Month: February 2016

Floral Fusion


Once a month, I walk with a photography group at Lauritzen Gardens. I enjoy this time to learn from Michael, a professional photographer who leads the group, and to practice with my camera. This month there is a beautiful display of glass sculptures by Craig Mitchell Smith inside the conservatory. One of the sculptures is titled Flock of Cardinals. Some of the birds are hanging from a tree. Others are suspended from the metal structure supporting the glass ceiling, giving the appearance that they are in flight. When I uploaded my photos from my camera card into Lightroom and began to go through them, I noticed that the artist had actually etched his signature on a cardinal. Before this exhibit closes, I’m going to return and look more carefully just to see if the artist signed all of his glass sculptures in the exhibit.

Not only do I enjoy learning to use my camera, but I also enjoy using the photos that I make to create artsy scrapbook pages. I actually used four different photos to create this page, the background shot above, the close up of one cardinal and two other shots of cardinals hanging from the ceiling.

After importing the close up photo 2016-02-26_ExtractionCompositeof the cardinal from Lightroom into Photoshop and placing it on a new 12×12 inch document, I resized the photo to fit the dimensions of my page. I began extracting the cardinal with the magic wand tool, added a layer mask to the photo and then used brushes to finish. I pressed option and clicked on the mask to open the refine edges panel to fine tune my extraction.

Next, to give2016-02-26_ExtractionMaskBackground the cardinal a place to hang, I placed the photo with the view of the entire scene. I applied a painting filter from Topaz Impression to the photo to give it the look of a Monet painting. I clipped the copy to mask 2 from FramedMasks No. 2. Below that is another copy of the photo blended with a layer mask and brushes.


I also clipped copies of the background 2016-02-26_AllExtractionsandPaintedBackgroundpainting to some of the stains in the template I used, Artsy Layered Template No. 223. By the time I added the stains with copies of the background painting and some additional cardinals, my layout looked like this. I used the same extraction process I describe above on the other cardinals on my page. I gave each a custom shadow.

To finish my page, I added additional transfers and elements from ArtPlay Palette Sojourn and word art from Sojourn WordArt No. 1. I love creating art with my photographs!

Grain or Noise in a Photo?

My photographs often look grainy/noisy whenever I increase my camera’s ISO while maintaining an aperture of f/5.6 and a shutter speed fast enough to capture an active preschooler in a low light situation. As I was placing these two photos on a new blank 24×12 inch document in Photoshop, I thought about that grainy quality. Since my granddaughter was playing with some superhero comic figures in one of the photos, I decided to use a plug-in for Photoshop, Topaz Clean, to give the photos a cartoon or comic effect before I blended them together to create the background for my page.

I liked the effect on the large photos so much that I gave the smaller photos the same effect with the plug-in before clipping them to the small frames included with the template.


To finish this page, I recolored some of the stains that were also included with the template, added some artsy transfers and elements from ArtPlay Palette Euphoria and created a title with Photoshop’s custom shape tool to mimic the word pieces with which my granddaughter played.


My page is finished, but I’m still thinking about what more I can do with the settings on my camera to improve the quality of my low light photos. I know my granddaughter is going to want to go back to the museum when she sees the photos on this page.

Busy, Busy, Busy

In just an hour and forty-five minutes at the Children’s Museum today, Kate shopped at the market before baking a cake for me. Then I took her order for pizza, baked it in the oven and served her. She said I did a great job adding just the toppings that she likes. We worked together to create a superhero cape before she went off to play in the exhibit. Kate also painted, played with magnets in the ball room, squirted water at a house, answered a telephone call and fixed the wheels on a car before we left the museum. It’s not easy photographing an active granddaughter. Kate fell asleep on the drive home. I wished I could have slept too.

A Tip for Extractions


One wouldn’t think that a photo taken with an iPhone in a Costco parking lot might inspire me to create art. However, I liked the look of the bare branches with the robins.  To create a page as I envisioned, that meant that I needed to extract the blue gray sky from the photo.

2016-02-12 094959No, I did not use Photoshop’s pen tool and go around each of the slender branches. Instead I used another tool, the magic wand. If you’ve ever scanned your signature and created a brush from it, you’ll recognize the technique. With my pen tablet and the magic wand tool selected, I clicked on an area of the blue gray sky and pressed the delete key. I zoomed in on the smaller spaces of blue gray between the branches to click and delete the rest of the sky. It took a bit of time to extract all of the sky, but I enjoyed myself. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could clean house this way.

To finish the page, I gave the branches a small shadow. Then I created a background for the tree branches with Artsy Transfers and ArtPlay Palette Neige. I gave my piece of art a double matte and title to make it look like it might be an art piece framed to hang on the wall. Finally, I added the date and my signature.

A tablet is a wonderful tool for digital scrapbooking. I enrolled in Anna Aspnes’ upcoming PenPlay class and am looking forward to learning more about using my pen and tablet. It was easy to go through Anna’s website to register and pay for the class. For those of you looking for more information on using a pen and tablet, I’m sorry that Anna’s class is already sold out. However, I hope you’ll try this tip for using the magic wand tool for extracting the backgrounds from your photos.

An Imperfect Photo


Each of us has a different story about learning digital scrapbooking. When I began my first digital scrapbooking class in 2010, I quickly noticed how much better the photos of others were much than mine. Then a friend told me that as my photography improved so would my scrapbook pages. While I am not by any means a professional photographer, I think she gave me great advice. Spending time studying and practicing photography while taking classes on different aspects of digital scrapbooking has made it easier for me to create scrapbook pages in Photoshop.

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I generally begin my pages with a photo, like this one of my granddaughter as we left her class on Wednesday. I actually think she enjoyed playing in the snow with that stick more than class, but that’s another story. The dirty snow from the asphalt in the right corner was piled up and it was midday. I think my white balance is a little off and this photo doesn’t follow the rule of thirds. This is definitely not a perfect photo!

Yet, my granddaughter’s intensity with what she was doing touched me as she drew in the snow with a stick, and I knew that I could create a page about this moment in time. I didn’t need the entire photo to tell the story. When I exported it from Lightroom into Photoshop, I used the angle she was facing to determine how to position the photo in the top left corner of my 12×12 page. I began by clipping my photo to a Snowy FotoBlendz mask. Because the shape of the mask didn’t quite fit my photo, I merged the mask with an artsy stain that I stamped on another layer. The rest of this page is simply layering and blending with a digital paper and transfers from ArtPlay Palette Neige by Anna Aspnes. Knowing that I am able to take an imperfect photo to create a piece of art encourages me to continue to work on my photography because what I capture with my camera affects how I see the design of my scrapbook pages.

On a Winter Morning

OnaWinterMorning_kdavis_1000Thirty-five years ago I had a Kodak Instamatic camera. To make photographs, I inserted a cartridge into the camera, pressed the shutter button to expose the film and rotated the dial to the next exposure on the strip of negative. Once all the exposures on the roll were taken, a mechanical rolling sound let me know know that I could remove the cartridge and take it to a camera store to get the film developed into three and a half inch prints. After a few days I returned to the store to pick up my prints and negatives. Then I would place the prints chronologically in albums. I have just over 2,475 prints from all the years with that little camera. They fill five albums. Yet in 2015 alone, I have more than 20,000 photographs residing on my hard drive in Lightroom. I cannot even imagine how many albums I would need for 20,000 photos if I printed even half of them.

Nowadays, I photograph with a mirrorless Fuji X-T1. Instead of placing photo prints in albums, I create artsy digital scrapbook pages in Photoshop. I choose the photos that speak to me and write the stories of those photos, the stories that I want my family to remember. Sometimes, I include one of those old photos taken with that old Kodak Instamatic on a digital scrapbook page. I publish these artsy pages in a book, like my book from last year, 2015 Photo Stories. I like to think I’m an artist with both my camera and the scrapbook pages that I create, at least I feel that way when I am making photographs or playing in Photoshop.

For this page, On a Winter Morning, I applied a watercolor filter to the large background photo to give it a watercolor look. Then I adapted a template by merging masks and stains to create a custom mask for the photo. The other photos in the small frames are as they came out of the camera. Thinking back, I know I would have loved all this technology thirty-five years ago.

A Tradition

For twenty years, my sister and I have been celebrating our birthday at the Rose Garden Tea Room before walking the grounds at the Huntington Library. Every time we go it’s different, despite it being mid winter. There were no star magnolias this year, but I still found some color to photograph, a few roses and some beautiful camellias. While I am here in California, we are taking a an urban drawing class together. So my sister spent a little time sketching while I explored the gardens with my camera. When I returned from my walk and noted something on her sketch, she said I had a good eye. Next time we are here, I think I’m going to make time to sketch and to create photos. I’m not really great a drawing, but maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s good enough to simply enjoy the calm feeling of sitting on a wooden bench with a pencil and sketch book in hand.

Happy Birthday

My twin sister thinks there are two good things about being older: 1. she’s still alive and 2. she can now ride the train in Ostrava for free. I think of reaching this age as an impetus for new challenges, like starting this blog.

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Balboa Island

Southern California winter mornings are so very different from my norm in Nebraska at this time of year. For example, there were no snowflakes in sight today. The beach along the pier on Balboa Island was almost deserted, only a handful of people fished from the pier, and most of the boats were moored. While we sat at a table at Ruby’s, a pinniped played in the water. I don’t think it could have been a more perfect day for a walk on the beach.

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