Photo Storify

Photos, Stories and Scrapbooking

Tag: glass sculptures

Topaz Labs

A reader asked how I used Topaz Labs Plug-ins to give my photos a painted look. Basically, these are external plug-ins that apply filters to photos. Two of my favorite plug-ins are Impression and Simplify. After placing the photo on a new blank 12×12 document, I duplicated the photo twice. Then I opened the filter panel, scrolled down the menu and chose Topaz Impression.

When the plug-in opened, I browsed the effects. I chose to work with Over Painting 1. The panel on the right allowed me to make adjustments to the filter effect. Once I was finished, I clicked the save button and was taken back to Photoshop. Note: These extensions also work in Photoshop Elements.

On the second copy of the photo, I chose a line and ink preset in Simplify. Adjustments were made on the right. I learned to work with this panel from a tutorial on the Topaz blog.

I turned off the original and reduced the opacity of the top (over painting) layer to 40%. I then dragged the layers of Artsy Layered Template No. 242 on to my document. I linked the photo layers and duplicated them so that I could clip them to some template masks and stains. I also clipped linked photo copies to the masks for the small frames. I moved those frames lightly to the left.

I began turning off the template layers that didn’t work. To finish my background, I placed solid paper 5 from ArtPlay Palette Jollification as well as transfer 3 and 5. I attached masks to both transfers to blend out parts. I added a recolored button (from the palette) and tacked it down with a thread.

I hope this gives you an idea of what’s possible with some of the Topaz Labs plug-ins.

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Heart Art

Sometimes, I make photographs without any thought about creating a scrapbook page. 2016-02-21 131136I captured these glass figures in February at an exhibit of 32 glass sculptures by Craig Mitchell Smith in the conservatory at Lauritzen Gardens. I don’t always initially see the possibility in a photograph for creating a piece of art. However, I remembered this photo when I opened Anna’s new palette, ArtPlay Palette Plumeria. A friend suggested that the figures looked like ghosts. I think wraiths might be more apropos for this page since they appear to be dancing above the water. The artist called this sculpture “Gravity Landscape”, but I don’t quite understand that title. I also wonder what the artist intended by placing a heart inside each figure. At any rate, this is one of those artsy photo pages created without a story in mind, but simply for the joy of experimenting.

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I began by placing solid paper 3 from ArtPlay Palette Plumera on a new blank document. I rotated it clockwise in anticipation that by using a fotoblendz mask the texture above it the paper would show through my photo.

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Next, I placed mask 2 from FotoBlendz Overlays No. 9 and clipped a copy of my photo to the mask. I added a levels adjustment layer on color burn at 20% above the photo. I love that the transparency of the mask reveals part of the paper below.

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In order to get the figures to show more on my page, I extracted them from another copy of the photo using an inverted mask. I added a vibrance adjustment layer at 45% and a levels adjustment on soft light at 50%. I gave my extraction a small drop shadow. In this case, the extractions also created depth by making the figures pop from the background.

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I placed one transfer and an art stroke from the new palette above the original photo. I masked out a part of the art stroke. To recreate the look of water, I added stains from Artsy Layered Template No. 233, two additional transfers from ArtPlay Palette Plumera and an overlay from ArtPlay Palette Heart No. 1. I changed the blend modes of three, one stain to darken, one transfer to multiply at 40% and the heart transfer just above the paper to overlay.

(Note: templates are a great source for not only stains, but journaling boxes and frames as well.)

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Finally, I placed artstroke 2 below the extractions to balance the black on the other side. With two more hearts, word art from Art WordArt Mix No. 1, a button (recolored slightly), a thread from ButtonThreadz No. 1 and journaling, my page was finished.

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Sometimes, I surprise myself with what I can create with a photo, an artplay palette and a little experimenting with blend modes in Photoshop. I will print this one just so my family will know that on occasion I deviate from my normal style simply for the sake of experimenting with art.

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

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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!

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