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Countryside Contentment

Image of countryside near Bath, England
This image was take on the highway to Bath, England. I did not realize what a beautiful sky was in the image so I had not looked at it in Photoshop. Now I think it looks rather idyllic. This image actually took a lot of layers to get it looking the way I wanted: Topaz (see sidebar for website link) Studio was used to bring the contrast into the image and the Radiance Adjustment was used to get some very precise lines. Some spotlight effect was used to direct the eye and Nik Viveza 2. To warm the sky a Light Gradient using clear, yellow and pink colors was added to warm up the whole image. Blake Rudis’s gradient map vignette technique was used to finish up the image. (See my Yet Another Great Way to Create a Vignette! blog.) Overall a lot of fun to do!…..Digital Lady Syd

Smokestacks in New York City

Image of Manhattan's Business District in NYC cc 1900
The above image is from the Library of Congress and is an image taken of the Business District in Manhattan, New York City, cc1900. Shorpy.com showed it as a blog image and has posted some really interesting info about what buildings were in this original image. What intrigued me is the smoke from all the smokestacks and all the American Flags (I counted at least 160), most flying on top of the buildings. A lot of clean up was done first and the image had to be converted to RBG from Grayscale and reasonable size needed to be set. On a cleaned up stamped image (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Topaz Studio was opened and one of my uploaded Community presets (SJ Building Sharp) was applied. I did go through and tweak the four adjustments (Basic, Precision Contrast, Precision Detail, and Dehaze) in this preset, but it is pretty much the same settings. The last step in Topaz was to reduce the total effect in the sky – used a Mask Transparency of 0.33 with a brush and then added a Feather of 0.23 in the More Mask Options section. In Photoshop a Color Lookup FoggyNight preset added at 11% layer opacity and Linear Burn blend mode. Two textures from Flypaper were added: Alice set to Overlay blend mode and 100% layer opacity and Villa Adriana set to 36% layer opacity and Overlay blend mode. Last step was to open Nik Viveza 2 and add a little lightness on the buildings facing the sun and in the corners for a subtle vignette effect. Really fun picture to work with……..Digital Lady Syd

Going to Windsor Castle

Going to Windsor Castle
Enjoyed working with this image of a little shopping and restaurant area that led into Windsor Castle in England – lots of different tourists. I find this kind of image totally entertaining! Will just go over the basics as a lot of work went into this image. Mainly did basic adjustments in Lightroom including converting it to black and white. In Photoshop the image was taken into Topaz (see sidebar for website link) Studio where Precision Detail, Color Theme where some color was added back in some different gray color tones, and Impression where the default was used and the Painting Progress slider set to 0.43 – that is why it is not overly painterly. Added a little pink color, a Nik Viveza 2 filter to clean up some of the lighting issues, several Curves Adjustment Layers, and a Color Lookup to add more pink tones in. On a stamped layer applied Topaz ReStyle’s Wedgewood Blue and Tan preset set to Color blend mode and a Levels Adjustment Layer for final adjustment of contrast. It took a lot of tweaking as the people looked too crisp with some of the settings. I just really liked the feel created by the glass dome and all the activity. Lots of fun…..Digital Lady Syd

On Safari

Image of a display at Universal Studios
This image was taken at Universal Studios-Florida in a gift shop. I thought it was a very interesting display. Just followed one of my basic image workflows for this one. First selected the display from the background. Then added underneath a Texture from 2 Lil Owls (see sidebar for website link), a texture I created a long time ago set to Darker Color at 46%, and an object of just vertical lines on top of it set to 46%.  The actual cut-out layer was opened in Lucis Pro to get the almost illustrative effect. Then some clean up layers and Nik Viveza 2 to direct the eye properly. A Red Channel Luminosity layer, Topaz (see sidebar for website link) ReStyle’s Ash Gray and Eggshell on another layer, and a Camera Raw Filter to add grain were the final steps. That was it. I really like the overall effect…..Digital Lady Syd

Abandoned Texaco Station

Image of an abandoned Texaco gas station from 1937
I found this image of an abandoned gas station in 1937 on Highway No. 2 in western North Dakota at Shorpy’s Historic Photo Archive but downloaded the original as a tif file from the Library of Congress. Seemed like a perfect candidate for colorizing in the new Topaz (see sidebar for website link) Studio. When working with these vintage black and white images, you always need to first adjust the resolution and resize it in Photoshop by going to Image -> Image Size command – set to a resolution of 300 by unchecking the Resample button, inserting 300, then rechecking the button to change the size. Next duplicated the layer in PS and opened up Topaz (see sidebar for website link) Studio and selected my SJ Colorize Black and White Image preset (it is up on the Community Site). Then added: Reduce Noise Adjustment and painted out the foreground in a mask so it only affected the sky; Dehaze Adjustment set to a Strength of 0.39 and Suppress Artifacts to 0.82; and Impression Adjustment using the Default settings changing the Stroke type to Stroke 09 and set the Painting Progress slider to 0.27. Back in Photoshop just did my normal workflow although it took a little more work. Used Nik Viveza 2 to adjust the overall image and several painting layers to smooth out the sky. Lots of fun here!…..Digital Lady Syd

Feeding Egret

Image of a white egret eating in calm water from Hurricane Irma
This image was taken in my neighborhood soon after Hurricane Irma visited recently. This is just standing water from the large amount of water received from the storm – it has now almost completely evaporated. Needless to say the birds loved it!

Note much done to this image – most of the processing was done in Topaz Studio, the new free interface for the Topaz plug-ins. (See my Introducing the Free Topaz Studio blog) I am still trying to figure out how to use all the adjustment settings. (Here are the settings used: Basic Adjustment – Exp -0.22, Clarity 0.28, Shadow 0.52, Highlight -0.16, Sat 0.29, Precision Contrast – Micro 0.30, Low 0.10, Medium -0.11, High -0.30, Shadow -0.35, Sat -0.22, Vibrant -0.79, and Color Contrast -0.37; and Radiance 0.28 opacity, Strength 0.11 and Fade 0.38.) A Red Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer was applied. (See my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) Last step involved using a Selective Color Adjustment Layer and reducing the brightness of the over-powering Yellows. …..Digital Lady Syd

Beautiful Horse

Image of horses
This beautiful image is a stock photo from Deeezy Cute Animals. I wanted to try out a technique that John Paul Caponigro presented on his blog recently called Creative Image Sharpening with HDR Software. This technique is applied to only one image and does not work well on all photos, but I liked the effect on the fur texture. Unfortunately his blog addresses the older version of Nik HDR Efex Pro and the newer free Nik HDR Efex Pro2 is a very different interface. Therefore I had to play around the various settings, but I got what I consider a pretty nice result. There are a couple nice videos on how to use this software at the link also. In this case, only one image was used to increase the detail on the texture (here are the settings I used: Tone Compression 60%, Method Strength 72%, HDR Method Depth subtle, Detail realistic, and Drama natural. Structure was then set to 67%, Blacks move to middle of slider and Whites almost to end). A control point was placed on the horse eye and nose to add a little fine sharpening. A vignette was created. It was fun trying out the filter and it definitely does make the image a lot sharper, but it can look really bad on some images. I always liked the filter for HDR, so definitely continue using it for that if you have it. But if you have an image with some nice texture in it, give this single photo technique a try. …..Digital Lady Syd

Flowers Enjoying a Planetary Twilight Sky

Digital Art image of flowers and planets
This is just a fun blog. I was doodling with some of Brush Guru Grut’s fabulous brushes (see sidebar for website link and get a free weekly brush to download) and ended up with the flowers looking skyward at an interesting twilight sky. Two layers were painted in a New Document – used one of my favorite drawing brush called Grut-I Qwillo brush. On individual layers, the ground was painted with Grut’s FX IL Bad Mower brush, the flowers and leaves used Grut OI Hip Twitch, and some flower spatters. The Star Field02 is from Frostbo and set to 34% layer opacity. The cloud effect is a cloud brush I created and set to 17% layer opacity. I added Saturn and the moonlet using some brushes I had created a long time ago. Jupiter was created using actual images from NASA’s Mission Juno Project and following a short video by Howard Pinsky called Processing Jupiter in Adobe Photoshop – this was so much fun! It was moved into the sky and that is about all that was done. Last step involved using Topaz (see sidebar for website link) Texture Effects preset called Crisp Morning Run. Lots of fun here!…..Digital Lady Syd

A Beautiful Bedroom

Image of a Master Bedroom at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Florida
Decided to experiment and turn this Master Bedroom in the Flagler Museum or Whitehall in Palm Beach, Florida, into a monotone color – it just looked pretty after David DuChemin’s Lightroom Develop Preset was applied called B+W Duo-Cool to Warm. It actually was a little too bleached out but this is point that I started in Photoshop. I wanted to have a vintage feel to the image. The actual image was done in bright golds and yellows. The image was sharpened using Lucis Pro (no longer available) and then adding a black layer mask and painting back just some of the detail. An outside border was created using Shadowhouse Creations Heavenly Vintage Texture Set-Lavender Texture which was desaturated (CTRL+SHIFT+U). Nik Viveza 2 was added to sharpen up the left mirror reflection. To add a little color tone to the image, a Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added using a beige-pink color – set to Color blend mode at 54% layer opacity. I really like the overall effect…..Digital Lady Syd

Watching the Sky

B&W image of a Siamang Ape
This Siamang Ape lives at the Palm Beach Zoo – he has just finished his breakfast and is getting ready to run to the top of the trees and announce the opening of the Zoo for the other animals. The technique used in this image was presented in a video by Glyn Dewis called Use Photoshop to Take a Picture from Good to Great in 5 Steps – it is based on an effected created by wildlife photographer Nick Brandt. One of my Corel Painter backgrounds was used as a background placed under the ape image. Then used a layer mask to remove the original background. Then basically sharpened the image and then blurred the image in selected areas of the image. Last step involved adding grain into the image. The video goes through most of this. This was a lot of fun to try! Thank you Glyn Dewis for showing us how to do this!….Digital Lady Syd