It is funny that I had just completed this image of Big Ben a few days ago and then it comes out that is has some tilting issues, 0.26 degrees NW or 18 inches off center at the top of the 314-foot tower. It will be thousands of years before Britain’s iconic landmark that houses the clock gets as bad as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. The rumor is Members of Parliament are meeting to discuss what to do including these two options: 1) Do costly repairs to both the Parliament Building and Big Ben, or 2) sell the entire complex to a rich foreign developer. Hum! For more information on this, check out The National Post article.
I tried to find an old famous painting of Big Ben but could not find one – can’t believe no one painted this gorgeous landmark in the 1800′s so my search is still on. In the meantime, I did find a site selling some very interesting Big Ben posters at Art.Com that I found very inspirational – give it a look to see some of the creative work others are doing (and for profit!).
How I processed this image? Believe it or not, this is just another pseudo HDR processed just like I do all my pseudo HDR’s. Used my SJ-Vivid Drawing Look preset in Lightroom 3 (download here if using Adobe Camera Raw) (note: change file extension to .xmp in zip folder to get file to work) and adjusted the Exposure, Blacks, Red Saturation (-45), Blue Saturation (+61), and Green Luminance (+3) sliders to make the image colors pop correctly. In fact the red bus was overpowering the image so the red saturation had to be reduced quite a bit. (Hover over image to see how it looked coming out of Lightroom.) I must say there was an amazing sky that day! Some clean up in Photoshop was done and the image was taken into Nik Color Efex Pro 4. All I did was add the SJ Pseudo HDR1 recipe (NOTE: This download link is broken if you click the Download button, but by right clicking on the button and choosing “Save Link As,” the file will download correctly.”) – I had to tone down the Detail Extractor and Contrast a little and change the Effect Radius to Large to get rid of the over-exaggerated HDR look. In Nik’s Viveza 2 I added a point on the clockface to make it really sharp but this could easily have been done with the Sharpen Tool in Photoshop. The last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to brighten the whole image just a little. I was surprised how much detail came in from only applying the Lightroom preset without the Photoshop plug-ins. You could actually see the people riding inside the bus! It’s great when it all comes together with the light and composition to create a great shot!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4
Another Pseudo HDR Image with NIK CEP4 – Got to Love the Effect!
Where Am I?
I wrote a Fun Photoshop Blog called “Using NIK’s Color Efex Pro 4 and Viveza Together” showing a great workflow using these plug-ins on the same Smart Object layer. Here are my daisies again shot at a different angle. (They were shot using my 18-200 mm zoom lens at 75 mm, F5.0, 1/60 sec, and ISO 400.) Different CEP4 filters were stacked to give a totally different result. (See settings below.) I really liked the way the color of the flower was altered to give this softer feel. Lightroom and ACR will give a fairly close look as to what Viveza achieves, but not exactly the same as discussed in the other blog. Give this workflow a try – download the trials and see what you get if you do not already own the plug-ins. This can be very addictive! Have fun…..Digital Lady Syd
Plug-in Settings for this image: CEP4 filters: Cross Processing (Method T04, Strength 86%, three controls in the background to remove the effect), Tonal Contrast (Highlights -80%, Midtones -80%, Shadows -80%, Saturation 20%, Contrast Type Fine, one control point on pink background flower, and Opacity Slider set to 62%), Darken/Lighten Center (#1, Center Luminosity -36%, Border Luminosity -2%, and Center Size 57%), and Vignette (Vignette Color set to light yellow, Shape 2, Adapt Edges 0%, Transition 84%, Size 46%, Opacity 38%, and one control point set on pink background flower to remove effect). Viveza used seven control points to adjust background and bring out the center of the flower.
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
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
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!
Having some Lightroom and Photoshop CS5 interface problems today so I am just going to post a little more tree fun I had a few days ago. I guess with the Fall coming upon us, I think about the trees losing their leaves and winter around the corner.
Both these images use tree brushes from Winter Trees by Melbrushes and Trees from c4grfx brushes. The first image used a texture from Shadow Creations Old Canvas 4 and the Glitter Brush Set by Obsidian Dawn. The bottom background was created using Paper Damaged brushes, Gorguss Grunge Again 3 and 9 (click upper right hand corner for link), my SJ-Basic Soft White Cloud Brush (for dark area behind trees), and the plug-ins: Topaz Effects Black and White plug-in (see sidebar for link) , a Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 Bi-color filter plug-in, and an OnOne PhotoFrame plug-in (see sidebar for link). Check out my Tidbits blog called “Just a Tree!” for another example.
Hopefully I will be back up and running with both my programs by next week. Until then, try downloading some of these brushes and play around a bit. You can get some pretty interesting looks!…..Digital Lady Syd
Well, here is my old standby image from the London Eye used as an example of what the long-awaited NIK Color Efex Pro 4 upgrade will do. Hover over image to see original. I am still sorting through all the new features they have added to this wonderful plug-in. Check out my Fun Photoshop Blog “Nik Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review” for a more in depth discussion.
One of the major new features allows you to stack any number of filters and save the whole group as a preset to use again. I really stacked up this image just to see what results I could get. The filters in the order they are stacked are: Tonal Contrast, Brilliance/Warmth, Vignette: Lens (a new filter), Contrast Color Range, Remove Color Cast (Plus Control Point set on faded green trees on left – click to see original problem area), Graduated Filter, and Image Borders.
I believe the final result is quite striking. In the meantime I will still be playing with the filters and trying different stacks to see what really looks good. If you get a chance, go download the trial version and see what you think…..Digital Lady Syd
I did a blog on my Fun Photoshop Blog called “Topaz B&W Effect Plug-in – A Real Winner!” that touched on some of the differences of Topaz’s new plug-in and the great black and white standard plug-in by Nik called Silver Efex Pro 2.0. I thought I would just mention a few other things I noticed that are definitely different about the two programs.
Below is one of my favorite images for trying out new effects (the original has some basic flaws so I can see if the product will correct it) and was taken from the London Eye. Topaz B&W Effects was applied (hover over or click on image to see the Nik version).
This is as close as I could get to making the two plug-ins look alike. The sky and some of the buildings’ contrast and detail are slightly different, but overall the results are pretty much the same. I am not sure which version I like best.
The image below I also used Topaz B&W Effects.
In this case, I could not duplicate the results in either NIK Silver Efex Pro 2.0 or Color Efex Pro 3.0. I liked the results and was surprised how nice the image turned out. By the way, I created for the Topaz plug-in a SJ-Cityscape preset for use in the Traditional Collection for both of the Topaz images – it can be downloaded here.
My final thought is to say that I think there is a place for both black and white plug-ins. Nik’s black and white plug-in is considered the best and I am not sure Topaz has created a better one, but it is very close. Topaz B&W Effects is definitely a great product since it does several things the other plug-in cannot do – and I really like that.
Well I hope you have fun (I sure am) trying out both of these excellent products. I plan on experimenting more with Topaz’s B&W Effects and will post more on it later……Digital Lady Syd
PS. Be sure to download the 30 day trial for Topaz B&W Effects – it is a fully functional trial to try out!