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Posts tagged “Favorite Things

Digital Lady Syd Celebrates 3 Years Of Blogging!

Digital Lady Syd and texture image for celebrating 3 years of bloggingThis week I am celebrating three years of blogging on my Fun Photoshop Blog! I can’t believe it – time passes by so fast! (See My First Post – Painted Oleander.) Since my mission is to have “Fun with Photoshop,” so far it has been great fun creating this blog. The good thing about Photoshop blogging is that it takes some effort to really learn about a new technique or tool so that you can share it properly. This week I am taking a little breather and just looking back.  Below is a little slideshow compilation of some of the images I used or created for my blog during the past three years. (It runs for 2:46.)

The slideshow was done totally in Lightroom using the Default template in the Slideshow module. The music is a little ditty called Malt Shop Bop by Kevin MacLeod that is royalty free – basically you must use music if you do a slideshow or it does not look good. It was then uploaded to my You Tube account and linked into the blog. If you have some photos you want to share, give this quick slideshow effect a try – very quick and easy to do.

While celebrating, I thought I would share with you a list of a few of what I consider are some of my most useful and favorite Photoshop things from the last three years. I find it funny that I often go back to my own blogs for steps on how to do various tasks that I don’t use that often (like creating seamless Panoramas) – another benefit of blogging!

Digital Lady Syd’s Most Used Blog Techniques From the Last Three Years

I do a lot of Photoshop technique blogs, and I use them all to some extent, but the ones listed below I use on a regular basis and are, should I say, my very favorite techniques. There usually is more than one way to do something in Photoshop, but I have found that when a technique sticks in my mind, that is the one to use.

How to Use a Selection to Draw Focus in an Image
Learned this technique from an Australian wedding photographer Yervant and use it all the time! Just works wonderfully!

Using Curves Adjustment Layers to Get Rid of Shadows and Highlights
This is a similar technique by David Nightingale, a famous photographer from England, as the one above and I use it equally as often.

The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!
I use this technique by John Paul Caponigro (one of best Photoshop guru’s) every day – period!

How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture
I was pretty excited when I figured out how to do this. Now a texture can be added as if it were a vector and the color changed easily using a Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer clipped to the texture – opened up a whole lot of new possibilities. Beautiful framing or borders can be added to your image this way. Also a soft grunge feel can be used on the whole image to get that perfect effect.

HDR Using Photoshop Merge to HDR and Nik”s HDR EFex Pro and Silver Efex Pro? Wow!
This is definitely one of my favorite blogs on post-processing landscapes and it was developed by one of the top Photoshop guru ladies, Katrin Eismann. Everything she does in Photoshop is wonderful and creative! This blog discusses one of her many techniques and I still use it all the time!

Digital Lady Syd’s Favorite Plug-ins

Let the celebration continue! Since I am a big fan of Photoshop plug-ins I thought I would sum up what my very favorite ones are. This does not mean I do not use lots of the others I own, and they may be equally as good, but these fit my style and I use them regularly. My plug-in favorites are:

Nik Viveza 2
I have always said if I could only buy one plug-in, this is the one. I did not use it that much when I first bought it – thought it was like ACR – but now I use it on almost every image. What does it do? It will crisp up soft edges, adjust a color glare spot by letting you change the color with a control point, add a slight vignette around the edges, desaturate a color competing with your main focus, add clarity (structure) where ever you need it in an image, remove shadows, add warmth – all in very localized areas. It can fix up a ruined image in a few clicks. And it does it much quicker than the Adjustment Brush in ACR and Lightroom since you use their Control Point technology. See my Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem! blog for more info.

Topaz ReStyle
I love all the Topaz plug-ins – can’t say enough good things about this little company that keeps the big plug-in producers on the run (and gives free updates to its owners). Almost all their plug-ins have an interesting twist to them that can really make an ordinary image look creative and unique! My biggest surprise came with their latest release, Topaz ReStyle. I really thought I would not love it, but I use it all the time! It puts different color combinations together based upon the Saturation, Luminance and Hue of your original image that can make your image look totally different and incredible! I usually check this out as one of my final steps just to see if I can get a little better result. And I do not know of any other plug-ins at this time that can do this! See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle blog.

Alien Skin Snap Art 3
This plug-in blew me away! The results can be totally stunning, especially when you have a soft image but really like it. After setting up a few presets, and making a few localized tweaks in the image, it can make almost any image beautiful. This is not for a realistic image look, definitely for creatives. Alien Skin will be coming out with a new version very shortly. I use it all the time and it looks great with ReStyle. See my blogs Digital Lady Syd Reviews Alien Skin Snap Art 3 and Get Great Results with Alien Skin Snap Art 3 and Topaz ReStyle Together!!

There are several other plug-ins I use quite a bit, OnOne Suites (new version coming out very soon) and the Nik Collection (especially love their vintage effects), but the ones above I use the most. I also use Topaz DeNoise for problem images – by far the best around for this since you can target just the Shadows (or other areas) if that is where the issue is. And there are specialty plug-ins for HDR and black and white processing, that I use (see the last blog technique above), but maybe not quite as much those listed above. As an aside note, Nik recently came out with a new free plug-in for their Collection owners called Analog Efex Pro that appears to be quite intriguing.

Digital Lady Syd’s Other Favorite Photoshop Things

Photoshop amazes me when I see all the different things you can do with just this one program! Below are a few miscellaneous things I really like and, once again, use all the time.

Many panels are now being created to make things easier to access, including one I made for myself when painting in Photoshop – definitely a major time-saver. See my How to Create Your Own Panel for Photoshop blog. They are so handy to have. Perhaps the best ones are created by the brilliant Dr. Russell Brown of Adobe – I have written several posts on his panels. Check out my blog link above and scroll down to the bottom for several more blog links to other great panels.

I have to say that Fay Sirkis in particular has taught me so much about Photoshop brushes and hers are the best. In order to download them though, you need to be a member of NAPP (best Photoshop value for the money in my opinion). There are many other people with good brushes, but I still think Fay’s are the best! See my How to Turn a Brush into a Watercolor Brush blog for one of her wonderful brush tips. Click on my Photoshop Brushes category on the right side for more on brushes.

Wow – there is so much going with textures these days, and so many great ones to choose from. During the past three years I have had the opportunity to really learn about some of the great texture techniques and I have totally enjoyed the results. I have discovered new ideas and learned so much from many talented people. But what is the most fun is to create my own textures and I have tried to pass on tips about this. See my Texture Resources – So Many Choices! So Many Choices! blog for so many great texture sites that usually share their tips on their websites. There are too many of my blogs on texture techniques to list – just click on my Textures category for a long list.

Video Training
This is a rather vague term, but I have learned so much from two major sources – Kelby Training and CreativeLIVE. Both present top-notch Photoshop and Photography experts and I always learn something from their videos. Kudos to them for making available the kind of videos that really help when learning Photoshop. Kelby Training (and NAPP) have a long track record of creating some great videos by the Photoshop Guys along with the most talented photographers. CreativeLIVE is fairly new in the process, but you can watch live shows for free and around the clock for the next 24 hours so you can decide if you want to buy the videos – I have several in my Photoshop arsenal. And there are so many wonderful things I have learned from the many Photoshop experts presenting at the sites above that I have not listed – Jack Davis, Ben Wilmore, Scott Kelby, Dave Cross, just to name a few. I would highly recommend either training site or both for anyone wanting to learn Photoshop seriously.


Well that about wraps it up on some of what I have learned over the past three years. It has been a pleasure to learn and try to share with you some of the wonderful things Photoshop can do – as much as I grumble about the software and all the changes, I could not live without it! So thanks Adobe for creating such a wonderful software and making it so much fun to do what I love! Let the Celebration continue and let’s have some more Fun with Photoshop!…..Digital Lady Syd

Please check me out at my other sites:

My short sister blog at Digital Lady Syd’s Tidbits Blog or click tab at top of this blog.
My personal website at Syd Johnson Photography
My Flickr Account at Syd Johnson (aka Digital Lady Syd)
Digital Lady Syd on deviantART where my recent give-aways are located
Digital Lady Syd’s Files on File Social for my older give-aways
Digital Lady Syd’s You Tube link

Three Year Anniversary Image Notes: Need to give a few credits for items used in the top image. The bottom texture is one I created in my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog – turned it to purples and blues and used the Blend If slider again set to This Layer 102/255 to get the edge effect I wanted. Used Mel’s New Years Brushes for the wine glass and some of the bubble background. Used Bubble Sparkler 2 by Cloud 9 for the bubbles coming out of the glass. Painted a layer with white foam for top of glass. Used Nagel Rough Pastel 3 for the rough purple color behind the glass. Used the Birch Standard font for the Celebration Time Is Here font and made one line into a brush that I sprayed on the image in different hues. The three year anniversary font is Angelic War and the I Must Blog font is Batik Regular. Just put them all together with different layer styles. Lots of fun to celebrate!