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Looking for a Dragon Slayer

Image of a huge Dragon Fly
This is an image of a dragon fly that was sleeping upside down on the roof of my front porch. These bugs are huge – like 4 or 5 inch wing span! Anyway, got a good image so decided to play with it and see what effects I could get. What really surprised me is that the background actually came out inside the wings. The fly was selected using the Quick Selection Tool and then taken into Refine and Mask where this really nice detailed selection of the wings was created. A lot of textures were created. These textures were used: 2 Lil’ Owls (see sidebar for website link) Sea Storm Canvas and French Brocante 10 set to Soft Light, and Daily Texture Exploration 7 set to Multiply blend mode at 60% layer opacity. The Sharpen Tool was also used to sharpen the wings. The Dragon is a brush by Rob Marks. Nik Viveza 2 filter was used to even out the background. The font is called Enchanted Brush. Lots of fun to create!…..Digital Lady Syd

Trick or Treat!

Trick or Treat Halloween Greeting
Happy Halloween to everyone! Just thought I would post a little Halloween cheer using a photo taken at the local Lowe’s Garden Center. Sometimes the displays are more creative than what you see in the neighborhood! I am not sure what this little guy is but he sure is scary! So had some fun with this image.  Started by selecting the subject and putting him on his own layer. Then underneath used Shadowhouse Creations Halloween Pattern 3 HP3 and topped it with Julia Dreams Halloween icons Pattern 1 – actually used the Blend If slider to get the strips to show up underneath by setting This Layer black tabs split to 131/174. It gave a really  nice effect. Add the Machovka_bat and text – the Adrenaline Brush font with a Stroke Layer Style- were added. Color was added to the letters by clipping Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers to the three text files. Had to replace the font on the bowl as it was not very sharp and added the Old English Text MT font – a layer style was added using a Stroke, Inner Shadow and Outer Glow effects. On a Stamped Layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Nik Viveza 2 was applied to adjust the focal point of the image. Then a 50% Gray Fill Layer was used to Dodge and Burn with just a black or white brush. The cobwebs were placed in the subject’s eyes – Obsidian Dawn’s Halloween Vector Cobweb 10 brush was used. Last step involved add Halloween Cats Brush by altergromit (love this cat) – added a mask to pop him out of the bowl and added an orange Outer Glow Layer Style around him. That was it – check out some of these resources for other interesting Halloween items…..Digital Lady Syd

Happy Halloween

Image of Halloween Pumpkins and Scarecrows
This Halloween grouping was taken at a local Lowe’s Garden Center on my Android – just could not resist the cuteness of these guys. I would love to have one of those straw looking characters but we do not get many Trick-or-Treaters here so no need to put outside. Anyway, since it was just a JPEG taken on the fly, the image itself needed some work. Only basic adjustments were done in LR, then in Photoshop the first thing done was to run the Shake Reduction Filter to try and sharpen up the edges a little. Next the background was removed using the Quick Selection Tool and Mask and Select command. One of my textures was placed underneath for a background. To further sharpen the image, it was taken into Lucis Pro (no longer available) and it really helped. On a stamped layer, Nik Color Efex Pro 4 using one of the Flypaper recipes presets to get this overall vintage feel – I forgot to write down which preset. So many of them looked good. Two inches were added to the bottom of the image and the Naive Deco Sans font was selected for type. On a New Layer a Mixer blender brush was used to smooth edges. Nik Viveza 2 was applied on a stamped layer to draw focus to the center pumpkin. Last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer for a little vintage feel to the overall image. Happy Halloween Everyone!…..Digital Lady Syd

A British Countryside

Image of British countryside
This image was taken of the British countryside on the way to Stonehinge. Lots of post-processing in Lightroom following Serge Ramirez’s instructions and using his very Sunset preset. Check out his My Most Liked Photos-Part 1: The Making of a Composition for basic info on this. Then in PS used Lucis Pro (no longer available) to really sharpen up the image. A couple Curves Adjustments layers, Topaz (see sidebar for website link) ReStyle to really add the nice color treatment, and Camera Raw Filter to add a top bluish gradient. A final little sky clean up and that was it. Really like the nice feel of the little town…..Digital Lady Syd

Countryside Contentment

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

Smokestacks in New York City

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

Going to Windsor Castle

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

On Safari

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

Abandoned Texaco Station

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

Feeding Egret

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

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