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Here comes the Sun!

Image of berries in my back yard
This is an image of some berries taken in my yard recently using my Lensbaby Composer, which give the soft effect. Mainly just a lot of work in Photoshop. This image actually uses three of one of my favorite texture people, French Kiss Textures (see sidebar for website links), to get this pretty effect: Atlelier Musing, Centre Ville, and Bohemian. Her textures are always beautiful and painterly. Lots of my standard adjustment layers were needed to get this effect along with a final adjustment in Nik Viveza 2. Also many layers of clean up and painting. Lots of fun but it took forever! Still, it is reminiscent of the Beatles song…..Digital Lady Syd

An Engraved Leaf

Image of a cement leaf on a walkway at the Ormond Memorial Gardens
This image was taken at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens of a pattern drawn into the sidewalk. The texture in the image was so nice, I decided to add a little pizzaz to it. First Topaz (see sidebar for website link) ReStyle preset Loulou and Mandy was applied. This gave it the bright orange and turquoise colors. Three adjustment layers were stacked: Color Lookup using Fuji F125 Kodak 2395, Levels, and Photo Filter using Cyan at 52% density. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Texture Effects2 was applied using a Dingy Cream preset. On another stamped layer, Nik Viveza 2 was applied to adjust corners. A Vibrance and Saturation Adjustment Layer was used. Then I decided to create a brush from the texture of a section selected using the Marquee Tool, turned to black and white, then painted out some more areas, and went to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. Now used the brush to paint in some added texture over the feather and flower and in blank parts of the image to add more texture. I really like the brush I created and hope to use it some more!…..Digital Lady Syd

The Pond Fairy…is always watching you

An image of the Pond Fairy
The Pond Fairy was a lot of fun to create. The original image was a lily pad pond image taken at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens. The sun appeared in the water as a brilliant white glare where the face is located. The fairy face is made from a brush I created from a model’s face. Corel Painter’s ParticleShop Photoshop plug-in was opened and the Cluster brush set to a bright yellow with the Glow checked and was painted on the plant on the left side and little on the tips of the lily pads. A texture from 2 Lil Owl (see sidebar for website link) called Mosaic Set Aqua Grunge – this is one of her best sets in my opinion – was applied and set to Subtract blend mode at 19%layer opacity. Topaz (see sidebar for website link) Lens Effects was opened and the Diffusion filter was applied to really soften up her face and some of the sharp lily lines. Then it was removed in part of the image with a layer mask. Topaz Restyle was opened and a preset was made of the image at this point. Then the actual image sliders were changed to get a little bit different color palette. This is a great way to get the colors just like you want them, especially if they are pretty close to what you like. The other presets just did not work with this image. (See my How to Use a Topaz ReStyle Trick for Improving Your Image blog for how to do this.) A few splats were placed on a New Layer to give a little fairy dust and water bubble look. On a composite layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and opened Nik Color Efex Pro 4 – used Detail Extractor, Glamour Glow and Midnight filters. This layer was set to Multiply blend mode and 24% layer opacity. A group was created for the face layers where the eyes, cheeks and lips were painted. Also the clover hat was added to her image here.  This was from my favorite object site – PixelSquid. The fish are from an image taken in Hawaii at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. It was layered on top of the water lily image, then free transformed to fit the pond area. A Black and White Adjustment Layer and Levels Adjustment Layer were set to get the correct tone and color in them. A layer mask was used to fine tune the fish into the area. Nik Viveza 2 was opened to adjust the focus. The text is a free font called Viner Hand ITC. Quite a few steps but lots of fun. So next time you look into a pond, check out The Pond Fairy who will be watching you…..Digital Lady Syd

Bird in Paradise

Image of a Tri-colored Heron at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery

This male Tri-colored Egret is actually retrieving nesting material for his beautiful red-eyed female from a few posts ago. He would fly into the water, find a stick, run back to the nest, give it mate, then take off again to the same spot. I thought he was rather brave since there are alligators in the water at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. This image was not altered as far as what the setting looked like – just added a couple textures, darkened down the image, and finished up with Nik Viveza 2 to even everything out. He definitely had a beautiful wing spread. The frame is from Shadowhouse Creations – Borders CM1 set (could not find a link) where the frame was taken into Select -> Color Range and just the frame was selected. Then placed on its own layer (CTRL+J), bottom layer deleted, and saved as PNG file. Now it can be placed on any image using any color or patterns. A Bevel and Emboss and Satin Layer Styles were used to give a dark wrought iron effect. Overall it turned out to look like a pretty serene place to be!…..Digital Lady Syd

An Urgent Plea

Image of a Native American Woman
This is a lovely Native American woman I met at the recent Ormond Beach Native American Festival. She was actually doing a little presentation to the students from the local elementary schools on Native American traditions. I wish I could remember which was her tribe, but I would bet she is or was a teacher – very entertaining for the kids, and us adult kids too. Her expression reminded me of the past plight of the American tribes, and liked the fact that she represented how a female member would be attired. I can honestly say this image took me forever to finalize – just could not pull the whole look together. Finally the right textures fell into place and ended up just using my basic Photoshop workflow. Lucis Pro added the detail as an almost hyper-effect mode. Topaz (see sidebar for website link) ReStyle was used to get an interesting color palette and Topaz Texture Effects 2’s Fudge Brownie preset gave the vintage feel to the image. Then several clean up layers and of course, Nik Viveza 2 to draw attention to the face and the Alligator stick (hum). Needless to say, the kids loved that artifact. Just one image but three textures from 2 Lil Owls (see sidebar for website link) and one from Kim Klassen were used to get the final effect. Overall it turned out pretty much like I wanted…..Digital Lady Sy

An Army Tortoise

Image of a Galapagos Tortoise at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm
I have visited the St. Augustine Alligator Farm many times over the past few years and for some reason, these huge Galapagos Tortoises always catch my eye. They always look the same and are not particularly colorful, but for some reason this image caught my attention as it looks like he is wearing an Army camouflage helmet on his back. I just could not pass up the chance to try it out, so here my Army Tortoise – I think he really has a bit of a military expression on his face.

Just my basic workflow using Topaz Clarity to sharpen him up a bit, Topaz (see sidebar for website link) Simplify using a preset created from Serge Ramelli’s video called How To Turn a Photo into a Cartoon with Topaz Simplify 4.0, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer to turn the blue tones in his shell to green, Nik Viveza 2 to even out the edges, a Lighten and Darken Curves Adjustment Layer to slightly dodge and burn the image. 2 Lil Owls (see sidebar for website link) Mosaic Set Benoit textures was added and set to Multiply blend mode, and her Mosaic Set darcy grunge texture was set to Screen blend mode. For this texture the Blend If This Layer white tab slider was split and set to 90/128 to give the pattern effect just on the outside of the image. On a New Layer set to Overlay, a couple large round soft strokes were made to act as a spotlight on his face and part of his shell. A little clean up was done to finish up. I really think he looks so much more interesting now!….Digital Lady Syd

Poising for a Portrait

Image of a Tricolored Heron from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery
This beautiful Tricolored Heron is waiting for her mate to return to the nest with more nest ingredients. I could not believe how beautiful her eyes were! And where is her neck – how does she do this? The image had lots of shadows on her feathers that had to be removed – used both Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush set with the Saturation way down and clarity up to retain the feather structure, and then in Photoshop used a little cloning on the feathers. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (see sidebar for website link) Clarity was applied to pull out the feather details more – the background was painted out in a layer mask. (For Clarity settings, see below.) On another stamped layer Topaz Impression 2’s Jai Johnson’s Oil Glaze Light Original Color for noise removal preset was applied. (Need to try this preset if you shoot bird and wildlife photography – see her preset settings in her video In the Digital Studio January 6, 2017). Darken and Lighten Curves Adjustment Layers were created and the layer masks were filled with black. (See my How to Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image blog.) Areas that needed either adjustment were painted back. A Red Channel Luminosity Curve Adjustment Layer was created. (See my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) Then an orange Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was applied at 19% layer opacity to warm up the image slightly using the mask to remove areas that were too warm. Finished up with Nik Viveza 2 to add a little vignette and drive focus to the bird’s eye. I just love the expression of this lovely lady…..Digital Lady Syd

Here are the basic Clarity settings used for my SJ Scottish Landscape:  Clarity Section – Dynamics: Micro Contrast 0.73, Low Contrast 0.33, Medium Contrast 0; and High Contrast -0.34; Tone: Black Level 0.69, Midtones 0.02, and White Level -0.34; Hue/Sat/Lum Section – Hue Red 0.13, Orange 0.11, Green 0.33, and Aqua -0.36; Sat Red 0.19, Orange 0.14, Green -0.31, and Blue -0.19; and Lum Red 0.59, Orange 0.16, Yellow -0.02, and Green -0.37; all not listed colors were set to 0. For this image, changed Medium Contrast to 0.70, set all Hues to 0, and changed these Lum settings to: Orange 0.39 and Yellow -0.87.

Soaring into Summer

Grunge image of a Bird soaring into summer over a Field
This image is a composite from a couple different photos and several textures. I have never tried any real grunge effect so this is quite a change for me. Basically lots of layering and adjustment layers to pull this together. The original image was taken across the street from my old home on Lake Wawasee (click to see the webcam) in Indiana and was a huge marsh of Pussy Willows at this time. Two 2 Lil Owls (see sidebar for website link) – Ancient 1 and Jewel Chalks 19. The font is  Nomah Script and was warped to fit the bird. The bird is from Photoshop Creative magazine No. 12, and the foreground contains  Midnightstouch Grasslands 3. Topaz (see sidebar for website link) ReStyle to get a better color adjustment. From Shorpy’s (my favorite vintage image site) an Abandoned Garage on Highway No. 2 in western North Dakota in October 1937. A layer mask was used to blend it in the background. A dark border was added and Nik Viveza 2 was used to adjust the final lighting effect. Lots of work on this one and I hope it conveys the effect I wanted of a bird soaring over the field and adding an element of warmth to the rather drab image……Digital Lady Syd

Teasing the Bird Paparazzi

Image of Snowy Egret flying at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery
This beautiful snowy egret looks like he is having a great time showing off in front of the large group of photographers trying to get him centered in the cameras. I thought this was one of the funniest images I have taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. Added Gaussian Blur to the whole image at Radius 12.5 and painted back the bird. The whole background was just too busy and the photographers way too distinct. On just the bird a little Topaz Clarity was used to bring out the detail in the bird’s wings especially. Used an Exposure Adjustment Layer to sharpen the eye. Then Topaz ReStyle’s First Steps preset was applied. Used Nik Viveza 2 to balance out the color in the image and on the birds wings. A Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer finished up the image. It was a little tricky to not over-sharpen the bird to keep it from looking like a composite. I had to spend a lot of time just toning down the edges to blend into the overall background. Still like the image…..Digital Lady Syd

Building a Nest for the Future

Image of a Roseate Spoonbill at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery
One of my favorite birds to photograph, partly because they are so funny. This Roseate Spoonbill had to work pretty hard to get the branch broken off the tree limb so his mate could add it to the nest at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. The couples work very hard together getting it all just right. This guy was in such a busy background that I had to figure out a way to calm it down. Decided to go with a bit of a glamour look to soften the whole image down thanks to Sebastian Michael‘s action. (If you took his course, the link is in a recent e-mail.) I hope I get to find this guys nest and see the chicks that will be hatching soon. ….Digital Lady Syd