Just popping in with a couple images of one of my favorite subjects, birds! Been busy taking a few on-line painting and photography classes and trying to get a little time to try out some new things. Both these images (which are not painted) were improved by following some of the techniques of one of the best wildlife photographers, Moose Peterson. He is just one of the many people who have created some really great classes on KelbyOne. Moose also has a great blog (if you check out his latest blog, he is talking about something I am super-excited about – an update to the Nik plug-ins! – Yeah!!!) and website with lots of good information to improve your photography. Anyway, his classes are just really good and easy to follow and not all that complicated.
Lightroom and ACR Sharpening’s Masking Slider Tip
The snowy egret above was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm rookery. They are one of my very favorite birds to photograph because of their beautiful feathers they spread during the mating season. One thing I did learn from Moose (in The Secrets to Creating Super Sharp Images class) is how to properly use the Masking slider in the Detail Sharpening section in Lightroom (and ACR). Look at your subject and only sharpen for your subject, and as little of everything else. By holding down the ALT key and moving the Masking slider, many different thicknesses of white lines will appear in the black mask. The white thick lines will indicate the “plane of focus” and should be around the subject and any other areas in the same plane. (This is also a great way to find out if you actually did get what you wanted as the main focus of your image.) The smaller lines are not as important. Now the Amount can be increased to sharpen the image correctly.
Most of the post-processing was done in Lightroom using the Adjustment Brush and Radial Filter to sharpen the bird up and darken the background down. In Photoshop a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Foggy Night preset (my personal favorite) set to 9% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added next and in Master, the Saturation was increased to +38. The layer mask was filled with black and only parts of the birds body was lightly painted back. Two Curves Adjustment Layers were added and set to Luminosity blend mode for Dodging and Burning (see my How to use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image blog). Then just a couple layers set to Overlay blend mode were added to even out a few of the lights and darks in the foreground and background areas. Ended up with just the standard frame around the image (see my How to Create a Quick Layer Style Border or Frame blog.)
For this image of baby Snowy Egrets one of the new LR (and ACR) Black and White profiles called B&W Blue Filter was applied, and 4 graduated filters set to Exposure -1.00 were placed around the birds to darken down the edges. Just a few Basic sliders were adjusted a little, mainly Highlights Shadows, Whites and Vibrance. A Dodge and Burn 50% gray layer was used to sharpen up the little guys a bit. Used a Level Adjustment Layer to bring back the background into focus just a little.
Film Grain Effect
I wanted to give the B&W image a little softer feel so a Grain Layer was added. This is a tip from an older KelbyOne class by Katrin Eismann (another brilliant Photoshop guru) called Color to Black and White Artistry but the basic concepts are still current. Using this method gives a really natural subtle result to the image and adds the effect in the areas you want it, mainly the Blue and Green channels, and leaves the Red Channel alone where usually the subject resides. The film grain is added in a very natural way so that the Blue Channel gets the greatest amount of noise, Green channel less, and Red Channel the lowest amount. The steps are as follows:
- Go to the Channel Panel. Note that all Channels have the Add Noise Filter set to Gaussian and Monochromatic.
Highlight Red Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 4%
Highlight Green Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 6%
Highlight Blue Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 8%
- Next Highlight each channel and go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set Radius Amount to 0.3%
- In the Layer Panel, change the blend mode to Luminosity so any color noise is reduced. Can also adjust the layer opacity if the effect is too much.
I actually put these steps into a simple action that works great. Well that’s it for this week. Be popping in again soon!…..Digital Lady Syd
Hi 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.
To 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.
The 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
No post for a while as unfortunately I live in Florida with Hurricane Irma on the way. This bird was taken after Hurricane Matthew last October. Figure the birds will be the only ones not concerned about what is coming. Will be back as soon as possible on the other side!…..Digital Lady Syd
It has been a busy week as CreativeLive has had their 5th Photoshop Week and it was really good! There were lots of interesting classes covering all kinds of Photoshop uses. Plan on getting some new tips and tricks together to present soon on my blog. This week I am showing my pretty little Oleander flower growing in my yard. This flower was shot using with my Lensbaby Composer at F/4 using a Macro +4 Lens, which is why it was so soft and wispy looking. There is a newer version of this lens, but mine seems to still work well, especially on macro shots. I would recommend your trying one out if you get a chance.
In Lightroom just the Basic exposure and contrast sliders were adjusted. Then the image was taken into Photoshop and Topaz (for website see my Tidbits Blog‘s sidebar) Impression was opened using one of my presets (SJ Watercolor like effect on bldgs. – click link for settings at bottom of blog.) Some Mixers and Regular brushes were used to smooth out the background and paint the actual petals. Added one of my textures on top set to Soft Light blend mode at 62% layer opacity. One of Kim Klassen’s older beige textures was then added and set to Multiply blend mode. A Blue Luminosity Curve was created and an S curve was used to increase contrast.
Now to the Topaz Texture Effects 2 tip. In the above image, the plugin was used to only add two stacked light leaks. Presets are just a guidelines for effects that can be added, but this is not where the power lies in this plugin. By clicking up in the top right-hand corner in the box that says New and than Add Adjustment, all kinds of choices are opened up. To add the two Light Leaks in this image, the Light Leak section was added twice, once for each leak added. It was then saved as a preset since I liked the effect of how the two leaks blended. There are 13 different section types that can be added as often and in any order as needed. Only one light leak can be applied and that may be all that is needed in your image. Could use just a diffusion effect, or several texture sections, or only the Double Exposure section for your image. Texture Effects has so many sections with so many sliders and a great masking capability with blend modes, making it easy to tweak the individual sections once opened in the plugin. It is a bit like using Lookup Tables in Photoshop, but much more flexible.
To finish up this image, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used to add some blue tones to the shadows by adding blue to the Black color. The flower does really light up! I would recommend you try out Texture Effect’s different sections without using a texture to see what fabulous capability this plugin has built into it. Be back next week with some new tips!…..Digital Lady Syd
Yesterday I had an opportunity to visit one of my very favorite places to photograph our beautiful Florida birds, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. By visiting at various times of Spring, different types of birds and behavior are present. But beware, it is a pretty busy place for not just birds – if you get there early, you are trying to negotiate lots of photographer tripods, and as the day wears on, a myriad of kids arrive. All good fun though! This week the Wood Storks, Snowy Egrets, Blue Herons and Roseate Spoonbills were all very busy making nests. Therefore I had a chance to shoot lots of flying birds with all kinds of branches and leaves hanging out of their beaks. Will be posting these on off over at my Tidbits Blog especially. Hopefully I can return in a couple of weeks when there will be a lot of baby chicks.
The Snowy Egret and Roseate Spoonbill somehow both showed up in my image. I think I was trying to shoot the spoonbill, but the egret was also flying and I did not even see him until I looked at the photos in Lightroom. There were so many birds flying around that it was sometimes hard to capture them as they flew really close over your head at times. For me I keep my camera on Aperture mode at F/8 and shoot in continuous mode to capture as many shots as I can and hope one of the images will be sharp. Learned a lot about shooting birds from an old KelbyOn (NAPP at that time) video by Moose Peterson on taking images of Florida Birds. He is one of the best bird photographers around and has a great blog with lots of tips.
All the blog images were post-processed in Photoshop just using the same basic workflow I always use: First make sure no noise is in the image and fix that with Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) DeNoise 6, then Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (no longer available at the point) or Topaz Clarity (sometimes Topaz Detail depending on the image) to slighting sharpen the whole image (use a layer mask if needed), use a Red Channel Luminance Curve Adjustment Layer, a Black & White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode, and finally the free Google Nik Viveza 2 – this filter is a must. Viveza can really help even out the light and sharpen areas that need just a little boost. It can also add that subtle vignette needed in some images. If you have not tried it, do so – use control points to pinpoint the areas that need adjusting. Still my favorite all-time Photoshop filter! There are tutorials on all these different techniques so just search in my blog to find more info on any of them.
These little chicks were recently hatched to a Roseate Spoonbill and may be the first group to have arrived. They were so cute. At first it seemed there were only two in the nest, but the little guy on the left was in all the images. It is really easy to miss things until reviewing the shots at home. The light was a little harsh but they still looked pretty cute to me.
This Snowy Egret was trying to get away from the crowds but the light was so pretty on his plume that he was quite noticeable. The grace and poise of the Snowy Egret is quite striking, especially when compared to the beautiful, but really clumsy Roseate Spoonbill. The spoonbills all see to have a lot of personality. And Wood Storks just sort of stay up high and stare you down. If you spend a little time watching the interactions of the birds, it is really entertaining!
I frequently use images shot at the Rookery and here are some past photo links for additional Rookery views:
Birds of the Rookery
Great Egret Babies
Cattle Egret Looking for Love
Singing Spoonbill Duet Takes Rookery by Storm!
Very Busy Snowy Egrets
Coming in for a Landing!
A Happy Couple
I guess this post is a little different for one of my blogs, but it was so much fun to see these beautiful birds and wanted to share what an extraordinary place this is. If you are in Florida from April to the end of May, definitely stop by the Rookery in St. Augustine – the birds won’t mind and its always a day to remember! Oh yes, taking a week or two off blogging to finish up a couple classes I am taking. Will catch you on the other side. ….. Digital Lady Syd
This week I decided to try a little in-camera photo effect and then post-process in Photoshop. In my mind, this is the best of both worlds when trying to put an artistic feel into an image. The above was first shot with my Nikon D-300 camera (I dearly love this camera and can’t seem to part with it!) and shot the image in multiple-exposure mode using just 2 shots. I am not really sure how this type of exposure is supposed to look, but this method seems to fit floral or plant images quite well. This image was taken in my front yard of a Queen Emma Lily in front of a Cardboard Palm. I see this as a very creative blend of the two exposures but it did take some finishing work in Photoshop to get the final interesting feel.
So first the basic workflow for taking a multiple- or double-exposure shot will be covered. It is not that difficult but do consult your camera manual to get the exact menu settings to do this. I will be using the Nikon D-300 menus, which due to its older age, should be similar to what is available on most newer cameras.
1 First set your camera to Manual Focus. To do this on my camera, looking at the front of the camera the Focus Mode Selector dial is located to the lower right of the lens. The dial should be set to M for manual (as opposed to C for continuous auto focus or S for single auto focus). Note: For my camera, if either the Camera body or the Lens is set to Manual focus, then it must be focused manually. Many of the lenses will have a Manual focus setting also (usually the lens is set to M/A – switch to M to make it focus manually). I am using the Camera Body setting for this.
2. On the back of the camera, press the Menu button and select the Shooting Menu. Then Scroll down to the Multiple Exposure choice.
- Select the number of exposures to shoot – the above was just a double exposure so it was set to 2. Up to 10 are allowed.
- Select whether to turn on Auto Gain. The difference is that when it is on, the exposure time is divided by the number of exposures chosen for the image, and when off, each exposure is exposed for the full amount of time (meaning shutter speed). I had it turned off, but try both to see which looks best.
3. In my camera I need to turn on the Multiple Exposure setting each time an image is to be taken.
It sounds a lot harder than it is. Just have to get familiar with where the settings are. Now you can try different camera settings to get different results. For the above, both of the in-camera exposures were shot using the basic Nikon 18-200 mm zoom lens set to 105 mm at F/5.6. Below is what the original out of camera image looks like. First the palm exposure was taken, then moved the camera and took the lily.
Post-processing: In Lightroom a Trey Radcliff free preset called Sunday Alone Time was applied and then the Vibrance was lowered (-65) so it was not so colorful. In Photoshop the layer was duplicated and Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glow was opened and my SJ Inter Web Variation was applied. (Settings are: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electrify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches.) The Layer was set to Overlay Blend Mode at 96% layer opacity. A black layer mask (CTRL+click on layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel) was added and just the areas I wanted lines to show through were painted back. The Layer Style was opened (double-click on the layer) and on the Underlying Layer slide, the white tab was split (ALT+click) and set to 178/255 before exiting the menu. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created above and the now free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened. Three filters were used: Midnight with no Blur added, and overall opacity of 73%; Reflector Efex set to Gold with the light coming from bottom up; and Vignette Filter using a darkish brown color and centering on the focal point. Next the also free Nik Viveza 2 (downloads with the above plug-in) was opened and just one control point was placed in the center area to add a little more structure and whitening to the focal point. Last step involved using a New Layer to clean up lines – Grut’s – MI Swish Mini Mixer brush was used to break up the edges of some lines that were too sharp – I love this brush! Check out his other brushes too – so many wonderful ones! This image turned out to be a lot of fun and created a very different type image!
Another double-exposure image – used the same Nikon 18-200 mm zoom lens sets 150 mm and F/5.6. This was shot with white blinds behind the flowers in a vase and sunlight strong outside. This time for the first exposure just the focus was set to a very soft blur, then the second focused in on the flower to get this soft effect. The double-exposure created an almost translucent feel in the flower petals by shooting into the lighter background. In Lightroom just a few adjustments were made before going into Photoshop. On a duplicate layer, Topaz Lens Effects Diffusion filter was added. Then Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and the Glamour Glow filter and Film Efex Vintage filter (Film Type 13) were stacked. A pink pastel texture of mine was added on top and set to Darker Color blend mode with a layer opacity of 55% – a layer mask was added and the texture was gently painted off the flowers.
These dandelions were shot using the same lens at 170 mm and F/5.6. Once again, the background was really defocused for the first exposure and then brought the foreground dandelions into focus for the second. My first thought was to convert this to a black and white so it was brought into Photoshop and the free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (downloads with the other Nik plug-ins) was opened. The Fine Art (high key, framed) preset was selected and the frame removed. Then a Finishing Adjustment using Toning 22 was used to give a warm tone to the overall image. There are lots of really great sliders in this plug-in so give them a try! It was set to 75% layer opacity and actually gives a really nice look at this point. But to get an artistic feel in the image, first 2 Lil’ Owl’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Stained Plaster Collection 17 texture was added to the image and on a layer mask, the foreground dandelions were painted back without the texture. On a stamped layer, Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Brandeis Blue preset was applied. Next another 2 Lil’ Owls texture called After the Rain 14 was added and set to Multiply blend mode at 85% opacity. Another one of her textures was added called Grunge 27 and it was set to Color Dodge blend mode. This added some texture in the bottom foreground – a black layer mask was used to remove all of the texture except this area. That is what was done to get the final image.
I hope this was not over everyone’s head – it really is just a way to change up an image and possibly get a different result. Many people go to much more extremes on shooting the double-exposure adding very different items, more like the first image. And many people are into creating silhouettes for the first exposure and then shooting small flowers for the second exposure for some incredible results. Since I am rather new at this, I stayed pretty basic with this. It does sound like it would be fun so I may have to try that for second go-round on this topic. Therefore if you just want to try something new, give this a try. It is a lot of fun and the final effects can be quite dramatic!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I have been playing around with actual vintage images and adding some different effects to give even more of a vintage look to them. The image above was a free download from Shorpy Historical Photo Archive, one of my very favorite websites to visit daily. Images are updated frequently during the day and by clicking on an image, a larger Full Size view is shown to scroll around in and really see the details. Fabulous site if you are a history nut like I am. To see the original black and white of the above image that was taken in 1905, click the image link – “Coney Island — Luna Park promenade.” To get the best image quality downloaded from Shorpy, open it in the Full Size view and then right click on image – in drop-d9wn menu select “Save Image As” and make sure the jpg file type is selected in “Save Type As” field at bottom. The lower resolution photos are all free. This is a wonderful place to get old photos of many famous places.
For the elephant parade photo, Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity was used to really give a nice natural sharpening to the image – this is actually a perfect use for Clarity plug-in if you own it. Next Nik Analog Efex Pro plug-in was added on a duplicated layer and Basic Adjustments, Light Leaks which was used to direct the color towards the parading elephants, Lens Vignette, Film Type, Frames, and Levels & Curves were selected to create a more vintage feel to the image. Three of 2 Lil’ Owls Studio textures (see sidebar for my Tidbits Blog for website link) were added: Forgotten 9 set to Linear Light at 43% layer opacity, The Artisan Collection Big Set 1-1 set to Color Burn at 34% layer opacity, and 1-2 set to Divide at 45% layer opacity. The last step involved adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to just add back a little contrast the textures removed. I really liked the original image and could imagine standing in the scene as it was happening!
This Shorpy image is called Tampa Pier – a house on the water that was from the 1890’s. The smoke is coming from a locomotive and a water tower is on the right. It was suggested that this may have been the home of the harbormaster, I was totally intrigued by the thought of living in a big house on a pier! If you would like to see what appears to be a different view of this port, check out the Port Tampa Inn and Docks (Wharf): 1900 image, which would make another great photo for adding vintage effects. OnOne (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Perfect Effects 8 was used – this is a huge plug-in and I love the way the filter effects can be stacked to get wonderful results. This one used an already created OnOne preset created by photographer Nicole S. Young, in her Daydream collection called Hazy Memories – it actually stacks 7 different filters to give a nice old-fashioned look. Next the Sunshine Glow filter was stacked, and on top the Detail Adjustment Brush was painted on just the house. Back in Photoshop on a stamped or composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Detail 3 plug-in was applied for some additional sharpening, especially where the smoke was in the sky. On another stamped layer Nik Analog Efex Pro was used again – this time only the Detail Extraction, Light Leaks, Lens Vignette, and Levels & Curves Luminosity Channel were used and saved as a preset to use again. A Camera Raw filter in Photoshop was opened using only the Radial Filter used – exposure was increased one stop on the house and train. The cool border mask is a free one by Shadowhouse Creations called Layer Overlay Mask Set Box 4 and was set to Screen blend mode at 100% layer opacity. This image was great to work on since it was in good shape to begin with and has such an interesting history.
This is another great Shorpy image called Sailing on the Sand taken in 1903 at Ormond Beach (where I live), Florida. The image uses two French Kiss Artiste textures – Jardin set to Overlay blend mode at 82% layer opacity and Old Master set to Hard Light blend mode at 41% layer opacity – it also has a layer mask with the center painted out. Topaz Detail was used to sharpen up the whole image and a frame was created using a Dave Cross technique presented in his Photoshop CS5 Finishing Touches for Photographers video on Kelby One Training – this is still a good video to watch if you are a member even if it is for CS5 as Dave does great border effects. Really love the colors from the textures and border.
I hope this blog gave you an inspiration to try something new and try some different vintage effects. The Nik Analog Pro plug-in seems to be the best plug-in for adding the old-fashioned feel to an image, but all the plug-ins I have create some wonderful results. With all the great textures available it is hard to choose one to use. I love the old photos and it is a nice change of pace to work on something I did not shoot. And Shorpy’s website is always a lot of fun to check in on……Digital Lady Syd