Sharing some love

 Happy Valentine’s Day!

A perfect day to do something I love . . . get a little creative & share.

I found some hearts (it is Valentine’s Day after all) in my archives and thought I would try something a little different, so I’m checking out Topaz’s new Glow plug-in.

be-my-valentineOn first try, it’s a pretty simple and user friendly plug-in.  Below is the original (the subject, just one of the many characters you’ll see wandering around the  Cherry Blossom Festival in Philadelphia).  For the how to:  I imported from LR with a crop and white vignette to PS, and then went to play with Topaz Glow.  Love that hair…perfect for some Glow, and of course the heart eye-patch.  I would love to tell you which Glow I used, but, as usual, I click around so much, trying this one and that one… that by the time I settle on one, I forget what to name it in my layers palate.  Added some text and above is my quirky valentine… be-my-valentine_orig

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Next… what’s this?  Lot’s of green . . . no not St. Patty’s Day.   But there are some hearts, lots of them, which is why I probably took this in the first place.  I just didn’t know, until today, what to do with them.

green_heartsThis photo was a little more involved…   First up, isolate the hearts.  I masked them out in Topaz Remask 4.

sending-a-little-love-TR  after cleaning up the edges, I decided red would be more appropriate for the occasion.  In PS, I used Color Range (which you can find under Select in the menu bar), I selected, well, all the green, added a layers mask, and then a hue & saturation layer and adjusted the sliders until I got the perfect shade of red.

Color Range

It’s getting there, now for some Glow… ugg, again, forgot to make note of which one, but I think it may be one of the “soft blooms” and then messing with the sliders.  Again, just follow your heart when using these plug-ins…  sending-a-little-love_glow-and-cleanup…you just never know what you might discover

Glow left the edges a little rough, so using the smudge tool I was able to smooth them out, followed by just a plain white brush to tidy things up a little bit more.

Finally, time to turn this into the Valentine I imagined… a little text, finding the right font, and . . .

sending-a-little-love

Til next time,
Maria

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The obsession continues

I don’t know what it is about these structures that I find so interesting . . .  their size, that they can stand the test of time, or the hint of an era gone by.  starbarn_2

 

This past weekend, however, I actually had an opportunity to explore some local barns up close and even rummage around on the inside for a change.

vintage-finds

To be continued . . .

 

Til next time,
Maria

 

In any direction

Happy summer all!

It’s here in full swing… and green.  When summer comes to my neighborhood, the world seems to get smaller.  Those big trees I showed you covered in ice from the winter are now a canopy of green surrounding the house in which I only get a glimpse of a sunrise or sunset. It can get a little claustrophobic… sounds a little weird right.

My dream home: A little Craftsman cottage with a big front porch (okay let’s put one on the back while we’re at it), with a view that goes on for miles…

BigRed

Okay, so it’s not “little” and definitely not a “Craftsman” but that porch!  On a recent photo outing traipsing through the country side of Lancaster, PA,  I spotted this red something sitting on a hill in the distance and of course had to find it for a closer look, but then I lost sight of it as the road dipped and turned.  The road took us back to the land of traffic lights and shopping centers (which now a days are never out of sight for long), stopped at a light, having pretty much give up on it . . . and there it was!  Part of it was hiding behind a white pole barn and across the street from all things… a shopping center 😦

This is what I love about the photography I do.  I love recreating that very first feeling… what I first imagined this big red house must look like, must have looked like back in it’s prime.  … as if I am sitting on that front porch on a warm summer day.

Enjoy your summer adventures,

Til next time,
Maria

 

On being out there

A short editorial (kind of short) and follow-up to my last post.

There’s been many, many, many discussions among photographers about protecting their photos from being copied or worse yet sold without permission.  And It is getting harder and harder to protect them. Case in point and to test, I downloaded an image from I Photo Central, remember this an international source for photo collecting/selling photos with pretty substantial price tags.  Sorry, I’m not posting the image  because it was only done as a test.  The image measured 622×800 pixels (8×11 inches), at 72 dpi.  Not bad as a small image and when resized to 300 dpi, it still looked pretty good, although it was an old photo to begin with and already had that antique-like quality.  The point is if I can do it (remember I’m no techy) anyone can . . . and do.

watermarkI love having venues to share my photography (and my thoughts).  I think the very basic nature of photography is for images to be seen and shared.   Would I be upset if someone used one of my images without giving me credit . . . you bet I would!   Do I perseverate over whether someone would use my image(s) without permission/credit . . . no, not to any great degree.  Lets be real,  forgery, copy cats and just plain stealing have been around long before the digital age. . . long before the photograph.  But there are some basic precautions one can take, such as posting low resolution, smaller size images, using a watermark, know how to set permissions, and just use commonsense on where you post.  There are resources out there on how to do all of these.  For example, I Googled “How to create a watermark in Photoshop CS5” and got 325,000 results in 0.42 seconds!  This should give you at least little peace of mind.  But if you’re still worried, Cole Thompson shared a cool tip on his blog on how to check Google and see if a photo is somewhere other than where you put it.  Thank you for sharing Cole.  Whew, I am just where I am supposed to be 🙂

And now for just an itsy-bitsy rant:  I mentioned in the Case of the Peony Buds, how I came across a website that looked like it “collected” photos.   The sharing of photos serves many purposes: it can be inspirational, educational, and as simple as adding a little extra enjoyment to that coffee break.  For example, I’m not sure I would have ever learned of Tom Baril or seen his beautiful floral images.  However, I am not a fan of personal websites dedicated to the “collecting” others’ photos (and I am discovering that there are a lot of these…even on flickr).  Yes, I see it is a way of sharing, but bottom line, it is very deceiving.  If you are going to have a photo website it should be to showcase your photos.  There are plenty of places within social media if you want to note a favorite photographer or send a little inspiration someone’s way or how about just sharing your thoughts and a link. . .    Anyway, I certainly understand that on occasion bloggers, myself included, like to reference a certain photographer or photo to make a point, share a tip, or just give back to the photo community, just remember to be courteous, check if it is okay, and most of all give the photographer the credit and accolades they deserve.

Okay that’s it for my editorials for a while, back next time with some long overdue photos.  I’ve been learning some new techniques and can’t wait to share . . .

Til next time,
Maria

Focus

I have a Photoshop tutorial to share with you … well, the link anyway.  So, how many times have you scanned through your photos and thought to yourself  “If only.”    Besides the usual:  if only I focused on this than or that, if only I shot at a higher speed, used a different lens, stood here, did this, did that. . .  or how about if only there was just one more element in the photo. . . to give it that little extra pop!  I have just such a photo.

When I looked at the original photo, my first thought was “Darn, I should have written on the glass or left my hand print (like in Titanic).  . .  “If only.”     So I attempted a re-do this a.m.  I had the same conditions:  a gray, foggy, and misty morning … no problem, right?  Wrong . . . the glass was almost dry.  It just did not look like it did yesterday (and me without a water bottle to spritz the glass.)

But I wasn’t ready to give up, so I decided to turn to Photoshop.   After a couple futile attempts on my own, I went in search of a how-to.   The trick here was coming up with the right combination of words in Google to get the result I wanted:  Photoshop, Photoshop hands on glass, misty glass, nope, nope, nope, and then finally. . . bingo! . .  Photoshop writing on window (but, of course, that’s what I was trying to do).     I had the photo, now I had the tutorial, now all I needed was the word. . . and I thought that would be the easy part. .  .

Here’s my before and after and a link for the tutorial. . . and another photo saved from the trash bin.

focus_orig  BEFORE

focus AFTER

So what do you think?  Yes, I am really putting the question out there.  Thoughts?  Critique welcome, but please be helpful not hurtful . . . this was, remember, my first attempt.

TUTORIAL:  http://www.photoshop-lessons.com/effects/writing-on-the-window