Monday, September 30, 2013

2B D29 : My Very Own Textures

I feel like Kim gave me the keys to the Kingdom with this lesson!  The whole world has opened wide with the knowledge of how to build textures.    I've been a big texture lover for years ...  I've got a hard drive full of wonderful texture pictures, but I never quite knew how to go from raw textures to the beautiful abstract textures that can effectively be layered into a photo ...  until now!

Now I know the secrets!  I'm so excited!  Just when I find I'm running out of space on my hard drive.  Doh!  I'm also learning that these layered texture files can grow into whopping big files in a hurry.

I've decided to name the textures in this set after some of the beloved characters in ABC's Once Upon a Time.  Mary Margaret, Charming, Henry and Emma.

The Bird Brush came from sd_stock here at Deviant Art.

Don't worry-- There are many more characters on the show who need textures.  Including the Villains.  More to come!

Here are some of the base textures I started with on my texture walk in downtown Oshkosh a few weeks ago :

A few more thoughts on this exercise :  It seems I would get one of the textures "just right" and then by the time I exported it, and smallified it, something changed.  It just didn't look quite like I had worked up.  Sometimes it made the softer parts rougher, or the lighter parts darker.  Finally, I just gave up.  This is what I ended up with.

Of course the real test will be to actually layer these into some "real" photos.  I'll leave that for a separate post. 

Although I can't share Kim's basic recipes for creating great textures (Sign up for the class and you'll learn the secrets!), I will share Lost and Taken's Tutorial for How to Create Subtle Grunge Textures which shows a similar process.

Beyond Layers

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Beginnings ...

This one has been sitting around for a while.  I thought it was about time to post it.  Didn't want to wait for Spring to come around again.  

I found the shattered Robin's egg last spring on the sidewalk.  I carefully brought it home to photograph it on Erma Kerska's trivet--which is a great textural surface.  

The quote came to me later.  I guess it's just a matter of what you focus on -- the quiet little life inside the shell,  the broken shell, or a bigger life outside the shell (assuming this little bird didn't get eaten). 
You can sit and cry over the broken shell, or you can raise your eyes to watch the sun rise, learn to fly and Live Life, leaving those humble beginnings behind.  

It is a new day!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

2BD28 Texture Tweaking

For this week's lesson, Kim had us take one of her textures and tweak it in Adobe Camera Raw to come up with 3 variations.  This easier than I thought it might be--I now have to resist the temptation to fill up my hard drive with umpteen variants of textures.  It's pretty amazing that you can get so many different looks out of 1 original just by playing with the sliders in Camera Raw.  Temperature and Tone can change the color; Clarity and Vibrance can change the amount of grit / grunge ...

Once we had our texture variations, Kim had us set them in a 4-square layout.  This has been the easiest method yet -- in my eyes.  Stacking them in layers, then pulling them out and using the crop tool to extend the canvas.   I added a snowflake brush in the center to tie it all together--kind of like a seal to brand them from the same family.

Beyond Layers

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Red Leaf Version 2 and A Red Leaf Challenge

Here's another version of the Red Leaf with a different textured background.  
What a difference the texture makes, huh?

Red Leaf Challenge (A very Internet-y thing to do) :
I'm offering the "blank" red leaf to my readers.  Download it here.
Do what you like with it.  Add textures, add text, add brushes, make a collage ...
Just do me the courtesy of sharing what you did :
Leave a comment that leads back to your version.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Red Leaf

Found this leaf a few weeks ago.  A tree was turning in August already, so I took the leaves home and pressed them overnight.  Then I ook a photo with a 'blank" background and used it as a canvas for textures. 


This one has several textures to it, but the main one you see is one of 2 Lil Owls' Artist Grunge Textures. 

I actually did up a version of this with words, but I like the "silent" version above better.  Gives some space to breathe ...

Here's the oh-so-simple image I started with. 
Happy Fall!

Monday, September 02, 2013

2BD27 : Takin' It to the Street : Part 2

These guys were kind enough to let me take pictures of them playing their songs.  

Another round of Street Photography.  This time in downtown Oshkosh on a Saturday evening.
There were a few people in the Park with the huge sun dial.  
Perfect subjects for this assignment!

 All of these were processed in LightRoom 5 with basic adjustments.  
Most of them were black-and-whitified with given LightRoom Presets.  
Kim recommended the LR Infrared Preset, but that just blew all of these.  
I preferred the BW Preset Look 4 most of the time for a balanced black-and-white.  

I think I even recognized a few of their songs.  ;-)
Looks like college is back in session.  The new school year starts in just a few days.
Watching the World go by on a Saturday Night.
 These two were having an intense discussion.  
Made me feel like I was on the streets of New York City!

  This one seems like a good book end to leave with.   The Guys doing their thing outside of The Exclusive Company (a local record store -- Yes, they still have those!).  
The light was fading fast.

Beyond Layers

2BD27 : Takin' It to the Street : Part 1

A Lone Bag Piper on the streets of Banff, Alberta, Canada.  July 2013.

We found out later that there is a School of the Arts (Think Juliard) right there in Banff.  Many of the musicians come out to play for the tourists later in the afternoons and evenings.  This guy was really raking in the tips!  He knew right where to stand with Mount Rundle in the background.  I have a soft spot for bag pipes and Scotland [Wink!].  When I threw some money in his cup, I felt justified (That is not the right word ...) in taking his picture. 

This week, Kim encouraged us to hit the streets and take some impromptu pictures of what we saw there.  These 2 pictures are from my summer vacation trip where I was in the tourist photography mode.  There were lots of sights to see, and pictures to take.   And nobody seemed to mind ...

My Friend J helps a street musician's puppet dance while he plays harmonica on Stevens St. (?) in Calgary, Alberta.

Kim suggested using an Infrared black & white preset on these street pics.  The Infrared LightRoom Preset seemed a bit stark on my chosen subjects, so I tried out a few other b/w presets.   With the Piper, I went with the BW Contrast High Light Room Preset (similar to BW Look 4).  With the Bless You Harmonica Player, I went with BW Contrast Low LR Preset.

I love how the Black and White just seems to freeze these moments in time and make them historic--even though they happened just a few weeks ago.  It could have been the 1960s with a newspaper reporter feel recording everyday scenes on the streets.

Beyond Layers

Round Trip Day 7 : Tea with the Famous 5 in Calgary

In July, I took a trip to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.  On the way there and back, we had a few days to explore downtown Calgary where we discovered this delightful and moving sculpture garden with 5 women from the 1920s having a tea party in the park.  It was just so inviting--We saw many women walk through and BE with these bronze ladies from 1928.  They invite you to reach out and touch them, sit with them ...  It's a very inviting sculpture.  That's why I'm holding the hand of one of them.   Many people sat in the chair to join the tea party, too.  Solidarity!

When we got back to the hotel, I had to find out more about the story.    They are Canada's Famous 5 or The Valient 5.  One of the bronze ladies held a petition that said, "Women are Persons."  I thought it kind of odd that that would even need to be stated--of course we're persons!  But there it was -- not even 100 years ago.  It brought tears to my eyes.  These were the feminists of their time.  I am grateful for the ground they broke, in another country.  One of them wanted to run for the Canadian equivalent of Congress.  The old-boys club that ran it didn't like the idea of a woman in the Senate, stating plainly that "persons" did not include women--or did it?  So these ladies had a tea party to strategize.  They wrote the petition to ask that very question and took it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.  They made it official--once women were officially and legally declared "persons," they could be appointed to The Canadian Senate (among other things).  Who-hooh!

I only have 3 of the Famous 5 represented above, but I hope it still demonstrates the power of the installation and their story.  There is still much work to be done worldwide for Women's Rights--which I would argue are Human Rights. 

Still having lots of troubles with Light Room, though I'm grateful for Kim Klassen's Round Trip Class, or I'd really be lost!  This is the screenshot workaround.  This gives you a better idea of the print layout I had in mind, including the lost image.  Grumble-grumble. 

Light Room 5 Print Layout with a lost image.   ;-(

Here I was going along, adding keywords in Light Room, working up the 4 images with various adjustments, making a collection of the Famous 5 Ladies in Bronze, flagging the ones I wanted to include in the final layout, creating the print layout ...  Everything seemed to be going along great -- Until I tried to Print-to-File when LR tells me that one of the images can't be found ...  What?  It's right there!  I can see it--I've been working with it for the last 2 hours!  What are you telling me--can't find it?!?   This is what LR saved with a giant hole in the lower right quadrant.  

So then I remember that I can have LR look for the missing images--but that didn't seem to be telling me anything either.  It wasn't finding them.   Frustration! 

I finally took a screen shot of the 4-square image in the LR5 Layout as I had intended it and went back to Picassa.  I know it's a lower quality, and that using Picassa (a second catalog) may be part of my problem.  But I felt like I was hot-on-the-trail of something, and didn't want to lose steam.  So I pulled the workaround screenshot into PSE and added a few textures, and the bottom title border.  

After a break and a long walk, I came back and did some detective work. I tracked down the "correct" hands image.  The others must have been copies.  I still don't understand LR's use of copied images and why you can't actually use them.  If I can see it, I should be able to use it, right?  Trouble is, I'd made adjustments to the first one I chose to use (made it warmer and less brassy in the sun), and didn't want to go through all that again on the original for fear of losing it again.    

I did eventually get it to work like it should between LightRoom and PhotoShop Elements.  But then Blogger wouldn't upload the new pics--even though I went through the steps to re-size them for the web.  You get the idea of what I what I was trying to do with this assignment.  I feel bad that the Story of the Famous 5 is getting lost in my frustrations with LR. 

Once I got into PhotoShop Elements, here's the processing step-by-step :
1) Background Image saved as a jpg 2x2 or 4-square
2) Kim Klassen's Kristin Texture - Soft Light blend mode at 100%
3) Use crop tool to stretch the canvas to add a Title border along the bottom
     Fill this space with Kim Klassen's Naturally Texture - Normal 100%
4) Text  - Windsong Font - Burgundy color - Normal - 89%

Sunday, September 01, 2013

August 2013 Photo-Heart Connection

This is an old picture, taken on film in 1994 on a nature walk with my dear friend Sandy (Matthews) Kaufman.     I digitized it in August for a 2B Scavenger Hunt for "Someone I Love."   And I realized this photo more than any other in August connected with my heart--just as Sandy did.

I met Sandy at Summit Ave. Coop in Madison in the early 1990s.  She lived there in the 1980s, but kept coming back to visit a few people.  She eventually met me and her husband there--I guess we were some of the people who kept her coming back there.  She was older than me by 15 years or so, but that did not hinder our friendship in the least.  She taught me so many things about life--I'd listen to her stories of drug use, her life as an exotic dancer, and her struggles with depression and physical pain ...  She lived these lives, and told me about it, so I didn't have to.  They were cautionary tales and far from anything in my own life, but I also saw that she survived and learned from these experiences, too.  She was "clean" and "reformed" by the time I met her.   She was older, and had learned her lessons from those experiences.   When I knew her, she was learning to become a Naturalist, giving nature tours and loving ecology.  She had to give up the dancing because she couldn't wear the high heels anymore.   We had many heart-to-heart talks through the years.  She was always honest with me.  She taught me how to stand up for myself at a time I let a lot of people walk all over me.  She was there for me during some of the toughest times in my life.  For all that, we spent a fair amount of time laughing, too.  Ah, Sandy's laugh was BIG. So was her smile.  And her heart.

Sandy died unexpectedly 2 months before my son was born in 2001.  She had struggled with mental illness and pain for years nearly 25 years.    I miss her, but I know she's not struggling anymore.   She is gone, but not forgotten.  I am grateful I got to know her, glad she was part of my story.

This image with Sandy holding a leaf to the water ...  Now that she's gone, it feels like she IS the reflection on the other side of the water.  Kind of like that Harry Potter scene where he loses Sirius through the veil.

 Here's another version, less tea-stained.

Over the years, I've considered using this image for an art quilt, but I haven't taken it to the net step, yet.  Maybe I never will.  The photo is beautiful in and of itself.  The magic of photography is that is captures a moment in time--forever.   When I asked her to pose for this photo, I had no idea it would become iconic.  That it would be my favorite photo of her, and a memory of our 1994 afternoon together in The Baraboo Hills.

I miss you, Sandy.