Six weeks ago, Adryane and I walked in the warm California sun, photographing art nestled in the brush along the path near her home. Across the bay we could see downtown San Francisco. Oh for more time just like this.
I’m currently staying home, but I look forward to life returning to normal. While I’m home, I’m playing with some of the photos that I made in February.
My sister and I took the ferry across to Balboa Island in February. There were lots of beautiful boats to photograph. My favorite is the little red rowboat. Nearly 50 years ago, Bill and I had a boat, not one like any of these that I photographed at Balboa Island a few weeks ago, but a 17 foot inboard outboard for waterskiing. The hardest part of this layout was trying to blend an old photo with current photos.
One of the things that Kate and Corbin like to do when they spend the night is to explore the wooded area just beyond the pond. On our way back from our walk, they plopped down on the grass and posed for me. I didn’t hesitate to capture some shots in the fading light.
Last fall while on sabbatical, I bought ArtPlay Palette Verdure hoping to have the opportunity after finishing my book project to use the beautiful leaf transfer that was included in the palette. That’s how I began this page.
My week in California was wonderful, definitely an inspiration for my photography. I captured these magnolia blooms on a large old tree in a friend’s backyard; what an absolutely stunning display the blooms presented. I wanted to showcase one photo with a sun flare peaking through the blooms.
I generally prefer light backgrounds for my layouts but I’ve learned not to be afraid to experiment with Anna’s designs.
Edit the photo in Lightroom before exporting it to Photoshop. Reduce the photo size and clip it to the mask.
Clip a larger copy of the same photo to the mask layer included in the psd file and line it up with the small photo.
Create Background for Framed Photo
Export a second photo of magnolias to Photoshop, a photo with a more distant perspective.
Add an inverted mask to the photo. Using brushes from ArtPlay Palette Magoa bring back in the right side of the photo. Using white as the foreground color reveals on a black mask.
Duplicate the photo and angle on the left side to create the effect of the tree. Add another inverted mask. Set the foreground color to white and use brushes from ArtPlay Palette Magoa to bring back in part of the branches.
I spent most of my time working with this photo on a white background, but it wasn’t working. I experimented.
It’s cold outside here; in fact about three or four inches of snow cover the ground. Our driveway hasn’t even been cleared yet. When the weather is snowy outside, a good place to make photographs is my favorite garden nursery, Mulhall’s. Outside, snow covered the ground, but inside the area that is covered with annuals in the spring, today was filled with hundreds of houseplants.
Aside from my favorite ferns, Maidenhair and Boston ferns, I found something new to me: Tillandsia or airplants, their more common name. This is a perennial flowering plant in the family Bromeliaceae.
The green species live mostly more in the shade. In contrast, most gray species live in precipitation-poor areas with high humidity. They prefer the full sun and can therefore be found growing on trees, rocks and even telephone poles.
I thought about taking home some Tillandsia. They looked so pretty in the white tear drop shaped vases. It didn’t look like I’d have to pamper them. But then I remembered how many house plants I’ve lost. So I just came home with some photographs and the feeling of how much I enjoyed myself.
Below is the template that I used to display the photos I captured. It is part of a set available in Anna’s store MonthReview Template Album No. 4. I did turn off the labels on my page. I especially like that they are laid out as two page spreads.
I can see a lot of uses for this series of templates besides just displaying photos taken during the month. Evaluating and deciding which photos to use on a template like this supported my learning about making photographs and how I use my camera. It’s always good when I spend time focusing on my photography.
There are times when a photo reminds me of something; I make a connection to something else. For example, I captured this photo in February while at the Japanese Tea House at the Huntington Library with my sister. The lack of clutter brings a feeling of calm. On this annual visit, I always resolve to find something else to throw out when I get home. This year we talked about two different authors on the idea of organization and decluttering.
I’m not sure which method for organization I like better: Marie Kondo’s idea to keep only what brings one joy or Margareta Magnusson’s Swedish death cleaning. I have rolled my t-shirts, socks and underwear per the Kondo method. My drawers do look nice that way; I guess that is a form of joy.
However, at my age, I think I might find more joy in Magnusson’s concept of death cleaning: getting rid of the abundance rather than leaving a mess for family to deal with after my death. I resized my birth stone ring for my daughter last Christmas. Her joy was priceless; the ring valuable to her. Yes, I am the type that finds joy in the process of decluttering, remembering what’s valuable and letting go of the rest.
Below are the details for how I created this page.
Clip Photo to Mask
Vertical photos don’t alway fit masks. Sometimes, I adjust the mask, but at other times I adjust the photo.
Three years ago, I was looking for some hydrangeas that would live through the cold winters in Nebraska better than the Endless Summer variety I had grown in my yard until all but two died. I found this variety: Little Lime. The plants are no longer little but this green bloom changes to a beautiful rose color in the fall. And they live through long cold winters.
My hydrangeas are in full bloom right now, so I went out with my Fuji XT-3 and 60mm f/2.4 macro lens. In order to deal with a mild breeze, I set my shutter speed to 1000, put the ISO on 800 and placed the aperture at 2.4 so that I could blur the background. With my arms tucked close into my sides and patience, I captured some fairly sharp photos even with the large aperture.
As much as I love my little camera, including a very sharp LCD display, I went inside to upload the photos for viewing on my computer screen. I reviewed and then went back outside to photograph again and again, changing my angle and waiting for the still moments.
I’ve been vacationing with family, remembering old memories and making some new ones. Five years is a long time in the life of a little boy. Corbin began asking about returning to Wisconsin Dells just after Christmas this year. It’s a simple story that he remembered, feeding and petting the deer. Corbin added to his stories about Wisconsin Dells this year, a new memory of riding on a big tube behind a boat, something he wasn’t big enough to do five years ago. I’ll have to add that new story to another book.
On this page, I used the things I love: the clean look of a white background, photos clipped to FotoBlendz masks and simple designs.
Every Wednesday, I have a play date with Kate. She takes the lead on these afternoons. First she decides where we are going to lunch, often Chick-fil-A or McDonalds. Sometimes we paint, build with Legos, go to the park or read. Today we walked up to the school playground. If you have the strength, climbing up poles is just as easy as sliding down. I captured these shots with my iPhone as I sat under the equipment in the shade.
Choose a Template
Since all of the shots were vertical, I chose vertical template 7 from FotoInspired Template Pack No. 2K to help me get started. Then I made some adjustments.
Reduce the size of all template layers to 85%.
Lengthen three masks and eliminated the others.
Move the frame, staples and shadow on the right.
Adjust the size of the tags on both frames to accommodate photos.
Reduce the size of paper 7 from ArtPlay Palette Playout to 85%
Duplicate paper twice.
Clip a copy to each mask and adjust position.
Note: This paper is from a retired ArtPlay Palette, but any other blue will work to mimic the sky.
Use the Quick Selection Tool to extract the little pole climber.
Place one extraction over each mask.
Give each extraction a custom shadow.
Note: I changed the size of the second and third extractions to accommodate not only the third photo but also the photo I wanted in the frame on the right. I adjusted photos in Lightroom before exporting to Photoshop CC 2019. Inside Photoshop, I added Levels Adjustment Layers as needed.
My little climber is going to love these photos; I know I enjoyed capturing her climb on our play date. I’m still not sure how she held on long enough with one foot on the pole and the other against the equipment for me to capture that shot on the lower left.
Bill remembers that his grandfather was 13 years older than his grandmother, definitely a man of the 19th century, meaning the woman was expected to do everything. His grandmother hated her middle name (Garfield after a President) and the pipe his grandfather smoked. She’d say when Samuel retired, he retired. Families are complicated aren’t they.
After initially losing this entire file on Wednesday, I started again, challenging myself to practice distinct ways for using brushes and at the same time, make it easier for myself. The time was well spent in my mind.
Rather than bring back in the entire background on one inverted layer mask attached to a photo, I think it is easier to see what’s happening to the photo on a page by using different brushes on different layers.
Duplicate the photo and add an inverted layer mask.
On each layer mask stamp a brush with the foreground color on white.
My self-challenge for this page was to practice distinct ways for using brushes and at the same time, make it easier for myself. As I explained in a previous post, I initially stamped the brushes on one blank layer just so that I could see what they looked like. From that sample layer, I decided which brushes I wanted to use. I used brushes in three different ways on this page.
Stamp brushes on layer masks clipped to multiple photo layers.
Stamp brushes on new blank layers to add interest below small frames.
Use a brush as a mask by stamping it on a new layer and then clipping a photo to the brush.
I challenge you to experiment with brushes and find ways that make it easier for yourself.