Happy First Day of Fall

I thought I’d celebrate with a before and after.  To say so-long to summer, my daughter and I took in an early morning stroll at the Philadelphia Zoo yesterday.  The zoo is one of those love/hate places for me.  I love experiencing and learning about animals I would never get to see otherwise, but I hate how some just look like they would be so much happier…free.  I also love photographing the animals but hate the unnatural environment.

Many of the animals were a bit more active (relatively speaking given their surroundings) than in past visits, the cool temperatures for some and the warm sun for others, I suppose.  My daughter and I had an agenda this trip, the debut of the snow leopard cubs, but we also got a few surprises… some very testy flamingos, the posing lions (they’ve never been awake for us before), the kissing giraffes, and then when I turned around these three…

Antelope-3-copyA shot you just can’t plan for.  Remember what I said about the unnatural background…case in point, not to mention all those highlights, their faces in shadow.   But this was so much more about what I did have... three gazelles perfectly poised.   That’s all I needed.

First task, getting rid of that hideous background… of course.  Topaz Remask to the rescue.  Antelope_remaskNext, letting my imagination run wild (no pun intended 😉 )…a sky, a desert maybe… off to my texture library.  For the background I wanted something warm & sunny, kind of like the day it was, but also with a little intrigue… something obviously has their attention.

I chose one of my all-time faves, and so appropriately called  Between Seasons by Distressed Textures http://distressedtextures.com/.

DT Then a little cloning of some grass,  some blending and playing with the opacity… but just not quite done.  When I saw the textured result, I imagined Noah’s Ark.  I really have no idea why, as my pair of gazelles brought a guest, but that’s just how my mind works, and that led to the final touch…

waiting-for-Noah-copyI hope you enjoyed this before & after.
Til next time,

Show & Tell

Remember last week, when I said I was spending a little more time in Photoshop?  Well, thanks to one of my readers and fellow photographers (Thanks, Jeff 🙂 ), I learned of a little gem of a tool.    The sponge tool.  Don’t let the name fool you . . . like it did me. . . it has nothing to with a sponge, at least I don’t think so.   I’m no Photoshop techie,  but I’ll give it my best shot to explain how it works.  If I lose you, you can read more about it here:  http://www.wikihow.com/Use-the-Sponge-Tool-in-Photoshop

Unlike the dodge tool that lightens (and if your not careful washes out the color) and the burn tool that darkens (and, for me, seems to leave the area looking a little gray), the sponge tool when saturation is selected lightens and adds vibrancy.  And when desaturate is selected, it does just that, it removes the color.  Make your adjustments on its own layer and you can adjust the opacity to get just the right amount.


In my iris photo, I wanted to draw a little more attention to the yellows, and especially the center of the iris were there are those lovely soft yellows and purples.  In the first photo, I used the sponge tool with saturate selected at 34% flow and left the layer opacity at 100%.   The differences are subtle, but the purples and yellows are not only brighter but also more vibrant.  In Photo II, I used the dodge tool set for midtones at 13%.  The same area is also brighter, but it lost a little of its vibrancy in the process.  I also used the sponge tool in first photo on some of the other yellow areas.  Of course, there are many, many ways to achieve similar results, that’s just the nature of Photoshop, but for a quick selective adjustment, I am really liking the sponge tool (although, I think it really needs a new name).

Til Next Time,Maria