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

 

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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,
Maria

Topaz Remask plug-in

 

I’ve tried CS4’s extract plug-in (why it’s even a plug-in is baffling) and multiple CS4 tutorials using layer masks, etc.  I found both to be complicated and quite tedious ways to extract the background, as well as left a lot of detail behind.   So I checked out the Topaz Remask.

 

Continue reading “Topaz Remask plug-in”