This large Wood Stork was definitely enjoying himself as he posed for the bird paparazzi at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, and the other Wood Storks from his perch. This big bird actually held his balance very well up on that little branch – pretty amazing! Well I know I am taking a couple weeks off from blogging but thought I would add this short blog to let you know I am still around. Most of this image was actually post-processed in my old Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 without any problems. Just duplicated the background layer and opened Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3 to add some sharpness to the whole bird. Added on top 2 Little Owls (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Workbook Texture 4 which gave the plain blue sky a beautiful effect. Jay Johnson’s free Flying Bird png2 file was added in the top and set to 44% with a Pattern Fill Layer added to add some softness to the bird color. An Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to sharpen the eye. Then added a grunge brush png layer i created and applied just around the stork. This layer was set to Overlay blend mode at 25% layer opacity. Then popped into regular Photoshop CC2017 to add a Red Channel Luminosity Curve Layer and Nik Viveza 2. Very easy and enjoyed trying out my old program for a change. See ya in a couple more…..Digital Lady Syd
Yesterday I had an opportunity to visit one of my very favorite places to photograph our beautiful Florida birds, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. By visiting at various times of Spring, different types of birds and behavior are present. But beware, it is a pretty busy place for not just birds – if you get there early, you are trying to negotiate lots of photographer tripods, and as the day wears on, a myriad of kids arrive. All good fun though! This week the Wood Storks, Snowy Egrets, Blue Herons and Roseate Spoonbills were all very busy making nests. Therefore I had a chance to shoot lots of flying birds with all kinds of branches and leaves hanging out of their beaks. Will be posting these on off over at my Tidbits Blog especially. Hopefully I can return in a couple of weeks when there will be a lot of baby chicks.
The Snowy Egret and Roseate Spoonbill somehow both showed up in my image. I think I was trying to shoot the spoonbill, but the egret was also flying and I did not even see him until I looked at the photos in Lightroom. There were so many birds flying around that it was sometimes hard to capture them as they flew really close over your head at times. For me I keep my camera on Aperture mode at F/8 and shoot in continuous mode to capture as many shots as I can and hope one of the images will be sharp. Learned a lot about shooting birds from an old KelbyOn (NAPP at that time) video by Moose Peterson on taking images of Florida Birds. He is one of the best bird photographers around and has a great blog with lots of tips.
All the blog images were post-processed in Photoshop just using the same basic workflow I always use: First make sure no noise is in the image and fix that with Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) DeNoise 6, then Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (no longer available at the point) or Topaz Clarity (sometimes Topaz Detail depending on the image) to slighting sharpen the whole image (use a layer mask if needed), use a Red Channel Luminance Curve Adjustment Layer, a Black & White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode, and finally the free Google Nik Viveza 2 – this filter is a must. Viveza can really help even out the light and sharpen areas that need just a little boost. It can also add that subtle vignette needed in some images. If you have not tried it, do so – use control points to pinpoint the areas that need adjusting. Still my favorite all-time Photoshop filter! There are tutorials on all these different techniques so just search in my blog to find more info on any of them.
These little chicks were recently hatched to a Roseate Spoonbill and may be the first group to have arrived. They were so cute. At first it seemed there were only two in the nest, but the little guy on the left was in all the images. It is really easy to miss things until reviewing the shots at home. The light was a little harsh but they still looked pretty cute to me.
This Snowy Egret was trying to get away from the crowds but the light was so pretty on his plume that he was quite noticeable. The grace and poise of the Snowy Egret is quite striking, especially when compared to the beautiful, but really clumsy Roseate Spoonbill. The spoonbills all see to have a lot of personality. And Wood Storks just sort of stay up high and stare you down. If you spend a little time watching the interactions of the birds, it is really entertaining!
I frequently use images shot at the Rookery and here are some past photo links for additional Rookery views:
Birds of the Rookery
Great Egret Babies
Cattle Egret Looking for Love
Singing Spoonbill Duet Takes Rookery by Storm!
Very Busy Snowy Egrets
Coming in for a Landing!
A Happy Couple
I guess this post is a little different for one of my blogs, but it was so much fun to see these beautiful birds and wanted to share what an extraordinary place this is. If you are in Florida from April to the end of May, definitely stop by the Rookery in St. Augustine – the birds won’t mind and its always a day to remember! Oh yes, taking a week or two off blogging to finish up a couple classes I am taking. Will catch you on the other side. ….. Digital Lady Syd
This week I am presenting a little tutorial on how to add an interesting an painterly or artistic effect to your images. This technique goes hand-in-hand with the use of other creative filters, but is a great way to add a personal touch to those canned filters results. The image above is from Stirling Castle (completion date cc 1542) where the face of the palace is lined with statues. This statue is thought to be King James V of Scotland in yeoman attire as he wandered incognito among his subjects and calling himself the Gudeman of Ballengeich (tenant farmer of Ballengeich, a place near Stirling).
This technique comes from a really nice tutorial by Sebastian Michaels who is a total genius when it comes to using Photoshop. Several years ago he created a video called Custom Brush Technique at Light Stalking where he discussed several different ways of creating brushes. He made a grunge brush that he used to paint in an effect similar to the above. I took a little liberty here and downloaded similar brushes to create some of my effects.
What is shown here is how to add a white layer with a layer mask – by painting with black in the layer mask with unique and textured brushes, a very artistic result can be achieved. The steps are as follows:
- Adjust photo and on a duplicate layer (CTRL+J), add in any special effects such as filters.
- To add even more variety to the image, copy the duplicated layer from Step 1 and add adjustments layers, filters such as Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression or ReStyle, or go to Image ->Adjustment->Hue/Saturation (not an Adjustment Layer) set to colorize to change the overall color of the image. My image was turned into a bluish colorized look on the original filter layer, but could have been done on another duplicated copy.
- Add a New Layer on top and fill it with white (can go into Edit->Fill and Content: White (SHIFT+F5), or just change the color swatches to default Black/White (D) and press CTRL+BACKSPACE to fill with white (FYI: ALT+BACKSPACE fills with black).
- Add a Layer Mask to this layer (2nd icon from left at bottom of Layers Panel).
- Using several different brushes in the layer mask, build up the effect. Set the brushes to 20-30% only and change the rotation of the brush with each tap down. It is easiest to do if the Brush Panel is opened and set to the Brush Tip Shape section. Flip the little circle around to set the stroke so edges appear different when painted in the mask. Also, can right click in the Options Bar the Brush Preset Picker (2nd icon) to change the rotation and size quickly. Start by adding a bit of vignette feel on the edges. If you want the brush to rotate randomly with each stroke, can ago into the Shape Dynamics section and set the Angle Jitter to some amount – I use 19% on many of my brushes. Look at the Preview field to see what the effect will be when changes are made in the Brush Panel.
- If the layer was duplicated and more than one filter or effect was created (as in Step 2), also add a layer mask to all these layers and paint out parts so the original color of the image shows through. This gives a nice split tone look.
To get an interesting effect, try grunge brushes, splatter brushes for the edges, and soft round or smaller sized textured brushes to paint back any important details. Different sizes, rotations and opacities of brushes really vary the effect. And remember the Properties Panel can be used to adjust the layer mask opacity if the final result is too strong. The actual layer blend mode and opacity can be adjusted also. Lots of flexibility can be found here.
The above followed Sebastion’s steps from his video pretty closely including using Photoshop’s Filter Gallery to create a watercolor effect (Watercolor filter – Brush Detail 9, Shadow Intensity 1, Texure 2; and Crosshatch filter – Stroke Length 9, Sharpness 6, Strength 1). This was added to the layer first before the Hue/Saturation Colorize effect was applied. Then the White Layer was placed on top. Three different types of brushes were used on both layer masks: a grunge brush (Shadowhouse Creations’ Grunge Brush Set 2-G4 brush), a grunge brush made using a texture somewhat like Sebastian’s, and Grut FX IL Ratatatsplat brush (from his wonderful Inky Leaks Splatter set) was used for the edge effect. Finished up with Nik Viveza 2 to just pull the eye into the statue area and lightly lighten the face.
This blueberry image used the same workflow. It does not seem as if adding a white layer on top would make much of a difference here, but it actually did. It lightened the image overall before bringing in the color from the layers below and can add some beautiful texture with the right brushes. For this image, Topaz Impression was opened and one of my presets was applied called SJ WC like effect on bldgs (see end of blog for settings). On a duplicate layer, an Image->Adjustments>Hue/Sat-Colorize was set to Hue 46/Sat 27/Lightness +2 – a gold sepia tone. The color did not look right so a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer was clipped to the layer (ALT+click between the layers) and changed to a more pink color. This layer was set to 33% layer opacity. Brushes used in white top layer mask and the Impression and Colorized layer masks were: SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur-AD Sketch Splatter (see end of blog on how to create this brush-one of my favorites as it adds just a touch of texture to the stroke at a small size and nice splatter brush at larger size) at 25% br opa and 502 px and rotated around edges; Shadowhouse Grunge GB-4 again at 1200 px and rotated around center; and ABlaise-Canvas Texture Br 46 32-350px (this brush added some nice texture into the image). The brush sizes and rotation were varied in each mask. Topaz ReStyle’s Zambezi Zest preset was used to get the French vineyard colors in the image. (Settings: ReStyle Opacity 62% and Soft Light blend mode; Color Style Primary 0.58; and Lum Primary 0.47; Texture Strength 1.00; Basic Temp 0.22, Tint 0.34, and Sat 0.08; Tone Black Level -0.14, Midtones 0.03, and White Level -0.39; and Detail Structure -1.00 and Sharpness 0.63; and Masking – with Strength set to 0.36, painted out the green leaf at bottom and the berries to give more detail in just those areas.) Finished up with the standard Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer, Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode, and Nik Viveza 2 to bring out the focal points.
Here is another example of how this technique could be used. This is an image of Urquhart Castle in Scotland on a very rainy day. Topaz ReStyle was applied using the exact same preset and settings from the blueberry image. Then a white layer was added on top with a mask. The Castle image was painted back in using the same brushes as above or the newly created Grunge Brush, the SJ 1 Color-Paint fur-AD Sketch Splatter brush (settings below) and once again Aaron Blaise’s Texture brush – his textured brushes really help with this effect when used in a layer mask. The layer was set to 35% layer opacity. On the ReStyle layer, a layer mask was added and parts of the trees and castle were painted out so the original image color showed through. At the top a New Layer was added and filled with a light gold-yellow color. A layer mask was added and once again the image was painted back using the same Grut-FX IL Ratatatsplat for the edges and my SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur brush at a small size for the detail areas. This layer was set to Linear Dodge (Add). To get the final effect, the Layer Style was opened by double clicking on the layer. In the Blend If sliders, the Underlying Layer black tab was split (by holding ALT and pulling the tab apart) and setting it to 10/70. This does not always work, but it definitely worth trying out to see what happens. In this case it brought out the structure more clearly. Nik Viveza 2 was used to pinpoint the focal point which is where the red umbrella is located. Anyway, just note that you are not limited to a white color top layer or using just one color layer. With a little experimenting, a very nice image can be produced. I believe I will use the above image on note cards.
Hope this gives you another little trick to try in your artistic endeavors and maybe it will give your images that extra level of interest it needs. And try out my brush – I am finding it is very useful in lot of different types of images. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Topaz Impression’s SJ WC like effect on bldgs Settings: Thought I would share the preset settings as it really does give some interesting results sometimes with a little masking when looking for creative effects. The preset was made in Topaz Impression 1: Started with Watercolor II preset and these were the final settings: Stroke Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 26, Coverage 1.00, Color Overall Hue 0.15, Saturation -0.20 and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, Vignette 0, and Light Direction X0.33 and Y0.06; and Texture Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type solid white, and Background color used #d38967 – all other settings not listed at 0. Adjust your color swatches to get other color tones. These changes were made to the preset in Topaz Impression 2 for the blueberry image: Number of Strokes High; Color Aqua Sat 0.25 and Lightness 0.51; Lighting Highlight 0.40, Shadow -0.39; and Texture Strength 0.
SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur-AD Sketch Splatter brush has become a favorite brush for all kinds of things. With these brush settings, it is great to paint animal skin but it works great wherever a little soft edge with subtle texture is needed. It is my go-to clean up brush when color needs to be added to fill in some rough spots. Here are the settings: First download these free brushes from Alex Dukal – Adobe Sketch Brushes and select AD Sketch Splatter – 143 px brush. This brush had the brush tip I liked but most of the brush settings were changed. Here are the Brush Panel settings as I use the brush: Brush Tip Shape – Size 9 px, Angle 13 degrees, Roundness 100% and spacing 120%; Shape Dynamics – only the Control field was set to Pen Pressure (for tablet use); Scattering – check Both Axes, Scatter 149%, Count 9, and Count Jitter 54%; Transfer – only the Opacity Control field was set to Pen Pressure, and Smoothing checked. Be sure to create a Brush Preset and a Brush Tool Preset (1st icon on the Options Bar – open the drop down and click the Create New Preset icon – this saves the Options Bar settings). Adjust and paint with different sizes. Can add Texture and Color Dynamics for different look. Also Dual Brush can be interesting. I use this brush sometimes as small as 4 px to clean parts of an image by sampling adjacent colors. Try out the original brush provided as it is a really nice splatter brush.
I was catching up on some videos from last year and ran across one that turned out to be really interesting. It is called How to Turn Your Zoo Photography into Fine Art with Lightroom by Serge Ramelli. Since I like to photograph animals at the various zoo and theme parks around here, I gave it a go and thought I would share his rather simple workflow. Be sure to check out the link as Serge offers 5 Develop presets and 2 Adjustment Brush presets to use on your images (and he also has some other very good videos on Photoshop at his site).
The image above is of a Sumatran Tiger from the Jacksonville Zoo – this is one of the tigers they use for demonstrating his breed – very nice cat. Once you have downloaded the presets and placed them in Lightroom (his video goes through this at the end), I always create a Virtual Copy to work with so the original can be used again if needed.
- Try looking at all his presets and choose one that looks good. The above image used his Zoo Base I preset. All the settings are set up so only a tweak here or there might be needed. The Develop Basic and Detail sections are where the adjustments are made. You can always go back to these after finishing the steps and adjust them more if the effect is not quite right.
- Now is a good time to Crop the image before you set up the Gradient Filters, but it can be done later.
- Select the Gradient Filter and add a New dot on on the right side of the image. Set the Effect drop-down field to Exposure or try out the Zoo Darken Brush. Now move the Exposure slider to select the correct amount of vignette, he softened the Clarity a little as it smooths the dark areas, and finally the Noise is set to +100. Just drag out the gradient towards the subject. Do this for the other three edges.
- Select the Adjustment Brush and in Effect drop-down, choose Zoo Darken Brush and paint in on parts that need to be darkened a little on main animal or subject. Switch to Zoo Brighten Brush in Effects drop-down and paint over areas that need to be lightened – basically doing dodging and burning here. Can adjust any of the other sliders to get the correct look and can add new points to get a great finished look. Try adding one for just the eyes by zooming in.
- Go back and tweak any of the settings since this is the beauty of Lightroom!
This is when I take my images into Photoshop and add some more filter effects. The tiger image used the Nik Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in applied to it in specific places using Darken/Lighten Center, Detail Extractor (control point on face only), Glamour Glow and Pastel (set to 46% opacity) filters. That was all that was done. Not sure mine exactly fine art but it does give a very pleasing look and the background has definitely been toned down a lot. Serge used more vignetting in his images so check out the video link for those settings.
This guy was definitely watching everyone in the area – I think he is in charge of this part of the Jacksonville Zoo. Used the same preset as above – the Zoo Base I is my favorite. Added the gradient filters and adjustment brush strokes and took the image into Photoshop. At this point the image had a lot more background color and was not cropped to the final size. In Photoshop Nik Viveza 2 was used to do a little more sharpening and brightening in the right places. A black and white Adjustment Layer was added and set to 37% layer opacity to slightly remove the color. Then the final crop was done. The desaturated look seems to suit this guy.
This Giant Tortoise resides at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and is hard to miss! I think he is eating twigs. This time the Zoo Sepia preset was used as a starting point in Lightroom and more of the Basic sliders were adjusted to get a global effect that looked good. Then the Gradient Filters were added and the Adjustment Brush was used to brighten up his face. In Photoshop Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3 Highlights was opened and the Highlight Detail 1 preset was selected. A black layer mask was added back in PS and just the focal areas were painted back in. On a Stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened up and a new preset was created. Used a rusty edged grayish texture, some edge blur for the background but not the turtle, a light leak that had some turquoise for the shell, and a few Basic Adjustment settings were applied. In the masking section, painted back the face a little. This layer was set to 67% layer opacity. On another stamped layer, used Nik Viveza 2 just on the face to lighten it up a little more. Last step involved adding a Levels Adjustment Layer to slightly flatten out the dark edges – painted back the face so it was not affected.
These presets are very nice. It is an easy way to really set off the animals and remove some of the distractions that are usually inside the cages. I am still experimenting with this technique, but it appears to have some good possibilities. I would encourage you to at least try out the presets and see what you thing. Serge has several other videos and presets available so check out those also. Hope everyone is enjoying this early Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week posting another oldie but goodie from my Tidbits Blog and a newer image with some of my favorite newer filters. I loved the way the above image turned out – never expected it to be this pretty considering it was an image I snapped while standing on the street in front of our hotel. It is Nelson Monument (in center) and Acropolis (aka National Monument of Scotland on left corner) on Calton Hill – I did not get to visit this site but wish I had. This was not difficult to process once I got going. After cleaning up a rather boring image, Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Simplify was opened and a preset I call the John Barclay BuzSim Setting preset was used. I listened to one of John’s excellent videos on Topaz Labs and created this preset which has a very subtle result. (The settings are: Simplify: Colorspace RGB, Simplify Size 0.19, Details Boost 1.00, and Details Size 0.20; Adjust: Brightness 0.01, Contrast 1.08, Saturation 1.03, Saturation Boost 1.15, Structure 1.00, and Structure Boost 1.00; and Edges: Edge Type – Color Edge Normal, Edge Strength 0.00, Simplify Edge 0.30, Reduce Weak 10.00, Reduce Small 0.20 and Flatten Edge 0.00.) Next I added 2 lil Owls (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Workshop 6 – Texture 1 which has the beautiful turquoise and light yellow sky color – the layer was set to Overlay Blend Mode. The beautiful text was supplied by my favorite Shadowhouse Creations – his Text Brush 5. I actually clipped a bright green Color Fill Adjustment Layer to the text (to clip just ALT+click between the two layers and the color fill adjustment layer will only affect the layer below) – then the text layer was set to 55% opacity. Another 2 Lil’ Owls Texture – texture 4 was used as an overlay frame. A light yellow Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture file. A Curves Adjustment Layer where the red, green and blue channels were adjusted to get this slight vintage feel. The last thing done was to add a Color Fill Adjustment Layer to the whole image using a soft cream color (#c6c3bd) and the Nelson Monument was painted out in the layer mask so the eye is drawn to that area of the image.
This image from the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens in Ormond Beach, Florida, used the same Topaz Simplify preset by John Barclay and just used Topaz Texture Effects 2’s Facing Fast preset. This time the effect was removed from the foreground flowers and Nik Viveza 2 was used to add a little vignette effect to the image. Texture Effects does a really great job of giving vintage effects and it is always fun to try out the different presets and combinations by adding new sections to get some great results.
Had a lot of fun as usual – never get tired of this!…..Digital Lady Syd
I ran across this little brush technique in Advanced Photoshop Magazine No. 81’s DVD (several years old) in a PDF called Photoshop Uncovered: Forgotten Features. This particular tip was by designer/illustrator Radim Malinic of Brand Nu. I am not sure I have completely mastered his technique yet, but it was fun trying to figure out how he uses it to create some really great art.
Exactly what does setting a brush to a Linear Dodge (Add) mode in the Options Bar do? According to Radim, “As the color dodges, the overall shade goes lighter with every brush stroke.” Usually he tries to stick to just one color for his image, so this was my goal in my blog images. His basic technique involves creating a colored image, then desaturating the image, adjusting contrast with a Levels Adjustment, and adding in background textures and shapes.
On a New Layer with any brush selected, the Options Bar was set to Linear Dodge (Add) mode, Opacity 30% and Flow no more than 30%. Choose a darker shade of any color wanted to dominate your image. As you dab, colors will become brighter each time a stroke is overlapped – be careful not to overdo this effect as it is easy to get carried away. A New Layer is needed to get the effect as a white background layer will not show any strokes. If the last dab is too strong, go to Edit -> Fade Brush Tool to reduce the effect and change the blend mode for a better look if needed. The bright linear dodge strokes can be seen in the plants and giraffe in the bottom image below.
The Tych Panel shows how I created this image. I was attempting to try and just use a nice color of green to do all the painting in this image. The upper left image is what was initially created using several layers and various colors! This involved adding the background textures and creating a group of layers that contained my plant brushes. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top. Next a Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to get a nice tone – this was merged down (highlight both layers and press CTRL+E) so now my main image is black and white. It was set to 94% layer opacity – that is why there is some slight color showing in the image. Therefore, a white filled New Layer was placed underneath so the colors below did not show through.
Now the fun began. Just started painting using the Linear Dodge (Add) mode in the Options Bar at 30% Opacity and 30% Flow. A light green was painted over the image. A giraffe silhouette brush was added and a layer mask was used to put some of the plants in front of his legs. On a New Layer painted in with the green colors on the giraffe – see the variation of the colors as the brush is dabbed over the same areas. A Levels Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between layers) to some layers to soften the effect so it blends in better with the plants. 12 more layers were created to paint in the different object using different brushes. I found that by varying the brush Opacity but not the Flow over 30%, the various shades of the color could be easily obtained. Also the layer opacity or Edit Fade command can be used if the effect is just too strong. To finish up, Nik Viveza 2 was applied to adjust the focal point and add a slight vignette effect for drawing the eye. I decided the green was overwhelming the image as seen in the bottom part of the Tych Panel. Therefore a bright dark blue Solid Color Adjustment Layer was added. It was set to Color blend mode at 35% layer opacity. This seemed to balance out the over green to a level I liked as shown in the top image.
The above is another example of using this same technique. It was first painted in color and then turned to black and white before creating a New Layer and using Linear Dodge (Add) brush mode to paint with a cyan blue color in the image again. This technique does take a bit of practice to get a good result, but I do see a possible use for this type of brush in doing a regular painting. It is nice to just emphasize a certain area in an object using this method – in fact several digital painters use this method for dodging their images. It has been fun to try and paint with a monochromatic color scheme. Definitely have to think about what the values are in your image. Hope you get a chance to experiment with this brush mode and come up with some interesting results!…..Digital Lady Syd
Basically this blog is showing that filters or plug-ins do not have to be applied on a layer with the second one applied on top of the first one on the same layer, but rather they can be applied to the same original duplicated layer and by using layer masks the desired effects from can be inserted. This image above followed a workflow that followed my Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 and Topaz Clarity Together? Tidbits Blog from a few years ago. It had been a while since HDR Efex Pro2 (part of the free download from Google-Nik) was used so it seemed like a good time to try it out again. The original image from the Tidbits Blog is shown below. This image was taken yesterday at the 28th Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida. The displays and costumes really give a nice variety for those who love photography (and the vendors and show organizers are some of the nicest people!). The focus area of the two teapots show more of the HDR plug-in effect and the rest of the image has more of the Topaz Clarity filter effect. Any plug-ins can be used this way, these are just what I was using for this image.
HDR Efex Pro 2
The image was first opened in Lightroom where it was brightened up just a bit. Then in Photoshop, the background was duplicated, converted to a Smart Object (right click on layer and select Convert to Smart Object), and HDR Efex Pro2 was opened from the Filters menu. Note: you do not have to be shooting HDR photos to use this plug-in – it works fine with just one image. (For info on how to use if shooting with more than one image, see my How To use Google (Nik) HDR Efex Pro 2 Blog.) This is another one of those huge plug-ins with lots of sliders and presets to play around with on your images so the Smart Object allows you to go back and adjust it if it look wrong (double click on the thumbnail in the Layer Panel). In this case the Outdoor 2 preset was applied. One of the best things in this plug-in is the Levels & Curves section where besides RGB and the individual channels, there is a the Luminosity Curve that can be adjusted – this was done for this image. The curve was pulled downward to get a nice overall effect. Then the Tonality section Structure slider was set to 31% and the Color Temperature was set to -20% and Saturation 19%. That was all that was done to this preset.
Now for the Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Clarity part. This is one of my favorite Topaz plug-ins partly because of the versatility in it. The HDR Efex layer was turned off and the background duplicated again and set just above the background layer. Since the HDR Efex layer had way too much contrast for the softer vintage effect I wanted, a preset that I created for painting was applied in Clarity. It totally softens the whole image but the colors looked really good. (Here are the settings if you are interested: Clarity Dynamics Micro Contrast -0.86, Low Contrast -0.86, Medium Contrast 0.63, and High Contrast 0.94; Tone Level Black Level -0.19, Midtones -0.36, and White Level 0.19; HSL Filter Hue – no changes; Sat Orange 0.06, Yellow 0.63, Green 0.13, Blue 0.25 0.25, and Overall -0.45; and Lum Orange 0.36, Yellow -0.34, Green -0.42, Blue 0.61, Purple 0.11, Magenta 0.75, and Overall -0.27 – all other colors were 0.00. Adjust these settings around if they do not quite fit the effect you want.)
The HDR Efex layer was turned on and a black layer mask was added (press ALT key while clicking the layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel). Just the areas where more contrast was needed was painted back into the image – mainly around the teapots where the focal point is. A round brush set to 50% opacity was used so edges were not too sharp.
Photoshop Brushes for Clean up
Some of the background in the curtains did not look so nice, so the brushes were brought out to paint in some colors and blend some colors on a New Layer. It is so handy to have a good Regular Brush and Mixer for clean up. A pastel with rough edges was used to paint over some greenish shadow colors that did not fit the image. The brush can be downloaded from SDW Haven Pastel Brushes Part 1 – it is the last brush or 11th brush in this free set. (These are the settings used for the brush: Brush Tip Shape: I like it as a small size so it is set to 8 pixels but enlarge it often, Angle 137 degrees, Roundness 100% and Spacing 35%; Shape Dynamics: Angle Jitter 42%; Texture – Rough located in PS Erodible Textures (load by clicking texture patter, then on the cog wheel and Load Erodible Textures, and set to Scale 87%, Brightness -45, Contrast 0, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, Depth 50%, Depth Jitter 1%, and Control Off; and check Smoothing.) This brush also clean up funny colored edges nicely – just ALT+click in the image on the color to sample, and lightly paint in. I usually paint at 67% opacity with this brush.
Then an overall soft Mixer blender was used to mix up the edges. The brush I use is by David Belliveau from Paintable – here is a link to his free brushes and his How to Blend Colors in Photoshop: 4 Essential Technique blog. David does a great job explaining how to use brushes in Photoshop. On the clean up layers, I just kept going back and forth between the Regular and the Mixer brush adding color and blending until the color and edges look smooth. The Mixer also does a great job of softening lines that appear too sharp in the background. I use these two brushes all the time to both clean up images and paint in Photoshop.
Finishing Up the Image
Last steps involved adding on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Texture Effects 2 with adjustments to the Crisp Morning Run preset. A Spot Mask was used over the center pots so they were not affected as much by the plug-in. Duplicated the layer and applied Nik Viveza 2 to further sharpen the two middle teapots and add a little more saturation to that area. Duplicated the layer again and Topaz Lens Effects was opened and a Silver Reflector filter coming from the left was applied – just to add a softer effect and emphasize where the light was. Using these three plug-ins one after the other is an example of applying them onto each other and no masking was involved. Therefore the effects of Texture Effects is in the image where Nik Viveza 2 was applied which is in the results of applying the Lens Effects filter. If you wanted to get down to the original Background effect, many masks were have to be created. Subtle but significant difference.
Overall HDR Efex Pro and Clarity are not a bad combination for getting some nice effects in Photoshop. Both images used the filters discussed above. Each filter was added on its own duplicated Background layer and then the parts of the image to be concealed were masked in or out on each layer. For the top image it just did not look as good when one filter was applied over the other one. This is really important to remember if you are liking the effect in two different filters – they do not have to both be applied over each other – just mask in or out what you like on separate layers. And do try out the brushes – they work really well together. Hope everyone is coping with the winter and staying warm. Until next time…..Digital Lady Syd