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USING A 50 MM LENS AS A MACRO LENS – REALLY?

Image of an ivory Chinese Puzzle BallHi Everyone – just doing a quick post this week on an interesting camera trick I had never tried. I read about this in an article called 5 Awesome Benefits of Using a 50 mm Lens by Jason D. Little at Light Stalking – they have great articles on all types of Photography topics. What is done is to take the 50 mm lens off the camera and hold it up backwards so the image is shot through the front side of the lens.

This technique does not replace a good macro lens by any means, but it is kind of fun to try. And if you do not own a Macro Lens, give it a go. I did not have an adapter or reversing ring to attach the lens to the camera (these apparently are very inexpensive to buy) –  and I did not use a tripod with a remote trigger. I imagine some really good results can be created by doing this. Because of this, it gave my images a very soft abstract feel – it actually reminded me of my Lens Baby effects. And for me it was a good starting point for doing some more artistic effects.

It took me a while to actually get some camera settings that worked and lots of lights were turned on in my home. An ISO setting of 800 seemed to work best for me. None of the automatic settings worked since no lens was actually attached to it. Therefore the focus had to be adjusted manually by moving in closer or further away with the camera itself. As you can see, it becomes a very close up macro effect. The post-processing took lots of time to get a good effect – started with my Another Simple Black and White Technique blog from last week and then added a couple textures along with several adjustment layers.

The next two images are both from a Blowing a Kiss Sculpture and is part of the Vitruvian Sculptor Collection based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man drawing. I enjoyed creating both of these images. The smile image, as with all three image, required a lot of Spot Healing to remove the dark dust marks from the lens. Also, they all were rather noisy so some adjustments were done in Lightroom’s Detail Noise Reduction Panel.
Image of the smile from the Blowing Kiss SculptorTo get the interesting colors, the oldie-but-goodie Nik Color Efex Pro 4 with several filters (Reflector Efex, Film Efex Nostalgic, Darken/Lighten Center, Detail Extractor, Photo Stylizer, Vignette Lens, and Classical Soft Focus) was used. Then a Levels Adjustment Layer and a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using the filmstock_50 preset at 52% layer opacity were applied. Pretty simple post-processing.
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Image of beautiful bubbles on a hand from Blowing a Kiss SculptureThe above image took a little more effort but I really liked the way the bubbles looked in the final iteration. Two groups of bubbles with several layers each were added – smaller sized ones for the background and larger ones for the actual fingertips. All the bubbles in this image were created using a Lisa Carney Bubble brush she shows you how to create in her Filters and Smart Object class on Creative Live (all her classes are fabulous). Brush 11 in the free Photoshop Bubble Brushes would have worked just as well and was used as the foreground bubble. To create a group of bubbles, need to adjust the size, spacing and scattering in the Brush Settings Panel and just paint them in on a New Layer. A light border was added, a pink and blue texture overlay, and a Light Beam Brush by Jonas de Ro was added in the upper left. Then just my final workflow using a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode and Nik Viveza 2 layer were added.

I am not sure I would use this technique unless I needed a macro shot and this is all I had available. It can be done but it does take a lot of experimentation. Hope you all have a great week….Digital Lady Syd

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ANOTHER SIMPLE BLACK AND WHITE TECHNIQUE!

Image of some Vinca Flowers with water droplets on themHope everyone is having a wonderful New Years. I have been taking a lot of time learning about black and white images recently. This original technique was created by the fabulous Russell Brown years ago. Russell used to have a video on his website and luckily I had taken a few notes. After playing around with adjustment layers and settings, I found out it can create very nice B&W and color effects too. A benefit to using this technique for a B&W conversion is the highlights will not be blown out. The pink Vinca flower image above used this technique – check out the video to see some other variations to the image. I found this technique works really well with floral images.

The workflow is very simple:
1. First do any clean up and adjustments to the original color image to get a clean start for your conversion to black and white.
2. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top, change the blend mode to Color, and name the layer Filter (like a filter put in front of a camera lens to balance the gray shades that appear on the film).
3. Add another Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top and change the Saturation Slider to -100 and name it Film (to represent black and white film).
4. In the Filter Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer, adjust the Master sliders and all the individual color sliders until you get a pleasing black and white effect – this converts the colors to tones. Or use the Target Adjustment Tool (hand icon in upper left of panel) and click+drag in image to change the Saturation of the item under the icon and CTRL+drag to adjust the Hue. Try SHIFT+clicking on different areas in your image so changes can be applied to a broader range in the image – check out the bottom strip to see the color range tabs move (these tabs can be dragged manually also).

Check out my short video to see how this image can be changed with a few simple adjustments to get very different results. (If the link is not available in the RSS feed, go the actual blog to activate video.)

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Orchids at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, FloridaThis image was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. The above workflow was used on this image. No tint was added, but a heavy grain effect was added which is often used on black and white images. You do not want black and white images to have too slick a look which shooting digitally often creates.
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Image of The London Eye
Another nice result of using this technique is that very pleasing color effects can be achieved. The image above of the London Eye used the same technique above except that the Film Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was set to 50% layer opacity and instead of a Filter Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used (as shown in the video). In  Colors: Red, just the Black slider was moved right to darken the reds a little. Then the Whites, Midtones and Blacks Colors were adjusted to get the really nice highlights in the trees, the blues in the sky, and the nice soft reflection in the water. To darken down the whole scene a little, my favorite Color Lookup Adjustment Layer preset called Foggy Night was added at 20% layer opacity. Nik Viveza 2 was used to get the soft sunset effect. I was really surprised how nice this came out using the same basic technique. If the Film Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer is set to 100%, the image goes back to a black and white image, and the Selective Color Adjustment Layer will just adjust the tones in the image. Try using the Color Lookup Adjustment Layer on top with the black and white to get a nice overall tint to the image.

Hope you enjoyed the blog – I was surprised how easy this is to do. I created a very basic Action by just adding the two Hue/Sat Adjustment Layers with the workflow changes. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

HOW TO CREATE A 2018 CALENDAR

2018 January Calendar showing Great Guana Cay in the BahamasHappy New Year Everyone! Since it is the beginning of 2018, I am linking everyone to my favorite Calendars so you can begin making some nice monthly calendars for the coming year. Last year I did a tutorial on how to do this, so I am going to link you back to this blog if you need some quick instruction at. See my How to Create 2017 Calendars in Both Lightroom and Photoshop blog.

Here is the updated link to Calendar Labs.com that has several calendar formats that can be downloaded as Word documents. The image above from Grabbers Restaurant on Great Guana Cay in Abaco, Bahamas, was created using Photoshop and the Word documents. See Screenshot below – just need to click and highlight rows needed, then CTRL+C to copy, then on a New Layer in Photoshop, CTRL+V to paste into your calendar document. This way all the months do not get copied in at once.

Screenshot of Word Document Monthly Calendar
So many extra things can be done with this workflow.  Colors were easily added to the word calendar template (since it is still in a table format, just click on the calendar number to select and use the Paint Bucket Tool to change the color from the default gray). If the image and table do not line up correctly, just go to the Move Tool (V) and in the Options Bar, click on the Align Horizontal Center icon. If you need to, just select the two layers with the image and calendar and press the arrow keys right or left or up and down to line up. I had to use several Free Transforms to get the sizes the same. The Sun Ray Filter from Luminar 2018 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) was used to give a slight ray effect in upper left corner. A Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer or Pattern Adjustment Layer can be added under the calendar and image layers to get some nice background effects. Or add another image in a softer monochrome color. Below on my favorite horse image, a heart was added to Valentines Day using a Pretty Preset Valentin Overlay. The possibilities are endless! Image of a Horse on a 2018 February Month CalendarHere is an updated link to Ed Weaver at Red Photographic site who distributes the calendar templates every year for Lightroom. Matt Kloskowski has a nice video at this site on how to do this technique along with some tips in my blog from last year. A link called 89 Free Calendar Templates for 2018 gives several more options using some different styles of calendars.

Hope you have some fun making calendars for the coming year. This is always one of my favorite activities to do each month. Have a very Happy New Year!…..Digital Lady Syd

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM DIGITAL LADY SYD!

Digitally Painted Christmas MessageWishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! And thank you for taking the time to stop by and check out my blogs. It has been a busy year, especially the last few months with all the new software and updates to older versions being released. It has been a real challenge to keep on top of it all. So for the next week I am taking it easy with family and friends. Then I am going to try and figure out how these programs really work and present some new techniques.

A couple of notes  –

  • If you are a Windows Luminar 2018 owner, Skylum sent out an update just a few days ago and fixed the plug-in problem with Photoshop. It now comes back into PS with the changes applied – that in itself is something to celebrate! If you are still having trouble, go into the stand-alone program and to File -> Install Plugins dialog where the Photoshop and Lightroom should say installed. Change to uninstall, go out of the dialog, then go back in and click Install. It should now work properly when you open PS.
  • Also, Topaz Studio issued an update last week with a few interface changes and the Glow filter added into the program – it should show the new Glow filter if you already own Topaz Labs Glow.  It stacks the Glow (which looks very similar to the Labs version) with HSL Color Tuning, Vignette, and Smudge filters. Wonderful extra Holiday treats here!
  • Have heard lots of people (including me) are raving over the updated Auto Button in Lightroom and Camera Raw – I am finding it is a great starting place for my other adjustments so give it a try!
  • And On1’s new Photo Raw 2018  seems to be really good – I am especially enjoying the overall speed and sharpness in my images with this program.

It has been a wonderful year with all the new advancements to the various plug-ins. (All the above plug-in website links can be found on the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.) I see 2018 just getting better for us Power Photoshop Users. And with the old Nik filters being picked up by DxO, it should get really interesting!

The Christmas card above was one I created mainly using just Photoshop. The trees were created using the Filter -> Render -> Trees where the Pine Tree 1 was selected (this filter is not available in CS6). This is too much fun creating your own trees in PS – and did you know that if you select the Advanced tab (yes, there really is one there right next to the default Basic tab) the color of the leaves and branches can be changed! As silly as it sounds, this is the reason I keep coming back to PS – it just has some of the best tools and filters.  The tree was duplicated 4 times and each was Free Transformed and selecting the Warp Tool in the Options Bar.  Then mainly created some snow brushes (check out Corey’s Universal Particle Brush video to make one) and used one of Grut’s brushes called W Wain Riff brush to paint in more snow – this brush is free until Monday – check out each Monday for a new free brush! The deer is from Deer Antler Clipart by Tigerlily Design Co. The Santa and Reindeer is a brush I created. The color in the trees is from one of the basic Corel Particleshop plug-in packs using the Cluster and Light brush. The Merry Christmas lettering is from a major cool Photoshop template called Free Ice Cool Text Effects by Alifuwork where the font called Adrenaline Brush was used. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using PS’s Foggy Night preset was applied and set to Multiply blend mode at 69% layer opacity.

As stated before, hope everyone is having a Wonderful Holiday Season! Enjoy and see you next year!…..Digital Lady Syd

USING A SIMPLE LUMINOSITY TECHNIQUE FOR CREATIVE RESULTS

Image of a Sumatran Tiger at the Jacksonville ZooThis week just showing a techniques learned from watching Lisa Carney’s classes at Creative Live (she has some of the best classes at Creative Alive). She is a movie retoucher and always has some interesting techniques to pass on. In the past I have often used a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer in my images to really add that final pop to them (see my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog), but this technique adds an adjusted luminosity selection to the whole layer instead of just a layer mask (which can still be done with this technique). This technique does not work on every image, but give it a try when having a problem getting a unique look. The Sumatran Tiger image above was taken at the Jacksonville Zoo. I have noticed that this technique can be used quite effectively to get rid of a busy background, as in the case above where a chain link fence was around the tiger. No selection of the tiger needed to be done, just some layer masking to pull him out of the background a little.

For this image just some Lightroom basic adjustments were used before coming into Photoshop. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio Details was used (this can be done with Topaz Labs Detail also) and mainly the Highlight small detail slider was used to super sharpen the whiskers – then in PS, a black layer mask was created and only the whiskers were painted back. Since I wanted a lighter effect on the image, so this is when I decided to try out Lisa’s luminosity trick that she calls a Channel Pull. This is a pretty nifty effect and she has used it in several of her classes. The Blue Channel was chosen since I wanted to lighten the face and the following steps were performed.

  1.  First decide what to do to the tones of the image – do you what to add highlights as in portraits especially or on the tiger above, or do you want it to have more contrast as shown in the alligator image below? Take a look by clicking on each individual channel in the Channels Panel and see which one has the look you like. Remember white will show through and black will be hidden and grays will be at different levels, just like in a Layer’s layer mask. The Blue Channel will usually hold the highlights and the Red Channel usually has more contrast. The Blue Channel was used above and Red Channel on the alligators.
  2. Right click and choose Duplicate Channel on channel being used.
  3. Do a Levels Adjustment (CTRL+L – cannot use Adjustment Layers in Channels Panel) to create the brighter Highlights or darker Shadows and click Enter. Any of the Image -> Adjustments -> and any that are not grayed out, can be used in Channels.
  4. CTRL+click on the channel which selects the Luminosity of the adjusted channel.
  5. In the Layer Panel make sure your color swatch is set to the default black and white colors, then add a New Layer and fill with white (CTRL+DEL) or black (ALT+DEL) or actually any color to be creative! Sometimes the result is too strong so with the selection still loaded, add a layer mask – it will add the selection into the mask and reduce the overall channel effect.

The Blue Channel layer was set to Screen blend mode and was duplicated at 61% layer opacity to further lighten the image. To finish off this image, some eye sharpening was done with Curves Adjustment layers and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer. A Composite Layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was taken into Topaz Lens Effects and a Motion Blur was applied – in PS a layer mask was added and the tiger was painted back. A border layer style was added.

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Image of three Alligators figuresThese guys are some figurines photographed on my kitchen table. The original image was with my 50 mm lens at F/2.4. In Lightroom the raw file was adjusted using just the Basic Panel and that was about it. Then I used Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (this filter is still not available anywhere as far as I can tell) to get a little more sharpening to the image – I would have probably used Topaz Studio Detail to do this if I did not have this plug-in. It is always easy to over-sharpen and then add a black layer mask and paint back where you want the crispness to be which is what was done. A composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was added on top.

Went into the Channels Panel and the Red Channel had the most contrast which is what I was looking for – the Red Channel was duplicated and a Levels Adjustment was applied. The new channel was selected (CTRL+click on the channel) and the Levels Panel was opened up where a New Layer was added with the selection active. The layer was filled with white which made their faces and background much lighter and a very vintage feel was created.

Then the background was blended out with just a smooth blender brush (there are several in PS now) and the last step involved using a PS provided brush called Kyle’s Spatter Brushes-Beautiful Mess added around the alligators in a pink sand color. A mask was added to paint the spatter off the subjects. A brush was created using a bush element and adding some Color Dynamics to just to add a little more color. Last step was to add an Isabelle Lafrance Diaphanous Overlay Cobwebby (this are the best light overlays I have found) set to 35% opacity to soften image and a Levels Adjustment Layer to bring back a little overall contrast.

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Image of figures carved into Jenner's Department Store in Edinburgh, ScotlandThis  above image is of some carved figures located high up on Jenners Department Store in Edinburgh, Scotland, and across the street from my room window. To begin the editing process, used Lightroom to make the original RAW adjustments and tried out the newly updated Auto button in the Basic Panel which did a decent job for a starting point. Just did a little sharpening and noise reduction here and adjusted the Temp and Tint sliders. In Photoshop cropped and cleaned up the image a little with the spot healing brush. Then took a Composite image (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) into Skylum’s Aurora where the Waterway preset was applied. I tweaked the Image Radiance and added a Vignette mainly before returning to PS. Next the Channel Pull was created using the Blue Channel to lighten up the figures, and the selection was also added into the layer mask as the highlights were just too bright and this lowered the effect just a little. A light cream Solid Color Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+Click between the layers) to the Luminosity layer and the layer mask was also copied into the Adjustment Layer mask by ALT+dragging the original mask over the Adjustment Layer’s mask and replacing it. An Ash Texture I bought a long time ago was added and set to Linear Burn and 56% layer opacity to give the old antique feel the image.

I am by no means an expert using Luminosity masks that seem to be all the rage right now, but I am finding this technique is very creative and am still working with the whole workflow. It sounds a lot harder than it is and if you are looking for a little different effect in an image, give it a try. There seems to be a lot that can be done with this technique and I hope to show more results as I learn how to use it better. Hope everyone is having a wonderful time getting ready for the holidays! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

COMPARING RAW PHOTO PROGRAMS

Image of a Scottish House This week I am doing a quick comparison blog using the same image with several applications to check out their Camera Raw post-processing abilities. It was quite an interesting experiment to try and I found out a lot about my own post-processing techniques. So above is the image created fairly quickly where Lightroom was mainly used for the RAW post processing and then some tweaks in Photoshop. Below all images with no post-processing in Lightroom, but using the new RAW image capabilities in Luminar 2018, On1 Photos Raw 2018 and Topaz Studio (see links for all three software programs at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) and also Photoshop tweaks. This is a fun exercise to do when you are learning new programs. On the image above, this is the actual sky that was present – pretty overcast actually. For Lightroom settings and other info, check out Image 1 at end of blog.
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Below is the Luminar 2018 iterations of this beautiful hidden house near St. Andrews in Scotland. It is very similar to the Lightroom image – but the sky did not come out at all in the program so a new one was placed into the image in Photoshop. The program recently added workspaces for the Windows version so the Professional one was chosen to do the RAW processing. They have several choices for fixing image distortions by going into the Transform tab which is really nice. I will say this image took me a long time to get it looking the way I wanted it. At this point I am not comfortable with the Masking Brushes and Gradients in this program. But they have a good start on getting their RAW editing going. Right now I am looking to Luminar more for the interesting effects it can produce. Image of a Scottish Home
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This next image was totally post-processed as a RAW image in Topaz Studio using their Basic Adjustments filter. The more drawn effect was created by using their Radient filter which is very similar to the Topaz Glow plug-in and I kind of liked the effect on this image. The Impression filter also gives it more of an artistic look. For more info on settings, check out Image 3 at end of blog. I find their Basic Adjustment plugin is adequate and if the Basic Workflow preset is clicked, the Tone Curves filter opens up with it. It is a little more basic than the others, but works fine. Since I love so many of their plugins, it is hard for me to use this for overall editing – but they may be quite competitive once they get all their plugins working in the new interface.
Image of a Scottish home.
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Totally different feel and effect in the On1 image below and I really like it. This program has a lot to offer in the RAW editing area. I know they have been working on it for a long time and it is now very sophisticated. I am still learning the program but do not have many complaints in this area. This image does have that Glow effect On1 is known for which gives it a bit of an Orton look. This is not what the image looked like but it is what Scotland looks like to me. I really love the country!
Image of a Scottish home.

So what I learned is that I am still tending to use the programs for what I like and not necessarily for what they are trying to get you to use them for. I believe that On1 Photo Raw 2018 has a pretty good interface for doing the RAW processing – it has a Midtones slider that I really like. I am still trying to figure out how to use the Localized Adjustment brushes effectively to improve on this. Luminar RAW processing sliders are pretty good – just set up a little differently. Since I love the special effects they provide, it is not as important to me personally. Same with Topaz Studio – I know this is where they are trying to improve. They have a bit of a problem since they have so many special effects filters to incorporate and work with a develop section. I have always been a major Lightroom fan, even participating in their Beta testing before it was released. I am so comfortable with it, it is hard to imagine using a different RAW program. On the other hand, I do not see Adobe trying to improve upon this program at all. These three other plugins are giving them notice to start looking into improving their product. I would give all three plugins an A for effort. Each have sliders that are unique to their programs and I am really starting to learn how to apply them. I believe we have an exciting year ahead to see where things are going with these updated programs/plugins. If you do not own them, try downloading a trial – it may really click with your workflow and anything that will get you through the basic post-processing of an image faster is a good deal. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

IMAGE SETTING INFORMATION

IMAGE 1: The top image was post-processed mainly in Lightroom and Serge Ramelli’s workflow was used – check out any of his videos for a pretty nice Lightroom workflow. No presets used and these settings were used but this is the order the sliders were adjusted: Shadows +79, Highlights -100, Blacks -100 and Whites +32 (hold ATL key and drag to find the clipping points), Temp 5661, Tint +40, Exposure -0.54 – usually do Vibrance too but not in this image. Went to the Graduated Filter and created two: placed one pin in the sky and set it to Temp -10, -0.73, Contrast -50, Highlights -6, Clarity -3, and Saturation 62; and in bottom dragging up, Exposure -0.87, Contrast 41, Clarity -48, and Saturation -51. The Radial Filter was opened up and 6 pins were added – used little ones to lighten areas in the tree and even out some of the color. The Orange flowers were brightened. Last the Adjustment brush ws used and the foreground color was desaturated a little bit (Saturation -34). Image was now taken into PS where the electrical lines were spot-healed out. Also the sky was cleaned as there was some glass reflection in the right top cloud area. For this image Nik Viveza 2 was used to bring out the orange flowers a little more and to add a soft vignette in the image. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Foggy Night preset and the layer was set to 79% layer opacity. That is all that was done in this image and it took me 20 minutes to get it right – I know that is partly because I understand the program really well and not so much Luminar.

IMAGE 2: This image looks pretty much like the Lightroom one which is not surprising since several of the PS steps used were similar. Here are the settings for Luminar (it’s a lot here): Bottom Layer – Develop: Temp 4, Tint 22, Highlights -60, Shadows 38, Whites -42, Blacks -82; Accent AI Filter: Boost 54; Adjustable Gradient: Top Exp -22, Contrast 47, Vibrance -18, and Warmth -60; Bottom Exp -62, Contrast 31, Vibrance 18, Warmth -7; Orientation Blend 47; Saturation/Vibrance: Vibrance Amount 31; Advanced Contrast: Highlights 68, Midtones 17, Shadows 8; Dehaze: Amount 23; Golden Hour: Amount 29/Saturation -33; Structure: Amount 24, Softness 47; Image Radiance: Amount 40, Smoothness 33, Brightness -56, Shadows 32, and Warmth -40, Sat 11; Vignette: Amount -29, size 37, Roundness -73, Feather 42, and Inner Light 43. Layer 0 – Dodge & Burn – Burn on tree on left – Strength 21%/Lighten on the right lower bright spot – Strength 21%. Layer 1 – Sun Ray Filter: Place Sun Center on right edge – X95/Y25, Amount 34, Look 66, Number 78, Length 65, Warmth 55, Radius 19, Glow Radius 70, Glow Amount 60, Warmth 66, Penetration 63, and Randomize 20. Layer 2 – Matte Look: Amount 47, Fade 49, Contrast 7, Vividness 11, Range 27, and Saturation 50. In PS, first the electrical lines were removed with the spot Healing Brush. The sky was really blown out so a light blue sky was added. Then some of my free Cloud brushes were used to add some clouds into the sky. A couple Spotlight Effect layers were used to direct attention into the trees and front of the house. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog.) A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was applied using Foggy Night and 73% layer opacity (like in Image 1). Had to use a small Smudge Brush to smooth out the edges of the trees where the new sky leaves a little edge. Basically that is all there was to it.

IMAGE 3: This image used Topaz Studio. The settings were as follows: TSO – Basic Adjustments filter: Exposure -0.34, Clarity 0.29, Shadow 0.75, Highlight -0.65, Black Level -0.86, White Level 0.24, Temp -0.07, Tint 0.29; Brightness Contrast filter: Brightness -0.34, Contrast 0.96, Sat 1.65; Radiance filter: Dark, Strength 0.62, Width 0.20, Sat -0.42, Fade 0.39, Sat 1.00; Color Overlay filter: Color – #7c0008 – red cast preset – set to Screen bm at 0.30 opacity; Impression filter: Used SJ Underpaint Effect in Preset from drop-down and set Painting Progress slider to 0.34/inverted layer mask and just painted in where the trees and foreground area using brush and Mask Transparency of 0.17/set filter to 0.75 opacity. In PS removed the electrical line and the sky, which did not have any detail in them. A soft blue background layer was created and Grut’s FX Cloud Brushes (this whole set is fabulous!) – Kewm was used to paint in soft clouds at size 300 px. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to Foggy Night preset and 63% layer opacity was added next. Five Layers all set to Overlay blend mode were used to add soft lighting effect on the various areas of the image to brighten them up – in the trees, front of house and the orange flowers – used a large soft round brush set to 50-100% Opacity and a Flow of 9%. Created a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer to darken the sky area a little and add overall contrast to the image. (See my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blend Image Effect blog.) Last step involved using a Gradient Adjustment Layer to create a slight vignette. (See my Yet Another Great Way to Create a Vignette blog.)

IMAGE 4: This image used On1 Photo Raw 2018. Here we go with some rather extensive settings – this program has a lot of choices for creating your image. In Develop module: 1. Cropped Image. 2. Use Crop Tool set to 67% feather and Size 15 to remove electrical line running throughout image. 3. Set Levels (Histogram) tab up top and adjusted the Tone & Color panel. 4. In Tone section adjusted the Highlights -26, Midtones -34, and Shadows -17. Love the Midtones slider – best improvement over LR for Raw files. 5. Clicked the clipping tabs in Histogram to see if clipping while adjust Whites -36 and Blacks -85. 6. Set Haze to -33. 7. Color Section set to Temp 5475 and Tint 40 and Vibrance 12. 8. Details – no changes – no noise. 9. Lens Correction: it was automatically set to my lens. Effects Module: 1. Opened Tone Enhancer filter and selected Darker from the drop-down under More. Set Compression (knocks down bright areas and opens up shadow areas) to max 200 – this brought the sky detail. 2. Selected Dynamic Contrast filter and set Medium to -47 and Large to-23, Shadows -26, Whites 9, and Blacks -12. 3. Color Enhancer filter – Vibrance 18, Orange set to Hue 17, Sat 8 and Brightness -12, Yellow set to Sat 6 and Brightness 3, and Purple Sat 19 and Brightness 20; in a mask painted in areas to make brighter on an inverted mask (mainly the orange flowers, red trees on left where some spotting was, and tips of green bushes and front of house) – set the Density to 74 and Feather 10; then changed Temp to 65. Did a bunch of readjustments to get this to look natural – used the Levels slider (set midtones tab to 2/3 left) – correct settings are above. 4. Glow filter – set to Dark Glow preset, Amount 69 and Halo 20, mode Multiply. Filter set to 80% opacity.  In Photoshop: 1. Opened in Photoshop. Added a New Layer and selected the spot-healing brush – got rid of a grid from window glare by just scribbling back and forth in an upward stroke and incredibly got rid of all the ugliness! Just scribble left and right while moving upward – this works on large areas – and ran it up for quite a bit. If there are little white halos around trees and sky, can just run a small sized (8 px) spot-healing brush over the edges and they disappear. 2. Used a Levels AL to get the gray out of the sky. First used the TAT to brighten the sky in the gray area. Then inverted the mask and painted back the sky using PNaik brush. Readjusted the RGB channel, then changed to the blue to add a little blue tone into the sky to match the other areas. Then went into the Red channel and added a little red in to match the pink color in the sky. 3. Added a New Layer and named it Spotlight Effect – set to Overlay bm. Used soft round Reg Brush set to 100% opacity and Flow of 9% and added in white on the building and in the trees to really make the image pop. Set to 73% opacity. 4. Added a New Layer set to overlay and used a Green sampled color to reduce the effect of light in a corner using same brush again. 5. Used a Black and White AL – adjusted colors then set to Luminosity bm. Adjusted more and painted out the sky so it was not a blown out white. Set layer opacity to 47%. 6. Added a Selective Color AL – wanted to adjust the electric green grass in front of wall – set Yellows to Cyan -79, Magenta -7, Yellow -25, and Black -4; Neutrals Cyan -8, Magenta -2, Yellow -4 and Black +18. Loved the fall colors that showed up so set it to 86% layer opacity. Still had grass problem. 7. Added another Selective Color AL – This time to fix grass. Yellows Cyan -73, Magenta -3, Yellow -24, and Black -25; Greens: Cyan -72, Yellow +2, and Black +50; Inverted layer mask and painted back just the grass in front of wall.  8. Created a Red Channel Luminosity Channel to adjust the color a little. Used RGB channel only. Moved the left bottom black tab up and to the right (Input 7/Output 49), then dragged point to right a little to add a little detail effect (Input 26/Output 49). Pulled down on the overall curve just a little. 9. Used Karen Alsop’s trick to blend in elements. Set New Layer to 12% layer opacity and using a 500 Px brush set to 24 flow, sampled sky and painted over edges of leaves so they do not look so harsh. 10. Did final stroke and signature layers.

CHECKING OUT AURORA HDR 2018 FOR WINDOWS

Image of pier at Spanish Cay in the BahamasI seem to be on an HDR quest so this week I took the time to try out Aurora HDR 2018 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog). This is another release by Skylum (previously Macphun) for Windows, the same group who brought us Luminar 2018 (also at above link). Well it is definitely an excellent HDR editor! Skylum sure has a special way of creating software! And I am really loving this plug-in! It is lacking many details in the interface for us Windows users right now but I am once again under the impression this program will eventually get caught up to match the Mac version. It does not seem to affect the overall results of your images.

The image above is a 5-bracketed image, hand-held, from Spanish Cay in the Outer Banks of the Bahamas – one of the most beautiful, yet desolate places I have ever seen. I could not get over how the water looks exactly as I remember it – major clear with this yellowy sand base and it was major sunny. In this case the image was mainly processed in the stand-alone program, and with a little finishing up in Photoshop (like my signature and stroke border). To use this program, just started at the top of the right-hand column of filters and went down the list. Many of the lower listed filters are the same as those in Luminar. The top filters have more to do with the actual HDR effects. First is the HDR Basic section which is very similar to Lightroom’s (ACR) Basic Panel, except for a couple sliders. The HDR Enhancer slider made almost every image opened pop a little. Aurora says this slider increases detail and texture without adding it to water or sky. There is also a slider called Smart Tones – it does not work on all images, but on some it does a great job of lightening the shadow areas and leaving the highlights alone. It can be seen above how the shadows under the pier are opened up just a bit. The HDR Structure section contains the other important sliders which could give you that overdone HDR look. It works in concert with the HDR Enhance slider. There are lots of other filters, like the Image Radiance, Polarizing filter to help with over-blue skies, Glow, and Top & Bottom Tuning which is really a Graduated Neutral Density Filter. It also has Dodge and Burn capability and Vignettes can be created where a slider lets you lighten the middle.

One of the reasons I really like this software is its ability to process just one RAW image and give fantastic results. Below is a video done show how I created a simple RAW image in Aurora HDR 2018 – the final image below shows what was done once it was taken into Photoshop and a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer, a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode at 47% layer opacity – both improved contrast in the image – and a layer that ran Luminar 2018 using the Orton Effect and another Image Radiance filter. Loved the final result.

Image of Pink and White Roses from Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida

The image below was also a single RAW image taken at the Argyll Lodging in Sterling, Scotland. The detail this program pulled out of just one image was incredible. This is an image I felt could not be used but this program brought it back to life. Image taken at Argyll House in Sterling, ScotlandThe program has the capability of being used as a plugin in Photoshop which is how this image was created. The program also has the layer capability so different parts of the image can worked on with different sections. A good way to use this is to do all changes to the whole image on the bottom layer, then use the masking ability to do other changes on layers above. The kitchen image used these sections for the whole image: HDR Basic, Color, Image Radiance, Glow, Top & Bottom Tuning, HSL, and Vignette. The layer above used the Dodge & Burn section where the outdoor window panes were darkened some. As you can tell, the program does have different items to add to your image than the traditional HDR program. I found it very easy to use. I go back and forth on using the Denoise section since several other plugins do this as well if not better. If there is just a little, Aurora’s is fine and it can be used on a separate layer and be painted in where needed. In this image, once Aurora HDR was applied, back in PS just Imagenomics Noiseware was used as it was pretty noisy and a Red Channel Luminosity Curve to finish up.Image taken at Great Guana Cay in the BahamasThis sunset image from New Guana Cay in the Bahamas literally took me 10 minutes to process. It was just two HDR images put together (I have no idea why I took just two images), but it did not seem to matter much. It was opened in Aurora HDR and the High Contrast preset was selected. Then just a couple changes were done – the HDR Enhancement, Smart Tone, Shadows, and Highlights in the HDR Section and the Blue Luminance slider in the HSL Section. In Photoshop just a Red Channel Luminosity Curve was created to add a good contrast to the image and it was done.

As you can see, this is a pretty good HDR program and not bad as just an image editor. This program was designed with the help of Trey Ratcliff, who may be the best HDR photographer around. I think you can see his influence in the way the program is set up – very easy to understand. I would totally recommend you try out this software if you like to do HDR photography and even if you do not, it is worth a look with your camera RAW files. This program was a real surprise to me and I am totally impressed with it. Until next week……Digital Lady Syd

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