Sunday, May 26, 2013

2B D10 Blue Bird Spring

For this week's lesson, Kim told us to be creative and play with a Spring theme.  I think I'm finally getting the hand of layer masks--after only 18 months at this!

Ok, so the little bluebird isn't real.  That's not to say I wouldn't want the little fellow to sit on my hand for a while.

Here's the original image straight outta my camera with a white foam board as a backdrop and light from a window.  Looks like it was an overcast day.   I love the way the shadows add some interest to the foam core.  It's such a great blank slate for the textures to be added later ...

Layer 1 : Background image
Layer 2 : Levels - Soft Light blend mode 100%
Layer 3 : Kim Klassen's Isobel texture rotated 90 degrees ; Multiply 100%
                   Layer mask to remove 50% texture on bird and my hand
Layer 4 : Copy Layer 3 BEFORE layer mask applied - Soft Light 85%
Layer 5 : Kim Klassen's Cherish Texture - Multiply 50%; Layer mask on bird only
Layer 6 : Text - FB Buttercreame Font ; Color Burn 81% with a Layer Style
Text color chosen from background texture.

Beyond Layers

Friday, May 24, 2013

2B D9 : For the Love-of-Type and a Crack of Light

For this lesson, Kim taught us to do all kinds of things with text, including having it follow a custom path.   I've had this picture in my stock photos since last September, just waiting for the right quote.   The setting sun shown through the trees just enough to remind me of Leonard Cohen's quote. 

Beyond Layers

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Few More Liberate Your Art Postcards

After the blog hop for The Liberate Your Art Post Card Exchange last weekend, I connected with a few more Creatives and traded PCs.   A great way to extend the anticipation of getting more of these gifts in the mail and mapping where the cards came from.

Here is the Beauty-by-Mail that came to me this week :

 An art quilt by Idaho Beauty, Sheila Barnes.  I would love to see this quilt in real life.
All those little willow leaves are stitched into it, and the quilting ... Wow!

This fantastic postcard is by one of my fellow Beyonders, Nancy Jean at Creative Thoughts.  
These are my favorite colors together.  Yummy!  Beauty from Carol Stream, IL.

 This gorgeous, golden view is by Andrea Hayes of Scrappin Shutterbug in Trenton, NJ.
I'm glad Andrea caught this moment in time, and shared it.  Beautiful and inspiring!

Apples by Diane Jarvis-Schuller.  Lovely still-life--just like an old painting.

 Sheila Hughes sent me one of her "Abandoned" postcards from Canada.  I just love stuff like this--abandoned wrecks, thinking about what things might have been like in the good old days, but still appreciating it now with a different beauty.    It could be cold and lonely, but she's added some warmth to it.   Thank you, Sheila!

I am so pleased that these artists were generous enough to share these cards with me.  
Thank you, Ladies!    
I definitely plan to participate in this Postcard Exchange again next year.  
It's been a wonderful experience!

2B Day 8 Part 2 : Matte Finishes and PSE Layout

This part of the lesson focused on an easy way to set up a layout in PhotoShop Elements using the Photo Prints > Contact Sheet option.  So quick and easy! It puts each picture on it's own layer.   I will definitely be using this technique again the future.    Please note : The images in the above layout did not get any of the Matte Effect treatments--yet.

After the layout was created, I added a few textures and the text to tie it all together.  The subjects are a series of steam engines in Fairbanks, Alaska.    I love rust!

So here are the Matte Finish experiments with another contacts sheet layout in PSE.  So easy!  The underlying background is Kim Klassen's Naturally Texture. 

I took one of the rust and steam pics from above.  The original picture needed some deaturating to tone down that green grass.  I also wanted to bring out the rusty colors.  When I was working on the initial desaturation, the image took on a mind of it's own resulting in My Matte.   Although I didn't think I had a matte finish by the end, I liked what I saw, so I saved it.  Then I took a new copy of the desaturated image and tried Kim's Matte Effect recipe in PSE.  Same for Light Room.  I added some textures to all 3 as the sky needed some texture.  In the end, I am amazed at how similar all three of them are.

Processing Step-by-Step for "My Matte":
Layer 1) Steam Shovel Background Layer
Desaturate :
     Layer 2) Background Copy
     Layer 3) Levels Adjustment - Screen Blend 28%
     Layer 4) Gadient Map > BW > Normal  72%
     Layer 5) Color Fill (Rusty Orange) - Soft Light  70%
Layer 6) Levels Adjustment > Pull in blacks
Layer 7) Texture - 2 Lil Owls Artist Collection 1(2) - Soft Light 69%
Layer 8) Add Text - Viner Hand ITC - Layer Style Rain - Layer Style Sun-faded - Normal 90%
Layer 9) Kim Klassen's Naturally Texture - Multiply 74%


Processing Step-by-Step for Matte Effect
1) Background Copy (Desaturated)
2) Levels Adjustment : Pull darks and lights in a bit
    Enhance > Adjust Color > Color Variation : Decrease highlights and shadows in blues and greens
3) Text : Viner Hand ITC
4) Kim Klassen's Naturally Texture at Multiply 68%
5) Copy Layer 4 - Soft Light 21%
6) Kim Klassen's Pumpkin Grunge - Soft Light 26%

Prosessing Step-by-Step :
1) Background Image (desaturated)
2) In LightRoom : Tone Curve : Upped the Shadows / Downed the Lights
                              Split Toning : 30/12    45/8
3) Pulled into PSE to add texture and text

Whew!  That took way longer than I thought it would.  I learned a lot, though.  It's a lot easier to rumble around in PhotoShop Elements these days.  And Light Room is getting easier, too.   Time to do something else, though--like mow lawn.  Cheers!

Beyond Layers

Saturday, May 18, 2013

2B Day 8 Part 1 : Chalk Messages

This week, Kim showed us how to make any font look like a chalk drawing based on a tutorial by SN Fontaholic.    I've been looking forward to this lesson since I started the class in April.  That's one benefit of being so far behind--I have a little more time to process the lessons and let ideas percolate through ...  Work has been hectic lately--Most days there is so much to do, I'm not sure what to do first.  I actually wrote the word "Focus" on a post-it note and stuck it to the desk to help me zero in on what I need to be doing. 

For the Frilly Focus Chalkboard above, I followed Kim's recipe and the Fontaholic tutorial pretty faithfully.  The font is Chalk-Hand-Lettering-Shaded.  When I got to the Sketch-Charcoal/Chalk Filter Layer, it gave me unexpected (but still pleasing) results.  Unless you had black chalk, I'm not sure how you'd get an actual real-life chalkboard to come out like this. 

 For Focus Version 2, again, I pretty much followed the recipe as given.  I had to try this a couple times to get a version that seemed to work.  I think I got it now ...

This one looks like it was written with a wet finger on a chalky chalkboard.  I like the effect.  Again, this is what I got with the default Chalk and Charcoal filter settings.   I guess it's more charcoal than chalk?  I think this is a results of copying the blurred text layer rather than the clean text layer. 

"Reinvent Yourself." This phrase is another one that seems to be good advice for my current work environment.  It worked for David Bowie and Madonna for years--why not for me?   Of all three chalk boards, I think I like this one the best.   For this one, I used Kim Klassen's Chalk Magic texture for a background and DearJoe4 as font.  I also used Colleen Ray's modified recipe to get a chalkboard effect.  She used the Dissolve blend mode for one of the layers.   I could have done more with the layer mask to erase bits and pieces, but it was difficult to make it look natural, so I gave up on that part of the lesson. 

Beyond Layers

Monday, May 13, 2013

2B Day 6 : Nest From Above

The Beyond Beyond lesson this week required us to shoot a scene from above.  I used one of the bird nest pictures from the Light-hunting photo shoot on the weekend.  This photo was shot upstairs in a stairwell window at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon.  It was overcast, but sometimes sunny.  The nest was sitting on a foam white board which made the perfect blank slate for this exercise.  This was a new staging site and time for me. 
Background image - straight outta my camera.

Here's the processing step-by-step :
Layer 1 : Background image
Layer 2 : Copy background image ; Screen blend mode 34% opacity
Layer 3 : Kim Klassen's Paper Stained Light Texture ; Multiply 100%
Layer 4: Copy Layer 4 ; Color Burn 18%
Layer 5 : Text - Pristina Font ; Normal blend mode ; 71% opacity

I know the texture will look heavy and overdone for some of the Beyonders.  But Kim's "Barely There" preset just didn't work very well with this image, nor did her recipes for this lesson.  I took careful notes, though, so they may come in handy in future. 

Beyond Layers

Sunday, May 12, 2013

2B Day 5 : Hunting for the Right Light

This week's Beyond Beyond lesson had me searching the house for light ...  From the get-go, I was starting to over-think this assignment.  I'd have to make some kind of spreadsheet to chart not only which window in the house, but also the time of day, time of year, weather conditions ... on and on ...  I finally decided that was silly.  Yes, I COULD chart all that, but what would I do with that data?  If I really wanted to re-create a certain light effect, I'd have to wait for the perfect conditions to come around again?  Nah!  Keep it Simple!  This exercise is just to make us stretch a little and perhaps find a new staging area that we hadn't discovered previously at home.  This is all about doing the best you can with the light you have.  There were some surprises : The 2 places I tend to stage still-lifes did not work at all this time of day. They were both too flooded with light.  But these other sites that I'd never considered before worked very well.  I have a whole new world of possibilities for staging areas at home.

Above, you see a collage made from the 9 sites in our house that I tested for this exercise at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon (having purchased the little bird nest at Hobby Lobby earlier in the day).   It was overcast at the time.  These are all straight-out-of-my camera.   The nest is not real, nor are the eggs, but I was inspired by seeing a broken blue robin's egg on the dog walk yesterday.  Let's hope it broke out of its shell of its own accord and wasn't lunch for some other hungry bird.

In this collage, you can see some of the many ways to ADD light to an image if it needs a little help.
1.  The original - in a North Window
2.  Kim's Let There Be Light Light Room Preset - Perfect light with 1 click!
3.  Sybil Trick - Used Kim's Texture Sybil with her recommended recipe
4.  Added a Radial Gradient in PhotoShop Elements
5. Added a Linear gradient in PSE for Kim's "Blanket of Dreamy Light"
6.  LightRoom Adjustment Brush to add a Radial Light by hand

The original image for this exercise was a little darker than most of what I shot for this set.  It needed a little help and seemed well-suited to all the treatments above.  Other images in the North window came out a little better when I bounced light back in with a white board. 

There was so much in this lesson, it could have lasted the whole month.  I wrote about 12 pages of notes for this lesson alone.  Jam-packed!  I can't believe what a bargain this year-long class is!  I did take careful notes, and I will revisit this lesson for future reference.  Previously, if a picture needed more light, I would use the I'm Feeling Lucky in Picasa, or pull it into RadLab.  Ironically, I tried RadLab on this image, and none of the stylets sang to me for this particular image.  Now I have 5 new tools to add Light!

Credit goes to Anja Rabius, another 2B classmate.  I really liked the way she presented this lesson on her blog, so I followed her model.   As for the subject matter, I was inspired by the nest with jelly beans on Sarah's blog.  She also found some beautiful and unexpected light through this exercise. Thank you, Ladies.  You are both an inspiration to me.

All week, George Harrison's "Give me light" lyric has been running through my head.  Thus, I had to include the video for it.   He was my favorite Beatle.  Enjoy!

Give me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) - George Harrison
[Sorry--Blogger is not letting me embed the videos anymore, so you'll just have to follow the link if you want to hear it. Cheers!]

Beyond Layers

Friday, May 10, 2013

Liberate Your Art Postcard Exchange 2013

This year, I decided to participate in Kat Sloma's Liberate Your Art Postcard Exchange.  The purpose was three-fold : 1) Get some of my own artwork professionally printed, 2) get it out into the world, and 3) enjoy receiving postcards from other like-minded creatives.  In April, 200+ artists worldwide sent postcards of their artwork (plus address labels and stamps) to Kat Sloma, who then fostered the exchange sending postcards around the world.  What fun to watch the mail every day!
Here's what I received :
 from Sherry Harmes at Amook Island Creations near Kodiak, Alaska. 
On the back of the p/c, Sherry included the date, temp, wind speed, and wave height.  A great way to share more of where this card came from.

This was sent by "Pearl."  She says this is an embroidery of a Buddhist Parasol, a symbol of protection.

Typograffitti by Viv Halliwell.

From Lindsy's Garden.

"Adorned and Alone" by Kat Sloma.  Everyone who participated in this year's exchange got one of these gorgeous postcards by Kat Sloma, the organizer.  

Here are the cards I sent out :

I have extra cards, so if you like what you see, contact me and I'll send one to you, too--wherever you are ...  Cheers!

Linking up with Kat's Liberate Your Art Postcard Exchange 2013 Blog Hop :

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Beyond Beyond - Day 4 : Inside Out or Cello by the Lake

Cello by the Lake

For this week's lesson, Kim asked us to photograph something that normally resides inside the house, outside.  Inside Out.  At first I was kind of stumped as to what to do ...  Everyone in the class had such great ideas -- raspberries on a wooden stump, a Ball canning jar at sunset, a gold picture frame hung on dry prairie grasses, bathroom table.

While I was going through the lesson notes and vids, I was also listening to the radio.  45 North was interviewing cellist Zoe Keating.   The title of her new album is called Into the Trees ...   Then I got to thinking about how much I have always loved cello; how grateful and pleasantly surprised that my kid actually decided to play cello this year in school, and how we'll probably have to give it back at the end of the school year--only a month away.    He told me he chose cello for the simple reason that he could have a practice cello at home and wouldn't have to lug it back and forth to school.  Practical.  I am amazed at what he's learned in just 1 year!  The Orchestra teacher is a miracle worker.   ;-)    So I'm looking at the cello leaning against Oliver's desk and I think : The Woods!  I can photograph OKL's cello in the woods!  Except, we don't have any woods nearby ...  But we do have a lake with trees!  So this morning, I took his cello for a ride ...  The cello is much easier to photograph than a surly 6th grader!  Such lovely curves--so many possibilities!

Here's the photo I started with.  

Here is the processing on the single photo at the top of this post :
Layer 1 : Background Image
Layer 2 : Copy Background Layer > RadLab (Troy+Antique Tone+Boutwell Magic Glasses 2+ EZ Burn 2)
Layer 3 : Kim Klassen's Cool Grunge Texture - Multiply blend mode at 51% opacity
Layer 4 : Copy Layer 3 - Soft Light 54%
Layer 5 : Kim Klassen's Paper Stained Music Texture - Multiply 52%
Layer 6 : Kim Klassen's Break Free Texture - Soft Light at 72%
Layer 7 : Kim Klassen's Pumpkin Grunge - Overlay at 24%

I came away with several decent shots from the Cello by the Lake photo shoot, so I wanted to try another Light Room Layout with some of the other shots.

Here's the Layout in Light Room with the images straight outta my camera.

Here's the processing to get the texturized version above :
Layer 1 : Background Image
Layer 2 : RadLab with Troy + Gramma's Tap Shoes + EZ Burn2
Layer 3 : Kim Klassen's Cool Grunge Texture - Multiply at 53%
Layer 4 : Text (added last)  Pea Keylor Font
Layer 5 : Kim Klassen's Paper Stained Music - Multiply 51%
Layer 6 : Kim Klassen's Break Free Texture - Soft Light 72%
Layer 7 : Kim Klassen's Warm Sun Texture - Soft Light 41%
                     with Layer Mask to brush off some texture on cellos

Enjoy Zoe Keating's "The Optimist:"

Beyond Layers

Saturday, May 04, 2013

April Photo-Heart Connection

Any guesses as to what this might be?

Scroll down to find out ...

Answer : It's the drain in the parking lot at work one day this spring.  The snow was melting fast and furious that day.  There was a mountain of snow nearby pushed up from clearing the parking lot.   There was still some ice leading to the drain, mixed with sand spread on the pavement to provide traction.  The sun was shining through it just right.  I was glad I had my iPad along to capture the moment.

I know it's basically a gutter, and that I should be looking up for inspiration.  But there's just something about finding Beauty in the down-places and rising up from the gutter -- or rather just finding beauty in what is--even if it is a gutter.    Cheers! 

See the other Photo-Heart Offerings this month :

Friday, May 03, 2013

Beyond Beyond Day 3 : Varied Focal Points

Plodding along with Beyond Beyond Lessons ...  I decided I needed to do the lessons in order because they build on each other.   This one looked at varied focus within a shot and then creating a presentation layout.  For this exercise, I used the portrait setting on my Olympus C770 camera.  It's supposed to give you an in-focus subject with a blurred background.   Though I could have also used the Manual Mode with the Canon S90, it needed a battery recharge when I was ready to shoot, after waiting days for the right light--Sheesh!  I even had cue cards written up about how to use the manual focus, and then I find out the battery is dead at the appropriate time.  Good to have a backup!

Here's the print layout in Light Room.  The actual layout was pretty simple to do, with Kim's instructions.  I ran into problems when it came time to print to .jpg.   I had missed the setting in the Print Module for this cue, and was only getting prompts to print to a real printer.    (The joys of learning a new program.)  I had to re-watch the video to sort out what I missed.  One little click, and then it all worked.  I was able to pull it into PSE (There must be an easier way-my method was pretty clumsy.)  where I added the text (Journal Font).  I experimented with adding textures to this one, but it didn't seem to need it ...

It might seem like I haven't been doing anything the last 2 weeks, but let me tell ya : There's been a lot of "getting ready" for this class.   Kim talks about how wonderful Light Room is.  So far, I have been reluctant to spend $149 on LR--but I'm warming up to the idea.  I've been using Picasa to organize my pics and do basic edits.  So far, that's been fine.  But I'm starting to realize that Picasa tends to save .psd files as jpg if you save changes to an entire folder.  Ka-Boom! Then I've lost access to the layers I worked so hard to develop.  Doh!   So I'm warming up to the idea of Light Room.  Fortunately, Adobe is currently offering the free beta version of Light Room 5.  So I downloaded that as a kind of free trial.   But that also required an upgrade to my operating system.  One thing leads to another ...   More Delays.  But now things finally seem to be ready to go full-steam ahead.

Beyond Layers