. 

2. In the Layers palette, click on the “Create adjustment layer” icon (look for the gray/white circle), then choose Hue/Saturation from the drop-down menu.

3. Slide the saturation down to “-100” to create a black-and-white image.
4. To add color back on the valentine, click on the white rectangle on the Hue/Saturation layer (it’s called a “mask”).

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