Anything Photoshop or Photography



Image of beautiful porch in Savannah, GeorgiaThis week I thought I would just give you a quick run-down of a few of my favorite plug-ins for Photoshop where at least a couple are used on almost every one of my images. These filters in most cases are not for major creative endeavors, although I have used them that way before (check out Detail 3 for some great abstract effects), but the ones needed to make your image perfect. I have listed several Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) products as they seem to do exactly what I like, but many other companies have some similar filters and would be fine if those are the plug-ins you own. The above photo used both Nik Viveza 2 and Topaz DeNoise along with the Photoshop Camera Raw filter.


This “oldie but goodie” product is one I use on almost all my images, whether on the actual images or digital paintings. Viveza is just totally mind-boggling when it come to fine-tuning the tone or color in your image. I use it as the last step for when the focus is not actually on the focal point as intended, or if a corner is just a little too bright compared to the rest of the image, or if a color just does not work in a part of the image. Works great as a Smart Object which is great since it may take a couple times to get the adjustment just right. It uses control points for small localized adjustments. The Nik products were bought by Google and can be downloaded to try out. I do not see any other plug-in that overlaps what this program does, except possibly the Photoshop Camera Raw filter – it can do some similar effects using the Adjustment Brush, but definitely not as easy. For my review on Viveza, check out my blog, Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!
Image of View on Big Island, Hawaii


Since I do a lot of animal and nature images, removing the objects from the original backgrounds is often necessary. ReMask is now so improved that it is totally worth the price if you do selections a lot. It really is better than Photoshop’s Refine Edge is most cases or any of the other plug-ins I own. I have written several blogs on this plug-in and that is why! Absolutely fabulous! See my blogs at  Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReMask 5 and And the Best Complicated Selection Tool is?
Image of a Snowy Egret


I still find the Detail plug-in is the best sharpening tool and use it on almost every image. Have used it for years. I also love Clarity (which uses contrast to control detail) – some images do better using Clarity, but for most of my images, Detail works best for me. Below is a good example of how good the Detail plug-in is and my review link at Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Detail 3. Image of a Native American Dancer
Here is one of my favorite Clarity images and my review link at Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Clarity.
Image of a farm in Belarus



Image of the Wharf in San FranciscoMost of my images are not taken at night, but since I still use an older Nikon D300 (I can’t seem to give it up!) which does not work great in dark areas, this plug-in works incredibly! It will always work for me when this situation occurs. (Also works great on aquarium pix!) This image was taken using ISO 1250, which with my camera sensor is really grainy, but this filter totally clean it up. Usually just an Overall Strength slider tweak and sometimes extra work in the Shadows, and it comes out nice and crisp. Check out my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz DeNoise 5 blog for more information.

Well, there you have my basic filter run-down of the ones I use most often in my workflow. With some of the newer cameras, you many not need all of these. I know I am just very comfortable using those listed. There are some new filters out there that I have not had time to review – looking forward to putting Topaz Textures and OnOne Suite 10 (for website links, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) through their paces soon. Looking forward to trying out some new plug-ins! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a pirate on a kiddie ride at Daytona BeachShowing just a couple tips for Lightroom and Camera Raw that I learned a while ago from my favorite Photoshop Guru, Jack Davis. This image is of a Pirate that sits atop a kiddie ride at the Boardwalk in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Desaturate and Add Back Localized Color

The first trick is to desaturate the image setting all the Saturation (SAT) sliders in the HSL section of Lightroom to 0. Then they were adjusted to show just a hint of any colors I wanted to show up in the image, so in this case, Red was set to -81, Orange -61, Yellow -54 and Aqua -85. All the other sliders were set to -100 so no color showed through at all.

Next the Adjustment Brush was opened and 2 pins were painted to darken the colors in localized areas. The reds and blues were saturated more by setting the brush to Clarity 77, Saturation 100, and Sharpness 83 on the Pirate. The brush Flow was only 70 and Density 61. Also added another point for some less intense color in the Pelican picture and boats setting the Saturation to 53. On the last pin point the Saturation was set to -100 to remove extraneous reds and yellows in the background. Jack Davis does a wonderful job of tinting a photo using this technique where he starts with all the Saturation sliders at -100. Check out most of his video classes on Creative Live. As an aside note, if you wanted more of the same effect created with the Adjustment Brush, you can always add a second pin and repaint with the same settings the area to double-up the effect.

Split Toning Effect Using Tone Curves

Next a Split Toning effect was applied using the Tone Curve to get the pretty vintage blue color in the image. This is a really neat section to use for split toning that you do not come across very often. Once again Jack Davis, in his wonderful Lightroom 5 Training (Day 3) videos for Creative Live, used these settings to achieve this look. In Lightroom, click the little icon on the bottom right of the section to make sure it shows the word Channel: RGB under the curve and not Region sliders (Parametric Curve tab in ACR) so you will be able to access the individual channels. This is the Point Curve tab in Camera Raw. Open the Channel drop-down field to select the Red Channel and Green Channel and create a very soft S curve by clicking in the grid and dragging. By using these settings for the Blue Channel, you are taking the blues out of the highlights and darkening the shadows.  (My settings for this Curves preset are: Red points are roughly set to bottom left corner, 26.7/31.6%, line goes directly through the center, 73.3/76.1%, and top right corner; Green points are set to bottom left corner, 32.1/17.3%, through the center point, 74.9/76.1%, and upper right corner; and Blue Channel set to a straight line that starts at 0/21.6% for left side and ends at 100/85.1% on right side.) In Lightroom there are two ways to save the Tone Curve settings: Save it down as a regular Develop preset by clicking the (+) sign on upper left corner of the Presets Panel – name it and only check Tone Curve in the dialog; and the second method is to be sure you are in the Point Curve screen (icon on) and the Point Curve field drop down should show the word Custom. Open list and at the bottom select Save and name – now it will be added to drop-down list for use again. If you are having trouble finding where to put these curve points on the grid in Lightroom, it is much easier to do in Camera Raw by entering the numbers using the Input and Output fields in the Point Curve tab. To save as a preset, go to the pop-out in upper right, select Save Settings and choose Point Curve, Name it, and it appears in the Curve drop-down choices, and not just in Photoshop Camera Raw but also in Lightroom! Pretty cool and it is a little easier to do this in Photoshop than in Lightroom. I hope a future Lightroom update will add the Input and Output fields to this section.

Opening Lightroom Settings in Photoshop as a Smart Object

Since there was a lot going on in Lightroom with this image, I decided to bring it into Photoshop as a Smart Object in case further editing was needed. By right clicking on the Image in Lightroom, and choosing Edit In -> Open as a Smart Object in Photoshop, the photo will contain all the Lightroom settings. In Adobe Bridge, highlight image and right click – select Open in Camera Raw. When finished with edits, hold the SHIFT Key and press the Open Object button for image to be a Smart Object in Photoshop with saved settings. Of course in Photoshop CC, the image can be first opened in Photoshop, then right click on image and select Convert to Smart Object. Go to Filter -> Camera Raw filter and the edits will also be saved to this layer. Screenshot of image from LightroomIf you look in the upper right corner and behind the pirate, you can see some distracting reds that were missed when painting out with the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom. By double-clicking on the little icon inside the Layer icon , the image can be reopened with all the Lightroom settings still available. If editing using using the Adjustment Brush, the settings, (that is the Size, Feather, Flow and Density sliders) do not carry over between programs. Whatever the brush was set to the last time it was used in Photoshop will still be there, not the ones used in Lightroom. Therefore if the results do not look right, look at those brush sliders! In this case the pin point that had the Saturation slider set to -100 was clicked on so these areas could be further edited – otherwise a new pin point will be dropped down. When finished editing, just click the OK button and Photoshop will automatically update the image to the new Camera Raw settings.

The last step was to add a Black and White Adjustment Layer to check the focal point (the pirate) and do a little adjusting with the sliders to get his colors just right. The layer opacity was set to Luminosity blend mode where the layer mask was filled with black (CTRL+I in mask) and just the parts needing adjustment were painted back. That was it.

I hope everyone will try out this some of these little tips – Lightroom and ACR are so powerful! And for my American friends, hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Can You Get a Painting Look With a Photoshop Action? Jack Davis Can!
How to Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast in an Image


Painted image of a Snowy EgretThought I would share a trick using one of my favorite plug-ins, Topaz ReStyle (see Topaz website link on sidebar at my Tidbits Blog), and how I used it on my bird painting of a Snowy Egret taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery quite a while ago. First used Topaz ReMask to separate the bird from his busy background, and then placed one of my Corel Painter backgrounds behind him. Many layers of painting were created using both Fay Sirkis and Melissa Gallo Photoshop brushes – both are Corel Painter Master Elites who also make wonderful Photoshop brushes. See Related Blogs at end regarding these steps.

Since I love Topaz ReStyle, and use it often, it was opened to change the colors in my bird image by applying the colors from a previous image I had painted. So how can this be done.

RESTYLE TIP: If you only want to tweak the colors, but not change the actual color scheme of your image, it is very easy to create a preset of just the colors already in your image which can then be adjusted. ReStyle creates Color Style sliders that represent the 5 major colors in your image so the Hue, Luminosity and Saturation can be adjusted individually. Also Basic sliders for adjusting the Temperature and Tint, Tones, and Details including one of my favorite effects, the Structure slider, will be available to use on your image.

  1. Press RESET button located on bottom right corner to remove any of the old settings that may appear from the last time the plug-in was opened. You will see that the Hue, Sat and Lum sliders all “zero” out and at this point only make very subtle changes to the image, especially if set to a different blend mode. The Basic sliders will show the changes to the image.
  2. Next click the (+) button (on the bottom left) and save a preset in a Collection – I created one called Colors from Images.
  3. Now all the ReStyle and Basic sliders will be available to adjust along with blend modes and mask brushes for each section.

On the bird image above, I used the the ReStyle preset created from the dancer image shown below. You can see my other image presets in my collection on the left including the one used with this image, and on the right are the actual major color sliders that are in the dancer’s image. (Click on screenshot to see larger view in Flickr.) All the sliders are set to “0” so they can be adjusted independently. This is a really great way to use this program. I am finding that if I like the color scheme in one of my images, it is nice to create a preset from it to use on future images. ReStyle has lots of wonderful “canned” presets, but sometimes I like my own color schemes as much. I do not believe ReStyle had a preset with the exact beautiful yellow and greens that were pulled from the dancer’s image.

Painted image of Native American dancerIf you have Topaz ReStyle, try creating a preset next time you are not sure your colors or tones are looking quite right so they can be subtly tweaked. And when bringing another image into the program, be sure to check out some of your own presets created from your favorite images. I have done this several times when I have been unable to get the colors right, and as you can see from my bird picture, many times the color combinations work great on your other images. Lots of cool ways to work with your images with ReStyle. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle
Digital Lady Syd Reviews ReMask 5
Four Picture Triptych with Topaz ReStyle
How to Get a Painterly Effect for Wildlife and Birds


Painted Image of Pensacola Beach, FloridaThis week will be just having some fun and doing a little comparison between Photoshop Mixers and Corel Painter’s brushes, specifically John Lowther’s wonderful Landscape brushes. The image was taken at Pensacola Beach in Florida – the best beach in the US in my opinion. I lived there for a year and loved going to this beach!

The above was completely painted with the Mixer brushes in Photoshop. As I have stated before, I am one of those people that has a dilemma on which software program to use for painting. I am so comfortable with Photoshop that I can actually visualize what brushes I need to use to get the look I want. For my Photoshop painting, I like to use Fay Sirtis (a Corel Elite Master) Mixer brushes – if you are a KelbyOne member, at their Photoshop User site some of her brushes can still be downloaded from links under her older webcasts. I really love her Fays Portrait Pet Brushes set. A new free Breath of Sea Air texture from Jai Johnson (wonderful nature photographer and beautiful textures on her site) brought out a little bit of the wind blown feel at the beach and was set to Hard Light blend mode at 100% layer opacity. Also the sunlight effect on the left side was created using a fun little video by Glyn Dewis called Create a Sunset Glow with Photoshop. It really works!

Now the biggest difference I see between the Mixers (not the regular Photoshop brushes} and Corel Painters beautiful brushes is that it is harder to dab a Mixer brush, although not impossible. With Mixers I find I usually have to stroke to paint onto the image, not just stamp it down. In Corel painter, you can get some fabulous results by just dabbing, especially with when using their Captured Dab Type. One of the confusing things is that there are so many brushes in Painter so you definitely need to keep track of your favorites. I think I have created over 20 palettes with different brushes. Not all brushes work using a full stroke – totally depends on which type of brush you are using. Painter has a very complicated “brush engine” with many panels controlling each brush. This gives some wonderful variations, even in the same brush. I find it really interesting that you can now add a Photoshop brush to Painter as a Captured Dab Type. I have not had a lot of time to try this out, but I did one brush and it turned out pretty good!

The image below uses John Lowther’s Landscape Painter brushes. It was really fun trying these brushes out, although they mainly seem directed toward creative art. But there are three cloner brushes in the set. Usually I clone an image in Painter, but this time the image was painted over as it seemed to work better. Therefore it is very similar to the workflow as the Photoshop Mixers. There are no rules to use.
Corel Painter image of Pensacola Beach, Florida
The Lowther brushes used were the cloud brushes, ground cover and grasses brushes to paint over sea oats, and a couple objects – mainly the fence and birds. I almost always go back to Photoshop to add the Contrast, and in this case a Color Balance Adjustment Layer, to the image and save.

There is quite a big difference between the Mixer brush image and the Painter look. I am not sure which I like best. It is fun to use the different programs on the same image as they rarely turn out the same. I do believe that Painter has the edge on the actual brush variations and the color in the brushes is very nice. Photoshop definitely uses a totally different technology to get their results, which is what makes it interesting to use both programs. I find I often paint a lot in Painter and then return to Photoshop for clean up with the Mixers! And that may be the answer. With each upgrade I keep hoping that I will be able to just stay in one program, but so far that is not working out. Use what you are comfortable with from each program. Sort of like getting the best from each! Until next week…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
More Painting – With Painter and Photoshop


Image of an old fence and houseThis week I spent some time playing with a Photoshop plug-in that is in beta testing called PixelSquid. It allows you to add various items to create realistic composite images. Each element has 225 pre-rendered images shot from various angles and with shadow layers that can be adjusted in different ways. It has a fairly large learning curve, but the website covers all aspects of the program and overall it is not that difficult to do. The elements are kept in a Pixel SquidPanel Panel or Extension in Photoshop. (It does take a few moments to fill the panel with your items when Photoshop is opened each time and sometimes you have to log-in to their site to see your items and get new ones – a bit cumbersome.) They will be offering elements for sale, but at the moment you are allowed to download up to 100 objects. The best description of what they are doing is demonstrated in this short 3-minute video that covers the basics called PixelSquid: Getting Started on Vimeo. For an excellent example of how this program works, check out a blog called A Little Compositing Inspiration by Pete Collins at KelbyOne which introduced me to this Add On (see his original post called Check Out Pixel Squid). If you try it as a beta program, you will be allowed to keep the elements you have chosen, and they will let you download them from the site for free any time you want to use them again. This is a really nice thing they are doing.

In the image above, the elements added were the rather cartoon looking dog and the bike. For me the main hurdle was to try and get a natural look so the elements blend into the original image. I could not get the items to go on the blank layer the program creates but had to use PSD and “Open As Another Document,” move in the layers I wanted to use, and then delete the blank layer in my image. I am assuming they are working on this aspect of the Beta program. They offer a Depth Layer to help with this, but for me, I just painted on the objects and used the Blur Tool to soften edges. Really a lot of fun. For other info on post-processing of this image, see my Image 1 Notes at end of blog (this was a really long workflow but it will give you idea of what was done). Also, be sure that you have your Adobe Creative Cloud running, or it takes a work around to add the Extension and elements into Photoshop. This plug-in extension only works in Photoshop CC2015, but there are PNG , JPG and PSD files that can be downloaded and used in the other versions. Just adjust the object view you want on their website and download it to your computer to place in Photoshop. The PNG files come in very nice with shadows already set. (It seems almost easier than using the Extension if you like the way the object will fit in your image.)


Image of a park in Savannah, GeorgiaThis image is of a beautiful park in Savannah, Georgia, on a gorgeous Fall day. Several elements were added with PixelSquid – two trees, bushes, fountain, park benches and a little butterfly. This was really fun to create. Just remember it is rather tricky to do a composite that looks real-life, but there are numerous tutorials on the internet on how to do this. My goal was just to add some interesting lighting and correct shadows without doing a lot more. For more on post-processing, check out Image 2 at end of blog.

If there is a problem with this add on it is the issue discussed above that elements appear to need to be opened as PSD files in another document since I could not get the Low Res and High Res choices to open anything but a blank white layer. Then layers or the PSD group must be duplicated into your original document. (Highlight what you want to copy, be it layer or group or both, right click on the layer(s) and select Duplicate Layer (or Group)… In dialog, choose Document drop-down and select your image to place them in. Use the Move Tool to adjust location and Free Transform (CTRL+T) to adjust the size of the object(s).

I hope you will give it a try if you like to do this kind of thing in Photoshop. I can see a lot of uses for objects like this. It really is a lot of fun to try compositing, and since it is free right now, definitely worth looking into. Hope you all have a great Halloween and weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd

Notes for Images:

Image 1: This image needed a lot of manipulation to get to this point. First Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity was used (used these settings:  Dynamics Micro Contrast 0.19, Low Contrast 0.64, Medium Contrast 0.44, and High Contrast 0.25; Tone Level 0.30, Midtones 0.03, and White Level 0.19; and Hue Yellow -0.56, Sat 0.20, and Lum Orange 0.09). Next the Bike was added. The dog was added in next and it was duplicated to make a shadow as I did not like the way PixelSquid’s shadow looked for my lighting. The dog on the bottom layer was selected (CTRL+click on layer) and the dog was filled with black – then it was Free Transformed (CTRL+T) to look like the dog shadow, and the layer opacity was set to 22%. Two Curves Adjustment Layer was created – one for darkening the image and one for lightening. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created and Topaz Simplify was opened. (The Simplify settings are: Simplify – Colorspace RGB, Simplify Size 0.28, Details Strength 0.67, Details Boost 1.75, Details Size 0.20 and Remove Weak 0.10; Adjust Brightness -0.16, Contrast 1.00, Sat and Sat Boost 1.00, Dynamics 0.27, Structure 0.85 and Structure Boost 1.36; Edges – Edge Type Mono Line Fine, Edge Strength 2.35, Simplify Edge 0.29, Reduce Weak 10.00, Reduce Small 0.20, and Fatten Edge 0.66; and Vignette centered on dog, Vignette Strength -0.20, Vignette Size 0.30, Vignette Transition 0.65, and Vignette Curvature 0.83; and Overall Transparency 0.20.) These settings created a cartoon-like effect in the image. (See Serge Ramelli’s video on How to Turn a Photo into a Cartoon or Painting with Topaz Simplify for more on this. ) On another stamped object Nik Viveza 2 was used to pinpoint the dog and bike to blend them into the image correctly. On another stamped layer, Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and three filters were applied. (Settings used: Film Efex:Vintage using Film Type 14, Old Photo using Style 3 and set to Opacity 31%, and White Neutralizer.) The Blue Tool was used on the white parts of the bike tire to soften the brightness and set to 73% layer opacity. On another New Layer the dog was blurred with the Blur Tool set to 53% Strength. On another New Layer, Gruts Brushes-Natural Media Brush Lead Thumb was used to enhance some of the shadows in the image. (These are really great brushes with lots of variety.) On another New Layer some clouds were lightly painted in the sky. Then I added one of my textures on top that gave the image the warmer color – set to Hard Light at 93% layer opacity. The dog was painted on another New Layer using another one of Gruts Oil brushes. Since there was some real chromatic aberration around the tree leaves, on a stamped layer a Gaussian Blur was added to soft those edges by setting the Radius to 2.5. Then a black layer mask was added to this layer (CTRL+click on the Add Layer Mask to make black or CTRL+I inside white layer mask) and just the edges of the trees were painted back to blur the outline of the trees – this was caused by the Simplify filter settings. The last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little needed contrast back into the image.

Image 2:  After initial tone adjustments in Lightroom, all nine objects and their shadows were brought into the image using the Duplicate technique in Image 1. On a stamped layer converted to a Smart Object (right click and select Smart Object), the Filter -> Render -> Lighting Effects was applied where an Infinite Light was applied in the direction of the light using a yellow light color; this really lightened up the image. On a stamped image, Topaz Lens Effects was opened and the Reflector filter was applied (Type Golden, Strength 0.11, Transition 0.32, Position 0.52, and Angle 122.9) to lighten more. On a stamped layer, Topaz Lens Effects was opened again and the Single Tone Filter, Warm Tone 2 preset, was applied to keep lightening up the image subtlety. The park benches and fountain edges were too sharp so a Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur was applied at Radius 2.5. A black layer mask was applied and just the areas to be softened were painted back with a low opacity soft brush. Next New Layers were added to create some leaves and grass to further soften edges under trees and around the base of the fountain. Two Selective Color Adjustments Layers emphasizing the Yellow and Red colors – wanted the right tree to show up more and the path through the image needed to be more colorful for the eye to follow. The layer masks were turned black and with a white brush, these areas were painted back in. Next two Curves Adjustment Layers were added – one for just brightening the water in the fountain (black mask and painted back water), and the second to darken the whole image for contrast. More New Layers were created and several brushes were used to paint in detail. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to give a bit of a vignette effect, but in the layer mask, areas showing the lighter edges of the trees and fountain were painted back. That was all that was done, but it takes a lot of adjustments to do compositing.


Halloween ImageTaking a break this week and just doing a little Halloween fun since it is this Friday! For some reason, I totally enjoy doing this kind of image. And there is not much rhyme or reason as to how I go about doing this.

For image details and resources: Mainly just need to get a really good texture for a background and see where you end up. In this case I started with one of my Corel Painter textures that was created to have a Halloween feel to it – lots of oranges, browns and reds in it. The Witch and Moon is a vector object from Graphics Fairy. The actual tree and horizon line is a small gray tone image from Beyond the Mist by Midnightstouch that was placed on top of the texture and set to Multiply to get rid of the whites in the small image. A dark brown Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers) to turn the color from a black and set to Color blend mode. Crows brushes were used to add in the birds – Crow Brushes by Zememz. A Gradient Map was clipped to them using a dark black to brown color to add some detail. Grass 009 from my favorite Frostbo’s Grass Set 2 was used to fill in grass in left foreground. Grass 005 was set to a little light color and painted in other areas of image. Aaron Nace’s Fog Brush was used to add some atmospheric haziness to the image, especially in the sky. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created and Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) was opened. The Toy Camera Filter set to Awesomeness I preset with no changes was used to get the very diffuse feel. This layer was duplicated and Topaz Glow was opened and my SJ Mysterious Water II preset was applied and set to Multiply at 55% layer opacity. (The settings for the preset are: Primary Glow:  Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 0.30, Effect Sharpness 0.63, Electrify 0.14, Simplify Details 0.17, Edge Color 0.28, Detail Strength -0.06, Detail Size 0.20, Brightness -0.56, Contrast 0.44, Saturation 0.00, Line Rotation 0.00, and Glow Spread 0.00; Secondary Glow:  Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0.00, Effect Sharpness 0.22, Electrify 0.03, Simplify Details 0.00, Brightness 0.45, and Contrast 0.64; Color Overall – all set to 0; Red Sat 0.34; Orange Sat 0.33; Yellow Sat 0.03 and Lightness -0.29; Blue Sat 0.42 and Lightness -0.43; and Magenta Sat 0.75 and Lightness -0.35.) Topaz Glow gives a real soft lightness in the image. On a New Layer some distant birds were painted using Aaron Blaise Water brush SB 43-5 and Aaron Nace Fog brush again to distort their sharpness. The single bird vector image was duplicated and put on top now. A Bevel and Emboss layer style was added to him to make him stand out as one of the focal points in the image. A text layer using the Keep on Trucking font was placed on top. Next the Halloween Cat Brush by Altergromit was added on a New Layer and Bevel and Emboss, Outer Glow, and Drop Shadow layer styles were used to make him stand out a little. I just love this little cat brush! Next another text layer using the Halloween Spider font with Bevel and Emboss and Stroke layer styles on it. As a last step, WG Dust Particles was used to add some orange colored grain to the black areas and the foreground just to add some interest. Nothing to it!!!!!!! I really get into these Halloween pictures.

I have to admit it takes a bit of effort to do one of these – need to find resources that support what you are looking for. Most of the elements in this image I have used for years on different Halloween images. Thought I would repost a couple of these images from the last couple of years so you can see what happens with a few change ups. Click on them, which takes you to Flickr where the blog posts that list the resources are linked.
Happy Halloween from 2014

Halloween image from 2013Hope you have a wonderful Halloween and get to keep some of the candy for yourself – that’s the best part of this holiday now that I don’t have to make costumes for everybody! See ya next week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Halloween Greetings!


Image of a deserted Roller Coaster at Daytona BeachJust doing a fun quick blog this week on a Lightroom (Camera Raw) preset I created several years ago and rediscovered. This is an image of how I envisioned this roller coaster looking at Daytona Beach as we move toward the cooler months.

This image was first processed from Adobe Bridge in Adobe Camera Raw using an old preset of mine that uses the Camera Calibration Process 2010, so the new sliders were not present. It was one of my favorites and it was called Colorful Blown Out. (For an example of original use, see my blog Colorful Blown Out Look Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw Preset. The download links do not work anymore, so see Bird image below for the original preset settings.) I like this preset as it makes it easy to separate your subject from the background so the Color Range Command can be used. By adding a texture underneath, some really interesting and nice effects can be achieved. The Roller Coaster image uses the preset with the old 2010 Process and sliders. See end of blog for more post-processing info and how the Color Range selection was created.


Image of Daytona Beach Another image from Daytona Beach near the end of summer. Mainly locals enjoying a few final days. Well, the same blown out preset for Lightroom 3 was used on the first image, but this time I updated it to Camera Calibration Process 2012. Click on the image below to see the settings used for the Basic and Luminance sections which make up most of the preset. The other Sections were Sharpening set to Lightroom default of Amount 25, Radius 1.0, Detail 25 and Mask 0. The Effects Post-Crop Vignetting was set to Style Color Priority, Amount +22, Midpoint 28, Roundness -14, and Feather 4. At this point the settings were saved as a preset. The Exposure and Vignette settings definitely need to be changed to suit the image, and possibly all of them – it is just a starting point. All these same settings are the same in Camera Raw as well. I do find I prefer the original preset more than the 2012 version created with the new sliders. My advice is to try both preset versions.

Screenshot of settings for Lightroom presetIt is a pretty high key look. In case you cannot see these settings, here they are: Exposure +2.39, Contrast +96, Highlights -28, Shadows +28, Whites 0, Blacks +10, Clarity +34, Vibrance +70, and Saturation 0. For more post-processing info, see end of blog.


Image of a Roseate Spoonbill This rather comical image of a Roseate Spoonbill from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery used the original 2010 process. If you want to try it out, here are the Basic Section settings: Exposure +1.61, Recovery 0, Fill Light +56, Blacks 3, Brightness +50, Contrast +97, Clarity +68, Vibrance +70, and Saturation 0; Post Crop Vignetting set to Highlight Priority, Amount +36, Midpoint +54, Roundness -15, and Feather +76; Luminance set to Reds -39, Yellows -36 and Greens -25; and default Sharpening settings. These also need to be adjusted some to get the correct effect, but it is a good start. And lots of people prefer the Recovery and Fill sliders and use the older 2010 process with their old favorite presets often. See this short video by Matt Kloskowski, one of the best Lightroom gurus, called Lightroom’s Secret Shadow Slider Trick. The Fill In slider is quite high in the 2010 process versus the lower amount of Shadow in 2012. It is really great that Adobe lets you use the older sliders so you can still use some of your favorite presets.

Hope you try this effect, it is actually pretty nice on some images. Look forward to the coming months with everyone! Have another good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Info:

Image 1: Info on finishing this photo is as follows. The Roller Coaster image was opened as a Smart Object in Photoshop where it was duplicated. This layer was rasterized to form one regular layer (right click on words in layer and choose Rasterize). This regular layer was taken into Select -> Color Range, choose Highlights, and clicked the Invert check box to select the roller coaster and not the sky. Next press CTRL+J to put selection on a layer of its own. Next several texture were tried out underneath to see what would give an interesting back effect. This time I used two of my painted textures and the Blend If sliders to get the colorful result. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (for website link, see link at my Tidbits Blog) Lens Effects Dual Tone Red to Yellow preset was used as a starting point, then sliders tweaked to get the effect I liked. A Black and White Adjustment Layer was added on top to see where my focus was going. By adjusting these sliders and setting the Adjustment Layer to Luminosity blend mode, the bright detail in the center were emphasized and where the image focal point is. The layer mask was inverted to black (CTRL+I in mask) and just the focal area was painted back in. On another stamped layer, Nik Viveza 2 was used to darken the edges a little. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added as a last step on top.

Image 2: Therefore, it was taken into Photoshop to add a few more tweaks. The Liquify Filter was used to slim down several of the beach-goers. On a stamped layer Topaz Adjust was applied using Topaz Adjust’s Painting Venice preset (one of my favorite Adjust presets) with changes to Transparency (0.57) and Warmth (0.17). On top one of my Corel Painter beach textures was added to soften and give the foreground a little more color, and was set to Normal blend mode at 53% layer opacity. A layer mask was added and the people were painted back a little to make them show up better. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added as a last step. Pretty easy and lots of fun to do! I just love all the activity at the beach!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
I Didn’t Know That! Converting Lightroom Preset to Adobe Camera Raw Preset


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