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Wednesday 29 February 2012

Sometimes it's only as good as the picture!

About 4 years ago my husband and I went to the Caribbean and he managed to take a couple of pictures of a hummingbird in a tree.  However, the lighting wasn't good and it was nigh impossible to get a picture of the little bird when he wasn't moving.  I looked through these pictures recently hoping that I might find one that I could resurrect especially as I have learnt a lot in the past 4 years.

Unfortunately, the bird displayed some purple fringing and chromatic aberration which was emphasized when I tried to lightening the bird or change the overall lighting.  I applied a texture to the end result to add some interest but mostly to mask the poor quality.  It looks fine from a distance but close-up you can see it's not really good enough.  Sometimes you just have to accept that the photo is not good enough in the first place.

The original:

The end result:

Having said that, 'revealing' a photograph can have surprising results.  On one trip to Langkawi island in Malaysia, we went on a nature walk in the evening with a guide to look at the unusual creatures in the forest.  There are flying squirrels and creatures called colugos.  We didn't get a really good look at one but my husband pointed his camera at the place in the tree where he knew the creature had landed hoping that the flash might yield a picture:

You could only see gleaming eyes but when we did an auto-contrast this is what we found!  It might not be a great picture but at least we got a look at this amazing flying animal.

Monday 27 February 2012


I took this picture of some bottles and a mug at a brewery and wondered how I could jazz it up a bit.

This is what I came up with:

Thursday 23 February 2012

Mosaic Filter

Just experimenting, really.

I converted the cut-out cat to black and white and then applied the mosaic filter using large squares.  I then blended that with a red layer plus the original picture of the cat and merged the layers.  Then I copied the mosaic cat and applied the filter glowing edges and blended it using the screen blend.  Finally I used the colour blend with a red and blue mosaic layer.  Actually, it would take to long to explain properly so have a look at the layers below!

Here are the layers:

Sunday 19 February 2012

Stills from Videos

We have a tree outside our bedroom window upstairs and in the mornings there are lots of birds from the family of Tits which flit in its branches.  I have always wanted to get some pics but they are so fidgety that it's impossible to get a good shot so I decided I would see if I could get some decent stills if I took video of them.

I have to say that by the time I got my act together it was way past their breakfast hour so I didn't get them at the best time.  My video camera takes HD video as well as standard which means you can get high quality video but it's also a pain to convert.  The standard mode you can watch in Windows Media Player.   Luckily I have Sony's Vegas Movie Studio so I imported the video in and tried various settings. Only the video settings of HDV 1080 1440x1080 gave a decent still picture and even this was not anywhere near as good as a similar picture taken with a DSLR.  If you zoom in the pixelation is quite clear.  However, if you're creating an arty type picture it is less important.

I need to give it another go because I really didn't get enough video and the birds were always obsured by a branch!  I didn't actually try taking a 'snapshot' which is also possible with this video camera.

Anyhow, here's a pic.  I changed the lighting levels, saturation and sharpened it slightly:

Friday 17 February 2012

Trying to Find Inspiration

I've been struggling with inspiration this week which is very unusual for me.  I created a doodle which I thought would be fantastic and it just didn't work.  I feel like I have run out of photographs which is ridiculous 'cause I have loads but I am looking forward to an upcoming holiday to give me some new stock and to help me with inspiration.

Anyhow, I pulled out an old picture of some lambs I like and added a couple of textures.  hmmm...not sure.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Journal Pages in Photoshop Elements

I am still experimenting with creating journal type pages in Photoshop Elements and of course Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity.  I don't feel that I have got there yet but enjoying the challenge:

Sunday 12 February 2012

What to do with snow pictures

If you live in a place that has lots of snow or if you have an opportunity to take pictures in the snow, jump at the chance!

You might think - well, yes, snow pictures are pretty but everybody takes them and in the end they all look the same.  NOT so, if you have Photoshop Elements.  Photographs which are taken with a lot of contrast often come out the best and photos with snow mean lots of contrast and the potential for silhouettes.

I went walking with a friend on Friday morning straight after it had snowed because where I live in the South of England, snow can disappear very quickly the same day.  I took some quite simple shots with a point-and-click camera and now I feel I have the potential for some great photo manipulation.

I have been messing around with brushes and trying 'journal' type backgrounds so I literally sloshed colour onto several layers and came up with this (I didn't even like it to be honest):

At this point I thought what can I do with it?  And then I thought of my snow pictures and dug out a picture. It was a little blackbird on a fence and with my x10 zoom I managed to get a reasonable shot even though I would have liked to be a bit closer:

I put the picture above the coloured background as a layer and tried different blending modes.  When I came to Exclusion I thought - that's it!  I duplicated the layer and applied another blend and this is what I got:

I love this. This would be great to print onto cloth now, add a border and do some great free motion embroidery.

This is a screenshot of the layers:

Friday 10 February 2012

Magpie Jay

I am fortunate to have travelled to quite a few countries over the years and it amazes me at the varieties of jays and magpies that one gets in all the different countries and how beautiful they are.

For Photo Art Friday, I used a picture of a magpie jay I took in Costa Rica which I think is a lovely bird.  The one photo I have given almost a tapestry effect and the other I applied, amongst others, one of my own doodle patterns.

Thursday 9 February 2012


Thought I would have a go at Steampunk this time and have added a heart to get into the spirit of Valentine's Day which is nearly here.

I've also added a little video to show you how to add a 'cut-out' heart.  It's probably more suited to the intermediate user but anyone can watch!  Hope it helps.

To see full-size, hover over the video and click on Vimeo and when in Vimeo hover over the video and click the full screen icon. 

Monday 6 February 2012

Snow today, gone tomorrow

I love a day of snow but I think the best snow is a good 3 inches of powder snow that looks great on the day and then melts by the next day letting everybody enjoy it but getting back to normal and that's what we had:

Sunday 5 February 2012

Taking the Hundertwasser Building one step further

I took a picture of this Hundertwasser building in Vienna some years ago and have been itching for sometime to do something with it.  I had some ideas I wanted to test and I immediately thought of this picture to apply them to.
These are the results:

 Which one do you prefer?

Friday 3 February 2012

Photo Art Friday

This week's Photo Art Friday is supposed to be Surprise!  Not sure that what I have chosen to do is much of a surprise but wanted to work on painting in Photoshop Elements using brushes so I literally painted over the cat with colours selected using the colour picker to make it look like a painting.  I converted the background to black and white and then applied the cutout filter.  Had a lot of fun but it is quite painstaking and I realised that artists who draw and paint in Photoshop must take hours to do it.

My second picture I did in ArtRage a wonderful art package that allows you to 'trace' over a photo using a brush such as a watercolour brush and it automatically picks up the right colours - much easier!

Thursday 2 February 2012

Repeating Patterns: Creative Block

I spent hours last night trying out repeating patterns such as tartans, plaids, gingham and checks and I can't say that I produced anything that I could say wow that's amazing.  I did learn a lot though and I suppose I do have some potential backgrounds for the future.

Oh well, I suppose we have Valentine's Day coming up soon so this is the best I've got from last night's endeavours, I'm afraid.