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
I had not done an HDR image or post in a long time so I pulled out NIK’s HDR Efex Pro, which usually gives me the look I want. Personally, I think it is a little harder to use than Photomatix Pro and Photoshop CS5’s Merge to HDR, but the results can be spectacular if done correctly. This image is of an Ice Cream Shop on St. George Street in St. Augustine, Florida. This is a great example of the typical Spanish home that was built back in the early 1800’s. The texture in the building came out really nice. What I like about this program is on the right side of the program, there is a drop-down menu called HDR Method where a lot of different looks can be tried out. The basic global adjustment sliders and the U-Point controls are still available so control points can be placed where needed and the strength adjusted to fit the location. In this case, the Fresco method was chosen at 70% strength. I did bring the image into Photoshop to clean up some of the distracting items and to sharpen the lettering in the signage with the Sharpen Tool. The edges were treated with OnOne’s PhotoFrame Taufer Texture 12 in dark black (see sidebar for link to website). Overall it gives a pretty convincing vintage look.
Another great program from NIK!…..Digital Lady Syd
With the holidays winding down, I thought I would post one of the shots I took with my little point and shoot Canon 1000 camera of a friend’s Dickens Village set up in her living room. I can’t say enough about how beautiful it looked, especially in the evening when the houses were all lit up. Absolutely Amazing!
The image was processed in Lightroom just a bit – the colors were so strong it did not need much adjustment. Next NIK’s Color Efex Pro 4 was applied using the Detail Extractor filter and setting points so the snow was not affected as much, and a slight darkening Vignette filter. Back in Photoshop the Sharpen Tool was used on some of the figure’s faces and back edges to make them stand out a little more and that was it.
Hope you had a great holiday – I know I did……Digital Lady Syd
Just a final card I thought I would share that was constructed completely in Elements with a little help from Topaz Adjust 5. I seem to be using the same holiday resources over and over – guess I have found the ones I like. This card started with three different layers of snowflakes – I created brushes from the custom shapes provided with the Shape Tool, but you can download them in lots of places (try these from Obsidian Dawn), and used layer styles and blend modes to get the various effects; the font is Fantaisie Artistique (my favorite) doubled up for each line of text and the bottom filled with black, then dragged out to form a sharp shadow edge; Snow Drops brush by Frostbo for small flake layer – adjust size to get different effects; Santa sleigh in Christmas Brushes by Fina with Outer Glow layer style; and finally Topaz Adjust 5 (see sidebar for link to website) using the Film Collection – Vintage Grunge III preset. This was very easy to create and pretty fast.
I hope you have Happy Holidays and enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd
Thought I would post this card I did today which follows a really interesting tutorial called “Fun & Exciting Text Effect in Photoshop” where patterns were inserted onto each letter to create this interesting effect. The basic tutorial steps were OK but they forgot to mention that each letter has to be on an individual text layer so a different pattern Layer Style can be applied for each layer. This was a fun project and I like the way it turned out.
There were many resources in this card that I will mention in one lump group. Please check out their sites, these people generously give their expertise away for free so they deserve some recognition! Resources are as follows: Grunge brushes were from Websoulz Super Grunge set; yellow (#3) and green (#1) lines from Swirls by Rocked Out set-these apparently are no long available but try this set of Flowing Line Brushes by Thurgood; background snow brushes are Snow Drop brush by Frostbo and Snow White brush #36 from Supreme-neko; the font is 02 from a Cosmi font set I bought years ago and is not longer available as far as I can tell, but go to daFont.com and look for a larger fat font – there should be several available; the bottom font is my favorite Fantaisie Artistique; Patterns were from Grungy Dirty Patterns from Obsidian Dawn, Free Christmas Patterns, Christmas Patterns by Peter Plastic, Free Christmas Patterns by Succo Design, and Christmas Patterns by slave to fashion 69; Sleigh brush from Obsidian Dawn’s Holiday set; and Dave Cross _01 OnOne PhotoFrame (see sidebar for link to website).
Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and try out this text effect – great effect for any occasion……Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Add Images to Text
Playing in Photoshop
How to Create Photoshop Brushes from Objects or Text
Free Christmas Card Templates-Part 2
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template Using Photoshop Elements
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template
Free Christmas Card Vectors and Brushes
Some Holiday Cheer
Since I have been presenting calendar techniques this past week, I thought I would pass along yet another way to create a calendar via the Lightroom and Photoshop guru, Matt Kloskowski, on his Killer Lightroom Tips Blog. See his blog “Creating Calendars in the Print Module.”
Basically the technique involves first downloading the calendars (Matt used some from iStockPhoto.com but I used this free download link from PrintRunner – scroll down to the Calendars section and select the first one). I used Photoshop to open the calendar files – go to File –> Open and select the month you want to insert from the downloaded Printrunner PDF file and click OK. NOTE: You must open the file from within Photoshop – I could not get the Bridge to open the PDF files to place into Photoshop.) Save to the Graphics folder as a jpg file.
Then go into Lightroom and highlight your Graphic’s folder or collection and enter the Print Module. In Page Set Up, select the size (Matt used 17″ X 22″ but my printer does not support this, so I used standard paper size 8 1/2″ X 11″.) Check the Lock Aspect Ratio in Cells section, and just drag your calendar month into your document along with an image for the top. Now you can Print to: Print or JPEG File (click Print to File to save down as a JPEG to E-mail out or post on-line). Very simple technique!
I personally like using my template (see links below) but this is definitely a nice alternative. Hope this gives you another great idea on creating your own personal calendars. Have a Happy New Year!…..Digital Lady Syd
For my Elements friends, here is the same template following basically the exact same instructions as noted in my blog “Free Calendar Template” from last year. The template opens up great in Elements and the same steps to placing the items is totally the same. The only difference is that the step that it in the layer mask for the Gradient Layer. In this case, to copy the layer mask on the Color Fill 2 layer, you must: 1) click on the Color Fill 2 layer mask, 2) CTRL+A to select the whole mask, 3) CTRL+C to copy the whole mask, and 4) highlight the top layer and CTRL+V to paste the layer mask into this layer. A New Layer was created on top and snow was sprinkled around the edges. That’s it! Very simple.
The image is the top of the Standard Life building in Jackson, Mississippi. The gradient used is from Gorgeous Gradients – PrimaveraII, and the snow is a very useful snow brush called Snow Drop by Frostbo. The lettering on the building is called Kingsthings Christmas font, the Flying Santa Sleigh is by Fina, the fog was created using Sampled Brush #3 and #12 from Brushes Fogs and Mists, the green Christmas Tree and Icicles are in Obisian Dawn’s Holiday set, and the icy edges are an OnOne PhotoFrame Taufer Texture 08 frame (see sidebar for OnOne Perfect Photo Suite 6.0 for website). I have to admit this image was a bit of a challenge but I really liked the final effect.
Well, once again, it just goes to show that lots of what can be done in Photoshop can be done in Elements – sometimes with just a few workarounds. Try putting some of your new photos together and make a calendar for a family keepsake! Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd
I recently was visiting the Lightner Museum located in the old Alcazar Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, and found this beautiful sculpture of a little girl sitting on a big pedestal in the corner. I think it turned out to be my favorite piece in the museum and the gorgeous antique mirror next to her is perfect for the setting. The sculpture is by Ella Pollock Bidwell of which very little known. The art was signed by the artist with Florence 1889, Carrera Marble was the medium used, and listed on a separate line “American(?).”
The Museum’s information sign by the work states “Despite the fact that this is a highly executed work of are, no concrete information has come to light on Ella Pollock Bidwell. Whether she actually sculpted this from marble herself or only did a clay maquette to be copied by others is left for us to speculate. There is some possibility that Ella Pollock Bidwell may have been an American working in Italy as many American Artists of the 19th Century were want to do. Alas we have no proof to offer of this either. Although the Artist is unknown to us today, her legacy remains with us in this charming and beautifully crafted work of art.” While searching on-line, the Bidwell Family Crest and History came up and listed that in 1892, a woman by the name of Ella P. Bidwell came through Ellis Island from London at the age of 30. Can’t help but wonder if this is the same woman who did this beautiful sculpture. You also have to wonder if this woman made more beautiful sculptures during her lifetime – what a shame we do not know!
The image was processed mainly in Lightroom. I created the tinted preset from reading David duChemin’s book “Vision & Voice – Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.” See my blog “Inexpensive Gifts for the Photoshop Lover on Your List” No. 2. This book is a great read if you use Lightroom – he teaches you how to make some very beautiful presets. I use them all the time. The one applied to this image I named Maasai Chocolate split-tone & vignette to use as a starting point, but ended up changing several of the settings in the Black & White Mix. The image was also cropped to bring the mirror and the girl into closer view. In Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer was added and the Sharpen Tool was used on its own layer to locally sharpen parts of her features. Finally her face was Dodged just a small amount. I really loved the results of this preset on the sculpture…..Digital Lady Syd
Above is another example of using the calendar template I created last year – the instructions are very easy to follow. Link over to my “Free Calendar Template” blog to download my calendar template and the calendar pdf file, and follow the easy steps. It prints out on an 8 1/2 inch X 11 inch sheet. (On Friday I will post how to do this in Elements – the same process except for copying the layer mask which is a copy and paste effort.)
For this calendar, I added a light colored gradient background instead of using a solid color. This was done by adding a New Layer on top and selecting the Gradient Tool. In the Options Bar, select your gradient, in this case it was from Muted Gradients Graphix1 – Muted 8, click first icon Linear, use Normal Mode at 100% opacity with Dither and Transparency checked. Copy the Layer Mask from the Color Fill 2 layer by clicking on the layer mask and ALT + Drag up to the top gradient layer. The bird image was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park’s Rookery, one of the best places to take pictures of birds in the Spring, and a texture from Ash was used (not sure they are available anymore, but click on the Textures category on right to find many more wonderful texture sites). A 3 stroke gray line was added around the inside and outside of the template by adding a Layer Style to the top gradient layer.
This calendar template makes for a great present. It can also give you a chance to show off your latest artistic endeavor. Give it a try!…..Digital Lady Syd
This template was processed completely in Photoshop Elements. Same steps as with the regular Photoshop program. Open up your other image(s), CTRL+A to select the whole image, and CTRL+C to copy the image. (These are both images I took last Christmas.) Switch to the template file, highlight the layer(s) that indicates where the photo(s) should be placed, and press CTRL+V to place the image above that layer. Then use the Move Tool to scale, rotate, and move the image(s) to place it. The Background Image layer was changed to 73% opacity. That’s it. Below is an image of the layers as they appear in the finished image above.
Note the Text Layer has a 1 pixel Stroke layer style set to Black and Outside. The Frame Layer has an Outer Glow layer style set to Blend Mode Screen at 75% opacity and Size 16 pixels to make the frame stand out a little. To find the Layer Styles in Elements, highlight your layer to add effect to, go to Menu -> Layer -> Layer Style -> Style Settings. I painted a little beige color over the white flakes to make the lettering stand out better. The white snowflakes and frame snowflakes brushes are Design by Firgs Snowflake Brush 6. (Firg’s Snowflake Shape Pack is not free but now are for sale. To try a different option download Obsidian Dawn’s free Snowflakes Photoshop Custom Shapes.)Font is Fantaisie Artistique – if you do not have it on your computer, your computer will substitute a different font or you can download it (right click on it after downloading to add to font list) and it will appear correct.
This is pretty simple and you should be able to get lots of different looks. See my blog for other examples on how to use this template. Have a good time and enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd
I have been wanting to create a versatile card template that could easily be used with your own images and background. Here is what I have come up with for a basic template for any kind of card. (Download at bottom.) It is set to 8 1/2 inches X 5 1/2 inches, one of the standard sizes for cards (and fits an 8 1/2 inch X 11 inch sheet). On the above image, the kids picture is one of mine that I scanned – it turned out pretty nice considering how old it is. The beautiful bokeh-like background is from ibJennyjenny Magical textures set 3, texture 3 with a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer added to make color more greenish. I love the Christmas Toy Train font (look at the text file to learn how to use it if you download it) – it replaced the Fantaisie Artistique font in the template.
The file below is exactly how the card should look when using the downloaded template (with my images added). The one above has the “Place Your Photo Above” layer and the “Frame Snowflake 6…” layers turned 90 degrees. This is where the flexibility is – almost all elements can be swapped out and changed and you still have the basic template to follow.
To help you understand how to use the layers, below is a copy of the Layers Panel for the downloaded Basic Template and on the right is the Layers Panel for the image above to show you how it was created.
The type font can be easily changed by highlighting the type layer and double-clicking on the T icon to activate the editing mode for the layer. (The template and the above photo both use my favorite free font Fantaisie Artistique – when you open the template, if you do not have this font on your computer, one from your hard drive will be substituted or download this one, right click on the file and load to your computer.) Layer styles can be added to all the layers, like the Snowflake 6 brush (from Design by Firg’s Snowflake Shape Pack) layer with the White Inner Glow and Outer Glow. Firg’s Snowflake Shape Pack is not free but now are for sale. To try a different option download Obsidian Dawn’s free Snowflakes Photoshop Custom Shapes. All the snowflakes used in this image are the same brush. Need to give credit to the people who create these wonderful free resources on the internet: the tree image was created using a Winter Tree brush by Mels Brushes, Gorjuss Snowflake brushes for tree branches, and Snow Drops brush by FROSTBO for the pretty colored small snowflakes.
This image uses exactly the same template with a generic free family image (downloaded from stock.xchng). The Bitstream font is Freehand 575 BT. The same background is used from ibJennyjenny Magical textures set 3, texture 3, as used as above. The ornament is from Photoshop Free Brushes Christmas Balls set – painted a yellow ball on a layer, painted it in, then changed colors and painted it in a reddish color on top to make the design show through.
To create the inside page, just turn off the photo image layers, make your text larger and create a little saying. Friday I will do a short example for my Photoshop Elements friends as this template works fine for this program also also. Have fun using the template and Happy Holidays!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template Using Photoshop Elements
Free Christmas Card Templates-Part 2
Free Christmas Card Vectors and Brushes
Some Holiday Cheer
Some Free Christmas Overlays to Spice Up Your Christmas Cards
I discovered I really liked this image of an entryway into a building in Jackson, Mississippi, that was completely empty. Really sad to see such a nice space and nothing in it. Anyway, when I took the picture there was some vertical distortion (hover over image to see original) that I was not able to get rid of easily. While inside the Lens Correction Filter trying to straighten up these bowing lines, I discovered that the image looked really neat twisted – so that is how this picture started out.
The image was still a little flat so I decided to experiment some more in the updated plug-in from OnOne called Perfect Effects (see sidebar for website link). This image has three effects stacked – in Black & White tab, Roadie filter was chosen and set to Overlay blend mode at 73%; in Movie Looks, Urban Sickness set to Color blend mode at 78%; and in Vintage, Nicely Toasted set to Darken blend mode at 100%. The layer was duplicated and rasterized (right click layer and select rasterize to get rid of smart object) and the Sponge Tool was applied to the yellow leaves in the background to color them a bit more. On a duplicate layer a High Pass filter set to 9.1 was to sharpen the image and set to Soft blend mode. A final Curves Adjustment Layer was added for contrast and OnOne.s PhotoFilter acid burn controlled frame. That is it and I love the results!
This is how I like to experiment – just try different things as you go into the various parts of Photoshop – it can be amazing what you come up with. I did not imagine this image as a diagonal, but it really does the image justice. I hope this will give you some inspiration to try this technique on some of your pictures – it can be quite interesting…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Review of OnOne Perfect Effects
Pseudo HDR in OnOne Perfect Effects
First Try – OnOne’s Perfect Effects 3
This image was created in Photoshop Elements 10 – it is of an old abandoned gas station not too far from the airport in Jackson, Mississippi. I am still figuring out this program so this was definitely just playing around and getting used to what the program can do. To create this optical illusion, follow these steps.
1. Open up image into Elements (or CS) and duplicate the layer (click OK in the dialog that opens).
2. In this case the top layer was taken into Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and an HDR preset was added to create the HDR effect. (If you have the plug-in or are using it as a trial version, my blog “Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR/Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 Pseudo HDR Recipe” has the preset settings you can enter manually or download already as a preset.) Any effect can be applied here.
3. After coming back into Elements (or CS), add a Layer Style was added – used an inner Glow using the default color at 114 pixels and opacity at 75%, and a black Stroke set to 18 pixels at 100% opacity. At this point the image can be transformed and rotated like the image above.
4. Next the bottom layer was highlighted and a New Layer was added below (ALT+click on the New Layer Icon) and filled with a beige color (CTRL+Backspace).
5. Set the image layer to Multiply blend mode at 88% opacity to make the bottom image much softer.
6. Go to the Adjustment Layers (third icon at bottom of Layers Palette) and select Gradient Map – the Light Brown gradient was chosen and the Layer was set to Soft Light blend mode to make image even softer.
7. Finally add a Levels Adjustment Layer to bring back a little contrast of the whole image.
8. The Sharpen Tool or Unsharp Mask filter can be added at this point if you want to sharpen the top layer image but since the Pseudo HDR preset was applied in NIK, it oversharpened the above image.
9. I created a Text Layer with my name and the copyright symbol was added using the Custom Shape Tool.
I was really pleased with the results and it gives an interesting effect. Try experimenting with the different layer combinations and see what you can get. It could turn out to be unexpectedly interesting!…..Digital Lady Syd