Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Working with Morris as a model

I took a short walk to the creek today to get some early afternoon light on the rocks and the green moss, and hoped to bribe Morris into some posing for 'his' upcoming book.

Getting him to pose isn't really very easy.  He is so interested in everything that he can smell and being a Jack Russell, he is rarely still for a portrait.
I brought along some dog cookies and pretty much just hoped for the best. 

My best friend in this sort of situation is a digital camera that can take rapid fire photos.
Here Morris does stay still long enough while I ask him if 'he'd like a cookie'.  His response was immediate. 
I asked for a 'sit' and got a half-sit, but that was okay for my purposes.
I put the toy frog on a rock and then stepped back across the creek to pick up the camera only to find Morris back checking things out.
I had to act quick and hope that I would get something that I could use for the book.

I got several shots in quickly before Morris decided that the toy was nothing he really wanted.  In the woods he rarely touches any toy if I set it down.  He will however go up and sniff at it, but he has yet to take it and play with it.

We spent about a half hour wandering around and taking photos.  
Morris stuck very close to me.  That may be due to the fact that we have spotted a silver wolf in our area, but I can't really tell.

Today's shoot was a success, I did come away with some shots ... with editing, that will work nicely in the book!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The editing of Where's Happy?

With the 'demise' of one of the most favorited toys in our house, I had an idea strike me up alongside the head...literally.
I'd been out of ideas for another book in the line of Morris's Children's Books.

But when I could not find an exact look alike for Happy the Hedgehog and one of my grandchildren had bought Morris a brand spanking new Hedgehog toy...remarking apparently that this new Hedgehog could be Happy's cousin...and....and...
my grandaughter picked up a Frog Toy which quickly became Morris's second favorite toy...

It suddenly started coming together.

Morris wakes up one morning and finds out that Happy the Hedgehog is NOT in the toy-box.  Crazy the Squirrel and Terrible Tiger decide to meet on 'the rock' to discuss where could Happy have gone?  Morris was so sad, they had to do something.

They heard of a Wise old Creature in the Deep Deep Woods that was a Mysterious Old Frog that may be able to help them...

So another adventure begins.  Will they find Happy?  What will the Mysterious Old Frog tell them?
What will they have to do?
What awaits them?

Stay tuned! 

I'm using Topaz and Photoshop Elements 5.  In this 'book', I'll be trying to create composites of photos for the effects and illustrations I would like to have appear in the book.
I will rely heavily on layers and going over tutorials by Topaz Labs for ideas. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Where's Happy Hedgehog?

The demise of Happy the Hedgehog gave me a new idea for this year.
What if Morris missed Happy so much that he set out on an adventure looking for him?  What if Morris and friends decide to go deep into the scary woods and search high and low, encountering all sorts of things?

Well, that gave me just enough fuel for thought to get motivated to continue the storybooks for my grand-kids, the neighbor children, and my mom who enjoys them immensely.

So I'll be scurrying around collecting photos and making composites and learning some new methods for making illustrations out of photos.  The photo above is a composite with textures, Morris was added in after the fact.

So look forward to updates in this adventure!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review of Topaz Labs Plug ins

I was in the Halloween mood and I had a shot of the neighbor's cat I'd taken while doing a 'shoot' with the neighbor's children.
So here is the starting photograph.

Next I put it in Photoshop 7.0, yes, I have an ancient version, but it still works wonderfully!

I use my preset in Adjust that I call Spooky Adjust.
Next I duplicate the layer and rename it Simplify and it looks like this:
I still want to do something with the fur to make it a bit more abstract looking so I use Clean, again one of my own presets that I've come up while doing animals.  The difference is not much to most people, but to me, it gives a slightly more pleasing effect.
I duplicate this layer and use ReMask to pull just the head of the cat out.
This layer's opacity was reduced because I added Layer 3 with pumkins and Dry Times by Smoko Stock from DeviantArt for texture, along with Layer 4 which are Grunge Frame Brushes from Shadowhouse Creations and then blended it together.

It took quite a bit of experimentation.  At one point I realized that I really wanted the eyes to stand out more and not be covered by the texture or the pumpkins.  So I used the lasso tool to select the eyes from Layer 1, brightened them, and added them back into my 'clean my preset' layer.
 This looked pretty cool and I was very tempted to just stop here.  But I brought back in the other layers.
Here is what all the layers looked like before the finish.

I added some cracks with Obsidian Dawn Brushes [free!] for a bit more texture.  I erased out the Dry Times Texture in spots with a irregular brush with rough edges at about 35%.


And the before and after !

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Morris had to give up the original Hedgehog...

Here is a photo of Morris on the very first day with his Hedgehog that he inherited from another dog that passed away.  The photo was taken on May 12, 2007.  So yes, he isn't that terrible awful on his toys, but by the time we started doing the Happy Hedgehog and Crazy Squirrel Books, Happy had begun to look a bit time worn.
Soon people began buying Morris Hedgehogs and his Happy Hedgehog family grew and grew.  Yet the one he most often pulled out of the toy box was still ol' Happy.  Happy who was now missing most of his nose most of the fur on one side, and had several splits in his seams.  

I'd sewed Happy up several times and now there was just about nothing left to attach thread too.  No, Morris didn't rip it apart.  He takes his toys by the tip of his teeth and shakes them, then tosses them.  Eventually the fur pulls right out.  

So sadly I had to wrap the original Happy Hedgehog up and toss it.  We've put a special Hedgehog that he recently got from Dennis [our grandson] up so he can't play with it.  I'm hoping to use this one as the new replacement in the next story book I do.

Morris didn't seem to upset, he spent about 10 minutes looking for Happy then resolved to go and play with the frog that Ariel had given him.

I think I miss that ol' toy more than Morris does!
Long live Happy Hedgehog!  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Finally some beautiful colors!

It all starts with a brilliant sunrise.  I sort of do like later sunrise times in the fall, if you have any clouds in the sky you are generally assured a glorious start to the day.

I drove down to Black Bottom Creek to see if I could catch the sunrise in the valley.  See, there is an advantage to living in a hilly region.  You can see the sunrise on the ridge, then drive down to the valley and see it again 15 to 20 minutes later.
It was my lucky day.

By the time I got back home it was chore time.  After I was done with feeding my 4 hooved friends and the hounds, I spent some time with 'the girls' who had enjoyed our latest rains by rolling in the mud.
Morris has informed me that he would like to go on an adventure in the woods tomorrow.  The temps are supposed to be in the 70's!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

FujiFilm FinePix HS 30 EXR another glance...

I've had this camera now for about 2 months.
I believe that I've shot a bit more than 1,600 photos with it so far.
Do I like it?  You better believe I like it!
I love the panoramic feature for more than one reason.  Sometimes there is just such a great sky and scenery that this just seems fitting.  The shot above was done at 120 degrees.

How about the manual controls?  Well, I was in the valley and I used a 4X ND filter and set my shot up as follows. F11 at 10 seconds.  My focus was the lone brown leaf in the very small water falls.  I used a little Gorilla Pod and the timer to set off the camera.

I was more than pleased.  This is not the best shot I could do with this camera, but I know I can do a nice 'dreamy' waterfall shot with it now given the right circumstances.  This photo was not edited!
I spoke before about the macro feature, this is a great option with the flip up screen.

And lastly, the camera manages to pull off some decent sunrise and sunset photos on the 'sunset' preset no less!

I don't find myself leaving this camera around home anymore.
Yes, it has draw backs.  It does do the best in terrible light conditions, but then what camera really does?  For a hiker and hobbyist, it is a perfect choice.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Out and About!

NO, I am not normally a 'pink' person and neither is Morris, but his other collar was going to pieces and I had one of the hound pups old collars around.  It fit, so he wore pink.
I think Morris can be manly in pink too!

I thought it would be fun to take a few self portraits, so I set up the tripod and set the timer to 12 seconds...ran...and tried my best.  I actually liked the photos!  AND yes I took off my glasses for these two.

Meanwhile I found a LOT of 'stuff' to 'shoot' with the cameras.  It was a pleasant afternoon and boy howdy did I deserve some time in the woods.

I headed down into the woods to check out what the frost had killed off.
The leaves made for interesting patterns.

As the light began to fade, we headed back home ...
to our delight there was a gorgeous sunset.

Looking for more reasons to get out in the 'brown' woods and find some interesting things to take photos of...that is, other than me!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Making my own Texture for photo overlay...

 I collected a photo of the clouds from earlier in the summer...layered that over...
 a photo of leaves that I'd shot just last week...  I monkeyed around with opacity of the layers... and added some 'noise' in the form of grain [Elements filters] and came up with this.
Next I took a prospective shot that I'd like to try a bit of my own layering on.
Surely these do NOT look like a combination should do anything.  But I decided to try anyway.

What I ended up with was something a bit warmer and nicer than the original shot and if you look closely you can see some texture.  I did use a layer mask to bring out the bright red of the leaves on the lower right and the true color of the berries.  I think it is nice and subtle.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Topaz Products Combining the Plug - Ins

I've become a fan of mixing different plug ins and experimenting with not only those plug ins...of which Topaz is my favorite, but of also blending textures over the photos.

Here is the original photo:

Here I used the original and copied it.
Next I used Topaz Adjust to my own liking.
I copied that layer and made a layer with Topaz Detail.
Lastly I copied the Detail Layer and use Topaz Simplify.

I experimented with the opacity on each layer trying to find a good fit.

So then I entered layer masks...
I liked how the image was shaping up.  I took the Simplify layer and ran it through Topaz Clean.
However, I did not like how that came out.  So I hit the undo button and stuck with the Simplify layer, which I then masked much like the layer shows in the above sample.

[I change my mind and experiment A LOT when working with photos.]  If I don't copy down what I have done, I don't usually recall my work flow at all.

This final image was with the Simplified Layer on top, I used a mask to erase out the portions that I did not want yet to keep the bright colors and the playground equipment nice and clean looking.  This was the focal point of my image.

For fun here are a few images that I've used Textures on.  I'll be doing a blog on that very soon, as I am trying to figure out how to make great textures myself to use on photos.


Photo Editing for fun

Sometimes I just can't help myself.  It may be a dreary day outside and I am stuck inside.  So my creative juices start flowing and I think of odd and different experiments to do with photos I have taken.

Here is an original shot:
So I took it into Photoshop 7.0 and used Topaz ReMask to cut out the stump...
I next added a layer of yellow leaves...
Now I have the original as the backround layer, the stump in its own layer that is cut out and I added the yellow leaves.
I tried varies things like changing the opacity of the yellow leaves just to see the effect.  Well, that didn't work well, so I decided to try something different.
I added the leaves in two layers.  Then used layer masks and the wonderful editing brush to leave in what I wanted and edit out what I didn't.  This effect allowed me to show both the summer season in the forest and the fall season.  It was a fun experiment.