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HOW TO USE LIGHTROOM CC”S NEW MERGE TO HDR COMMAND

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

HOW TO GET A PAINTERLY EFFECT FOR WILDLIFE AND BIRDS

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.

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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.

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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

WATERCOLOR FUN ON A SUNNY DAY

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

HOW TO GET THE OIL PAINT FILTER EFFECT BACK? CAN IT BE DONE?

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.

GREYCstoration

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

TOPAZ LENS EFFECTS FOR SOME IMAGE FUN!

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

MORE PAINTING – WITH PAINTER AND PHOTOSHOP

Image of a Native American Dancer dancingStill enjoying my summer so decided to present a couple of images that used both Painter and Photoshop, apparently my favorite way to process an image. The dancer image was taken at the Annual Native American Festival at Ormond Beach, Florida – one of my favorite events for photographing. This lovely dancer is performing the Butterfly Dance (check out the link for the uplifting legend associated with this dance). It is definitely a difficult balance to achieve in an image that contains some detail and realism to it, but yet has a definite painterly quality.

Both images took a long time to complete. I had trouble above getting the balance I wanted. I am glad I did not give up as it forced me to think about what  was really wrong with it. This image was actually opened in Corel Painter first – to get the colorful strokes in the background for the painterly feel. See below for the original image. Karen Sperling’s Artistry Quick Fix Video (#4 in this case) Series brush 02 was used to paint the texture along with a  couple of her blenders. Then it was saved as a PSD file and taken into Photoshop to do a lot more work on this now rather roughed in image. Several layers were created and the Mixer brush and Smudge brush was used to further blend the background in. One of the textures I created previously was added and set to Color Burn blend mode at 15% layer opacity to add a slight gold tone.

Here is where I had problems – I could not get her face to blend in nicely with the image – it stood out too sharp and bright. After trying a lot of different things in Photoshop, I decided to open an earlier RIF revision of the Corel Painter image. I wanted to soften the whole costume and face area. After trying a lot of different brushes, I ended up selecting Karen’s o1 brush with some brush modifications in the General, Well, and Color Variability Panels.  Used lighter colors to blend and soften the dancer. The adjusted brush did the trick and this time the image was saved as a PSD file to use in Photoshop.

Back in Photoshop just the top layer was copied and moved into my later image and set to Soft Light blend mode at 51% layer opacity. On a stamped layer, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Lens Effects was used twice: once with the Diffusion Filter (Softness 0.41, Diffusion 0.25, and Edge Transition 0.50) to soften image overall; and then the Reflector Adjustments filter (set to Type Golden, Strength 0.34, Transition 0.62, Position 0.33, and Angle 208.5). A layer mask was applied so only the tents and sky got the warming effect – when the tents were lighter, it drew the eye to them instead of the dancer. A final check with a B&W Adjustment Layer to see if the focal point is set correctly, and it was not. Nik Viveza 2 was opened to tone down the white in the tents even more. Now the lady is just a little softer and blends better into the painted background behind her.

Bottom line here – walk away, come back later, and try something radically different if you do not like the results. I am not sure why I took used an older Painter revision of the image to correct this issue, but it worked!
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Image of a Flycatcher bird on one of my textures
I think this little beauty is possibly a Least Flycatcher, but authorities disagree on where they live. Anyway, he was very tiny and fairly friendly. This is another example of blending the image and the texture to give an overall pleasing effect. The workflow was similar. See image below for original as shot. This time opened a new document in Painter, placed the bird in as a layer, and then proceeded to paint a texture that would enhance his colors and location. At this point, the texture was painted in soft browns and light greens since he is standing in grass and the sun is pretty strong on his left side. When the file was brought Photoshop, the color in his body is both the golden back feather area and the bluish-brownish breast area. The color tones just appealed to me. But this image had a little different issue. It was warm on the left side and cooler on the right. This time Topaz Lens Effects Graduated Filter was used to lighten up just slightly the left side of the image so you can feel the sun on his side – a light yellow was used to get this effect. The more brushy grassy effect in foreground was added on a New Layer by laying down the stylus and pressing hard with my brush to create these more squiggly marks. (For brush used, see my How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Textures Section for Painting Clean-Up.) This brush was also used to clean areas on the bird where grass was running through his body. There were several clean up layers and adjustment layers to get the colors just right, but overall it is just he same basic process of adding your image on top of texture and painting out the distractions. I am finding this is not something you do in an hour – it takes a while to get the overall effect adjusted correctly.  Original images Well, hope you enjoyed the images and got a little inspired to try this. It is really fun to create your own textures, although I have not mastered this in Photoshop. Corel Painter does a great job when making the textures, and then using them in Photoshop with different adjustment layers to get the tones and color right is really not that hard. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
A Tricolored Heron That Fell in a Painting!
How to See If You Captured the Focal Point

TOPAZ FILTERS AND LANDSCAPES

Image of palm trees and the ocean in HawaiiThis week I just felt like exploring what I could do with landscape images to get a painterly, yet somewhat realist feel. Took this image of the Pacific Ocean at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii – one of those places that is total “eye candy” for the camera! Just a beautiful place to visit!

This image used a lot of Topaz plug-ins. Started with Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity (my TC-John Barclay Basic Settings preset from one of his webinars – HSL-Hue – Blue -0.12; Sat – Red -0.16, Orange 0.13, Aqua 0.19 and Blue 0.11; and Lum Red -0.58, Orange -0.17, Yellow -0.39, and Green -0.19. Tone Level White Level 0.38). This is a nice preset to use for landscape images in Clarity. Next Topaz photoFXlab was opened (not available for use with Photoshop CC2014 and on but is a stand-alone app also) and on a duplicate layer in the plug-in, Topaz Lens Effects Diffusion filter was applied first (Softness 0.60, Diffusion 0.60, and Edge Transition 0.50) – in a layer mask used these brush settings: Brush Value 51, Brush Size 0.09, Hardness 0.17, Flow 0.18, and Edge Aware 1.00. Painted around the tree trunk to remove the diffusion effect around it and a little in the front palm leaves. Also painted over the white waves coming in. A stacked layer was created and the Adjustments tab sliders was used (Temp 21 and Sat 8; Contrast -15, Dynamics 22, Sharpness -51, Shadows 28, Whites 38, and Blacks 34). In the Brushes Tab, used Dodge Brush to paint in the distracting plant dark spots in foreground (brush settings were: Strength 0.68, Brush Size 0.25, Hardness 0.17, Flow 0.41, and Edge Aware 0.90). Exited photoFXlab and created a stamped layer on top. Note that all the steps in the photoFXlab filter could have been done in Photoshop using Topaz Lens Effects and adjustments layers and masks. Next a Curves Adjustment Layer and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer were applied to get the contrast and color correct. On a New Layer Aaron Blaise’s Cloud Brushes were used to add some interest into the plain sky. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Glow was  opened to get some sharp detail back into the tree leaves. A black layer mask was added and just the trees and surf were painted back on the mask in white. On another stamped layer, Topaz ReStyle was added (TRS-White Veil preset – Set ReStyle blend mode to Multiply set to 54%; Basic Tone Black Level 0.36, Midtones 0.11 and White Level -0.45; and Detail Structure 0.41 and Sharpness 0.06). And yes, another stamped layer was created and Topaz Impression was applied using the Watercolor II preset set to Multiply blend mode at 31% layer opacity. On a New Layer above a mixer brush was used to smooth the cloud edges to clean up. And this is the final. image. Lots of Topaz here!
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Image of a road while crossing the Big Island in HawaiiThis is a beautiful drive through The Big Island in Hawaii (near Waimea) – I am always surprised at the Island’s terrain and how you can have this little forest in an area that is totally devoid of trees otherwise. That is why you love the Big Island – always something surprising to see with all the different

This image used Trey Radcliff’s Lightroom free preset called A Beautiful Release – he has some really nice presets that I have used for a long time. Topaz Glow was applied using my SJ Inter Web Variation ((Settings are: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electrify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches.) It is really hard to see the Glow effect, very subtle, since the layer was set to Soft Light at 51% layer opacity. In a layer mask some of the lines were painted out by setting the brush to Multiply mode, Opacity 47%, and Flow 50%. This way I could adjust the darker tones and blacks yet leave the color alone in the image. It brought out some of the structure in the fences and wires by the road, but did not interfere with the soft lines of the background. On a stamped layer Topaz Impression was applied using their Watercolor IV preset to soften the image. In the layer style (double-click on layer to open) the Blend If Underlying Layer white tab was split was set to 110/255 – this brought back some of the natural clouds in the sky and a lot of the image below but not all (all the tones between 110 and 255 below were added back). A layer mask was applied and some of the Impression filter was removed from the darker tones in the background. In Nik Viveza 2 seven control points were used to draw the eye gently down the road to the little forest. On a New Layer, the right edge was painted over to soften with yellow on a brush set to 11% brush opacity and Flow 50%. Very subtle again but it removed a distraction easily. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add back some contrast. With Clone Stamp set to reverse (and Options Bar settings of Mode Lighten so just white parts are copied over, brush opacity 32% and Flow 42%), the clouds were added on right side of image. With a little more clean up, the above was the result.

I always enjoy playing the wonderful filters or plug-in available. Topaz creates a nice one-two punch when Glow and Impression are used together, especially nice in landscapes. By using layer masks, the Layer Style Blend If sliders, and different blend mode and layer opacities, a very nice effect can be added to your images. And ReStyle can turn the color into something that you may never have thought of using in the image. I will try to use some different plug-ins available in the near future and hopefully give you some new ideas on how to use them. There are so many choices, so many choices! ….Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
HOW TO GET THE SOFT GLOW IN TOPAZ GLOW
HOW TO COMBINE ALL THOSE TOPAZ PLUG-INS FOR AN ARTSY LOOK!
DIGITAL LADY SYD SPEAKS OUT ON TOPAZ IMPRESSION
MORE CLARITY ON CLARITY

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