Bucket List

One item on my bucket list has been checked. I am so thankful that Arizona Highways Magazine chose my photo to run in the Sept 2015 issue advertising their photo contest. This is one bucket list item I would be happy to repeat! #ArizonaHighwaysMagazine #AmyHornPhotography #WatsonLake

Arizona Highways Magazine, Sept 2015

Arizona Highways Magazine, Sept 2015

Posted in Workshops

Background Basics

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When I get excited about capturing a photograph, I sometimes forget the basics about the background and that is to eliminate the distractions. A busy background will make the viewer lose interest. In these examples I will explain how I eliminated the busy background to capture stronger images.

The first examples are from Speed Week on the Bonneville Salt Flats September 2013. This was one of the first runs of the morning and Lobello Racing was “backing up” their record. The day before this belly tank hit a top speed for their class and rules state they08_13 Bonneville-7259have to hit that same speed the next morning to “own” the record in the books. These images were shot at the start line with beautiful morning light, but there are many distractions with people and cars in the background. So, I opted to walk around to the rear of the belly tank to see the view. I could not capture the driver’s face, but I created an image that looked like I was alone on the salt with Lobello Racing and an official. Now viewers will feel what it is like to sit on the start line.

To read more, head on over to the Arizona Highways Photo Workshops Blog where I show another example of simplifying the background using flowers.

Posted in Inspiration, Photographic Techniques

Morphing Manhattan

Liberty square tiny planetWhether it is going to museums or art websites, I learn more about light and creativity through the art and photographs I study. I have found installing a new app on my iPhone or iPad sparks my creative juices as well. For instance, on a recent family trip to New York City, I installed a new app to my phone: Rollworld. This app creates tiny planets, rabbit holes or morphing videos from the in app camera or using images from your camera roll. Let me explain.

  • A tiny planet is when the two ends of the photograph are stretched in a circular manner to meet so the sky becomes the outer edges of this circular photo.
  • A rabbit hole does the exact opposite. The sky becomes the center of the photo.
  • Morphing video is a moving picture that takes the photo from point A to point B. Any photos you create whether it it s a tiny planet or a rabbit hole (or both) can then turn into a morphing video as it transitions from one state to another.

RollworldThe Rollworld app offers many customizing functions to invert, balance, spin, smooth transitions, zoom, scroll, and offers a randomizing effect. Shake the phone or push the button and you will see a new creation each time. Creations are limitless. When you find something you love, export it to several social media sites or to your camera roll and choose the resolution (up to 3000 x 3000 pixels).


What I learned when using Rollworld app. I found images with a fair amount of sky or water worked well. With my long flight home, I created several versions of an image to see what I liked best and found that to be very entertaining as well. If you are looking for a fun app to show your creative side download Rollworld for free. There is an in app purchase if you would like to export the videos. But all image processing is free!

If you are interested in more iPhone/iPad tips and tricks, sign up for her iPhone and/or iPad course through Arizona Highways Photo Workshops at ahpw.org. You can also follow her at horndesigns.com.


Posted in Before/After, iPad, Photographic Techniques, Technology

iPad on the Run

Processing images at the track meet.

Processing images at the track meet.

I love my iPad. There may be some tablets that do these same tasks, but I began on an iPad and it is what I know. Last Saturday, my son was running in a track meet in Phoenix and since I love photographing sports, I contacted our Flagstaff newspaper to see if they had anyone covering the meet. With such a tight budget, journalists are rarely sent out-of-town. So, I was told I could send in photos and with the coach’s report of highlights of the day, they would try to publish something. Track meets are long. So, after 7 hours of shooting and 300 action photos of the athletes, I talked to coach and reviewed the results of the day. It was time to select the photos for the newspaper. This is when I began my iPad workflow….

To read more, head on over to the Arizona Highways Photo Workshops Blog where I explain how simple it was to use my iPad to process and submit images for publication. Or join me on June 20, 2015 in my iPad Workflow for Photographers workshop by signing up at ahpw.org.

Austin Horn setting his pace in the 3200 m race.

McKenna Bryce moving on to the finals in the 100 m hurdles.

McKenna Bryce moving on to the finals in the 100 m hurdles.

Posted in iPad, Photographic Techniques, Technology, Workshops

Photographing Liquids

I am so fortunate to have several weeks off for winter break and this year I made a very long list of photo projects to tackle. Not unlike my every day lists, I did not complete that tall order. However, since I am going back to work in a little over 48 hours, I thought I should take a look at what I did accomplish and select a few to post. The photos I spent the most time capturing included mixing liquids. So, here are a few of my “Favorite photos of Winter Break.”

Oil & Water 1






To capture an image like this, you need a clear dish elevated with something of color beneath it. I rested a clear 9×13 inch pan on two chairs and set up my tripod so that the camera was facing straight down. A single off camera flash lit a Christmas napkin placed below the clear dish creating this blend of colors. After swirling a little bit, I started taking my shots. In the photos below, I have two more versions of Oil & Water using different colors of paper or foil beneath.

Oil & Water 2 Oil & Water 3






The last set of images comes from mixing milk, dye and dish soap.  The dish soap reacts with the dye in a peculiar way in that the dye moves away from the dish soap. I saw a YouTube video of this reaction and gave it a try. After the dye did it’s trick, I slowly wove a stirring stick through the mixture to create strong lines. Using my CamRanger allowed me to tether wirelessly for these images.

Milk & Dye Milk & Dye 2






Posted in Inspiration, Photographic Techniques

Family Snow Photos with Tram Mai

Tram Mai and twins

Tram Mai and twins

Tram Mai family photo

Tram Mai, Steve Kraus







After a weekend full of holiday parties and winter weather, it felt great yesterday to drive out to Snowbowl Road in search of snow. The purpose of the drive was to help a colleague by photographing Tram Mai’s family in her annual snow photos. What an honor. This year Tram’s family grew by two; two beautiful 9-month old twins visiting the snow for the first time. Great conversation, energetic smiles and a photogenic family made this quick photo shoot an easy and enjoyable task. To capture fast family portraits with infants and pets requires portability. So, I used my on-camera flash, Nikon D600 and my Nikon 24-120mm lens. We drove to Aspen Corner on Snowbowl Road and found a wonderful patch of shade with snow covered trees as the backdrop. The flash provided great fill light for the family and left a small, sparkly catch light in their eyes. Post processing in Adobe Lightroom included minor adjustments to white balance, sharpening and a vignette. What a fun afternoon with an everyday family and the mother that we just happen to see on the news every day.

Posted in Inspiration, Photographic Techniques Tagged |

Top Hat

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This water image reminded me of an upside down top hat – with a face in it. As you can tell, I cropped in tighter and removed a few unwanted water drops. Keep watching for photos of how I captured this image! I decided to mix this one up with a little food coloring but kept the settings simple: 1/200, f/16, ISO 250, off camera flash at 1/8 power.

Posted in Before/After, Inspiration, Technology

The Fight

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After another series of water splashes today, I composited two images together to create “The Fight.” I added a coat of Rain-X and wiped down the glass frequently, so, I had less to clean up in Photoshop.  Here are the before and after images in creating “The Fight.” A majority of the water drop clean up was completed using Lightroom, then the composite was created in Photoshop with final color toning using a preset from Nicolesy in Lightroom.

Posted in Inspiration, Photographic Techniques

Pouring water

Today, I photographed moving water. Little did I know how addicted I would become with pouring water into a clean 10 gallon fish tank. Every image was unique but when I saw this one, I knew it had potential. After sorting through over 50 photos, I chose to edit this one to demonstrate a before and after scenario. The before image gives you a little insight into the post-processing I endured. My processing started and ended in Lightroom (cropping, toning, sharpening, exposure adjustments) until I needed to clean up the water spots from the inside of the glass. Then I turned to Photoshop. What did I learn? Tomorrow, I will apply Rain-X to the inside of the tank to save me precious time editing and adjust the flash to cover the entire pour area. 1/200 sec, f/16, 400 ISO, wireless flash at 1/8 power. To see more, follow my blog on Horndesigns.com or like my Facebook page (Horndesigns Photography).

Pouring Water

Pouring Water after

pouring water

Before post-processing

Posted in Photographic Techniques

Capturing Motion Workshop

Let me begin by saying this was a fun day. We had an energetic group of 20 photographers from the Flagstaff and Sedona Camera clubs that were willing to stretch their photography beyond landscapes to capture the motion of dancers.

As part of Sedona Photofest, I was asked to teach a workshop on capturing motion. We met at the Sedona Arts Center and spent the morning practicing the use of shutter speeds to capture motion. I brought in spinning tops and hot wheel cars for a hands-on experience. The participants evaluated the low light scenario and varied their shutter speeds to capture the motion. Using fast shutter speeds to stop action and panning with slower shutter speeds. Then we added flash units to see how that light would impact our moving subjects. Throughout the morning session we watched short ballet clips so that we could learn to predict the dancers movements.

After returning from lunch, our afternoon was dedicated to capturing motion of the dancers. Varying shutter speeds, flash and ISO settings the participants had fun. For variety, I set up portrait lights and a backdrop for posed portraits. Then, I gave them three days to process their images and send them to me. Here is a short video of our day capturing motion using participant photos and video clips. Enjoy.

Posted in Photographic Techniques, Workshops