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Posts tagged “Frame Styles

Storytelling with Your Images

This is a topic I struggle with since it seems that most images that tell a good story are those of people – and it is hard for me to take people shots that are interesting. So I have been working on this. Several photographers have written about storytelling within an image. David duChemin, one of my favorite authors and photographers, has written several great books on photography including one called Within the Frame – the Journey of Photographic Vision where he discusses storytelling. Basically he states “….two aspects of storytelling come to mind. The first is the study of themes that tie the image to our deeper, more universal human experience. The second is conflict, revealed in the frame by contrasts.” Another important point David states is “….the more deeply they [the viewer of your image] care, the stronger the story.” I am no David duChemin when it comes to photography, but I have tried to represent some of his ideas in my blog this week.

The gentleman above just popped out at me when I was in Steak n Shake a few weeks ago. I can imagine all kinds of stories – like he sneaked out to get a nice treat, or he didn’t feel that great and this ice cream really cheered him up, or maybe he just felt like ice cream! Any way you look at it, I felt something when I looked at the older man and nostalgic Steak and Shake pictures – it made me want to take the photo. The image is a good example of both aspects of storytelling – I see a basic theme that most people understand as to whether we should be eating this kind of food (as in that never ending diet or health issues) and are we spending too much in order to enjoy one of life’s little pleasures. I can relate to this experience and conflict! The colors and pictures around him also played an important part in this image – black, white and red create a very strong color palette. (See end of blog for details on how each image was processed.)
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I thought this image is a good example of a story – the way the trainer seems to be interacting with one of the Killer Whales at SeaWorld-Orlando. Then my husband looked at the image and said it reminded him of “Jaws” – it is reminiscent of the tragic trainer accident with a whale a few years ago (see Tilikum Wikipedia link). Goes to show how each person creates a totally different scenario in their mind. But it does serve its purpose – it tells a story and makes you think! I see conflict in this image – the small trainer vs. the large whale, humor vs. drama, man vs. animal, texture of water vs. smoothness of the subjects – all implied opposites.
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Here is another image I thought had a story associated with it – people seem to enjoy the beach no matter what the weather is. Here is Ormond Beach, Florida, and a young lady is having fun just playing on the beach. It was major windy and overcast as Hurricane Sandy had just missed Florida and gone up the coast much earlier in the morning. (See this incredible aerial view slideshow of a blacked-out New York City after Hurricane Sandy came inland.) I tried to convey how large and out-of-control the waves were vs. the smallness of the young lady. There is the conflict of the rage of the water and lightheartedness of the girl. I believe the way the image is colored gives the water a foreboding feel while the young lady is still in summerlike attire. What was she seeing?
…..Now that there are so many good plugins available to help create an effect, it does make it easier to convey a story. This image has a nostalgic feeling even though this man was making Satay Chicken Wraps in London during Scott Kelby’s Photowalk of 2008 (several of my PhotoWalk images are shown at this site). I think the effect makes the story more obvious and interesting. I believe this photo makes you want to know more about the cook – how good is the meal he is preparing, does he like to cook, does he own the store, etc.
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John Paul Caponigro, who does gorgeous fine art photography, creates images with stories without people present. He has a lot of interesting photography links on his website including this excellent short article on Storytelling. (Become a member for free to download his many interesting articles.) He states in this article that single images have a beginning at the “point of visual entry.” A series of images begins with the first image, and follow with a middle and an ending, as any story has. “The frame sets the stage. So, set a scene. You can think of anything that enters it as an actor of an unfolding drama. Then, introduce your characters. There’s lots of room for creativity in how you do this. Next, develop a theme.” In the image below, I took advantage of this concept and used a template that would place several images into a single page.
I really enjoyed the expression of both the porpoise and trainer in this series of photos from Marineland. The story began with just the image of the adorable dolphin as the main character. By introducing the hand of the trainer, the story begins to develop. You can see the interest of the dolphin increasing with each hand gestures. Finally the trainer is introduced and you start to see her reaction to the dolphin and dolphin’s willingness to perform the trick for her. The end shows the connection that has developed between our two main characters. There is no conflict in this story but there is a strong conclusion or outcome for our characters. And for some reason the dolphin’s bubbles were intriguing to me!

Rick Sammon, known especially for his wonderful HDR photos, did a blog series on storytelling that contains some different tips to accomplish this. Check out A Week of Storytelling – the link has days out of order, but they are all there. Craig Tanner, of the unfortunately inactive The Mindful Eye website (which is still one of the best places to learn about everything photography – especially how to use space effectively in an image) has several links to his short videos on Storytelling. One from the Daily Critique of 7/16/09 describes how to make an image convey a story more effectively with proper cropping and negative space use. And perhaps one of the greatest storytellers of recent times is the wonderful Joe McNally – everything he shoots tells a story as far as I can tell and every image is interesting. Just check out his blog to see what he is doing – and all his books are interesting. I still love his first book The Moment It Clicks. Another very inspiring photographer of recent times is Steve McCurry, best known for his National Geographic image of the Afghan Girl, has a wonderful blog and website.

I wish I had just get 1% of the talent of any of the individuals mentioned here. There is a lot to learn in this area but it is worth the time to understand what it takes to create a great image. Some work, some don’t, but eventually there will be that one shot that says it all! And don’t be afraid to crop or perform changes in Photoshop to make it more interesting. Take some time when shooting to find the story – they usually are the most powerful shots you will ever take!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Unsharp Mask Filter In LAB Mode
Humorous Shots Are Sometimes the Best

Image Processing Information:
Image 1: This image was processed in Lightroom – Matt Kloskowski’s (a major Lightroom guru and one of the Photoshop Guys) preset Focal Point (Portrait – Bottom Right) just lined up perfectly for this image. Since this was a jpg image (my Kodak point-and-shoot took the shot), the noise was pretty bad so the first thing done in Photoshop was to apply Topaz DeNoise 5 JPEG Strong preset (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) was applied. Next Nik Viveza 2 was used to sharpen the ice cream and man’s face while the edges were darkened a little in all the corners. I still did not like the noise, especially in the red areas, so I applied Topaz DeNoise 5 again using my own settings – Overall Strength 0.24, Adjust Color – Red -0.18, Recover Detail 0.54, Reduce Blur 0.18 and Add Grain 0.11. Some clean up to remove distracting glare, sharpening to just the ice cream using a black layer mask on a High Pass Filter, and a Curves Adjustment Layer where only the red channel was increased slightly to add a little more red color back into the image. My B&W Border Frame was added to finish up.

Image 2: This image was first processed in Lightroom. Noiseware was applied to the image once brought into Photoshop. Then Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was applied using two of my favorite plug-ins, Detail Extractor just on the trainer and whale – the overall opacity was set to 0% so only the trainer and whale show any of the changes, and Film Efex Vintage using Film Type 11 – this gives the beautiful illustration type effect. A Curves Adjustment Layer and Vibrance Adjustment Layer were added to get the colors right. Some whale clean up and sharpening was done and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was applied to lower the saturation of the blue water. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added to make the tongue pinker – the adjustment layer was filled with black and the tongue was painted back in. My Thin Double Edge Frame was added sampling colors from the image to create.

Image 3: This image was mainly processed in Lightroom. The poles were slightly tipped out so they were corrected in Lightroom’s Lens Correction Manual tab (although the ones in Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop would have done the same correction) using the Vertical slider set to -6 to adjust them. Since the bottom corners were drawn in, the image was taken into Photoshop and the corners cloned back in. Then back in Lightroom I decided the image would look good with Matt Kloskowski’s Wedding Fairytale (Bright Edge) applied, but at a lesser amount. That is where I used The Fader, a plug-in that lets you reduce the amount of the preset effect (or more – up to 150%) – see my Fun Photoshop Blog Great Free Plug-in for Lightroom – The Fader! I applied the Fader slider at 119% to get the pretty light colored waves and sandy brown beach. Next the image was brought back into Photoshop and Noiseware (I use both Topaz DeNoise and Noiseware – just grabbed this one) and Nik Viveza 2 were applied to adjust the noise and sharpness of the image. Frenchkiss’s free Glorious Grunge Overlay was applied and a Color Fill Adjustment layer was clipped to it (ALT + Click between the layers) and the color changed from black to a cream color.

Image 4: Loved the vintage feel on this not so perfect image. In Lightroom a preset was applied that I call Gritty Preset by Michael Rather – it was created by listening to a video called True Grit and I use it all the time! In Photoshop Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and two of my favorite filters were applied: Detail Extractor (Detail Extractor 57%, Contrast 6%, and Saturation 6%) with a (-) Control Point placed on his face and set to 25% opacity, and Film Efex-Vintage (used Film Type 15 and adjusted the vignette to 39%). A (-) Control Point was placed on his coat to make it whiter just a little (25% opacity). The image was sharpened in LAB Mode using the Luminosity channel and the Unsharp Mask. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to increase contrast. My Thin Double Edge Frame Layer Style was added using the default colors.

Image 5: To create this image, it took a little more effort. The template is a free photo grid from PhotoRadar. 17 photos were added – essentially all but the large one were selected in Lightroom, cropped to the same size, then Edited in Photoshop -> Open as Layers. Once stacked in a file in Photoshop, the template was placed at the bottom of the stack and all the images were clipped to this bottom layer (ALT+click between the layers). Each one had to be Free Transformed (CTRL +T) to line up correctly in each of the openings. To create the large opening, the template was selected and the 4 bottom image openings were painted together. The large photo was placed at the bottom of the images so the overlap of the larger photo edges would not show in the other openings. A layer style was added to the bottom layer using a Stroke and Inner Glow so each image was outlined. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added on top to add contrast to all images. A Gradient was applied on the template to add the blue glow. The top text has an Outer Glow Layer Style added to it.


Creating That Vintage Texture Feel

These beautiful pink dahlias grow in my front yard. This image composition really fits the criteria for a good vintage feel. One of the major objectives is to have some nice negative space – or blank area – in your image to show off the textures. This image had a clean light gray background because they were shot in front of a white board on a shaded porch with lots of natural light before being planted. If they are planted already, try using a very wide open aperture setting so the background is blurred slightly, or have someone hold a white reflector behind them while shooting (and one over them if it is a really sunny day – overcast days are the best for photographing flowers). This image was shot at eye level using a 60 mm AF Micro Nikkor at F6.7. After uploading to Lightroom, the image was cropped and all the sliders in the Basic section were adjusted. In Photoshop bad spots on flowers were cloned out and then the following layers were added:  1) the new Color Lookup 1 Adjustment Layer using 3DLUT File set to FoggyNight preset (gives a more purplish flower color) at 89% opacity; a Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer (adds the pinkish bottom half) set to a deep brown red color (foreground color in Color Picker) to translucent gradient, Linear Style, 90 degree angle and Scale 149% with layer opacity set to 39%; Paul Grand’s terrific Scratches Texture set to Soft Light at 38% layer opacity and removing some cracks using a layer mask on texture; ShadowHouse Creations Old Photo 2 (click Large View and right click to select Save Image As) set to Soft Light at 100% (gives the beautiful old looking frame around image); ShadowHouse Creations Bokeh 2 (really lightens up the image) set to Soft Light at 62% opacity – painted out most of the bokeh on a layer mask; ShadowHouse Creations T2 (this is one of my favorite textures – old lace) set to Soft Light at 63% opacity; a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast back into the image; and finally a Levels Curve with black Output tab set to 8 to lighten the whole image only a little. This is really not as hard as it seems. The important thing is that you need find a few favorite textures and then try them out on various dark and light images to get a feel for how they look when set to different blending modes and opacities. I use Soft Light frequently for the textures but try out other blend modes to see what they will do. The textures used in the above image are some of my favorites.
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One of the reasons I am so inspired this week is that Sarah Gardner‘s Art Beyond the Lens book on using textures in your digital images finally was reprinted and came in the mail. She creates some beautiful textures on her website along with some beautiful images. Her book is a great read and very easy to follow. She demonstrates a few different techniques for adding textures and using some of Photoshop’s other tools to create beautiful effects! The above was my first attempt using some of her tips and I am pretty happy with it. These flowers are called Phloxy Lady Phlox and also grow in my front yard. Both textures are from free give-aways Sarah had going a few months ago, one is Beyond – Seagrain Dark set to Soft Light at 100% opacity and Artisan Ink set to Overlay at 42% opacity. She also posts interesting things on her Facebook page so follow her. The frame is my basic layer style using sampled colors from the image (see DLS Free Layer Style Frames blog).
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Here are some delicious chocolate covered strawberries from the Melting Pot Restaurant. For starters, this was a five image HDR processed using Nik’s HDR Efex Pro 2. Then in Photoshop lots of the same textures were added – Caleb Kimbrough’s Summer 5 texture set to Overlay at 34% opacity to get that beautiful golden Tuscan feel; Paul Grand’s Scratches Texture (link listed above) used twice to give it more interest (both set to Soft Light with 50% and 23% layer opacities – using layer masks to paint out different parts of image); and ShadowHouse Creations OldPhoto 6 set to Overlay at 100% opacity. Now here are a couple things you can do to get a really nice vintage feel. Next a Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added and the color I used was a deep red (49250f) – it was set to Soft Light at 80% opacity and the plate and chocolates were painted out with black in a layer mask. This created the marvelous deep brown in the upper background especially. I now realized I had some texture areas that were slightly bare looking so this time a New Layer was added on top. Using Gorjuss Grunge Again Brushes (unfortunately these are no longer available but any grunge type brush would do) with Brush 01 at 30% and sampling a darker brown color in the image for foreground color, the area in the upper right was filled in lightly. Another New Layer was created using Brush 08 at 30% and sampling a lighter brown color; and finally yet another New Layer was added using Scratch Heavy Brush (this is a mystery brush – not sure where I got it) at 30% and rotating it 90 degrees to paint in the top with a yellow-gold color sampled from the image. A few more strokes were added to the left to brighten the image a little more. If you find you have a hole or want a little different texture, go back to your brushes and see if you have something that will fill it in. In fact you can make your own textures with these brush effects.
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Here is another example of following Sarah Gardner steps from her book. I added three textures using Russel Brown’s Texture Panel (see my blog links below to find more information on this wonderful free panel) – ShadowHouse Creations T2 lacy texture (see download link above), Oil Painting-2 and Painted Clouds. Parts of the lacy texture were painted out to sharpen the mid-section flowers, which is the focus of the image. Something different I did and have not really seen before is to add a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer set to Parchment at Scale 397%. Then the layer mask was filled with black and just the foreground flowers were painted with the pattern texture. Finally the layer opacity was set set to 35%. Since I wanted a little color in those areas, a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and linked to the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer below by ATL+clicking between the two layers (a little box shows let you know it is working) so the changes in the Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer only occur on the layer below.  The Hue was set to +292, Saturation +34, Lightness +21 and Colorize was checked – this gives the light pink color to the grain in the foreground flowers only. That was it – used my layer style to frame the image (see DLS Free Layer Style Frames blog).  I believe this image portrays that soft Victorian look quite nicely.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Since this is such a long post, here is a summary of what I think is important about using textures.

1.  Textures definitely add that old time look to an image if used properly. Flowers really benefit from this type of look. If you check out some of my blogs below, there are some landscape images using textures that turned out really nice.

2.  The Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer can add a vintage feel to your images – they look like a texture when added to an image and by using the Scale slider, very different effects can be created. (See image 4 information.)

3.  The new Color Lookup Adjustment Layer in CS6 also gives you another way to add texture and color to get the vintage feel. (See image 1 information.)

4.  Create a New Layer and use unique brushes – there are many grunge brushes and scratch brushes available for download on the internet. Sometimes it is necessary to create a texture using brushes to fit the needs of your image. And don’t forget you can change the settings to make the brush stroke in a different direction or to stretch out the spacing. (See image 3 information.)

5.  Use a Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer to give some color variation and then paint out in a layer mask areas you do not want affected. Be sure to try different blend modes. (See image 1 information.)

6.  Use a Color Adjustment Layer to add a bold color and then reduce the opacity of the layer. Again, be sure to try different blend modes. (See image 3 information.)

7.  Use Russell Brown’s texture panel to try out texture looks really fast – this is a really great tool (see download information in blog links below).  The Flypaper Textures that are loaded with the panel create some wonderful results. I also keep a folder of my favorite textures on my Desktop so I can access them really fast when using this panel. (See image 1 information.)

It usually takes several attempts to get the effect you want. All these images took several hours to get the look I liked. If one techniques does not work, try a different one. Check out some of my blogs below to find more ways to create the vintage feel in Photoshop. …..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create Unique Watercolor Background Texture
How to Create Unique Textured Backgrounds
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel – A Real Winner!
Orchids with Russell Brown’s Paper Textures Panel
Russell Brown Texture Panel Landscape Image
Tips for Flower Textures
Using Color Efex Pro and Texture for a Warm Hawaiian Landscape Effect
Create a Winter Scene with Photoshop Brushes and Textures
Adding a Texture for Flair!
The Soft, Dreamy Look
Soft-Look Flowers Using Textures


New Lightroom and Photoshop 32-bit Processing Capability


This new feature is taking the Photoshop world by storm! What a great new addition to Lightroom’s 4.1 upgrade. If you have Lightroom 4, you have got to try this. Matt Kloskowski, one of the NAPP Photoshop Guys, created a nice short video, A New HDR Feature in Lightroom 4.1, on how to process your images using the Merge to HDR in Photoshop, and then bringing the 32-bit tonemapped image back into Lightroom to use with the camera raw sliders. The image above is from the Hilton Waikoloa Village – some of the unusual art that is in this complex. After processing the 32-bit image using Lightroom sliders, Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was applied within Lightroom using these filters: Detail Extractor adding (+) control points on only the sculpture itself, Midnight using Neutral mode, and BiColor User Defined Preset 02 Brown/Pink and using (-) control points on the sculpture. The image was taken back into Photoshop (now as a 16-bit psd file) to add OnOne PhotoFrame acid burn controller 06 (see sidebar for website in my Tidbits Blog), which could have also been added in Lightroom. The Nik plug-in could have been added in Photoshop and a Smart Object used to save the setting – instead I created a Note in Photoshop to recall how the settings were used used in Lightroom.
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What is absolutely amazing about this addition to Lightroom is that the images are so sharp and clear with little noise especially in the skies like you get with the other HDR processes. It is totally amazing that neither of these images had any sharpening or noise reduction applied. Wow!

Here is my first attempt at creating a 32-bit image using three bracketed images hand-held of the beach on the perimeter of the Hilton Waikoloa Village – not a very good place to sunbathe but nice and breezy. No other plug-ins were applied to this photo. I was major happy how clear and sharp this image came out. The frame was created using the layer style instructions for my Digital Lady Syd’s Free Layer Style Frames – colors can be sampled from image and changed out easily.

What is happening here is that inside Lightroom you select your bracketed images, right click and Edit In – Merge to HDR. This opens up the HDR program in Photoshop where set the tonemap setting to 32-bit, not 16-bit. Next check the Remove Ghosts box. Close and if you do not have your Preferences set up in Lightroom to save your HDR’s as TIFF’s, you need to do a Save As, name file, and select TIF as your format to bring back into Lightroom. Once back in Lightroom you are free to use all the sliders available to create the look you want on the 32-bit image. The image can be taken back into Photoshop to add your framing or plug-ins if you want, where it is now back at 16-bit mode.
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I am still amazed how great these images are looking. This image is of some colorful plants at the entrance to the Lightner Museum, in the old Alcazar Hotel, St. Augustine, Florida. After processing as a 32-bit image in Photoshop and bringing back into Lightroom, the image was taken back into Photoshop and the new Topaz photoFXlab v1.1 plug-in (see sidebar for website in my Tidbits Blog) was opened and the Dynamics slider applied at 55. I also removed a very small amount of noise with Imagenomics Noiseware. This is my free Thin Double Edge layer style frame (see link above) with colors sampled from the image and that was it. This image is incredibly clear!
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My last example once again was processed in Lightroom as a 32-bit hand-held HDR. I did apply a little Nik Color Efex Pro 4 Detail Extractor to the gargoyle only to sharpen it a little. No noise reduction was applied, only my Thin Double Edge Frame layer style applied to the image. Very easy. This image was taken at Flagler College (the old Ponce de Leon Hotel) in St. Augustine, Florida.

I am going to have to go back through my old HDR images and update them. This process is totally amazing if you want a very natural HDR look. Wonderful new feature! It is a pretty easy procedure to follow and the results are definitely worth keeping!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
32-Bit HDR Using Lightroom and CS6