Anything Photoshop or Photography

Archive for November, 2011

Pseudo HDR in OnOne Perfect Effects

Since I have tried this in other plug-ins, I thought I would give it a shot in OnOne’s new Perfect Effects plug-in (see sidebar for link to OnOne’s website) to see if I could get a similar effect. Just as I thought – no problemo!

This is a rather unremarkable image except I liked the carved eagle engraved on the building. Hover over the image to see the original. By using Perfect Effects, I was able to get that pseudo HDR effect easily. These are the effects used in this image stacked bottom to top: Black and White preset set to Roadie in Multiply Blend Mode at Strength 100; Color Enhancer (Open up Effect Options and select Color Enhancer) and Color Range Orange was chosen to bring out the Orange color by adjusting the Hue set to 37, Saturation set to 77 and Lightness set to 94 sliders; another Color Enhancer layer was added to adjust the Blue Color Range – Saturation to 92 and Lightness to -35; and another Color Enhancer layer set to Aqua Color Range – Saturation 46 and Lightness 18; next the Golden Hour Enhancer preset in the Landscape section at Strength 63; Vignette created in the Blending Options drop-down with Brightness set to -68, Midpoint 58, Feather 80 and Roundness 5 and Normal Mode; and finally Katy preset in Vintage section set to Strength 100. It sounds hard, but once done, just create a preset to recreate it anytime – very easy to apply. To finish up the image in Photoshop, on a New Layer the Sharpen Tool was used to selectively sharpen the Eagle and some of the window lines. Finally the OnOne’s PhotoFrames zoom_19 frame was applied.

NOTE:  After applying each layer preset or effects settings, be sure to click the Add button under the Strength slider to set the changes. To toggle the original and current views, press CTRL+P.

Well once again this was lots of fun and pretty easy to do. Give it a try and see if you like what you see. If you are interested in the pseudo HDR look, check some of my related posts below……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Review of OnOne Perfect Effects
First Try – OnOne’s Perfect Effects 3!
Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4
Another Pseudo HDR Image with NIK CEP4 – Got to Love the Effect!
With One Good Photo – Try the Pseudo HDR Effect

Why I Love OnOne’s Perfect Layers!

OnOne’s Perfect Layers plug-in was used to add the texture to this image. It could have been done in Photoshop just as easily (and a lot of people say this), but the reasons I like Perfect Layers is that:
(1) you just have to click a button to get rid of a texture you are trying and do not like;
(2) just load a new texture to apply and add several others if you want. Much easier that placing a texture from Bridge and then going to the Layers Panel to try different blend modes.
(3) can create several virtual copies with different effects in Lightroom and bring them all into Perfect Layers as one file with lined up layers where the blend modes can be changed, textures added, and areas masked out. Major cool!
(4) even though it is not a Smart Object, when you open the PSD file in Photoshop, all the layers created in Perfect Layers are in place and reconstructed right there.

I am all for doing things faster and better and Perfect Layers does just that. I am not sure I have created a bad texturized image since getting this program. And that is why I Love Perfect Layers!

The image is of a building in Stirling, Scotland. The beautiful texture is provided free by ShadowHouse Creations and is called Oil Painting One (it has a nice short tutorial with the download that is very good also.) An OnOne PhotoFrame called acid burned controlled 05 was added and the image sampled to get a matching frame color.

Give Perfect Layers a try if you use Adobe Lightroom – can download a trial of Perfect Layers by clicking on the OnOne Perfect Photo Suite link on the side.  Until Later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Posts:
“Perfect” Perfect Layers
Clarifying Clarity! Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom Quick Trick
New Plug-In for Lightroom

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

First Try – OnOne’s Perfect Effects 3!

I love OnOne’s PhotoFrames (see sideboard to access OnOne’s site) – not sure anyone can beat this plug-in for its versatility and choices for adding borders onto an image. I use this plug-in probably 90% of the time. It surprised me how handy it is and how much I use it.

That said, I have not been as big a fan of PhotoTools 2.6 – still a very versatile plug-in but it was a lot harder for me to use than PhotoFrames. Therefore I did not use it near as much as many of the other plug-ins I have covered here in my Tidbits Blog and in my Fun Photoshop Blog. I have been waiting anxiously for the newer version of PhotoTools to be release and it is finally here in the form of a new name – Perfect Effects 3 – and interface. The whole suite of plug-ins (which these are two of the plug-ins in the Suite) has been re-engineered into an interface that can be opened from one place in the new OnOne Perfect Photo Suite 6.0.

The above image is of a beautiful clock in the historic district of St. Augustine. Not much was done with the sliders – I was just trying out the interface and getting around. This image has three effects stacked in this order: Texturizer section – Itchy preset; Vignette section – Grunge Vignette Dark; and Borders – Russell preset.  Before applying the first preset, the clock was masked with the Masking Brush (Show Mask set to Overlay and Painting Mode to Paint Out) so the texture would not cover it.

It is nice to see some interesting borders included with this plug-in. The interface is improved but I still am learning how to get around it completely yet. I have just done a longer review at my Fun Photoshop Blog “Digital Lady Syd’s Review of OnOne Perfect Effects.” Download a trial version yourself – there is a 30-day fully functional trial period.  Have fun experimenting…..Digital Lady Syd

Related Digital Lady Syd’s Blogs:
Same Image-Different Plug-in
Adding a Texture for Flair!
Dual Tone Plug-in Comparison

Another Pseudo HDR Image with NIK CEP4 – Got to Love the Effect!

I am loving this pseudo HDR effect with NIK Color Efex Pro 4 (CEP4). This image just about represents my look when I am processing a picture – just love the sharpness and color. Before it took a lot more manipulation to get to the same place but with CEP4, it just pops into place. The steps I used to process this image are as follows:

1. In Lightroom, I applied my Vivid Drawing Look ACR/Lightroom Preset (see below for my blog link where you can manually apply the settings or download the presets). The Exposure, Blacks and Fill Light were adjusted just a bit and it was opened up in Photoshop.

2. Open image up as a regular copy and do any clean up using Clone Stamp or Healing Brush.

3. Duplicate cleaned up image layer and Convert to a Smart Object by right clicking on the layer and selecting Convert to a Smart Object.

3. Go into CEP4 and use the following filter effects stacked top to bottom:

  • Apply Tonal Contrast, Darken/Lighten Center, Detail Extractor, (these three filters are contained in my Pseudo HDR1 recipe (see Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR/Lightroom Preset and NIK’s CEP4 Pseudo HDR Recipe to download or enter slider amounts manually);
  • Glamour Glow with 3 control points (each covering 20% of image) to remove most of the effect from clock face and center of porch (Glow 32%, Saturation -100%, and Glow Warmth -47%, Shadows 41%, and Highlights 44%);
  • Photo Stylizer adding a plus control point in center of image to place effect just there covering 42%  of image (Varitone, Style 6, Strength 67%); and
  • Vignette (Vignette Color whitish as sampled from image, Shape 2, Adapt Edges 0%, Transition 80%, Size 0%, and Opacity 43%).

3. After coming out of the plug-in and back into Photoshop, the image was sharpened with the Unsharp Mask filter although I now prefer the more localized use of the Sharpen Tool.

4. Added Inner Glow and Stroke Layer Styles.

5. Added a Curves Adjustment Layer to get that good final contrast.

6. One of the things I did do on this image was double-click on the right side of the Color Efex Pro 4 layer inside the Smart Object and reduced the effect to 75%.

I love the final result – it really looks like the old historic St. Augustine on the day I visited. Try this little recipe on one of your detailed images and see if you like what you see…..Digital Lady Syd

Related Digital Lady Syd blogs:
Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4
Where Am I?
With One Good Photo – Try the Pseudo HDR Effect
Why I Love Topaz Adjust!

Using Topaz Adjust 5 and Color Efex Pro 4 with Photoshop Elements

Since I began showing some of the things you can do in Photoshop Elements, I thought I would show how you can get really great results adding plug-ins to the program. They work the same in Photoshop CS5 and Elements. This is a really good deal for Elements users since it gives you some features you cannot do in the program itself. For example, Topaz Adjust 5 has a Curve Tool where tonal contrast can be added to image there is you need it.

The image is one of the towers of the old Hotel Alcazar (now St. Augustine’s City Hall and Lightner Museum). Hover over the picture to see the original shot. To begin with, I was not happy with the washed out sky – not a hint of color in it!

1. Once in Photoshop Elements, you can immediately go into NIK Color Efex Pro 4 because this plug-in creates its own layer to make changes to.  Go to Filter -> NIK  – > Color Efex Pro 4. After lots of experimentation (which is really nice since if you mess up, there is a History panel on the left so you can go back to where you started), a new Flagler Tower recipe was created stacking these 5 filters: High Key, Film Efex: Vintage (using Film Type 7), Brilliance/Warmth, Vignette, and Detail Extractor in this order. Not a lot of changes were made to the sliders.
2. Duplicate this layer and name Topaz Adjust 5.
3. Open the Filter the same way as above. In Adjust a preset created in an earlier version was applied that was called Sunset on Building. I cannot tell you how it was created since it was done some time ago in an earlier version. Unfortunately it is very hard to tell which preset you started with in Topaz (as opposed to NIK) – you just have to save what you like. I did use the Curve Tool in the Global Adjustments section to make the contrast in the image better.
4.  Back in Photoshop the layer was changed to the Darken Blend Mode.

Do take the time to check out these two plug-ins, especially the Topaz Adjust 5 plug-in (see right sidebar for Topaz Adjust 4 to link to website) – it was the first one I bought and I have not regretted it. Topaz is known for their reasonable prices in the plug-in world and once you buy their plug-ins, you get their upgrades for free! No one does that! And NIK’s Color Efex Pro 4 may be the best plug-in ever developed! And do not forget to try the combinations of your plug-ins – sometimes the results are incredible!

I hope this gives everyone an idea on how easy it is to use plug-ins, and most plug-ins compatible with Photoshop CS5 are also compatible with Elements. They usually have reasonable trial periods so you should see if this will take your Photoshop expression to a new level. I know it does for me!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Topaz Adjust 5
Topaz Adjust 5 is Here! First Look!
The New Film Efex-Vintage Filter From NIK CEP 4
NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review!
Combining Plug-ins – Double the Effect!
Psuedo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro!
Why I Love Topaz Adjust!

Topaz Adjust 5 Is Here! First Look!

Topaz Adjust 5 was just released and here is my first attempt at using it. Hover over the image to see the original HDR image. (Click on sidebar Topaz 4 to go to website.) The interface has been greatly expanded to look like their very popular new plug-in Topaz Black and White Effects. This is a big improvement and I really enjoyed working with the new version of the plug-in. If you own an earlier version of Topaz Adjust, you are entitled to a free upgrade. If not, try out the trial and see what you think. They have added over 100 new presets and also included all of the ones from Topaz Adjust 4. A histogram has been added along with a really nice new Local Adjustment brush called Brush Out where the effect can be removed and a small mask shows how much is being removed (similar to Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush). In the image above, it was created as a Photomatix 4 HDR using 3 images, then brought into Photoshop and processed in Topaz Adjust 5. Just a subtle sunlight feel was placed on the building. (See my blog “Quad Tones in Topaz Black and White Effects Plug-in” for colors used to create the soft sunlight effect in the Tone section.) There are so many choices and the image could be made to look more vivid and moody.

The image above is of the Lamar Life Insurance Building tower with beautiful gargoyles all around it in Jackson, Mississippi. It is a very striking looking building even in this day and age and the clock tower can be seen almost everywhere in the city. Below is a copy of a postcard from 1924 when it was built showing this beautiful building, thanks to Bill Badzo’s Flickr site. He states this about the building  “…a close observation reveals it as nothing less than a scaled-down version of New York City’s Woolworth Building.”  Interesting observation!

Give this new plug-in a try when you get a chance – you will not be disappointed. Lots of fun ahead of you…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Topaz Adjust 5!
Little Nighttime Fun from Topaz!
Why I Love Topaz Adjust!
Combining Plug-ins – Double the Effect!

Topaz Lens Effect’s Artistic Flair!

This is a real Tidbit – just playing around in Topaz Lens Effects. I have not used this plug-in as much as I thought I would so I decided to try some things on a so-so image. Overall I am really happy with the results from using this plug-in. Three Lens Effects were applied in this order: Vignette with a lighter dark edge centered on the blue cover over the door; Lens – Motion using Zoom in the Motion Blur section – centered again on the top of the door and the Motion Amount adjusted from there; and Filter – Dual Tone with the Region A having a fairly strong Yellow Cast and Region B using a small Magenta Cast (you can see this in the image),  and adjusting the image Contrast and Saturation sliders. Back in Photoshop, a layer mask was added to the Lens Effects layer and black painted in to bring back the clean lines of of the door area – the Sharpen Tool was then applied. The orange brick and blue canvas awning were brought out using a Selective Color Adjustment Layer and a Curves Adjustment Layer. An OnOne PhotoFrame was added (see sidebar for website link). A Shadowhouse Creations Used Canvas 4 texture was added to give it the darker canvas feel (check out the textures at this site – they are all free and great!). A final Curves Adjustment Layer was added and the layer mask converted to black (highlight mask and press CTRL + I) and white painted to increase contrast on the door area.

Here are the layers I used to create this image to help you see how it all goes together.

I really loved the final result – but definitely it has more of an artistic feel than realistic. Try this plug-in and see if you can get some interesting results too……Digital Lady Syd

See related Digital Lady Syd’s blogs on Topaz Lens Effects:
Little Nighttime Fun from Topaz!
Topaz Lens Effects Plug-in

Adobe Camera Raw – Not So Obvious in Photoshop Elements 10

Accessing Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) in Photoshop Elements is not that obvious. I decided to write a quick post here on how to accomplish this without too much stress and show the results you can get with just a few adjustments to the sliders. Usually you use ACR for processing RAW files, but a JPG can also be opened up in ACR following the same steps.

To access ACR in Elements, first go to File -> Open As and click on the drop down arrow on the left of the bottom box that by default shows Photoshop (*PSD, *PDD) where a long list of file formats is displayed. Select Camera Raw (with a whole bunch RAW formats listed). Now you are in the basic ACR plug-in. This dialog is composed of three panels – Basic, Detail and Camera Calibration. There is a Straightening Tool and Crop Tool at top of dialog that should be used now if image needs to be straightened or cropped.

When I work in Camera Raw, I use the histogram as a basic guide for enhancing an image. Watch the edges and move the sliders so that the ends just touch the sides on both ends. Below is my workflow for processing an image before taking it into Photoshop Elements.

BASIC Panel:

White Balance drop-down – Click on the eyedropper icon on top and run over areas that are of a neutral gray content – the RGB numbers will show under the left side of the histogram. When numbers are all pretty close in range, click on that place in image to adjust color cast. (Usually never touch this unless there is an obvious color cast in the image.)

Exposure slider – slowly move the slider until the white line stretches to the right edge of the histogram. (For this image, exposure slider was set to -0.35)

Blacks slider – slowly move the slider left until the white line stretches to the left edge of the histogram. (Blacks slider set to 0)

Recovery slider – move right until you get a pleasing look to the colors. It darkens the the brightest areas. (Recovery set to 99 – usually I do not use this much, but the histogram required it.)

Fill Light slider – this slider may not need to be moved at all – each image is different so give it a try. It opens up detail in the shadow areas.  (This slider was left to 0.)

Temperature and Tint – these are not moved much if at all – use if you think there is a color cast in the image. Add a little yellow if the image seems too cool and you want to warm up the feel of the image. (In this case, the Temp slider was set to 7150 and the Tine was set to +4.)

Brightness slider – do not use this slider too much – it can tend to wash out colors. (Set to +53)

Contrast slider – don’t overdo using this but it can make an image pop. (Set to +63)

Clarity slider – add some but not more than +75 to add a bit of sharpness to the image but watch out for haloing if too much is used. I always use this slider. (Set to +63)

Vibrance slider – use if the colors need to pop just a bit more – it makes the colors that are not so bright a little more colorful. (Set to +28)

Saturation slider – usually do this adjustment in Photoshop.


Sharpening Section – I use this at the default – Amount 25%; Radius 1.0; Detail 25; and Masking 0. If noise in image, set Amount to 0 and do localized sharpening in Photoshop using the Sharpen Tool. (The default was used on this image.)

Noise Reduction Section – Use if any noise is apparent in the image – look at the image at 100% to find it. (Did not use on this image as there was no noise but I do not hesitate to use it if any is present.)

The Luminance slider can be very helpful in keeping the noise under control but you must find it at this early point in the image adjustment since you cannot come back into Camera Raw in Elements to fix.

Color slider – you may not need it if no color pixels in the dark areas.


Adobe Standard is the default. In the drop-down, try some of the other choices. Camera Vivid gives some really bright colors. (For this bright colorful image, Camera Vivid was used.)

Click Open Image button and it now opens into the Editing Screen in Elements.

There is a lot of information on how to do this but once you get a workflow you are comfortable using, the image can be adjusted very quickly and results are definitely worth it.

Hope this workflow helps when trying to sort through the sliders.  Have fun experimenting…..Digital Lady Syd

PS:  This same workflow is a great starting point for ACR in CS5 – do open as a Smart Object so you can get back to the settings if needed.

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

Black and White Photo or Not? Give It a Try on That Difficult Image

This image is of the beautiful cut glass display at the Lightner Museum located in the old Alcazar Hotel in St. Augustine. As you can see it is a very nice collection and I wanted to find out if the color in the image was distracting from actually seeing the ornate cut glass. See the black and white conversion by hovering over the color image. As I discovered, this image turned out to be a difficult choice to process no matter which effect you want.

Color Version

The top image was processed using the NIK Color Efex Pro 4 (CEP4) plug-in on a Smart Object layer (right click image and select “Convert to a Smart Object” since CEP4 will keep your settings and control points in case you want to adjust the results later) and stacking several filters including from top to bottom: Tonal Contrast, Darker/Lighten Center, Vignette, Glamour Glow, and Pro Contrast. Various control points were added to selectively choose areas for some of these effects. In Photoshop the cut glass edges were selectively sharpened using the Sharpen Tool on it own layer, and a final Curves Adjustment layer was added to get the correct contrast. Overall, this image is attractive since the blue-green sets off the glassware nicely.

Since there are some bright colors in the background that might be distracting from the main focus point, and the museum walls and columns have what I consider to be a rather bland creamy color to it, a black and white conversion might be appropriate to tone down some of the distraction and get rid of the creamy tones.

Black and White Version

I duplicated the cleaned up image layer and turned it into a Smart Object as above. Once in the NIK silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2} plug-in, from the side preset panel the o14 Grad ND (EV -2) preset was selected and it really made the glass pop out clearly.  In Photoshop the Sharpen Tool was used to bring out some of the glass edges (again, do this on a New Layer above the image) and the opacity of this layer is reduced so artifacts are not viewed. A final Adjustment Curve is added to give just the right amount of contrast. The items on the back wall initially appear to be more distracting than in the color image but the creamy tones did convert to the white tones nicely.


The image may not work as a black and white and the only way to figure this out is to try it. In this case SEP2 was used to convert the image to black and white, but the conversion can be done in lots of ways – in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom using a preset, or in Photoshop using a Black and White Adjustment Layer or Channels, as just a couple examples. NIK’s SEP2 is an excellent way to find out quickly since the presets allow you to glance over many black and white variations – if the image is really not going to look good as a black and white, you will know it.!

I am on the fence about which version I like best. The image was not the best choice to process to begin with and the glass creates a huge challenge just to get enough contrast to make the it stand out. Still it was good practice and I like the picture because I liked the cut glass collection. Just remember sometimes the image you want to process is not that great and does not work – but at least try a couple different effects including black and white and maybe there is a good shot hidden in there!…..Digital Lady Syd

Related Digital Lady Syd Blogs:
NIK’s Champion Plug-in – Silver Efex Pro 2
Topaz B&W Effects vs. Nik’s Silver Efex Pro
Topaz B&W Effects Plug-In – A Real Winner!

Elements & CS5 Friday: Adding a Texture for a Totally New Look to an Image

Friday blogs are going to be for Adobe Photoshop Elements along with some techniques crossing over with Adobe Photoshop CS5. I realize there is a huge group of digital fanatics out there using the quite capable little sister to CS5. So let’s start.

Unfortunately these beautiful trees are in a very run-down part of the city and located in front of a parking garage. I guess my point is that just because something is not in a gorgeous settng, it can make a really nice image with just a little effort. Hover over the image to see what the original image looked like.

To achieve this nice effect, all that was done is to add an interesting texture image as a layer on top of your basic picture. In this case, a really grungy looking texture creates this wonderful effect on the building and in the tree colors. This free texture is from Shadowhouse Creations and is called You’d Be Surprised – download it here. This is one of the best texture sites I have found on the internet – beautiful textures all for free!

Here are the steps required to create this look:

1. Open your image in Photoshop Elements (or CS5).

2. Clean up any areas that need to be touched up using the Clone Stamp Tool or Content Aware Healing Brush.

3.  Go to File -> Open and navigate to the downloaded texture, in this case You’d Be Surprised, to open in Elements (or CS5) as a separate image.

4.  Select image (CTRL + A), copy (CTRL + C) and then go to the original image and paste (CTRL +V) into the file which now puts the new image on top of your image.  Close the texture image without saving.

5.  Since the texture is probably too small to cover your image, we will use a Free Transform (CTRL+T) to expand the image – just drag the corners out to completely cover the original layer underneath.

6.  Change the texture layer to Overlay Blend Mode at the top of the Layers Panel (click on down arrow to the right of Normal).

7.  (Optional Step) If certain areas would look better without the texture, highlight this layer and click the Add a Mask icon (2nd icon over from left at bottom of the Layers Panel). This adds a white layer mask – click on it in the Layers Panel and paint with a black soft brush set to 50% opacity. Paint into areas you do not want the texture affecting.

For this image, the lamppost and light were painted out in black along with a little bit of the red leaves in the trees to increase the color range in the leaves, and some of the dark green bushes to add some lighter highlights for interest.

8.  (Optional Step) To sharpen parts of the image to make certain areas stand out, click on the Create a New Layer icon (1st icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and 6th icon from left for CS5). Select the Sharpen Tool (it is nested with the Blur Tool and Smudge Tool – 3rd icon from the bottom on the Tool Bar or 11 from bottom for CS5) and leave the top options set to the default settings except check Sample All Layers. On this new layer, with a soft edged brush paint over the objects you want to sharpen – since the brush is set to a default Strength of 50%, go over the object a few times to build up a really sharp effect. Watch out for artifacts if too much is applied. The nice thing is, since this sharpening is on its own layer, it can be deleted and started over or the opacity can be reduced if too much is added.

In the image above, just the lamppost and light and a few of the top red and yellow leaves were sharpened.

You are done! And this texture creates a very beautiful look. Look at some of the other images Shadowhouse Creations used with this texture at the download site link above.

Well I hope you enjoyed this blog – I did. I love working with textures and this workflow can be used over and over again to achieve some beautiful results using any texture. Have Fun Creating!…..Digital Lady Syd

Little Nighttime Fun from Topaz!

Just listened to another interesting video from Topaz Labs on “Creating Striking Night Images.” If you are using or trying any of their Photoshop plug-ins, Topaz always has some interesting videos for creative uses at their Topaz Lab site. I followed the referenced video steps for processing this nighttime image taken on the Las Vegas Strip of Margaritaville. The video suggests that you first use their DeNoise Filter (this image did not require it), Topaz Adjust where they suggest using the Photo Pop preset was used with Shadow slider setting changed to 0, contrast slider moved left a little, and checking Process details independent of exposure box; and finally Topaz Lens Effects using the Single Tone – Hint of Blue Light and then adding some yellow cast to the mix. (See sidebar to get to Topaz’s site to download trials of these products.) The video also discussed taking long exposure nighttime photos. Since this was not a true long exposure night image, I used my Rick Sammon Spicify Soft Artsy preset using settings from the Topaz video “Rick Sammon’s Top Topaz Tricks, Tips and Techniques.” An OnOne PhotoFrame was added to finish off the look.

This image was a lot of fun to work on and pretty easy to do! I am looking forward to trying this processing technique on a serious nighttime image. Give this video a listen if you want some great nighttime tips…..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