Sunday Sampler Oct. 13

Happy Sunday! Two weeks till moving day! Been selling some furniture to make room for the new items I purchased in TN! The cats are very confused!

This week’s Sunday Sampler is made up of some stone textures from a stone barn, a stone wall, and rocks at a lighthouse in Maine. Remember, you can always change a texture to black and white if you want to add texture but not color. Enjoy!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

In case you missed this on Thursday…

We are in the beginning stages of planning the next Creative Photography Conference! This will be our fourth year coming up in Spring 2020. We had hoped to do a Fall 2019 event, but with the way things changed this year and relocating, it just didn’t come together. However, watch for a Fall 2020 event if all goes as planned!

We’re looking at April 25-26 in Northeast Tennessee for the Spring event. This is a beautiful time to be in TN with all the bright Spring greens and wildflowers. I am also planning an add-on workshop after the main conference to explore the beautiful countryside. Working on some barn and antique workshops as well. Stay tuned for details soon!

Tutorial Thursday Oct. 10

MY 3 ESSENTIAL TOPAZ TOOLS

One of my blog readers suggested this post. Thank you John W.! As you all know, I love my Topaz, and this article will share my top three tools.

#1 – AI Clear

I use AI Clear on EVERY image! It’s totally amazing and the best thing ever created (in my opinion)! AI Clear sharpens, reduces noise and adds clarity in one click. Of course, you can fine tune it to your image and taste, but the majority of the time, the default settings work for me!

If I start with an image in Lightroom, I do my basic adjustments there, then bring it in to Photoshop. I duplicate the layer and then immediately open Studio 2 and apply AI Clear. Then “accept” and return to Photoshop. I like having things on separate layers, so most often, this is my workflow.

However, if I do take an image directly into Studio 2, I would do my basic adjustments there and then apply AI Clear before any other creative processing.

#2 – DeNoise AI

The majority of the time AI Clear does all I need for noise reduction. But if it’s an exceptionally noisy image (like a concert or especially a cell phone image), DeNoise AI does an amazing job at getting rid of noise.

You want to apply enough to reduce the noise, but not go too far with the settings to make your image look out of focus.

Here is an example. Original Concert photo taken on iPhone 8+:

After DeNoise AI:

Close Up of before and after:

#3 – Gigapixel AI

Gigapixel AI lets you enlarge a digital file without losing resolution and having the image get “pixelated”. I find this comes in handy when someone sends me a file to edit and it’s small and low resolution. It is also great if you have a smaller image (say, saved for posting to social media), and need to enlarge it for a print. Optimally you would use the original larger file, but if that file were not available, Gigapixel AI to the rescue!

Example. This original image is 4″ x 6′ for posting to Facebook. I enlarged it at 600% to 24″ x 36″. I think the enlargement looks even better than the original! If this image looks familiar, you may have seen it as the Gigapixel AI product image on the Topaz website!

Original 4″ x 6″:

Enlarged 600% with Gigapixel AI:

Closeup of enlarged image:

Impressive to be sure!

BONUS – #4 – Textures!!

How could I not mention Textures as a favorite tool! As you know from my work and webinars, I often begin with a “Look” (formerly called “Preset”) and then modify it by adding and/or deleting textures, borders, scratches, etc.

The most important part of any creative editing is to have fun, explore, and find your own creative style.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR!

We are in the beginning stages of planning the next Creative Photography Conference! This will be our fourth year coming up in Spring 2020. We had hoped to do a Fall 2019 event, but with the way things changed this year and relocating, it just didn’t come together. However, watch for a Fall 2020 event if all goes as planned!

We’re looking at April 25-26 in Northeast Tennessee for the Spring event. This is a beautiful time to be in TN with all the bright Spring greens and wildflowers. I am also planning an add-on workshop after the main conference to explore the beautiful countryside. Working on some barn and antique workshops as well. Stay tuned for details soon!

Around the Web – Oct. 8

DESIGN CUTS 6th BIRTHDAY BASH!

As I mentioned last week, Design Cuts is 6 years old!

As a special promotion for the birthday bash, they have re-released 39 of their most popular bundles in a “Bundle Bonanza”! Each one is just $29 and chock full of creative goodies! These cover everything from textures, fonts, vector art, mock-ups, templates, actions and MUCH more! Check them all out HERE!

AND…

They are giving away 12 freebies – six were released last week and there are six more that were released today. Check out the freebies HERE!

AND…

Beginning yesterday, they began the LIVE Design Cuts Online Conference with some of the industry’s leading artists. Check out the details HERE!

FREEBIES

From Designer Candies, some “Fall Leaves”. There are also downloads for pumpkins and other goodies!

Over on Creative Nerds there are also some cool seasonal and other freebies HERE. Some are for “Premium” paid members, but there are many that are free to all.

MediaLoot has a free action for Applying Your Watermark.

Talk to you on Thursday!

Sunday Sampler Oct. 6

Happy Sunday! Got back earlier this afternoon from my latest trip to TN. Got lots accomplished and did some furniture shopping too along with some decorative items.

This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of some beautiful sky shots from Friday night in TN. The color was all the way around – it was so pretty! These images have not been saturated – this was the color! I only did AI Clear and Reduce Noise in Topaz Studio 2 and resized. These will definitely warm up some “blah” images!

A blog reader made a suggestion for a post – to list my 3 favorite Topaz Studio tools that I use in my workflow. Watch for that on Tutorial Thursday!

Tutorial Thursday Oct. 3

WORD ART

In Sunday’s post I shared a canvas I created for our new TN house. Word Art can be created in conjunction with a photo, or as in this case, just words and vector or clip art.

I knew I wanted to print this on a 16″ x 20″ canvas, so I began the project with a new file (File > New File) and set the size at 20″ x 24″ to allow for the canvas to “wrap” around the sides. Background white at 300 dpi.

In Photoshop, I set up guidelines for my 2″ margins. To get these, click on the ruler, hold and drag down. These lines will not print – they are just on-screen guides.

I wanted this piece to look “rustic”, so I began with a wood texture that I had photographed and turned into a black and white.

I also knew I wanted blue tones throughout this piece as that will be the main color in the new house. So I added one of my blue bokeh textures over the wood, changing the blending mode to Multiply and the opacity to 93%.

I though the wood was too “heavy”, so I lowered the opacity of the wood layer to 72% and got this:

Much better! Now I needed some mountains! I searched my library of art and found this image:

A beautiful mountain view illustration

I liked the shape and trees, but wanted it to be blue. So, Topaz ReStyle to the rescue! by using two presets of blue tones (Endless Polar Lake and The Blue Calm), I changed the art to this:

A beautiful mountain view illustration

Next, back in PS, I selected the sky and lightest mountain layer and deleted those:

I saved this as a PNG file to maintain the transparency of the sky, and brought this file into my project (just like you would drag in a texture). I positioned it and changed the blending mode to Overlay (I wanted it to look like it was printed on the wood), and the opacity to 85%.

Now I was ready to add my words! After testing several fonts, I went with Rebel. I used a font size of 230 pt. since this is a big canvas, and typed my words. I angled them a bit as well.

I like using layer styles on type to help it “stand out” from the background and give it some depth. To get to the Layer Styles panel, just double click on the type later over towards the right in the blank area.

For this type I added 3 layer styles – Bevel & Emboss; a Stroke of 15 px in a darker blue; and a drop shadow in white at 28%. Of course, settings will depend on your particular project and how you’d like it to look.

Here is the finished image ready for printing:

And this is the finished image:

I received the canvas in the mail already and I love it! Can’t wait to hang it up in Tennessee!!

P.S. I use Canvas on Demand for my canvas prints. They always have great sales and their quality is fabulous – and quick service!

Word Art is so much fun. Here are a couple of other pieces I created a couple of years ago. I saw the quotes online and created my own versions:

UPCOMING EVENT

I will be one of the speakers for Mike Moats’ Macro Conference on Oct. 19-20 in Cleveland, Ohio (yep – the week before we’re moving!). I will be doing a seminar on “Topaz & Textures”, my two favorite subjects! I believe there are just a couple spots left – check it out HERE. Hope to see you there.

Around the Web – Oct. 1

Happy October!! Fall is finally here!

DESIGN CUTS 6th BIRTHDAY BASH!

I’ve been purchasing from Design Cuts pretty much since they started 6 years ago. It’s amazing to see how much they’ve grown!

As a special promotion for the birthday bash, they have re-released 39 of their most popular bundles in a “Bundle Bonanza”! Each one is just $29 and chock full of creative goodies! These cover everything from textures, fonts, vector art, mock-ups, templates, actions and MUCH more! Check them all out HERE!

AND…

They are giving away 12 freebies – six now and six on Oct. 8th. Check out the freebies HERE!

AND…

Beginning on October 7th, catch the LIVE Design Cuts Online Conference with some of the industry’s leading artists. Check out the details HERE!

Be sure to check next week’s Tuesday blog post for more goodies from our friends at Design Cuts!

FONTS & OTHER BUNDLES

If you are planning a Halloween party, All Free Designs lists “22 Free Halloween Fonts for Making Scary Designs”

The folks at DealJumbo are also having a sale with twelve bundles selling for just $3 each! Check them out, as well as all their other bundles and freebies, HERE!

PHOTOSHOP

Over on Envato Tuts+, a cool tutorial on making words or shapes into clouds with “How to Create a Cloud Effect in PS”

And on PictureCorrect.com, some helpful info on “Travel Photography: Planning and Documenting”

I’m off to Tennessee tomorrow! Have a great week!

Sunday Sampler Sept. 29

Happy Sunday! Had our big tag sale yesterday – got rid of some stuff! Rest will be donated to a couple of local groups. I’ve come to the conclusion that tag sales are too much work! Exhausted and sore today! Except for this blog, just chillin’ the rest of the day!

When I was in TN a couple weeks ago, I had seen a canvas at Pier 1 that said “and so the adventure begins”. It was just words on a white background – and it was torn. Here’s a pic:

I got to thinking, I could make my own version of this….so I did! I created this with two of my own textures for the background – a B&W wood grain and a blue-grey bokeh. Found the mountain art in one of the many bundles of things I’ve purchased online (changed blending mode so it would blend with the wood texture), and added the words. I applied layer styles to the words using embossing, an outline and a drop shadow to give them some depth. I received the canvas the other day – love it! Here is the finished product:

I like my version much better! Watch for an upcoming detailed tutorial on how to create your own word art!

This week’s Sunday Sampler is some fall blurred bokeh images using the “swipe” method in-camera. Set your camera to a half second or longer exposure and as you press the trigger, move the camera either up, down, or at an angle. Fun to see what you get!

I’ll be heading back to TN again later this week to wrap up some things and get ready for move in later in October! Have a great Sunday!

Tutorial Thursday Sept. 26

TENNESSEE BARN

If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’ve been editing and posting lots of barn pics from last week. Here is one more!

This is the RAW file taken with my Panasonic Lumix G7.

I brought it into Photoshop first (from Lightroom, though I did not make any adjustments in LR). In PS I used the healing brush to get rid of the pole on the left side and then cropped the image a bit on the top, bottom and right

In PS I duplicated the layer and opened Studio 2 (Filter > Topaz Studio 2).

First I added a Filter > AI Clear > Sharpness = High

Next, Filter > Basic Adjustment with these changes:
Exposure = .20
Clarity = .38
Shadows = .42
Highlights = -.55

Next, Add Look > Grungy category > Vibrant Grunge > lowered opacity to 80%

Then add Filter > Texture > Category=Meredith Images > French Tuck. Blending Mode Hard Light; Opacity 42%

Add Filter > Texture > Category=Meredith Images > Russet. Blending Mode Soft Light; Opacity 35%. I added a layer mask and masked this texture off of the barn.

Click Accept to return to Photoshop. Here is the layers in Studio:

And this is the finished image:

Have a good day!

Around the Web – Sept. 24

FREEBIES & A NEW BUNDLE FROM PIXELO

I’ve often mentioned Pixelo’s fabulous bundles of goodies. But they also offer some cool FREEBIES on their website as well! CLICK HERE to check them out!

One of the new freebies is this cool font called “Fitamint”

And if you want to build up your font library even more, check out their newest bundle, the “Mix Fonts Bundle” – 88 fabulous fonts! There are still a few other active bundles on the site, so poke around while you’re there!

GENERAL INFO & TECHNIQUES

From PictureCorrect.com – “Photography Composition Essentials: Depth or Perspective”. It never hurts to review the basics of photography!

And also from PictureCorrect.com – “13 Habits of Highly Effective Photographers”.

BACKGROUNDS

Over on Design Your Way, “Fall Background Images That You Can Use in Your Designs”. The article also includes a tutorial on “How to Create a Realistic Fall Background in Photoshop”.

And free from MochiDeals, “75 Premium & Abstract Gradient Backgrounds for Your Projects”.

VECTOR ART

From DesignerCandies.com, some spooky “Halloween Vector Illustrations”. And while you’re on the site, check out the Free Textures & Backgrounds HERE

NEW PRODUCTS

Weighing only 7.5 lbs. (3.4kg), the Airport Advantage XT rolling camera case from Think Tank Photo meets increasingly restrictive International airline requirements, yet still provides the ample quality and protection you’ve come to expect from Think Tank. The Airport Advantage XT fits two gripped DSLR camera bodies and several lenses, enabling traveling photographers to carry the maximum amount of gear on the plane.

The Airport Advantage XT is available in Black and a proprietary two-tone “Graphite” fabric — giving the case a stylish look that doesn’t proclaim that it’s a bag full of expensive camera gear.

“The weight of rolling camera cases is always a challenge when flying
internationally,” said Doug Murdoch, Think Tank CEO and Lead Designer. “The Airport Advantage XT delivers the carry capacity and protection you’ve come to depend on from Think Tank, but now at a fraction of the weight.”

Mo DeLong with the Airport Advantage XT at the San Francisco Airport.

KEY FEATURES:

  • Specially designed interior to maximize gear for carry-on. Meets most U.S. and International airline carry-on requirements
  • Ultra-lightweight design weighs only 7.5 lbs. (3.4 kg), keeping your bag under weight restrictions
  • Front pocket fits up to a 17” laptop and 10” tablet
  • Custom designed retractable handle with inset channel on aluminum tubing adds strength and durability
  • Side pocket for tripod mount (additional straps included for larger tripods)
  • Extra tall handle height keeps the bag away from your feet when rolling
  • YKK® RC Fuse zippers, and closed-cell PU foam are the highest quality materials in the industry
  • Fits up to two gripped camera bodies with lenses attached
  • Lockable zipper sliders (lock not included)
  • Interior zippered pockets for batteries, CF cards, filters and accessories
  • User replaceable retractable handle, wheels, wheel housings, and front foot
  • Custom-designed, high-performance, 80mm super quiet wheels with sealed bearings
  • Seam-sealed rain cover included
  • Grab handles on three sides for lifting bag into the overhead bin
  • Closed-cell foam dividers support heavy gear and maintain strength over time
  • Hypalon reinforced rear corners increase durability
  • Business card holder on top for identification

WHAT FITS:

  • Ex. 1: Two Gripped DSLRs with lenses attached, plus 5–8 additional lenses
  • Ex. 2: Mirrorless video kit with lenses, batteries, DJI Ronin-S and DJI Mavic Pro
  • Up to a 17” laptop

For more info and to purchase, visit www.ThinkTankPhoto.com

Sunday Sampler Sept. 22

Happy Sunday! Got back Thursday afternoon from TN. Things are on track to be completed in the next few weeks. House is set and trimmed out. Our contractor will get back to work this week on the property – retaining wall, foundation blocks, gravel drive, etc., etc. Our CT house is under contract as well – woo hoo! Definitely moving by late October. Can’t wait to see this view every morning from our deck!

This week’s Sunday Sampler is an assortment of abstract images – Decorative Tile; Paint Drips and Chains.

As always, feel free to share your creations on our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/texturesturnhohumintoaworkofart/

Barns of Tennessee

By next Spring I’ll be doing some “Barn Workshops” in TN. There are SO many old barns and buildings with tons of character. Oh, the stories they could tell! Here are a few of my finds from the past week. Processed in LR, PS and Topaz Studio 2.