Last week I gave away a template to organize your images for use on a Valentine or for just putting related ideas together. (See Using a Template to Create Your Own Unique Valentine.) This week I found this incredible little free program that can be loaded into Photoshop CS5 or CS6 as a panel that does a very similar thing. This is totally ingenious and very simple. All you need is to have your images or objects already post-processed and a bit of an idea on how you want to put them together. For the Tych above, the images are all from the 24th Annual Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida – I had a great time photographing. Above are a few of the images I have completed the post-processing on and put together to form what I consider a pretty nice grouping of the event. I plan on blogging on how I created some of the effects in the individual images at a later time.
So let’s talk about Tych Panel 2 by Reimund Trost. The best way to learn about it is to view the short video for instructions on how to use it. Basically you can add rows, columns, additional rows after you have created it, background color, borders and/or rounded corners around each image and/or the whole image, and even use it from Adobe Bridge if you want. Totally cool and very fast. It is action based and the order of the images can be set for each row or column you create or add. Really gives a nice quick result for posting to blogs. All I can say is that it was a lot of fun to do. The grouping of flowers below was my first effort and took just a couple minutes – I really liked the results!
There are only a couple of little issues I noticed when using the program.
- First, you need to make sure your images are all in the same folder for each row or column you are adding as there is no way to add additional images from another folder to form each individual row or column. Unfortunately the panel does not interface with Lightroom where you could use a collection for image selection.
- The second issue is that the program will adjust the image to fit in an opening – if the aspect ratios of the images you are selecting to create a row or column are different, part of the image will be compressed so they fit uniformly. If you are adding a landscape sized image with a portrait sized image, it apparently makes the portrait sized image the same height as the landscape – it appears much smaller in your image. If you add three different sized images into a row, it takes the largest sized image and adjust the other images to that size by compressing them. So far, none of the image sizes I have added are too changed so they still look pretty nice. The easiest way around this is to make sure your images are the same size before adding them to the Tych.
If you want to exchange an image, I usually turn off all the layers except for the one I want to replace. If you used rounded corners on your images, right click on the black layer mask thumbnail and select Disable Layer Mask (a big red X appears in it). Now File ->Place your new image above the one to be replaced, and Free Transform it so the old and new images are the same size. Double click on the black layer mask to enable it and drag it up to the new image. Then delete the old layer.
This is another example showing the rounded edges on just the flower images. I added a French Kiss Solstice Zest textured background on this image and a couple curves to create the background effect I wanted.
The panel below was created using four images, one column on the left and three on the right; then turning off Column 1 Group which contains the three layers on the right side. The background treatment was a bit complicated. If you have the border turned on in the Tych Panel options, I usually drag that top Border layer down to just above the background layer so my background appears complete on the image. 2 Lil’ Owls Mosaic Set crescent grunge was added at 55% opacity above the background layer. Next 2 Lil’ Owls French Brocante Set 10-1 texture with the beautiful Eiffel Tower image was added and set to Linear Burn at 85% opacity. Above that a New Layer was added and French Kiss Spattered4-06 brush at 511 pixels was applied in black over the whole layer – loved the drippy watercolor feel although it just adds a cloudy looking effect once combined with the other textures. 2 Lil’ Owls Enchanted2-4 png overlay was put on the next layer at 45% opacity. Note that the small flower image can be adjusted within the larger background image by just using the Move Tool and dragging – the layer mask will adjust as you move the image. An Inner Shadow and Stroke layer style was added to the flower image to make it stand out more. Another New Layer was placed above the pink flower image and one stroke using Flowers Swirls and Hearts Sampled Brush 8 was added next. Last a slight contrast adjustment was made on a Curves Adjustment Layer. This image really does not have a very organized look to it, but the image guide did really help me to figure out how to lay out this image.
This panel is really fun to use and shows off your images so quickly. Very handy to have when wanting to put a quick collage together for a friend or for a blog post. Just watch the aspect ratios on your images and it will all work fine. If you own Photoshop CS5 or CS6, give this a try. It is extremely easy to use and the results can be quite stunning…..Digital Lady Syd
It is that time where I try to put some perspective on my images for the past year and choose the ones that appeal to me most. I had a nice year and got to see some pretty interesting places. I try to see which images I would place in my home. Here is what my “inner critic” thinks are some of my best.
10. Below is an image shot while in the Lightner Museum looking down at my favorite lunch spot in St. Augustine, Florida, the Cafe Alcazar which is located in the old hotel pool area (see Bathing in Casino on Shorpys website for how the pool looked in 1889). For more info, see my Tidbits Blog Cafe Alcazar and Vintage Topaz Adjust.
9. I love this sort of illustrative and humorous effect. This image is of a whale taken during the Shamu show at the SeaWorld Orlando Theme Park. For details on processing, see my Storytelling with Your Images blog.
8. The Big Island in Hawaii was one of my most favorite places I have ever visited. This photo art image depicts how I think of Hawaii. I discuss how I created the effect in my Using Color Efex Pro and Texture for a Warm Hawaiian Landscape Effect blog.
7. This lovely mallard duck pair’s image was taken at the SeaWorld Orlando Theme Park in Florida. This image used a texture by 2 Lil Owls and the new Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 to bring out details and color, especially in the feathers and eyes.
6. This old corvette was for sale at the 39th Annual Turkey Run at the Daytona International Speedway infield. This is my favorite type of car - so I had a great time photographing all the corvettes. (More will be showing up in my future blogs as I have a lot more corvette images.) To see how I processed this image, see my Little Red Corvette Tidbits Blog.
5. Miniature Mums were used in a lot of my images this year. I like to photograph the flowers I grow. I have been trying to improve on my macro shooting this year. To see how this flower was processed, see my Tidbit Blog Just Bloomin” Beautiful!
4. The wild surf is at Laupahoehoe Harbor on the Big Island. In my Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5! blog I used this same image with an artistic feel to it. Nik Color Efex Pro’s Detail Extractor filter helped give this image the sharpness.
3. I am always surprised how nice the flower pictures are that I get at the local grocery stores with my inexpensive Kodak point-and-shoot camera. These beautiful pink roses were shot at my neighborhood store. Post processing included adding 4 textures – two I bought from French Kiss’s website and two from a wonderful Flickr site by Lenabem-Anna which contains many beautiful vintage and painterly textures. I used her textures 130 and 72.
2. The purple lily pad image is one of my artistic experiments that I really like. They were taken at the Hilton Waikoloa Village by the Japanese Restaurant. To see how this effect was created with a slightly different result, see my Tidbits Blog Purple Lily Pads!
1. It is hard to top Hawaii for beautiful everything. I settled on this image from along the road to Waipio Valley as my favorite of the year since it totally reminds me of my trip to the Big Island – the bright sunlight, the beautiful surf and the gorgeous clouds hanging out. To see how I processed this image, see my Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem! blog.
It’s been a great year and I have learned so many new things about post-processing my images in Photoshop. Hope you have enjoyed some of my blogs too. I hope next year is as fun and productive. Happy New Year Everyone!…..Digital Lady Syd
Today I decided to do something different. I have spent a lot of time processing photos from the Hilton Waikoloa Village, especially from the Palace Tower where the above mirror-reflected fountain was located in an open air atrium in the middle of the hotel complex. It has been a challenge to find out any information on the art. Apparently the hotel was developed by the Hyatt and opened on 9/9/88 as the Hyatt Regency Waikoloa before the Hilton bought it in 1993. The developer put over $7 million dollars into the 1600+ art objects that is literally scattered about the the huge 62 acre complex, and I am not sure Hilton has done anything to change what was already preset. A display states “The art collection consists of works from Asian, Western, and Oceanic cultures – the cultures that, through the years, have come to define Hawaii’s cultural heritage.” Pieces were bought on trips to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Burma and Indonesia. That is all that is available on the art unless a description was placed near the object and very few objects have placards.
Since I love art and had the opportunity to go stay at this complex recently, I thought I would show some of the art pieces in the Palace Tower area. Not all of the objects are the best art in the facility, but it is a good representation of their stated goal above and is rather magnificent in its own right. With that in mind, here we go. The image above is from the corner where the elevators are located – I tried to capture a feel for all the items located in such a small area – and there is some strange lady taking a picture of it all! The hard to see black object in the center is of two spaniel dogs. The two framed images are Luigi Rossini etchings from 1823 of Italy (see top image on website for the right one). There was one more in another part of the entryway.
The fountain is quite a spectacular centerpiece and appears to be very old. The tired looking older men (or half fish/half men) are holding up what I believe are tired looking putti, who are holding up a woman that is releasing a dove – and then there are four offshoots from the fountain of slightly mythological-looking men and women, happy putti blowing trumpets (water was supposed to be coming out of the trumpets but most were not working), and fish and geese with interesting expressions that seem to be pets, all in sculpture. An 18-image 1:21 minute slideshow created in Adobe Lightroom is above. The sculptures were not cleaned up and some were in better shape than others, in fact this fountain is not in the best shape and much of it is not in good working condition. Still, it is not something you walk right by without noticing when entering the hotel. And it is really striking at night (last slideshow image)!
This simple wall art added a nice touch to the whole cultural flavor in the atrium area.
There were four of these huge, roughly 10-foot tall wood Chinese cabinets all with large porcelain jars in the center; carved wood at the top and bottom; and painted flowers on the sides, bottoms, and front. Several different warrior-like dolls were placed in the glassed paned shelves. I have never seen anything quite like these. The cabinets were really difficult to photograph due to the shiny glass panes, the mirror reflections from the entryway that were shooting light everywhere, and no tripod. I hope you can at least get a feel for how incredible they looked.
Another one of the beautiful colorful objects that was sitting around near the entrance to the Palace Tower. Very hard to ignore, especially if you like art.
I plan contacting the Hilton Waikoloa Village and see if there is more information on their art. It would be a shame if all the knowledge on the beautiful pieces becomes lost. I will be posting some more of the resort’s art as time goes on – this was just a starting point. In the meantime I hope you enjoyed this short blog…..Digital Lady Syd
How these images were processed (since this is a Photoshop blog after all!).
Palace Tower Image: Used Nik Color Efex Pro 4 using Detail Extractor, Pro Contrast, and Contrast Color Range filters to bring out all the great details (see My Go-To Recipe for Bringing Out Details with Ellen Anon). Nik’s Viveza 2 was also used to desaturate some of the distracting light in the background.
Slideshow images: Most images were processed as three bracketed HDR photos in Nik HDR Efex Pro using the Realistic (Strong) preset and then adding control points unique to each image. Next Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was applied using this set of filters in a recipe: Darken/Lighten Center, Detail Extractor setting slider to no more than 19, and a slight Vignette Blur. They were then added into the Slideshow module in Adobe Lightroom 4.
Wall Art: Topaz Adjust Crisp preset was used and OnOne’s PhotoFrame acid burn controlled 4.
Chinese Cabinet: Each image was processed with Nik’s Viveza. I used my my Tidbits Blog “Five Image Template Creates Beautiful Collection!” to create the photo grouping. The actual cabinet image was slightly out of focus so Topaz InFocus plug-in was applied before Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 and Viveza 2. Still not loving the result, but the image was salvaged somewhat. There was a lot of glare on several of the images which could not be completely removed with Viveza, but it did a fairly decent job.
Elephant: Topaz Adjust crisp preset and that is all.
This is a Photoshop “oldie but goodie” for making your waterfall images smooth and silky as if you shot it in the shade with a slow shutter speed. I was lucky enough to visit the Big Island in Hawaii recently. Waterfalls are abundant. Unfortunately tripods cannot be used in most cases and sunlight can be very bright when shooting at tourist spots, so the only way to get that smooth silky look is to fix the waterfall in Photoshop. That is what you are seeing in the first two images. The first image original (shown on left below) is the tone-mapped result of three photos processed in NIK HDR Efex Pro before processing in Photoshop. The smoothing steps are as follows:
1. Duplicate layer.
2. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur. Turn the angle to the direction of the waterfall, in this case 90 degrees. Set the distance slider to a large amount – for the above it was set to 155, but that may be too much for some images.
3. Add a black layer mask by holding the ALT key and clicking on the Layer Mask icon in the Layers Panel.
4. With a soft brush set to a low opacity like 30% slowly paint in where you want the blur effect on the waterfall.
5. Add a Levels Adjustment Layer to darken the midtones by moving the black and white stops. This image had the black stop set to 5 and white stop to 121.
This lovely waterfall on the road by the golf course (there were several of these man-made waterfalls along this busy road so I had to shoot from the window to get this picture) is similar to the one above but with several small falls going in two different directions. In this case, two Motion Blur filters had to be created to match the water direction. First follow steps 2 through 4 (the first Motion Blur filter layer used settings of a -90 degree angle and 45 distance), create a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top, and do steps 2 through 4 again (this time a filter setting of -51 degree angle was used). Then finish up with step 5. Nik,s Color Efex Pro recipe Detail + Vignette from Matt Kloskowski was added after applying the steps.
Here are the originals of images as they were processed in Lightroom.
GETTING THAT WATERFALL SHOT IN CAMERA
In case you area not familiar with how to shoot waterfalls, the basic idea is to set up the camera on a tripod in manual mode using a long shutter speed set to 1 or 2 seconds, a small aperture like F/16 or F/22, and low ISO setting. For one of the best discussions on how to compose and shoot a really good waterfall picture, see Craig Tanner from The Mindful Eye podcast “Scenic Waterfall Photography” – this site is full of great photography information.
That’s it – a pretty convincing result is created and it takes just a couple minutes. This is definitely one to store in your arsenal of Photoshop quick tips!…..Digital Lady Syd
Continuing with my one year tradition of presenting year end photos for 2011, below is what “my inner critic” thinks are the best. Keep in mind that sometimes the images were not photographically the greatest, but were ones I really enjoyed putting together and got a lot of personal satisfaction from just creating the results. To learn more, just click on the image and the blog featuring it will appear in a new window.
9. I created a template from Samuel Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre” painting where I put my photos in for the ones he painted. I actually got to see this painting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, this past year – what a treat! Just fooling around but had lots of fun putting it together.
8. My favorite flower to photograph is the hibiscus and here is one of the beauties in my backyard.
7. I did a blog on the Flood Filter and this image came out looking so natural I was totally amazed. The beautiful roseate spoonbill bird was photographed at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Rookery in Florida – a great place to photograph birds in the springtime.
6. I experimented with the minimalist art effect which I had never tried before and not sure if my image turned out to be this type of art. I loved the final results anyway since sailing is another passion of mine.
5. I felt this image needed a vintage feel to it since I took it in the Florida Heritage Museum at the Old Jailhouse in St. Augustine, Florida.
4. Loved how this gorgeous old Victorian house turned out from St. Augustine, Florida – was lucky to catch the rays just right in this image.
3. The “Painting and Sculpture” exhibit just captured my attention when visiting the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, this year. Very interesting story goes with the sculpture too.
2. I learned how to use the new Mixer Brushes in Photoshop and painted this image from a rose for a “Rally for the Cure” event.
1. This year I decided to post a Happy New Year image as my Number One favorite image. Maybe not my favorite, but creating this snow globe text effect and droste effect clockface was a lot of fun.
I hope you enjoyed my images. I have tried to be true to my goal of having fun in Photoshop and hope to continue doing this during the coming year. Happy New Year to everyone! Now go have fun playing in Photoshop!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
My Top Ten Photos from 2010
Since the season is upon us, I have decided to present a few of my favorite holiday creations. For resource and technique details, see information listed at end.
1. Used the tutorial “Christmas Night Magic scene with flying Santa“ for initial direction – very easy to follow and lots of fun to create; Snow images Frozen Landscape and a different Frozen Landscape from Stock.xchng; my own sky Belarusian sky image; Santa sleigh in Christmas Brushes by Fina; Snow Drops brush by Frostbo (my favorite brush for realistic falling snow); BB’s Fogs & Mists brush #3; and the Fonts are Old Script and an old Cosmi Font I bought years ago called 41. The images were transformed and blended using a layer mask to get the look above. OnOne PhotoFrame Acid Brn Controlled 05 was applied – (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link).
2. Some of my favorite pictures have been made of these beautiful pink and white tulips I bought this year at the grocery store. This image uses three free textures all by Shadowhouse Creations – Aged and Distressed Vintage 1, Oil Painting 3, and Attic Treasures Creative Texture 7. All his textures are beautiful and he has great tutorials on how to combine the many textures. The first texture was added into a layer mask by opening up the texture in it own document, CTRL +A and CTRL+C to select and copy the texture; ALT+Click on the layer mask to make the layer white; and CTRL+V to place the image into the layer mask. The other two textures were added above and a layer was added with the Snow Drops brush by Frostbo.
3. I guess I was really into Santa sleighs this year??? Very simple image that started with the Bright Christmas Texture by Graphix1 where the color was changed into a darkish blue to appear like a night image using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer; BB’s Fogs & Mists brush #12; my SJ-Cloud brushes; my SJ-Mountain brushes; Snow Drops brush by Frostbo; Santa sleigh in Christmas Brushes by Fina; Moon brush by Hawksmont; Font is Fantaisie Artistique (my favorite); the pattern used on Santa and it’s sleigh was added in the Pattern Overlay using Pattern 23 from Obsidian Dawn’s Grunge and Dirty Patterns; and Bevel and Emboss and Drop Shadow layer styles were added to the text layers. OnOne’s PhotoFrame Dave Cross 01 was added as a border (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link).
4. This image first appeared in my “Free Calendar Template for Use with Elements” blog. The image is the top of the Standard Life building in Jackson, Mississippi. The gradient used is from Gorgeous Gradients – PrimaveraII, and the snow is a very useful snow brush called Snow Drop by Frostbo. The lettering on the building is called Kingsthings Christmas font, the Flying Santa Sleigh is by Fina, the fog was created using Sampled Brush #3 and #12 from Brushes Fogs and Mists, the green Christmas Tree and Icicles are in Obsidian Dawn’s Holiday set, and the icy edges are an OnOne PhotoFrame Taufer Texture 08 frame ((see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link). I have to admit this image was a bit of a challenge but I really liked the final effect.
5. A tutorial called “Glossy Snow Globe Text Effect” was the inspiration for this image. I used the layer styles and brushes from the tutorial along with my SJ-Cloud brushes on a light to darker blue gradient for the background. OnOne PhotoFrame grunge 15 was applied. It is not hard to do, but it takes some time to create the brushes and styles.
6. This image was posted in my “Christmas Card from Digital Lady Syd!” blog which contains all the resources and information for this rather complicated card.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and takes time to enjoy the time with friends and family!…..Digital Lady Syd!
While cleaning up my office this week, I came across my beloved Pentax K1000 film camera. It really depressed me to realize that I had several wonderful lenses for this camera and that the chances of ever using them again were pretty slim. On a hunch, I did a search on the internet to see if there were any adapters to attach these lens to my Nikon D300 since I knew that most of the old Nikon lenses still work with their digital cameras. (If you have old Nikon lenses and are shooting Nikon digitally, that is really good news as you may not need an adaptor – same goes for Canon.) Well, I was surprised to find that for $40, I could attach these old lenses to my camera – I decided it was worth the expense and here is what I have happily discovered.
Tokina SD 28-70 mm F/3.5-4.5 Zoom and Macro Lens (SZ-X270)
My beautiful pink poinsettia was taken with a Tokina SD 28-70 mm zoom lens, though the metadata does not indicate the aperture size, it was shot manually at F3.5, Shutter speed 1/4000 sec, ISO 200, at 28 mm. For post-processing the pink color and detail was enhanced just a bit on the front part of the leaves using NIK’s Viveza plug-in Photoshop CS5. The Sharpen Tool was used to sharpen just around the leaf edges to make them stand out from the wall, and Layer Styles, white Inner Glow and gray Stroke, were added. That is it. Very little manipulation was needed to get this beautiful plant image. Normally I would have cleaned up some of the background distractions. The point is that this lens and my digital camera produced an excellent sharp image that is as good as any I have taken with my digital lenses.
I found out this lens is considered a really good lens. (See Flickr Group Discussing Tokina SD 28-70 F/3.5-4.5 Macro for more image examples.) I have no idea what I paid for it, but I can understand why I was able to get this sharp a shot after reading about it.
Takumar-A Zoom 1:4 70-200 mm with Tamron-F Tele-Converter 2X
This lens gives a very beautiful result also. This Painted Lady Hibiscus was shot manually at 70 mm at F/5.4, ISO 200, Shutter Speed 1/60 second and -1/2 EV. Since it has a doubler on it, it really was shooting at 140 mm. In Photoshop CS5 a Shadowhouse Creations Texture Clouds and Birds layer was set to Hard Light at 77% opacity and a layer mask was added to painted out texture from the flower. No sharpening or Curves Adjustment Layer were added – this was it.
Now on to the Takumar lens, which applies to any original camera body. It does not get as good ratings as the first lens. This lens is not recommended because it is not SMC (Super Multi Coated). The Photo.Net forum stated: “The non coated Takumars are average lenses. Some SMC Takumars are classics, recommended even today. So, when you see a Tak, look also if it is multi coated.” The Tamron-F 2X Tele-Converter was attached to the lens above. I just realized that to get maximum sharpness, do not use the maximum aperture of the lens. In the image above, a minimum aperture of F/5.4 was used – the camera should have been stopped down two stops to F/11 on the Takumar lens. I will try this on my next efforts.
Takumar 135 mm Lens
This image turned out pretty nice since I was shooting at a window with bright sunshine coming through it. Maybe that is why I like the image. Very little manipulation here – just increased Exposure by 1/2 stop, added a little Clarity (+59) and reduced the noise by adjusting the Luminance slider to 31 (probably because this lens has not been cleaned in how long?) in Lightroom. In Photoshop only a Curves Adjustment Layer was added to increase contrast just a bit – no sharpening was used all! This lens was set to a f/5.4, not the wide open setting and it seems to get the sharpest edges. Other settings were shutter speed 1/250 sec., ISO 320, and EV 1/2.
This Takumar lens gets a five star rating across the board from various sites, even the older lens from the 1960′s. My husband got this lens back in 1972 and has some great pictures through the years to show for it. Therefore, it seems to be in my best interest to try and use this lens. I am looking forward to taking this lens and shooting a nice nearby landscape such as the ocean. Hopefully I will be able to put this old lens through its paces soon.
Lens Mount Adapter
On the Nikon site, this comment was made about the limitations of using a manual teleconverter: “Some newer lenses can be used with older Nikon manual focus teleconverters with limited compatibility. With a manual teleconverter there would be no autofocus operation, the camera’s internal exposure meter would not be active and only “Manual” exposure mode could be used. Further, there may be vignetting (darkened corners of the photo) in some photos or other image defects.”
For more information on the adapter I purchased, see Fotodiox Lens Mount Adapter.
It was definitely worth the money to buy the adapter and have the option of using these lenses again. There are some limitations since the pictures must all be used on a manual setting. Also note that most newer DSLR cameras will use the Center-Weighted average setting for light metering with these older lenses. If you have some nice lenses from previous film cameras sitting around, check them out on the internet and see if it is worth your money getting an adapter to fit your digital camera. Also, because you are shooting through an adapter and the lens, it may require a larger aperture or slower shutter speed or higher ISO to get the same results as the original film camera prints.
I am also finding it helpful to research at what focal lengths each of the older lenses create the sharpest images. A couple websites I researched gave suggestions for special settings to use in camera to improve the results on a particular lens. Also keep in mind the crop factor of your digital camera (my Nikon D300 has a 1.5 crop factor meaning a 10 mm lens will shoot at 15 mm due to the crop factor) which essentially crops around the edge of what you are seeing in the viewfinder so you do not get as much in your photo as what you are seeing. A good explanation of this is in the Digital Photography School “Crop Factor Explained” article, and they give some of the factors for popular cameras here – this is an important issue to understand especially when looking through these older lenses.
Recycling these old lenses is a great way to expand your lens collection without spending much to do it. My impression is that many people are buying these older lenses at incredibly cheap prices so they can shoot very sharp images for a fraction of the cost of buying all the new auto focus, vibration reduction, expensive lenses. I believe a couple of my older lenses are comparable if not better than what I am shooting digitally since I do not own the really expensive lenses so many professionals use.
Go give yourself an early present and try out those old lenses – you might be surprised how good they are!…..Digital Lady Syd
I admit it – I have certain people that I think are brilliant when it comes to Photoshop creativity – one is the totally awesome Russell Brown and another one is NAPP guy, Corey Barker. They never let you down when it some to discovering new things to do in Photoshop. This week I listened to this short video on Corey’s website, Planet Photoshop, called “Creating Exploding Brushes.” This first image basically looks very similar to Corey’s but I loved the effect. The cloud brush created in the tutorial was used as the background texture – I used my SJ-Cloud Brushes Set Cloud 4 brush. You may download my SJ-Firebrush used for all these images.
This image uses BB Brushes and Mists Sampled Brush 3 to add a fog feel behind the cloud of flames created in this image. This silhouette is from a set called People Silhouettes by redheadstock at deviantArt. A grunge effect was added with OnOne PhotoFrames (see website link on sidebar of my Tidbits Blog).
First used the Gradient Tool to create a radial gradient using Graphix 1′s Muted 6 gradient. Next two different palm trees brushes by Midnightstouch were added. Char Ultimate Grass Brushes and Obsidian Dawn’s Grasses & Plants Brush No. 9 were used. My Firebrush was used to make a background texture, without the layer style used to create the fire effect. A little Warp Tool on the brushes and that was it for this image.
I started this image by painting a sky with the Photoshop chalk brush using a color I really like for skies (#c2d0d8). A tree from MelBrushes Winter Trees and Falln-Brushes Tree Brushes Set 2 (Dead Tree 1) from deviantArt were added. The tree leaves and the bushes were created using the SJ-Firebrush by just dabbing a bit on the leaves with small size of brush and using a couple different hues – can always a add Layer Mask to trees to hide some of the branches. Also the foreground was created using the Firebrush and the bush, from The Grasslands set by Midnightstouch at deviantArt. The birds are from Obsidian Dawn’s Bird Flying Group. Put a frame on it and it is done. All very easy to do and lots of fun!
This image was created using two of Caleb Kimbrough’s fabulous free textures, Summer texture 4 and Subtle Grunge Example 3. I used my SJ-Soft Blending Brush to create the flower stems and the SJ-FireBrush at a small size to create the flowers. I used Nik’s Color Efex Pro Graduated User Defined filter using a reddish hue for the sky and a Vignette Frame from OnOne PhotoFrame (see website link on sidebar of my Tidbits Blog).
This turned out be just sort of a fun blog – wanted to show that if you get an interesting brush to play with, you can get some really cool effects and it is a lot fun. Experiment! (Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 1) You can get some surprising results!…..Digital Lady Syd
I found a blog by Heather Angel at Pixiq called “Natures Valentines” that inspired me to think about what images of mine were valentine-like in feeling. Not surprisingly, they are flowers. I love to photograph and paint flowers. So for this blog I am just going to post what I consider “My Valentine Images.”
I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!…..Digital Lady Syd
I wanted to write about this last month, but being that it was so crazy with Christmas coming so soon after the December 21st eclipse, I did not have time to post about it. This was my first try at shooting an eclipse. Here is the image that I took:
This image was taken near Daytona Beach, Florida from my backyard. The weather was cool outside and the atmosphere very clear. If you look at the diagram from Mr. Eclipse, it was taken just slightly past mid-eclipse time (3:17 AM). To start with, there is no way to photograph an eclipse without a tripod – and a remote cord is also very helpful. I used an AF-S Nikkor 70-300 mm 1:4.5-5.6 G lens set to aperture priority mode at F/5.6, 300mm focal length, and ISO 1600, with a resulting shutter speed of 2.0 sec. Digital Photography School ran an article that I used for a starting place. I believe some cameras can use the recommended settings using ISO 100 and F/11 or smaller but I could not get my Nikon D300 camera to take an image anywhere near these settings. Therefore, I was left with a little trial and error to figure out what would work. I tried several different F stops and ISO settings, but my camera would not take the shot with less than what I used, especially as the eclipse got closer to total. I was able to go out and take a few shots, and then download them into the computer to see what results were working best for me. That is how I determined that F/5.6 and ISO 1600 worked the best. My post- processing in Lightroom involved adding just a little HSL Luminance color enhancement with the oranges and a small amount of Clarity. Also, thank goodness for Lightroom’s improved Noise Reduction panel and Luminance slider where I could clean up a lot of the noise created by using ISO 1600. In Photoshop I only used a small Curves adjustment layer for contrast and the text.
I liked my results even though I saw posted many other images using bigger and better cameras and lenses. I believe that half the fun is just trying something new that you have never done before. It was also interesting to see what the limits of your camera really are in unusual circumstances.
Below is an image taken at 2:31 AM – the moon is still pretty bright having just started eclipsing and Orion is low in the west sky. This was taken with my AF-S Nikkor 10-24 mm 1:3.4-4.5G ED wide angle lens set to aperture mode F/4.8 at 18 mm focal length, 4 sec exposure, and ISO 1600.
I am linking to some fabulous photos of the eclipse from the National Geographic website. Here is a link to the Bad Astronomer’s blog from 12/19/10 which has a good explanation of what actually happens during an eclipse. He links to Sky and Telescope’s excellent minute by minute description of what happened during this eclipse. I am adding another post by the Bad Astronomer blog of 12/30/10 which shows a really nice lunar image with the International Space Station leaving a shadow on the surface of the Moon as it passed by earlier in the same evening. Today’s blog had a similar image with the Solar Eclipse from earlier today in Oman. The Bad Astronomer tweeted that many people thought the ISS looks like a Star Wars TIE Fighter.
For some interesting trivia on this particular eclipse I have quoted the NASA website: “This lunar eclipse falls on the date of the northern winter solstice. How rare is that? Total lunar eclipses in northern winter are fairly common. There have been three of them in the past ten years alone. A lunar eclipse smack-dab on the date of the solstice, however, is unusual. Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years. “Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638 DEC 21,” says Chester. “Fortunately we won’t have to wait 372 years for the next one…that will be on 2094 DEC 21.” That is a pretty cool statistic!…..Digital Lady Syd
So after talking with my son Chris who says that the last blog of the year should be an overview of the year, and since I have only been blogging a little over a month, I decided to do a post about my favorite images from last year. After reading an article posted recently by Mark McGuinness at 99% called “Why Your Inner Critic is Your Best Friend“, it started me me thinking about what things have I created or processed that I really liked. This is probably a good idea for everyone to do since it makes you think about the progress you had made in your craft during the year and what things just did not work out right. I might add this requires using your inner critic to determine this. So here we go with “My 10 Top Photos of the Year!”
8. Had to add a Disney World photo taken in the Magic Kingdom in March. This is one of the best places to take pictures. These little guys are the LGM’s (Little Green Men) from Toy Story.
7. The Wedding Collage was taken at our oldest son’s wedding in March. My first attempt at using Professor Kobre’s Light Scoop with my pop up flash, and then I placed the resulting images into the AutoCollage 2008 program from Microsoft. I loved the final results of the collage.
4. Had a fabulous trip to Maui in September. View was taken from the 31st floor at the Ka’anapali Beach Club.
3. The Houses on the Water at Green Turtle Cay in June at the Bahamas. I used a texture to give a painterly look.
2. A lovely Hibiscus from Hawaii in Sept. Applied an Eddie Tapp technique called Cookie Lighting in Photoshop.
1. My favorite image from 2010 is one I took from our sailboat while crossing the ocean to Great Sale Cay in the Bahamas. The clouds and the solitude really represent how beautiful and peaceful it was while sailing during the trip.
I have enjoyed going through all my images from last year and critically thinking about each – I am finding the ones I like are not necessarily the ones that were the most popular. Try this and you may be surprised to find the same results!…..Digital Lady Syd
Just found out from the Bad Astronomer that astronomers have now discovered more than 500 exoplanets. I can remember when they found the first one and it seemed impossible they would ever find more. Now it is hard to keep track of them all – it has always been a side hobby of mine to try though. Here is a link for the best information on any of the exoplanets and the stars they circle – The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia. This site has been in place from the very beginning. I find it to have the most accurate information and is updated frequently to include new information on already discovered exoplanets.
This brings me to an area of art that I also find fascinating – the people who draw artistic images of what these planets may look like. Several years ago I bought a book called The Grand Tour – A Traveler’s Guide to the Solar System by Ron Miller and William K. Hartmann. There are several images showing what the terrain might look like from the planet, especially one I like showing what the rings could look like from Saturn itself. A more appropriate book for this blog today is a book called Infinite Worlds – An Illustrated Voyage to Planets Beyond Our Sun by Ray Villard and Lynette R. Cook, which has many images of what worlds may be like around some of the exoplanets that have been discovered. This is another book I have always liked. If you are a painter or want to learn about space landscape perspective, there is a book that gets very high ratings when trying to create these type of pictures. It is called Space Art: How to Draw and Paint Planets, Moons, and Landscapes of Alien Worlds by Michael Carroll. There are also several 3D programs like e-On’s Vue software which appears to be for the serious creator or Bryce 7 or Terragen Classic can both be downloaded for free. I played around with Terragen several years ago and had forgotten how much fun it is to be in charge of your own world. Here is an image I just created in the latest free version of Terragen. I was trying to get the effect of a water planet circling a sunlike star.
I also tried my hand at creating a two moons as seen from a marslike planet. In this case I followed a tutorial done by Al Ward on the NAPP Website called “Postcards from Venus.” I used an image I had taken of Nuuana Pali Lookout on Oahu in Hawaii and used the Flaming Pear plug in called Lunar Cell to create the two moons. It turned out to be a lot of fun to create.
So as you can see, it is not that hard in this day and age to create what you think another world might look like and have fun doing it. I love the way Astronomy and Photography can be integrated with a little imagination!…..Digital Lady Syd
Today I was checking out the Flickr blog I follow on the Internet and came across a really nice slideshow of tall buildings which also included a lot of skylines – actually it is the longest slide show I have ever seen but so many of the images were absolutely fascinating! Several of these pictures are of the HDR (high dynamic range)type. I decided to post a couple of my images that fit the criteria even though I they are not in the linked slide show and are not HDR images.
The image below shows New York, New York in Las Vegas from a year ago. What a great place to take images of buildings!
Here is an image of Edinburgh’s skyline from Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. This is not an HDR image, but I was able to get that effect using Camera Raw in Lightroom. It is surprising how close you can get to an HDR look with a well exposed image.
And finally I have added a picture I took from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Jacksonville, Florida this year. I added Nik’s Silver Effex Pro and modified the antique plate II and added an Ash Texture with a Soft Light Blend Mode to get this effect.
As a final note, try shooting tall buildings – they make for an interesting subject matter…..Digital Lady Syd
Today I was sitting around chatting with some good friends about a place Glenn and I visited in 2003 – the Natural Bridge. I started thinking about what a popular place it has been for a couple hundred years so I decided to post a few pictures here from my earlier trip. The link to Wikipedia does a pretty good job of giving the basic history involving George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Calvin Coolidge, not to mention King George the III and Thomas Fairfax. I started looking at some of the images other people have made of the Natural Bridge and I came up with some interesting information. The image on the left below (click in image to enlarge) was done by Frederic Edwin Church and looks quite realistic and very much like the image I posted. He was an American landscape artist and painted this in 1852. He has painted more famous images but I really like this rendition which is at the University of Virginia. I personally like his art and want to see the several paintings listed in the galleries in Washington, DC with my son, Chris, who is also a great art fan and photographer. Follow this link to a couple old postcards of The Natural Bridge where they show no water flowing under it. I find that interesting as the creek seemed to be quite robust in 2003. I bought a print of the image on the right (click in image to enlarge) at the gift shop called “The Natural Bridge, Virginia – drawn by W. P. Snyder” which indicated it was published in Harper’s Weekly newspaper on September 8, 1888 where it was titled “Natural Bridge Virginia Food Wine Picnic 1888.” The people are sitting right in the middle of where the creek now flows. I could not find out much information on the artist although there seem to be various drawings for sale at different art sites. I believe many of his drawings were in this weekly newspaper. Water coloring was added to the image I bought at a later date by an unknown artist. It is still a very charming print.
There seem to be many old and original prints for sale on eBay for reasonable prices. I took a lot of images while visiting – in May there were all kinds of flowers blooming, especially roses, and the weather is nice enough to stroll around the grounds in the early evening. It is a wonderful place to relax for a weekend and get some terrific shots, history, and outdoor relaxation. Definitely worth the trip if you are in the area!…..Digital Lady Syd
The image below (click in image to see larger size) was in a blog called British Photographic History on November 2. It says that Hugh Lee Pattinson made the first picture of Niagara Falls using the Daguerreotype technique. They said , “It took him more than twenty minutes to fix the scene on the silver-coated copper plate inside this camera.” The original images were lost at the University of Newcastle in England for a long time and were not found until 1997.
I found an interesting site that discusses daguerreotype images called The Daguerreian Society. They answer a lot of questions on this process. Why are daguerreotypes backwards? I had not realized that they are typically reversed images. “The only way to get a correct orientation was to copy the image with a second daguerreotype, or to make the original daguerreotype using a reversing prism or mirror. Besides the complexity, a problem with a reversing mirror was, if taken outdoors, it may be subject to movement by a breeze causing a blurred image. So typically people just lived with a reversed image.” This process was popular from 1840 through 1855; after that ambrotypes and tintypes were used.
I attempted to do a daguerreotype following some of the steps in Photoshop Fine Arts Effects Cookbook by John Beardsworth. Not sure I did that well but it was a lot of fun. This is a picture I took at Stonehenge a couple years ago.
I am posting just a couple pictures I took with my first digital camera, a Casio QV-2900UX, a 2.1 Megapixel camera with a 8X zoom in March 2002. I wanted the camera to take astrophotography images with my little Celestron telescope. I never did do that, but I took a lot of other pictures. I did very little processing on these pictures. They are from a visit I took to Kitt Peak in Arizona to do imaging at one of their large telescopes. It was absolutely freezing outside and the wind was blowing like crazy – I think that is why the pictures are so clear. If you want a really nice current view, check out their Live Cam Shots.
The first image was taken from a very steep road of the Indian Reservation Kitt Peak is on. The other images are of several of the large telescopes at the top……Digital Lady Syd
I decided to post a couple images I took while doing just a little PhotoWalk in my own neighborhood. Jay Maisel says you have to take pictures all the time to get good ones. So here was an attempt at that.
I included the hawk since he landed on the enclosure while I was having lunch on the porch today. For some reason the hawks like to stand up there and look at the little lake – for some reason I like to sit out there and do the same thing. Hum!
…..Digital Lady Syd
Just learning my way around here. I am posting a picture I finished yesterday from my front yard. It was done in Photoshop CS5 using the Mixer Brush with textures by Karen Sperling and Textures by Ash (these textures are no longer available but see my more recent blog “Adding a Texture for Flair!” for other texture sites).