Sunday, February 28, 2010

nature morte

Firstly, I must fess-up, I'm not too used to still-life set-ups,
as they're a bit of a new thing for me.
But knowing those few basics about three being better than two
and five being better than four objects, gets you into the right arrondissement of Nature Morte! Don't ask me why, I suppose seeing odd numbers disturbs the eye a little more than seeing evenly grouped numbers of objects?
More disturbance is obtained by placing the whole set-up, off-center.
Shot in my little French house's top north facing room with reflected sunlight in raw.

Again, very simply processed. I used the most basic of painterly effects first, being just a slight noise reduction in the filters.
And then the following textures;

Ming - Hard Light @ 61%
Base image - desaturated - Soft Light @ 32%
Muscatel - Soft Light @ 61%

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Bull on the Hill

This was taken on one of those hot summer days early in the morning when there was thick fog in the valleys. We were travelling to inland Otago via a road known as the Dunstan Trail which was used by the early settlers and miners heading to the Dunstan goldfields in the 1860's. We were heading up a hill though farmland when we spotted a herd of cattle just beside the road, this young bull was rushing to join the rest of his "family". Just a little way up the hill from here we suddenly came out into the brilliant sunshine.

Processed as follows:
Apple Blush @Soft Light 100 % desaturated
Ming @Soft Light 64 % desaturated
Tarte Tatin @Overlay 45 %
Lost Void @ Difference 35 % with some texture removed from the lower bit
Labyrinth @ Overlay 71 % blurred a little
Copy of background Overlay 45%

(Jill is on vacation)

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Friday, February 26, 2010

soft blues

Its uncanny, but when I look at this image, I'm transported back to painting scenic backdrops for Harrods Bridal windows!
I had the job of doing all the back few dozen windows, all the while being chased from window to window by the designers.
Not that they had Cornishware in those windows, but the 'look' was the same soft dreamy white.

This effect was very simple, my main concern was to remove the warm tones thrown by the sunlit yellow building opposite my house.

Back on flickr, yesterday, Martine said;
"lovely set and light... like a dream kitchen"
- And I answered; "Lol, yes, after our flour fight"! :-P

Lime Plaster - hard light @ 66%
Ming - (slightly desaturated) @ soft light 100%

English Cornishware is still made by the original manufacturers;
T G Green and can always be purchased on-line.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

sweet peas

These sweet peas were growing over a neighbours fence and I appropriated a few flowers on my way past for photographic purposes. *notes to self to remember to plant some seeds next year*.

Processed as follows:
Curves layer to adjust the contrast
Archival canvas @ multiply 67%
Shargreen Bone @ soft light 100%
Apple Blush @overlay 100%
Peach Blush @multipy 100% desaturated
Copy of background @ soft light 20 %
Labyrinth @ vivid light 78 % with some of the texture removed from the focus flowers.
(Jill is on vacation)

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hare tricks

With Easter on its way, hopping through all this thawing snow,
I thought I'd try something a little experimental as well as seasonal
with our textures.
I was after an antique surreal scene, perhaps in the style of the old master Alfred Stieglitz 'Camera Work'.
I used an old wine crate from my cellar, (with thanks to that Professor who also left me around a hundred empty wine bottles!) and placed a few things inside, held it up to the wintry light and took a few snaps.
And Hey Presto, the base image was the result!
I then added these few textures to create more of an antique atmosphere, and finally, to help pull it all together, turned the whole thing sepia.

Antique Liaisons (desaturated) Hard Light 59%
Raw Linen (part desaturated) Soft Light 100%
Elysium - Soft Light 69%
Labyrinth Soft Light 51%
Holmes (desaturated) Overlay 100%

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

brushes (with the law)

In my little old French house I have a kind of a studio,
where the walls are still rough as I've not yet decorated .
It used to belong to a Dutch professor of colour therapy.
He's still in France because I keep getting his speeding tickets!
Anyhow, he said this top north facing room was where he did all
his writing, and I can see why!:-)

After raving about all those cool dreamy, desaturated images in our flypaper group on Flickr, I thought I'd give it a go myself, and here's my first attempt. For those who have yet to discover 'desaturated flypaper textures' I hope this might help? Shot in Raw with natural light entering through open balcony windows, It gets the warm reflected sun from a yellow house opposite.

Dangerous Liaisons (desaturated) Overlay @ 23%
Backdrop - Hard Light @ 70%
Copy of base image - Soft Light @ 78%
Leaden Hall - (skirt cropped) Hard Light @ 45%
Colosseum Sienna (desaturated) Soft Light @ 45%

I shot this image in portrait format, the original is not a square, thus you might notice the top of the textures are missing from my image.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Another drive-by shooting...I'm getting good at taking photos out the car window, thankfully I'm the passenger so I have plenty of opportunity.
I won't be around for the next week or so but Paul will be here taking care of things.

A lot of textures went into this photo.
I started with
Muscatel @ Linear Light 22%
Laybrinth @ Vivid Light 44%
Lavender Skies @ Vivid Light 25%
Lost Void @ Overlay 61%
Holmes @ Hard Light 64% desaturated a little
Apple Blush @ Hard light 52 % blurred a little
Apple Blush @ Soft light 80% desaturated and masked from the lower portion of the image as it was making it dark.
Brownish colour fill layer @ Overlay 47 %
phew....getting there...:-)
Copy of background Soft light 26 %
Labyrinth @ Overlay 67%

and we're done!

There was a lot of adding and taking away of layers and tweaking of blending modes and opacities before I came to the combination you see above. Have a great weekend and week ahead everyone!

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I have one blueberry bush in my garden. It dates back to the days when I was studying horticulture by correspondence at one of our NZ universities. As part of our studies we had to attend a week long block course which for me meant travelling to the North Island. It was great few days of practical lessons and field trips and meeting my co-students and the lecturers.
At the end of the week I came home with this blueberry bush, it sat at my feet in the plane on the flight home (not sure if that would happen now!) Anyway it's thrived in the garden and if we protect it from the birds usually get a small crop of berries...mmmm!!

Processing...well after an initial tweak of the tone and suchlike with curves.
I used:
Archival Canvas@ hard light 40% (this gave most of the softness you see in the finished photo)
Voyageur Map @ multiply 100% (de-saturated to remove the yellowish tone)
Another curves layer to soften and lighten
Bluish colour layer @ screen 25%
Copy of background @ screen 39%
Copy of background @ normal 23 %

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Chase

This is proof that it pays to keep your camera handy!
I just manged to capture the lead figure before he was lost into shadow.
The before image has already had the Painterly effect and a texture.
I removed the green lens flare by painting the warm texture tones with Color Burn to cancel out the green, it worked perfectly!
I also removed those pesky council utilities grates from the footpath and a satellite dish from the distant balcony with the clone and patch tool.
The Free stone texture used last, is on my flickr site Here.

Raw Linen - Overlay @ 100%
Muscatel - Overlay @ 100%
Free stone texture - Soft Light @ 100%
This paler stone texture was brushed from the back of the head of the foreground figure.
Finish with a final desaturating color tweak to tone down the warmth from the textures.

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Monday, February 15, 2010


More roses from my mothers garden, she has inherited lots of standard roses with trunks like small trees! I'm not a big fan of that style of rose bush myself but can see the advantages, you don't have to bend over to smell them and they're much easier to weed around, you can also cram more into your garden.

Anyway, this was processed as follows.
Sail cloth@ Hard light 75% blurred with a gaussian blur
Concorde @screen 46% with it's saturation increased using a hue saturation adjustment as mentioned in my previous tutorial.
Dark blue colour layer @ exclusion 20%
Purple colour layer @ overlay 30%
Then the overall tone was tweaked with curves and hue saturation adjustment layers

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Beach lookout

Back at the beach lookout, the same beach as the red boat picture
and on the same day. I'd have to describe this as a bone effect.
Firstly, I processed as below then finished with a final colour tweak.
This removed the warm tones left by the textures.
Finally, I removed the red cross sign from the lookout and the messy lamp post, and a few footprints with the clone tool.

Caramel Cream (blurred with a gaussian blur) - Soft light @ 61%
Gooseberry (blurred with a gaussian blur) - soft light @ 98%
Muscatel (Removed from sky) Soft Light @ 33%

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

retro red boat

Back down from the mountains, on our local French Mediterranean beach the other day.
I spied this washed up boat with sea foam in one of our local salt water lakes or 'etangs' in French, which are just behind our sand dunes.
To achieve this easy retro look I first used the old Painterly effect..

And applied these flypapers.
A final slight tweak with image - adjustments - auto tone, contrast and color to finish.

Chlorophyll - Opacity @ 62%
(Green texture removed from boat)
Caramel Soft (blurred)- Soft Light @ 70%
Colosseum Sienna - Soft Light @ 56%
Colosseum Sienna - Soft Light @ 23%

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Barely There

I took this one at my parents house last weekend, the wall in their conservatory is a lovely blue colour and makes a great backdrop.
As well as a recipe today, I'm going to try and explain how I change the colour of textures or de-saturate them in photoshop by using a Clipping Mask, the big advantage of doing it this way as you can easily go back later and change things.

I started off by duplicating the background.
Hue Saturation layer to de-saturate the image slightly
Dark blue colour layer @ exclusion 29% with some of the colour removed from the focus flower
yellow/green colour layer @ screen 22%
Cholorophyl Texture @ Overlay 100%
and the photo looked like this:

Which was too green for my tastes so I decided to de-saturate the texture.
Press the alt key and at the same time click on the adjustment layers button at the bottom of your layers palette and select a hue/saturation adjustment layer. Release the alt key.
A box will open
Check the "use Previous layer as a clipping mask" box and press okay.
Your layers palette will now look like this with the  hue saturation layer attached to the texture layer.
And by adjusting the sliders in the hue/saturation adjustment box you can tweak the colour to taste. In my case the settings were Hue -16, saturation -100 and lightness -16. As I said before, the advantage of this method is you can go back and tweak things very easily and turn off the adjustment layer too if so desired. 
Next I added:
Apple Blush (pack 1) @ soft light 100% this was desaturated a little using the above method, I also removed some of the texture from the focus flower.
Grosgrain (Pack 1) @ Screen 27 % with some of the texture removed as above.
I finished with a  curves layer to give the colour a final tweak.

Of course you can use any of the adjustment layers as a clipping mask, it's a great tool!
Hope you've followed all that, feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to answer.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

snow hedge

Another grungy snow scene from the plateau at the top of our local southern French mountains.
Shot towards the sun in raw mode with the polarizer lens.

Lost Void - Opacity - Overlay @ 100%
Lost Void (flipped vertically) - Opacity - Overlay@ 100%
Colosseum Sienna - Opacity - Soft Light @ 100%
Lime plaster - Opacity - Multiply @ 17%
Muscatel - Opacity - Soft Light @ 91%
Base image (copy) - Opacity - Multiply @ 14%

Finally, I flattened and tweaked with the color sliders to bring out the cool tones.
To do this I make a copy of the finished image and change the copy like this:
Go to the top header in Photoshop - Image - Adjustments - Hue/Saturation,
3 sliders will show.
Move the top slider until you like the colours. Press OK.
I then merge the two copies with as much or as little change as I feel is right.
Merge or Flatten and save.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010


It's been another warm day here so after dinner we went for a quick walk along a road (now closed to traffic) above St Kilda Beach, the light was dramatic with dark skies and occasional sunbeams breaking through the cloud layert . At the end of the road, is wonderful lookout with views right down the south coast, I've not been there for several years as the area has been completely closed to everyone for construction work. Thankfully the threatening rain held off or we would have got soaked, not my camera though as I'd gone prepared with a plastic bag for it.....just in case!

Processing this time was fairly quick and easy.
After straightening my's always crooked no matter how much effort I make to keep things straight
I added
Muscatel @ overlay 58% (this is such a versatile texture!)
Lavender Skies @ Overlay 100% this texture brightened the lower portion of the photo a bit like using a graduated filter. I removed some of the texture from the top portion of the sky by using a graduated layer mask.

And it was done!

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Valras from the sea

This is a view of my local resort of Valras. I don't go too often as its normally crowded with vacationers from up north, but winter offers off-season opportunities of sleepy dereliction!
This image is taken from above the sea, on a rock Jetty. Its a kind of view you'd get normally only get from a passing boat.
Those real Jet trails are headed towards Barcelona,
just three hours away via car.

Taken with a polarized lens in portrait format.
Firstly, I enhanced and softened with a Painterly effect..

Colosseum Sienna (desaturated to B/W) Opacity - Overlay @ 43%
Lime Plaster - Opacity - Color Burn @ 24 %

Auto tone to finish to brighten the blue sky.

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