Month: May 2016

Focus the Eye with a Frame


Kate really enjoys playing in the sand at what we describe as the shady park. 2016-05-18 093417However, those trees surrounding the play equipment create shadows that make photography more difficult. Note the harsh light in the background and to the left of my granddaughter. Changing light and her constant movement are why I often set my camera on aperture priority and auto ISO. With those settings I can concentrate on framing the scene, getting my granddaughter’s face in focus and blurring the background by setting the aperture to f/5.6. Those settings usually give me enough depth to get her face in focus if I hold the camera securely and put a focus point on her face. However, framing the scene is still difficult for me. In this shot, I cut off some of the sand toys. The exposure is a little dark. Despite the problems with this photo, I liked Kate’s expression, her hands squeezing the sand and the little truck. I knew that I could fix the exposure, use the Clone Stamp to erase the price sticker on the little truck and mask out the cropped sand toys.

Framing helps focus the eye on what is important on a page, in this case my granddaughter as she played in the sand with the toy truck. Below are highlights of the steps that I followed to create this page as I worked the new MultiMedia Frames No. 3.

Drag the layers of psd file 3 from MultiMedia Frames No. 3 onto a new document. Clip the photo to the fotoblendz mask and a copy of the photo to the stain. Add adjustment layers as needed to correct photo exposure. Clip solid paper 6 from ArtPlay Palette Swell above each photo layer on normal blend mode at 50% opacity. Mask out what you do not want covered with sand by adding a layer mask.

Note that I extracted my granddaughter from another photo copy and placed it below the solid paper 6 layer because I thought the appearance and shadowing looked better in that order. I also created a copy of the extraction’s mask for the paper. Order in the layers panel depends on how the layers blend together.

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Place transfer 7 from ArtPlay Palette Swell below the psd multimedia frame layers. Create another copy of the photo and place that below the transfer. Add a layer mask to the photo and blend into the background paper, solid paper 2, using AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 7 brushes. Clip a copy of solid paper 6 at 50% opacity to the photo layer and mask as needed. Stamp brush 3 from Oasis No. 2 on a layer below in a color to coordinate with the photo.

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Place another copy of the extraction and layer mask along with the adjustment layers above the frame. Use a round brush to adjust the extraction’s layer mask to reveal and/or hide parts covering the frame. Attach a layer mask to the frame’s shadow to lighten as needed.

Note that at this point I used the Clone Stamp to erase the distracting price sticker on the little yellow truck.
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Add overlays 2 and 3 and the art stroke from the ArtPlay Palette Swell to finish the background. Place png wooden word art 2 from Beach WordArt Mix 1 and add a subtitle as shown on the collection preview. Change the elements included with the frame as needed. In this case, I substituted the branch and sand pail charm from  ArtPlay Palette Swell and tied both down with png file 3 from ButtonThreadz 2. Add journaling.

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By using a frame on my page, I have focused on my granddaughter and hidden what was distracting in my photo. You might be wondering why I didn’t simply erase portions of the frame to achieve the out of bounds effect. One reason I prefer working with an extraction is because that allows me the option to add shadows to part of the photo and create more depth on my pages. As I explained in previous posts, Inspiration and Changing Focus and a Tip for Extractions, the effects created with shadows are not possible by erasing parts of a frame or blending.

I am not especially fast at creating my pages, but I finished this page in under two hours even with the extraction. Practice helps, especially if you know the different tools in Photoshop or PSE that are available for extractions.

Knowing how to extract from a photo, the selection tools available as well as how to refine extraction edges makes what appears difficult really very easy. Anna is offering a new course, ExtractTHIS, which is available at a 50% discount if you sign up for Flipping Clipping Live. At the moment, Anna’s site is down for maintenance, but if you email her, she will register you for classes. I don’t think that there is one best way to extract from a photo. My process depends on the photo, what I am trying to achieve and my comfort level with different options. Anna’s class is a wonderful opportunity for me to continue to refine my skills, especially important to me as extractions are definitely characteristic of my current style.



Storytelling and Robin-Eggs

Storytelling for me is a process combining both photographs and words. My dad, a man who enjoyed photo albums but rarely made photos himself, was definitely a storyteller. I remember him often sharing stories about family, childhood and life, recalling and describing scenes from memory. It wasn’t until late in his life that he began to write his stories. If a gene for storytelling existed in the human genome, then clearly I inherited the predisposition for sharing stories from my dad. I think he would have loved reading through the books and albums of pages that I have created by combining photography and writing to tell my stories.

Often there are recurring stories in my life, for example robins 2016-05-16 164422who return every year to make nests in our yard, in the eves of the deck, in a dwarf Korean Lilac tree and this year, in a small hydrangea tree close to my front door. I had to use my iPhone to capture this nest because of limited space between the branches of the little tree.

In the past, I have created a few other pages with photos about the beautiful blue eggs. After I finished creating the page with my latest photo, 2011-07-16_Robin's EggI went back to see what else I had done on the topic of eggs. In June 2011, I wrote about my regret that my husband had taken down a nest with only one blue egg. Then good grief I thought, I can’t believe how much my scrapbooking style has changed in five years. Yet, I think my writing voice has not changed at all because the journaling sounds as if I had written it today. Below is another page that I created in 2011, one that I’ve never printed, although I still smile at the memory. I actually thought about my youngest grandson’s first experience with a robin-egg when I wrote the journaling for my latest layout. 2011-07-15_Robin's EggMama bird gets very angry when I approach. She squawks and dives around me as she expresses her displeasure. I have told her that if she’s going to build a nest in my yard, then I am going to photograph the arrival of her babies. However, I also promised Mrs. Robin that when Kate and I peer among the leaves, we won’t touch her eggs or nest. There was an unfortunate incident several years ago when Corbin accidentally dropped one little blue egg.

It’s been five years since I captured those photos of Corbin, but I think that story would make a wonderful two spread combined with my latest page. The more that I look back this year, the more I am enjoying the benefits of connecting past and current stories in this year’s book project. Now comes the challenge of figuring out how to combine the two pages. It’s really best to create both sides for a two page spread at the same time. Unfortunately, I don’t always do what is best. I will try to share how I put the two stories together in a future post.

Coloring Elements with Blending Modes and LightLeaks

For the month of May, Anna’s team members are sharing ideas for using blending modes on scrapbooking pages. Earlier this month, I shared a quick tip for using levels adjustment layers and blend modes to change the color of elements. Today, I thought I’d share how I colored the bird from MultiMedia Birds No. 1 using blending modes and LightLeaks.


On the left of the screenshot below, is the original psd file that Anna provided in MultiMedia Birds No. 1. On the right side are the changes that I made to coordinate the bird with my page. After moving the bird and stitching to the left to accommodate my photo, I switched out the orange button for a pink button. I made no other changes to the original psd layers. Instead, to color the bird layer, I clipped brushes and LightLeaks to that layer.


First, I clipped a copy of solid paper 4 from ArtPlay Palette Cultivate to the bird and reduced the opacity to 35% in order to match the color of the bird with the background. I could also have recolored the bird.

Note: In the process of working with blending modes on the glows and brush files to color the bird, I found that I needed to lighten the layers. To do that I stamped a white rectangle on a new layer. I then added a gaussian blur and reduced the opacity to 75%. This technique also works for lightening the background just below journaling so that it is more readable.


To create the wings on the bird, I placed png file 8, a stem, from Watercolor Flowers No. 1, resizing and rotating it so that it created a wing effect. I recolored it white on normal blend mode at 100%. I duplicated the stem, selected a color from the eggs in photo and recolored that layer before changing the blend mode to linear light at 100%.


Next, I added two copies of png file 3 from LightLeaks No. 3. I changed the blending mode of the lower light leak to color burn at 40% and the layer above to color at 40%.


Above the first two LightLeak layers, I placed png file 6 from LightLeaks No. 3. I changed the blend mode to linear light at 100%. To get the pink color, I added a hue and saturation adjustment layer. I inverted the mask and used a round brush to bring in enough color to create a red breast on the bird.


Finally, I added a little black dot with a hard round brush on a new blank layer to create an eye for the bird.


I used the same technique with blending modes and LightLeaks to color the watercolor flower brush 1, Watercolor Flowers No. 1, under the button and thread on the right side. Click on the layout for additional product details.



Inspiration for a story doesn’t always occur when I make a photograph. For example, I made some photographs of my grandchildren on Mother’s Day, but I couldn’t decide what I wanted to write. I could have written about the little gnome and grass covered rabbit that my grandchildren brought me for my garden, gifts my son thought were hilarious. 2016-05-08 170133-2I know because he smiled the way I remembered him smiling when he’d done something as a boy, something he thought I’d find very entertaining. I could also have written about my grandchildren’s antics while being coaxed to sit together on the little bridge in the wooded area behind our house so that I could make this photograph. However, it wasn’t until Wednesday morning that I found just the story I really wanted to write. Unfortunately, there was simply no time to make any photos Wednesday morning. I was much too busy. So I used a photo I made on Sunday, a photo filled with memories, to write a different story for a scrapbook page.

One morning a week, I am in charge of getting my four grandchildren out of bed and off to school. For some reason, my skills as a young mother and a classroom teacher haven’t transferred to my current grandma status. This morning, I re-entered the kitchen to hear Corbin ask if he could have a cookie. ThisMorningICan'tRemember_lkdavis_600I didn’t immediately notice that he already had most of it in his mouth when I said, “not until you finish your pancakes, so put it back.” I looked up to observe Owen across the kitchen putting two of those cookies in a baggie. He said they were for snack. I questioned, “5th graders have snack time?” “No,” responded Logan as he helped himself to what was left. Then Kate started crying because there were no cookies left for her. Was it like this when my two kids were little? Surely not, but I can’t remember now!!!

I don’t think my family will care that I didn’t capture any photos of what happened on Wednesday morning. I anticipate that they will remember sitting on the bridge and may even laugh at grandma’s story, at least the two older boys will laugh. I can already hear my son laughing.

2016-05-13_WithoutExtractionFor those of you who read my last post, I shared a tip for adding dimension to a layout by extracting part of a picture. Take a look at my page without the extractions. Do you see the difference in depth? Without the extraction, I also do not have the flexibility to place color and texture below their legs. Extracting is a simple process.


After adding some adjustment layers to the photo, I duplicated both the photo and adjustment layers. Next, I extracted my grandchildren’s legs from the copy using the Pen Tool before placing the selection on a layer mask. That allowed me to refine my extraction. Finally, I gave my extraction layer a drop shadow to add even more depth.

Before concluding this post, I want to thank Adryane for sharing her ideas for using the Line Tool at Anna’s latest live event on Saturday, ArtPlay Unedited 2. If you look carefully, you will see the lines I drew on the faded frame of mask 2 from Camera FotoBlendz No. 1 in order to balance my framing lines on the left and bottom of my page. Click on the screenshot below to see the products I used to create this page.




Changing Focus and a Tip for Extractions

As I go through Anna’s gallery, I often think about the different purposes for engaging in scrapbooking, knowing that for many digital scrapbook artists the time with small children lies in the past or future. Family has been a major theme for many of my pages. However, it won’t be long before my last grandchild heads off to school in 2018 and my focus will change.

I am thinking now about what stories I might write and photographs I will make when Kate does begin school. I know there are stories that I haven’t told about photos still quietly residing on my hard drive. I imagine that I will compile some of those stories on scrapbook pages. I imagine that I will create more art with my photos, try new techniques and experiment with upcoming trends. Maybe I will find some better approaches for working with those 1970-80s photos of my own children. I am sure that I will continue to develop my skills and style. As a grandmother I know that change will come whether I want it or not. This is part of the reason that I am grappling with creative balance this year, something between artsy pages for the sake of art and pages with family stories for a 2016 book.

Despite my changing focus, I think extractions will remain a characteristic of my style. I love the dimension created with extractions. With all this practice, they are certainly getting much easier and faster for me. So using a two page spread that I’ve just finished, I would like to share another tip for using extractions, specifically an extraction of just part of a photo so that it extends beyond a mask and/or frame.

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I love the look of part of a photo Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 2.43.12 PMextending beyond a frame as on this page using Anna’s Artsy Layered Template No. 125 and Artsy Layered Template Duopack No. 10. After resizing and clipping a photo to a mask, I duplicated that photo and moved the copy up above the frame. I often extract what I want to keep with the Quick Selection Tool and then click the add layer mask icon to place the selection on a mask. Sometimes, I use the Pen Tool, however for this photo, I simply attached an inverted layer mask to the photo copy and then used a hard round brush to bring back just the part of the photo that I wanted to extend out of the frame. The screen shot of my layer’s panel shows the original photo that I clipped to mask 3 and the duplicated photo (with the word extraction added to the layer name). I placed the duplicate above not only frame 3 but also frame 5 so that Kate’s feet would drop over the frame onto the black and white photo below.

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After I finished extracting her feet using a hard round brush on inverted layer masks, I added a drop shadow to the layers to make the extractions appear more realistic.


I actually extracted just part of a photo on both sides of my two page spread. On the left, I created a custom mask for the original photo and then duplicated the photo, placing it above the original masked photo. From the photo copy, I extracted using the Quick Selection Tool just enough from the photo to allow my granddaughter’s feet to dangle over the bridge. I gave the extraction a drop shadow. On the right, I extracted her legs and feet again so that they extended out of the frames. I also gave those extractions a drop shadow. While I used the Quick Selection Tool on the left side, I used an inverted mask and the Brush Tool on the right side.

Whether you use the Pen Tool, Quick Selection Tool or Brush Tool to extract doesn’t really matter as all three are simple techniques when combined with a layer mask for creating partial extractions to extend from a mask or frame. I hope this provides an idea for working with extractions on whatever type of scrapbook pages you create. The full layout screenshot links to this page in Anna’s gallery with a complete list of products used.


Below are two additional examples of placing a partial extraction above a frame and applying a drop shadow to the extraction. For information on the supplies used on the layout on the left click this link. More information on the layout on the right is available here.

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