Photos, Stories and Scrapbooking

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Budding Photographer

Logan, one of my grandsons, asked to use my camera on our trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo on Thursday. I handed it to him with instructions on how to move the focus point with the joystick and then press the shutter button half way down to verify focus before taking the picture. Later, after I sent him copies of the pictures he made, he told me he’s going to take up photography as a hobby. I’m delighted of course because I love making photographs and telling stories. I want my grandchildren to enjoy this hobby too.

This page will be part of a two page spread about our trip to the zoo. This side will focus on Logan’s story while the other side will tell a different story about my photography that day at the zoo.

Below is the photo I captured with my iPhone while Logan took photos in the Desert Dome with my camera. It was just a snapshot attempting to capture a story, but I didn’t think it was clear enough as is. I decided that I could use it to create a brush that I would then stamp on my two page spread. To get the photo ready, I exported it from Lightroom and adjusted the levels before applying another black and white preset. Note: I could also have done this in Lightroom.

Once I had the layers on a new 12×12 inch document, I used a layer mask to clean up the edges around my grandson. Then I used the Marquee Tool to outline him and defined just that portion as a brush. I stamped my brush in black on a new layer and again over the original in a lighter neutral to lighten the tone. I duplicated the copy and changed the blend mode to linear burn at 100%. I masked out a portion of the original brush layer so that it would not be too dark.

Below my brush layers, I placed transfer 3 from ArtPlay Palette Anaphora as well as brush 19 from ArtsyStains No. 1 to contain and anchor the stamped image. I erased parts of the transfer and brush directly on the layers.

I dragged the frames from template 15 in Project Template Album No. 2 onto my document and clipped my photos to the frames, adjusting as needed.

Next, I placed most of the layers from psd transfer 4 of Artsy Transfers Anaphora on the right edge to fill in the background behind the framed photos.

For a title foundation, I stamped brush 5 from eAVintage Cameras No. 1 on a new blank layer. I lined it up with transfer 1 from ArtPlay Palette Anaphora before stamping. I used two different stains on layers above to add color to the camera brush. I gave the transfer a color overlay at 48% in the styles panel to give it some color.

Finally, I placed transfer 7 just above solid paper 1, both part of ArtPlay Palette Anaphora. By the time I complete the other side for this two page spread, I will change that transfer. Think of it as a placeholder for the moment while I decide which brushes to use in order to fill in the area across the gutter for a two page spread. The color is right, but I need to adjust the shape.

I still can’t get the dual brush to work with two colors. That is why I simply added color by stamping on individual layers. The Advanced Brushes class has changed the way I’m working with brushes. As Anna put it, my art is evolving!

A Beautiful Afternoon

I walked along the lake this evening. As I approached a man, he said, “Smile for the camera.” I then knew he would let me photograph him with his pups. The man’s name was Jim, and I will send him copies as soon as my computer is back from repair.

I used just my 35mm f/2.0 (equivalent to a 50mm on a full frame camera) to make these photos this afternoon. I am liking the perspective of this lens. I know some think this is a boring focal length, but I don’t as I am practicing with my camera settings and composing based on a focal length closest to what the eye sees. By reducing the variables with which I have to work I have made it a little easier for myself. It is enough to deal with manual mode and one focal length at the moment.

It was a beautiful afternoon for a walk with my camera.

Shopping and Eating

Today, Glenda and I went shopping. One place we stopped was Samy’s Camera because Glenda wants a small, uncomplicated camera that blurs the background. We found a couple of options. She made notes on her iPhone so she can do more research before actually buying.

After more shopping, we stopped at Tender Greens for lunch.

We had what they labeled a Harvest Salad with citrus and chicken on a lovely bed of real greens; no iceberg lettuce on this salad.

Today’s little treat was from See’s Candies, a store we don’t have in Nebraska. I used my macro lens for this photo. I don’t want to forget how healthy dark chocolate and almonds are for me.

I actually worked with the raw files for this post. I haven’t photographed in raw for quite a while as they generally always have to be processed. It was much quicker than I anticipated. I learned a nifty trick about Lightroom in which you shift click the whites and blacks in the develop module. It worked very well on these photos.

We’re flying up to San Francisco tomorrow to have lunch with my friend, Adryane.

One Photo and Mini ArtPlay Palette

There really isn’t anything quite like a new camera to move me to venture outdoors in cold weather as I’m not a fan of the cold. 2016-11-23-145935-editHowever, I traded in my old camera body for an updated body this past weekend and just had to test it in the field. I must say this camera is much snappier in speed with a better focusing system. The new menu organization is clearer and having a joystick now for moving the focus point is fabulous. The image quality is excellent. 2016-11-19-151611The photo on the right is straight out of the camera. For me, the small size of a Fuji X-T2 mirrorless APS-C camera is perfect. In celebration of my new equipment I created a scrapbook page with one of my first photos with the new camera. I was going to write “my new toy”, but that didn’t sound even remotely reflective of how serious I view my role as an amateur photographer.

I have been focused on creating pages for a book with most of the photos that I capture. However, I do enjoy creating artsy pages too.


I began this page with a beautiful paper from a mini palette that Anna will be offering free with a $10 purchase this weekend, artsy paper 2 from ArtPlay MiniPalette Opacus. I duplicated the original paper which I had set on normal blend mode and changed  that copy to multiply at 25%. That added just a bit more intensity to the color.


Next, I used the paper as a mask and blended my photo into the paper using a layer mask and brush 12 from AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 3. Anna’s artsy brushes add texture that I cannot get with a soft round brush. I changed the blend mode to linear burn allowing the texture of the paper to bleed through the photo. I duplicated that photo and applied a filter with Topaz Simplify before changing the blend mode to normal at 25%. I pieced a second photo below just enough to extend the grass to the texture border of the paper. Basically, the entire paper is the mask for my photo.


For interest, I added the layers of psd file 3 from MultiMedia Branches No. 8. I warped the branch and shadow with the warp tool to fit the texture line in the paper. I also switched out the button and added the string and blue bow from the mini palette. I also stamped a camera brush from ArtsyCameras No. 3 and placed it at the bottom of the multimedia branch layers. With the pen tool, I created a line to follow the paper’s line and added my text.


I don’t often have pages that come together so quickly. In this case, I think limiting myself to an artsy paper, a photo, one art play palette and psd multimedia file really helped speed my process.

Blending Multiple Photos

A trip to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch is an opportunity for everyone to play. It’s a dusty, ramshackle cluster of exhibits, animals to pet, mechanical shows, a train ride around a ghost town and the classic hayride into the pumpkin patch. So I attached one zoom lens to my camera before leaving the house because it is never a good idea to change lens with the wind blowing dust. However, it is a fun place with lots of things for kids of all ages, even grandmas with cameras.


I had set my camera on continuous mode trying to capture some good photographs of four grandchildren. In case you are wondering about the large photo on the right, I used three different shots and switched heads, blending them together so that everyone was facing front with eyes open and a good expression. I worked with a composite on my two page spread.

I captured the original photo on a platform stage. 2016-10-28-125343-editTry to visualize my granddaughter dancing to music on her mom’s iPhone and the boys wrestling together, everyone doing their own thing before sitting down on the edge of the stage for me to photograph them together. However, it’s really only a snapshot, nothing out of the ordinary even after replacing two heads.

In order to create a more artistic setting for my grandchildren, I combined photos and transfers to build a background. At one of our stops, there was a rickety ladder that two at a time could climb to a windmill platform.  The green in the trees and silver colored blades looked perfect with ArtPlay MiniPalette Twilight. With a layer mask, I blended that photo into my background paper. Note, that I rotated the photo and repeated it on the left side using AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 3. My grandson will disappear in the blending process.


Next, I blended a photo of pumpkins using the multilayered fotoblendz mask from the bonus materials included with ArtPlay MiniPalette Twilight. I placed it below the windmill photo and reduced the opacity to 60% with the blend mode on normal. I changed the photo to black and white using a hue and saturation adjustment layer. Note: I didn’t see an easy way to work with orange pumpkins and all the colors my grandchildren were wearing. A few pages of black and white photos will balance with more colorful pages in my book.


After reducing the size of the photo of my grandchildren together, I attached a layer mask and blended out the parts that I didn’t want. I extended the platform across the gutter of the two page spread by attaching a layer mask to another photo and blending it into the scene.


With my four photos blended, I added transfer 2, the silver leaves, overlays 1 (recolored) and 2 as well as some brushes and splatters to my page. I then placed file 4 from Stitching by Anna No. 2 between the photo of my grandchildren and the windmill to emphasize the wire circle in the photo. The blades of the windmill and circle stitching create an informal frame drawing the eye toward my focal photo.


With the addition of a few elements, journaling and a title, I finished the right side of my two page spread. I filled in the space on the left with frames and masks with template 12 from Travel Template Album No. 2. I added another photo frame to the template but was only able to accommodate 10 of the more than 600 photos that I captured.


Blending multiple photos with transfers and overlays isn’t as complicated as you might think.

Focus the Eye with a Frame


Kate really enjoys playing in the sand at what we describe as the shady park. 2016-05-18 093417However, those trees surrounding the play equipment create shadows that make photography more difficult. Note the harsh light in the background and to the left of my granddaughter. Changing light and her constant movement are why I often set my camera on aperture priority and auto ISO. With those settings I can concentrate on framing the scene, getting my granddaughter’s face in focus and blurring the background by setting the aperture to f/5.6. Those settings usually give me enough depth to get her face in focus if I hold the camera securely and put a focus point on her face. However, framing the scene is still difficult for me. In this shot, I cut off some of the sand toys. The exposure is a little dark. Despite the problems with this photo, I liked Kate’s expression, her hands squeezing the sand and the little truck. I knew that I could fix the exposure, use the Clone Stamp to erase the price sticker on the little truck and mask out the cropped sand toys.

Framing helps focus the eye on what is important on a page, in this case my granddaughter as she played in the sand with the toy truck. Below are highlights of the steps that I followed to create this page as I worked the new MultiMedia Frames No. 3.

Drag the layers of psd file 3 from MultiMedia Frames No. 3 onto a new document. Clip the photo to the fotoblendz mask and a copy of the photo to the stain. Add adjustment layers as needed to correct photo exposure. Clip solid paper 6 from ArtPlay Palette Swell above each photo layer on normal blend mode at 50% opacity. Mask out what you do not want covered with sand by adding a layer mask.

Note that I extracted my granddaughter from another photo copy and placed it below the solid paper 6 layer because I thought the appearance and shadowing looked better in that order. I also created a copy of the extraction’s mask for the paper. Order in the layers panel depends on how the layers blend together.

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Place transfer 7 from ArtPlay Palette Swell below the psd multimedia frame layers. Create another copy of the photo and place that below the transfer. Add a layer mask to the photo and blend into the background paper, solid paper 2, using AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 7 brushes. Clip a copy of solid paper 6 at 50% opacity to the photo layer and mask as needed. Stamp brush 3 from Oasis No. 2 on a layer below in a color to coordinate with the photo.

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Place another copy of the extraction and layer mask along with the adjustment layers above the frame. Use a round brush to adjust the extraction’s layer mask to reveal and/or hide parts covering the frame. Attach a layer mask to the frame’s shadow to lighten as needed.

Note that at this point I used the Clone Stamp to erase the distracting price sticker on the little yellow truck.
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Add overlays 2 and 3 and the art stroke from the ArtPlay Palette Swell to finish the background. Place png wooden word art 2 from Beach WordArt Mix 1 and add a subtitle as shown on the collection preview. Change the elements included with the frame as needed. In this case, I substituted the branch and sand pail charm from  ArtPlay Palette Swell and tied both down with png file 3 from ButtonThreadz 2. Add journaling.

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By using a frame on my page, I have focused on my granddaughter and hidden what was distracting in my photo. You might be wondering why I didn’t simply erase portions of the frame to achieve the out of bounds effect. One reason I prefer working with an extraction is because that allows me the option to add shadows to part of the photo and create more depth on my pages. As I explained in previous posts, Inspiration and Changing Focus and a Tip for Extractions, the effects created with shadows are not possible by erasing parts of a frame or blending.

I am not especially fast at creating my pages, but I finished this page in under two hours even with the extraction. Practice helps, especially if you know the different tools in Photoshop or PSE that are available for extractions.

Knowing how to extract from a photo, the selection tools available as well as how to refine extraction edges makes what appears difficult really very easy. Anna is offering a new course, ExtractTHIS, which is available at a 50% discount if you sign up for Flipping Clipping Live. At the moment, Anna’s site is down for maintenance, but if you email her, she will register you for classes. I don’t think that there is one best way to extract from a photo. My process depends on the photo, what I am trying to achieve and my comfort level with different options. Anna’s class is a wonderful opportunity for me to continue to refine my skills, especially important to me as extractions are definitely characteristic of my current style.



Signs of Spring


A macro lens makes the tiny buds and leaves of early spring loom large, much larger than they actually are in reality. However, if you are as desperate as I am for any signs of spring, it’s worth grabbing a jacket and stepping outside in the rain with a camera and macro lens in search of spring. Over the weekend, I walked around the yard, moving in close with a wide aperture setting on my camera’s lens to capture these photographs. I think I’ve learned to appreciate these little details in life, especially after a long winter of cold and snow. I want my family to know how much I enjoy the coming of spring as I remove the clutter and focus on the details of the moment. Yes, I am one of those who also enjoys removing clutter as part of a good spring cleaning at home.

For my scrapbooking, I don’t think that photographs that are cropped in close are necessarily the best candidates for blending into a background. Sometimes, I just want to try a different look from my pages with extractions or blended photos. Often, I am inspired by the photography and art of others. One person who inspires me is ViVre. She makes beautiful photographs and then combines them on pages with just enough art to enhance and emphasize her photographs. Sometimes she uses templates to display her photos. There is always a clean, uncluttered look to her artsy pages along with her own creative flair for combining photos with artsy designs and elements.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve 2015-05-10_God'sArtistrybeen drawn to ViVre’s style of focusing on photos. I felt her influence as I created the page on the right last year. I share her passion for making photographs, capturing little details in life. I thought of her work again as I began combining the photos that I captured over the weekend to create the page at the top of this post.

I wanted an uncluttered balance between photos and art for this page. I would like to highlight three design ideas on my latest page that I think contribute to this look.

2016-03-26_SignsofSpringFramesRather than blending or extracting the branches or flowers I framed my photos with frames from Artsy Layered Template No. 125. I generally save Anna’s layered templates after turning off all the transfers, stains and textures so that I can see just the placement of the frames, title and spaces as I decide on a template design to use.


2016-03-26_SignsofSpringBackgroundFor the background paper, I recreated the design of artsy paper 4 from ArtPlay Palette Bask. I placed transfer 4 vertically and recolored it using a hue and saturation adjustment layer to support the color tones in the photos. Just below, I placed ArtPlay Palette Moments solid paper 6 and blended it with a layer mask leaving the white in the file’s background revealed.


2016-03-26_SignsofSpringFramedTransferFor interest on the page and contrast with my photos I clipped the layers Artsy Transfer Moments 1 to one of the frame masks. In between the transfer layers, I placed a butterfly on color burn blend mode, layers from Multimedia Branches No 2 and the word spring from BigWords Spring No. 1. All layers are clipped to the mask except for the butterfly, branch and art stroke.

Even with the addition of a few more elements to move the eye down my page, I have focused on the photographs with a relatively clean and uncluttered page design. I love the white space and tension in the minimal asymmetrical page design. It’s good to be inspired by another photographer and artist, especially one who combines the two mediums so well. Now, I think I’ll spend a little time this afternoon spring cleaning before making more photographs or creating another scrapbook page.


Do You Love Blurred Backgrounds?

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I would say that about ninety percent of the time, I photograph using aperture priority. Aperture refers to how wide the camera lens opening is set. It really is easier for me to capture kids in changing light with a camera set on aperture priority. I have an exposure dial on top of my camera that makes adjustments faster than adjusting the dials for manual mode. In addition, the eye instinctively focuses on what is sharpest in a photograph. When I use a wider aperture I can manipulate focus so that I get a sharp subject on a softly blurred background. To say that I love the look of a softly blurred background with a tack sharp subject would be an understatement. I have been fascinated with aperture since my first DSLR late in 2010. That’s also why I have used prime lenses almost exclusively up until recently; they have wider apertures. Prime lenses are the ones with the fixed focal length. Oh, I bought an 18-55mm f/2.8-4 zoom with my Fuji X-T1 two years ago. I have used it, but I never thought it was as good as my older macro lens for blurring backgrounds.

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However, last fall, following a discussion with Michael, a professional photographer teaching a class I am taking, I learned that there is something else that contributes to blurred backgrounds. It’s called compression. Basically it means that even if I am further from my subject with a longer focal length lens, the distance from my subject to the background doesn’t change. It flattens so that the background objects appear larger and closer to the subject. That creates some blur in the background.

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For the last four months, I’ve been trying to understand how this concept of compression works with an 18-135mm zoom lens, equivalent to a 27-206mm on a full frame camera, that I purchased on sale at my camera store. I have used it far more than any of my other lenses in the last four month, more than ninety percent of the time. However, for yesterday’s class, I decided to bring along my 60mm macro for comparison purposes. While my macro lens doesn’t focus as quickly, I didn’t think it would matter since the flowers I wanted to photograph weren’t going anywhere quickly. My macro lens does produce a beautiful bokeh with a wide aperture.

What’s my take away from experimenting in class? The zoom created some lovely blur when I zoomed out, especially when close to my subject. For the butterfly hanging from the ceiling above me, I used my zoom lens, 1/500 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400, 135mm. Did you notice the spider web on the antennae? Yet the background is softly blurred and the subject sharp at f/5.6. For the second photograph, I used my 60mm macro, 1/320 sec at f/8, ISO 1250. I wanted to see how much blur I would get up close with a narrower aperture. On the third photograph, I again zoomed out to 135mm, 1/320 sec at f/8, ISO 4000. Looking at the flower petals, I think I may have moved just a bit as I snapped the shutter button. (I’ll bring a monopod next time.)

For the images below, I used both my 60mm macro and 18-135mm zoom lenses. Can you tell which lens I used based on the backgrounds of these photographs?

The photograph of the orange orchids was taken with the zoom, 1/320 sec at f/5.6, ISO 2500, 88mm. The other four were taken with my macro. I still have a lot to learn, but I like the idea that I can blur my backgrounds by changing the aperture of a lens and by using the compression of longer lenses when zoomed out and/or close to a subject. I am going to tell Michael that I liked the Velvia film simulation mode too. The colors are more vivid than standard, but perfect for flowers I think. Yes, I still have lots to learn!!

Floral Fusion


Once a month, I walk with a photography group at Lauritzen Gardens. I enjoy this time to learn from Michael, a professional photographer who leads the group, and to practice with my camera. This month there is a beautiful display of glass sculptures by Craig Mitchell Smith inside the conservatory. One of the sculptures is titled Flock of Cardinals. Some of the birds are hanging from a tree. Others are suspended from the metal structure supporting the glass ceiling, giving the appearance that they are in flight. When I uploaded my photos from my camera card into Lightroom and began to go through them, I noticed that the artist had actually etched his signature on a cardinal. Before this exhibit closes, I’m going to return and look more carefully just to see if the artist signed all of his glass sculptures in the exhibit.

Not only do I enjoy learning to use my camera, but I also enjoy using the photos that I make to create artsy scrapbook pages. I actually used four different photos to create this page, the background shot above, the close up of one cardinal and two other shots of cardinals hanging from the ceiling.

After importing the close up photo 2016-02-26_ExtractionCompositeof the cardinal from Lightroom into Photoshop and placing it on a new 12×12 inch document, I resized the photo to fit the dimensions of my page. I began extracting the cardinal with the magic wand tool, added a layer mask to the photo and then used brushes to finish. I pressed option and clicked on the mask to open the refine edges panel to fine tune my extraction.

Next, to give2016-02-26_ExtractionMaskBackground the cardinal a place to hang, I placed the photo with the view of the entire scene. I applied a painting filter from Topaz Impression to the photo to give it the look of a Monet painting. I clipped the copy to mask 2 from FramedMasks No. 2. Below that is another copy of the photo blended with a layer mask and brushes.


I also clipped copies of the background 2016-02-26_AllExtractionsandPaintedBackgroundpainting to some of the stains in the template I used, Artsy Layered Template No. 223. By the time I added the stains with copies of the background painting and some additional cardinals, my layout looked like this. I used the same extraction process I describe above on the other cardinals on my page. I gave each a custom shadow.

To finish my page, I added additional transfers and elements from ArtPlay Palette Sojourn and word art from Sojourn WordArt No. 1. I love creating art with my photographs!

Grain or Noise in a Photo?

My photographs often look grainy/noisy whenever I increase my camera’s ISO while maintaining an aperture of f/5.6 and a shutter speed fast enough to capture an active preschooler in a low light situation. As I was placing these two photos on a new blank 24×12 inch document in Photoshop, I thought about that grainy quality. Since my granddaughter was playing with some superhero comic figures in one of the photos, I decided to use a plug-in for Photoshop, Topaz Clean, to give the photos a cartoon or comic effect before I blended them together to create the background for my page.

I liked the effect on the large photos so much that I gave the smaller photos the same effect with the plug-in before clipping them to the small frames included with the template.


To finish this page, I recolored some of the stains that were also included with the template, added some artsy transfers and elements from ArtPlay Palette Euphoria and created a title with Photoshop’s custom shape tool to mimic the word pieces with which my granddaughter played.


My page is finished, but I’m still thinking about what more I can do with the settings on my camera to improve the quality of my low light photos. I know my granddaughter is going to want to go back to the museum when she sees the photos on this page.

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