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Combining Plug-ins – Double the Effect!

NIK Color Efex Pro 4, Topaz Lens Effects, and OnOne PhotoFrame 4.6

The original image was of a shop on St. George Street in St. Augustine. My Vivid Drawing Look preset (see my Tidbits Blog “Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR/Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 Pseudo HDR Recipe“) in Lightroom was used with some luminance color adjustment before being brought into Photoshop. In NIK Color Efex Pro 4 (CEP4), the Darken/Lighten Center filter and Film Efex: Vintage set to Film Type 27 was added. The layer was copied and Rasterized to get rid of the Smart Object (right-click on layer and select rasterize) and then the Topaz Lens Effect plug-in was used. The Fisheye Lens Effect was applied using 73% distortion amount and adjusting all the Image Adjustment sliders. A New Layer was added above and the Sharpen Tool was used to locally sharpen parts of the image. Finally the “acid burned controlled 05″ OnOne PhotoFrame was added to finish the look. This is a crazy look but it shows what an interesting result you can get by stacking the plug-in effects on one image.

Photomatix Pro 4, NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and Topaz Adjust 4


This image is of the famous pedestrian St. George Street in St. Augustine, Florida. It was processed as an HDR in Photomatix Pro 4.0 and then brought into two of my favorite Photoshop plug-ins: NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and Topaz Adjust. To get this vintage artsy effect, six CEP4 filters were stacked into a recipe (Darken/Lighten Center, Brilliance/Warmth, Tonal Contrast, Image Borders, Dark Contrasts, and High Key in that order); and in Topaz Adjust 4, a preset was created from a Topaz video on “Rick Sammon’s Top Topaz Tricks, Tips, and Techniques” that used the Spicify preset to create a soft artsy effect.

NIK Color Efex Pro 4.0, Topaz Black and White Effects, and OnOne PhotoFrame 4.6

All my favorite plug-ins were used on this one. The Flagler Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine is one of the beautiful places to see while enjoying the city. NIK CEP4 was first applied using my Pseudo HDR1 preset from my blog “Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4” with an additional white Vignette filter. It was then toned down by using the Topaz Black and White Effects plug-in.  The Albumen Collection – Aubergine preset was used as starting point and then adjusting the Basic Exposure settings and setting the Transparency setting to 0.58. Back in Photoshop this layer was set to 59%, a New Layer was added and the Sharpening Tool was used to bring out the edges on the tops of the little towers, and finally the “acid burned controlled 15″ preset from OnOne PhotoFrames was added in a matching cream color. These three plug-ins really do go hand-in-hand to create some stunning results!

It is a lot of fun to use these plug-ins! It is even more fun to mix and match! I use the OnOne PhotoFrames a lot because it can enhance an image that lacks some pizzazz. It is very great that the colors can be changed easily and sampled from the image to match the colors in the image. I also like Topaz Black and White Effects and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 as my two favorite creative plug-ins. Topaz Lens Effects does a great job of recreating the fisheye look without having to buy an expensive fisheye lens – there are several other effects in it that can be a lot of fun to try out. See below for my other blog links to these plug-ins for further information on how to use them.

Try stacking some of these effects – you will be surprised what great results you can create! Have fun experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd

Related Digital Lady Syd Blog Links:
Topaz Lens Effects Plug-In
Why I Love Topaz Adjust!
Topaz B&W Effects Plug-in – A Real Winner!
NIK Color Efex Pro 4.0 – First Try!
The New Film Efex-Vintage Filter from NIK CEP 4
NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review!
The Art Corner: Painting and Sculpture by Tassaert
Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4
Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR/Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro Pseudo HDR Recipe


Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4

Yep, it can actually do a pretty nice job of creating an HDR effect. I am providing you with the information needed to get the same effect so here we go. The image above is of the inside of one of the most beautiful libraries you will ever see, the Minsk Library in Belarus. I love the results and how Color Efex Pro 4 (CEP4) has turned this image into a reasonable HDR look with just a single image.

To create this effect, the following steps were done:

1. First process the image in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) or Lightroom to adjust tone and contrast. On four of these images, I used my SJ-Vivid Drawing Look preset as a starting point that can be downloaded here for ACR (wrong extension in the zip folder on file – change to .xmp to get it to work) and here for Lightroom. Gives a nice starting point for a pseudo HDR effect.” Then adjust the exposure or any other settings to get the feel you want. (To get the actual settings, see my Tidbits Blog “Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR & Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 Pseudo HDR Recipe.”)

2. Next, either open the image as a Smart Object directly from ACR or Lightroom, or convert a duplicate layer to a Smart Object (right click on layer and choose “Convert to Smart Object.”) before opening the plug-in. This is really an important step since CEP4 will save your settings and control points when working on a Smart Object layer.

3. Go to Filters -> NIK -> Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in. My SJ Pseudo HDR1 recipe can be downloaded here. NOTE: Appears the link will not work if the download button is pressed directly, but if you right click it and select “Save Link As”, it will download. (To import, go to the Recipes section on left and at bottom click on the Import button, then navigate to file – it is put in the Imported section, or put the file in this folder for Windows Users: [User Name]\AppData\Local\Nik Software\Color Efex Pro 4\UserPresets). The Detail Extractor may need to be adjusted, especially if the image has too many artifacts or too much noise – try setting the Effect Radius to Large in this filter. Other filter effects may be added such as a Vignette or Color Effects. For settings, click on my Tidbits Blog link above in Step 1.

4. Press OK button to apply the filters . If you do not like the results or want to add another filter, change settings by double-clicking on the actual plug-in name (Color Efex Pro 4) underneath the Smart Object layer. If you click on the symbols to the right of the line, a Blending Options (Color Efex Pro 4) dialog box appears where the opacity and blend mode of the plug-in results can be changed. (Try this out to get  some more interesting effects.) Can also paint with black on the Smart Filters layer mask to reduce the effect of all the filters applied to the layer.

5. A noise filter may need to be applied at this point. It can be done right on the Smart Object layer – the filter will be added on top of the Color Efex Pro filter. Not all images need it, but it can happen whenever you are doing an HDR type effect. (If you do not have a noise reducer, the image can be brought back into ACR by using Dr. Brown’s script as explained in my blog “Edit Layers with ACR Script” and using the Noise Reduction panel – I do this all the time and it works great!)

Basically your image is finished unless you want to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to adjust contrast or add a layer style stroke or border around the outside.  Many resources say to sharpen the image at this point – try it but watch your noise carefully.

Once you have the Pseudo HDR1 recipe in place, it is very easy to get good results. Just remember to use a Smart Object so you can go in afterwards and tweak a slider or two or add another filter to the stack if you want.

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This Tower of London image was first processed in Lightroom using the SJ Vivid Drawing Look preset. Once in Photoshop but before going into CEP4, clouds were added onto a layer above the image from my SJ-Clouds brush set, and then a layer mask was created to paint out any overlap. A composite layer was created on top (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) which was immediately converted into a Smart Object. This image was created using my recipe as in the first image, but then a Bi-Color User Defined filter was added to make the sky and clouds bluer (Upper color a blue R94/G111/B155 and Lower color off-white R192/G192/B192) – it started as an ugly gray.

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Another good example of what you can do with just one image in CEP4. This image just used the Pseudo HDR1 recipe. I did adjust the Detail Extractor slider in that filter and that’s it! The original image was adjusted a bit in Lightroom using no preset before bringing into Photoshop. The image was taken at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Oahu, Hawaii.
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This beautiful Great Egret was processed in Lightroom with the SJ Vivid Drawing Look preset and then in Photoshop using NIK’s CEP4 plug-in and the recipe provided, but also adding Vignette Blur and Vignette filters. Back in Photoshop a layer mask was added to selectively sharpen just the bird.
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This image (of me and my photography buddy, Gary, at the Old Drugstore in St. Augustine) uses the same Lightroom Vivid Drawing Look preset and CEP4 Pseudo HDR preset. I am actually shooting into a huge mirror on the wall!

I really wanted to present the range of images that can be converted into a fairly convincing HDR effect with just one image. I hope you get a chance to try this recipe out and see what you think. This may be the easiest way to get that pseudo-HDR look that I have found! I will show several other examples over the next few weeks – it is really easy to do and gives a nice look to just about any picture. Once again, it goes to show why this updated plug-in from NIK is really great!

Hope you enjoy the recipe and let me know what you think!…..Digital Lady Syd

Related Blog Links by Digital Lady Syd (or click under Categories – HDR Effect):
NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review!
Another Pseudo HDR Image with NIK CEP4 – Got to Love the Effect!
Pseudo HDR in OnOne Perfect Effects
The New Film Efex-Vintage Filter From NIK CEP 4
Digital Landscape Effects with Nik Software
NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – First Try!
With One Good Photo – Try the Pseudo HDR Effect


Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Topaz InFocus Plug-in

I bought this plug-in last December when it first came out. To be honest, I did not have a lot of luck with it so I never used it much. This week I decided to look at it again since Photoshop seems to be coming out with a similar effect in their next version. (See “Adobe MAX 2011 – Photoshop Image Deblurring Sneak” video or “Behind All the Buzz: Deblur Sneak Preview” article.)  This sculpture was slightly out-of-focus when I downloaded it after going to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. I decided to try the Topaz InFocus plug-in to see if I could improve the results.  Afterwards the image was processed in Topaz Black and White Effects to get rid of that ugly yellow color cast.

Below is a close up of the original bottom area and the one with the plug-in applied. There has been a very nice improvement.



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The image below is the final result of a photo I took in the Scottish Highlands from a moving bus so it has many issues.


This image is not one you would print out, but since I only got one shot, it was rescued as much as possible by Topaz InFocus. Below is the Original out-of-focus image and the Topaz InFocus image.

It is a very subtle change but can be seen clearly in the plug-in interface. It is important to note that the program works best on images with edges that are straight and have a lot of contrast as in the bridge area. The trees and greenery have bad motion blur issues which the plug-in did not help in this case, so I used a heavy vignette effect in Topaz Black and White Effects along with Quad Tones that creates the warm and cool effect (Color 1 Region R1/G1/B12 set to 9.60; Color 2 Region R63/G78/B85 set to 143.9; Color 3 Region R216/G211/B129 set to 227.5; and Color 4 Region White set to 255.0 which gives a bit of a Vintage Feel). After applying Topaz Black and White Effects, the clouds now become a major focal point along with the bridge and this somewhat saves the image.

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Below is another image that InFocus was used on first and then NIK Color Efex Pro to further enhance the image. The major area where the focus was improved is on the house windows and roof. The original is shown underneath.



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My final thoughts are that there is a place for this plug-in but it does not work on every image, and as noted above it works best on sharp edges and clear features.  Sometimes I could not even find a difference when applied. Yet I thought it worked great on the first image in this blog. I do not like the fact that it constantly is updating as you move around the image trying to see what improved (since you have to run the plug-in at 100% view). It really slows down the computer and it is hard to tell what is working. After looking at the Adobe Photoshop links above, it seems like they are doing the same thing and have the same issues as InFocus. Another problem is that InFocus creates haloing very easily and even though there is an Edge Softness slider, it is hard to completely eliminate. The plug-in can also create a lot of artifacts on some images, which Topaz recognizes is a problem and do have a slider to help get rid of them. I feel like Topaz set the standard for Adobe to try and copy and is a good first attempt at fixing a blurred image. If you are interested in trying it out, go over to my Tidbits Blog and look at the right sidebar for a link to Topaz products. Definitely look at the Topaz videos , especially the second video on Blur Estimation , on using the plug-in before trying it out or you probably will not get good results at all. These videos need to be updated as they are using an older version, but you can get the basic feel of what to do.

I am really looking forward to what Photoshop is coming up with and finding out if it gets better results. Until then, I believe this plug-in is the best you can get for that slightly out-of-focus (blurred) look. Have fun trying this out!…..Digital Lady Syd


Same Image – Different Plug-In

I decided to do this blog because I was experimenting in Photoshop trying to see if different plug-ins can get the same look even though they are very different. I started with this basic image from Camachee Cove in St. Augustine, Florida. This is a really pretty place to take images and my beloved sailboat lives there. Only the Basic sliders in Lightroom were adjusted and all the following images used this one as a starting place. Also, whenever possible I used a Smart Layer to save the settings so I could easily go back to tweak the sliders. I am becoming a big fan of doing this with all plug-in adjustments!
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Overall, the above is not a bad picture. That said, I still love the new Topaz Black and White Effect plug-in (click on right in my Tidbits Blog to access site) and decided to give it a whirl and see if the image feeling could be improved. Below is what was achieved using this plug-in.


Personally I loved the results (this is how I remember it) and the cool thing is that it took only two minutes to get this look and it was done! If you are interested in the settings for the Sunny Preset, my Tidbits Blog “Sunny Preset – Topaz Black and White Effects” list how to do it. There was just one further adjustment made in Photoshop which, unfortunately when adding most of these plug-ins, there is some noise created. I took the image back into Adobe Camera Raw (see my blog “Edit Layers with ACR Script“) but any Noise Reduction plug-in would work fine also.

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Next I tackled the updated NIK Color Efex Pro 4.0 (CEP4) plug-in to see what I would get. This plug-in is another fabulous NIK product and I totally love using it. I could not get it to do what Topaz B&W Effects did  as quickly and as well. I spent a long time fooling around in CEP4 trying to get this effect, especially the color effect.

The sky has a really ugly edge in the upper clouds that I could not adjust easily. This image also has Hue/Sat and Selective Color adjustment layers and still is not quite right. The stacked CEP4 filters used for this image were: High Key, Brilliance/Warmth, Graduated User Defined, and Vignette. Normally this image could be adjusted nicely but when trying to copy the Topaz B&W image, it does not do this so easily.

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Now to be fair, since Topaz B&W was used, I next tried the NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2). The results are pretty nice, but they still had to be adjusted in Photoshop. Below is the final image that started as a black and white using NIK .

The results are pretty close. The image was processed in SEP2 using the High Structure preset and a Red Color Filter. The layer was set to Luminosity blend mode in Photoshop, a Color Fill adjustment layer using a a yellow-beige Fill Color (9f9f84) set to Vivid Light blend mode and 55% opacity, and a low opacity light beige edge added to the top and bottom of the image. The sky and water color is very close to the Topaz B&W results, but it took a lot longer and required Photoshop work to achieve the results, and you had to know what you were trying to do.

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Now this next image uses OnOne PhotoTools 2.6 (click on right in my Tidbits Blog to access site). They have a new version coming out shortly which may make this much easier to do but overall, it gave a reasonable approximation to the Topaz B&W result.

I do not use this plug-in as much since I seem to have trouble getting the look I want and it is very computer RAM intensive. It also does not support Smart Objects at this point. In all fairness, I do believe it is a really good plug-in and it already has stacking abilities for effects. Unfortunately, at this point it does not have different sliders for the effects, but they do offer several setting choices for each filter, and several filter effects can be brushed on using a brush and mask in the plug-in. I plan on reviewing the upgrade after it becomes available. In this case, the clouds just do not have the detail and water and sky color is not quite right. There were 6 effects stacked to get the effect and I saved it down as a preset to preserve. If I was more familiar with the program, I might have been able to get a better result since there is no shortage of filters in this plug-in.

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Alright, let’s change things up a bit and go back to Topaz using their fairly new Lens Effects plug-in (click on right in my Tidbits Blog to access site).

It also gives a nice result even though it is a different type of plug-in. The Dual Tone Filter Effect was used as a starting point using the Green to Yellow preset. Both Regions A and B were adjusted – this is very similar to the Quad Tones in Topaz B&W Effects. That is one reason there is some similarity, especially in the sky horizon area. A Vignette was also added in the program. It is nice that you can get similar results without buying every plug-in module in the set.

Conclusion

Personally I still like the Topaz Black and White Effects result the best. I hope this gives you some idea about how similar but how different these plug-ins are when applied to the same image. I did not mean to make it look like one plug-in is better than the other, just that it really depends on what your picture is will determine how it looks finished. If you do not like the way it turns out with one of the plug-ins, try a different one – it can be totally different! Have fun experimenting…..Digital Lady Syd


Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Nik Color Efex Pro 4!

Anyone who has followed my site knows that I am a big fan of Photoshop plug-ins. I remember wanting a copy of this plug-in’s first version. NIK is still one of the best companies making Photoshop plug-ins and this new upgrade does not disappoint! Here is a link to their product site.

The new program now allows you to stack filter effects – in CEP 3.0 you had to exit out of the plug-in and come back in to apply a different one. Now, instead of saving individual presets for each filter, you save recipes which contain the settings of each of the stacked filters. For example, this image contains the following filter effects:  Detail Extractor (one of the new filters and why the details in the leaves are sharp), Foliage, and Vignette Blur. I still used my border from OnOne PhotoFrames  though.

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The image above of Metal Chris at DCHheavyMetal.com on The Mall in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, was first processed in Photomatix Pro 4 using five shots to form this HDR image. Then the final tone-mapped image was processed with Color Efex Pro 4 using a new stack of these filters: Darken/Lighten Center, Brilliance/Warmth, Tonal Contrast, and Image Borders. Finally I sharpened the image using the Photoshop’s High Pass Filter at 9.1 Radius.

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In this Orlando Building image an HDR feel was actually created by the stacked plug-in effects: the Detail Extractor (I really like this new effect!), Brilliance/Warmth, Vignette: Lens, and Bi-Color User Defined filter effects. I first used Photoshop’s Lens Correction to straighten the buildings before processing. Afterwards, the image was sharpened using the High Pass Filter with the sky painted out so no sharpening occurred on the clouds which were looking overprocessed. The original of this image is shown below to show you what a change these filters can make to an image.

See my Tidbits Blog “NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – First Try!” for another example of this new plug-in.
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What I Like

  1. The ease of use of the plug-in. It always comes up quick and it is easy to see what the original vs. the filter looks like. Now there is a new History section where you can go back to a previous state of filter application. Be aware that, just like in Photoshop, once you exit out of the plug-in, the History states disappear even when applying the plug-in as a Smart Object.
  2. There are several new filters that are totally terrific! Many of the older filters have also been updated. Here is a link showing all the filters in the plug-in that can be sorted to show the new and updated filters.
  3. Love the fact the filter effects can be stacked and saved to be reapplied on another image as a Recipe.
  4. Most of the effects have an opacity slider so you can tone them down a bit if they appear too strong.
  5. The Control Points are fabulous as always. Place a Plus Control Point to add the filter effect to a specific area and a Minus Control Point to remove the effect from a certain area. The points have the ability to not remove the effect from radically different adjacent regions so your image always looks right. The opacity for these control points can also be set and several points may be added to an image. Very quick to adjust. CEP 4 lets you copy all the set Control Points from one filter to another one – this has been a real time saver for me!
  6. Canned presets are now viewable with suggested settings to get a good starting place for each effect.
  7. The ability to drag the effects into a different order gives some very different looks.

What I Don’t Like

  1. The biggest issue I have is that you have lost the ability to set a preset for each individual effect. Instead you have to save it as a recipe. Unfortunately you do not have the ability to stack several recipes – if you change to a different recipe, you lose all the filter effects you had set before. The work around is to stack all your favorite filters with your favorite individual filter settings into one large recipe, then selectively delete effects you do not want to apply to the image you are working on. I contacted NIK Technical support regarding this issue and this was their response “Unfortunately, no, there is no way to bring your Color Efex Pro 3.0 presets into Color Efex Pro 4.  I do see what you are saying about having a preset for an individual filter in addition to the recipes.  It would improve and expand workflow capabilities, so I will put in that recommendation to our development team!” This is a big problem in my mind. A large number of Recipes will have to be generated to cover all the presets and scenarios for all your images.
  2. It is very easy to forget to click the “Add Filter” button. If you go to another effect, you immediately lose all the currently stacked filters and their settings – there is no warning note. I have lost my settings several times by forgetting to do this. (I have watched several videos where the instructor has done the same thing!) The work-around is to remember to click on the History section to restore it immediately.
  3. When you save a recipe, you do not retain the Control Points you have set. It would be nice if you had this option so you can reapply the settings to a similar image since you now can apply them to several effects at the same time. The partial work-around for this is to make your layer a Smart Object before going into the NIK Color Efex Pro plug-in, then you do not have to save the recipe or the control points – just apply the filters. This is only good for the current image. (To see what settings and points were applied, just double click on the Color Efex Pro 4 line, and they can be adjusted.)
  4. Need to remember to Save Recipe if you plan on using these same filters on another image. Here is a partial work-around. If image is converted to a Smart Object before applying the plug-in, you can access the settings and control points from image by going back into the filter later (see 3 above). Now you have the opportunity to save the filter stack as a Recipe (without the control points) that can be reused on other images. I am already starting to build up a huge amount of Recipes so this could get to be a real problem after processing images for several weeks.
  5. The new Image Borders filter is nice but still not up to the OnOne PhotoFrames level. Still a nice edition for quick processing and I give them kudos for trying to make it easy.
  6. It is not a cheap plug-in but then again, it offers lots of options.

Final Thoughts

Well, if NIK could fix a few of the problems I mentioned above, Color Efex Pro 4 may be the best plug-in ever made. Their effects are top-notch and they have added 7 new and very good filters to this version. (See my Tidbits Blog “The New Film Efex-Vintage Filter From NIK CEP 4” for information on just this one new filter.) They also updated several of their other filters although I have not had much time to play with all of them. The Brilliance/Warmth filter has a new slider called Perceptual Saturation that is fabulous. This was always a favorite effect of mine to begin with and now it is even better! I will be exploring some of the new filter effects in my Tidbits Blog in the next few weeks as I believe they deserve more attention than just a passing look.

Try downloading the Trial Version and see what you think. I believe you will be as impressed as I am…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blog:
Use NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and Silver Efex Pro 2 Together to Create Fabulous Landscapes!


Digital Landscape Effects with Nik Software

I have always loved Nik products. This week I decided to follow a digital workflow by a wonderful landscape artist who posted on Nik’s website a video called “Incorporating Nik Software into your Daily Workflow with Don Smith.” His blog is called Nature’s Best by Don Smith Photography if you would like more information on this great photographer.


The image of Oahu in Hawaii is an example of how Mr. Smith uses Nik software in his workflow. His basic premise is that you have to have a plan how you want to fix a landscape. The following steps indicate how the images in this blog were created using Photoshop and Nik plug-ins.

  1. Crop and do a basic exposure adjustment in Lightroom or ACR – the image will appear a little flat in Photoshop.
  2. Look critically at image and decide what needs to be fixed. Check out the sky for noise, the foreground, middle ground and background for areas that need to be color corrected. Look at the shadows and highlights in image.
  3. Open up the Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 plug-in and select the Tonal Contrast Effect. Just the default setting can make an image look much better. Move the Midtones slider – if it looks too harsh, move slider to the left a little. To keep other areas like the sky from being affected by this change, put a minus U-point in a couple places in the sky to protect the area and set the opacity to 0. (Click Alt on U-point to duplicate the one set down and drag to move.) When finished, click the OK button to go back into Photoshop.
  4. If part of the image needs some additional contrast, open the Nik Viveza plug-in (a powerful plug-in to selectively control color and light in your photographs) and set a U-point in that area. (This can be done in Photoshop using a Curves or Levels Adjustment Layer, but it is harder since layer masks need to be utilized.) Whatever is under that point will be affected by the adjustment sliders in the circle created. Just the Brightness slider may be all that is needed to darken the area a bit. This can be done a global basis if the whole image needs some change. Click OK and go back to Photoshop.
  5. Next go back and apply Nik Color Efex Pro Brilliance and Warmth. I created a Good Basic Setting preset that I use on almost all my images and is very similar to what Mr. Smith uses. I set Brilliance at 62% and Warmth at 57%.
  6. Now sharpen image. I usually just duplicate the image and apply a High Pass filter set to Soft Blend or Hard Blend mode. If it is overly sharpened, use a layer mask and paint out where it is too sharp or if the whole image is too sharp, just lower the layer opacity. Nik Sharpener Pro is a good plug-in that I do not own.
  7. If there is noise in the image, Nik Dfine 2.0 Noise can be used. Since I do not own this plug-in, I go back into ACR using Dr. Brown’s ACR script and clean up the noise in the Detail-Noise Reduction panel – adjust the Luminance and Detail sliders. (See my Fun Photoshop Blog “Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script on how to do this.”) This does a great job of getting rid of the noise.

This image is of Iolani Palace State Monument in the middle of Honolulu, Hawaii on Oahu. It is another example of following the steps above pretty closely, except I did used Nik Viveza twice – once to tone down the green foreground color but leaving the palm trees the bright green; then back in to give the sky a little more blue tone. This was done before sharpening and noise reduction.

Cloud Brushes, some pretty fluffy clouds were also painted in. A composite layer was made above (ALT+SHIFT+CTRL+E) and then the workflow was followed. I did use Viveza to increase the contrast on the bat and the roof areas only.


For another example of this workflow, see my Tidbits blog, “Straightening with Puppet Warp,” where these steps were followed after the puppet warp effect was applied.

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Nik has come out with a new version of Color Efex Pro (NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review!). I am looking forward to trying out their new effects since they have done such a wonderful job with all their plug-ins. I can honestly say they are the fastest plug-ins to apply and my computer never has a problem processing them when added to an image. That in itself is a great feature since most plug-ins are so RAM hungry. If you have not tried out the Nik products, definitely download their trial versions, especial Color Efex Pro. There are so many things you can do with just this one plug-in that it is amazing. Try them out – you will not be disappointed!…..Digital Lady Syd


Topaz B&W Effects Plug-In – A Real Winner!

I will start off and say I am a major fan of Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 so I was not expecting anything as good. Still I have always felt Topaz does a great job for us budget-minded Photoshoppers and they have not let us down with this plug-in! These guys just keep making better and better plug-ins and still keep their prices reasonable. (Click on my Tidbits Blog for a link to Topaz and this new black and white plug-in – they have a 30-day free trial to download, and my short blog called “Topaz B&W Effects vs. Nik’s Silver Efex Pro.”)

The above image was just a basic black-and-white conversion using the Traditional Collection and the Classic preset. Go to the Conversion section on the right and adjust exposure and color to enhance your picture and finally go to the Local Adjustments sections where the best part of the program lies (in my view). You can locally correct the image using a Dodge, Burn, Color (brings color back into the image slightly if you want), Detail (I love this one – like Structure in Nik) and Smooth brush; and you have an Overall Strength slider to increase the effect and a layer mask to see how it is being applied. If you mess up, just switch to the Erase Brush and remove while viewing the mask. This gives similar results to the localized points that Nik has (and which is why everyone loves Nik). It is interesting to see how Topaz has come at this same result from a totally different direction and it seems to work beautifully!


For this image, the Opalotype Collection Effect-Yellowing Lilac preset was the starting point, but major adjustments were made in the right hand sections and this is the final result. I love the partially tinted feel – it really felt like Arizona did that day (it was 110 degrees outside). This is why this program has a lot more to offer than Nik’s plug-in which is essentially a black and white plug-in. In Nik’s defense, their Color Efex Pro plug-in probably does cover what the rest of the this filter is doing.

If you find some settings you really like, be sure to save them as a preset so they appear in the list for the collection you were using. I always put an SJ in front of the ones I create so I know which ones they are. There are a couple of things I do not love. For one, in the Finishing Touches section the Vignette is a little hard to apply, and it cannot be applied in different colors. I do like the Edge Exposure option which frames the image really nicely (like in the image above), but I do not care for the Border option. I do not usually use a plain white or black border around an image, so I will be going back to my old stand-by OnOne’s PhotoFrame for this.  One of the best parts is the Transparency option with the Overall Transparency slider to bring back some of the image color without having to go back into Photoshop and change blend modes.

Here are a couple more examples of what I did rather quickly in Topaz and got some really different results.

Below is an example of an image with the overall Transparency adjusted so you can see some of the color come back in. I believe it is a very pretty effect and has a bit of vintage look to it.

As you can see, there are a lot of variations to this plug-in and I have not even begun to explore all the options. I do believe Topaz has hit a winner  here and will keep most Photoshop lovers busy with all kinds of creative results. I am happy to see this company take on the big guys once again and create what I think is a great new plug-in for a reasonable price! Thank you Topaz! ……Digital Lady Syd


Why I Love Topaz Adjust!

I have been doing Photoshop for several years now – I actually learned the program using Adobe PhotoDeluxe, which came with my printer (this was the precursor to Photoshop Elements). When first learning Adobe Photoshop, plug-ins were  way too expensive for me. A few years ago, I finally bought my first plug-in, Topaz Adjust (for website link see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog), and it has been totally worth the money! Topaz Adjust is the whole package and at a very reasonable price (at the moment it is $50 – for link see Tidbits Blog tab above).


The image above is one of my all-time favorite pseudo-HDR images – it was taken from the London Eye as it was moving. Therefore I had to use Topaz Adjust if I wanted an HDR feel to the image. To get this particular look, I applied the plug-in twice, first using the HDR Pop preset and next using HDR Spicify preset (use a layer mask to paint out any portions you do not like from the top layer). Remember to open up the shadows by increasing this slider and possibly lowering your highlights a bit – check the contrast slider too.


I do love the HDR effect. Since I am not always very good about using a tripod, especially when taking travel pictures, Topaz Adjust has saved the day many times for me. On the Jackson downt0wn picture, I hand-held my camera for HDR and got such a garbled mess, I ended up using Topaz Adjust’ s HDR Pop preset on the middle exposure  image. This preset needed a few adjustments to get the right look, but don’t pass it over with the first glance. Rick Sammon, who is one of the great HDR guys, did an excellent video for Topaz called “Awaken the Artist Within” where he discusses his settings for this preset. What I did was create a Rick Sammon HDR Pop preset using his adjustments and applied these settings with very little tweaking – and it took just a few seconds to do! (Rick Sammon also has written a very good basic book, “HDR Photography Secrets for Digital Photographers,” which I found to be very useful, although both Photomatix Pro and Topaz Adjust have updated their software since its publication.  (There is some controversy on what people expected from his book – I still found his discussions on when to use HDR very useful. I hope Rick is considering updating his book as it has the best information on Topaz Adjust and how to use it.)
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I wanted to show a comparison of using a single image with  HDR Toning in CS5 and the Topaz Adjust HDR Pop preset. For Photoshop CS5, go to Image -> Image Adjustment -> HDR Toning. (Note: the program will flatten your image for this adjustment so save to a single layer first.) This brings up a dialog box that gives a convincing HDR effect when limited to just one image. There are various Presets in a drop-down menu and you can save your own presets here if you find some settings you like. Overall it is a very nice addition to Photoshop and you should definitely explore it. (Check out my previous blog “Different Images-Same Look Using HDR!” for more information on HDR Toning.) The image on the left was created using this technique. A Nik CEP Tonal Contrast  filter was also added to get more detail into the image. The image on the right just used Topaz Adjust using Rick Sammon’s HDR Pop preset and the same Nik CEP Tonal Contrast filter. I find that combining two different plug-ins can really make an image pop and that is what happened when the Tonal Contrast filter was applied.

When you look at the two images, they look pretty similar – the HDR Toning effect is missing a bit of detail, the color is not quite the same – even the OnOne PhotoFrame (for website see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) looks different even though it is the exact same frame for each image. I spent an hour just manipulating this image trying to duplicate Topaz Adjust’s look – I ended up using some Burning to bring out the detail on the white stones and after trying every adjustment layer, I settled two, a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and the Photo Filter Adjustment Layer set to Cooling Filter (LBB) at 44% density to get the closest proximity for color. Now I would not normally spend all this time trying to get two images looking exactly the same, but I wanted to show it is possible to get a very similar look without purchasing a plug-in. I personally still like the Topaz image as the detail and color makes the image look like it did when I saw it – and after all, that is the name of the game!

Below, the top image was processed using three images with Photoshop CS5′s Merge to HDR Pro and underneath, the Topaz Adjust plug-in on one image.


Very similar look. The Topaz Adjust plug-in used the Rick Sammon HDR Pop preset I created and the Nik CEP Tonal Contrast filter. A PhotoFrame was added and that was it – very quick. The Photoshop HDR Pro image took a lot longer – the trees did not match perfectly and caused me to bring in one of the images to clean this up. It looked a bit flat to me so I had to Burn in some detail. It once again took about an hour to get this adjusted the way I like it. Since I am only using one image in Topaz Adjust, the tree line looks sharp and crisp and I like the way the windows popped. Therefore, once again the Topaz plug-in created a nice effect faster and with great detail from a single image.

Here is what the original middle exposure RAW file looked like straight from the camera, and the one used in the Topaz Adjust image, in case you are interested in what these programs can do with a pretty uninteresting subject.

The one thing I have had trouble figuring out it is when to use HDR and when to use Topaz Adjust. Rick Sammon explains in his book, ” If the dynamic range of your scene is 3 F-stops, you can manage it in Photoshop.” Therefore, if you have an image with a lot of contrast, you will need an HDR program to get all the detail. Otherwise, Adobe Camera Raw (see how to get back into ACR after opening file in my blog “Edit Layers with ACR Script“), CS5′s HDR Toning, or Topaz Adjust can be used on a single image. Raw file format is the best choice, using your image with the most contrast from the HDR set of images, if you took them. You will not get anymore detail in your image using three HDR images that only has 3 F-stops of information. (See above images.)

When doing HDR, you will probably still have to do some adjustments in Photoshop afterwards. Adding a Topaz Adjust preset or a Nik CEP Tonal Contrast filter can finish up an image – it is that extra step that might make the picture better than the average HDR. Use layer masks to mask out effects and Curves Adjustment layers to emphasize contrast.

The final image is another example of using Topaz Adjust but this time it is giving an artsy look by using the Spicify preset and increasing the Noise Suppression. This was another of Rick Sammon’s examples in the linked  video above. I made another preset to duplicate his basic settings. Below is the result.

I could go on-and-on with what this little plug-in can do. It definitely adds to my total pleasure while working with Photoshop – and I definitely would not use it if it was not fun! I hope you will download a trial of the Topaz Adjust plug-in. I believe you will enjoy a lot of the results you get. I find that I use this plug-in about as much as the regular HDR programs to get that really interesting effect, whether using HDR or pseudo HDR – and you got to love the way it can make a really boring picture interesting! Good luck experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd


Adding a Texture for Flair!



This week I am going to discuss textures since I suggested using them in last week’s blog on “The Soft, Dreamy Look,” which created a free action to apply to your images. Textures are a very popular effect and can give a totally nice and different look to an image if applied correctly.

Basic Technique

The basic technique involves just adding a texture image (a jpg can be added to a raw, psd or tiff file at this stage) on top of your image. Do this by dragging the texture into your photo as a Smart Object from Photoshop Bridge or just open the texture file and copy and paste the layer onto the photo. At this point I usually rasterize the layer by right-clicking on the Smart Object in the Layers Palette and select Rasterize from the menu. A Smart Object is not necessary unless you are applying a filter to the texture and may want to adjust the settings at a later date. Most texture effects are achieved by changing the layer blend modes and varying layer opacities, then using layer masks to delete out areas where the texture is too obvious. The uniqueness can come from stacking several textures using different blend modes and opacities.  There are many resources available on textures and how to use them effectively. The linked article, called “Tips for Texturing Photographs,” has several great tips – some that I want to share.

  • How do you match your image subject to a texture?  Look for subjects with a soft quality like flowers, misty images, or of simple composition.
  • Figure out what you are trying to do with your picture – fill open spaces, get a painterly look, vintage feel, or grunge look?
  • If the texture does not work, try a different one. Usually match the texture strength with the subject – soft textures for flowers, stronger textures for structures.

If using textures over photos of people, please check out this short video, “Guide to Using Textures with Photos in Photoshop  (must be a member to access now),” to adjust the tone on the people and their skin. It uses the Average Filter in Photoshop instead of layer masks.

Textures can be bought or downloaded for free

There are many beautiful textures that can be bought. Florabella Collections has two very nice sets of textures. I like the Ash Textures that I purchased several years ago, but I just figured out he is no longer selling them. This is a shame since they are really nice textures. Flypaper Textures (blog linked above to Tips for Texturing Photographs) also has some very nice textures for sale. This site also has a lot of good information on textures so take a look.  Caleb Kimbrough has released several hundred textures, some of excellent quality and most are free, at his website Lost and Taken. He has also written a really nice blog entry called “How to Create Subtle Grunge Textures” that shows how to make your own interesting textures by combining several different ones.

The top image uses a very popular effect.  It is made simply by adding a worn-looking board texture at Hard Light blend mode over a flower photo (Curves Adjustment Layer on photo gives the blown out look). This particular texture is one from BittBox, another great free texture site – this particular texture can be downloaded from the Bittbox Flickr site here – just select the size you want, right click on image, and choose Save Image As to save on your hard drive.

This image was created using a brownish Ash texture layer set to Hard Light at 75% opacity and one of Caleb Kimbrough Summer textures, which I really like, set to Overlay at 73%.


The daisy image started with my “SJ-Soft Dreamy Look Action” that I created in last weeks blog. The image can be cleaned up on a layer before applying the action since it does not require a labeled Background Layer to run. An Ash Texture was added using the Hard Light blend mode at 75% opacity, and an OnOne PhotoTools (now OnOne Perfect Effects 3.0 – website link at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) layer using the HDR Enhancer effect and HiKey Color – Cool Fade preset as a second effect layer (I am getting some nice results with its stacking capabilities). The OnOne PhotoTools effect was basically a darkening of the edges and brightening in the middle, a heavy vignetting feel. Finally an OnOne PhotoFrame was added.

Textures can be found in plug-ins

As shown in the daisies above using the OnOne PhotoTools 2.6, this plug-in has many texture options as does its sister application, OnOne’s PhotoFrame, which surprisingly has many textures that can be applied with various blend modes, just like in Photoshop’s Layers Panel.  Even plug-ins like Plugin Galaxy 2.0 have some interesting effects, such as Rain-Short Streaks, Snowflake effects, and  Color Effects section, which can add some interesting textures. You just need to play around with whatever filters or plug-ins you have and start trying different settings with them.

Once again my action was applied to the Scottish home picture which starts you off with a really nice soft look (create a composite layer or CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E  layer on top of the action layers to apply the plug-in). An OnOne PhotoTools 2.6 Overlay Effect with the Antique Paper preset at Normal blend mode and 100% opacity was added. A similar look could probably be achieved by adding a final Color Fill Adjustment Layer using a golden tone or a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer using a warm color at a fairly high density, and a layer mask to reduce the color in the house area. That is all that was done to get this nice look.

This image does contain a brownish Ash texture, but any darkish brown texture would look good, set to Vivid Light at 38% but the painterly effect of the sky was achieved in Topaz Lens Effects – with the Graduated Color Blue1 preset applied. Then the layer was copied and set to 62% opacity to make the sky bolder.

Textures can be created within Photoshop itself

I want to show that a texture does not have to be some fancy texture that you have to buy or download – it can just be a really nice paintbrush effect on a layer that you create. Then just experiment with the blend modes, layer opacities, and layer masks to get the exact feel you want.

The above image of Scotland has a rather vintage feel to it. This was accomplished by running my SJ-Soft Dreamy Look Action and then creating a New Layer above and using Grungetract Brushes Sample #16 by alex16 at deviantArt at 2500 pixels with a light tan color. The brushed layer’s blend mode was set to Screen, the layer opacity to 66%, and a layer mask was added using a 50% opacity brush to mask out the texture in certain areas.

In the floral photo, a coral colored Mixer Brush layer was created above the other texture layer using a 300 pixel brush, and was set to Soft Light blend mode.  (See my blog “Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes” for more information on the Mixer Brushes.) It can be quite addictive once you start playing around with the Mixer brushes and create some beautiful textures. I found that the by varying the size and the color of the same Mixer Brush, and actually painting with them by moving slightly, you can get really nice effects. I have included my favorite texture Mixer Brush that can be downloaded here (there area two brushes – same brush at different sizes) and added to your Tool Presets. (Put the file in the User Name -> AppData -> Roaming -> Adobe -> Adobe Photoshop CS5 -> Tools file. Restart Photoshop to add brushes to your Tool Presets – go to the top upper left corner icon under the Menu line and click on down arrow, click on right pointed arrow in upper corner to open fly out menu, and select Load SJ Mixer Brushes Presets. I usually Append the tools and they will appear at the bottom of the list. NOTE: You must have the Mixer Brush selected in the vertical Toolbar to get the Mixer Brush variations to appear in the Tool Preset drop-down.)

This is a very simple example of applying texture that can be done just using Photoshop. First two New Layers were created and the Mixer Brushes I created above were used, the small brush in beige on the bottom layer and the larger one with the same color on the top layer to create an interesting texture. A layer mask was added to the top layer to bring out the center part of the flower. Now here is the neat part, a New Layer was created and a gradient applied with the Gradient Tool . This image used Graphix1 Gradient Muted4 which is a white to yellow beige color, but try out different gradients to see what effect you like. In the Options Bar select the Radial Gradient icon and drag with your cursor from the center of the flower outward to create the gradient. Set the layer blend mode to Soft Light and add a Bevel and Emboss Layer Style (2nd icon from left at bottom of Layer Panel) and double click the Texture option.  This image used the Fractures Pattern Overlay, which is located in the Texture Fill set of patterns that come with Photoshop CS5, and set the Scale to 555% and the Depth to +34. Create a layer mask to darken the center again so the pattern is not as apparent over the center of the flower. That’s it – a texture applied that gives a really different look. Try other patterns – you can find lots of them on the internet.

And don’t forget the nice filters that come with Photoshop to create pleasing textures.  I really like the Texturizer Filter using the Canvas texture set to Relief 3 to add a painting touch to an image.

Conclusion

I have tried to show that adding texture to an image can be done in many different ways and the different techniques can be combined to get some unique looks. Once again, it is just another way the versatility of Photoshop makes it so much fun to use. It is so satisfying to create your own textures that can actually go towards creating your own artistic style. Have fun creating!…..Digital Lady Syd


Playing in Photoshop!

This week I am taking a break from my usual blog topics. Instead I am just going to post a few of the images I created while trying out some of my own blog techniques. I hope you get some new ideas from viewing them.


I added a couple of textures to this image to get the soft vintage look – one an Ash Texture (these textures are no longer available but see my more recent blog “Adding a Texture for Flair!” for other texture sites) and one from OnOne Software’s PhotoFrames. This beautiful egret was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery in May, a really good place to visit in Spring if you like to take pictures of birds.

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Created this image by using Caleb Kimbrough’s beautiful Summer8 texture (he has a vast assortment of really nice textures and most are free – please check them out), the Tranquility Brushes by wyckedBrush, and my SJ-Cloud Brushes.
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I loved this building in Jackson, Mississippi. It was perfect for an HDR effect (used Image ->Adjustments -> HDR Toning in Photoshop CS5 on a single image) A wonderful action called “Vintage Effect – Ps Actions – by photoshop-stock” was applied afterwards to give this nice vintage feel. (This site has a number of nice actions and textures – great resource!)
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I wish I had a fisheye lens, but since I do not, I used Topaz Lens Effects selecting the Fisheye Lens effect with the Extreme Fisheye preset on this Palm Tree in Palm Beach Gardens in Florida. See my blog on “Topaz Lens Effects Plug-in” for more information on this fun plug-in.
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More fun with text – used gradient, cloud layers using cloud brushes (can download my SJ-Cloud Brushes set here) and my blog on “How to Add Images to Text” to do this.
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The image above was taken in Phoenix, Arizona at the Desert Botanical Gardens. I used mixer brushes (see my blog “Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes” and followed a tutorial on Sandstorms in the book called “Digital Painting Techniques!,” which is loaded with tutorials from various designers making all kinds of special effects.
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Here is a composite of images I pulled from a video I took of the fireworks at Flagler Beach for the 4th of July celebration (video below). See my blog, “Faking Fireworks” for tips on how to create this look.
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I hope you liked some of my “Playing in Photoshop” creations – it is just so much fun to make these images. Take some time out and just explore something new – may give you a whole new perspective on what you can achieve! Enjoy…..Digital Lady Syd


Different Images – Same Look Using HDR!

This week I am going to just show some of the results from taking images in Jackson, Mississippi. For starters, this is a classic place to get good pictures – HDR (high dynamic range) or not. It has lots of history and many beautiful churches and government buildings that make for great photography.

There is so much information on how to get an HDR look, and to be honest, I do not think it is all that hard once you get comfortable with one or more of the HDR programs. I have been taking HDR pictures for several years and I still love the effect, but there are many people who do not enjoy this type of artistic expression on an image.

Photomatix Pro 4.0

This first image is of an old abandoned church in downtown Jackson.

The effect above was created using Photomatix Pro 4.0. This is the program I used to learn how to do HDR post-processing, and I still go to this software first when processing HDR. It is reasonably priced with NAPP members getting a 25% discount, and  Mark S. Johnson Photography gives a 15% discount. I have had trouble with slight camera movement since I do not always shoot my HDR images on a tripod. The latest upgrade provides a very good correction due to camera jiggle, or tree branches, people or water movement.

The above image is an HDR Image of the beautiful Mississippi Capitol Building using Photomatix Pro 4.0.

Nik’s HDR Efex Pro

I tried using Nik’s HDR Efex Pro in the image below using the Vibrant Details and Colors preset and then adjusted with some control points. That’s it. If you are interested in HDR, take a look at this software – it has a very different interface from the Photomatix Pro program. Since I love all NIK products, it is hard not to like this program.

Because I got curious, I decided to put the Mississippi State Capitol Building into Nik HDR Efex Pro. Since this software has a bunch of presets to try out on the image before you apply the final settings, I decided to use the Vintage preset that definitely gives a nostalgic feel to the image. This effect would have been harder to achieve in Photomatix or CS5 – to get this result an action would have to be applied in Photoshop after the image was created in the HDR program.

Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Merge to HDR

The HDR effect below was created using Photoshop’s own Merge to HDR command. I used my “Use with Vivid Drawing preset” (download in next section) as a starting point and made adjustments to suit the image. Personally, I think CS5 does a pretty good job.

Adobe Photoshop CS5′s HDR Toning for Single Images

I was unable to get three good image shots off (the picture was taken from the car while at a stop light). Therefore, Photoshop CS5′s new Single HDR Adjustment was applied. First the picture was adjusted using my SJ-Vivid Drawing Look Develop preset in Lightroom (download here) or in Photoshop ACR (download here – wrong extension in the zip folder on file – change to .xmp to get it to work) which gives the start of an HDR effect, and then I opened CS5 to finish the look by going to Image -> Adjustment -> HDR Toning. To apply this effect in Photoshop, the image must be flattened so save your original first and create a new flattened version to apply the HDR Toning. To use the settings used here, download the “Use with Vivid Drawing Preset” I created for the HDR Toning Preset field. It needs to be placed in the following folder for Windows users: (User  Name)\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS5\Preset\HDR Toning.

Here is another image using the same Lightroom/ACR preset and the downloaded Use with Vivid Drawing Look preset for the HDR Toning dialog in Photoshop. These settings work very well on landscape images with bright colors. Since the sky was flat, it was replaced after running my favorite plug in Kill White that I have added to Adobe Pixel Bender.

There are many good references if you want to learn more about HDR post processing or just to learn the latest techniques. Trey Radcliff is the HDR guru. His “Stuck in Customs” blog (one I have followed for several years and is one of my favorite all-time blogs) is probably the best you will find on HDR, and he has a great HDR tutorial. RC Concepcion just released a new book called “The HDR Book: Unlocking the Pros’ Hottest Post-Processing Techniques” that appears to cover the programs I used above. Richard Harrington has a good video at TipSquirrel called “HDR with Photoshop and HDR Efex Pro” and they have many other HDR videos available – so check these out. This is just touching the “tip of the iceberg” on this subject.

Try some of your other filters (Topaz Adjust with the Spicify preset a popular look right now – see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) or add some textures on these images after you have applied the HDR effect. There are many, many possibilities to get some great looking pictures! Go shoot some HDR images and experiment with the post-processing!…..Digital Lady Syd


Same Image – Different Look!

I started playing around with the small image below that was taken of the ruins at St. Andrews Cathedral in Scotland. I loved the composition and feel of the image before I ever did any adjustments to it. This image shows what it typically looks like in Scotland.

The original appears pretty flat but overall it has a lot of interest and the details are very sharp in this shot.

  • First I tried processing the image in Lightroom and applied my Vivid Drawing Look preset, a preset from a previous blog (Great Free Plug-in for Lightroom – The Fader!) and is available for download here. Then only an adjustment to the Luminance slider to get rid of a little noise and the Detail slider to add detail back to the overall image was done. (This can also be done after loading image into Photoshop by using Russell Brown’s script – see my blog called Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script.) I also created this preset for people that use Camera Raw from Photoshop and it may be downloaded here (I just realized it has the wrong extension on the file in the Zip folder – change it to .xmp to get it to work). Just download and load into ACR using the pop-out panel in Presets tab.

I modified his technique to make it faster and I will give you a quick recap of how to do this here:

  1. Open image and duplicate the background layer.
  2. Turn off top layer (click on layer eyeball in Layers Palette to remove) and highlight the original Background layer.
  3. Create a black and white image using any method you feel gives a really contrasty high key (washed out or over-highlighted) look. He used Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 which is a great program but very expensive. I think the Black and White Adjustment Layer does a fine job and if you own Lightroom, there are many really nice Black and White presets for that program that can be downloaded for free.
  4. Make a composite of these two layers by highlighting the Adjustment Layer and going to CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E (keeps image intact so you can adjust later if need be by deleting this layer).
  5. Turn on the top layer (click where eyeball should be and it turn ons) and change blend mode to Soft Light.
  6. This may be all it needs for corrections. If not, create another composite image as in Step 4, duplicate it and set the blend mode to Screen. Add Layer Mask and paint in area to brighten up image.
  • Now this next image really changed up the feeling – it surprised me how good it looks in a monochrome. Nik Silver Efex Pro2 was used but any black and white conversion method that gives a really contrasty appearance can be used. Then a Hue/Sat Adjustment level was added and Colorize was checked. I found a really spooky inky blue color (Hue set to 242) and dropped the Saturation to 25 and this is what you get!

  • Below a totally different look was created in Lightroom and used a preset called whoiswolf_cross_retro – there are several nice free presets in this group that can be downloaded here. Only this preset and then the Luminance and Color sliders in the Noise Reduction panel were used.

  • For this next iteration, Gavin Hoey’s Blast From the Past actions set called Lomo effect Style 1 was applied to create this soft look. This is a very inexpensive set of actions that are great for creating some new effects.

  • In this image below, first the Imaging Factory’s Graduated Fog Filter was applied using a dark blue color for the foggy feel (could just use the Fogs and Mists brush set by BB Brushes to create you own effect – see my Foggy Weather! blog for more on this) ; then a Curves Adjustment Layer to get a vivid blue on top and bright green color on the ground; next a Gradient Map adjustment layer with a tan color (c4b190) to a light blue color (c2d0d8) for the gradient (try different gradients – get some really interesting results doing this) and set layer Blend Mode to Color Dodge at 82%;  a Levels Adjustment Layer to wash out the results to get more of a foggy look; added a New Layer and painted on Wycked – birds-sm brush from the Tranquility brush set (this is a fabulous set to own); and finished off with a PhotoFrame from OnOne Software (simply the best!). This image is presented to show what a very different look you can get with just a little experimentation.


  • The next picture was created using an action I created in my blog “Create Postage Stamps with Your Images” blog under Method Two called Vintage Effect from Cloudy Text Effect (here is the download link). I am presenting it here, even though it has a similar feel to other effects like the Lomo action above, because the action is free and it gives a very nice look on many types of landscape images.

    • My last image is for my son, Metal Chris at DC Heavy Metal (a great music blog with some fabulous musician photography for DC folks), who likes it when I do something different with my photos. The Mirror Filter (Kaleidoscope vertical) was applied from the Plugin Galaxy 2.0 (see my blog Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror for Photoshop for more on this great plug-in), along with the Imaging Factory’s Graduated Fog filter and a Gradient Map adjustment layer. Gives a whole new perspective to the picture.

That should about wrap up the blog for this time. I think I could just keep doing effects – this image lends itself well to that. As I have said before, if you can get a good picture in your camera, you have lots of post-processing options – the image makes the processing easy.

Hope this inspired a few people to try different effects with the same image – it is a lot of fun to see how different the image ends up!…..Digital Lady Syd


Dual Tone Plug-In Comparison

Recently I discovered that several of the major Photoshop plug-ins all seem to be presenting a dual tone effect in their arsenal.  I decided to create for you a Dual Tone Comparison using similar settings for each plug-in. In each case I used an image of a Spanish Cay beach in the Bahamas taken last year while sailing. I am trying to add a believable sunrise effect. So let’s get to comparing!

NIK Color Efex Pro 3.0


This NIK Color Efex Pro effect was created using the BiColor User Defined Preset. The swatches colors were set as follows: the Pink top color was set to R180 G152 B151, and the bottom blue color was set to R143 G141 B162.  In the past I have used this preset with different colors on other images – it is really easy to apply and the BiColor Filter has many quick presets to choose from if you do not need to use specific colors. Personally I believe the real strength of most of the NIK plug-ins is that they provide quick, very visual choices which usually can create the look you want fast – and if you do not like the presets, you still have all the wonderful sliders to adjust to make the effect the way you like. Also, there are control points that can be applied on the image – in this case the opacity can be adjusted in the shadows and/or highlights areas. Four presets can be saved in the BiColor User Defined Preset Quick Save Slots to use again. To get a really nice look, the Polarization preset was also added with Rotate set to 0 and Strength set to 200%.

OnOne PhotoTools 2.6 (Now OnOne Perfect Effects 3.0)

OnOne has a totally different way of accessing the plug-in which I find a bit cumbersome. I have to go to the Image -> Automate and select it from a list to open up the interface. My computer runs more sluggish whenever I use one of their plug-ins but not a big enough problem for not using their products. That said, I was surprised at what a nice result I got in OnOnePhotoTools 2.6 (no longer available – see OnOne Perfect Effects 3.0 – click on OnOne icon in my Tidbits Blog sidebar) on the above image. Since the interface is different from most plug-ins, it takes a bit of practice to find where all the settings reside to get this effect, but once there, your choices are unlimited.

When choosing the effect you want, you must first go to the Library section at the bottom of the interface and select a Category which brings up many different results.  In this image, Photo Filters was selected and 30 results were obtained; the Polarizer effect was choosen by clicking on Add to Stack. If the effect looks awful, just click Undo and it disappears. If you look under the Navigation Panel on the right side of the image above, you can that I stacked three effects (they can be dragged up or down for a different order) to get this one final look:  Polarizer, Graduated Red, and Graduated Warm-Cool. You can spend many hours finding the perfect formula to get very creative results. I was not able to add the exact colors used in the NIK BiColor User Defined preset above, but it was a pretty close approximation. I will try to cover this plug-in more thoroughly at a later date. Just note that it does create a good dual tone effect and compares nicely with the Nik Color Efex Pro result. (Also, as far as I am concerned, there is no better way to add a frame to finish up your image than using OnOne’s PhotoFrame – all images in this blog have the same one applied from this program.)

Topaz Lens Effects

I really figured that the Topaz Lens Effect Dual Tone Filter would not be as good as the two above. When I did my blog on this feature last week, it did not create exactly the look I wanted. But bingo bango, I think this is the most accurate effect and it was pretty easy to adjust the sliders to get the look.

As you can see, I have created a SJ-Sunset preset that contains the settings used to make this dual tone effect. The Transition Adjustments section under the Navigation window sets how large and where you want the filter to be applied. The Region A Adjustments and Region B Adjustments allow you to create the colors you want – there is not option to add a specific color as in the BiColor User Defined preset but you adjust Cyan, Red, Magenta, Green, Yellow, and Blue sliders to get the two colors. A Polarization Filter can also be applied after the Dual Tone Filter, but there is only one slider, Strength, and I just did not care for the effect on the water. The polarizations effect was not as good as in the other two plug-ins above. Still, just the dual tone filter created a very good overall representation of what I wanted to present.

Plugin Galaxy 2.0

Plugin Galaxy 2.01 surprised me with the above result. I did not think the plug-in had the capability to do what I wanted, but I was wrong. Once again, you have to get used to the interface so you can figure out where to find the look you want. The interface appears to be much smaller than on the other three plug-ins but all you have to do is drag out the bottom right edge and it will almost fill the screen. Also, one of the tricks of this plug-in is that whenever you see a (+) in the center of your image, you can right click and drag it to place the effect in a specific location. In the interface image below, you can see the (+) in the lower right hand corner of the image. This is where I placed the effect.

I used the Expert Mode which gives you the most choices, and selected the Nature Group with the Sunset FX (filter effect). The first attempt was not so great as the Mode under the Brightness slider was set to Normal. But by trying different modes, I was able to select Add and get a really nice effect. The color sliders I had to experiment with to get the look – it makes a big difference whether you add just a bit of green or blue to the red – and the intensity and brightness sliders must be adjusted carefully. The interesting thing is that this plug-in has a lot of versatility – you just need to work with it to get that final look.  This plug-in contains one of my vary favorite effects, the Instant Mirror Effect, which I blogged about here.

Final Impressions

For me this has been a very interesting comparison. Each plug-in definitely has strengths that I love about each. My final decision on which plug-in worked best for the above image is the result I got with Topaz Lens Effects Dual Tones filter. Why? Because the mood created looks like what I think it should look like – the way there is a touch of yellow in the clouds that gives a more believable look to me. I really thought the NIK BiColor User Defined filter would do the trick best – it is one of my favorite filters. And OnOne’s PhotoTools really surprised me – I had not considered how many choices I had with that plug-in and if I played around a bit more with the presets, I might have been able to get the best look. And even though I did not like the Plugin Galaxy’s overall look for this particular image (and actually I really liked the way there was some color in the sand on the left bottom side which none of the other plug-ins created), this plug-in has some amazing choices that I am definitely going to experiment with more. Both Topaz Lens Effects and Plugin Galaxy have very reasonable prices for their plug-ins so they do give you a good alternative to the more expensive plug-ins and are definitely worth downloading and trying out the trial versions. With that said, I hope you enjoyed this comparison and all the images turned pretty nice – maybe you can try some comparisons of your own. You might get some surprises just as I did with the image above……Digital Lady Syd


Topaz Lens Effects Plug-In

I am happy to say that I am using the new Topaz Lens Effects Plug-in. I am still learning about all the things it will do but so far I like what I see. They advertise 20 lens effects and over 150 presets so there are plenty of things to try. These filter effects can be stacked to create a final look. Topaz has several short tutorials up on U-tube that walk you through many of the new features. Click here for Topaz Lens Effects Intro and this good basic tutorial called Introduction to the New Topaz Lens Effects to learn how to use some of the features. Here is a link to the Topaz Lens Effects User Manual that will help explain exactly what is going on in each of the listed sections below and lets you see for yourself all the great effects they have included.

Bokeh – Selective Effect and Vignette

The image above used the Bokeh – Selective Effect with manual settings. It helped a lot to watch the second tutorial above to understand how to make a good Depth Map. The Depth Map created by the program is usually a very good starting point. See the next section on how to use the brush to fine-tune your Depth Map. Some adjustments were then added to the Focal Plane and Focus Area sections. A slight Vignette from within this effect finished up the image. Once you have the focus set by using the Depth Map, it is pretty self-explanatory to figure out how to proceed.

Fisheye Effect and Bokeh – Selective Effect

There has been a lot of excitement about the Fisheye Effect since you do not have to actually buy the expensive lens to get the look. It is easy to apply – this funny image below used the Extreme Fisheye Preset for a starting point and just a tweak to center the effect under the FishEye Adjustments section. (To see original image, click here.) Next a Bokeh – Selective Effect was applied. It is really necessary to play around a bit with the Depth Map and understand how to use it to get a good result. First uncheck Use Gradient Brush if you want to paint on your depth map. (Check Use Gradient Brush only if you wish to create a gradient on the Depth Map.) White areas are used for distant objects, black for near objects, and gray in-between – for some reason this seems strange to me. At first I kept getting a completely black Depth Map when the Reset button was pressed – finally realized that the Depth Value Slider was set to 0 so everything started as black or in focus. Set this slider higher, not all the way back or it will be a completely white Depth Map, to get a place to start if you do not like what the program generated for the map. Then add areas in black or white with the Brush and adjust the size to fit the areas you are trying to contour. The manual states that the larger the brush size, the more it will affect the adjacent areas. I found this to be true so a little experimentation is required to get the correct map. The side-by-side view gives you a real-time comparison to see how the effect is working.

I could not get the Lens – Motion effect I wanted for this image so I went back to my OnOne PhotoFrames and chose one from their Zoom Effects. I may be able to achieve this look in Topaz, but for this image it was just not working out. I also did some adjusting with the Clone Stamp in Photoshop where the Depth Map was not quite correct and the edges were smudged a bit. The Eyes were sharpened to make them pop more.

Camera – Toy Effect

This image was created using the Camera – Toy Effect and the FoliageI Preset as a start. The effect was centered on the wheel and Toy Camera Aberrations were set as follows: Vignette Strength (-0.30), Camera Shake (2.22), Camera Shake Angle (8.87), Grain Amount (0.09) and Double Image (No); Placement Adjustments were set to: Region Size (0.01), Transition (0.48), and Angle (130.3); Region A Color Casts were all 0 except for the Blue Cast A slider (0.06); Region B Color Casts were all 0 except for the Yellow Cast B slider (0.06); and Image Adjustments: Brightness (0.41), Contrast (0.09), Saturation (0.06), Saturation Boost (-0.08), Shadows (0.53) and Highlights (-0.01). I listed these settings so you could get a feel for all the sliders that can be adjusted to get a really unique look as shown above. A preset called Bright Colors was then created since it is very different from the ones provided. (Two OnOne PhotoFrames were added to give the grunge and frame effects.) Smashing Magazine has an article, “Uncovering Toy Cameras and Polaroid Vintage Effects (with Photoshop Tutorials),” that shows what some of the original images looked like with different types of toy cameras if you need some inspiration.

Camera – Tilt & Shift Effect

This image was created using the built-in Tilt and Shift Effect after watching another short U-Tube video called Quick Tips – Miniature Scenes 101 from Topaz. It turned out to be fairly easy to create but a little Gaussian Blue was added to the image in Photoshop for a little more blur in a few places. Smashing Magazine has an article on 50 examples of Tilt-Shift Photography if you want to get some good ideas how to use this effect.

Dual Tone Effect

For this image a Dual Tone Effect adding a bit of yellow and red was applied. For the original as seen on Flickr, click here. The preset that was used as a starting point was Top Left Red Leak but then a lot of sliders were adjusted to get the look above. There are four areas that can be adjusted:  Transition Adjustment which includes the Region Size, Transition and Angle – all of these are really important sliders; Region A Adjustment which sets the top color; Region B Adjustment which sets the bottom color; and Image Adjustment which includes the Brightness, Contrast and Saturation – all really important features. An OnOne PhotoFrame filmstrip border completes the image.

My final conclusion on this plug-in is that the Bokeh Effect has a possibility of being fantastic – it just has a bit of a learning curve but with practice, you should be able to get the exact results you want with the Depth Map. The other effects seem to give very pleasing results from the fun effects to the serious effects for doing major adjustments to you image. Even the Saturation and Sharpening effects I found to be really good. The Topaz Lens Effect plug-in is a great plug-in, but then I am a big Topaz fan and use most of their other products on a daily basis. The thing I like best about Topaz is that they keep the price down so for most people it is very affordable and makes Photoshop faster and more fun. (Check around for sites that will give you discounts for their products – NAPP members get 25% off.) Therefore, I give major Kudos to Topaz and all they do for the Photoshop community. That said, I do believe it is important to pool all your resources and if one plug-in does not give the look you want, use another one – they usually all work well together and the results can sometimes be spectacular.

Topaz has a 30-day fully functional download and they present short Webinars almost daily on the different effects. Give it a try and see if you can give your old images some new looks!


The Flood Look

The flood effect is a look I have been fascinated with for a long time. There is not a lot of information on this and most of it is from several years ago. I plan on sharing a few of the best resources I could find to achieve this effect. The image below is a pretty basic flood effect – the Banyan Tree is from Oahu, Hawaii and provided a perfect starting point.

The Flood Filter from Flaming Pear was used to create the above effect, although creating a simple reflection using just Photoshop could probably have achieved a similar result. This effect is created very quickly with the filter that contains three sections: View, Waves and Ripples. All the sliders are self-explanatory by just trying them out. The filter bought by itself is $29.00, but bundles with some of Flaming Pear’s other filters are available. After applying the filter, the image was processed in Photoshop’s HDR Toning adjustment (Image -> Adjustments -> HDR Toning), a Nik Color Efex Pro BiColor Filter to darken the reflection, Nik Color Efex Pro Glamour Glow to brighten up the tree leaves, and OnOne PhotoFrame to finish up.

The following image also uses the Flaming Pear Flood Filter, along with Nik’s Glamour Glow filter and OnOne’s PhotoFrame.

For more information on how to use this filter, I found two really good resources. A book called “Digital Photographer’s New Guide to Photoshop Plug-Ins” by Jim Zuckerman and Scott Stulberg that has some great tips on using the Flood Filter (and many others); and Flaming Pear’s Flood Filter on-line guide that tells you what all the sliders represent – be sure to check out their Hints section at the end. Here are a couple links to some creative ways this filter has been used – most of the tutorials seem to be in German and are quite old, but the images are interesting:  Bubbles English, and Top Zane Janeth. At this point I will mention another plug-in that can make a flood effect called Aurora 2.1 by digi-element which creates both clouds and atmospheric effects and flood and water scenes. This plug-in had a hefty price of $179 and is created by the people who made WorldBuilder – I cannot find any current information on either program but I did request authorization to download a demo. I will update if I get some new information on this plug-in as it looks like it could be really nice. Both of the above plug-ins seem to have similar water sliders as some of the 3D programs – I blogged about creating space scenes where I used the free Terragen Classic program which uses similar water options. Only one resource on creating a flood-like effect in just Photoshop could be found called “How to Create a Reflective Water Flood Effect” by Robert Mizerek.

Below are some important comments to know when creating the flood effect:

  • Do all the clean up on your image before you do the reflection for flooding.
  • Will probably need to add canvas to the bottom to make room for the effect. To do this, go to Image -> Canvas -> and change the width and height to percent in drop down box and uncheck the Relative box.  You may have to experiment to see exactly how much room you will need to make room for the reflection. I had to apply the Flood Filter several times for the image above in order not to cut off the bird’s reflection (ended up with 150% for Height added to bottom).
  • After applying the flood effect, I found it helpful to use a Blender Mixer Brush on a New Layer and by gently mixing the edges smooth so you do not create a real sharp line. This layer can then be lowered in opacity, and if it looks too obvious just erase in areas that are  overdone.
  • Most resources say that reflections are usually a bit darker than the original image, so keep this in mind when completing your image. If you have already applied the filter, use the Marquee Tool to select the reflection and place it on its own layer (CTRL+J). Then adjust the blend mode to Screen or add a clipped Curves Adjustment Layer to darken this layer a bit.
  • Note that not all water needs to have waves – some images look better when the water is calmer (like in the above images).

Specifically for the Flaming Pear Flood Filter:

  • The size of the effect is related to the size of the image so a smaller image may require a smaller amount of an effect with the various sliders than a large sized image. I found it difficult to see the Ripple effect at the larger sizes.
  • A short quote on this filter from Steve Caplin in his “How to Cheat in Photoshop (2002 edition)” book states:  “Flood works best with images shot head-on, since the horizon line is always horizontal. This makes it difficult to work with scenes photographed at a angle, although it is possible to build up multiple reflective effects from each object in a montage and then blend them together.” I have not tried this, but it makes sense.
  • Try applying the filter a couple times and stack different water effects using layer masks and lowering layer opacity.
  • If you are not sure what look you want, click the dice  – this gives random settings that can sometimes help you get started.
  • To create a pond ripple on the water, make sure you have set a size set in the Ripple generator, and click in your image on the preview where you want it to appear in your image. Often I have to actually apply the filter to see if this occurred.

The two images above used a straight on horizon line to add in the reflection. Below is my favorite image of the London Eye.  I have added waves to this image to create more waves to match the weather of the sky. Here is a link to the original image on Flickr.  In this case, the effect was created by applying the Flooding Filter in the area where the waves belong but with some overlap on the parts that should not be covered with water. Then a layer mask was added to mask out the incorrect areas. An alternate way to do this would be to first create a selection of the areas where the filter should be applied and then actually apply it to just the selection which will create a similar result. If you create a selection, add a bit of feathering to the selection to make the transition lines smooth.

My final image is more of an artistic look and I really liked the results of the water reflection.


After spending quite a bit of time adjusting to get this effect, here are the basic steps:

  1. First, it took me quite a while to find a suitable image – this sometimes seems to be the hardest part of using the filter.
  2. The image was made smaller since I was having trouble seeing the ripple effect at the higher resolutions. This image was turned into a 5″ X 7″ size at 240 resolution in the Image -> Image Size dialog box.
  3. Go to Image ->Canvas Size to add room at the bottom for the reflection in this case, 200% was added – be sure relative is unchecked. I tried various other sizes before settling on this one – it really is a trial and error application.
  4. Apply the Flood Filter using these settings to get the painterly look and the Ripple at the water’s edge:  Horizon 34, Offset 21, Perspective 69, Altitude 65, Waviness 5, Complexity 83, Brilliance 69, Blur 10, Size 41, Height 19, Undulation 92, and Normal. Click in the Preview where you want the Ripple to appear – in this case under the main cactus. If you are not sure how the settings will look since the Preview box is so small, just click on one of the dots to save your settings and apply the filter. CTRL+Z to remove the effect in Photoshop and go back into the filter where your settings are saved to readjust.
  5. To get the width and height back to 5″ X 7″, again go to Image -> Canvas Size and increase the Width to 140%. Then I used Edit -> Content Aware Scaling to stretch the image. Finally the image was cropped to 5″ X 7″.
  6. Now add the blender mixer brush layer to smooth the edge between the image and the water effect. (See my Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes Blog to create a blender mixer brush.)
  7. Add any final effects you want. In this image, a cross processing effect was added using Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 and a PhotoFrame from OnOne software. I tend to use these two sets of plug-ins the most although I do like Topaz’s effects too.

I personally feel that the Flood Filter from Flaming Pear is a nice plug-in even though it has not been updated since December 2009 when 64-bit for Windows was added. For the $29, I think it would be worth adding to your plug-in library. The trial is good for 30 days meaning you get 30 different days to use the plug-in even if it takes 6 months. Therefore there is no real good reason not to download it and see what you think. Flaming Pear has several other plug-ins I plan on downloading in the next few months. Hope you try this one out!…..Digital Lady Syd


New Plug-In for Lightroom – Perfect Layers!

There is a lot of excitement in the Lightroom community this week about this new plug-in from OnOne software (see Digital Lady Syd’s Tidbits Blog sidebar to access website). If you love Lightroom, like I do, you need to try it out. Not unlike my “Fader” blog from a few weeks ago, this plug-in is accessed from the Plug-In Extras under the File menu. Below is a version I created solely in Lightroom (even OnOne’s PhotoFrame can be accessed from Lightroom) except for my signature layer. The following three images are all of Urquhart Castle in Scotland – a wonderful place to take photos!

I spent a few hours looking at the various short videos (most about 2 minutes long) on the OnOne site that were very helpful. When I first installed the program, I had some problems and had to reinstall it. It worked fine after that. Check out both Matt Kloskowski’s and Scott Kelby’s videos (on the same page as the download) for great explanations on how to use this add on. For the above image, I just used the original image and a Virtual Copy with a preset I created called Emphasize Purple (you may download here). A layer mask made inside Perfect Layers masked out the drab sky from the one image and added the beautiful virtual copy sky layer. which was set to Darken Blend Mode at 100% opacity. Very easy and very clean! Most of the Photoshop shortcuts work so it does not have that large a learning curve. Please note that in this version of Perfect Layer, the following Photoshop options are not supported – text layers, vector masks, layer styles, adjustment layers, paths, alpha channels, smart objects, layer groups, and clipping masks. These options will be flattened into a new psd file copy and rendered as a single layer in Perfect Layers.  Simple psd files containing basic layers and masks will open correctly. Your original version with all your original layers is always left untouched.

The image above uses the original image and a virtual copy that was converted to black and white – no preset used. Both copies of the image were selected and loaded into Perfect Layers with the B&W image on top. A Darken Blend Mode at 84% opacity was added along with a “Painted Out” Layer Mask so that the castle itself would retain its color and detail. The B&W layer was copied so the background water and hill could be emphasized even more – this new layer was set to Multiply Blend Mode at 100% opacity with the Layer Mask painted to hide the castle and foreground. An OnOne PhotoFrame was added to finish.

Below, two virtual copies were created and the Fader plug-in applied with a setting of 150% for each preset: the Blue and Gray preset (one I created to correct the water color) and Lightroom’s packaged preset called Direct Positive (for the castle and foliage). Both virtual copies were selected and loaded into Perfect Layers with the Blue and Gray preset layer on the bottom. The Direct Positive preset layer on top was put into an Overlay Blend Mode. A Layer Mask was “Painted Out” using the Brush Tool at 75% opacity over the water on the bottom edge. An OnOne PhotoFrame was added last. I am glad the two plug-ins both work together in Lightroom.

Texture and image blending can easily be handled. In the image below, after bringing a Maui landscape into Perfect Layers, the sky was stretched and cropped to become the whole image.  One of Caleb Kimbrough‘s beautiful free grunge textures (that can be downloaded here) is not in my Lightroom catalog but was added by going to File and selecting Add Layer(s) From File. Really sweet!

I have not tried all the ideas suggested in the videos and hope to try them soon. Once again, this has been a fun week of trying out something new – that is what is so great about Photoshop and Lightroom – there are always new things to explore! Hope you try out this new plug-in – I believe it is worth the time to do so!…..Digital Lady Syd


More Filmstrip Fun – How Can This Be?

Once again, I am doing a filmstrip blog. Gavin Hoey came out with a couple new tutorials this week and I found an older one from Dave Cross.  So here we go!

Dave Cross is one of the NAPP Photoshop guys and totally brilliant with his use of Photoshop. I have never seen this technique used before or since this tutorial. (Dave Cross recently wrote an article in Photoshop User Magazine‘s March 2011 – pg. 70 called “Bridge Output” using this technique.)  Dave introduced this concept a couple years ago on Photoshop User TV in Episode 155 and called it “Bridge CS4 Outputs – Filmstrip PDF.”

Basic steps for this filmstrip effect occur while using Photoshop’s Bridge:

1. To get images into Photoshop as a small filmstrip, go to the Bridge and select several photos. (As far as I know there is no limit to the number of images you can use – Dave used 12 in his example.) To get the images in the correct order, I would suggest creating a folder and copy and rename each image with a number designation at the start.
2. At the top right of the Bridge, change the workspace to Output – choose it by opening up the drop-down menu and selecting it.
3. On the upper left column, highlight the PDF icon.
4. For this image, create a filmstrip look in the Document section by setting width to 14 inches and Height to 2 inches, Quality to High, and Background to White. You can change the Layout’s columns or rows to get the look you want. There are some Page Presets in a drop-down in the Document section that may work nicely.
5. Press Refresh Preview to preview results of your settings. Make any adjustments and preview again until the effect looks right.
6. At bottom of Output panel, click the Save button – will save to a PDF file.
7. Can now go into Photoshop and open the PDF file or place it into another image, which is what was done above.
8. The filmstrip images may need to be adjusted a little to get the correct spacing or canvas added to make the whole image larger.
9. The Magic Wand Tool was used to select and delete the white background to make it appear transparent.

To create the Photoshop effects above, the technique from Gavin Hoey referenced on my last blog was used. Instead of making the reflected images “true” reflections, a layer was filled with yellow and a layer mask was applied so the filmstrip was not affected, only the reflected images and background. Then a Gradient Adjustment Layer was added using a pink and yellow pastel colored gradient. Finally Topaz Detail‘s Abstraction preset was applied to all but the original filmstrip. The bottom edge of the reflected images was erased slightly. An OnOne PhotoFrame was added to give the interesting framing.

The left image is pretty much a cookie-cutter version of the one Gavin Hoey presented recently. Once the video tutorial “Grunge Filmstrip Template in CS5” is followed, the object can be saved as a template to reuse with a different picture. See smaller image above. A free texture called Color Grunge by Princess of Shadows-Texture 3, (unfortunately she is no longer supporting her wonderful textures at DeviantArt but check out BittBox’s Grunge Frost textures that give a similar look), was used for the background grunge look instead of the Photoshop Fiber Filter from the tutorial. The original image (here on Flickr) was run through Nik’s Silver Efex Pro using control points to highlight the tips of the leaves.  Basic settings for Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask filter were applied, along with a mirror effect (Mirror Vertical Right) and colorize effect from  The Plugin Galaxy. The metallic pattern on the filmstrip was a really nice technique. An OnOne PhotoFrame was used to finish up.

The final image followed a second tutorial by Gavin called “How to Make a 3D Film Strip in Photoshop.” I wanted to create more of a montage feel this time. An Hawaiian panorama of Kapalua in Maui was used instead of trying to place individual images in each slot. (By the way, Gavin discusses how to use Content-Aware to fill in missing areas around a panoramas in the “Photoshop CS5 Top New Features” video from last week – this panorama used 7 images and Gavin’s tip worked great!)  This 3D tutorial starts with creating the filmstrip from scratch. I scanned one in for last week’s blog (download here) if you don’t want to go through these steps or have the new CS5 film shapes. A couple of filled palm tree objects created for a project years ago was added.  The free font is one of my favorites called Fantaisie Artistique.  The beautiful free texture was created by Caleb Kimbrough, the texture guru,  in a great tutorial called “How to Create Subtle Grunge Textures” – this one is called Subtle Grunge-Example 3. (I hope to blog about textures in the near future.)



Once again, these were fun and fairly simple projects to attempt. I like to try different effects from the actual information in the tutorials when I can. I usually get surprised by what happens. It makes Photoshop a very entertaining toy! Now go experiment!


Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror for Photoshop

Continuing on my current trend of looking into the various Photoshop plug ins available, I decided to explore the mirror effect.  I could only find three filters available.   Let’s start with the Mirror effect that is part of The PlugIn Galaxy 2.01.  This filter was originally called Instant Mirror in version 1.0, so I will keep this name to distinguish it from the others.   A demo, which displays print throughout the image, can be downloaded but is fully functional so you get a real feel how the filter works is available at  The Plugin Site.  There are 17 effects in this bundle that includes this one.  The really cool thing about Instant Mirror is that when applied,  it does change instantly -no waiting around or increasing canvas size.  And the resulting effects are pretty amazing.  Here are a few results of what can be achieved with very little effort.

The above image is a bush and mountains on Hana Highway that was taken on the back dry side of Maui, Hawaii. This is a pretty basic application of the filter – applied Mirror set to Vertical Left. The whole trick to this filter is that by right clicking and dragging on the center (+) mark, the best effects are achieved. A Nik’s Color Efex Pro Glamour Glow filter (Glow 63, Sat 27, Glow Temp 40) to make the bushes stand out more and OnOne PhotoFrame (Dave Cross 01) were applied to finish up the image.

For this image Instant Mirror was run in the Manual Mode (there are four different modes to try), setting the image to Horizontal Top, and Right Click dragging the (+).  I exited out of the filter and ran it again using Vertical Right and dragging the (+). A layer mask was applied so the leaves at the top left showed through from the layer below. I finished up with Topaz Simplify Sketch Hard Pencil effect. There is a book called “Photoshop Plug-ins” by Jim Zuckerman and Scott Stulberg that does a great job of discussing this filter in detail.

With this spica image, the Mirror Preset called Kaleidoscope No. 08 was applied to create the border. Kaleidoscope Vertical was applied next for the plant effect. Finally Topaz Detail was used to bring out the color and detail in the image.

The second mirror plug in is a free download and called Quick Mirror by Julia World.  The thing I like about Quick Mirror is the images are not distorted at all.   It is basically just a flip {that can be done in Photoshop with a Free Transform) but it is easy and more effects can be generated by selecting different part of the image.  Once again I used my London Eye image.  The basic steps to for using this filter are:   Duplicate the layer you are mirroring, create a selection around the areas you want to duplicate (I used the Rectangular Marquee Tool and made my selection from top to bottom around The Eye),  invert the selection (CTRL+ALT+I), erase selection (BACKSPACE), deselect the selection, and run the filter.  In this case, a layer mask was then added to give less of a total duplication look on the bottom and upper left.

This last London Eye image shows a creative effect that can be achieved by using the steps above but making the selection just around The Eye itself. Continue along with inverting the selection and deleting, deselecting and applying the filter. It is a pretty simple workflow to achieve very nice results – and it is FREE!  I also used Nik Color Efex Pro Reflector Filter (Gold, Light Itensity 64, Light Falloff 42, Position 48, Source Direction 0).

The last plug in I will mention is called Filters Unlimited 2.0 – a fully functional demo with 150+ effects can be downloaded but the results cannot be applied (the full version has over 350 filters).  There is a setting called Tiles and Mirrors with several different kaleidoscope and mirrored effects.  I used my original The Eye image and applied the Seamless Blend (horizontal) to the image.  The results gave great looking clouds but the fine lines were not clear, sort of a ghosting effect.  I do believe it is not that bad an effect, just not as good as the other two filters discussed.  My personal opinion is that both the Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror are great plug ins and easy to use.  You get more options with Instant Mirror but more distortion to the image when you use it.  Quick Mirror is pretty basic but gives great undistorted results.

Once again, this has been a blast putting this blog together.  There are so many effects with these filters that I did not cover.  Hope I can get time to play some more with these plug ins!


Word Fun with Tagxedo

A few months ago I heard about Tagxedo, a free internet-based program that fits words into shapes while emphasizing the most important or used words.  I did not have time to try it around the holidays, but with this post I wanted to show you a few of the cool results you can get from this site.   Currently the program is in beta testing and is free – eventually there will be a charge to get full use.  Check out their article entitled “101 Ways to Use Tagxedo” to get lots of great project ideas.

The above image includes one of the provided shapes (Rose) and used very basic settings. Tagxedo allows you to upload your own shape, font, and text. I used the font, Fantaisie Artistique (a retro font I really like – click the link for a free download from daFont.com).  Click on the arrow to the right of the word Font which opens up the Font menu, and at the bottom click on the Add Fonts button to select a font from your computer.  To create your own color schemes, click to the right of the word Theme to open the Theme Menu,  and at the bottom click on Add Theme button to insert color numbers from Photoshop’s color picker – this image used f06eaa and ffffff (pink and white).  Finally I created a list of flower and summer words in Notepad and copied them into Load – Enter Text field.  Note you must use CTRL+V to paste into this field.  This is where any text can be copied in and several other options are presented.

The above image used the program shape called Cup (I think it looks like a watering can) with their color scheme called Rainbow Bright.  Texture No. 17 from Photoradar (one of 100 free textures to download), a stock photo of flying birds, and my picture of Pensacola Beach  from last July were added as background treatment in Photoshop.  An OnOne PhotoFrame was added as a final touch.

In this last example a Robert Frost poem called “On a Tree Fallen Across the Road” was used to show how the main words in the poem are chosen – in this case only horizontal lines were applied.  A provided Font called Pea Mee-Mee and the color scheme 51610.8 was selected.  With the Custom Shape Tool in Photoshop, a tree shape from an Adobe free download called 150 more shapes was created.  Next the white from the background was removed withused the free Adobe Pixel Bender filter and my favorite filter for it, the free Kill White filter (it works better with Pixel Bender than just as a Photoshop plug-in) to delete the white areas – can get some very interesting effects using Kill White so I recommend downloading it. (Note – often an error warning comes up when applying Pixel Bender – just say OK.) The image was saved as a png so it could be added in with the Shape Menu of Tagxedo.   Once finished with the image in Tagxedo, it was brought back into Photoshop and placed over the original shape layer created for Tagxedo.  The same saved Tagxedo image was added back in as one of the background layers,  some other textures and brush layers were added along with a vignette and an OnOne Photo Frame (here is a link for a smaller free version to use).

There are so many things you can do with this program  and I plan on spending some more time just creating different effects.  Once again, trying out new things is so much fun – and this program is definitely one you should try!…..Digital Lady Syd


Simplifier and Simplify Filters


This week I have been playing with a few older freeware or free trial filters to see if I like any of them and are they still relevant. I ran across a free filter called buzz Simplifier, that had been packed with the Digital Camera Magazine number 17′s CD. I started reseaching this filter and found out the company that made the filter, Fo2PiX, had gone bankrupt and the filter was no longer supported. I also discovered that the Simplifier filter on the CD was listed as “SimplyFair” and created by Amphisoft in 2003 – it is freeware software and you can download it here. So it looks like Amphisoft may have given it to Fo2PiX. They in turn include it in their larger Buzz Pro 3 package. Anyway, I thought I would show what both of these filters do – I rather liked the effects although I used other filters to get the look I wanted. I am using the image above of London Eye that I took two years ago on vacation for my base image.

Quoting from Trimoon’s Blog “The Simplifier effect is based on patented Sieve transform technology, which ‘allows an image to be segmented into its component parts, in order that they may be identified, understood, labeled, and indexed.’  In essence Simplifier removes unimportant detail from a photo while preserving color, focus, shape and edge leaving one with an improved base image for applying other effects. You control how much or how little detail you wish to remove from the original photo by adjusting the Simplifier controls.”  Below it the result I got using the single Amphisoft Simplifier filter from the magazine.

I used these settings in the Simplify dialog box to get this result:
Radius 1
Square
Dark Edge 255
Light Edge 36
Spread 1

I really like the way it darkened the Ferris Wheel lines against the sky but I had to mask the effect from the sky since it gave too many edges in this area.  Using the Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 collection, I selected the Skylight Filter at Strength 70% to bring out the sky, and then added a layer mask to mask out everything but the sky since this filter turned the water and buildings yellowish.  You can actually get this filter free along with the Tonal Contrast and the Contrast filters by buying Vincent Versace’s new book, Welcome to Oz 2.0.  I also used Nik’s CEP 3 Vignette to center the image on “The Eye” itself but you can make your own vignette fairly easily to do the same thing.

Now to the complicated part.  I have also used the Buzz Simplifier One filter from the Buzz Pro 3 plug in that can be downloaded here and which was made by the now defunct Fo2PiX.  (Note:  There was also a Buzz.Lite plug in offered free with several British magazines and came with three pre-set filter stacks and six filters that included: Simplifier One; Edges Mono; Edges Colour; Emboss; Radial Blur; Radial Simplifier.  The Buzz Pro 3 included everything in Buzz.Lite and more – 25 pre-set Stacks and 22 filters as follows: Simplifier One; Simplifier Two; Simplifier Three; Blur; Blur More; Bright/Contrast; Directional Blur; Edges Colour; Edges Mono; Emboss; Gaussian Blur; Highlights White; Lowlights Black; Highlights Colour; Pure Colour; Radial Blur; Radial Screen; Radial Simplifier; Simplifier HSV; Spread Black; Spread White; and Unsharp Mask.)

To use this filter, you must add effects from the Available Effects column into the Current Stack.  Simplifier One, Simplifier Two and Simplifier Three are included along with several other effects.  (There is a really nice pdf manual that explains each of the effects in detail that came with the download.) I was mainly just interested in the Simplifier filters for this post.  I started adjusting the settings and ended up with the result below.  This filter can take quite a while to load the effects you added so keep the amounts lower to preview if it slows down too much (I use Windows 7).  When comparing the two filters, the Amphisoft Simplifier has basically 4 sliders (radius, dark edge, light edge, and spread) while the Buzz Pro Simplifier filter has only one slider (remove) and a choice for light, dark or both.  I believe the Buzz filter looks much more artistic and painterly than the Amphisoft Simplifier.  I used the same layer masks and Nik filters on each image so the results could be accurately compared.  Here is a link to several images where someone had applied the Buzz Simplifier filter.

It has been suggested that Topaz Simplify has very similar effects. In fact, many people on the internet seem to think this is better than Buzz Simplifier ever was.  They say that Topaz does not crash their computers and has more sliders to get the results you want.  I created the same image with Topaz Simplify Image Crisp Edge setting – used default settings except for Simplify Size of 0.10 and Details Strength of 1.0. Only with this setting could I bring the wires in cleanly from the Ferris Wheel and it was not that great. Otherwise it does appear to be comparable to the other images. I have noticed before that the Topaz Simplify filters have trouble with colors in segmented regions (like the region between the ferris wheel wires) and often discolors these little areas so they do not match up with the background areas.  Oddly enough, this is one of the complaints I see about the Buzz Simplifier so I will have to experiment more to see.  Topaz Simplify does have a setting called BuzSim which I know does look somewhat like the other two and has similar sliders including Remove Small and Remove Weak.  I would definitely download a trial and try it as it is still a great filter to own and experiment with on your images.

Finally, I added an example of the same image using the Simplifier Three filter effect from Buzz Pro applied twice to get the rich dark sky. First I had adjusted the tone and contrast of the image and converted a layer to a sepia color at 50% opacity.

I actually liked the results of both older filters although there appears to be subtle differences between them. The ones I reviewed here still do a good job for what they were intended to do.  I believe I will continue using them even though they are older, as their looks are a little different from what can be done with newer filters like the Topaz Simplify filters.  I personally love to have choices when trying to create an artistic look.  I hope you enjoyed this post and will try some of your old filters again.  You might be surprised by some of your results!…..Digital Lady Syd


Pixel Bender Droste Effect

This week I read an interesting blog by John Derry on the Droste Effect using the free Adobe Pixel Bender plug-in (click to download) for Photoshop. Note often an error warning comes up when applying Pixel Bender – just say OK. Most tutorials on the Pixel Bender plug-in have used the Oil Painting Effect. You can click here to download the Droste Effect that must be added into this plug-in to use.  It can also be downloaded at the Adobe Pixel Bender Exchange here.  I have been having some fun with this effect and thought I would share some of my results. I found it worked best for me to use a more graphic look as opposed to pictures I have taken, but you might get a very different result using different settings.

For the above image, I followed a tutorial at Computer Arts called “All-new abstract illustration techniques” by Per Gustafson to create the original graphic-looking image (a free pdf file with instructions can be downloaded from this site).  I also used an OnOne PhotoFrames plug-in to add the extra whitish look. These are the settings I used in the plug-in to get this effect:
Size 680/680
Radius Inside 27.073
Radius Outside 100
Periodicity 1
Strands 1
Check Strand Mixer
Zoom 4.35
Rotate 25.2
Antialiasing 1
Center 90/64
Center Shift 150/2
Background RGB 0/0/0/1
Levels 9
Level Start 3
Check Transparent Inside
Check Transparent Outside
Check Twist
Uncheck Periodicity
Rotate Polar 36
Rotate Spin 0
Uncheck hyperDroste
Fractal Points 0


The above image is the same original image as the first one, but I just continued tweaking the sliders and got this totally different look.  I did not record all the changes but it was quite easy to make.  After applying the plug-in, I used Nik Silver Efex Pro to convert the image to black and white, set the layer to 43%, made a composite (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) and applied the Sunshine filter from Nik Color Efex Pro, and finally added an Inner Glow and a Stroke layer style.

The image below was created using this beautiful texture – you can download it here. I thought it turned out quite interesting.   These are the settings I used for this effect:
Size 373/490
Radius Inside 36.064
Radius Outside  52.48
Periodicity 1.44
Strands 2
Check Strand Mirror
Zoom 0
Rotate 147.6
Antialiasing 1
Center 20/70
Center Shift (-20)/200
Background RGB 0/0/0/1
Levels 14
Level Start 1
Check Transparent Inside
Check Transparent Outside
Check Twist
Uncheck Periodicity Auto
Rotate Polar (-97.2)
Rotate Spin (-352.8)
Uncheck hyperDroste
Fractal Points 0

I tried to follow the settings included in the blog entry from the Digital Photography School on the Droste Effect for the hibiscus image below.  I used completely different settings from the other pictures.  I followed the tutorials suggestion of making it a floral square image.  Settings for this Pixel Bender Droste Effect are as follows:
Size 2616/2616
Radius Inside 51.549
Radius Outside 100
Periodicity 1.2
Strands 1
Check Strand Mirror
Zoom 3.6
Rotate (-36)
Antialiasing 1
Center (-6)/0
Center Shift 0/0
Background RGBA 0/0/0/1
Levels 5
Start Level 3
Uncheck Transparent Inside
Check Transparent Outside
Check Twist
Uncheck Periodicity Auto
Rotate Polar 0
Rotate Spin (-115.2)
Uncheck hyperDroste
Fractal Points 0


Overall this is a really fun plug-in to try. I believe that with a little effort and becoming familiar with the settings, you could get some great artistic effects……Digital Lady Syd


A Few More Valentines to Make

This is just a quick blog to finish up my series on Valentines.  Recently OnOne Software came out with more templates (no longer available) including some  more Valentine templates.  I used the Valentine Layout 5×7 Vertical Back and added a few embellishments of my own to give you an idea of what you can do with these wonderful templates that OnOne keeps furnishing to us for free.

This image contains similar elements I used in previous Valentines on my blog. Just to save you time, if you want to link to them: McSweetie Hearts from dafont.com, Cupid Brushes by glass-prism at Deviant Arts, and scatter heart brush from digitalTouch at Deviant Arts. The large heart was created using a Custom Shape in Photoshop and creating a large stroke with a pattern in it to give it the white edge. I did try out the Topaz Remask 3 (see sidebar for website link on my Tidbits Blog) to cut my lovely model out of the image I had taken. I was pretty pleased with the result for my first attempt.

The above image I created using a fairly quick tutorial from Gavin Hoey called “Valentines Card from Scratch” that he posted up on YouTube. I basically followed the tutorial except I changed the color of the roses.  Have a Happy Valentines Day!


Some Holiday Cheer

Since it is the season to be jolly, I thought I would just post a few things I did last year for the holidays last season.

For this image, I first applied a Photoshop Filter I bought called Topaz Adjust (see sidebar for website in my Tidbits Blog) using the Spicify preset, then added a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer to take out the gold tones in the background. Painted in the mask to keep the true color of the bulbs gold. Then went back into Topaz Adjust and applied the HDR Pop preset twice with modifications to my taste. Once again I masked out the some of the bulb to give a nice contrasty effect. I added Ash Texture 3 (these textures are no longer available but see my more recent blog “Adding a Texture for Flair!” for other texture sites) for more contrast to the background. Next a Curves Adjustment Layer for more contrast (do you see a theme here?) and finally a top layer set to Overlay where I painted with a soft brush around the edges of the ornaments to help them stand out more. This is a technique that I learned from John Paul Caponigro from training he presented at Kelby Training, but he has some great information on his own website. He teaches some very different techniques that I really like.

I should also add that Topaz Adjust is one of the most popular Photoshop filters and is fairly inexpensive. It gives some great looks, especially if you want a little more edginess to your images. It even gives a very good faux HDR look (which is what I was trying to get here). One thing about using these filters with so many settings is to try applying them more than once with different presets or different layer opacities or blend modes. It can give a totally different look with a just a little effort.

This next image is one I did from a tutorial by Darrell Heath on NAPP’s website called “Season’s Greetings Backdrop.” It was a lot of fun to do and it was all done in Photoshop CS4.

Well, maybe this gave you a few inspirations and some things to try out for the holiday season. I did not want this to sound like an advertisement for the above items and groups, but I really do use these resources a lot in my work. I hope to be back with some new techniques later this month…..Digital Lady Syd


Over 500 Exoplanets

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


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