It’s not easy being green

Good Morning!  Thought I would share some links and a how-I-did-that today before all the holiday festivities set in…  This month’s photo group assignment was for everyone to try out a Topaz Remask tutorial.  Although I shared it with the group the previous month, I didn’t do a very good job explaining it…  Remask is one of those techniques where following along and actually doing it is much more useful in achieving a good result.   So I’m not going to try to explain it  here either, but if you need a little bit of help with removing your subject from the background give it a try {click}.   So what’s the purpose of this post then?  Well, it’s about the other things I learned while while working on this image.

So this is my original.  Remask_original I definitely did not pick it for it composition qualities.  I picked it solely for my model’s hair and to try out the Remask tutorial.  First, a good crop and a quick touch-up using the Portrait Professional plug-in.  Then I moved on Remask.

Following the tutorial Screenshot (2), I still wasn’t getting the result I was looking for.  I was left with a green halo –  backlash from using the green screen/background.     But not only did it leave a green halo in and around her hair, her complexion, the dress, and flowers all had a slightly green hue (i.e. color cast). Remask_Remask  I know my mistake now… not only was the backdrop behind her, but she was standing on it.  Did I mention I rarely do studio portraits?  Lets just say working with lights (other than natural) and backdrops is an education in progress for me.  To deal with the green color cast I tried a variety of methods from using levels, to color balance, to color selection and masking – all just falling short of the mark; whites may have gotten whiter, but skin tones and hair suffered or vise-versa.    After a few trial and errors, and a number of complete do-overs, I finally came across this You Tube color cast tutorial Screenshot (3)  using the hue blending mode.  Turns out not only is it a quick and simple technique, but very effective. Remask_colorcast Once satisfied that my model no longer looked like she was suffering from a bad case of seasickness, I could get to work on some finishing touches, although not 100% where I would like it to be, I’m a lot closer … and a lot less green.  Remask_final Screenshot (4)

So that’s my share.  I hope you like it… It’s a keeper for me.  I can already see it coming in handy when the trees and grass turn lush and green again…

Until next time,
Maria

be thankful

Thankful

Good Morning!  Getting an early start… there’s so much to fit in today, some of the usual holiday activities… and some not so traditional like catching my son’s very first 8k Turkey Trot this morning; I do love when a new tradition starts.  Then there’s some cooking, the family gathering, and of course the big finish, the turkey dinner.  It’s quiet now, a good time to reflect on all that I am thankful for… which is so very much!  I truly am blessed for everything and everyone in my life.

   Wishing you & yours a
Happy Thanksgiving

be-grateful

Until next time,
Maria

Greenhouse Effect

I envy anybody that has their own personal greenhouse ~ especially on a cold winter day.  As much as I love photographing flowers, I’ve never really had the knack it takes go grow them.  Oh sure, I have some perennials outside and add some annuals every year, but they are always marked HARDY, need little care, and will grow under stressful conditions.   This year is the first year in a very, very long time that I’ve bought some potted flowers for inside the house (you may have seen my tie-dyed orchid).  We’ll just have to wait and see if it likes its new home.  The last time I tried growing plants indoors was when I was first married…  I remember when Ikea first opened in our area.  They had this mini arboretum/ greenhouse made of wood.  Like most items in Ikea, it was too cheap to pass up {fyi, was just there and they had the cutest & colorful bud vases in red, turquoise…  and only 99 cents!…  you are bound to see them show up in future photos :-)}  Anyway, we tried growing some plants from seeds in it (no not those kind :-P).  But silly us, we lived in a small cramped apartment on the third floor and nowhere to transplant the seedlings.  That little greenhouse traveled with us from new home to new home . . .  until it was finally put out at a garage sale.  Wooded lots and greenhouses I found are not very compatible.

aureus star

Yesterday I joined fellow members of the DPC on an outing to Parkside Orchid Nursery.  The varieties … spectacular!  It was very cold & blustery and even in the greenhouse the plants were swaying where they hung.  Still, inside it was warm and even slightly tropical, with moss hanging down, and oh … such a magnificent array of colors {sigh}.

Lavender-and-Lace

The perfect outing when everything outside around these parts of are some shade of brown or gray.

violaceous floridbunda

On a photographic note…  Nope that’s not a textured background in the above photo, just the way the light was hitting the greenhouse wall (a mesh-like plastic) and I’m guessing the blue sky…   There is nothing more satisfying than when the images {almost like magic}come straight out of the camera …   No PP other than a bit of a crop and a little bit of the basics (sharpening, saturation, …).  Just all the photographic elements aligning at just the right moment… that and recently being reminded that the background is often as intricate a part of the overall composition as the subject (thank you, Henry 😉 ).

June Color Challenge

I acept!   I’ve been catching up on the KK and the Sisters Facebook and blogs. I am just glad I went back far enough to find the Shutter Sisters post here:  http://shuttersisters.com/home/2012/6/1/colour-month.html.

Calendar courtesy Shutter Sisters

Well, like I said, I am a little behind . … 15 days to be exact.  So I reworked the challenge just a little.  Instead of taking new photos, I decided to revisit my photo library.  If you’re like me, and don’t delete hardly any of your photos, it’s a pretty big library.  So, by just quickly looking at the thumbnails, I picked photos purely by their color!  And as I discovered photos I had overlooked or ignored for this reason or that, I started experimenting with textures and techniques just to see what happens.  So I decided to add a second part to the Color challenge:  To stick with the first processing technique I picked.  Although,  I have to admit, I started out a little cautious, and sometimes didn’t do a darn thing.  But as I went on, I discovered textures I had forgotten about and played with new actions.  I didn’t focus on rules or techniques . . . as this is an exercise in color after all.   I have just one question, when it comes to mustard yellow, are we talking gourmet or generic 😛

 So here’s my calendar of colors so far.   Be sure to check back in a couple of weeks for the final 10!

Colors are the smiles of nature ~Leigh Hunt

I thought for sure I was going to miss capturing this beautiful early spring rushing from here to there and usually forgetting to bring my camera along (hmm, I’m thinking it’s time for an iPhone).  Well, lucky for me, the nice warm days continue and I really didn’t have to look much further than my own neighborhood to find that spring has sprung!

So this week over at Beyond Layers it is all about COLOR.  The timing couldn’t be more perfect as everything turns from winter’s ho-hum grays and browns to springs bursts of greens, yellows, pinks . . . and you’ll have to wait as the week goes on for the rest of the colors 😉

 

Stay tuned, there’s plenty more color to come 🙂

As American as Apple Pie

My storyboard started out on a completely different path.  I originally started with a “day in the life” theme. I have been taking photos all week.  I shot some photos of my alphabet-less keyboard, the dogs, my monitor with my great new camera vintage wallpaper from Fossil (they have great vintage finds & cute clothes ) . . .   I took my camera on the dog walks which is always a challenge.  I even attempted a self-portrait or two (that’s a story in itself and another post for another day).  It was getting pretty apparent that I wasn’t feeling a story.

But then in the middle of the week  my dad stopped by with an apple pie that he made.   Actually, he made two (one for himself too).  See, he’s always telling me about the pies he makes.  Usually apple; he likes to experiment with different apples, sometimes his own crust, sometimes he gets help from Pillsbury.     This particular pie was made with Rome apples because he’s apparently not a fan of the more traditional Granny Smiths (too tart).  But more times than not he usually finishes his pies before I ever get to take a bite; so this time he made one just for me  . . . and I suppose the family and personally delivered it ~big smile.

And that was that . . . {sigh}. . .  the end of my diet as I had known it.  I had to have a slice (ok, so maybe I have had more than a slice).  Turns out Rome apples make a very tasty pie.    So that is how I got to this storyboard.  I have had apples on the brain, in the form of an apple pie that derailed my diet in all of its As American As Apple Pie glory.

Back to the diet . . . tomorrow.