Month: April 2017

Personal Styles Change

I have used that photo of my dad before, actually nearly five years ago on another page. Looking back at my old page, the fact that my personal style has changed in the last five years is quite evident. My 2012 page looks far more traditional in design. Elements of my current style, as I explained in a previous post, Finding My Style, were evident in 2012: the blending I like to do and the focus on a photo and telling a story in photos and journaling. However, the overall design of that old page was rather conventional. On my new page, the design is far more freeform, definitely more artsy. That’s a skill I have worked on developing through classes and practice in the last few years.

To create my new, more freeform artsy page, I began with brush 4 from ArchiTextures No. 7. That brush reminded me of the house that my dad lived in as a child. To the brush, I clipped two copies of artsy paper 1 from ArtPlay Palette Quaintville, one on linear burn at 50% and one one normal at 60%

To build a background for my brush, I placed overlay 4 from FotoBlendz Overlays No. 10 below the brush. I clipped two more copies of artsy paper 1 to the fotoblendz mask. The top paper layer is on color burn at 50%.

Next, I placed the psd layers of a frame from ArtPlay Palette Wayfaring. I enlarged the frame 25% and then clipped my photo to the mask. I had changed the photo to black and white in Lightroom before importing.

To build a cluster to focus on my framed photo, I added the foliage and a button from ArtPlay Palette Quaintville, thread 5 from ButtonThreadz No. 2, a word label from ArtPlay Palette Hearth and the psd layers of file 3 from MultiMedia Homes No 1.

Finally, to finish my page, I added a wood word from Hearth WordArt Mix No. 1 and journaling.

Mostly I love that I continue to learn and grow as a digital artist. Ongoing learning is important to me!!

Quick Flower Book Update

I thought I would share a quick update on another page for an ongoing series with the photos of flowers that I’ve been capturing with my macro lens. I hope to have enough pages by the end of the year to compile them in a book.

After placing my full page photo, I reduced the size of the template layers from FotoInspired DoubleTemplate No. 79 about 15% and placed those on the right.

Next, I clipped my photos to the frames, adding an extraction above three frames and a few threads from ButtonThreadz No. 2.

The background behind the frames is several layers of artsy paint, ArtsyPaint No. 7, along with a brush experiment with another pansy photo.

As I pointed out in a previous post, Easy Book Project, this is proving to be a great opportunity to focus on improving my photography.

Happy Place

Now that the weather is warming up, Kate and I often walk to the park. With spring in full force here, this is where she wants to be: playing, climbing, sliding, swinging and jumping on the equipment. The park is Kate’s happy place and if there are other kids there, even more so because that gives her someone else with whom she can pretend and play besides me. That’s when I focus on making more photos.

There is no way that I can scrap all the photos that I capture while we are playing at the park, but I want Kate to remember how much she loved playing there. With Anna’s artsy templates, I can combine photos from several different trips to the park to create an artsy page for this year’s book telling the story of how much she loves this place. Yes, this story page will be part of another book.

After reading Ulla-May’s tutorial, Artsy Sketch Effect, I wondered if the instructions of the tutorial might work with some playground photos since I don’t have many cityscapes as recommended for this effect. However, the photos that I capture of my granddaughter Kate on the colorful playground equipment she loves so much are often bright and bold with strong lines.

Following Ulla-May’s directions to create a sketch, the screen below shows what I got with my first photo. I adjusted the opacity on a couple of layers and changed the blend mode of the color layer to hard light. Otherwise, I simply followed the directions. I created a composite of all the layers to use with the template’s mask and stains rather than drag all the layers over to a new document.

First, I dragged all the layers of template 6 from WaterColor Album Template No. 4 to the left side of a new 24×12 inch document. I replaced the fotoblendz mask with a mask from template 9 but clipped copies of the photo to stains from both template 6 and template 9 to better accommodate my photo.

I followed the same process to create an artsy sketch with two additional photos and clipped those to the fotoblendz masks of template 7 on the right side of my page.

I clipped other photos to the framed masks as provided in the templates, adjusting as needed with adjustment layers. I did not apply the sketch effect to those photos.

Finally, I added a title, a glow from MultiMedia Suns No. 2 and a scribble from ScribbleSun No. 1 to finish my page. This page is bright and cheerful, just like Kate at the park. The artsy sketches add to the fun. I’ll definitely repeat the sketch effect on another page in this year’s book.


Capturing a Memory

Photographing my granddaughter is still a work in progress for me. Sometimes, I take just my iPhone and at other times, I take my Fuji X-T2 when we are out together. On our walk yesterday evening, I had my Fuji with a 35 mm lens when we stopped to play on the school’s playground equipment.

I am working on capturing her in my camera frame using the rule of thirds. I set my aperture at 5.6, knowing that would give me a little more depth in focus because I would need to shoot quickly to capture her constant motion.

She doesn’t really like to pose, so I simply follow her. Sometimes, I have enough time to get in position to capture her, for example on this apparatus as she was moving towards me.

Yet the contrast between all the color in the playground equipment and my granddaughter seemed to take the focus off of her. I converted this to black and white quickly by pressing the letter V in Lightroom before exporting it. In some ways, I think the black and white makes a stronger photo.

One might think that my granddaughter and I came across a beautiful field of tulips on our walk. These were growing in a neighbor’s planter in the early evening light. I didn’t have my macro lens with me, only my 35mm f/2.0. I changed the aperture to 2.8 and got down low enough on the ground that there appeared to be a lot more tulips behind the variegated red tulip.

While I don’t have my granddaughter’s face in this photo of a Lego set we finally finished this morning, I love her little hands holding a Lego figure she assembled.

I have the opportunity to make some wonderful memories with Kate, memories I hope photos like these will help her remember.

Painterly Tulips

I returned to Lauritzen Gardens on Monday just to photograph the tulips. It was a beautiful morning, the weather was perfect: a cool 68°, blue skies and a light breeze.  Yes, it was a perfect day to enjoy myself with my camera. I don’t want to forget these beautiful tulips or a perfect morning.

However, as the number of photos for which I need to create pages increases, I know that I have to simplify my process if I am going to finish any pages. That’s why I chose this template from Artsy Template MultiPack No. 10. The template set is free with a $15 dollar purchase this weekend. I deleted a few layers, changed the opacity and blend modes of a few layers, otherwise this is the template as designed.

For my focal photo in the background, I created a composite using Topaz Labs plug-in Simplify. I duplicated my original photo twice and used a process that I described in an earlier post, More on a Painterly Look. I reduced the opacity of both layers adjusted in the plug-in, one at 50% and the other at 30%. I duplicated the three layers and then merged those together to create one new layer.

Next, I duplicated my new merged layer, linked it with the originals and clipped them to the different template layers, making adjustments as needed for my photo.

I clipped other photos to the small frames and made adjustments with a curves adjustment layer for each.

To balance the frames, I placed the psd layers of file 3 from MultiMedia Spring No. 1. I recolored the petals, reduced the opacity of some layers and changed the blend mode of others.

To finish my page, I added a button, splatters and threads. I placed my title and journaling as designed in Anna’s template.

I like it when a page comes together in a couple of hours, which is fairly fast for me. The hardest part was deciding which template worked best with my tulip photos. However, now I will remember these beautiful tulips.

More On a Painterly Look

While I haven’t finished viewing all the videos from class, Creating Painterly Images, I thought I would share what I did with these white orchids using Topaz Lab’s plug-in Simplify as well another technique the instructor demonstrated in class. I have another six videos to view, all of which demonstrate how to add a painterly look within Photoshop or with a plug-in like Simplify from Topaz Labs. I haven’t viewed the class video on Topaz Labs yet, so what I share today is based on my current understanding of how the plug-in works.

Aside from the original extracted copy and custom drop shadow at the bottom of the orchid group, I created a sketch within Topaz Labs’ Simplify with one copy and a digital painting with another copy. On both of those copies I applied the inverted masks before taking them into Simplify. To the painterly copy, I clipped a lightened copy of solid paper 2 from ArtPlay Palette Tres Bon. There are two more orchid copies: one for which I used the find edges filter and another copy of the painted version on color burn at 30%.

Note: I have been experimenting with Topaz Labs’ Simplify plug-in for more than two years. This link, Create a Digital Painting, is my favorite tutorial for using Topaz’s Simplify. It’s from 2014, but I still think this tutorial explains best how the Simplify plug-in works so that I can make my own adjustments on the presets provided in the software. Once you’ve done this a few times, you will not need to have the instructions on your computer screen while you work in the plug-in. This plug-in works in both Photoshop and PSE.

To soften the look of the orchids, I next created a composite of just the orchid group. I duplicated it three times. Then I rotated each copy maybe 4 or 5° both clockwise and counter clockwise and changed the blend mode of each to color burn at 25%.

Below the orchids, I placed two copies of transfer 5, copies of transfers 3 and 6 as well as the gold paint from ArtPlay Palette Tres Bon. I stamped brush 2 and brush 6 from Tres Bon No. 1 with a dark brown on new layers and changed the blend mode to linear burn. I changed the blend mode of transfer 3 to color burn and transfer 6 to linear burn.

For dimension, I placed file 6 from UrbanStitched Leaves No. 3 along with threads from UrbanThreadz No. 9 and UrbanThreadz No. 11. I should try to use the .abr files for stamping the threads, but I have an old habit involving searching and then dragging over the file that I need to break. I recolored the button and added a thread from ButtonThreadz No. 2. I stamped my title on a new blank layer just under the orchids in the same dark brown I used for the brushes.

I will let you know soon what I learn in the last six class videos.


On a Windy Day

Every photographer knows that wind makes it extremely difficult to capture flowers in focus. I spent a windy afternoon at Lauritzen Gardens today. I was able to capture a few daffodils with the focus sharp, i.e. this shot at 1/5000 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 400 with my 60mm macro lens. Even with that fast shutter speed, my photo appears a little soft.

So I decided to play with the double exposure feature that is available on my camera. Artistically, I think these shots play up the action of the wind this afternoon. I like the effect.

Double exposure worked with some pansies too.

Aside from flowers, I experimented with double exposure and garden decorations. I especially liked the way the ball looked in this photograph.

I think this old door took on interesting dimension when photographed via double exposure.

I’ll try this camera feature again, definitely when I’m out on a windy afternoon, but first, I plan to return one day this next week to capture the tulips that were just about ready to bloom. I’m hoping for a windless morning.

Painterly Look

Every spring, before any green appears, I buy a bowl of pansies. I love their colorful faces. For this photo, I first shot from a different angle and then tried something different with it based on something I learned in a photography class, Creating Painterly Photographs by Kathleen Clemens that I found at Creative Live.

Each of the photos that I layered were rotated just a little to give the photograph a bit of a soft painterly blur. Except for the original photo at the bottom, each of the layers above are at 30% opacity. I grouped all the layers and masked out parts with some AnnaBlendz Artsy brushes.

I placed a copy of the foliage from Artsy Palette Hygge within the group.

Next, I placed some layers from transfer 5 from Artsy Transfers Hygge. I recolored a few and clipped photos to two of the transfer layers.

Then I added gold paint and an overlay above solid paper 1 from ArtPlay Palette Hygge. I gave the overlay a light color overlay on color blend mode through the styles menu. Above the photo group, I placed another copy of the branch at 70% opacity.

For a bit of dimension, I added the tea charm and a thread from ButtonThreadz No. 2. Finally I added a title and bit of journaling to finish my page.

I enjoyed playing with a new idea for adding a painterly look to my photograph to create a simple layout remembering my early spring ritual. The instructor also covered using Lensbaby lens. The possibilities with those lenses were impressive, but I’m not ready to spend the money until I will research them more.

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