Anything Photoshop or Photography



Image of a Cityscape of NYCJust doing a little update on the Puppet Warp tool this week using the tool on text (and the original image). So here is a short blog on how to do this.

A free font called Geno Shadow Grunge for the both lines of text was used.

  1. First type in your text, then convert the layer into a Smart Object.
  2. Double click on the Smart Object icon in thumbnail to open as a PSB document.
  3. Before starting to change the font, the size of the layer needs to be increased so go to Image -> Canvas Size and check relative and use 0.5 inches in both the Width and Height fields. This gives more room to stretch the font around.
  4. Now go to Edit -> Puppet Warp – a dialog opens that says the text layer must be rasterized – so say OK.
  5. Add Puppet Warp points to each letter to stretch the text – lots of fun here.
  6. When done with Puppet Warp, click the check in the Options Bar.
  7. Make any other changes like color or adding adjustment layers and when finished, press CTRL+S (File ->Save) to save the PSB file and then close the file. The text layer will now be updated in the Photoshop file. Pretty cool!

The buildings were also Puppet Warped on a duplicate of the original image from the 20 New York Photos from Deeezy photos. To get the poster looking colors, a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer was added on top .The different letters were colored by adding a Blank Layer and clipping it to the Smart Object Layer, then sampling colors from the image. Some scribble brush strokes were added underneath the letters on blank layers (brushes included in the free Adobe Creative Magazine Photoshop action called Turn Photoshop into Illustrations). Below is what the actual Puppet Warp pins looked like when I finished the text in the Smart Object. Had to erase out some extraneous lines that occurred when the warp was added.

Image of Puppet Warp Pins screenshotHope you give Puppet Warp a try – it can give some really interesting looks that are a lot different from just using the regular Warp effect. Here is a link to an earlier blog I created called How to Use the Puppet Warp Tool Creatively). Enjoy and have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image header for blogSince it is that time of year when everyone is evaluating their images from the past year, I have decided that instead of doing my top pix, I am going to create some special award categories for my photography. I am finding this is really tough to look at your images and think about them objectively.

Best Humorous Image of the Year

Image of a Tri-Colored Heron using a Scribble EffectMany choices for this category but they all either were bird images or Christmas images. Still love the effect the Scribble Action created on this guy so he won the Category – for original blog see my Updates, Updates, Updates! What to Do???? blog.

Best Creative Use of a Plugin

Digital Art Image of a Horse and Rider with Fiery BackgroundThis year in my opinion, the best new Plug-In was Topaz Studio’s AI ReMix – something totally different to use to bring a whole different look to your images. This image is my favorite example of the ReMix look so it was chosen as my favorite for this category. For the matching blog on this image, check out my Dodging the Fire blog.

Best Digital Painting of the Year

Digitally Painted image of DandelionsDid not do as much painting this year – this is on my resolution list for next year to do more painting. I did like how these unusual dandelions turned out. Here is blog which contains a little more info: Blowing in the Wind.

Best Animal Picture of the Year

Painted image of a foxI had several animal images and it was hard to figure out which I liked best, but this painted fox was one of my favorites. He appeared in my Introducing the Beautiful Fox blog that contains a little more info.

Best Drawing Image of the Year

Drawn image of a Young LadyThis was my first attempt at drawing a face and I totally enjoyed doing it. I learned the technique from David Belliveau at – for more info on this fun workflow, check out my short blog at Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter.

Best Landscape of the Year

Image of hotels in OahuSort of a strange landscapes where special effects were applied, but it looks pretty cool I think. For more info on this image, check out my blog at Oahu Landscape.

Best Macro of the Year

Image of painted Pink CarnationsThis year I did not shoot as many macros as I usually do, but this one turned out very nice. It was painted using Corel Painter. A short blog called Pink Carnation was created showing more info.

Best Black and White Image

Image of a girl playing an ErhuThis image had been post processed in color previously, so it really surprised me how nice it looked as a black and white image. For more info, check out my Girl Playing Erhu blog.

Best Floral Image

Image of some colorful Queen Emma bloomsOne of my favorite flower images this year just because I loved the way the color came out. For more info on how this was done, check out my Colorful Queen Emma Lily blog.

Best in Creative Category

Image of my Fantasy MapThis may not have been the most striking image, but I like that a lot of my favorite people are on this map and sort of represents me and my taste as an artist and Photoshop nut. It was a lot of fun to do and definitely was creative. For more on how to create a fantasy map of your own, check the original blog called My Personal Fantasy Map.

Best Image Created using a New Technique

Image of Parliament in LondonThis image represents a pretty cool technique used to get rid of camera shake (not the PS filter) and create a really sharp image from Deke McClelland. For links to the video on this, check out my Parliament blog.

Best Use of Texture

Image of a Rainbow LorikeetThis image I was particularly proud of since I created several textures to use in it. For more info on this, check out my Adding Textures to Wildlife Photos blog.

Best Use of Color

Image at The Land, Epcot, Disney WorldThis image is one of my favorites since it is so bright and cheery with a very strong color palette. For more info on how this image was post processed, check out my blog called Three Views of Air Balloons at Epcot’s The Land Pavilion.

Most Dramatic Image

Image of a Church in BelarusThis beautiful Church in Belarus has a nice dramatic night effect applied to it. Check out my First Snow of the Season blog for more info.


Drawn image of a wolfI decided this was my Grand Award Winner because it represents the various things I have been working on in many of my  images. Mainly, I have been trying to learn to draw (and Aaron Blaise is the master that taught me how to do this), textures, and lighting effects. Check out my Learning to Draw a Wolf! blog for more info. Hopefully during the next few years I will be able to draw more animals and apply more of what I have learned to date.

Hope you enjoyed my photos and my theme for this blog. It is very hard to decide what is your best work, but it does make you really think about what you have done and where you are going with your art. Happy New Year to everyone!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Santa Claus Christmas Ornament
A little late on this post – but then writing about Photoshop is never late to me. As usual whenever Photoshop updates to a newer version, I have mixed feelings. It seems to take me a while to get organized and this was the case with Photoshop CC2019. I have watched several recent posts by some of my favorite Photoshop gurus, Julieanne Kost, Colin Smith, and Scott Kelby, and here are a few things I discovered about this new update:

  • First I got totally confused with the old Edit -> Fill command (for me it used to mean Content Aware Fill) and the new Edit -> Content-Aware Fill command. After playing around with it, it does seem to have much better results than the old “Fill” command and it is much easier to see what is changing right in the new panel. One thing I learned is that if you do not use the Lasso Tool but instead the Magic Wand or Quick Selection Tool, there can be discernible lines where the selection edge was. To fix this, just go into the Select -> Modify -> Expand Selection and set it to 2 pixels before going into the new command. Lines disappear or edges are much smoother.
  • On the Toolbar the tools can be pulled apart and added in by clicking on the three dots near bottom of the Toolbar (under the Zoom Tool) and then dragging the tools apart. I set both the Rectangle Marque Tool and Elliptical Marquee Tool up on my toolbar. Also put the Patch Tool under the Spot Healing Brush (which still contains all the other tools). I added the new Frame Tool onto the Toolbar but not sure it is that useful.
  • There is now a Windows -> New Guide Layout panel (versus the old New Guide panel) where the number of columns (or rows) and a Gutter amount between them can be set up. This is handy to blend two different images together using the Gradient Tool in a mask and placing the gradient between the two line in the gutter area to create a nice smooth transition.
  • Here is something you may have not noticed – when adding an object/texture/image whatever into the main document and a Group is highlighted showing layers, the object layer will go into the group and not above the group. Just close the group before adding the new material to add above.
  • Did you know that if a part of a filter name like Gaus for Gaussian Blur is added in the search field (on the Options Bar on the right side), it will bring up the dialog box without going through all the steps to get there?
  • To me this is a biggie! Regarding those darn layer styles that sometimes just do not look right when applied. Here is one thing that is going on. If applying a style to a group, PS treats all the layers in the group as if they are flattened before applying the layer style to the group as a whole. Same thing with blend modes. So if you start to get some really strange results when applying a lot of different layers styles in image, check out the group and layers underneath to see if this issue is happening. Hope to blog on this later as I want to experiment with this.
  • I personally, and apparently many other people, have been having problems taking an image from Lightroom Classic into Photoshop when PS is not already open – most of the program is grayed out. The work-around is to first open PS before bringing the LR image into the program. Very annoying but it does work.
  • If you are like me and use the File -> Info panel, the Photoshop History field is stuck and you cannot scroll within it. This information is set in the Preferences -> History Log – I always keep mine set to Save Log Items to: Metadata and Edit Log Items: Detailed. It come in handy when you forget what you did not an image. The good news is that the information is contained in Adobe Bridge under the Metadata tab, Edit History section and it works.

I am sure there are lots of other new ways to do things with this update. I just have not had time to find them all. I hope this helped you out a little with some of the things going on.

So how did I get Santa to twist like this? Well once again it is a filter in Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website) Studio called the Motion Blurs Adjustment – set to Type Swirl, placed marker on nose, and Angle to 0.06 (just a little is enough). Then added the Smudge Adjustment set to Strength of 0.13, Extent 0.49 and Sharpness 0.61 and painted it in a mask just on the Santa and letters to get an illustrative feel to the ornament. Then went back into PS.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday – Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Tri-colored Heron using the Scribble Artist PS ActionIt has been a busy week since all the major software and plugin companies have recently updated and there is a bunch of new information to learn. I have been spending several hours sorting through all this. Unfortunately Black Friday and Cyber Monday is right around the corner so I have not had a complete chance to figure out all the new things. I will give you a quick view of what I like about each which may help you to sort out what to do. I will try to post a couple short videos after I complete some images to share what looks good from below. Note: All the links for the first five programs below can be found at my Tidbits Blog sidebar. So here I go – these are not in any special order, I love all the ones I am presenting and use them each differently:

Topaz Studio: Topaz Studio I totally love. Studio is fine – it seems very stable and I have had no problems using it so I do not believe anyone should have a fear about upgrading to this software. I usually use Topaz Studio and Labs as a PS plugin. I often just pop into Topaz ReStyle using just Topaz Labs. But I do love how quick I can get into Impression with Studio, and now with their newest adjustment, AI Clear (works wonders on slightly soft images), the Studio interface is much more appealing for me. I really love AI ReMix – the more I am learning, the better I like it. (See my What is Topaz AI ReMix???? and Topaz ReMix – Update and Better Than Ever! blogs.) If you are a creative, need to check out the Topaz Webinars. They contain a lot a information on how to use their filters and I find them major helpful.

Topaz AI Gigapixel: My favorite is the new software by Topaz called AI Gigapixel. I was totally blown away by it and you should check it out if you like to change the sizes, both up and down, of your images while still keeping the image quality. A real winner here. (See my The Best New Software Around – Topaz A.I. Gigapixel! blog.)

Skylum Aurora HDR 2019: Nothing better for HDR – period! I don’t always do HDR a lot, but this software is very special – most of the HDR effects can be loaded using just one image – no need to take 5 or more images. And for me, it really sharpens up a soft image, which is important to me. Also, the interface is now pretty much the same whether using Windows or Apple, so that is really good for us Windows users! Trey Ratcliff is the major contributor to this software and I believe it is one reason it is so good – his work is fabulous! His favorite filter is Image Radiance and he uses it on most of his images – it is a nice effect. I did a recent blog on this software which goes into all the great things it does (see my What About Skylum’s Aurora HDR 2019?).

Skylum Luminar Update: I guess there is no better software that has come on the scene recently – I personally believe that is because they created software for Windows users now. A recent update came out with a rather fabulous filter that makes the whole program a game-changer for landscapes – it is called their AI Sky Enhancer filter. It is just one little Amount slider but it does incredible things to a sky. Skylum says it adds details using 100,000 images to define the sky, uses segmentation to do this, and removes noise and halos. Used in conjunction with their earlier Accent AI Filter, that may be all an image needs to pop it. I am loving these two filters. Of course I still love the Sunrays filter – no one else has anything even close to this. And the Golden Hour filter gives a beautiful look on some images. It also has that same wonderful Image Radiance filter – it does magic to a landscape image. (See my MacPhun (now Skylum) Luminar 2018 Sun Rays at a Glance blog and video.)

On1 Photo Raw 2019: There is so much to say on this one. A huge update IMHO. Much bigger than the Photoshop update. I am so happy to see how good this software is becoming. One major advantage is that you own the software. Each update is bringing it much closer in line with PS but it still has a ways to go. It loads your images so much faster than Lightroom that it is amazing. I really like that. As a PS plugin (and stand alone program), it can switch between the four modules just by clicking on Develop, Effects, Portraits (brought back and and seems better than ever – I have to check this one out), and Local tabs very quickly – all it is lacking is the Layers capability as a plugin. And they now support Layers! In the stand-alone version, the files can be saved as, get this, layered PSD files saving their masks and layers for use in PS – kind of like a smart object in PS. So you can do your initial changes in On1 Photo Raw and then finish up in PS. I think this is really impressive. I also like their new Color Enhancer panel – it is like the PS Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on steroids with a Color Range section added to really tweak a color. They also added a new Film Grain filter and a Curves filter (very similar to PS). On1 is another company that has wonderful videos and tutorials on their website for getting up-to-speed. Biggest issue for me is that it has a fairly large learning curve, but once you figure it out, it is very good. Oh yes, you can also use your other plugins already owned with Photo Raw.

Lucis Pro 6: This software has been re-introduced to the public but with no changes that I can see. Still is it a really nice effect and fairly inexpensive. Check out my blog and short video at Lucis Pro is Back!!!!! for more information.

DXO, Google, Nik Collection: As far as I can tell, this 7 program software has not been updated from the early version, only updated to work with newer operating systems. I am not having any problems with mine, so I am not messing with the upgrade. I use Viveza 2 on almost every image – still in my mind, it is the best plugin ever made. It does compete with the Camera Raw filter, but I find it easier to use and creates better results. (See my Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem! blog.) And of course Color Efex Pro is still a wonderful program. In fact all their programs are first rate and still work fine, maybe better, than most new plugins. If you have it, continue using it. Otherwise it can be bought at the DXO Website.

Photoshop CC2019: Figure you actually do the monthly update thing or you do not. It took me forever to set up the program as I had it – always does when PS does a major update, but it seems to be major solid now. Did have one crash when I ran the large action used on the above but that it is. I love the new Edit -> Content-Aware Fill, but found the name major confusing since Edit -> Fill has always been content-aware fill to me. Also love being able to use Math in the fields like *2 to double the size of an image. I think what you like is based upon how you use PS. Anyway, it is still the industry standard so it is hard not to keep it updated. I will add I do keep CS6 on my computer and often use it for painting and to use the now defunct, but very useful, Variations adjustment.

So now, to save a bit of money this week, my image is of a tri-colored heron above created using a free Adobe Action from Adobe Create Magazine. This was really fun to make but I did have to watch all the short videos to understand how it all works. Your image has to be set up correctly to get the action to run properly. The action takes several minutes to complete, but when done, there are lots of layers that can be adjusted to give some great looks. The cute font is called Flamingo Shaddow. It was a lot of fun to do while taking a quick break from all this software/plugin craziness.

Hope everyone checks out the trials on all these programs and good luck with the sales!…..Digital Lady Syd


Celebrating 8 Years of Blogging bird imageJust realized this weekend that I have been posting at this site for 8 years! Thought I would put up a little image I worked on this week of 3 little sparrows – they seem to be in their very colorful costumes so here they are to help me celebrate! I have to laugh when I think about my first blog – I thought I was really doing something. (See My First Post – Painted Oleander blog) Over the years it has evolved and has become something I look forward to creating. It has also been a great way to really learn Photoshop – would recommend it if you like to write. And now doing videos really steps up how to present the information and new challenges. I will continuing to add more videos over the next year. I still plan to stay on top of the new plugins and Photoshop update which I always so much fun to try out.

Actually I was practicing painting (which oddly enough my first post was painting with Mixer Brushes in CS5) – have to do this to stay good at it. Decided to brighten them up a bit to make them look a little more interesting and friendly. Basically followed my standard workflow: Paint a flat primary layer, then Highlights and Shadows layers, some fur or feather layer, blending with the Mixers and Smudge brushes layers, and last step to add in anything that needs to be done to finish up the image. The background is one I painted in Corel Painter. The balloon from hanging air balloon free mock up is from Deal Jumbo and used Gavtrain’s Instant Confetti Action. Applied a speech blurb and a couple text layers. That was it.

Hope everyone is still enjoying my blogs and finding them useful when needed. It has been so much fun to share all the great Photoshop techniques I have learned over the years. Hopefully I will still be blogging for another 8 years!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of meadow mushroom with heavy texture added

This is a repost of a blog I did way back in 2013, but it is something I have not seen anyone post recently (or ever for that matter) and I think it is a pretty cool technique. Mainly, you can select all the whites (or darks or both) in an image by going into the Layer Style Blend If panel and setting the tabs to the amount you want removed. Then, a layer is created with those tones removed permanently. It is a great way to just remove white quickly – faster than Color Range and more flexible since you can choose precisely what tones should be removed. Also, more layer styles can be applied to this layer and more Blend If sliders. Some really interesting effects can be created. I created a really short video below to show you how easy it is to do this.

Now to continue with my original blog below for more explanation and the workflow steps.

It seems like I have been using these Blend If sliders a lot recently. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog.) For this blog I used a little known tip from the brilliant Ben Wilmore who explained a while back how to apply the blend-if sliders permanently (see his Photoshop Mastery: Retouching and Collage videos – this is a great course on CreativeLive BTW). Probably the first question is why would you want to do this? Firstly, it is one of the easiest ways to remove the white (or black) pixels from an image. It is a simple way to indirectly select and turn transparent the white or black pixels in a the background or complicated image areas for creating collages or adding textures. And secondly, it is a way to add texture to an image without it covering up all parts of the image – it keeps lines sharp as shown in the last image. This can be a major problem when adding textures.

Here is a quick reminder of what the Blend If sliders do. Double click on the layer to open up the dialog box shown below. By moving the This Layer white tab to the left, all the corresponding white tones (as seen in the black to white strip) to the right of the tab are removed from the the image and turned clear or transparent in the layer. For example if you moved the white tab left to 159, all the white pixels between the 159 and the 255 tone values will be removed. If you further split the tab (ALT+drag on tab to split) to say 124, then the gray tone pixel values between 124 and 159 will be partially deleted. The rest of the tone values will stay the same. These numbers correspond to the same values that are very visible under the histogram in the Levels Adjustment Layer – same concept here. See the screenshot below demonstrating the Blend If Slider dialog box info.
Screenshot of Blending Options dialog box and Blend If Slider SettingsThe individual Layer Style Blending Options on the left side can be applied by going to Layer -> Layer Style -> Create Layers. Each effect is lined up and clipped to the original layer so they only affect that layer. But when just the Blend If Sliders are changed, the Create Layers option is grayed out or ignored if some affects are checked on the left. Layer Styles cannot be Rasterized into one layer like Smart Object or Text layers. So here is the tip on how to apply those Blend If Slider settings and all other affects checked into one layer. Once you have the Blend If Sliders set up the way you like (and the Blending Options wanted checked), duplicate this layer. Next Create a New Layer Underneath the duplicate layer. Highlight the top layer and press CTRL+E or right click and select Merge Down. Voila! the layer is now free of its layer style limitations and shows an image with transparent areas that correspond to the deleted pixels. The workflow below goes into more detail.

On the resulting layer, textures can be added under this layer, the layer can be set to different blend modes and opacities, and new Layer Styles options can be added. My workflows below show how I achieved the results in the images in this blog. You are not limited to just the Blend If Gray channel (which is equivalent to the RGB channel), but in the drop down the Blue, Green and Yellow channels can be used alone or together to get some different results. Ben says to look at these channels if there is a big difference in colors in your image such as a blue sky and a green foreground. Also by selecting the resulting image layer (CTRL+click on the layer thumbnail) and adding a layer mask to the original layer or to a texture, some more very interesting effects can be created easily – and without a lot of hand-selection going on, which I always like.

Workflow For Using Blend If Sliders to Remove White From a Texture

1. Open up the texture and duplicate Background layer.

2. Add a New Layer between the two texture layers and fill with a bright colored color., or can add a Solid Color Adjustment Layer attached to the New Layer (can then adjust to any color easier). This is so you can tell if you are getting the right effect with your slider adjustments and can be deleted when finished with the effects.

3. Take the top texture layer and make the tab slider adjustments to get rid of the white areas. In my image the white tab on This Layer was set to 124/159. (See screenshot above.) If you want to remove black, just move and split the black tab, and if you want both black and white removed, use both tabs.

4. Duplicate top layer with settings.

5. Create a New Layer underneath the top duplicated layer and leave it blank.

6. Highlight the top texture layer and merge it down by clicking CTRL+E or right click and selecting Merge Down now there is only one layer which contains image with Layer Style including Blend If settings applied.

The texture overlay applied to the Meadow Mushroom image above used Melissa Gallo Texture Taupe Canvas texture, The screenshot below shows the blue layer that lets me see what parts of the texture is still there and what were removed. Notice that I got a white result – this was done by following the workflow steps above and changing the black tab to a split 157/237 (instead of the white tab) – just a little of the colored tone highlights showed up and the darker areas were deleted.

Screenshot of texture added to mushroom image

You now have a basic overlay layer with just the parts you want from the texture or image. This layer can be added into another image (highlight layer, CTRL+A to Select All, CTRL+C to copy, and go to other document and CTRL+V to paste into new image) or saved as an overlay PNG file. (Turn off all layers but this one and go to File -> Scripts -> Export Layers to File and save in a 24-PNG format and add to your textures and overlay files.) To get some different results, try selecting this layer by CTRL+clicking on thumbnail and adding a Layer Mask to another layer. More Blend If slider settings can be applied to the result. There are all kinds of options. Try inverting the Layer Mask (CTRL+I on Layer Mask) to see how it might look on different backgrounds.You can now get really nice embossing on the edges as shown in the image above. And you can save different versions using the same texture.

Remember that if you are getting some color shifts on composite (merged layer using all the layers underneath – CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) after using the Blend If Sliders on a layer, the work-around is to just set the Fill Opacity to 0% on the composite layer. Also another little thing I noticed is that if one of the check boxes for Channels R, G, or B is unchecked, you get some really odd color shifts when you merge the layer down so don’t mess with these unless you like the results. Also, don’t get discouraged if it does not work out on the image you are trying it on – it does not work for all images.

Using Blend If Sliders to Remove White in Image to Let Texture Show Through

Image of Belarusian Countryside using Blend If sliders on textureThis image was one I used in a previous blog (see my Flickr Image for original). Just showing you a slightly different way of doing what was done to the texture example above. I decided to remove the white in the original image using the Blend If sliders and to place a texture under the resulting transparent layer to add a painterly look. The same workflow as above was used – this time it was used on the image instead of a texture and of course it is not saved down as a PNG file (unless you wanted to use it that way). I really liked the how the texture showed through the transparent areas in this image. Basically by converting the RAW file to a pretty monochromatic (see my Get Great Results with Alien Skin Snap Art 3 and Topaz ReStyle Together!! blog) image and then removing the whites, the texture shows through very nicely.

You can paint more in the Layer Mask using different brush opacities to hide more or less of the underlying texture that you added. You can also add another Layer Style to the layer that contains the transparent image. All kinds of possibilities are present including changing the blend modes.
Here is another image that uses the same workflow steps as the Belarusian Countryside image. In this case the image was turned into a sepia tone in Lightroom before opening in Photoshop. Three textures were combined to get this effect after creating a layer mask of everything except the sky basically. The This Layer Blend If settings in this case were split Black tab 56/78 and White tab 102/161. As you can see, quite a few black tones and white tones were removed from this image. I really liked the final result which added a lot of texture throughout the image without covering up the actual details in the image. (See Image 3 for more info on settings.)
Image of the London Eye with texture addedThis is such a great way to get some wonderful and unique effects that can be reused on other images. The reason this is major cool is that you can add layer styles to these resulting layers and even more Blend If sliders. And it really is not that hard once you try it a couple of times. It seems we are always looking for ways to add something just a little different to our images and this may be one to keep in your arsenal just for that purpose. And it is so much fun to try on different images – and that is what it is all about!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get Blend If Slider Settings to Apply to a Layer blog


Image 1: This is another shot of a large Meadow Mushroom that appeared in my yard recently. In Photoshop the image was processed in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 where the B/W Conversion filter was set to Dynamic Control and an opacity of 56%; Film Efex/Vintage was set to Film Type 11 and 85% opacity; and Bi-Color Filters set to Color Set 3 with a control point placed on a mushroom at 39% opacity and an overall opacity of 20%. Next French Kiss Collections Artiste May Roses texture was applied. The mushrooms were lightly painted out in a layer mask. A New Layer was added where I added a little white cloud in the upper right of image at 89% layer opacity. Next Painted Textures Taupe Canvas was added to image – but I used the one created from the texture with the white removed from the texture and inverted. It was set to a Difference blend mode and a pink Solid Color Fill Layer was added to turn the remaining texture to a pinkish color. The Blend Mode made the color actually look dark blue which I really liked. A Bevel and Emboss Layer Style Effect was added to the layer. Some of this effect was removed from the mushroom with a layer mask. A composite layer was created on top (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) . The background was darkened and the mushroom brightened.

Image 2: For this image, French Kiss Collection Tableaux WindSong 2z was applied on top. Next the composite layer (which was the charcoal image posted previously) was duplicated and the Layer Style opened up. This Layer Blend If White tab was split and set to 102/184 and in the Underlying Layer the Black tab was split and set to 191/194. Since this image had the texture underneath, the Underlying Layer tabs could also be manipulated. The Blend Mode was set to Vivid Light. A Brightness/Contrast layer was added with no settings and set to Multiply at 28% layer opacity – to darken image just slightly. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added next to add contrast to the midtones and darker areas. The Blend If layer was duplicated and placed above – a blank New Layer was set underneath – then the layers were merged together to apply the Blend If sliders to make transparent some of the white and black tonal areas. A selection was made by CTRL+clicking on the thumbnail and adding a Layer Mask to the original Blend If layer. Since all this did was select the structures, and I wanted the transparent areas preset, it was inverted by clicking CTRL+I in the Layer Mask so the texture will show through this layer. A white border was created using Photoshop’s Natural Brush Spray 41 pixels in a white color to create the white edging. Another Curves Adjustment Layer was added just for brightening up the image to emphasize the white a little more. A composite layer was added on top and the Fill Opacity was set to 0% to reduce the color shift.

Image 3: As described above, a sepia tone preset was used on this image in Lightroom. Painted Textures Confetti texture was set to 12% on top of the original image. Next 2 Lil’ Owls Mosaic Set Benoit texture (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) was added at 12% opacity also. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and clipped to the top texture and set to Hue 57 and Saturation 12. Next the original background layer was duplicated and placed on top where the Blend If sliders were set as described above. The steps were followed with the a duplicate copy merged down, a selection created, and a Layer Mask added to the layer above the textures and to the Confetti texture. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and contrast was added by pulling down on the curve. Next 2 Lil’ Owls Light It Up Mini Set 1 texture was added and set to Color Burn blend mode. French Kiss Collections free Glorious Grunge Edging was added and the Color Fill Layer was clipped to the edging and set to a light yellow. On a composite on top, the Fill Opacity had to be set to 0% to stop the color shift.


Image of Snowy Egret during mating seasonJust 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.)
Image of three Snowy Egret chicksFor 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