Anything Photoshop or Photography


The Mighty Ant

Image of an Ant on a dandelion.
For some reason, this dandelion weed has grown to some humongous size by my front door in this major hot summer we are having and the ants are having a ball tromping all over it! I decided to pull out my old Lensbaby Composer set it to F/4 and Macro +4 lens to get this guy doing some kind of balancing act on a bud. This pretty much is how the image looked out of camera. I love the soft DOF you get with the Lensbaby. On a duplicate layer the now free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened. The Detail Extractor was applied to mainly just the ant and a little bit of the foreground to give it a little more sharpness, and the Vignette Filter was used where a darker green color was sampled from the image to soften the bottom. Back in PS, Topaz (see sidebar for website link) Texture Effects’s Crisp Morning Run preset was applied (removed Adjustments, and added Diffusion panel, changed the Blur to 0.42, then painted back the ants, then set Strength 0.58, Softness 1.00) to get the beautiful turquoise effect in the background. I had not used this lens in a long time so it was a lot of fun to use!…..Digital Lady Syd


Birding at Viera Wetlands

Image of a man using a large camera lens and taking pix of birds
This man is taking photos at the Ritch Grissom Viera Wetlands which is in Brevard County, Florida. It was a beautiful day to see the birds in their natural habitats and this guy had this huge lens – he was actually shooting to an equivalent of 1400 mm! Totally amazing! This image used 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s (see sidebar for website link) Matte Glam 17 preset in Lightroom along with a Gradient Filter to increase the blue color slightly in the upper water. Brought the image into Photoshop and ran Topaz (see sidebar for website link) Detail 3 to slightly sharpen the overall image using my Little Med Large Detail preset – (Set to Overall, Medium Details 0.38, Large Details 0.16, and Tone Contrast 0.30). Created a duplicate layer and created a Smart Object where the Liquify Filter was used to slightly slim the man down. A Curves Adjustment Layer was applied and the Layer Mask was filled with black. Just the water area was painted back to give the background a little more contrast that I wanted. That was it. Wish I had a lens like that!!!!!…..Digital Lady Syd

Spring Flowers

Image of Red and Cream Flowers

More beautiful and unusual flowers at my local grocery. This time they were post-processed on my phone using Nik’s Snapseed App which produces wonderful results. For this image these tools were used: Crop first, Drama Filter Structure +59 and Saturation +20; Grunge Saturation +24, Texture +60, Center Size +50, Style +60, and Brightness 0; Center Focus Blur +72, Outer Blur -72, Inner Blur +29, Weak circle, and focus control point placed on the top flower; and Frame-Frame 11 tapped three times. Once again, this app creates some beautiful results!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Use Nik’s Snapseed Photo App on Your Smart Phone

Adding Snapseed to a Regular Photo

Image of house in Marsh Harbor in the BahamasAnother example of what Nik’s Snapseed phone app can do to an image. This is an image I took in Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas several years ago and put in my photo gallery on my Android phone. Since I have been learning how to use Snapseed (see How to Use Nik’s Snapseed Photo App on Your Smart Phone), I decided to try it on one of my already processed images just to see what would happen. Wow – I loved the results. These are the settings I used to get this result: Tune Image Brightness -9, Ambience +79, Contrast +9, Saturation +37, Shadows +16, and Warmth +35; Vintage Style 3 and Texture 1, Brightness +23, Saturation +15, Texture Strength +70, Center Size +19, and Style Strength +60; Grunge Style 292, Texture 1, Brightness +48, Contrast 0, Texture Strength +17, and Selection control point covering the whole image; Focus Center Bur +97, Outer Brightness -14, and Inner Brightness -44; and Frames – Frame 19. This app is great fun to play with on your phone and you can get some really surprising results!…..Digital Lady Syd

Total Eclipse of the Moon!

Image at Totality of the Total Eclipse of the Moon from Florida
Image of lunar eclipse taken on April 15, 2014 at 03:45:37 AM from northeastern Florida showing what was considered totality according to Astronomy Magazine. Image was shot with my AF-S Nikkor 70-300 mm 1:4.5-5.6 G lens set to aperture priority mode at F/5.6, 300 mm focal length (with crop factor 450 mm), and ISO 1600, with a resulting shutter speed of 2.0 sec. My Nikon D300 was set up on a tripod with a shutter release cord to get the sharpest results. Unfortunately the sky  was not all that clear when the photos were being shot and my equipment is not the latest, but all in all, I think it did a fair job of getting a beautiful lunar eclipse shot. No post-processing in Lightroom – just did not help. Took image into Photoshop and used Topaz (see sidebar for website link) DeNoise (Overall 10, Shadows 34), then applied a black layer mask and just painted in a few areas that really needed it – really not too much adjustment here even though my camera does not handle ISO 1600 real well. Topaz Detail 3 was applied (here are the settings: Small Details 0.28, Small Details Boost -0.02, Medium Details 0.55, Medium Details Boost 0.15, Large Details 0.61, and Large Details Boost -0.29 – best plug-in around for this type of detail work) and once again a black layer mask was applied and just a few areas were added back to get more detail in the moon surface. The text font is Monotype Corsive at 38 points. That was it! It was so much fun to go out and shoot at night. Also check out my blog of a lunar eclipse taken on 12/21/10 called Shooting a Lunar Eclipse for more info. Have a great day!…..Digital Lady Syd

Aliona’s Birthday

Thought I would do a quick Lightroom post of an image I did of my very photogenic daughter-in-law on her birthday. She does not love this image, but I really love the vintage treatment. To begin the process, Matt Kloskowsky’s That 70’s Look preset was applied (the new version for Lightroom 4 is in the NAPP preset group but I am not sure where I found it). Three Adjustment Brushes were used on her face: 1) on eye iris the Exposure, Clarity and Sharpness were increased to make them pop a little; 2) the whites of her eyes were painted and the Saturation set to -52 to whiten a little; and 3) her lip color was changed to match her dress by using a little clarity and sharpness and a sampled pink color. In Photoshop all that was done was a little Liquify filter was used to adjust the dress folds. That was it – quick and easy and a beautiful look!…..Digital Lady Syd

My Parisian Violets!

These beautiful violets I recently bought at Wal-Mart and they are so pretty. They really like the filtered light from my south facing window in my kitchen. I used my handy, dandy 60 mm Nikkor macro lens at F/4.8, 1/90 sec, and ISO 200. A Bower 0.5 x High Resolution Digital Lens with Macro was added to the lens. In Lightroom 4 I just followed my workflow in my blog How to Use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) or Lightroom 4 Quickly. I painted over the center of the flower using an Adjustment Brush set to a high sharpening and just a little Clarity. In Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer was used to selectively remove a shadow behind the front flower (see my Using Curves Adjustment Layers to Get Rid of Shadows and Highlights blog). Painted Textures Seafoam textures was added and just the flower lightly painted back using a white layer mask and painting in black. Next 2 Lil’ Owls Affetto Grunge Mosaic texture (see sidebar for website link) was added and the center painted out so only the darkened edges remained on most of the image. French Kiss’s Vintage French Brush No. 2 set -Dec 1924 was placed on the left side of the image and set to 89% opacity. A Layer Style was opened on this overlay layer. A dark Stroke set to 3 pixels inside was added, a Pattern Overlay using that wonderful default Photoshop pattern Bubbles was checked to add some variation in the text (I think this is the first time I have ever used it!), and an Outer Glow at 39% opacity was used. A Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped to the overlay and set to a light blue color. On the upper right French Kiss’s Vintage French Brush 1903 (same link as above) writing was applied and another Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped using the purple color from the flower. That was it! Lots of fun to do!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 9: Get the Shot!

I took this beautiful little rose at Lowe’s with my inexpensive Kodak C1450 14-mp point-and-shoot camera and it turned out very nice! These little cameras really do a great job for those unexpected shots! Since most people have decent cameras on their phones (mine is still a 2 megapixel so I carry this camera), there really is no reason not to get the shot. It just may not be quite as sharp or colorful as your good camera, but at least you get the shot, the memory, and something you can work with in Photoshop. That is what I did with this rose – it was a little soft except where it was focused, but the colors were still beautiful and overall, not that bad an image.

One of the issues I had with this image is that it is a JPG and there was a lot of Chromatic Aberration in the image – I tried to remove it in Lightroom, but it still looked rather bad so I treated it with a soft texture treatment to blend in the petals where the bleeding was bad. Some noiseware was also applied. Two gorgeous textures were stacked from French Kiss Textures – Artiste Fantasie at 80% opacity and Artiste LaDanse set to 68% opacity and her Spatter Brushes were used over the rose. Following Dave Cross’s path tutorial from his Photoshop CS5 Finishing Touches for Photographers class at Kelby Training (but it is also in his really good Photoshop Finishing Touches book), I created a fancy edge around the flower. Dave’s book was published a while back, but most of the tutorials work fine in CS6.

So get the shot, even if you do not have your best equipment with you – it may be a great image anyway!…..Digital Lady Syd

Butterfly Beauty!

Today I had a chance to get some wonderful shots of one of the beautiful butterflies that are flying all around my neighborhood. This is a female Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly and she is loving the pink pentas in my front yard (the males are smaller and more black in color). I was so surprised that she stayed around while I shot several pictures. The trick to getting the shot since her wings are flapping like crazy – set your ISO to 1600 and shot at F11 and higher. I was able to get many very clear shots. Three textures were applied using Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel: ShadowHouse Creations Scratched Overlay set to Hard Light blend mode at 100% layer opacity and  Softly Blurred Edges set to Overlayat 100% opacity (see sidebar for website link), and Gavin Hoey’s Grunge Border set to Overlay at 100%. All had layer mask applied and the butterfly was painted out completely using a black brush in the mask. A Curves Adjustment Layer was created to adjust just the blue channel curve to bring out her blue spots, then the mask was filled with black (with white Foreground color, CTRL+BACKSPACE to fill with mask with black). Just painted back in the blue dots in the Curves Layer Mask with a white brush. That is all that was done to the image – what a showgirl!……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 5: Just Step Outside and Look Around!

The Old Course at St. Andrews

In honor of the British Open being played this week in Lytham St. Annes, England, I am posting one of my favorite images from my trip to Scotland. It was a real thrill to actually walk on The Old Course at St. Andrews. Wish I could have played a round. To be honest, I processed this image so long ago that I am not sure what all the steps were. It was not originally an HDR though…..Digital Lady Syd

Some Beach Fun!

Thought I would put up an image I created a couple years ago of Ormond Beach, Florida, where Granada Boulevard runs into the Atlantic Ocean – it is a beautiful stretch of beach if you are in the area. The old Hotel Ormond, a large 300-bed hotel that was built in 1887, was located near this beach. This was one of my first attempts at adding a texture to an image – not sure what texture this is, but it definitely is a watercolor texture that goes from a yellow tone on top to blues on the bottom – the layer was set to a Color Dodge Blend Mode at 30% opacity.

The image below is also of the same stretch of beach but from 1903 – there were beautiful houses instead of high-rises overlooking the ocean. In this winter image, the sails helped move the bikes on the hard sand beach coasting at up to speeds of 20-25 mph. The image is from Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – a great site to follow on a daily basis if you love American history like me as they post a new image every day from the past. To see this image in high resolution on their site, just click on it – and click here for a similar lower resolution shot of the same bikes racing a car. This beach is where the first official automobile race was held in 1903 and the town of Ormond Beach is still known as the “Birthplace of Speed.”

I hope to shoot more local images in the near future – it is fun to live in an area that has some great local historical interest. In the meantime, try out some textures to add a little interest and fun to your own images……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Where Am I?
Getting That Vintage Look!
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!

Beautiful Soft Flowers

Just loved the pink hyacinths I bought – hope they will come back next year! This image was taken with my Micro Nikkor 60 mm f/2.8 lens at f/9.5. Used Mike Moats workflow (see info on this in related blogs below) with Color Efex Pro 4 (stacking Tonal Contrast, Darken/Lighten Center, and Vignette filters) added first and then Viveza 2 to make the details sharp. OnOne PhotoFrame napp_frame_12 (see website link in sidebar) was added. Final result – beautiful!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Using NIK’s Color Efex Pro 4 and Viveza Together
Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!
The Macro Shot

Aerial Shot Using a Point-And-Shoot Camera! Not Bad!

Thought I would show you what results you can get even when shooting with an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera. I got several wonderful images from the air, but this one of the Rockies was my favorite. (For a nice read on aerial photography, see Julieanne Kost’s book  “Window Seat – The Art of Digital Photography & Creative Thinking.”) My little Canon PowerShot A1000 died last month so I had to quickly purchase another small camera. I wanted one that runs on batteries so I do not have to charge it all the time (since I do not use it that much) and I wanted something fairly cheap. I got a Kodak EasyShare 14 mp camera with a 5X zoom for $49 and it gets better pictures than my Canon did! This an example of what it can do. There was more noise in the JPEG image, but that is to be expected with a cheaper lens, and it definitely needed processing in Lightroom and Photoshop. In Photoshop, Adobe Camera Raw sliders were applied including the Noise Reduction sliders; then Nik’s plug-ins Color Efex Pro 4 (stacked filters Vignette: Lens, Detail Extractor, and Skylight Filters) and Viveza 2 (to even out the saturation in the corners) were used. This has been a great surprise to me. Definitely not as good as my Nikon DSLR, but not bad for a inexpensive point-and-shoot camera.

I guess this goes to show that even if you do not have the best camera, it sure beats missing the shot altogether, and you can get a really nice image!…..Digital Lady Syd

Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper – What a Story!

Recently the Daytona News Journal ran an article on Charlie Ebbets (no link since the article is now archived and there is a charge to read it now), the photographer who took the very famous photo called “Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper” which was taken on the 69th floor during construction of the old RCA Building in 1932. His wife, Joyce Ebbets, still lives in the Ormond Beach area. It was not discovered until 2003 that Ebbets had photographed this image. Apparently a movie is being considered based around this image that will follow some of the people on the beam and how the depression had hit New York City back in 1930’s. His daughter has a wonderful website on his life at Ebbets Photo-Graphics with slideshows and images from throughout his life. When he died in 1978, he had more than 300 published photographs.

To see several of the photos he took during the construction of this part of Rockefeller Center, see the short U-Tube video called “In the Heights – Tribute to Charles Ebbets.” There are some other great photos from Mr. Ebbets collection and  a quote from La Fototeca: History of Photography on the Mr. Ebbets life: “Ebbets was born in 1905 Gadsden, Alabama. He bought his first camera at the age of eight by charging it to his mother’s account at a local drugstore. By the 1930s Ebbets was a well known photographer and had work published in the major newspapers across the nation including the New York Times. In 1932, he was appointed photographic director for the Rockefeller Center, which was under construction in New York. In September of that year, he would take the photo which would later define his work, Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper. In 1933 Ebbets moved back to Florida where he was to live and work for the rest of his life. In 1935, Ebbets became the first official Associated Press photographer in the state. During this era, he also founded the Miami Press Photographers Association and was its first President.

One of my personal favorite images is called “Tee Time” since I love golf. I had never heard of this image before and that is amazing with all the golf paraphernalia everywhere…..Digital Lady Syd

The Macro Shot

Recently I have been working on my Macro photography, especially since I have had some beautiful flowers on my porch due to the warm winter we are having in Florida this year. One of my favorite blogs is by Mike Moats called Tiny Landscapes where he gives some great advice on taking and processing macro images. A few things I am starting to try and the above chrysanthemums are the result of one of my efforts. A 60 mm Nikkor macro lens was used at F/19 at 1/20 to 1/350 sec. A Bower 0.5 x High Resolution Digital Lens with Macro was added to the lens. I created an HDR image from five shots which is how I got the large dynamic range in the photo. After that the processing was in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 using Tonal Contrast, Detail Extractor and High Key filter effects and Viveza 2. This is the basic workflow Mike Moats uses and it works very well on macro photos. My original shot was taken with a white background but I just did not like the way it looked. Mike says if you do not like the background feel, crop tight, which is what I did. I hope to try out some of his other tips in the near future – it is a lot of fun to take those close up shots…..Digital Lady Syd

Just a Pretty Red Flower

I really liked how the background blurred in this photograph of a red carnation I took on my back porch. I used a 60 mm AF Nikkor Micro lens at F/3.2, 1/300 second, ISO 200 at -1 Exposure Compensation. It was processed in the new Lightroom 4 Beta version setting (Highlights to -100, Shadows +100, White +27, Blacks -29, and Clarity +100;  then the Exposure and Contrast) before taking the photo into Photoshop where  a Sharpen Tool layer, Curves Adjustment Layer, and OnOne PhotoFrame acid burn controlled 12 were applied. A Layer Style including a stroke and inner glow in gold was the last step. Very little processing and it turned out beautifully.

It just goes to prove that if you get a good shot, it does not take much post processing – the image looks great to begin with. It also is nice to have a good lens and this is one of my favorites……Digital Lady Syd

Using the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Temperature Slider for Color Change

I tend to shoot HDR when I am at home photographing my flowers. I like having the different exposure options to choose from even if I do not create an HDR image. In this case an AF Micro Nikkor 60 mm lens at F/3.2, 180 sec, ISO 200 with a Bower 0.5 x High Resolution Digital Lens with Macro was used to shoot 5 exposures set to exposure compensations of -2, -1, 0, +1, +2. These five images were processed in CS5 using Photoshop’s Merge to HDR program – click on the image to see the original Photoshop HDR composite. (Here are the HDR settings used: Radius 350, Strength 1.86, Gamma 2.03, Exposure -0.45, Details 228, Shadow 100, Highlight -86, Vibrance 75, and Saturation -26 – a curve was created with points at Input 25 Output 43 and Input 58 and Output 65. I saved this down as a preset to use again.)

To get a little different look, I decided to use the red-green dynamic color combination. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to change the Reds to Hue +32, Saturation +33 and Lightness -7. To get the center green, while still in the Reds, I moved the temperature tabs on the slider at the bottom of the adjustment layer – see settings below. The center color totally popped! In Magentas the Saturation was set to +14. That was all it took change the colors to something really dynamic!

The final steps involved adding a few control points in Nik’s Viveza 2 for contrast and detail and a Sharpen Tool layer to emphasize the center. OnOne PhotoFrame Taufer Texture 07 was applied (see sidebar for website link). The background was changed to a darkish green to give more color contrast.

Once again, by just playing around in Photoshop and trying a few filters and different colors, you can make an ordinary image into something quite spectacular. Go try out the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer temperature slider too – it gives some very interesting results…..Digital Lady Syd

Trying Out Lightroom 4 Beta

Well it is here – it’s been almost two years since Lightroom 3 came out so the new version is ready for testing. Anyone can download it to beta test and it will be available for use until March 31, 2012. So give it a try – it now edits video. Adobe has replaced the Recover and Fill Light  with Shadows and Whites sliders giving a much improved result. The Adjustment Brush and Gradient now have the same choices as the Basic Panel sliders so you can localize changes to particular parts of the image – this is a big upgrade IMHO. Clarity slider no long gives halos when set over 80 – another great enhancement. They now have a Book module where you can design your own photo books and a Map module to help with CPS classifying. There is soft-proofing for your images before printing to see how they will look when printed, and in the Print module, there are Brightness and Contrast sliders to help with the conversion from monitor to print media. Guess there are lots of other little things going on in the new version, but I have not had time to do a complete run through. The biggest drawback as far as I can tell is that the presets do now work great from Lightroom 3 because of the slider changes in the Basic Panel – this will take a while to adjust your old ones over to the new version. Otherwise it seems to be a great new upgrade. So far plug-ins seem to working – the image of  above used OnOne’s Perfect Layers plug-in and it ran fine in Lightroom 4 beta.  (The texture is Shadowhouse Creations Oil Painting 3.)

Download the beta version of Adobe Lightroom 4

Two great resources for information about the new features are :
Launch Center – Lightroom 4 from NAPP featuring Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski (Owner of Killer Lightroom Tips blog)
Introduction to Lightroom 4 Beta from Adobe featuring Julieanne Kost (One of my favorite gurus)
This program is definitely worth taking a look at if you do photography or Photoshop much at all. I love this program – the simplicity of the layout makes it very easy to use. Download the free beta version and see what you think! Once I get a chance to try out all the new features, I will report back – I am a Lightroom nut too!…..Digital Lady Syd

Blue Orchids?

Yep – that’s what you see. I snapped this jpeg with my little Canon Power Shot camera while shopping in the grocery store for final holiday goodies a couple weeks ago. Wow! I guess the soil has been treated to make the color in the orchids turn blue. I had to grab a few shots!

To process this image, I first lightened it as the colors were so blue the detail was totally missing. Then I added a free Florabella Snow Texture (the link is to her Facebook page with the free download on the left side) to give it that nice winter feel. Next Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was applied using the Bleach Bypass, Darken/Lighten Center, Tonal Contrast, and Vignette filters to get this effect. Finally OnOne’s PhotoFrame acid burned controlled 13 (see sidebar for website link) was added. Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd

Create a Great Shot with a Good Crop

Thought I would show you what a difference a good crop can do for turning an ordinary image into something that has some real eye appeal. The rain on the petals could not even be seen in the original shot.

For Lightroom Users:  The above image was first cropped in Lightroom using the Crop Tool, but you can do this in Adobe Camera Raw or even Photoshop or Elements to get the correct look. I have found that by zooming in on an image using the Navigator at a canned magnification zoom like 2:1, then using the hand to move the image around, gives you a quick feel for what kind of crop you need. Then it was adjusted using the other sliders.

For Photoshop or Elements: Open your image in Adobe Camera Raw and select the Crop Tool from the Camera Raw Tools at top (6th icon over). Use the Zoom pop-down box in the lower left to try different zoom magnifications. Hold down the Space Bar to move image around to see how a crop would look.  Click the little arrow in the right bottom corner of the Crop Tool – this should be set to Constrain to Image and in my case, 2 to 3 since I want a 4 X 6 image to print. There are corner tabs that can be pulled out to adjust the crop at this point and get the final look. Now do your adjustments in ACR and the final crop will be applied once it is opened in Photoshop or Elements. Similar steps can be done using the Crop Tool in Photoshop or Elements after exiting ACR.

Below is my original RAW file. As you can see, it was blown out a bit and not well composed. Note that sometimes the close-up cropping just does not work for the image. JPG’s usually do not have as much information as RAW files and may not have enough information to give a clean close-up crop. But it is still worth a try to see.

After applying ACR adjustments, the image was opened up in Topaz Black and White Effects plug-in using a Traditional Collection preset as a starting point. A Transparency of 1.00 was set to bring back the some color into the black and white image, and Quad Tones were added using the colors Black, Darker Blue, Light Blue and White to add the bluish tones. In Local Adjustments the center color was painted back in, details painted in, and a little dodge to add contrast.

Next time you think an image is just not going to work, try some different types of cropping. You might find a really interesting look!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 5: Just Step Outside and Look Around!

If you find yourself bored because you have not taken any interesting images recently, just step outside and take a look around. I was feeling just this way this past week – with the holidays there just was not much time to go out and take some interesting pictures. So on Christmas Day, I decided to walk around outside just on the off chance there was something interesting. It was warmer than usual outside and there was this beautiful unexpected Monarch butterfly in my Purple Queen flowers. He seemed a little aggravated that I was taking his picture, but hey, I wasn’t really bothering him. (You can tell the butterfly is a male because of the black spot on his mid-hind wings in the vein.)

The image was shot with a Nikon D300 using my 18-200mm zoom lens at 200 mm, f/9.5, 1/90 sec, ISO 400 – did not have time to change to a macro lens or I would have missed the shot. I shot in burst mode and several of the shots were blurry as he was moving his wings so fast! Not used to taking pictures of butterflies! This image was processed using NIK Color Efex Pro 4 with the Detail Extractor Filter, Vignette Blur to get ride of distracting leaves and ground in the image, and a regular Vignette. Used the Sharpen Tool on another layer and a Curves Adjustment Layer to finish off.

It was fun to take more of a macro shot for a change  I always love taking pictures of flowers. Great change of pace and it got me interested in working on my flower photos for a few days while the weather is pretty bad. In the meantime, take a look around outside your house and maybe you will find something interesting, like I did, that you had not noticed before!….Digital Lady Syd

Photoshop Elements Scene Cleaner

Since I am new to Photoshop Elements, I was surprised by the accolades Elements is receiving for their PhotoMerge capabilities, especially Scene Cleaner. It is something that cannot be done nearly as easily in Photoshop CS5 but has been in Elements since version 7. (For Photoshop CS5 people, Mike Hale’s Stack Mode Panel at Russell Brown’s website does have a panel that can be added to do this very thing.)

The image above is of a street corner in St. Augustine, Florida. Both the Scene Cleaner and the Saturated Slide Show effect were applied to this image. Here is how this was done:

1. For Scene Cleaner there must be at least two shots of the same image with the moving objects in different positions. In this case, it was the guy on the bicycle that road into my view while I was photographing. If lots of tourists are in your image, you will need several shots which you probably will have anyway if you shoot in bursts like most people do, especially if using a DSLR camera. If not, remember to do this when taking a picture of a famous place with lots of people around – this technique will save your picture!

2. Open Photoshop Elements and adjust all images at once in Adobe Camera Raw, trying to get their exposures as close as possible. (See my Tidbits Blog “Adobe Camera Raw – Not So Obvious in Photoshop Elements 10” on how to do this.) Click Open Image button and open all images up into Photoshop Elements. Do the adjustments this way so you do not have a bunch of layers to merge down before doing the next step.

3. Make sure the Project Bin at bottom is open (double click on the words Project Bin to toggle between open and closed) so all three images show up in it.

4. Go to Edit tab on right and select Guided, then PhotoMerge section, and finally Scene Cleaner. The program is now aligning the images. One of the images will appear in the left image box called the Source.

5. Need to look at all your images and decide which one is exposed the best for the final image. In the bin click and drag this image into the right Final image location. In the case above, the bottom image was used as the Final image and top image was the Source image. If more images had been available, different images can be changed out as the source image by just clicking on each one in the bottom bin.

6. Select a Source image that has an area cleared of any object or tourist that is ruining the other image. Select the pencil tool and set the brush size to about 35 pixels. This is key to getting this to work – Paint roughly in the Source image in the area where you think the interfering object is in the Final image – the object magically disappears in the other Final image. It may not be a perfect removal, but it does a pretty good job!  A second image can be selected as a Source and marked up to remove other problem areas in the Final if needed. If you get lost, follow the Guide notes – they even have some advanced tips. The Show Regions box can be checked to see how each image is affecting the final result. Click Done to apply.

7. Use Crop Tool to cut away any mismatched white areas around Final image.

8. The image above still showed a bit of a hand. Therefore a Clone Layer was added and the hand blended out.

9. For the concrete shadow color issue (can see the different colors between the two images used above), the Lasso Tool was used to select the bad colored cement and it was placed on its own layer (with selection active, click CTRL+J). A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was opened and the Colorize box was checked (these settings were set: Hue 210, Saturation 14, and Lightness -28) to match the cements.

10. The final step involved going to Edit -> Guided -> Saturated Slide Show Effect. It was applied 6 times to get the over-saturated look I liked.

This sounds like it was hard to do, but in reality it was really simple. The biggest issue is getting two or more shots that have different enough views to be able to remove the moving objects. Everyone says the Scene Cleaner is really a great addition and personally I wish they had it in Photoshop CS5. It has been fun learning a new technique in Elements. Give it a try!…..Digital Lady Syd

Defringe that Nasty Blue Edge from Trees On a Bright Blue Sky!

This is a short but sweet way to get rid of most of those blue and cyan edges on trees shot in bright light against a blue sky. There are just times you have to take that image in the bright light of day and the fringe occurs frequently. These tips also work when you have a horizon line in a landscape shot that has similar issues.

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer: The image above has that very problem and this method was used to get rid of most of the fringe. Hover the above image to see the before defringing image.

1.  Simply add a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer in Photoshop and in the Master field drop-down, adjust the Saturation slider left quite a bit and possibly the Hue slider a little until the blue edging disappears. For the above both Blue (Saturation set to -50 and Hue set to -8) and Cyan (Saturation set to -64).

2. Then Fill the attached adjustment layer mask with black (click on mask and CTRL+Backspace).

3. Click on the black layer mask and use a white brush to paint around the edges at roughly 40% opacity to remove the fringe color. You may have to go over it a couple of times but it will look more natural than setting the brush to 100% and painting over just once. You may need to adjust the opacity of the brush down more so the desaturation is not so noticeable.

Sponge Tool Method:  Perhaps the easiest way to get rid of any extra fringe that might still be lurking in the image is to select the Sponge Tool and set it to Mode Desaturate.  Turn off Vibrance in the Options Bar since that will only work on the more or less saturated colors and not the already saturated colors which we want to get rid of. Brushed over the fringe areas but try not to discolor too much of the neighboring sky also – it will look white and not the natural blue sky color.

Camera Raw Method:  Open image in Lightroom or ACR and go to the Lens Correction Panel Manual Tab in the Chromatic Aberration section, set the Defringe to All Edges and adjust the Red/Cyan slider to the left and Blue/Yellow slider to the right to get the best result. This may take a bit of adjusting to get the right balance and watch out for any color shifts in the sky area around the leaves. There is no way to use a Saturation Adjustment Brush effectively to paint out the fringe as it does not have the choice of colors to remove – it desaturates everything you paint over – and it is hard to just pinpoint the fringe.

Saturation Layer: Digital Lady Syd’s Favorite way to eliminate a slight fringe edge is with a tip I presented a while back in a Tidbits Blog called “Selective Desaturation – the Easy Way!” This is a very simple technique – simply add a New Layer on top of your image and set the blend mode to Saturation, select the Brush Tool, set color to black (white or gray will also work) and 15% opacity in the Options Bar. Paint over the area you want to desaturate several times until you get the look you are after. If too much desaturation occurs, add a layer mask back and use a black brush to paint back any areas that you did not mean to desaturate. I think this gives as good a result as the first method so give it a try if you do not like the results using any of the other methods. I would post the image again but it is very similar to after image above.

Here are four options to try:  Bottom line, try it and if you don’t like the results, don’t use it and try something else!

The final thought is a great quote I found from TWCDM’s Blog: “While these tricks are fine and dandy the best way to fix purple fringing to is avoid it in the first place. You can prevent purple fringing by using high quality lenses, stopping down your lens (shooting at an aperature of f8-f22), and if you are using a zoom lens avoid using the maximum and minimum focal range. A lenses “sweet spot” is usually somewhere in the middle focal lengths.” If you shoot it right to begin with you will not have this problem. (That apparently is my problem – hum!)

Hope these tips help you on those bright outdoor daytime images…..Digital Lady Syd

Where Am I?

The above image was processed using the my regular Vivid Drawing Look Lightroom preset and my HDR Recipe for NIK Color Efex Pro 4. (See Fun Photoshop Blog “Pseudo HDR in NIK Color Efex Pro 4” and “Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR and Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 Pseudo HDR Recipe.”) The pseudo HDR treatment worked very well since the lighting was all over the place.

This is one of the most unusual places I have ever seen – it is in St. Augustine, Florida, and used to be part of the Hotel Alcazar, a Henry Flagler hotel opened in 1887, that was built across the street from the more famous and elegant Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College). This old hotel currently houses the City Hall, several businesses and shops, and the Lightner Museum. The above image is of the Cafe Alcazar that is located on the floor of the old hotel’s Casino Swimming Pool and gets very good food reviews. The top balcony level is the Old Ballroom that runs around the edge of the hotel and in the warm evenings, the roof was removed to see the night sky for the dancers.

This image shows how the Casino Swimming Pool looked in a by photo by William Henry Jackson in 1889 and is from Shorpy Historical Photo Archive site, a really interesting blog on old images. The water stayed at a steady 80 degrees because it was spring fed but it smelled like rotten eggs due to the sulfur in the water. The pool was 120 feet long and 50 feet wide and was from 3.5 feet to 6 feet deep. The National Women’s Swimming Championship was held here in 1925, and there was evening “pool entertainment” such as high diving, trapeze shows, water polo and swim racing.

To see this restaurant view, you need to pay to enter the Lightner Museum, that contains a very nice collection of paintings, glassware, and other collectibles – mostly from the Victorian era along with the views of the ballroom and pool area. Also there is a Russian steamroom that patrons used when it was still a hotel. Very interesting place to visit and definitely worth the small amount to enter. Check it out if you are in the area!…..Digital Lady Syd