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Posts tagged “NIK Silver EFex Pro 2


Images of Maui from a HelicopterThis week I thought I would discuss using the built-in templates in the Print module of Lightroom. They can be a little tricky. I listened to some videos recently from by Julianne Kost called Introduction to Photo Compositing. She used a Lightroom Print module diptych template for her images before saving them as JPEG files in the Print To field. I just sort of improvised and used a canned LR default called Custom 2 over 1 in the Template Browser, which is an example of a Custom Package Layout Style. Then adjusted each image cell to fit the image selected in the Filmstrip at the bottom. The low original coastline image was more square than that shown – just used Photoshop’s Content-Aware Scale to stretch it out while protecting the coastline. The background in the template was a beach texture created in Corel Painter with some grunge brush strokes added on top – had to select the white border and remove it before adding the texture. The Maui images above were all processed using similar filters – the now free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 set to Luminosity blend mode and then Topaz (see website link at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle. Pretty simple workflow.

Image of three Florida birdsHere is another image LR template showing my painted birds that used a rather unique set up for presenting your photos. I don’t know why, but I like the vertical strip look. In PS, a different texture was used for this background. Again, selected the white border and added a layer mask. Then applied the mask to just leave the images that can then be placed above the texture layer.

Now for the Layout Style template issue! I find these print module templates not as easy to use as it should be. After playing around with the two templates shown above, I have learned that there are differences between each style and how you load the images. Here are some issues to be aware of:

  • Sometimes the images are not in the same folders. If this happens a temporary new collection needs to be created so all the images appear in the filmstrip together. The Quick Collection does not work, must be in a created one. The Filmstrip is how you add the images to your templates so this is a necessary step. You can remove the collection when you are done printing or saving the final image as a JPEG.
  • A lot depends on whether you are using a Single Image/Contact Sheet template or a Custom Package. Depending on which one is being used determines how the images can be added to the template. If you cannot drag images in individually from the filmstrip, the template is a Single Image/Contact Sheet template. More on this below.
  • Unfortunately, the size of the images cannot be increased or reduced to adjust inside the cells – in other words no Free Transform to adjust image in cell – the aspect ratio is set. The work around would be in the Develop module to create a Virtual Copy of the size or part of image you would like to use and then select it in the Filmstrip using the Print Module.

For Single Image/Contact Sheet templates, the limitation is that the images can only be added based upon the order of the images in the Filmstrip – must select all of the images at once in the Filmstrip to add. Therefore, if you do not like the order, you will have to rename the images to set the order. When using this type of template, the images can be adjusted inside the the individual image cells by just dragging inside them. The Zoom to Fit can be checked to make it fit the cell, but the size cannot be adjusted otherwise. Press CTRL+click on the image to deselect image to remove from template.

For Custom Package templates, the images can be dragged into any cell and in any order. If a template will not let you add another image, that means a Single Image/Contact Sheet Layout Style template has been selected. Unfortunately there are not as many options to create a template when the Custom Package  is selected. There are no Layout Margin or Cell Spacing cells so all the image cells have to be lined up using the Rulers checkbox in the Rulers, Grid & Guides section. This can be tedious to do, but worth the time so that the images can be added in any order. Start with Cells section and press the Clear Layout button – then Add to Package and click the 2 X 2.5 button, then start adjusting the size of the cell to taste by dragging the sides or corners. To adjust the image position inside the cells, must CTRL+drag on image or else the actual photo cell moves. To delete a cell, just press the BACKSPACE key. To duplicate a cell, press ALT+drag to it to a new position. If

Below you can see the difference between the two major Layout Styles. Luckily in this case you can get very similar results, but it is harder to set up the Custom Package style. The top screen shot used a Custom Package layout and the bottom one used the Single Image/Contact Sheet layout. If you would like to see the preset settings more clearly, click on each image to see settings in Flickr:

Screenshot of a Single Image/Contact Sheet for 3 Tall preset

Image of a 3-Tall Custom Package preset After images are lined correctly, go to the Print Job and change Print to: from Printer to JPEG File. The image can then be brought into Photoshop where the background can be changed and text added. Pretty easy at this point.

In my Showing Off Your Images with Lightroom blog a while back, there are several more examples of using LR templates. For more info on how to create your own Print Template presets, Scott Kelby did a really nice job in his Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (any version) Book for Digital Photographers, “Creating Custom Layouts Any Way You Want Them” chapter. Here he goes into more detail on how to make several different creative effects using the Custom Package layout style. This module has not changed since Lightroom 3 at the time of this blog. I really like templates. It is too bad it is so confusing as to how to get these nice effects. I am surprised Adobe has not updated the Print module to incorporate some easier ways to add photos and adjust them. Hopefully that will be part of the next update. Anyway, it was a lot of fun creating some different ways to show my images. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Thanksgiving store displaySince I am a big fan of Topaz products and Impression 2 is one of my favorite plug-ins, I had to share this effect I learned from a Topaz Labs webinar this week. An artist named Bobbie Goodrich presented a webinar called RAW to Envisioned (will add link once it is posted). She used a leopard in a tree image to create a similar effect to the one above. My image was taken of a Hobby Lobby’s Thanksgiving display showing some of their wonderful objects for sale. I might add Bobbie had several other great tips, this one just stood out to me as so creative!

Here is how Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression was used to create this image. The other post-processing steps are listed at the end of the blog under Image 1 Info. On a  Stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Topaz Impression 2 was opened. The preset named Le Modern was downloaded from the Community and Bobbie’s settings were then applied as listed: Stroke Section – No. of Brush Strokes Low, Paint Volume 1.00, Stroke Rotation 1.00, Rotation Variation 1.00, Stroke Color Variation 1.00, Stroke Width 0.80, Stroke Length 1.00, Spill 0.03, and Smudge 0.12. What really helps create the effect is the Coverage slider – set to a low amount like 0.01, it will show the smallest amount of image; set to a large amount, the whole image will appear. The Coverage Transition slider adjusts the way the edges blend out. Bobbie used a Coverage of 0.01 and a Transition Amount of 0.08. The Coverage can be repositioned to adjust exactly where the effect shows up by either using the little center icon to the left of the Coverage Center or dragging the white dot in the box. She did not include any changes to the Lighting, Color and Texture sections. I used these settings to make a preset named SJ Leopard Preset by Bobbie Goodrich so I could remember how I use it. She apparently is going to upload her actual preset to the Topaz Impression2 Community, but it was not available when I last checked – will add link if I find it. Otherwise the settings above are from the webinar and are a good starting point.

Now these are the changes I made to the created preset above on the holiday image: Stroke Coverage 0.00, Coverage Transition 0.14, Coverage Center X 0.09/Y 0.03; Lighting Brightness -0.55, Contrast 0.00, Highlight -0.56, Shadow 0.80 and Light Position X -0.90/Y 0.77, Vignette 0.53, Vignette Strength 0.76, Vignette Transition 0.52, Vignette Roundness 0, and Vignette Center x 0.00/y 0.00. The Masking was set to Spot Transition 1.00 and Color Aware 0.71. At the bottom of the panel the Opacity was set to 1.00 Opacity and Lighter Color Blend Mode. The Masking section can be crucial as to how the effect fits into the image. Also the Vignette color can be adjusted to get some nice additional effect on the image.

Image of Holyrood Abbey in Edburgh, ScotlandThis image of Holyrood Abbey illustrates more of the artistic feel I think Bobbie was going after. This time the Color section was also used with the above preset and the reds and yellows were adjusted. Also the Lighting section was used to add Brightness, Contrast and a white Vignette. Definitely need to play around with these settings as they can make a big difference in how the final effect looks. The vignette adds to the white space around the image (these settings were used: Vignette 0.71, Vignette Strength 1.00, Vignette Transition 0.72, Vignette Roundness 0.66 and white color). For more image info, check Image 2 Info below. Once you get to this point, it is time to go into the Mask section – and once again I used the Spot Tool. Bobbie used the Luminosity and Brush tabs in her examples, but for this technique, I prefer the Spot Tool (which I could never find a good use for before, so this is nice). The screen capture below shows what the mask looks like – by moving the Edge Aware slider to the right, a more precise selection appears. Adjust the circle into an oval to make the selection fit the image properly.

Screen Capture of Spot Effect in Topaz Impression 2

Image of a male and female tiger in the sunAnother example of using the same Topaz Impression2 preset, this time turning the result into a black and white. This image was taken at the Jacksonville Zoo where these beautiful lions were resting in the sun on a Spring day. This time Topaz Glow2 was used to get a nice lighting effect-used Blake Rudis’s Animal preset. On a stamped layer, Topaz Impression 2 was opened and the same SJ Leopard Preset by Bobbie Goodrich was used with these setting changes: Spill -0.61, Smudge 0.12, Coverage 0, Coverage Transition 0.03, Coverage Center X-0.25/Y0.26; Color Red Hue 0.03 and Sat -1.00; Lighting Brightness -0.21, Contrast 0.12, Highlight 0.52, and Shadow 0.67; and Masking Spot Transition 0.87 and Color Aware 0.65 – centered just on the faces. For more info on image, check out Image 3 Info below.

This effect was a lot of fun to do – give it a try if you want a pretty card or gift label. You definitely have to experiment with the Coverage sliders, Vignette sliders and the Masking tabs to get different looks. Changing the Stroke number from Low to Med or High gives very different looks. Even if the colors do not look just right, they can be adjusted back in PS with the Color Balance or Selective Color Adjustments Layers. I want to try some further experimentation with it, but this is definitely an effect I like. Until next week, have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd

IMAGE 1 INFO: This image was actually taken with my Android – just did the normal Basic Panel adjustments in Lightroom. In Photoshop it took a lot of clone stamping to get rid of the price tags. Luckily they were all pretty small. On a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Lucis Pro (no longer available) was used to sharpen the overall image (any sharpening filter could be used, it just needed some sharpening at this point). On a duplicate layer, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits blog for website link) ReStyle was used to get a nice color palette – used Ash Gray and Eggshell preset with minor changes. On another duplicate layer, Topaz Glow was opened and My Bliss preset was downloaded from the Community – while in the plug-in, the preset was set to Multiply blend mode at 50% opacity. On another stamped layer, the Topaz Impression 2 preset from above was applied. Last step was to add a little Nik Viveza 2 to the image to really sharpen up the focal point.

IMAGE 2 INFO: Topaz Adjust was used to add contrast to the overall image using the Adaptive Exposure and Adaptive Regions sliders. On a stamped layer Topaz Clarity was used to add contrast (check out Topaz Labs webinar  Creative Essentials with Topaz Plug-ins Plus the Official Introduction to Glow 2 by Joel Wolfson for more info on this.) Then Topaz Impression 2 was applied with the above info on a stamped layer. Back in PS, the image was cropped to balance the image. Nik Viveza 2 was used to adjust the focal point. Since I was not quite happy with the color effect, a Color Balance Adjustment Layer was used to add a little blue to the shadows and yellow to the highlights.

IMAGE 3 INFO: After adding Topaz Glow 2 and Impression 2, a stamped layer was created and Nik Silver Efex Pro2 was opened and the Fine Art (High Key) preset was applied. On another stamped layer, believe it or not, Topaz Black & White Effects’s Tone II was applied with the Red filter chosen and Transparency set to 0.28. It was set to 52% layer opacity. Two Exposure Adjustment Layers were added for the female eyes and nose. Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened and the Soft Grunge Mauve Fog – Basic Adjustment Brightness 0.29, Shadow 0.18, Highlight -0.22, Clarity 0, Sat -0.20, Temp 0.08, Tint -0.02 and Enable Masking-Mask Luminosity 0.45 and Range 0.75; Texture Brightness -0.12, Contrast 0.26, Detail 0.45, Sat 0.37, Color Strength 0.36, and Color 0.28; Color Overlay #71595c (R113/G89/B92), 0.39 Opacity, and Soft Light blend mode; and Masking section painted just a little back to the face using a Strength of 0.34.


Image of John Raimondi's Dance of the Cranes SculptureJust getting back into the swing of Photoshop. Decided to try and get a fine art feel from my images taken at the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden – a monotone feel was needed since the greenery around the sculpture was overwhelming the beauty of the actual sculptures.

For the above image, first on a duplicate layer the Refine and Place panel was used to select the sculpture and remove it from the background. It was added as a layer mask to the layer. Then two texture were stacked underneath the texture.

Texture:  The first one was one of my textures and was actually made in Photoshop using Just Jaimee 2012 Summer Brush Sampler Freebie – painted with her Texture Brush using a light gold color, on New Layer another Texture Brush layer used a light grayish blue around the sides a little, and on a third layer the Misty Brush created an upper right lighter goldish area. Then on another New Layer, blended around the edges with a mixer. Once saved as a JPG, it was brought into the image set to Normal blend mode at 100% layer opacity. Very simple to create.   The second texture was by Kim Klassen called Pinit 11, which was a white and slightly gray cement texture – very easy to do photograph a similar texture yourself. It was set to Pin Light blend mode at 55% layer opacity.

Google (Nik) Silver Efex Pro 2:  On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top, applied the now free Silver Efex Pro 2 to the image using the High Structure (harsh) preset which really emphasized the texture in the background.  Global Adjustment Structure section was changed to 33% and the Midtones to 27%. The only other change from the original preset was to change to Toning to No. 13, which give the beautiful color in the image.

Did a little Dodging and Burning using Curves Adjustment Layers to emphasize the sculpture properly. (See my How To Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn and Image blog.) Last step involved creating a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer to just blend the whole image together by pulling slightly down. (See my How To Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) Used Photoshop’s Lighting Effect Filter with a Spot light to slightly lighten up behind the sculpture – set to 63% layer opacity. The font is called Gadugi from Microsoft. That is all that was done other than cleaning a few areas that did not blend correctly including the sculpture stand. I really enjoyed working on this image!

Image of Philip Hulitar Sculpture Gardens in Palm Beach, FloridaThe palm trees above reminded me of nature’s sculptures versus the beautiful Gardens sculptures. I wanted a dreamy effect and it turned out to look a little like an infrared shot. The sculpture is called Forgotten World III by Norman Sunshine. Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (no long available) was used to sharpen up the image first. Silver Efex Pro2 was used again but this time the Fine Art High Key preset was applied without the frame and some contrast adjustments to start getting that dreamy feel – played with the Soft Contrast to get that feel. On a stamped layer Topaz (for website, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Lens Effects and applied the Moderate Diffusion filter as is. Topaz Impression 2’s Cave Dweller I was applied as is on another stamped layer. Used On1 Effects 10’s (for website, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Strong Vignette as is and set it to 62% layer opacity in PS. Did a little dodging and burning around the palm trees to differentiate them from the background. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog.) Some clean up was done and that was it!

If you have an image that is just overwhelming your subject, try going to a monochromatic effect to help isolate your subject better. It works really well with the green and yellow images. Hope you have a wonderful week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of the Flagler Kenan Pavilion at Flagler Museum in Palm BeachI was going to take a break from posting this week, but felt I had to share what is going on with the Lucis Pro 6.0.9 plug-in – they are closing their site and are offering this fabulous plug-in for sale at just $6 if bought before September 1, 2016 (UPDATE: This offer is extended until September 6, 2016 at noon PST – a nice short video on the plug-in has been added called Lucis Basics if you are interested in what it is actually doing to your image). If you are interested in this effect at all, it is definitely worth the $6 to purchase it – it works fine in Photoshop CC 2015.5 and CS6. I have not tried other versions of Photoshop, but I believe it would work fine. I am finding I use this plug-in a lot – sometimes at just a very low layer opacity to sharpen up details and it can reduce noise in one particular noisy channel. This image of the Flagler Kenon Pavilion at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach used their Technique #8 to get this result. Instead of desaturating this image, now free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 High Structure (Smooth) preset was applied as is. On a duplicate layer, Lucis Pro 6 was applied using these settings: Mix with original image – 57/43 and Enhance 83. Duplicated the layer again and applied Lucis Pro 6 again with these settings: Mix with original image 47/53 and Enhance 123. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added on top and set to Hue 187, Saturation 8, and Lightness -7 with the Colorize box checked. This is all that was done to get the really nice sketch effect. Recently I created a blog called Digital Lady Syd Reviews Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (Now Affordable!) which shows a few more examples of the wonderful effects this plug-in can produce.

Anyway, if you are like me and have always loved the Lucis Arts effects, this is the time to get it. I am not sure they will be updating this plug-in since they are closing down the website. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I do. Now off to take that break!…..Digital Lady syd





Double-exposure of a Queen Emma Lily and Cardboard PalmThis 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.

Original image of Queen Emma Lily and Cardboard Palm

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!


Double Exposure image of some flowersAnother 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.


Double exposure image of dandelionsThese 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


Image of the Giraffes Sculptor from Philip Hulitar Scupltor GardensDecided to do something different with this bronze giraffe sculpture this week. It is part of the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden in West Palm Beach and was created by Henry Mitchell in 1959 – and was one of my favorites at the Garden. This workflow actually began with finding an image in an old 2003 Digital Photo magazine that used Find Edge and Gaussian Blur filters, which were blended into a black background to get a nice sketchy look.

Since I have Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog for website link) Simplify, it was used instead of the Find Edge filter. My final image does not look like the original image from 2003, but since Photoshop now has so many more nice features, I believe it is a better result.

So the first step was to apply Topaz Simplify 4 using an old preset I created called SJ S Ramelli (not sure where these settings were found:  Global Adjustments – Simplify: Colorspace RGB, Simplify Size 0.28, Feature Boost 0, Details Strength 0.00, Details Boost 1.00, Details Size 0.20, Remove Small 0.00, and Remove Weak 0.10; Adjust: Brightness 0.08, Contrast 1.00, Saturation 1.44, Saturation Boost 1.00, Dynamics 0.42, Structure 1.00, Structure Boost 1.00; and Edges: Edge type Mono Line – Normal, Edge Strength 2.40, Simplify Edge 0.42, Reduce Weak 16.39, Reduce Small 0, Fatten Edge 0.82; and Finishing Touches: Vignette – Vignette Strength -0.42, Vignette Size 0.10, Vignette Transition 0.60, and Vignette Curvature 0.66; and Transparency – Overall Transparency 0.12). This actually gave a pretty nice effect just by itself!

Next a Black Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added above the background layer. This way, the color can be changed quickly if a different background is wanted. It was left to black in this case.

On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) the giraffes were roughly selected using the Quick Selection Tool and the new Select and Mask panel (old Refine Edge panel) was opened. I just figured out that for me, once in this panel, sometimes instead of using the Onion Skin View, I prefer the On White View set to about 70% opacity – then the Brush which is the third icon down on left was used to paint in or out areas that needed to be cleaned up. This way a very good selection can be obtained – the Refine Edge brush was not even needed. The panel was closed selecting the Output To: New Layer with Layer Mask in dropdown. The Select and Mask panel did a very good job, but more clean up work was needed on the layer mask. The key is to get a really good layer mask, and it may take some effort to finish cleaning up the mask, to get a good result.

Since the faces were getting lost in the texture of the image, the original background layer was copied and placed on top with a black layer mask (CTRL+I in layer mask to make black). With a really low opacity brush of 12%, the faces were very softly painted back to show the eye and ear details. On another stamped layer the Lighting Effects filter in Photoshop was used to light up the giraffes  – emphasis was placed on the faces and necks, and not so much on the legs. Note that a a soft yellow color (R249/G245/B98) was used and the original texture of the image was added back using the Red Channel set at a Height of 9. By trying different channels and heights, very different results can be achieved. See screenshot below of the settings for this layer.

Screenshot of the Lighting Effects Filter in PhotoshopSince the image still lacked a little pizzazz, on a New Layer a little vine regular brush was selected, but I was very tempted to use a Glitter brush. Just wanted a brush to give a bit of fantasy look to the image. To add color into the brushstrokes, a Pattern Overlay layer style (double click on a layer to open Layer Style Panel) using a pattern with orange and bluish tones was added to it. The layer was set to a lower layer opacity.

The image now has that fantasy look which I really like.
Dandelions growing outside my doorThese dainty dandelions were taken at F/2.8 with my Nikon 60 mm Macro Lens with a Bower 0.5 x High Resolution Digital Lens with Macro added to the lens. I love the results I get with this set up. I wanted to try another fantasy image using similar workflow as above on the giraffes. This time, instead of using the Quick Selection Tool and the Selection and Mask panel, the now free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 was used to select these blooms. Below is a Screenshot of how this was achieved. It leaves in tack all the little odd ball edges that would be impossible to get, even with the new and improved PS panel. Using the Control Points really helps select the weed. When back in PS, the stems and centers of the weeds were lightly painted back a white layer mask to add back a little color in these areas.

Screenshot image of settings for Nik Silver Efex Pro Then some clean up was done on a New Layer to further paint black on any areas that are not totally darkened out. On a stamped layer, Lucis Pro 6.0.9 was used to further define the edges (Enhance slider set to 143 and the Assign Original Image Color was set to 0/100%. (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (Now Affordable!) blog.)

Next the Vine brush was used again with a different Pattern added in the Layer Styles Pattern section. Here is something to note: When Layer Styles are added to a layer, it is best to duplicate the layer and rasterize it to maintain the color in the layer style. That is what I had to do here, duplicate the layer, rasterize it (right click on layer and select rasterize – it will flatten just that one layer), then turn the eyeball off on the original layer in case it is needed to go back into to adjust. On another New Layer Kyle T Webster’s Inkbox Spatter Punk brush was used to give the glitter effect and set to layer opacity of 72%.

A couple Lighten and Darken Curves Adjustment Layers were used to dodge and burn the image in the flowers. (See my How To use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image Blog.) Also a New Layer was created, set to overlay, and with a light yellow color on a soft small round brush, the centers of the flowers were painted in to add a little emphasis to the focal points. (See my How To Add a Spot of Light blog.) The last step was to create another stamped layer and apply Topaz Detail to the image – this time to soften some of the puffy flower areas that had become a bit too crunchy looking. Used the Soft and Dreamy III preset and painted out the colored background so it was not affected by the preset inside the plug-in. Then applied it and added a white layer mask. This time painted out areas of the flowers that I wanted to remain detailed.

This was fun to try out the Lighting Effects Filter in PS which I do not use nearly enough. I am also getting more comfortable with the Select and Mask panel in the latest version of PS CC. The one that surprised me most was how the flowers in the second image could be selected pretty closely with the Silver Efex Pro – very easy to do! This is it for this week – hope you have had a chance to try out some of these Photoshop effects – they are really good!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of Memorial Gardens in Ormond Beach, FloridaThis week I thought I would just show a quick image that used Nik HDR Efex Pro 2, one of the 7 plug-ins in the now free Google (Nik) Collection. I do not do much HDR shooting anymore, but here is an image taken a few years ago that used 5 bracketed shots. If you like to shoot HDR, I would definitely check out this software – it is different from both Lightroom’s and Photomatix Pro’s HDR results. I had done a previous review years ago (see my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 blog) and still love the plug-in as much as before. So here were the quick steps that got this effect:

  1. From Lightroom, all the images were selected and opened in Photoshop as individual files.
  2. Next the plug-in was opened in Photoshop by going to File -> Automate -> Merge to HDR Efex Pro2 – press the “Add open file” and then the Merge Dialog button. You can click the check box for Create Smart Object so you can go back in and adjust effect. (Can apply plug-in from LR by going to File -> Export with Preset -> Merge to HDR Efex Pro2.)
  3. Check Alignment if images not shot on a tripod. Same with Ghost Reduction – move slider at bottom to show image that shows image with movement that looks best as in clouds or trees. Always check Remove Chromatic Aberration.
  4. Now just presss Create HDR – a tiff file is created.
  5. The Default preset is automatically applied to the image. Now the fun is going through all the presets and see which one(s) look best on the image. Experiment with the sliders on the right. Tone Compression is the amount of HDR effect seen – set all the way left there is no HDR effect. Method Strength slider goes from very weak to very crunchy looking. All the other sliders can create some nice effects. If you find a combination you, just create a preset by pressing the (+) sign in the Custom section on the left. The above image used the Deep 2 preset to start.
  6. Note this image is now set to 32-Bits/Channel – this is a huge file and lots of PS effects and actions will not run on it. I change it to 16 or 8 bit mode so I can do things as in the next step. Go to File -> Mode -> 8-Bits/Channel. This causes the file to be merged down and the Smart Object is rasterized. (If you duplicate the Smart Object and rasterize the layer, turn the eye off the bottom Smart Object layer, and now change the mode, select Don’t Merge Layers, the Smart Object info can be retained in the layer that is turned off – sort of a hassle, but it can be done.)
  7. Here is a tip from one of my favorite Photoshop people, Scott Kelby, which he offered in his videos on this plug-in. Apply the HDR effect and then take the resulting effect into Nik Color Efex Pro 4 (another wonderful plug-in and is included in the download bundle) and select the Glamour Glow filter set to the default preset. He says it is the magic that really pulls the realistic HDR effect together and does not look over-the-top. That is what was done above.

To finish up the image, the waterfall was blurred so it looks a little more like a long exposure. (See my Smoothing Out Those Waterfalls blog on how to do this.) In this case, two Motion Blur layers were created since the water flows in a couple different directions. Also the slight blue chromatic aberration edging in the small sky in the upper left was removed by using the technique in my A New Look at Chromatic Aberration blog – worked beautifully. That is all that was done.


Here is an image that used the Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 plug-in that was done a while back. Just another good example of how this looks. I really like the effect in the skies. This image used Grannys Attic preset.

Hilton Time Share on the Big Island Hawaii********

The London of Parliament image taken several years ago used both the free Nik HDR Pro Efex 2 and free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (see my Make an Ordinary Image Interesting Tidbits Blog for info on how to do this.)

Image of the Parliament Building in London, England********

Here is another example using the previous version, Nik HDR Efex Pro – I really liked how this image turned out – it the used Grannys Attic preset, but it had some different parameters in the first edition, which was also very nice.

Image of a craggy tree in HawaiiHope you will download this Google (Nik) collection of plug-ins – you will not be disappointed. As far as the HDR Efex Pro 2 goes, as Scott Kelby says, try it as it has a little different look from other HDR software and you might really like it. This is true of all their plug-ins – give them a try. I have always loved the Nik plug-ins – they run very smoothly even on older computers. When used with a Smart Object, the settings are preserved, even the control points that are used to localize the effects, so you can go back and adjust later. Sad to see this is probably the end of this plug-in but at least everyone now has a chance to use it. Have a great week experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd