Usually I try to have a particular theme for my major blog. I have been busy this week but doing all sorts of different things so I decided to just post some of my favorites. The image above is from the Big Island in Hawaii and it was not a first pick when I was processing. After I got a chance to play around in Photoshop with it though, it turned out to be one of my favorites. Sort of represents the kind of terrain that the trees in the area have to contend with and the light was very nice at this spot.
This is a 3-image hand-held HDR shot that ended up with a lot of different steps, starting first with Photoshop’s Merge to HDR to align and remove any ghosting. That tone-mapped image was then taken into Nik’s HDR Efex Pro and one of my favorite presets, Grannys Attic, was applied. Next Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 was applied using another one of my favorite presets, Midnight at 3% blur, which gives the tree more of a silhouette feel. Wow – not finished yet! Next Topaz Adjust 5 (see website link in my Tidbits Blog sidebar) was applied with the Timeless IV preset. But there’s more – one of my favorite textures, Shadowhouse Creations Paper Texture Scratchbox4 which has a golden lower half and a light greenish-turquoise top half set to Overlay at 80%, gives the image the warm vintage tones. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added for some tonal contrast. Finally, my Thin Double Edge Frame was applied (see DLS Free Layer Style Frames blog) – it creates a really nice slim framing and the colors can be changed easily by sampling within the image. Done!
This wall art image is on display in the open-air one mile long corridor that contains all sorts of art at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii. Just one of the very unusual pieces that is available to view on your leisurely stroll about the resort, but this guy means business or else he has some really bad breath!
This time I tried a sharpening technique in Photoshop’s Merge to HDR (see John Paul Caponigro’s blog Creative Sharpening with HDR Software) as a first step. Next, using Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel (see links at end for blog link), two Flypaper textures were added, Paper Texture Creme Anglaise Taster set to Blend Mode Exclusion at 100% Opacity which turned the whole image dark and Paper Texture Touchstone Taster set to Color Burn Blend Mode at 64% Opacity. A slight S-Curve Curves Adjustment Layer was added to increase contrast a little. Finally OnOne’s PhotoFrame (see website link in my Tidbits Blog sidebar) acid burn controlled 04 frame was used with the color being sampled from the image.
Oh no! Where did he come from? Back in my blog again?? – this is my office-mate Ted – had him way before he got famous. Seems to be enjoying himself. Hum! (See my Tidbits Blog My Office Friend Ted.)
Ted was processed using the wonderful Topaz Simplify 3 plug-in (see website link in my Tidbits Blog sidebar) and here are my settings used: Simplify – Colorspace YCbCR, Simplify Size 0.52, Feature Boost 3.83, Details Strength 1.51, Details Boost 1.27, Details Size 0.62, Remove Small 0, and Remove Weak 0.16; Adjust – Brightness 0.01, Contrast 1.07. Saturation 1.03, and Saturation Boost 0.97; and Edges – Mono Edge Fine, Edge Strength 4.47, Simplify Edge 0.39, Reduce Weak 7, Reduce Small 0.07, and Fatten Edge 4.11. A composite was created above this layer (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) and set to Linear Light at 37%. Next Sarah Gardner’s texture Blush Cherry was added (the website is no longer offering this texture but ShadowHouse Creations Pastels Texture Set Pastel-10 is very close) set to Soft Light Blend Mode at 100% Opacity lightened up the image. A text layer was created using Sassys Teddys 3 font and a Layer Style with these settings were added to the text layer: Bevel & Emboss set to Contour and Texture, Style Inner Bevel, Technique Smooth, Depth 100, Direction Up, Size 7, Soften 0, Angle 25 wit Use Global Light checked, Altitude 30 and the rest default settings; Outer Glow set to Normal Blend Mode, Opacity 100, color R77/G30/B19, Technique Softer, Spread 0, Size 237 and the rest default settings; and Drop Shadow – just dragged around on screen a bit in Multiply Blend Mode and Black, Opacity 75%, Angle 25 & Use Global Light checked, Distance 29, Spread 0, and Size 7. Whew! Finally the same Layer Style was applied as for the first image using different colors in the frame.
Thought I would finish off with an effect that reminded me of one of my kids favorite books from forever ago, The Berenstein Bear’s Spooky Old House. This old building image I use a lot for practice with the plug-ins is in Jackson, Mississippi and stands under one of the most striking buildings in the area, the Lamar Life Insurance Building (see my Tidbits Blog Topaz Adjust 5 Is Here! First Look!).
The processing for this image was practically all in Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 – four filters were stacked: Detail Extractor, Tonal Contrast, Pro Contrast, and Midnight using Color Set Blue and Blur set to6%. These are some of my favorite filters and are used often with various other filters for different looks. Got to love Color Efex Pro! A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for a little more contrast and OnOne’s PhotoFrame Jack Davis 02i. Pretty simple but really cool looking.
Hope you enjoyed some of the images I was working with this past week and hope I did not put you to sleep with all the details. Most of these images did not require a lot of work and the plug-ins gave a really nice boost to the final look in all of them……Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
HDR Using Photoshop Merge to HDR and Nik”s HDR EFex Pro and Silver Efex Pro? Wow!
Using Color Efex Pro and Texture for a Warm Hawaiian Landscape Effect
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!
White Daisies! Using Color Efex Pro Midnight Filter
Sometimes I like to just have one or two colors in an image for more impact and artistic appeal. There are many ways to do this in just Photoshop itself – some as simple as using a Black and White Adjustment Layer, a Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer (with the Monochrome box checked) or the Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer (with the Saturation slider set to 100), and in the attached layer mask painting back in the areas you want colored. I decided to use some of the wonderful Photoshop plug-ins that are available and all images in my post today are using them. The above uses probably the most powerful black and white plug-in made – Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2). This image is of the steps up the side of the Keck Telescope on the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island in Hawaii. I loved the way the stairs made such a striking line against the white of the building and how the deep blue color matched the sky. I could actually imagine climbing up there and looking around and down at the telescope lens! Now that would be a cool shot! Since there were a lot of distracting colors in the image, the decision was made to convert it to a black and white to remove it, but wanted to retain the beautiful blue color. In SEP2 adjustments were made globally to the image using the Neutral preset and then control points were placed strategically on all the blue areas with the SC (Selective Coloration) sliders opened up to 100% to let the color show through. Nik’s Viveza 2 was used to even out the sky and that was about all. Very simple processing for a very simple image.
Here is another image (from the Hawaiian Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii) using Nik plug-ins: First Viveza to add contrast and sharpness to several elements in the image; next SEP2 where control points were placed on the lounger and the water where the color was to appear – adjust the SC slider to 100% to get the full color showing up (or set it lower for just a little color as shown in the water area); and finally Color Efex Pro 4 using the Detail Extractor and the Glamour Glow filters (set to an overall effect of 73%). Back in Photoshop a Gaussian Blur layer was added to slightly soften the background – a gradient was applied to a layer mask to do this and the close up tree trunks were painted back in. The original image was way to busy with the full color applied, but with the blue and cool tones applied, it makes for a relaxing image of Hawaii.
The image above was taken while walking to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner in San Francisco in the winter. I had a really difficult time getting the look I wanted. This image originally had a very tungsten yellow look that was corrected in Lightroom. I knew it needed a lot of work but I did not want to get rid of it since it represents to me what San Francisco is all about. After trying many different plug-ins and Photoshop tools, this dark foggy image was the winner. It was really cold, windy and damp outside and this is exactly how I remember it. There were two things I had trouble working with – the bright street light and the soft shot from taking the image at night without a tripod. My camera (a Nikon D300) is not the best at night. One other thing that really improved this image was the crop – it took several attempts to get the balance I was looking for. There was little color in this image to being with, so I already knew it needed to be processed as a black and white image. Therefore, I went back to another of my favorites, Topaz Black and White Effects (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) using the Classic Traditional preset with adjustments. This plug-in is somewhat like SEP2, but does so many different things that it is hard to compare the two. Both are excellent products and I would be lost without either one of them. The windows were painted back in to bring out the soft warm glow feel. The last step added the Fog 1 preset in Topaz Lens Effects to enhance the fog that was already present to some extent, but this could have been painted in using a fog brush on a separate layer and adjusting the layer opacity. Also, I did use Imagenomics Noiseware on this image at the beginning as it had a lot of noise – they just came out with a new version and I am trying out the trial. So far I love it!
My last example is perhaps my favorite since it came out so sharp and clean. Believe it or not, this wonderful little mill sits outside the Big Thunder Mountain Roller Coaster (here’s a pretty lame U-Tube of the ride but it does bring back memories!) at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, Orlando, Florida. Once again, several attempts were made at processing this image with the red mill being the focal point I wanted in color. I ended up using OnOne’s Perfect Effects (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) to get this terrific look. I keep forgetting how powerful this program can be and yet it created such a low distortion to the image even though there were four filters stacked to get this result: Black & White Grainy Film preset with the mill and center area of the image painted back in to show the color, Photo Filters Tobacco, Glow Black Soft, and Vignette Big Softy. The masking feature in this program is fabulous and it took just a few minutes to mask in the colors I wanted.
Conclusion: As I said, there are many ways this can be done – you do not have to have the plug-ins. I do believe Photoshop’s Black and White Adjustment Layer is quite a powerful tool to turn you images into really beautiful black and whites. Most of the plug-in effects can then be accomplished using Hue Saturation Adjustment Layers or Selective Color Adjustment Layers. Even Curves and Levels Adjustment Layers can add some real interesting colors and contrast to an image. The plug-ins I used here do add a lot more dimension to an image in a very short time to get effects that take longer to do in just Photoshop, so I do recommend you try out any of the ones I mentioned. Experiment around and see what you can get. As you can see, it took me several attempts and I even walked away from an image for a day, to get the results I wanted. The really nice thing is that if an image is just too busy and there is too much color in it, try adding a quick B&W Adjustment Layer to see if converting it to a black and white can calm it down. If so, then try different Photoshop tools or plug-ins to bring back color on where you want the viewer to focus – it can make what appeared to be at first glance a bad picture into a great one!……Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
NIK’s Champion Plug-in – Silver Efex Pro 2
Topaz B&W Effects Plug-In – A Real Winner!
Where Am I?
Black and White Photo or Not? Give It a Try on That Difficult Image
Loving Both Filters!
I realized I had not written specifically about the nice Simplify plug-in that Topaz (see Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) has had out for a while and gives a very pleasant result. The flowers above are of my front yard after a late afternoon storm – I wanted to give it a bit of a “fairy tale” look and Simplify really created that bright colored magical feel. I rarely use this plug-in alone, but in this case I did and was surprised at how nice it looks without applying anything but a final Curves Adjustment Layer for contrast. For settings, see end of blog.
Here is another beautiful example of how this plug-in looks – used the same preset settings as the first image although it does not quite have that magical look (settings are listed at the end of blog). The swimming pool is at the Hilton Hawaiian Resort in Oahu on Waikiki Beach.
This image was taken at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii. I used my tips from my Smoothing Those Waterfalls blog for the waterfall. This plug-in works very well with images that were shot just a little soft. The Topaz Simplify BuzSim preset was used with these settings: reduced the Simplify Size to 0.10 and increased the Saturation Boost to 1.56. By reducing the Simplify Size, you can avoid the webbing effect often associated with simplify plug-ins. You can get a very similar result to the above by using Topaz Adjust 5′s Painting Venice using no adjustments. (See my Tidbits Blog Topaz Adjust Using Painting Venice Preset-Beautiful Effect!)
A while back I did a blog on how this image was created (see my Tidbits Blog Topaz Simplify and Lens Effects Saves an Image! where both Simplify and Lens Effects were used to create a very painterly effect. This is one of my favorite images from Hawaii but I would overlooked it if the Simplify plug-in was not available. My blog link above will tell you the settings and show you the before image.
Using Simplify with other plug-ins can give a really nice color effect to your images. In my blog Making An Ordinary Image Your Own, the first image was done using both Adjust and then Simplify to get a very subtle soft artsy effect. The Simplify settings for that image is one of my favorites since it is very easy get a more vivid soft look to an image without adjusting a lot of sliders. Simplify and Detail were used together in my Tidbits Blog Using Simplify and Topaz Detail Together where these same Simplify settings were used.
There are lots of references on how to use this plug-in. An excellent resource is from Dan Moughamian at Tips Squirrel.com (one of the best Photoshop sites) called Creating Painterly Effects with Topaz Simpify 3. All the sliders are explained clearly in this short post. There are also two very interesting Topaz Labs videos: the first is called Memorable Travel & Stock Photography by Scott Stulberg where he incorporates using Topaz Adjust, Detail and Simplify for some easy and amazing results; and one called Eliminating Web Effects and Other Artistic Tips in Topaz Simplify by Greg Rostami that discusses the major problem with using this plug-in – the webbing or stained glass effect. He has a pretty sophisticated work-around and some very good examples of how to get the most from Simplify. I still need to work through his suggestions. I have used the above resources for improving my results with this plug-in, and am finding the more I am work with it, the more I am liking the results.
Conclusion: Once again, just like using Photoshop CS6′s Oil Paint filter (see my Photoshop’s CS6 (and Pixel Bender’s) Oil Paint Filter blog), you have to be careful not to get a really “canned” look. I believe there is a lot more versatility built into this plug-in compared to the Oil Paint filter. This blog only addressed some of the creative aspects of it. Because there are many sliders, several that affect the edges of the objects, there are many ways to make your images look totally different. Once again, since Topaz makes such reasonably priced plug-ins and if you like a little artistic flair in your photos, this is definitely the plug-in for you. They have not updated this version for a long time, so I am hoping there will be a newer version being released soon (and remember the updates are free once you buy it!). Even if you are not sure you want it, give the trial a try – it really is fun to play around with…..Digital Lady Syd
Preset settings for the flowers and view images called Hawaii Landscape with these settings: Simplify Panel – RGB Colorspace, Simplify Size 0.29, Feature Boost 0, Details Strength 0.66, Details Boost 1.00, Details Size 0.27, Remove Small 0.06, and Remove Weak 0.10; Adjust Panel – Brightness 0, Contrast 1.00, Saturation 1.04, and Saturation Boost 1.32; and Edges Panel – Color Edge Normal, Edge Strength 1.89, Simplify Edge 0.58, Reduce Weak 33, Reduce Small 0.20, and Flatten Edge 0.
Decided to have some fun this week. I really did not think I would ever write a long blog about using this filter since I have used a very similar version with Photoshop CS5 for several years using the Adobe Pixel Bender interface.Pixel Bender includes Oil Paint as one of their filter choices (along with the cool Droste Effect – see my blog Pixel Bender Droste Effect). Oil Paint has always been a lot of fun but you can definitely tell you are using it. Photoshop CS6 has included it in their new version so I decided to give it another whirl since a lot of people seem to be really psyched by it. The image above is of the Cafe Alcazar, a restaurant that is located in the old swimming pool area of the Hotel Alcazar before it became City Hall and the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. I might add it is one of the best places to get a great lunch, which is all they serve and at a reasonable price!
While doing a CS6 tutorial, I was reminded that Oil Paint does a great job on detailed and HDR images – so this is what you are seeing. (Click on image to see more detail.) This was a bracketed three image hand-held shot that was first brought into Photoshop’s Merge to HDR using RC Concepcion’s El Capitan preset from his book The HDR Book, but any settings that work for your image are fine. After processing in HDR, the updated Lens Correction Filter was used to straighten the columns that were slightly bending in, and the image was straightened and cropped. A duplicate layer was created and converted to a Smart Object before applying the Oil Paint Filter so you can go back in and adjust your settings if you don’t like the results. The settings used were: Stylization 7.97, Cleanliness 4.8, Scale 0.84, Bristle Detail 6.9, Angular Direction 180, and Shine 1.5.
What the sliders do:
Stylization : the bumpy texture slider – low value gives stucco effect (more realistic) and high value gives large brush stroke effect (default 4 with a range of .1 to 10).
Cleanliness: sharpens the brush strokes – low value gives a gritty effect and high value gives super smooth effect (default 2.3 with a range of 0 to 10).
Scale: fine lines spread out as you make it larger and comes from upper left corner of image – how large do you want the effect to appear within the image? (default 0.8 with a range of .1 to 10)
Bristle Detail: depth of the brush strokes – low value creates smooth transitions and high value increases contrast (default 10 with a range of 0 to 10).
Angular Direction: affects angle of the brush strokes and light hitting brushstrokes (default 300 with a range of 0 to 360).
Shine: creates embossed look and keeps the curly strokes from being pushed up against the edge by creating lines around edges (major difference between this filter and one in Pixel Bender which cannot do this) – low value gives painterly look and gives similar look as Pixel Bender filter (default of 1.3 with a range of 0 to 10).
For Pixel Bender users, Colorization: creates contrast and is different for each image (default of 1.18 and a range of 0 to 2) and Brush Contrast: set to 0 creates little contrast (default 1 with a range of 0 to 1). The Pixel Bender filter also has sliders for Stylization (default of 2.893 with a range of .1 to 10), Cleanliness (default 6.32 with a range of 2 to 15) and Brush Scale (default 2 with a range of .1 to 10) like the CS6 version.
This bird is an African Crowned Crane that lives with two others at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Ocean Tower area. Since this filter is supposed to look good on pets and animals, I thought this image had the look for it. (The settings used were Stylization 2.08, Cleanliness 10, Scale 5.89, Bristle Detail 10, Angular Direction 302.4, and Shine 0.95.) It is taking a little time to learn what settings I like. It seems you have to watch the Shine slider or you get a way overdone look – but don’t completely eliminate it or you loose all the really cool texture as shown on the walls in the background and body of the bird. The filter effect seemed a little overdone in some areas (like the eyes, head feathers, beak area, and edges of the palms) so a layer mask was added. Using a low opacity brush, parts of the effect were brushed away. The image was finished up by adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to warm up the colors a little and add some contrast, and Nik Viveza 2 to add a little more detail and color to the eye, beak and head feathers. Overall I believe it turned out rather nice and it does add some artistic quality that the original image was lacking.
To be honest, I do not see a lot of difference between the filters as created in Pixel Bender for CS4 and CS5 and for CS6, even though the sliders are somewhat different. Below is an example of an image of the Ka’anapali Beach Club in Maui, Hawaii using the Oil Paint Filter in CS6. Then click on this image and you will see the original image as created in Pixel Bender CS5.
These are the settings I used for the CS6 image above (Stylization 5.25, Cleanliness 10, Scale 1.29, Bristle Detail 1.85, Angular Direction 300.6, and Shine 0). These are the settings I used for the Pixel Bender image (Stylization 10, Cleanliness 15, Coloration 1.1, Brush Scale 3.07, and Brush Contrast 0.42). Both filters used a 69% opacity for the Oil Paint Filter layer and a layer mask was used to remove the effect from certain parts of the image. Also a Nik Color Efex Pro Brilliance and Warmth filter was applied to both images as a last step.
The reason I listed all this information is that I think it is interesting to see how the two slider amounts compare. I found there were two significant differences: the use of the Colorization slider which has a big impact on how the color looks in the Pixel Bender image but is missing in the CS6 update and I think really adds to the image, and the Shine slider in CS6 which controls a lot of the crazy textures you get in the image – if you use too much, it gets really weird and some people don’t use this slider at all. By comparing the defaults of each filter, the CS6 settings seem to have been adjusted to fit what looks good on most images, or fine-tuned a little.
The above are small purple flowers in my front yard that I just had to try this filter on – I am surprised how nice it turned out. The settings for this image are as follows: Stylization 7.87, Cleanliness 7.5, Scale 0.6, Bristle Detail 10, Angular Direction 0, and Shine 3.3. The last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to add some contrast and bring out a little bit of color in the flowers.
I am surprised the same sliders were not included in the update in CS6. Still not sure if I like it as well as the Pixel Bender version. Again, it is a filter effect that I am not inclined to use a lot but is fun to play with. Someone had suggested that just the texture effect might look good as a background for some images. Overall I think that with the right image, it can create a very nice look, although it definitely is marked as a Photoshop filter effect. Give it a try using either version – Adobe Pixel Bender’s or CS6′s – and add that fun artistic look to your images…..Digital Lady Syd
Thought I would keep it simple this week so here are some nice templates that can be created in Adobe Lightroom 3 and 4. This image is basically a 4-image triptych. It was a lot of fun playing with the different flower effects but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the images after I finished them - as it turned out, this Lightroom template created a nice way to show them off! If you have ever played around in the Print Module of Lightroom, then you can see it is not too hard to create this type of template and then save the resulting image in the Print Job section as a “Print to JPEG File.” And this is one of the reasons I like processing my images in Lightroom over just using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) in Photoshop.
For processing of the yellow dahlias in Photoshop:
1st image: Just lightened up the image and applied two Flypaper Textures – Chatsworth Taster and Apple Blush Taster using Russel Brown Texture Panel. (See my blog Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!)
2nd image: Topaz Black and White Effects. See side panel of my Tidbits Blog for website link.
3rd image: Used Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 and stacked these filters – Film Efex Vintage using Film Type 8, Colorize using Method 6 and a light blue color, and Vignette Blur using Type 3. I loved the dreamy look these filters created.
4th image: Used two different Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers and two Curves Adjustments Layers and with their layer masks, selectively painted out areas to get the effect I wanted.
This group of images was put together in Lightroom 3 a couple years ago – these signs are from the Jacksonville Landing along the St. Johns River in Florida during one of Scott Kelby’s PhotoWalks (if you get a chance, go do one – they are free and a great way to meet local photo types like yourself). Photoshop Guy Matt Kloskowski, who runs the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips website and blog (it is the best one on Lightroom you will find), offered a free Lightroom Print Preset – Multi-Photo Portrait Grid. I used it here although I had some trouble lining up all the photos the way he did since I use a Canon printer and not an Epson (it uses a page set up which makes it line up different). Still I was able to get this result which I think turned out rather nice.
Here is another example of using the above preset from Matt to create a little different appearance. A trick to adjusting your image inside the cell once placed is to remember to hold down the CTRL key so the cursor turns into the Hand Tool. You can send unused cells to the back by right clicking in the cell. Also, it is best to create a Quick Collection of the images you think you might want to use (click the little circle in the upper right corner in the Library module) so that they are all in one place for adding to the template. All these images are from previous posts – all but the boat image were done using just Photoshop brushes creatively. (See my blogs Brushing up on Circles!, Create a Winter Scene with Photoshop Brushes and Textures and Tree Brushes and a Little Grunge.
The instructions on how to do the above template are in Scott Kelby’s The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers where he takes you through the process step by step. He also shows you how to make the top template along with several others. His Lightroom books are the best!
I did a Tidbits Blog a while back called Five Image Template Creates Beautiful Collection! that shows another way to do this with templates in Photoshop.
Also I did a free download timeline template for Facebook a couple weeks ago that uses Photoshop to add seven photos as your header – see
Free Timeline Cover Template for Seven of Your Images. An example of how this turns out is shown below.
Lightroom and even Photoshop makes it really fun to show off your images and both use very similar techniques. Sometimes just printing the one image does not look quite right, but putting several in a template as shown in these examples can get some really nice results…..Digital Lady Syd