Sunday, June 23, 2013

2BD15 I Collect ...

For this week's lesson, Kim asked us to capture the treasures we love as photographed from above.  So I dropped a handful of vintage/antique buttons on a tree stump.  Simple!

Here's another shot of vintage buttons.  I use them as closures on my handmade journals.   Since I usually only need 1 button for that purpose, I don't need to buy sets of like buttons (as you would if you were knitting a sweater).  Here the buttons are paired with some hand-dyed cheesecloth for color and texture.  I have a whole bag of this stuff, though I'm not quite sure what to do with it ...

Beyond Layers

2BD14 Marvelous Layout and a Joyful Giff

For this lesson, Kim showed us how to extend the canvas and add a border.  This technique works well for portrait pics that would otherwise be too long.   In looking through my stock images, most of them seem to be landscape orientation, so I added the border at the bottom.  
I took this picture with the new Olympus OMD that I trialed in early June. 

Photo Processing Layer-by-Layer :
1) Background image of a blooming Clematis flower
2) Extend canvas with crop tool.  Fill the empty space with a slice from Kim Klassen's Laura Texture
3) Text - Quote with Caflish ScriptPro and Aquiline Two Fonts
4) Text - Author - Film Cryptic Font
5) Kim Klassen's Add Some Noise 1 Texture - Screen Blend Mode
6) Kim Klassen's Add Some Noise 2 Texture - Screen Blend ; 27%

The other part of Kim's lesson for the week was to create an animated gif.  I've been thinking about this one for a few months now ...  We live in Wisconsin, with snowy winters.  We heat our house with wood.  The beds are piled high with quilts to keep us warm after the fire goes out for the night.  One of the Joys of Winter is to snuggle down into a drift of blankets.  Cozy and warm.  Even better to be "made" into the bed.  My husband is such a Sweetie about this.  He gets a kick out of the fact that I am so easily amused.  It makes me feel like a kid again--like playing with parachutes in gym class.  Remember that?  The silk drifting down ...

Here's a sketch from my photo-ideas journal.  He looks like a beardie-weirdie, but don't let that scare you.  He's a sweetie! You can tell by the smile on his face.

The quilt is one I made for my grandfather.  It came back to me after his death.  For him, I called it The Orange Blossom Breeze Quilt.  But since I fell in love with ABC's Once Upon a Time, I've been calling it The Enchanted Forest.  I LOVE this quilt.   

As for the photography, I figured out how to set the camera to take continuous shots with 1 press of the button.  So I laid on the bed, with the camera focused on CL's face.  He smiled and joyfully tossed the quilt again and again.   I wound up with about 300 pictures to sift through.  Whew!  What a job to distill it down to just 8 for the animation.  This was a lot of fun!  I highly recommend it.  ;-)

Beyond Layers

Sunday, June 16, 2013

2B D13 : The Sky's the Limit


This lesson was a lot of fun, and has so much potential for adding drama, depth and/or cheer to many pics that could use a little more ... 

This is the image I started with.  I know -- bad lighting taken at a bad time of day.  I drive past this shed on my way to work meetings in another city.  It's about an hour away from where I live, and I tend not to go there unless I'm there for work.   Now that I know how to get to the frontage road, I may stop more often to get better pictures of it in future ...  The technique I used to transform this image is not what Kim demonstrated in this week's lesson.  However, with the cumulative knowledge I've gained from Kim's classes, I turned this awful background image into something much better!

On the farm where I grew up, we had several buildings with this kind of blackened, weathered wood.  For some people, this might look really spooky and ominous.  For me, it's a comfort.  These buildings survived many a storm over the years.  I saw this kind of wood every day on the farm.   Most of them are gone now ...   In the old machine shed, my brother and I used to play upstairs in the granary.  That's where Great Gramma Smitmajer's old treadle Singer sewing machine ended up.  We loved seeing the machine rise up out of the case, and making the treadle run. 

Here is the processing layer-by-layer of "Haunted":
Layer 1) Background Layer - Extend canvas with crop tool.  I knew I wanted more room for the stormy sky.
Layer 2) Copy Background Layer.  Pulled it into RadLab in attempt to rehab some of the lighting problems.  I really wanted to lighten up and focus on the old weathered wood of the shed.  I didn't care if the rest of it was blown out.  That could be recovered with texture later ...   In RadLab, I applied 2 rounds of Old Skool (minus the Vignette) and 1 round of Milk & Cookies Black and White.
Layer 3)  Back in PSE : Copy RadLab Layer - Screen Blend Mode
Layer 4) Add Storm Clouds by Smoko - Multiply Blend Mode - 61%
Layer 5) Copy Layer 4 - Soft Light - 100%

To show that I really did do the work for this lesson, here's my version of the practice pic Kim offered of a canola field.  We learned how to use the Quick Select Tool to isolate either the field or the sky, and use a layer mask to replace the existing sky.  This is such a slick technique!   I know I'll be using this a lot in future.    The Sky I chose is one from Nite-Fate's Free Stormy Skies Stock.  Just a chunk of a much bigger sky ...  I also used the brush to blend a place on the right where the canola flowers met the sky. 

Kim's practice pic of a canola field with flat sky.

Beyond Layers

Saturday, June 15, 2013

2B D12 : Night Magnolia

The 2B lesson this week was about gathering inspiration from magazine layouts.  I admit, this has been kind of a tough one for me.  This lesson came out back in April just about the time I decided to join the class.   At the time, I was already feeling overwhelmed that I was 12 lessons behind from the very start, and clueless about Light Room.  But the other thing is that I just don't really buy magazines, and I usually ignore the ads.  The magazines I have around the house tend to be quilting and surface-design inspired--typically 2-dimensional and flat.  At first I thought I could set up a still-life with one of my quilts, but I never got around to it ...     I work in a medical library, but the images and ads in those types of professional journals are not what Kim had in mind.  Most of them are delivered online now without the ads.  Hmmh ...

In passing a waiting room magazine the other day, I flipped through it and caught a fleeting glimpse of what might have been a perfume ad.   A-ha!   I can work with that!  

Here's the image I started with.  A few weeks ago, we were walking the dogs after the sun had gone down.  I had the camera along, because I wanted some shots of the magnolia trees that were blooming at the time.  At first, I thought the pics would be a loss as it seemed too dark.  When I got home and looked at them on my laptop, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I'd captured them in The Blue Hour.  The Magnolia flowers glowed like moonlight ...

Here's the processing layer-by-layer :
Layer 1 : Background image.  Spot-healing to clean up and smooth out the background.
Layer 2 : Text - Night Magnolia - Abbeyline Font
Layer 3 : Text - The new fragrance ...   - Papyrus font
Layer 4 : Text - Quiet Passion - Abbeyline Font with a swirly flourish brush by Obsidian Dawn
Layer 5 : Photo Filter - Cooling Blue

The second part of the lesson, Kim showed us how to add tints with graduated filters.  I did play around with this technique, but in the end, I decided the photo filter worked better for this particular image as I wanted an overall tint.  I'm glad to have the knowledge for using tints and graduated filters to add to my skills.

By the way, Sweet Leaf Productions is my own little production company that I started way back in 1994.  At the time, I was a dressmaker.  Being a production company, the name didn't limit my creative pursuits.  As The Sweet Leaf Notebook blog can attest, I've made lots of stuff over the years under this moniker.  It's been a fun journey!

Beyond Layers

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Cherry Tree : May Photo-Heart Connection

This is a picture of a cherry tree in Sarry, France.  We were there at just the tight time in April, visiting family a few years ago.  I loved the gray, textured bark with the fresh pink (and fragrant) blossoms.  The brick wall was an extra bonus.  I've had this picture for a few years now, always wanting to work it up ...  I recently came across the quote and it finally came together.  ;-)

I love this quote.  I think the speaker is from Japan, a culture that has a love affair with cherry blossoms.  It also speaks to the magic of Spring.  The blossoms come from living wood.   If you chop down the tree, try to dissect it, you won't find those flowers.  You'll never find those flowers.  What makes it tick, you ask?  The Spring Breeze ...

This spring, we remodeled our kitchen--a long overdue project.  We picked natural cherry wood cabinets.  No spring blossoms there, but the wood is warm.   And we do have a reverence for cherry--wood and blossoms.  Maybe I'll print this one out and frame it for the kitchen wall?

Layer-by-Layer Processing :
Layer 1 : Background image
Layer 2 : Copy Background image - Screen 20%
Layer 3 :  Artisan Collection 2(3) Texture by 2 Lil Owls - Soft Light 60%
Layer 4 : Text - Jane Austen and Fortunaschwein Fonts  at 70% ; Color chosen from tree
Layer 5 : Crop  (It really needed to be cropped down.  The Full frame made it difficult to focus on the words.)
Layer 6 : Add a color fill frame - Multiply 38%
I also did a final "I'm feeling lucky" tweak in Picasa that appears to have boosted the contrast a bit.
Don't worry.  I still have the layers--That was just the exported version.

Cheers!  Or should I say Cherry Blossoms!
Check out what everyone else has posted for the May Photo-Heart Connection.

2B D11 : Color Storyboard - Poppy Dream & Darling Buds of May

The lesson today was about creating a color swatch storyboard--with a new method, different from the one Kim showed us last year in Beyond Layers.  

 I'm trying out a new camera.  I've become enamored of the new Olympus OMD-EM5, so we're trying it out for the weekend.  I want to test it out before I make the investment.   This is taken with the kit lens set to macro.  You can even see a little lake fly at the top of the sun-lit poppy.  
Not bad, huh?

Layer by Layer Processing :
Layer 1 : Background Image   (This image is essentially straight out of the camera.)
Layer 2 :  Extend canvas with black background so colors POP!
Layer 3 : Copy Background image;  Screen blend mode 24% opacity.
Layer 4 : Dark Green Color Sample
Layer 5 : Medium Green Color Sample
Layer 6 : Light Green Color Sample
Layer 7 : Dark Orange Color Sample
Layer 8 : Orange Color Sample
Layer 9 : Golden Yellow Color Sample
Layer 10 : Text - Quote in Apple Chancery Font with Clive Barker Font for attribution; Normal 74%
Layer 11 : Text - Poppy Dream Title; Normal 74%

This is version number 1.  I honestly gave it the old-college-try, but the swatches looked flat and artificial next to the vibrant pink and white apple blossoms.  In the end, I decided to let the petals speak for themselves.    The quote is classic Shakespeare in a font to match, paired with Zapfino. 

This could also be another one for my "gutter flowers" series.  They were on the  sidewalk outside the front door last month.   Beautiful textured debris--oh so fleeting.  The poppies are considered weeds, too.
Beyond Layers