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ENJOYING THE VIEW (At the Rookery)

Image of a Wood Stork at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm RookeryThis large Wood Stork was definitely enjoying himself as he posed for the bird paparazzi at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, and the other Wood Storks from his perch. This big bird actually held his balance very well up on that little branch – pretty amazing! Well I know I am taking a couple weeks off from blogging but thought I would add this short blog to let you know I am still around. Most of this image was actually post-processed in my old Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 without any problems. Just duplicated the background layer and opened Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3 to add some sharpness to the whole bird. Added on top 2 Little Owls (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Workbook Texture 4 which gave the plain blue sky a beautiful effect. Jay Johnson’s free Flying Bird png2 file was added in the top and set to 44% with a Pattern Fill Layer added to add some softness to the bird color. An Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to sharpen the eye. Then added a grunge brush png layer i created and applied just around the stork. This layer was set to Overlay blend mode at 25% layer opacity. Then popped into regular Photoshop CC2017 to add a Red Channel Luminosity Curve Layer and Nik Viveza 2. Very easy and enjoyed trying out my old program for a change. See ya in a couple more…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Just a Day at the Rookery!
Building a Nest for the Future

JUST A DAY AT THE ROOKERY!

A Snowy Egret and Roseate Spoonbill flying in formation at the RookeryYesterday I had an opportunity to visit one of my very favorite places to photograph our beautiful Florida birds, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. By visiting at various times of Spring, different types of birds and behavior are present. But beware, it is a pretty busy place for not just birds – if you get there early, you are trying to negotiate lots of photographer tripods, and as the day wears on, a myriad of kids arrive. All good fun though! This week the Wood Storks, Snowy Egrets, Blue Herons and Roseate Spoonbills were all very busy making nests. Therefore I had a chance to shoot lots of flying birds with all kinds of branches and leaves hanging out of their beaks. Will be posting these on off over at my Tidbits Blog especially. Hopefully I can return in a couple of weeks when there will be a lot of baby chicks.

The Snowy Egret and Roseate Spoonbill somehow both showed up in my image. I think I was trying to shoot the spoonbill, but the egret was also flying and I did not even see him until I looked at the photos in Lightroom. There were so many birds flying around that it was sometimes hard to capture them as they flew really close over your head at times. For me I keep my camera on Aperture mode at F/8 and shoot in continuous mode to capture as many shots as I can and hope one of the images will be sharp. Learned a lot about shooting birds from an old KelbyOn (NAPP at that time) video by Moose Peterson on taking images of Florida Birds. He is one of the best bird photographers around and has a great blog with lots of tips.

All the blog images were post-processed in Photoshop just using the same basic workflow I always use: First make sure no noise is in the image and fix that with Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) DeNoise 6, then Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (no longer available at the point) or Topaz Clarity (sometimes Topaz Detail depending on the image) to slighting sharpen the whole image (use a layer mask if needed), use a Red Channel Luminance Curve Adjustment Layer, a Black & White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode, and finally the free Google Nik Viveza 2 – this filter is a must. Viveza can really help even out the light and sharpen areas that need just a little boost. It can also add that subtle vignette needed in some images. If you have not tried it, do so – use control points to pinpoint the areas that need adjusting. Still my favorite all-time Photoshop filter! There are tutorials on all these different techniques so just search in my blog to find more info on any of them.

Image of baby Roseate Spoonbill chicks at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm RookeryThese little chicks were recently hatched to a Roseate Spoonbill and may be the first group to have arrived. They were so cute. At first it seemed there were only two in the nest, but the little guy on the left was in all the images. It is really easy to miss things until reviewing the shots at home. The light was a little harsh but they still looked pretty cute to me.

Hiding Snowy Egret at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm RookeryThis Snowy Egret was trying to get away from the crowds but the light was so pretty on his plume that he was quite noticeable. The grace and poise of the Snowy Egret is quite striking, especially when compared to the beautiful, but really clumsy Roseate Spoonbill. The spoonbills all see to have a lot of personality. And Wood Storks just sort of stay up high and stare you down. If you spend a little time watching the interactions of the birds, it is really entertaining!

I frequently use images shot at the Rookery and here are some past photo links for additional Rookery views:
The Rookery
Birds of the Rookery
Great Egret Babies
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret Looking for Love
Singing Spoonbill Duet Takes Rookery by Storm!
Very Busy Snowy Egrets
Tricolored Egret
Coming  in for a Landing!
Smiling Egret
A Happy Couple

I guess this post is a little different for one of my blogs, but it was so much fun to see these beautiful birds and wanted to share what an extraordinary place this is. If you are in Florida from April to the end of May, definitely stop by the Rookery in St. Augustine – the birds won’t mind and its always a day to remember! Oh yes, taking a week or two off blogging to finish up a couple classes I am taking. Will catch you on the other side. ….. Digital Lady Syd

ADDING A CREATIVE PAINT EFFECT

Image of King James V at Stirling Castle, ScotlandThis week I am presenting a little tutorial on how to add an interesting an painterly or artistic effect to your images. This technique goes hand-in-hand with the use of other creative filters, but is a great way to add a personal touch to those canned filters results. The image above is from Stirling Castle (completion date cc 1542) where the face of the palace is lined with statues. This statue is thought to be King James V of Scotland in yeoman attire as he wandered incognito among his subjects and calling himself the Gudeman of Ballengeich (tenant farmer of Ballengeich, a place near Stirling).

This technique comes from a really nice tutorial by Sebastian Michaels who is a total genius when it comes to using Photoshop. Several years ago he created a video called Custom Brush Technique at Light Stalking where he discussed several different ways of creating brushes. He made a grunge brush that he used to paint in an effect similar to the above. I took a little liberty here and downloaded similar brushes to create some of my effects.

What is shown here is how to add a white layer with a layer mask – by painting with black in the layer mask with unique and textured brushes, a very artistic result can be achieved. The steps are as follows:

  1. Adjust photo and on a duplicate layer (CTRL+J), add in any special effects such as filters.
  2. To add even more variety to the image, copy the duplicated layer from Step 1 and add adjustments layers, filters such as Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression or ReStyle, or go to Image ->Adjustment->Hue/Saturation (not an Adjustment Layer) set to colorize to change the overall color of the image. My image was turned into a bluish colorized look on the original filter layer, but could have been done on another duplicated copy.
  3. Add a New Layer on top and fill it with white (can go into Edit->Fill and Content: White (SHIFT+F5), or just change the color swatches to default Black/White (D) and press CTRL+BACKSPACE to fill with white (FYI: ALT+BACKSPACE fills with black).
  4. Add a Layer Mask to this layer (2nd icon from left at bottom of Layers Panel).
  5. Using several different brushes in the layer mask, build up the effect. Set the brushes to 20-30% only and change the rotation of the brush with each tap down. It is easiest to do if the Brush Panel is opened and set to the Brush Tip Shape section. Flip the little circle around to set the stroke so edges appear different when painted in the mask. Also, can right click in the Options Bar the Brush Preset Picker (2nd icon) to change the rotation and size quickly. Start by adding a bit of vignette feel on the edges. If you want the brush to rotate randomly with each stroke, can ago into the Shape Dynamics section and set the Angle Jitter to some amount – I use 19% on many of my brushes. Look at the Preview field to see what the effect will be when changes are made in the Brush Panel.
  6. If the layer was duplicated and more than one filter or effect was created (as in Step 2), also add a layer mask to all these layers and paint out parts so the original color of the image shows through. This gives a nice split tone look.

To get an interesting effect, try grunge brushes, splatter brushes for the edges, and soft round or smaller sized textured brushes to paint back any important details. Different sizes, rotations and opacities of brushes really vary the effect. And remember the Properties Panel can be used to adjust the layer mask opacity if the final result is too strong. The actual layer blend mode and opacity can be adjusted also. Lots of flexibility can be found here.

The above followed Sebastion’s steps from his video pretty closely including using Photoshop’s Filter Gallery to create a watercolor effect (Watercolor filter – Brush Detail 9, Shadow Intensity 1, Texure 2; and  Crosshatch filter – Stroke Length 9, Sharpness 6, Strength 1). This was added to the layer first before the Hue/Saturation Colorize effect was applied. Then the White Layer was placed on top. Three different types of brushes were used on both layer masks: a grunge brush (Shadowhouse Creations’ Grunge Brush Set 2-G4 brush), a grunge brush made using a texture somewhat like Sebastian’s, and Grut FX IL Ratatatsplat brush (from his wonderful Inky Leaks Splatter set) was used for the edge effect. Finished up with Nik Viveza 2 to just pull the eye into the statue area and lightly lighten the face.

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Image of BlueberriesThis blueberry image used the same workflow. It does not seem as if adding a white layer on top would make much of a difference here, but it actually did. It lightened the image overall before bringing in the color from the layers below and can add some beautiful texture with the right brushes. For this image, Topaz Impression was opened and one of my presets was applied called SJ WC like effect on bldgs (see end of blog for settings). On a duplicate layer, an Image->Adjustments>Hue/Sat-Colorize was set to Hue 46/Sat 27/Lightness +2 – a gold sepia tone. The color did not look right so a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer was clipped to the layer (ALT+click between the layers) and changed to a more pink color. This layer was set to 33% layer opacity. Brushes used in white top layer mask and the Impression and Colorized layer masks were:  SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur-AD Sketch Splatter (see end of blog on how to create this brush-one of my favorites as it adds just a touch of texture to the stroke at a small size and nice splatter brush at larger size) at 25% br opa and 502 px and rotated around edges; Shadowhouse Grunge GB-4 again at 1200 px and rotated around center; and ABlaise-Canvas Texture Br 46 32-350px (this brush added some nice texture into the image). The brush sizes and rotation were varied in each mask. Topaz ReStyle’s Zambezi Zest preset was used to get the French vineyard colors in the image. (Settings: ReStyle Opacity 62% and Soft Light blend mode; Color Style Primary 0.58; and Lum Primary 0.47; Texture Strength 1.00; Basic Temp 0.22, Tint 0.34, and Sat 0.08; Tone Black Level -0.14, Midtones 0.03, and White Level -0.39; and Detail Structure -1.00 and Sharpness 0.63; and Masking – with Strength set to 0.36, painted out the green leaf at bottom and the berries to give more detail in just those areas.) Finished up with the standard Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer, Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode, and Nik Viveza 2 to bring out the focal points.

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Image of Urquhart Castle in ScotlandHere is another example of how this technique could be used. This is an image of Urquhart Castle in Scotland on a very rainy day. Topaz ReStyle was applied using the exact same preset and settings from the blueberry image. Then a white layer was added on top with a mask. The Castle image was painted back in using the same brushes as above or the newly created Grunge Brush, the SJ 1 Color-Paint fur-AD Sketch Splatter brush (settings below) and once again Aaron Blaise’s Texture brush – his textured brushes really help with this effect when used in a layer mask. The layer was set to 35% layer opacity. On the ReStyle layer, a layer mask was added and parts of the trees and castle were painted out so the original image color showed through. At the top a New Layer was added and filled with a light gold-yellow color. A layer mask was added and once again the image was painted back using the same Grut-FX IL Ratatatsplat for the edges and my SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur brush at a small size for the detail areas. This layer was set to Linear Dodge (Add). To get the final effect, the Layer Style was opened by double clicking on the layer. In the Blend If sliders, the Underlying Layer black tab was split (by holding ALT and pulling the tab apart) and setting it to 10/70. This does not always work, but it definitely worth trying out to see what happens. In this case it brought out the structure more clearly. Nik Viveza 2 was used to pinpoint the focal point which is where the red umbrella is located. Anyway, just note that you are not limited to a white color top layer or using just one color layer. With a little experimenting, a very nice image can be produced. I believe I will use the above image on note cards.

Hope this gives you another little trick to try in your artistic endeavors and maybe it will give your images that extra level of interest it needs. And try out my brush – I am finding it is very useful in lot of different types of images. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Topaz Impression’s SJ WC like effect on bldgs Settings: Thought I would share the preset settings as it really does give some interesting results sometimes with a little masking when looking for creative effects. The preset was made in Topaz Impression 1:  Started with Watercolor II preset and these were the final settings: Stroke Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 26, Coverage 1.00, Color Overall Hue 0.15, Saturation -0.20 and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, Vignette 0, and Light Direction X0.33 and Y0.06; and Texture Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type solid white, and Background color used #d38967 – all other settings not listed at 0. Adjust your color swatches to get other color tones. These changes  were made to the preset in Topaz Impression 2 for the blueberry image: Number of Strokes High; Color Aqua Sat 0.25 and Lightness 0.51; Lighting Highlight 0.40, Shadow -0.39; and Texture Strength 0.

SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur-AD Sketch Splatter brush has become a favorite brush for all kinds of things. With these brush settings, it is great to paint animal skin but it works great wherever a little soft edge with subtle texture is needed. It is my go-to clean up brush when color needs to be added to fill in some rough spots. Here are the settings: First download these free brushes from Alex Dukal – Adobe Sketch Brushes and select AD Sketch Splatter – 143 px brush. This brush had the brush tip I liked but most of the brush settings were changed. Here are the Brush Panel settings as I use the brush: Brush Tip Shape – Size 9 px, Angle 13 degrees, Roundness 100% and spacing 120%; Shape Dynamics – only the Control field was set to Pen Pressure (for tablet use); Scattering – check Both Axes, Scatter 149%, Count 9, and Count Jitter 54%; Transfer – only the Opacity Control field was set to Pen Pressure, and Smoothing checked. Be sure to create a Brush Preset and a Brush Tool Preset (1st icon on the Options Bar – open the drop down and click the Create New Preset icon – this saves the Options Bar settings). Adjust and paint with different sizes. Can add Texture and Color Dynamics for different look. Also Dual Brush can be interesting. I use this brush sometimes as small as 4 px to clean parts of an image by sampling adjacent colors. Try out the original brush provided as it is a really nice splatter brush.

HOW TO CREATE A SUBTLE VIGNETTE

Image of the View from Sterling Castle in ScotlandThis week I thought I would share a Vignette tip that Matt Kloskowski (one of original Photoshop Guys and one of my favorite gurus) presented in his Bonus #1 Video called The Do’s and Don’ts of Lightroom/Photoshop Workflow (BTW it is a downloadable mp4 file). This is a good overall video, but his section on creating a subtle vignette was brilliant tip. I find I am now using this all the time and it is a really easy workflow. The image above was taken from Stirling Castle in Scotland and was an incredible panoramic view of the local area. It is a good example of how subtle the effect is. This vignette should be applied at the end of own workflow after all the changes to the image have been done.

Content Aware Move and Abstract Painterly Effect

First I will share a quick tip discovered before applying the vignette The above original image took a tremendous amount of clean up as there were trucks, garbage cans, and road cones all over the place. Instead of trying to clone and spot heal over some of the larger objects (like a large truck in this image), the Content Aware Move Tool (in group with the Spot Healing Brush) was used to select and move the truck down into the trees (make sure Mode field says Move). Since the Transform on Drop was checked, the truck was reduced to a really tiny spot in the corner and could easily be removed with the Spot Healing Brush or Backspace to remove it. Of course some clean up had to be done on the original truck spot, but it was much less work to do. I found this worked better than using the Content Aware Fill command so give it a try if other methods are not working well. For a good explanation on these tools, see the Patch and Content Aware Fill Tools, see the short video Content Aware Patch and Move by Adobe’s Julieanne Kost, another great PS guru. By letting PS to do the initial work, it takes a lot less time. To get the soft painterly effect, Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 was used – all the Detail sliders were set to -1.00 and the Boost were set to 0 – then adjusted the Tone and Color section  sliders to get this rather abstract feel. Back in Photoshop a layer mask was added to paint  back in some detail.

Vignette Workflow

The last step was to create the Vignette:

  1. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool and drag out to surround the focal point of your image. Hold down ALT key and Spacebar to move selection around the image to position.
  2. In Options Bar click on the Select and Mask button and go the Feathering slider. Depending on your photo resolution, set the feathering to blend nicely into the background. For the above a 120 px feather was used since my photo did not have that many pixels in it. For larger formats 300 px may be necessary.
  3. At this point click Invert button at the bottom of the panel and set Output to: Selection.
  4. Put selection on its own layer by pressing CTRL+J.
  5. Change the blend mode to Multiply and adjust the layer opacity (18% in the above image).

Matt explained that it looks good because the vignette is made from the photo itself rather than adding a black overlay on top of the image.

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Yellow Flower with Bee taken at Harry P. Leu GardensThis image was taken at the Harry P Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. Had to zoom in close to get a good look at the little “Acrobat” in the flower. The pretty golden colors was achieved using one of my favorite Lightroom presets I call TChurchwell Aging Photo (to create, view short video called Aging a Photo before Painting) and adjusting the Radial Filter to fit on the bee. In Photoshop a light beige texture by Kim Klassen (a lot of her textures are no long available – most have a soft grainy look and a few are still for sale) was added and set to Linear Light at 34% layer opacity. New layers were created for clean up, a painting to cover up distracting background objects, and the Sharpen Tool on just the bee and foreground flower.  Then a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created and the Vignette workflow was followed. The vignette was set to 34% layer opacity to get this final effect. I really liked the soft feel in the whole image.

Below are what just the two vignette layer’s feathering looks like after the Multiply blend mode was applied but before the layer opacity was adjusted. (Note the white ovals are actually transparent in the PSD file so the image below shows through.) It can be as subtle as you want. The left vignette was set to 18% and the darker right image was set to 34% layer opacity as the final step.

Image of Vignette Tych
Hope you get a chance to try out this vignette effect – I think you will really like it. Matt K usually is right on with this tutorials. Have a good weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd

HOW TO ENJOY THE DOODLE

Drawings of items on my deskThink I am having a bad case of Spring Fever this week so here is a change of pace for my blog. I have seen so many of these types of drawn objects being sold in scrapbooking kits especially. I am not the greatest at drawing, but I thought it would be fun to see if I could actually do a little of this myself.

I probably would never have tried this except a while back I was listening to one of my favorite websites, Creative Live, who was running Kate Bingaman-Burt’s Drawing the Everyday Every Day videos – Kate made this really fun to watch so I decided to try my own everyday drawings. She says you need to practice “every day” to get better at drawing, especially with the lettering (I confess I do not do this every day). The drawings do not have to be perfect and a personal flavor can be given to them which I think makes it fun to do. Both blog images were drawn on an inexpensive non-digital Sketch Pad from WalMart – supposed to be good for Pen, Pencil, Pastel and Oil Pastel. Kate says just try to create a basic theme when creating the items – they can be anything that is sitting around your home. A mechanical pencil (in image above) was used to draw for my images but Kate uses an inexpensive drawing Pen. The sketch was scanned in as a JPG file using my old scanner. In Photoshop a New Document was created and the sketch file was pasted into the document as a layer. The Select -> Color Range command was used to select just the sketching (click OK and press CTRL+J to put it on its own layer), but any way of selecting can be used. Duplicate the layer and merge down (CTRL+E) if the lines are too light – since mine were pencil this needed to be done. I placed a New Layer underneath and just used a solid hard-edged round brush to paint in the color. For the background, just painted in some pink and blue hatch texture using Just Jaimee Texture Brush Sample Brush 4 – added Color Dynamics to the brush to get the two color effect. This was really an interesting and fun project to try. Kate goes into much more detail and steps on how to do this process and does a great demonstration in her videos. Here is a link to Kate’s website so you can see how great her sketched items are.

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Wild Flower DrawingsHere is another one of my crazy drawings of wild flowers. In Photoshop with the sketch layer on top (after removing background), 13 layers were added underneath to paint the flowers and text. Watercolor and Smudge brushes were used to create the painted effect in the flowers. Adding texture in the items will give more interest to the items. Several splatter brushes were also used on some of the flowers. The background texture is from Kim Klassen called MarchDuo_soTrue. This was fun to create.

It was pretty easy to do this and I was quite surprised that I could draw anything at all. Give it a try and see if you can come up with some nice items to use in your composites. Have a Happy Week!…..Digital Lady Syd

HOW TO CREATE LIGHT LEAKS TO USE OVER AGAIN

Image of the Waterfall at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and GardensMany people are selling some beautiful light leaks to add as overlays to your images. It occurred to me that is this is just not that difficult a thing to accomplish so this blog is about making your own light leaks quickly. Besides being great for vintage looks, many digital artists use light leaks to add more light into an image. By making the final light leak layer a PNG file, it can then be easily adjusted and placed over your other images to get a quick and perfect light leak effect. The above image of the waterfall at the entrance to the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens used two light leaks – an orange one on the left side of the image and a pink color sampled from the bright colored flowers for the upper right side.

The workflow to create a light leak is pretty easy – just follow the steps below. Once a few have been tried, it is not that hard to make several colored light leaks in the same image (as above) or add subtle pattern effects to the light leak. Even some of the regular gradients that are supplied by Photoshop or downloaded from others can be turned into light leaks with a little more manipulation. In Photoshop I started with a very basic image where the different light leak effects could be seen clearly and then added and deleted after saving.

1. First click on the foreground color swatch to open the Color Picker. Choose a foreground color that would make a nice color light leak. Reds, Yellows and Oranges look very good. Also Blues and Purples can look great too with the right image.

2. Next a Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer is opened. To find it, click on the half-moon icon (4th over) at the bottom of the Layer Panel. (Alternatively go to Layers -> New Fill Layer -> Gradient Fill.) In most cases the Linear Style gradient is used. Click on the Gradient strip in the Gradient Fill Panel to open the Gradient Editor panel – select the 2nd Gradient over, the color to transparent gradient, and click OK. Don’t worry that the color may look way overdone at this point.

  • The Angle determines how the gradient lines up on the image.
  • Change the Scale to make the leak appear larger or thinner. For example, set Scale to 385% and it looks very soft and stretched out – no defined edge; set to 25% and there is a very sharp gradient edge. There is definitely an opacity change associated with the Scale setting. The default is 100%.
  • Use the Move Tool (V) to move the gradient around in the image so it can just fill up the very low edges or cover most of the image.

By adjusting the Angle and the moving the gradient in the image, it can be placed exactly where you want it. This workflow only creates light leaks with one edge in the image instead of being a strip effect.

3. If the light leak effect is too strong, set the Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer to Screen Blend Mode in the Layers Panel.

4. To save the light leak as a PNG file, turn off the all other layers and select the Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer. There are two ways to do this. I prefer the first way as the color is more brilliant and can be adjusted easier, but it does save the light leak as a much larger file.

  • Go to Save -> Export -> Export As and set Format: PNG. Be sure Transparency box is checked. Click Export All and save file in a light leaks folder on your computer. Now the PNG file can be applied to any of your other images! I usually name mine something like SJ Orange Lower Left Light Leak.png. This choice is not available for Photoshop CS6 users.
  • Go to Save -> Export -> Layers to Files. In the dialog set the Destination to the light leaks folder, File Name Prefix should be the light leak name, check Visible Layers Only box (this is important or all the image layers will be converted to files), File Type PNG-24, and check the Transparency and Trim Layers boxes. It would be easy to combine two light leak Gradient Fill layers or one with a Pattern Fill Layer clipped by turning both layers in the Layers Panel. Fort CS6 users, go to File -> Scripts -> Export Layers to Files and the same dialog box appears as discussed in this paragraph.
  • Can always double click on the gradient strip in the Gradient Fill Panel and when the Gradient Editor Panel opens, Name the gradient and click the New button – then the gradient will appear at the end of the Presets for use on another image as a gradient but it is not a PNG file.

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Coleus Plant at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and GardensAs noted above in Step 2 of the Basic Workflow, the light leak only has one side to it. There is a more complicated process and it is shown above on the Coleus Plant image also taken at the Gardens. To get a strip effect, it is fully explained in James Abbot’s How to Create Realistic Light Leaks in Photoshop short Tipsquirrel video. The major trick is to adjust the actual gradient strip tabs in the Gradient Editor panel. By moving the little tabs on both the upper and lower sides of the strip, clear spaces in the gradient can be created so a strip effect can be created. Then a second Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer is clipped to the original Gradient Fill Layer to set the color. I suggest you watch the video for a good explanation on how to create this effect. To me it seems like it would be easier to adjust the Light Leak in the Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer’s mask to paint with a black soft edged brush and remove parts of the leak or use the Gradient Tool on the mask to create a straight soft line.

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Vintage image of the Traveler Circle Swing at Coney Island in 1905To create very simple light leaks, a Fog Brush (download the one used above at Plearn) can be used to paint a color on a New Layer where the light leak would look good. Then try different blend modes and adjust the layer opacity, or add a layer mask and paint out areas that are too strong. Very easy. Then the color layer can be saved down as a light leak layer by using Step 4 in the workflow. The Traver Circle Swing at Coney Island in 1905 (the price was 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children) historic image from Shorpy.com used a layer where an orange color was painted around the sides and top of the image and set to Vivid Light blend mode. Again this layer could have been saved as a PNG document as in Step 4 above. A border I had created a while back was added to give a little texture in the light leak areas.

I hope this info will give you an opportunity to create some of your own light leaks. These saved light leaks can be loaded into Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Texture Effects’s Light Leaks section to use in this plug-in. Give it a try and see if you like the results. Until next week…..Digital Lady Syd

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LIGHTROOM FOR ANIMAL PHOTOGRAHY

Image of a Sumatran Tiger at the Jacksonville ZooI was catching up on some videos from last year and ran across one that turned out to be really interesting. It is called How to Turn Your Zoo Photography into Fine Art with Lightroom by Serge Ramelli. Since I like to photograph animals at the various zoo and theme parks around here, I gave it a go and thought I would share his rather simple workflow. Be sure to check out the link as Serge offers 5 Develop presets and 2 Adjustment Brush presets to use on your images (and he also has some other very good videos on Photoshop at his site).

The image above is of a Sumatran Tiger from the Jacksonville Zoo – this is one of the tigers they use for demonstrating his breed – very nice cat. Once you have downloaded the presets and placed them in Lightroom (his video goes through this at the end), I always create a Virtual Copy to work with so the original can be used again if needed.

  1. Try looking at all his presets and choose one that looks good. The above image used his Zoo Base I preset. All the settings are set up so only a tweak here or there might be needed. The Develop Basic and Detail sections are where the adjustments are made. You can always go back to these after finishing the steps and adjust them more if the effect is not quite right.
  2. Now is a good time to Crop the image before you set up the Gradient Filters, but it can be done later.
  3. Select the Gradient Filter and add a New dot on on the right side of the image. Set the Effect drop-down field to Exposure or try out the Zoo Darken Brush. Now move the Exposure slider to select the correct amount of vignette, he softened the Clarity a little as it smooths the dark areas, and finally the Noise is set to +100. Just drag out the gradient towards the subject. Do this for the other three edges.
  4. Select the Adjustment Brush and in Effect drop-down, choose Zoo Darken Brush and paint in on parts that need to be darkened a little on main animal or subject. Switch to Zoo Brighten Brush in Effects drop-down and paint over areas that need to be lightened – basically doing dodging and burning here. Can adjust any of the other sliders to get the correct look and can add new points to get a great finished look. Try adding one for just the eyes by zooming in.
  5. Go back and tweak any of the settings since this is the beauty of Lightroom!

This is when I take my images into Photoshop and add some more filter effects. The tiger image used the Nik Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in applied to it in specific places using Darken/Lighten Center, Detail Extractor (control point on face only), Glamour Glow and Pastel (set to 46% opacity) filters. That was all that was done. Not sure mine exactly fine art but it does give a very pleasing look and the background has definitely been toned down a lot. Serge used more vignetting in his images so check out the video link for those settings.

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Image of a Western Lowland Gorilla from the Jacksonville ZooThis guy was definitely watching everyone in the area – I think he is in charge of this part of the Jacksonville Zoo. Used the same preset as above – the Zoo Base I is my favorite. Added the gradient filters and adjustment brush strokes and took the image into Photoshop. At this point the image had a lot more background color and was not cropped to the final size. In Photoshop Nik Viveza 2 was used to do a little more sharpening and brightening in the right places. A black and white Adjustment Layer was added and set to 37% layer opacity to slightly remove the color. Then the final crop was done. The desaturated look seems to suit this guy.

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Image of a Giant Tortoise at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmThis Giant Tortoise resides at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and is hard to miss! I think he is eating twigs. This time the Zoo Sepia preset was used as a starting point in Lightroom and more of the Basic sliders were adjusted to get a global effect that looked good. Then the Gradient Filters were added and the Adjustment Brush was used to brighten up his face. In Photoshop Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3 Highlights was opened and the Highlight Detail 1 preset was selected. A black layer mask was added back in PS and just the focal areas were painted back in. On a Stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened up and a new preset was created. Used a rusty edged grayish texture, some edge blur for the background but not the turtle, a light leak that had some turquoise for the shell, and a few Basic Adjustment settings were applied. In the masking section, painted back the face a little. This layer was set to 67% layer opacity. On another stamped layer, used Nik Viveza 2 just on the face to lighten it up a little more. Last step involved adding a Levels Adjustment Layer to slightly flatten out the dark edges – painted back the face so it was not affected.

These presets are very nice. It is an easy way to really set off the animals and remove some of the distractions that are usually inside the cages. I am still experimenting with this technique, but it appears to have some good possibilities. I would encourage you to at least try out the presets and see what you thing. Serge has several other videos and presets available so check out those also. Hope everyone is enjoying this early Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd

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