Sunday, September 16, 2012

Such pretty babies

Completed edit with PSE, Camerabag, and PSE

Camerabag's "vibrant poolside" filter on top of PSE

PSE guassian blur to messy background

original photo

hardly need editing, but there's that messy background and the exposure could use a little tweeking.  The bottom photo is as it was shot.  The next one up has the background blurred with photoshop elements to make the babies more of a focal point.  The second from the top was hit with a filter from the camera bag ap called "vibrant poolside".  I then used the camera bag image as a layer on top of the edited PSE layer back in the elements application, masked out the camera bag filter that was blowing out the baby's face in the foreground and added a little warming filter to her face instead. 

I'm still working at restorations for Operation Photo Rescue, but since these photos belong to other persons I am not allowed to show any of those projects.  Slow, tedious work but it's very gratifying to see a photo that has significant damage brought back to like new- as close as I can get it anyway.  I'm sure I'm building on my skills doing this.  I just wonder if by the time I get very expert will I be seriously loosing my sight from staring so hard at small areas on the computer screen.  I try to look away frequently and focus on something as distant as I can (at night in my patent's rooms I might not have very far indeed, but still OFF the screen for a moment).

I spend a lot of time reading many blogs, and it sure seems to me that everyone in the world is more productive than I am.  I especially like the sewing blogs, for inspiration.  I guess there was a time when I cranked it out like that.  The school is starting sewing marathons I used to do!!  I try to be gentle with myself if I start feeling like "less" because of the wealth of creativity some of these women manifest into real objects, and gentle with my thoughts of some of them when I start envying thier lives with a contributing spouse and money for dream machines and studios.  I don't think I'd have the sustained sewing revival I've got going on without the wonderful world of blogs.  I love looking at what they are all making and then diving in with some projects of my own.  I like how most of sewing seems to be simpler than back in the day.  The Haute couture, tailored, and hierloom techniques are still out there being learned and perfected but the wealth of fast and easy sewing makes it much more likely that I'll start and finish a project.

I've got a lunch date Tuesday, and I'm taking my camera.  Maybe I'll spark up the blaze under my photography fire.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I don't know the couple above.  I liked watching them, and it's pretty pleasant to look at the photo and daydream about their lives, with a wealth of history.  I know it's fiction, maybe this is their second and forth marriages, but I get a sweet little Lifetime channel movie picture of them when I look at this.  I've been disturbed by several news stories I've read in the past 24 hours or so, so it's particularly soothing to have this love endures feeling when I look at them. 

The altered photo seems a more accurate depiction of what I was seeing with my eyes as I lay on the beach that day, blissfully cooled and heated by ocean and sand.  Similar to how the storyline I created in my head might be actually more real than say a print out of facts of their life provided by the social security administration.  Reality is whatever your perception of it is.  I borrowed that line from a sign in a nursing home I used to work in.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Photo editing has improved my photography skills

I am finding more and more frequently that I take photos like the one on top, that needed virtually no retouching.  I liked banding it in black, to make the colors pop a little, but it didn't need exposure or color tweeking, and I liked the composition.  Also, I've gotten less reluctant over the past decade with digital photos to be conservative.  I shoot lots and lots of shots, so I keep the best and throw out the worst without worry.  Occasionally I still use photoshop elements to improve the basic flaws in a photo as I did with photo 3 from 2.  I blurred out a messy background, sharpened the face a little and did a color correction before cropping it down to a more focused subject area.  I couldn't do much with the motion blur.

I was REALLY BAD at taking photos when I bought my first digital camera and started playing with edits.  My subject was usually out of focus and had parts cut off (usually the top of the head, but I could miss other pieces) and I ALWAYS caught my subjects with their eyes closed, mouths gaping, and leaving the frame.  If there was a mess or flaw in the background, I'd have it in the picture.  If not, I could always insert a finger.

The more I edited, the better I got at fixing some of those things, switching out heads and backgrounds if needed along with sharpening and blurring and color and exposure, and then, joy, joy,  cosmetic touches.  Along with the skills in altering, I must have got into the awareness of them as I composed and shot as well, I just don't do as many of those terrible things as I used to.  I was starting to become kind of fond of my dead on capture of the just missed shot, but I can still do that quite well :).

I saw a post the other day about challenging yourself by shooting some film, but it may be another two decades or so before I'm ready for that, if ever.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Joy of CameraBag

I keep talking about this program, and here's a little illustration why.  I touched up a couple blemishes first on photoshop elements first, because camerabag won't do that (though it will crop, straighten, etc.)  But after 90 seconds or so of quick touchup, I loaded it into camerabag and had thumbnails the size of the small images above in over 100 choices.  What fun!  If you've seen "actions" for sale, you can see why I guess that's pretty much what this program is doing.  Saved sets of color and exposure settings all ready for viewing and picking your favorite treatment.  You can do batches too, and apply a filter to a series of photos to get the same effect on a whole shoot.  If you just are not satisfied with any of the choices they give you, you can tweak further, and name and save THAT for future use.  Wow.

The model is my eldest daughter, a product of the myspace (I KNOW no one is there anymore, but that's where it started) school of photography.  This generation is so comfortable with having their picture shot anywhere, anytime.  They know exactly what the pose will look like, cause they've seen it 6,000 times already.  Whereas my generation still stiffens up and grimaces a little bit more often than not.  Still, this group is so self conscious about how they look.  Make up and fake nails and hair (!), colored contacts and surgeries, to look how they think they should (not saying the model above has any is sporting any of that).  It leaves me so baffled about one thing- I started editing a few years back and thought they'd all want me to "fix" and touch up every photo.  They DON'T!  They post them all up there on facebook uncut and as is.  Maybe after all the "in person" retouching they believe they should be rated on how well they put it together before the picture was snapped? 

I don't know, but every shot I put up has a little weight loss and skin smoothing going on, sometimes even the makeup is after.  I keep it me, just better, like meeting me in a nicely lighted bar after a few drinks. 

I'm hoping the kids like this program.  I haven't heard from miss thing up there what she thought about these retouches.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tutorial on Elements organizer

I was updating my organizer and decided this would be a good tutorial to do for the beginner to photoshop elements.  When I first got the program (version 5 or something way back) I started with albums.  Soon it seemed to be more busy work than anything helpful, the images are already in albums of sorts as they are uploaded into my files on the computer.  But tagging them! This way I can add a short description, or several short descriptions to reference and cross reference any image any way I choose.  There is no limit to the descriptions that you can put on a photo, and when you click on that tag, only photos with that description show thumbnails.  I don't have to remember what folder a photo is in, I can find ONLY pics of my oldest son, or only pics of him at home, or only pictures of barns as long as I've made that tag and tagged the images. 

The tags have even stayed with the images through my three upgrades to newer versions, though of course I've added more as time went on.  I started with a few broad categories and have added more categories and sub-categories.  Now even on early onset senility days I can pretty much find whatever I'm looking for fast, even if I don't have a specific image in mind. 

I've been playing mostly with the camerabag2 program (when not sewing or walking for hip health or SLEEPING (why does it seem like I sleep more doing night shift when I know I sleep less?  More PURSUIT of sleep, I think).  Even when all sucked up into the new fun of camerabag I still find myself going to the organizer in Elements.  I always wait for sales, but I swear this program is worth every penny I've paid for it.  If you've got it, learn to squeeze out all of the benefits, and the photo tags are a big benefit!

The tutorial is here .  Sure is weird hearing myself, working on sounding better, but my mind stutters!!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

I've been in a sewing frenzy

I know, it's summer, I'm walking much better and I should be out there, taking lots and lots of photos to edit.  The weather has been great!  And I have been out there, just not taking many great photos that I'd like to edit.  I have been having a ball sewing though.

The machine is a kenmore from around 1992, my dream machine back then.  It has stood up very well with the exception of the annoying plastic bobbin cover that likes to slide off during sewing and now needs tape to keep it in place at all.  It has a hundred or so specialty stitches that mostly don't look great and I seldom use, though with some stabilizer and metallic or specialty thread on the right fabric has done some pretty things.  The main electronic brain fried a week after the warranty expired about 15 years ago and Sears nicely fixed it for free for me.  It does a pretty darn good job on everything I have asked it to.

It's sitting on top of a kenmore in the table that is from the 1950's that is a basic zig zag and a work horse!  It is one of those old metal machines that does an exquisite straight stitch and goes through layers of heavy stuff (or super delicate thin stuff) like nobody's business.  It currently needs a new belt (sitting in my supplies, awaiting motivation) and then I plan on using it for some crib quilts I've got going.  There's also a budget serger in the corner that I've never been thrilled with.  By the time I've threaded the sucker and then worked out all the kinks for sewing whatever project I'm on I could have finished with a zig zag and trim.  Maybe I'll resurrect it too though, there's so much you can do with a serger that really can't be mimicked on a sewing machine.

The projects pictured:  two fast and easy dresses for my 8 year old granddaughter, the first clothes I've ever sewed for her.  I know, I know.  But her mom always bought such really nice clothes for her in such plenitude that I felt the effort wasn't worth it.  This year she had a growth spurt right at the end of school and was begging for dresses and skirts just when Mom's pocket was tight.  I did a skirt too that though not pictured is sooooo cute.  I'm teaching Kayla to sew and she is thrilled.  The yard furniture is 20 or 30 years old, a second hand gift, and until last week had the original cushions with the fabric flapping off the shredded stuffing.  I found some outdoor canvas on sale on a special trip to Joannes, 60 miles up the road.  I did a fast and dirty and finished these in a couple hours.  It's nothing real special, I skipped shaping and piping and just made pillow case type covers to get it done so it wouldn't migrate to the fabric stash where nothing happens until it's antique.  They look pretty darn good out there in the yard, and feel nice to sit on again. Yay!!!  The ironing board is in process of getting a new cover, it's done now and took less than an hour.  I did one once in a printed denim that lasted nicely for years and years and many washings, but I couldn't find a heavy fabric I loved for it at Joann's.  So this is a cheap calico and may make it a year, but I love how it cheers up my room where if I'm going to sew it (and all the sewing stuff) will be out all the time.  It has lines that help with garment construction and a pattern and colors that hide little messes that will happen, coffee cup rings or heavy starch application.

OK, ok, this is supposed to be a blog on editing.  Well, I did tweak the photos and crop and do a collage, and even had to decide a size to fit on this page.  I know it's truly not editing but I'm a gemini and I couldn't take it anymore!  The confines of being just about editing!!!  So, maybe as I debated before I'll start a new blog to let me blather on about whatever is floating my boat, or maybe I'll just cheat a little now and then.  Anyway, it's sunny and might hit 90 with a delicious cool breeze, Kayla is at the house and I've just got to get out of this chair.  I'm sooooo glad my hip replacement is done and getting healed.  Life is sooooo much better than the past two years.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

camerabag 2 for $20.30 till June 8

The good people at Nevercenter are offering a 30% discount on the camerabag 2 program until June 8 with the discount code “CB25D20”.   That makes it a measly $20.30 for download.  I really like the program and though I'm trying to save every penny right now, I just might splurge.  As I said, it sure outprices the "actions" packages I see out there, and you can create your own filters.  I think the longer you have it and play with it, the more you can do.  It would never replace my beloved Adobe, with the brushes and the organizer (without which I'd spend way too much time searching for photos, I have going on 8,000 images tagged for finding specific people or times or places or techniques fast). 

Such a good deal I had to post it here (where I know I have virtually no traffic presently) and on facebook.  You could still download free and have the chance to decide for a few days if you want to buy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I found a nice little photo editing program

My entry to win a free Canon 5D Mk III via @CameraBag 2 ( #cb2giveaway

I found this nice little editing program, CameraBag2.  Right now they've got an enticing camera givaway if you download their program and send them a link to a photo you've edited with the program.  Even nicer, you can download and use for free for 30 days.

It's quite different from Adobe.  The big thing they've got going on are "filters"- look like "actions" to me- 21 of them.  One click, and your photo is transformed.  There are 14 quick easy borders or frames to choose from.  The price tag to keep is only $29. and if you only use the features above it's a deal, cheaper than most actions I've seen for adding to your adobe product.

I've only started playing with it, and the filters were the first thing I saw, but there are other editing features.  You can crop, straighten, work on color, saturation, exposure, etc. to get just the look you like.

It does NOT have any paint tools like the clone brush to eliminate or add to your photos. 
Adding and subtracting are my favorite things, so it could never replace photoshop elements for me.  But I sure do like those filters!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Just goofin'

I've been promising to try out using actions in elements.  Some of them are quite expensive to buy, but there are many that are free.  It is complicated loading them onto your version of elements, not simple like loading new brushes.  I spent a good chunk of time Wednesday trying and couldn't get it right.  Went back through the trouble shooting procedures.  Just never got them to be usable.  I may try another time, but I got disgusted and goofed around and did this.  Then my internet was broke!!  So I took it as a sign from God that I was meant to get up and do other things (things not on the computer) and I DID.  Wonderfully productive day.

Let me see if I can remember how I did this one.  I was thinking about actions, which are (my understanding) like the stuff under the "guided edit" tab, so I went there.  I used "photomerge" to pop in 2 more Kayla's into this shot, and have to admit, it worked very fast and easy, just a scribble across her image and it jumped right into the base image.  Then, back in full mode, I flattened all layers, duplicated and shrank and flipped one of the jumpers and stuck that in too.  In the "effects" bin of full edit, I selected "photo effects", "frame", and then filled the frame color black.  I went back up top to the "filter" tab on top, chose "render" and "lens flare".  From the tools bin I chose burn and hit the trees and leaves at about 16% strength.  I went back to effects to get the glowing green border. 

To me, the photo looks an awful lot like what many actions label as "dreamy" effect, except for the cheesy cut and paste that I can't resist sometimes.  As hard a time as I was having getting an action loaded (especially since I never did!) it just seems as simple to me to use those filters installed and play a little with exposure and dodge and burn.  Not much work.  Still, those actions are selling to a whole lot of people, and it took me a couple years of playing with elements to see the value of using brushes. 

Even though elements is wayyyyyy cheaper that full photoshop, it's nice that I can be playing and learning and having fun with a program that still isn't cheap at $50- $100.  Wait for a sale, and GET it if you like playing with your photos.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

goofing with fantasy

I'm still pretty awkward with this kind of edit, but having a new baby in the house in inspirational.  I know this is a pretty clumsy attempt, but I kind of like it and I can come back when I get better and both cringe and feel proud.  Since I spent a fair amount of time (that could have been spent on SLEEPING or CLEANING or even SEWING (two baby quilts in s l o w progress)  playing with this I figured I'd put it up.  Layers and brushes- of course I cut the kids out from the background.  Added sky in a layer below, then trees and grasses.  Butterflies went below and on top, then the fairies on top.  Added the glow edge for a frame, and a glow layer style to soften it all up.  Lots of blur brush on edges.

I guess this is like scrap booking without glue?  I confess, I like it because I can sit and work on it, I don't have to get up and hunt or go to the store for stuff I don't have- I can just search for brushes and images online.  So, let me give credit to Midnightstouch Brushes, Linda Rae from Deviant art for her grass brushes, and unfortunately I don't have the name of the fairy artist- the rest of the brushes came with photoshop elements.

Time to get up and the kitchen, for food!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I sure am a better photographer since I started messing with elements.  On the top left is the original, the right is tweaked just a little...and since I still haven't learned about distracting backgrounds, a new one put in.  I think it turned out at least as nice as your average school portrait.  Especially done bleary eyed after night shift when I shoulda been in bed, but felt like doodling instead.

I found a great new outlet- I LOVE restoring battered and old photos but have pretty much exhausted my supply.  Looking at a profile on tipsquirrel (an awesome place for tutorials) I saw on Janine Smith's profile that she got much of her expertise volunteering for an organization called Operation Photo Rescue (OPR).  They use volunteers across the internet to restore photos for people in disaster hit areas.  I've finished my first photo for them and hope they ask me to do more more more!

Meanwhile, I still haven't tried out "actions" in elements.  Its a series of somewhat automated fixes that you can rapidly apply to photos without having to go step by step.  Especially for when you want to do the same thing to several pics without having to go through all of those steps over and over.  If you have (at least version 9 or above) elements, the guided edits are pretty much the same thing.  Trouble is, except for lomo (which is a very cool effect) I don't much desire to use them.  And they seem very complicated to install.  Still, so much bru-hah about them, I'm going to get around to it one day.  I guess it took a couple years before I could see the point of brushes.

Happy editing!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I haven't lost interest...

I'm having a creative renaisance, or late mid life crisis, or something.  I had a total hip repair in January and by December it was so hard to walk anywhere I started knitting and crocheting, broke my sewing machine back out of it's decade-plus hiatus.  I discovered I kind of LIKE those things. As for sewing, it was cool to see all that expertise, the hard learned techniques and slowly aquired knowlege didn't slip away but sat right in that sewing part of my brain, ready to be used again.  Then after surgery came therapy, and then back into night shift work and I've been busy with things other than blogging, man,

Honestly, I've been so taken with the needlecraft stuff that I pondered, should I start another blog for that?  I've already photographed one sewing tutorial and could do another in a jiffy, my personal pattern pieces already cut out (sewing is FUNNER than back when I thought you had to go to the store for a pattern every time, though I do miss fabric stores).  But my attention does wander, and if I started a needle works one, then (probably any minute) GARDENING will be what I'm all about, then cooking or house renovation and so on. 

Should I dump this and do a what Barb's doing blog?  Incorporate it all?  I think that question has been corking up production here for a few weeks past the halt the surgery put on everything.  I have a certain fondness for this place and don't want to pull the plug yet. 

Also I've been feeling like I should be out there taking fresh photo's to edit, but I just haven't.  Night shift really sucks the life out of your life, unless you don't let it. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

photoshop 10 book giveaway

These are from summer 2008 in a small Delaware town named Milton.  Don't they make you want to put on some kind of 4th of July-looking hat and wave a flag?  The town has a great micro brewery named Dogfish Head that gives tours with beer sampling at the end too.  The photo uptop was cropped, exposure tweaked a little and some dodging and burning- I'm happy.

The great folks at tipsquirrel have a giveaway on a new photoshop elements 10 cheats book- which would work well for some earlier versions as well as make you lust for 10.  Visit and enter here.  If you are visiting me long after today the giveaway is probably over, but this site inspires me over and over in what I can do with little ole elements.  I'll probably never buy full photoshop.  All that cash when I can get so much done with this red headed stepchild of thiers.  Or maybe it's the smarter, less noticed little brother.  Whatever.  I love elements!