Anything Photoshop or Photography


Palace Tower Art at Hilton Waikoloa Village

Today I decided to do something different. I have spent a lot of time processing photos from the Hilton Waikoloa Village, especially from the Palace Tower where the above mirror-reflected fountain was located in an open air atrium in the middle of the hotel complex. It has been a challenge to find out any information on the art. Apparently the hotel was developed by the Hyatt and opened on 9/9/88 as the Hyatt Regency Waikoloa before the Hilton bought it in 1993. The developer put over $7 million dollars into the 1600+ art objects that is literally scattered about the the huge 62 acre complex, and I am not sure Hilton has done anything to change what was already preset. A display states “The art collection consists of works from Asian, Western, and Oceanic cultures – the cultures that, through the years, have come to define Hawaii’s cultural heritage.” Pieces were bought on trips to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Burma and Indonesia. That is all that is available on the art unless a description was placed near the object and very few objects have placards.

Since I love art and had the opportunity to go stay at this complex recently, I thought I would show some of the art pieces in the Palace Tower area. Not all of the objects are the best art in the facility, but it is a good representation of their stated goal above and is rather magnificent in its own right. With that in mind, here we go. The image above is from the corner where the elevators are located – I tried to capture a feel for all the items located in such a small area – and there is some strange lady taking a picture of it all! The hard to see black object in the center is of two spaniel dogs. The two framed images are Luigi Rossini etchings from 1823 of Italy (see top image on website for the right one). There was one more in another part of the entryway.

The fountain is quite a spectacular centerpiece and appears to be very old. The tired looking older men (or half fish/half men) are holding up what I believe are tired looking putti, who are holding up a woman that is releasing a dove – and then there are four offshoots from the fountain of slightly mythological-looking men and women, happy putti blowing trumpets (water was supposed to be coming out of the trumpets but most were not working), and fish and geese with interesting expressions that seem to be pets, all in sculpture. An 18-image 1:21 minute slideshow created in Adobe Lightroom is above. The sculptures  were not cleaned up and some were in better shape than others, in fact this fountain is not in the best shape and much of it is not in good working condition. Still, it is not something you walk right by without noticing when entering the hotel. And it is really striking at night (last slideshow image)!

This simple wall art added a nice touch to the whole cultural flavor in the atrium area.

There were four of these huge, roughly 10-foot tall wood Chinese cabinets all with large porcelain jars in the center; carved wood at the top and bottom; and painted flowers on the sides, bottoms, and front. Several different warrior-like dolls were placed in the glassed paned shelves. I have never seen anything quite like these. The cabinets were really difficult to photograph due to the shiny glass panes, the mirror reflections from the entryway that were shooting light everywhere, and no tripod. I hope you can at least get a feel for how incredible they looked.

Another one of the beautiful colorful objects that was sitting around near the entrance to the Palace Tower. Very hard to ignore, especially if you like art.

I plan contacting the Hilton Waikoloa Village and see if there is more information on their art. It would be a shame if all the knowledge on the beautiful pieces becomes lost. I will be posting some more of the resort’s art as time goes on – this was just a starting point. In the meantime I hope you enjoyed this short blog…..Digital Lady Syd

How these images were processed (since this is a Photoshop blog after all!).

Palace Tower Image: Used Nik Color Efex Pro 4 using Detail Extractor, Pro Contrast, and Contrast Color Range filters to bring out all the great details (see My Go-To Recipe for Bringing Out Details with Ellen Anon). Nik’s Viveza 2 was also used to desaturate some of the distracting light in the background.

Slideshow images:  Most images were processed as three bracketed HDR photos in Nik HDR Efex Pro using the Realistic (Strong) preset and then adding control points unique to each image. Next Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was applied using this set of filters in a recipe: Darken/Lighten Center, Detail Extractor setting slider to no more than 19, and a slight Vignette Blur. They were then added into the Slideshow module in Adobe Lightroom 4.

Wall Art: Topaz Adjust Crisp preset was used and OnOne’s PhotoFrame acid burn controlled 4.

Chinese Cabinet: Each image was processed with Nik’s Viveza. I used my my Tidbits Blog “Five Image Template Creates Beautiful Collection!” to create the photo grouping. The actual cabinet image was slightly out of focus so Topaz InFocus plug-in was applied before Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 and Viveza 2. Still not loving the result, but the image was salvaged somewhat. There was a lot of glare on several of the images which could not be completely removed with Viveza, but it did a fairly decent job. 

Elephant: Topaz Adjust crisp preset and that is all.

Trying Out the Minimalist Look?

I did not even realize there was a Minimalist Art Movement in the 1960’s – the actual art technique involves stripping away composition, detail and form. I came across this simple technique from Practical Photoshop Magazine (No. 3) and there is a 3 minute video, “Make Minimalist Art,” that goes over the simple steps to create this interesting look. Since I am not into just the plain lines, I tried to think of a few creative things to do with this technique.

To create the above image, I first opened up an image I had created using some really bright colors. This made for really interesting background colors – it reminded me of the beach so that is how I came up with the sailing theme. I found a catamaran picture I took on St. Augustine Bay with its beautiful spinnaker sail. Using the Quick Selection Tool, I cut out the boat and placed it twice in the image. On the front boat I used Topaz B&W Effects (for link to site on my Tidbits Blog) Stylized Collection Effect, Diffusion with Color preset, and adjusted the Brightness in Basic Exposure and Transparency (save this as a preset to keep track of your settings) to soften the sails edges and colors. That was basically it.

For this next image I was just fooling around to see if I could get a different pattern other than straight lines. The same background pattern was used as above, but the colors were changed in the the image to more brown and pink tones. I had a hard time finding a look I liked – I used the Warp Tool to make the lines wavy. The beautiful flower brushes are by Spring Flowers by Pink On Head. What really popped this image is that the blend mode for the wavy lines layer was set to Divide which resulted in this almost crayon like drawing effect. Very unexpected!

In this final image, a blue sky and puffy white cloud image was used for the horizontal line background, and then it was placed behind the water tank and flowers to give the appearance of water. The same sailboat selection, as created above, was filled with black to make a silhouette to place in the  background. Some fog was added and the colors muted a little to give a more end-of-day feel. It is really hard to tell that the watery background was created from a bunch of lines from a sky scene.

That is about as minimalist as I get. It was a lot of fun experimenting with the different effects – a great chance to get creative. If you want to try a little different technique, but with similar results, see my Tidbits Blog “I Didn’t Know That! Randomizing Gradients.”

Have Fun Experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd

Getting to the Art of the Matter

This week I decided to try something different. I am reading a book called “The Greater Journey – Americans in Paris” by David McCullough. It is a wonderful read – I am afraid I had never learned history like I should have when growing up. This book is about the various Americans who went to Paris in the 1800’s to learn about art, medicine, and other pursuits. In the first section of this book, a very intriguing discussion occurs about Samuel F. B. Morse, of Morse Code fame, whose actual love was painting. From 1831 to 1833 he created this large 9 foot x 6 foot painting called the “Gallery of the Louvre” where he copied 38 paintings from 25 masters. Since the photography era was in its infancy, he was trying to show Americans some of the art at the famous art gallery. I have read some criticism on this painting, but when you realize how small the copies of the paintings are in the image, and all the styles he was trying to reproduce, it seems like a pretty awesome result. His best friend, James Fennimore Cooper and family, is located in the left corner, and Morse painted himself center stage standing over a student.

Here is a small image of what the painting actually looks like.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC is displaying the painting until July 2012. Here is a link to more information on the painting and for a download of a larger version. I am definitely going to see this next time I am in the DC area! It is nice that the book has brought this interesting painting to everyone’s attention again.

Now for the fun! I decided to create my own “Gallery of the Louvre” masterpiece by inserting my images where the master paintings resided. With the magic of Photoshop, the perspective was easy to get inside the painting frames.

This turned out to be a lot of fun to put together. If you would like to try this same thing, I uploaded the template I created and it is ready for download. Just drag your images into the template and place under each of the frame openings.  Then Free Transform to fit. Sometimes it was necessary to use the Distort function to do the side view images. I tried to add a little lighting to match the natural light appearing on the images and I used a texture at a low resolution on the images only to get a painterly effect.

I hope you have as much fun as I did with this. It creates a rather unusual way to look at your images – just like in the Louvre in the 1830’s. ……..Digital Lady Syd

The Natural Bridge

Today I was sitting around chatting with some good friends about a place Glenn and I visited in 2003 – the Natural Bridge. I started thinking about what a popular place it has been for a couple hundred years so I decided to post a few pictures here from my earlier trip. The link to Wikipedia does a pretty good job of giving the basic history involving George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Calvin Coolidge, not to mention King George the III and Thomas Fairfax. I started looking at some of the images other people have made of the Natural Bridge and I came up with some interesting information. The image on the left below (click in image to enlarge) was done by Frederic Edwin Church and looks quite realistic and very much like the image I posted. He was an American landscape artist and painted this in 1852. He has painted more famous images but I really like this rendition which is at the University of Virginia. I personally like his art and want to see the several paintings listed in the galleries in Washington, DC with my son, Chris, who is also a great art fan and photographer. Follow this link to a couple old postcards of The Natural Bridge where they show no water flowing under it. I find that interesting as the creek seemed to be quite robust in 2003. I bought a print of the image on the right (click in image to enlarge) at the gift shop called “The Natural Bridge, Virginia – drawn by W. P. Snyder” which indicated it was published in Harper’s Weekly newspaper on September 8, 1888 where it was titled “Natural Bridge Virginia Food Wine Picnic 1888.” The people are sitting right in the middle of where the creek now flows. I could not find out much information on the artist although there seem to be various drawings for sale at different art sites. I believe many of his drawings were in this weekly newspaper. Water coloring was added to the image I bought at a later date by an unknown artist. It is still a very charming print.

There seem to be many old and original prints for sale on eBay for reasonable prices. I took a lot of images while visiting – in May there were all kinds of flowers blooming, especially roses, and the weather is nice enough to stroll around the grounds in the early evening. It is a wonderful place to relax for a weekend and get some terrific shots, history, and outdoor relaxation. Definitely worth the trip if you are in the area!…..Digital Lady Syd