Thursday, August 30, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 38 : Fun with Type

How do you like my bumper sticker?   Could be a new career for me!    ;-)

Kind of a fun and quick lesson for Beyond Layers this week.  I followed Kim's recipe pretty closely, and everything worked just fine!  I was hoping to get more of the landscape into the letters but the white mountains got lost in the white background.  It was kind of an either/or situation between the mountains and layers of landscapes or the Killer whale in the foreground.  In the end, I went with the Big Boy.  He really adds something to this image.  Cheers!

Here's the original photo taken on our trip to Alaska in June 2012.  Yes! We saw lots of Killer Whales!  and even got this 1 decent photo outside of Juneau (I think).  They are hard to catch on "film."   It was a wonderful trip!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 36 : Light and Texture

I used Kim's recipe as laid out in this week's lesson, pretty much as written, utilizing Kim's 1-2-3 Overlay and her texture, Softly.


Here's the original photo straight from my camera.    Flowers from the local Farmer's Market.    So many of Kim's examples use white and pale flowers.  It's hard to find those colors here.  Everything at market is so vivid and bright.  As it was, this one seemed to pick up a lilac in the background texture rather than the creamy white in Kim's examples.


Beyond Layers Day 28 : 1 Photo 3 Ways

"Once Upon a Time at Cherokee Marsh"
My first web movie (sort of)!

On New Year's Day, I fell in love with ABC's new series, Once Upon a Time.  Even the title/episode slides were captivating to me--the same blue moonlit woods, always with a clue about the episode.  Sometimes you'd see Rumplestiltskin's spinning wheel, or Prince Charming riding through the woods on a white charger.      There was always somethings familiar about those woods ...
     When I lived in Madison, WI, I would often go out to Cherokee Marsh to watch the sun set over the water and behind the trees.  Walking through the woods to get to the water was like moving through a channel to another world.  Through the trees, I could catch glimpses of beautiful colors that whet my appetite for the magnificent light show to come.  I would walk faster to my favorite viewing spot so I wouldn't miss anything.  That is sacred ground for me, and one of my favorite places on this blue Earth.  I would bring a candle lantern with me to light the path on my way back through the woods after the sun had gone down.    Maybe it did give me a feeling of being back in fairy tale times ...
     Now that I no longer live in Madison, I still try to make an annual pilgrimage to Cherokee.  That view through the trees at Cherokee was the inspiration for this series.  A few weeks ago, I took this "stock" photo of the light through the trees, reminiscent of Once Upon a Time.  With my newly-acquired PhotoShop Elements skills, I wanted to create many moods with layers and textures on this one image.   Here are the photo processing recipes for each image :

Here's the original photo straight from my camera at mid-day.

This is the black and white scenic landscape version which served as the basis for the other versions.  This worked because I was going for more of a silhouette look with the trees.

This is the first one I worked on.  It was supposed to be short and sweet.  It was!
Layer 1 : Black and white scenic landscape as background and background copy.
Layer 2 : Texture by Eddi Van W.   Multiply blend mode at 100% opacity.

Layer 1 : Black and white scenic landscape as background and background copy.
Layer 2 : Kerstin Frank's Paradise Texture.   Multiply at 100%
Layer 3 : Text.  Font : Evernight Stargazer. Linear Dodge blend mode at 100%.
               "Magic is coming" is a nod to Once Upon a Time's season 1 cliff-hanger.

Layer 1 : Black and white scenic landscape as background and background copy.
Layer 2 : Gradation (black to white from bottom to mid-point).  Multiply 63%
Layer 3 : NClaey's Just Peachy Texture. Multiply 100%
Layer 4 : Lost and Taken Summer 5 Texture. Overlay 100%
Layer 5 : Jerry Jones' Texture Square 91. Soft Light 100%
Layer 6 : Gaussian Blur (for a morning misty look)  Normal 100%

About the short film at the header of this post :
I used Picassa to create a movie of these images looped to a soundtrack, then uploaded it to YouTube.
Easier than I ever thought it would be! Just takes a little patience to load.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 33 : Love Lights

"When you possess light within, you see it externally."
                                                         --Anais Nin

The Beyond Layers theme today is Love Lights, and being grateful for those people and things who bring light into our lives. 

Since you've already seen my 2nd-hand Newfie,  here's another picture of my kid, Oliver.   This was taken on a train in France a few years ago in a rare moment where he let me snap a few pics without grimacing.  I played around with doing different things to the image in PSE (B/W, textures, actions, etc.), but every time I showed the results to my husband or Oliver, they kept saying that there was no improving on the original.   So this is the image straight from my camera with just a few slight tweaks in Picassa.  It is still one of the best portraits I've ever done.

It occurs to me that perhaps the reason Oliver doesn't like us to take pictures of him these days is because he seems to wind up in my art :  There's the Oliver Quilt, along with the update.  And now photography.    As a parent, of course we like to document the all the changes as our kids grow up.   It's entirely appropriate for our kids to inspire us, to be a spark of creativity. 

"Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown into flame by another human being.  
Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light."    
                                                                         -- Albert Schweitzer


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 30 : Triptych

Part 2 of this week's lesson was to create a trio of related pics.  After much deliberation, I finally chose the same pictures from the animated GIF in the previous post.   Mostly because they went together.   This was a fun piece to do--I must be getting considerably more comfortable with PhotoShop Elements!  No swearing this time!

Photo Processing :
Clean edits on each of the three photos, separately.
Make each photo black and white, separately.
Kim showed us how to use the crop tool to extend the canvas on the background of a single photo.  That way, you can make extra room for the additional photos.  It was pretty easy to drop them in place!
Now that the 3 pics act as 1 unit, I tied them all together by adding a layer of Kim Klassen's Wonderful Magic at Soft Light blend mode at 54% opacity.
At this point, I saved a copy of the triptych with layers intact, in case I want to revisit it later.
I saved new copy with a flattened image :

Then I essentially started a new project by bringing in the turquoise background by Lost and Taken Turquoise Grunge 10.
Then I simply laid the flattened triptych on top as a new layer, and sized each accordingly.
For the Triptych, I played with the Layer > Layer Style > Style Settings for drop shadow and bevel effects.
Finally, the Text layer :  Pea Aimee font at 100 pt.  

That's it!  What do you think?


Monday, August 13, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 30 : Playing with Animated GIFs

The lesson this week was on how to make an animated gif.  I see these all over Tumblr for Once Upon a Time and Rumplestiltskin/Mr Gold (Robert Carlyle has got to be the most gif-able actor ever! So many goofy faces!), so of course I was interested in learning how to make gifs.    

This is a series of pictures of my kid a few years ago--back when he allowed himself to be photographed smiling.  

The only processing on the photos was to convert them to black and white.  Then I layered them one on top of the other and saved them for the web as an animated gif.  This is the half-second delay.  That's all there is to it!

Here's another one.  This is my dear friend, Caroline, wearing her grandmother's apron as if she's becoming that kind of sweet grandmother who bakes.  She is sweet, and she has recently become a grandmother, too.

I see how making gifs could become addicting!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 32 : Book Review

Ahab's Wife by Seena Jeeter Naslund.  The author's name just rolls off the tongue with a familiar and comfortable rhythm.  It's fun to say!  This is my choice for the Book Review Assignment.

Since Ahab's Wife is itself a nod to great literature, I was trying to find a way to work in Moby Dick, but my only copy is on my Kindle and is not very picturesque.  I couldn't find a way to make that work.  In the end, I went with Ahab's quote and the title, feeling that would be enough of an allusion to MD.  After all, there is only one Ahab.

The lantern reminds me of the house they bought in Nantucket, with the cuppola at the top where Una used to perch and watch for the Pequod to return to port.

The starfish is obvious : She was the Stargazer. Of course!

Why I love this book : I love the character of Una and her invincible spirit.  She is strong, resilient.  She is a survivor.   She is Spring, as Ahab recognized soon after meeting her.  Her adventures are every bit as interesting and compelling as Ahab's--except she's not crazy.

At first, I thought it was an odd pairing : young and vibrant Una and that craggy, crazy old Ahab. ??? 
Her spirit was his match--She had been to sea on a whaling ship, stowed away as a cabin boy.  Her ship was stove by a whale--same as Moby Dick.  She survived.  She knew about life on a whaling ship.   Oh what she lived through -- an abusive father, ship wreck, a crazy first husband, a crazy 2nd husband ...  There were lots of good things in between the harrowing episodes.  She lived a remarkable life BEFORE she ever met Ahab, which I think was unusual for her day and age.  That also appeals to me.  She was Captain of her Fate at a time there were few opportunities for women.    I could say much more about this book, but I'll leave it at this ...

Every few years, I have to revisit this book.  It's like comfort food, or talking with an old friend.  These days it's usually on audio, so I can be making things at the same time.  ;-)

Processing on this photo :
Layer 1 : Copy background Layer
Layer 2 : Kim Klassen's Pumpkin Grunge; Soft Light Blend mode at 55% opacity
Layer 3 : Text - Font : Ruthie   Normal at 45%
"There's Spring aboard the Pequod, and her name is Una!"
Layer 4 : Copy Text Layer  Soft Light 100% ; slightly different color
Layer 5 : Kim Klassen's Sweet Treat; Soft Light 45%
Flattened Image
Then layed atop the background frame by Eddi van W Petals.
Added a Layer style setting with a frame.

Here's another version :


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 31 : Living Fully or Frantically

I'm a little behind with my Beyond Layers assignments and I'm posting them out-of-order as inspiration strikes.    This week, Kim encouraged us to slow down and pretend we are shooting with film instead of the infinite digital.  She said, "Make every click count ... Really SEE what you about to create.  Be intentional before clicking.  Be fully present."  Good advice.

These 2 Thistle pics are remarkably simple with minimal processing.  A simple crop.  No added layers other than the text in one, and a small spot healing in the other.  I took these on a bike ride out to Ames Point one evening.  It was the Golden Hour before the sun set.  I set the camera to Macro, lined up the thistles, and took only 2 shots.  They both came out beautifully with the back lighting.  I love how the dark water blurred out and the booka (sp?) magically appeared.  

Here's the second shot.  There was enough room on that wide leaf to add some text.

I completely see the value of being intentional in setting up the scene.  This was a valuable lesson!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 29 : Brave : Part 2

Someone kindly commented on my beautiful smile in my Beyond Layers Self Portrait a few weeks ago.  If only they had known what that smile cost me!

When I was 18 years old, I had major reconstructive jaw surgery to correct an open bite (as opposed to an over/under bite) and painful TMJ problems.  The day before surgery, we went to a party for a cousin getting married.  I was a basket case, thinking about the surgery the next day.  I was in tears -- afraid of the unknown.  Although I trusted Dr. Hintz, the surgeon, it was to be an 8-hour operation with 5 days in hospital and 2 months wired shut, unable to eat solid food or speak. Would the surgery even work?  Hospital patients have to essentially hand over their bodies to the surgical team and nurses.  That was kind of scary, too.   Surgery was the last option.  All other more conservative treatments had failed.   I survived ... and eventually became a medical librarian due in part to my early experience with this side of the medicine. 

I remember waking up after surgery and hearing someone in the next room having a terrible time, coughing and sputtering.   I could hear the suctioning they had to do for him.  A kid from my home town (the hospital was an hour away) had survived an awful trauma where his jaw was blown off in an explosion.  I sort of knew the kid. He was a year younger than me.  I realized I had been fortunate enough to have been prepared for the surgery, and 2 months recovery. I knew what to expect going into it.  This kid had no idea.  His life was changed in an instant.  That put things into perspective for me.  I really didn't have it so bad after all.   I think things did turn out ok for him eventually, after multiple surgeries--at least, I hope it did.

I'm glad I faced my fears, and moved through them.  Although the surgery fixed the physical and mechanical problem of my ill-fitting jaws, it took another 8 years to overcome the psychological damage years of wearing awkward mouth pieces, and learning to talk around them.  I felt like a freak of nature then, and that feeling didn't go away immediately.  Now I can look back at pics from those days and I can see I don't look so different from anyone else.  But I sure felt like a freak.  I remember thinking, "If I can just get through this, just get past the surgery, I can get on with my life and forget that troubled past.  It was also the summer between high school and college.  Now I can say I'm glad of the experience.  It put my life on hold for a time, but it built a lot of character.  That experience remains an important part of who I am.  And I am grateful. ;-)

So the photo ...  I think Kim Klassen had a photo of a bowl of blueberries a while back.  Blueberries are one of my all-time favorite foods.  So I thought I could set up my own Blueberry still life.   I also liked Kim's Little Things brush / stamp for this one.  While I was wired shut those 2 months after my jaw surgery, I couldn't eat any solid food, only what liquids could seep through the cracks between my teeth--not everything blends up fine enough to do that.  Indeed, some things (like dumplings) plugged up those cracks, and then I had a hard time breathing.  Eeesh!  Something so simple as eating was not something I could participate in during that time.  Do you know how many food commercials are on tv? Do you have any idea? A LOT!  I was aware of every one when I could not partake. 

Processing on Brave Blueberry Photo :
Layer 1 : Background
Layer 2 : Kim Klassen's Cool Grunge Texture; Multiply Blend Mode at 50% opacity
                I set the texture to the white background only.  I didn't like what it did to the wood.
                Set a layer mask to erase texture from the blueberries and bowl above the horizon of the background.
Layer 3 : Copy Layer 2 ; Soft Light at 100%
Layer 4 : Copy Layer 3 ; Multiply at 64%
Layer 5 : Kim Klassen's Little Things Stamp ; Multiply at 100%; Color chosen from blueberries
Layer 6 : Copy Layer 5 ; Multiply 78%

Here's the original photo straight out of my camera.