Anything Photoshop or Photography



Image of Glass Maker at the Magic Kingdom at Disney WorldThis week I thought I would post a little interesting Spotlight Effect using the Subtract blend mode that I posted in my Tidbits Blog several years ago. It is such a handy little technique learned from Calvin Hollywood, a German Photoshop guru, so I thought I would share it again. This image of the glass maker in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World is an example of how to use this technique. The spotlight effect can be directed exactly the way you want it.

The Subtract blend mode (and also the Divide blend mode) was introduced in Photoshop in CS5. Calvin has posted a very nice short video that includes this technique called “New Blend Modes – Divide and Subtract.”

The basic workflow as follows:

  1. Open image in Photoshop and duplicate the Background Layer (CTRL+J).
  2. Set top layer to Subtract blend mode.
  3. Go to Filter -> Bur -> Gaussian Blur and set Radius to 250. The image now has a night effect and is not that blurry.
  4. Add a Layer Mask and with the mask highlighted, paint with a black brush set to a low opacity to emphasize areas to be lightened.

Below is the result of using the technique from the original blog post showing how effective this spotlight technique can be. This image is of a beautiful sculpture called Cherubs Playing with a Swan that was created by Jean-Baptiste Tuby I in 1672-73 and is located in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. To see original image, go to my Spotlight Effect With the New Subtract Blend Mode Tidbits Blog.

Image of a Sandhill Crane on a painted texture. height=
This image is of a Sandhill Crane is one of several that are “wandering” around our neighborhood for the last couple of weeks. These birds sort of look like a turkey body with these gorgeous heads of red feathers. They only visit a few weeks a year and are rather tame! The Subtract blend mode was used to create a really soft vignette effect around this painted bird. The layer opacity was only set to 29%, just enough to put a little spotlight on our posing model – very subtle.

Well, hope you enjoyed my little Subtract tip for this week. By adjusting the layer opacity or changing the Density and Feather sliders in the layer mask’s Properties Panel, the effect can be set just as you want. Hope to get out and take more of these birds this week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Who’s Hiding in the Cabbage Patch?


Had not planned on writing on this topic this week, but since I own Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask, thought I would put it through its paces. Along the way, a couple other tips popped up! This image took me several hours to complete, but was worth it. The colors in these Scarlet Macaws are incredible and perfect for painting. I call this guy “King of the Alligator Farm” as he was so noticeable and seems to enjoy everybody checking him out.

Topaz recently updated their selection plug-in to ReMask 5 and the results are really great. Remember, if you own this plug-in, it is a free upgrade for you. The major improvement for me is the Background section as shown at end of blog. Otherwise I found the program to be just like Version 4 and it still works very well. (See my And the Best Complicated Selection Tool Is?) It took practically no time to separate this image with a distracting green colored background and place it on my Corel Painter texture. In fact, in most cases you do not have to fill in the areas. Check out this short basic tutorial for version 4, that works the same with version 5, on how to create a mask fast – ReMask 4 Masking Hair. After computing the mask, I usually adjust the Recovery slider (revives color of foreground in weaker transparent areas) and the Layer Mask strength (determines the brightness of the mask) to get better results in my masks. Check out the Manual for how all the slider work. Below is a screenshot of the ReMask 5 interface.

Screenshot of ReMask 5.0 with macaw selectedYou need to go to Menu -> Preferences and check Enable Use-Layer-Mask to get a layer mask on image layer back in Photoshop. The final image used three different effects in Topaz Lens Effects: Fisheye to increase the head size a little (this work really good on bird images), Toy Camera Awesomeness I preset tweaking the sliders to get the rich color tones, and as a final step in this image using the Fog 1 preset which gives the final slightly faded feel around the bottom of the image to drive the eye upward. The basic workflow was the same one used in my How To Get a Painterly Effect for Wildlife and Birds blog. The biggest problem with this image was to get the focal point well defined on the face since the colors are so vivid and compete with the face.

ReMask 5 really selected the bird and feather edges very easily and without too much touch up in the resulting layer mask. I usually flip between the Mask view and the Keep View. The brushes in the plug-in are very sensitive so that you can really select the extra little spots needed just by tapping with the brushes – no real painting. To switch between the brushes use keyboard shortcuts “q” for to add back image, “w” to remove areas, and “e” to recompute the area. Zoom in close and tap away with the different brushes. Pretty easy. This is the basic trick to getting a really clean mask.


Image of a Cattle EgretThis Cattle Egret took lots of steps so I will not go over all of them. Just wanted to emphasize that the same Topaz ReMask 5 was used to select him. In this bird’s case, it took a little more clean up in Photoshop to get it exactly the way I liked it. The Oil Paint Filter in CS6 was applied to just the bird quickly, then I hand painted more on the bird. The Fog Filter in Topaz Lens Effects was used on the left side of the image to soften the body effect. Below is how the Cut View of the mask appeared for cattle egret image. One of my Corel Painter textures was added to the image a couple times for the final result.
Screenshot of Cut View in Topaz ReMask 5


Two things have been improved: Topaz has included a new Background icon at bottom of column where you can open any image to add into the shot as a background, and it is now a stand-alone program that interfaces smoothly with Lightroom. The best use for the Background section would probably be for adding a new sky in a landscape (see below) or as a background to a portrait. Have Background choices of Transparency (the default setting), Solid Color or Image where you can select an image or texture from your computer. Click the orange icon and you get options to Move, Scale (keeps aspect ratio so you cannot stretch the texture) or Rotate the background. Press the yellow icon to swap out the chosen background image. There are several basic sliders to adjust the background to blend in with the masked area. Below is a screenshot of this section where I replaced a sunset type sky with some painted clouds. The down side is that if you are using the plug-in within Photoshop, you will have to save the mask with the new background down in a JPEG, PNG or TIFF file format – it does not save as a layered PSD file. I found this very confusing as you have to reopen your image with the other formats in PS and mine all appeared to be flattened. For me it is easier to just create the mask in ReMask, then add the texture in Photoshop where there are more options for manipulating the blend between the two layers. Still it is a pretty handy thing to have for use with Lightroom. Here is the link on Flickr to the original image. Screenshot of Topaz ReMask 5's background section


I still love Topaz ReMask and version 5 is even better. Definitely my “go-to” program for creating complicated selections. It is worth the time to figure out how quickly the selections can be made, even if just used as a starting point. You can always go back to the layer mask in Photoshop and tweak it some more. I usually have to. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HDR image of Flagler Beach, FloridaImages in this blog are of my local Flagler Beach, Florida, and were taken with my Nikon 10-24 mm wide-angle lens. This week I decided I should address this new technology that is only in Lightroom CC. Since I have not been shooting HDR for a while, it is not something I use that much. I have always used Photomatix and Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 plug-ins for my HDR images, so this is definitely an interesting update for Lightroom. Many die-hard HDR fans are not liking the results. My take on this process is that it is very good and it comes with Lightroom so you don’t have to buy it. I will probably use it when I can.

So I am going to go through my Lightroom workflow real quick so you can see the screenshots for each step. The actual shooting using bracketed images to create an HDR image is a huge topic that I am not covering in this blog. It is recommended that you first do the Merge to HDR before doing any other changes in LR, especially the Adjustment Brush changes.

1. Need to first highlight each of the images to be merged into HDR. My images selected were using Exposure Compensations of -2 1/2, -1/2, and +1 1/2. Adobe says you only need to use 2 images, but some people say noise appears unless 3 are used. Apparently 3 images are enough to get good results, even if you have more bracketed.

2. Right click on one of the selected images and choose Photo Merge -> HDR. The following dialog will open showing the basic merged image.

Screenshot of Lightroom's Merge to HDR dialogI decided to use all three HDR Options even though a tripod was used to shoot these images. Always use the Auto Align to be sure they are lined up correctly. Use Auto Tone to bring in the information for the light and dark tones from each image. Only need to use Deghost when you have some sort of action in the image. This could be people moving around or, as in this case, clouds and waves that can be moving quite a bit so the High setting was selected. By checking the Show Deghost Overlay, you can see where it deghosted. I believe it was quite windy when I took these images, so that is why the plants on the right foreground were deghosted. With each change selected, the image updates.

3. Click the Merge button when all settings are correct.

Screenshot of the Lightroom HDR Merged imageAbove shows the expected rather flat merged DNG image. The DNG file format is the same as a RAW file – it is just Adobe’s file extension for RAW files. I do not usually save my RAW files as DNGs, but use Nikon’s NEF file format when I import. This is really just personal taste.

4. Apply settings to really pop your image.

First adjust the Exposure slider which now can be set between +10 to -10. The normal settings are from +5 to -5. Now since the blacks and whites are making the image so flat looking, set these. To get the best Auto blacks setting, hold SHIFT and double-click on the word Blacks – it will now be set at the position to get the best effect. You can still adjust it more if you do not like the results. Do the same for the Whites slider. Then add some Clarity and Vibrance to finish up. See the image under Step 6 to see the settings along with the HSL settings.

5. Use Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush to Dodge and Burn localized areas. Screenshot of areas to Dodged using Adjustment Brush in LightroomThe Adjustment Brush was used to some Brightening to very localized areas – the waves and some of the rocks. Above is a screenshot showing these areas as painted as a red overlay on the the image, and the brush settings used to get these results. Just a little Exposure was added (+0.47), some Clarity, and Sharpness so the waves show up a little better. Note that in this case the brush was set to a 100% Flow, but I do not always do this. For a more gentle effect, use a lower Flow amount and build up the effect as needed.

Screenshot of Burning in Lightroom using the Adjustment BrushAbove the Adjustment Brush was used to add some Darkening or Burning effect to some localized areas – only the Exposure was set to -0.39 and a few parts of the sand were darkened. You can see the white dot that shows where the dodging was added before. Just click on it to further adjust the dodging effect.

6. Adding HSL slider settings.

Screenshot showing Lightroom's Basic settings and HSL Luminance settingsHere are the settings used for the Basic settings and the HSL Luminance settings for this image. I did not feel it needed anymore changes to the colors other that the Oranges and Blues adjustments. Overall the image looked pretty nice and balanced to me.

Below is another image created using the HDR process in Lightroom. I am really pleased with the lack of noise in the image – the DNG file was very sharp, but the colors still needed a little tweaking. Some overall sharpening was done to the image in Lightroom and an Adjustment Brush was used to even out the shadows in the dark window shutter behind her. Also two Radial Filters were applied – just decreased Exposure slider for the darker vignette effect, and then increased it slightly to get the face and body lightened slightly. In Photoshop some clean up was done using the Spot Healing Brush and Clone Stamp Tool to remove a restraining rope that ran in front of the umbrellas. Also a final Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to just add a bit more contrast in the blacks. This could have been done in Lightroom as well.
Image of a lady painting the parasols at the Magic KingdomThat is about all there is to it! It is very easy to do and by having the Lightroom sliders available, it is easy to adjust just the way you want. You can still work on the image in Photoshop or add some special effect presets in Lightroom. Lots of options. Hope you try out this new command, and try out shooting some HDR if you have not tried it yet. I believe it can really take your image to a higher level of detail and color. Chat at ya next week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of an egret on a painted textureFor a few weeks I have been experimenting with some of the wonderful painterly techniques of Jai Johnson, a wildlife enthusiast who creates absolutely beautiful images. I am finally getting some results that are appealing to my personal taste as I love photographing wildlife in the natural habitat. I thought I would pass on what works for me. On her website she has several really nice videos. She uses Topaz (see website link in sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) photoFXlab as a stand-alone, but it is pretty easy to follow along and do the same steps in most versions of Photoshop. Lately I have been doing my painting in CS6 to increase the stroking speed especially with the Mixer Brushes, although all the CC versions will work fine.

Love the beautiful egrets that can be found in the rookery at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in the Spring. This bird just seemed happy to me and was a lot of fun to paint. The background is one created in Painter for him. I believe you could create some nice watercolor backgrounds in Photoshop that would give a similar result. I needed a yellow warm light in the background to match the sunlight on his body. Used Jai’s basic workflow that puts him on top and then in a black mask, the original background is removed. She also uses Topaz Lens Effects Graduated Neutral Density filter – in this case used to lighten the bird up. The texture was duplicated two more times and placed on top – one used Multiply blend mode at 16% layer opacity and the other Color Dodge blend mode at 15% layer opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer was opened and the Colorize button was checked with the Hue set to 48 and Saturation 25 – filled the mask with black (CTRL+I in mask) and painted back just lightly areas I wanted the warmer color to appear. Nik Viveza 2 was used to add emphasis to the head area. The Eyes and Beak were sharpened using two Exposure Adjustment Layers. (See my How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog,) Then a stamped layers (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top and opened in Topaz ReStyle using the Peppermint Gray preset (one of my favorites) to get a little different color balance. Back in PS the layer was set to 45% layer opacity and the bottom foreground was painted out in a layer mask to keep it slightly darker so the bird looks grounded. Last steps involved used New Layers to clean up distracting colors or areas.

Image of Wood Stork on painted background
I totally love Wood Storks, the gentle looking birds that are everywhere down here in Florida. This one happened to be standing in the top of a tree at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, but they are everywhere in my neighborhood. There were actually two other birds next to him doing some crazy things so I removed them. They seem to tolerate people very well also.

In this image he was placed on a new texture created just for him in Painter. I tried to use complementary colors to the bird. If you like this type of texture, check out Jai Johnson‘s inexpensive (and some really nice free ones) and beautiful textures that give similar effects. The usual steps were taken of putting the bird layer on top of the texture, adding a black layer mask, and painting just the bird back with a white brush in the mask so the texture shows through from below. One of Jai’s great tips is to try to match up the texture with the original background colors of your subject. Used the Properties Panel Density slider to reduce the mask opacity to be able to see where the subject is for the initial painting in the layer mask, then put the slider back up to 100% when blocked in a little. Duplicated the texture and placed it on top of the bird layer, set it to Soft Light Blend Mode at 62% layer opacity. Did some clean up layers to even out some of the edges.

I am finding Topaz Lens Effect’s Toy Camera filter is working well with my bird images. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top to apply this filter. Looked at the different presets and choose one,  in this case the Yellow Green Low Contrast preset. The Vignette was set 0 and all the sliders in the Toy Camera Aberrations section far left to 0 since I really do not want the Toy Camera effect. The next Toy Camera sections should be adjusted for the individual image. (For the above the Region Size was set to 0.17, Transition 0.42 and Angle 55.25 – especially watch the Angle as it affects how the colors lay out on the image. Next adjusted the Region A Color Cast and Region B Color Cast to fit this image – mainly adding a little bit of Reds, Yellows and Blues to get the colors I liked.) I like how you can really adjust the colors around to get some nice blended effects. Finally adjusted the standard Image Adjustment sliders to add saturation and contrast. These presets, with some tweaking, can really give an image a beautiful soft and blended result.

The Eyes were again sharpened using the Exposure Adjustment Layer, and then  another for just the beak. These two areas have to be sharp since the eye will look first at them with birds, but be careful not to over-sharpen so they do not blend into the image – reduce the opacity of the adjustment layer a little if this happens. Next I wanted to add just a little contrast around his head so a Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add some burning by pulling down on the curve to get the correct tone behind his head, filling the mask with black (CTRL+I), and painting back where I want the effect. (See my How to Use Curves Adjustment Layer to Dodge and Burn an Image blog). The last step added Nik Viveza 2 to really make the focal point, the head area, pop out. Since the background is competing with his white feathers, the feathers needed some punch and a little softening in this area.

Image of a beautiful tigerThis beautiful photo was from FreeImages – wish I could take credit for taking this image. The photo was used to follow the steps in Jai’s last video called Working With Bold Colors and Abstract Textures. This image had a really bright colored texture like Jai was using as a background. In her video she suggested trying out Topaz ReStyle, and that is where this color effect was applied. Also Topaz Adjust’s Boost preset was used instead of the Bold preset she prefers on the tiger layer. Topaz Simplify’s BuzzSim preset was used on just the subject layer. On a stamped layer Topaz Lens Effects Graduated Neutral Density filter was applied, and then ReStyle’s Dusty Desert preset which gives the almost colorless result. To finish an Exposure Adjustment Layer for the eyes and then Nik Viveza 2 to even out the background just a little were applied. Wish I had taken this image. Sigh!

Well hope you get a chance to check out Jai Johnson’s techniques on your wildlife images. Like I said, all her techniques can be used in Photoshop without too many changes – just experiment with the brush opacity and Flow settings is about all I see that is a little different. And I really like the Topaz Lens Effects Toy Camera effects – something I had not even looked at before! Hope you are all having a great summer – I am!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Topaz Lens Effects For Some Image Fun
How To See If You Captured the Focal Point
A Little Birdie Told Me So!
Jumping Whales
Horses Checking Me Out


Image of a Cattle Egret painted as a digital watercolorThis cattle egret was a great subject to try out some digital watercolor painting. Since I am still enjoying the summer, thought I would post my recent exploration into watercolor painting.

First I just painted this bird into the texture by adding one of my colorful textures created in Corel Painter, then adding the bird image on take, adding a black layer mask, and painting back on the bird and a bit of foliage so he is not just floating in the air.

Next a New Layer was created and the bird was painted. Usually I would consider using a Mixer Brush, but they just did not look right on him. I had just bought 103 brushes from Grut Brushes for $10.00 and he had developed some wonderful watercolor brushes (also lots of Ink and Oil brushes that really like – check his website for a new free brush each week). The major brush used in this image was called Sparrow Tone and the Brush Blend Mode was set to Normal to paint. Another one of my own golden brown Painter textures was used to add some vividness to the colors. The last step was to add my free painted watercolor layer on a New Layer on top.

Image of a flower cart at SeaWorld Orlando This image of a flower cart at SeaWorld Orlando took forever to paint. Still learning how to use watercolor but it was fun to try out different brushes for different effects. I wanted a Tuscany feel to the image, so I tried to stay with the very warm color palette. For the warm wash used as a background, used my free SJ Watercolor Brush Tool Round Blunt to paint across the image. Used Grut’s Sparrow Tone brush and a tiny soft round brush to detail work. The same texture as used above was used in this image and set to Darken blend mode at 61% layer opacity. This image just used a large number of painting layers and several adjustment layers to get the effect the way I liked it.

I am finding the watercolor images use different brushes and techniques to the get the effect correct. I am still working on this aspect of painting, but finding it is a lot of fun. Hope to share more on this as I learn more. Enjoy your week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get Painting Effects from Action – Part 1
How To Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting


Image of the Alcazar Cafe using GREYCstoration on itThis week I decided to try to find a replacement for the Oil Paint Filter effect that Photoshop CS6 and CC used and everyone liked so much. It was removed from Photoshop CC2014 and CC2015. I did not use it that much, but sometimes it was nice to use. I ran across a little free plug-in that gives a similar result as the Oil Painter filter and many people seem to be liking it. Also I created a Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression preset that also gives a similar effect.


The image above shows the results of using the plug-in called GREYCstoration that is a free download for WINDOWS users and Photoshop CC2014/2015 only (I downloaded by clicking on this link and scrolling down to Petopeto 2nd entry from almost two years ago-use the top link in entry). Copy the Greyc-helper.bin and Greyc-x64.8bf into the c:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 or 2014\Plug-ins\ folder. I did not put any of the other files in the downloaded folder, just those two. Now here is the kicker – to find the plug-in, you must look under Filter -> Noise -> GREYCstoration. (Note: sometimes I get an error so just say try again and it usually comes up anyway.) The effect does not appear to be as strong as the Oil Painter Filter, so I found that by applying it several times, the result was better. If you go to the link above you will find the default settings for this filter and a blogger’s settings that he likes. I used some even stronger settings to get the effect on the photos above and below. (Strength 999, Contour 0.0, Anisotropy 1, Noise Scale 0.1, Geometry Regularity 2, Initial gaussian blur o, Iterations 1, Gfact 1, Spatial step 0.8, Angular step 30, Gauss precision 2, Interpolation nearest, Stage display Normal, Threads Auto, and checked all three – Fast approximation, Alt amplitude, and GPU). The interface is not that great, but you can still see the results when trying different settings, but some of the settings do not appear to work. Also varying the Geometry Regularity gives some very different results. The other value I changed around some was the Contour setting. Below is a Cattle Egret using the same filter twice and settings as above, once on the original image layer and once after my Corel Painter texture was applied.
Image of a Cattle Egret using GREYCstoration plug-in

Topaz Impression Using My SJ Oil Paint Preset

Image of the Alcazar Cafe using Topaz ImpressionThe image above is an example of using a Liquid Lines preset in Topaz Impression to get a similar effect. This used the Liquid Lines III preset with these changes – Paint Opacity +0.35 (lets you see strokes better), Paint Volume +0.35, Stroke Width -0.93 and Stroke Length -0.93; and then the Overall Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders were set to 0 and the Brightness, Contrast and Vignette were all set to 0. This layer was set to 78% as I felt the effect was way too strong. Many of the presets in the Modern category of Impression give some very similar effects.

Image of a Cattle Egret using Topaz ImpressionThis image used the same preset settings and was applied to the original image layer before adding the texture layer. Therefore only the bird shows the Impression preset effect.

Photoshop Oil Paint Filter

Here are the images with Photoshop’s Oil Paint Filter applied.
Image of the Alcazar Cafe using Photoshop's Oil Paint FilterThe settings for the PS Oil Paint Filter above are Stylization 7.97, Cleanliness 4.8, Scale 0.84, Bristle Detail 6.9, Angular Direction 180, and Shine 1.5.

Image of Cattle Egret using Photoshop's Oil Paint FilterThe egret settings are set to Stylization 10, Cleanliness 10, Scale 1.19, Bristle Detail 3.25, Angular Direction 244.8, and Shine 0.45. Just the egret layer received the filter, not the texture.

Several other plug-ins were used to try and get similar results. Topaz Glow can be adjusted to get some of the Oil Paint effect, but it really does not do as well as Impression. Several other major plug-ins were tried, but as yet, I could not get as good a result as the above two. I will let everyone know if anything better comes up. I do believe that the GREYCstoration is not a bad alternative to the original PS Oil Paint Filter, but it is limited to Windows. Topaz Impression makes a valiant effort and with some further tweaking, an even better preset can probably be produced. Bottom line is that if you have Photoshop CS6 or CC, keep it around if you really want this effect. That is what I am doing. Hope you found this helpful. Have a nice week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Photoshop’s CS6 (and Pixel Bender’s) Oil Paint Filter
Digital Lady Syd Speaks Out on Topaz Impression


Image of a wintry pond
This week I am just doing a short blog on plug in that has been around awhile, and one I have not used recently. The plug-in is called Topaz (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Lens Effects and it creates a lot of special effects. I was able to get this rather unique look above by painting in Photoshop and using Lens Effects.

The above is just a little pond image created using my favorite Frostbo’s Grass Set2 for Photoshop brushes and Topaz Impression to get this painterly look.

These steps were taken before the plug-in was used. First a basic light blue painted background was created in Corel Painter to use for building up my image.  A similar result could have been done using a watercolor wash brush in Photoshop. Then in PS, several of Frostbo’s brushes were used to create the reeds and grass around the water – see blog link below that shows how to tweak his brushes for even some different results. Separate layers were used for each brush type and different colors were used and blended. TIP: If the brush strokes look too sharp, just use a small 4 pixel Smudge Brush set to a Strength of 15% and paint over edges. The plant layers were all grouped. Then the group was duplicated, merged, and flipped upside down to create a slight reflection in the water. On a stamped layer above (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Impression’s Ethereal Background by Blake Rudis preset was applied. A B&W Adjustment Layer was added to see where the focal point was going – and it needed to be adjusted. The adjustment was set to Luminosity blend mode at 83% layer opacity since it was used to adjust the focal point. Nik Viveza 2 added a little color to the water in the middle and some to the upper corners where the sky is. I still did not like the colors in the image so Impression was applied to another stamped layer using Swirly Strokes III. In Photoshop a black layer mask was added and just where I wanted more color added was painted back. Below is where the image was at this point, and I thought I really liked it.

Image of a wintry pondBut then it seemed like a little directional color needed to be added. So that is when Topaz Lens Effects was opened two filters were applied.  The Reflector (set to Golden Type, Strength 0.20, Transition 0.23, Position 0.31, and Angle 306.5) to add just a little warmth in the lower right foreground. The next filter was the Split Prism (Two – Mixing level 0.44, Radius 0.27, Rotation 45.00, Type II, Effect Center (659,349)) which added another smaller version of the painted image into the photo. A layer mask had to be added and edges cleaned up. Also on a New Layer above, some Clone Stamp and Spot Healing Brush clean up was done. On a New Layer, Frostbo’s Snow Drops brush (just one brush but really great to add in a little snow look) was used to add in some scattered snow, and then the Blur Tool was used to soften them slightly – similar effect to using the Smudge Tool above. I could never think of a good use for Split Prism filter and this image is really a cool way to use it! You can see this made an immense change to the image and I think it definitely added interest into it.

Image of a Roseate Spoonbill landing in a treeThis image is of a Roseate Spoonbill taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. Not sure how I got this crazy landing shot, but it sort of fits the crazy antics these birds do. The texture was one I created in Corel Painter to use with this beautiful bird. The bird image was first painted with Mixer Brushes in Photoshop. The texture layer was added at the bottom of the Layer Panel. Then a black mask was added to the top bird layer and just the bird and part of the tree were painted back so the background showed up. I wanted some colors in the background that blended nicely with the beautiful pink in the bird. Topaz Lens Effects Reflector filter was used to lighten the bird slightly (settings were Type Golden, Strength 0.47, Transition 0.40. Position 0.30, and Angle 271.3). Next another copy of the texture was placed on top and set to Multiply blend mode at 62% layer opacity. Created a stamped layer above (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and opened Lens Effects again and selecting the Fisheye Lens filter set to Distortion Amount 0.25. By placing the effect on the bird, it gives a very comical effect to the image. Back in PS the bird was selected and the Content Aware Move tool was used to move the bird over to the right a little more in the image. Another stamped layer was created and this time the same Fisheye filter effect was centered on the tree to stretch it out some like it was reaching out to the bird. Back in PS a black layer mask was added and just the tree was added back into the image, so now both the bird and tree had exaggerated characteristics. On another stamped layer a Lens Effect’s Single Tone Filter using the Old School Haze II was applied. After that a little PS Camera Raw Filter magic was performed using the Radial Filters to get the bird colors and tree colors just right. There were some adjustments layers and burn layer to finish up, but basically the Lens Effect filters created the colorful result of this image.

So we covered the Topaz Lens Effects’ Reflector Filter, Split Prism Filter, Fisheye Lens Filter, and Single Tone Filter. I actually added the UV Haze Filter on the image above – the paint strokes could be seen really nicely but decided against using it for the final version. There are really nice Lens Motion effect, Streak Filter, a Diffusion Filter, Polarization Filter, Graduated Color Filter, Fog Filter, Toy Camera effect, and Tilt & Shift Camera effect to name a few, all with presets or sliders to make your own presets. There are some serious Bokeh Effects that can be achieved with this plug-in also, but I have not covered this. Check out Topaz Labs website for more info on these.

Well I hope this will give you a little incentive to take another look at the Topaz Lens Effects if you own this plug-in, or download a trial to try out. There are lots of choices and it definitely adds some dimension for the creative post-processing of images. Many of the effects are not contained in other plug-ins, which is one of the reasons I really like the Topaz plug-ins. And it was a lot of fun, and for me that’s what it is all about!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Create a Magical Feel in Photoshop
Topaz Lens Effects Plug-In


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