Sunday Sampler Sept. 15

Happy Sunday! As you read this I’m on my way to TN to check on our new house! Dave is holding down the fort in CT and working on packing. Our target moving date is end of October.

This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of some lovely cloud images courtesy of Steve Watson. He went out hoping for another stunning Florida sunrise, but even though it turned out cloudy, he was able to get some nice shots that he is sharing with my readers. Thank you Steve!!

These can be used for those “grey sky” days when you don’t have much going on in the sky. You can either delete the old sky and put the new sky on a layer beneath the image, or just overlay the new sky and mask away where you do not want it on your subject. Here’s an example. I took this ordinary image of the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston….

And overlaid Clouds 3. I masked it off of the bridge, trees and water – giving me a much more interesting sky and image. While the original image did have some clouds, they just weren’t very dramatic.

REMINDER!

My special promotion from Design Cuts is still available! I selected five texture packs that I think you will love, and Design Cuts created a special deal on the bundle just for my readers.

The five packs are:
– 94 Vintage Leather Paper Textures by Vector Hut
– Abstract Textures by Offset
– Herbarium Watercolor Textures by Alex Green Art
– Just Good Textures v2 Distress Edges by Graphic Monkee
– Prairie Girl Soft Grunge Textures by Greta Ivy

So….”How do I get these cool textures?”

CLICK HERE

to go to the special page for Meredith Images readers and grab this deal for just $40 – which is half off the regular price!
You will get 190 beautiful, creative textures with full commercial license for all your projects!

Around the Web – Sept. 10

Sunday Sampler Update

For some reason, Dropbox seemed to have a hiccup this week! It was asking people to sign in, which you do not need to do in order to access the Sunday Sampler files!! I’ve left the old folder in place (I think it worked for most people), but I’ve also created a new folder with the same textures HERE! Hopefully this will work like they normally do!!! Gotta love technology!

BRUSHES

From CreativeBloq, “All the Best Free Photoshop Brushes”. I love using brushes to create my own textures as well as over an image as a texture. Watch for a tutorial on Thursday.

And if you love Grunge like I do, I found this cool website for grunge brushes! Sign up for their newsletter for freebies! TrueGritTextureSupply.com

FONTS

From CreativeBloq, a list of “42 Best Handwriting Fonts”

RESOURCES

If you have an iPad, most likely you have Procreate! Over on the Designest is an interesting article and interview with the founder of Procreate, James Cuda.

On Lightroom Killer Tips by Kelby One are several articles about Lightroom Mobile.

A great YouTube Channel for Photoshop Tutorials by Jesus Ramirez. This week is “How to Cut Fur from Busy Backgrounds in PS”.

Sunday Sampler Sept. 8

Happy Sunday! Today is Open House for our CT home! Fingers crossed for a quick sale. Hoping our TN home will be on site early this week – delayed again!

This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of “glows”. The original yellow-orange one was taken on my cell phone (not sure what I was actually shooting!!). I then changed the colors with a Hue/Saturation adjustment. This can be used to tone a background or other texture. You could rotate this texture so that the brighter area reflects where the actual light is coming from in your image.

Here’s an example with a before and after. An image of dogwoods in the fog in Cade’s Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I added the Glow Blue-Green, flipped the layer horizontally (so the brighter area is in the upper right), changed the blending mode to Soft Light and the Opacity to 16%. Adds a little bit of subtle color to the image.

ORIGINAL
WITH “GLOW BLUE-GREEN”

IN CASE YOU MISSED THIS ON THURSDAY!

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was working on a special promotion from Design Cuts for my readers. I selected five texture packs that I think you will love, and Design Cuts created a special deal on the bundle just for my readers.

The five packs are:
– 94 Vintage Leather Paper Textures by Vector Hut
– Abstract Textures by Offset
– Herbarium Watercolor Textures by Alex Green Art
– Just Good Textures v2 Distress Edges by Graphic Monkee
– Prairie Girl Soft Grunge Textures by Greta Ivy

Check out Thursday’s “Tutorial Thursday” post HERE to see the examples!

So….”How do I get these cool textures?”

CLICK HERE

to go to the special page for Meredith Images readers and grab this deal for just $40 – which is half off the regular price!
You will get 190 beautiful, creative textures with full commercial license for all your projects!

Sunday Sampler Sept. 1

September already? How did THAT happen? The summer flew by for sure! Hoping house will be placed on site by Tuesday or Wednesday, then I’ll head to TN on Thursday! They needed to bring in truckloads of dirt to make a wider landing area for getting the house on site (the left side of the property was a bit of a drop off).

This week’s Sunday Sampler is thanks to my hubby, Dave! These textures are an old baking sheet that he used as a drip pan in his bbq smoker! I was getting ready to throw it out, but of course, had to take some pics first of that lovely grunge!!

Photography Organizations

I recently became aware of the group, “Nature First”. Their principles are things I have already been practicing.

Nature photographers are increasingly becoming a liability for the beautiful environments they cherish and photograph.

Nature First is built on seven core principles that help communicate how each of us can enjoy nature photography responsibly. The Seven Principles of Nature First Photography were developed to help educate and guide both professional and recreational photographers in sustainable, minimal impact practices that will help preserve nature’s beautiful locations.

THE NATURE FIRST PRINCIPLES

  1. Prioritize the well-being of nature over photography.
  2. Educate yourself about the places you photograph.
  3. Reflect on the possible impact of your actions.
  4. Use discretion if sharing locations.
  5. Know and follow rules and regulations.
  6. Always follow Leave No Trace principles and strive to leave places better than you found them.
  7. Actively promote and educate others about these principles.

Membership is free. Check them out at: naturefirstphotography.org

If you are a USA-based photographer (any skill level) and you are looking for a group of like minded photography enthusiasts to TEACH, LEARN, SHARE and SOCIALIZE, then NPEG is for you!

The founder of the group, Mark Perry, is holding a free, informative webinar on “What is NPEG” on September 15th 8 pm EDT. Sign up HERE!

And on November 10th, I will be doing a webinar for NPEG, “Topaz Studio 2 – Navigating Your Way Through”.

BOOKING FOR THE 2019-2020 CAMERA CLUB SEASON

I have already scheduled several clubs for the upcoming season (most clubs meet Sept.-June).

I will be doing a program at my own club – the Greater Bridgeport Camera Club – on our first meeting night of the season on Sept. 4.

Oct. 5 or 12 (TBD) – Westchester Photographic Society 1/2 day workshop on Topaz.

Jan. 23, 2020 – Webinar for the Charlotte (NC) Camera Club

March 7th – Hands-on seminars for the Greater Lynn Photographic Society (Lynn, MA). Morning – PS Elements; Afternoon – Topaz. And possibly a program Mon., March 9th at their club meeting (tentative).

IF YOU ARE A CLUB IN NEW ENGLAND, I’D BE HAPPY TO DO A PROGRAM DURING THE WEEK BEFORE OR AFTER MARCH 7TH WHILE I’M IN THE AREA! Email me at Hazel@MeredithImages.com.

Sunday Sampler Aug. 25

Happy Sunday! The weather this weekend is glorious! Warm, breezy and much less humidity! I’m ready for Autumn for sure!!

Tennessee update: just waiting for the house to be placed on-site. Hopefully right after Labor Day – which means I’ll be making another trip to TN (will be the sixth so far this year!).

We have another “guest contributor” to this week’s Sunday Sampler! Thank you to Steve Watson for some cool Florida seashell images! I took one and modified three ways – one a straight shot; the second with Topaz Impression; and the third with Smart Photo Editor. Enjoy!

New Product!

Meredith Images and Layercake teamed up to introduce you to the New! Photoshop Grafix Brushes. All FUN – No Mess!

The Grafix brushes load your photo into the custom brush. You can create unlimited photo designs. Works great for all types of photos. You can use the brushes as a clever framing effect or for photo edges. Also great for creating unique greeting card designs.

Over 700 custom brushes which have been carefully organized for you. Concise movie tutorial included!

CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT!

Grab this huge package of 700 brushes (includes 10 sets) – Reg. $190; on sale for just $47!

Or get the Brush Set PLUS 50 LR & PS presets PLUS 200 textures for just $10 more = $57 (save 80%)!

BOOKING FOR THE 2019-2020 CAMERA CLUB SEASON

I have already scheduled several clubs for the upcoming season (most clubs meet Sept.-June).

I will be doing a program at my own club – the Greater Bridgeport Camera Club – on our first meeting night of the season on Sept. 4.

Oct. 5 or 12 (TBD) – Westchester Photographic Society 1/2 day workshop on Topaz.

Jan. 23, 2020 – Webinar for the Charlotte (NC) Camera Club

March 7th – Hands-on seminars for the Greater Lynn Photographic Society (Lynn, MA). Morning – PS Elements; Afternoon – Topaz. And possibly a program Mon., March 9th at their club meeting (tentative).

IF YOU ARE A CLUB IN NEW ENGLAND, I’D BE HAPPY TO DO A PROGRAM DURING THE WEEK BEFORE OR AFTER MARCH 7TH WHILE I’M IN THE AREA! Email me at Hazel@MeredithImages.com.

Sunday Sampler Aug. 18

Happy Sunday! Just a couple more weekends till the unofficial start of Autumn! I love the cool, crisp Fall days, so I can’t say I’ll be sad to see the humidity of summer fade away.

Work is progressing on our Tennessee homestead! Concrete footers were poured on Friday – house could be placed on site this week! Soon, very soon!

Changes Coming for the Sunday Sampler!

I’m going to be changing up the way I do the blog a bit. I will continue on Sundays with the “Sunday Sampler” and free textures, but I’m going to break down the “Around the Web” column to Tuesdays and “Inside the Peacock Studio” tutorials on Thursdays. This will give me more opportunities to share timely news with you, dear reader!

I’m working on a couple of tutorials based on the survey results from a few months ago. I had asked readers the types of tutorials they like best (1st is 10-30 min videos; 2nd was a live webinar) and the topics most interested in (Topaz and Textures were the most requested). I will have a video tutorial for you this week!

And I am working on a very special promotion exclusively for my readers from Design Cuts – some products targeted for all of my texture-loving friends! Stay tuned for that in the next week or two!

I will also be releasing a few new texture sets into the Peacock Studio!

This week’s Sunday Sampler takes a graphic image of the fabric of a couch and gives you several versions to play with. Images like this can be great when doing composites. You can use this as a background – either the whole image or just parts of it. Experiment!

This image was taken this past April in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. I love the way these ferns look before they unfurl!

This RAW image was processed in LR, PS and Studio 2 where I used 3 of my own textures, plus a light leak in the upper right and a border. If you notice on the original shot below, I cut off the top of the fern – no problem! I duplicated the curl beneath it and moved it into position. Then I used the rectangular marquis tool to copy a portion of the top of the image and duplicated to extend the top of the image.

Finished Image
RAW File

Watch for more news on Tuesday!

Sunday Sampler – Aug. 11

Happy Sunday! As you are reading this we are heading to Tennessee! Site work began on our new homestead this past week. Our house arrives at the dealer from the factory on Monday. Things are progressing! By the end of Aug./beginning of Sept. everything should be set and ready for move in.

This is what it looked like on Friday. We’re really not close to the house next door, it’s just the angle of this image. Our property runs down the hill off to the left of the photo. There is an empty lot between us and the house to the right – the couple who owns that house isn’t selling the lot, so that will stay open. Our contractor has seen deer everyday – guess we’ll have lots of company! Our kitty cats will not be thrilled!!

This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of some lovely purple and green bokeh shots courtesy of my friend Antoinette Gombeda! She took these with our Sunday Sampler readers in mind. These are great for replacing busy backgrounds behind your flower shots. Thank you my friend!

The folks at Topaz have been VERY busy since the initial release of Studio 2. They are (as of Friday night) on revision 2.0.9! They have added in some of the features not in the initial release (histogram, cropping/straightening, ability to import textures in bulk, and many more), and fixed a few hiccups. Be sure to download the latest update! When you log in to Studio 2 it will tell you there is a new update. You can also check by going to Help > Check for Software Updates.

Another of the features they added was the ability to bring over Studio 1 Presets to Studio 2. When they created Studio 2, they did not add all of the previous presets (now called Looks) so as to not bog down the system with presets that were similar.

To bring over any that you like from Studio 1, first “favorite” them in Studio 1 (click on the heart). Then in Studio 2 go to Help > Migrate Custom TS1 Presets > and check the box for Migrate Favorite Presets. In mere seconds they will be added to TS2. You can tell the ones that were brought over as the preset/look name will have TS1 at the end of it.

There are also no limits to the number of times you can run this function. For favorites and for custom presets as well (initially you could only do this once).

While the webinar discount code for Topaz has ended, you can still save 15% on any Topaz product by using my link: https://topazlabs.com/ref/55/ and the code MeredithImages at checkout.

I have also extended my website discount until Monday Midnight EDT. Save 25% off any of my eBooks or texture packs with the code topaz25 in the Peacock Studio.

An inspiring article from PictureCorrect.com“15 Weekend Photography Project Ideas”. Some fun projects that will help you improve your skills.

And to help you maintain your creativity (also from PictureCorrect), “Tips for Maintaining Creativity as a Photographer”.

And if you want to get creative and produce some of your own backgrounds and textures, check out this article on Pixel2Pixel, “Useful Photoshop Tutorials for Designing Abstract Backgrounds”. There are 48 projects to keep you busy for quite a while!

And another Photoshop project from iDevie, “How to Create a ‘Stranger Things’ Inspired Text Effect”.

If you are into mobile photography (iPhone, Android, etc.), you need to check out the AppWhisperer. They do artist reviews, feature images, and reviews of various phone apps.

And if you want to edit using the native apps on your phone, check out “How To Edit Photos on an iPhone Using the Built In Photos App” from the iPhone Photography School.

And, lastly, find some other great inspiration from LightStalking/Toad Hollow Photography with the article, “Catch Up on the Coolest Links in Photography”.

Have a great week!

Sunday Sampler – Aug. 4

What an exciting, busy week it’s been! Last weekend I taught 5 sessions at the Southwestern Michigan Council of Camera Clubs Conference. Got home Monday afternoon (a friend and I made a road trip of the Conference), then finished preparing for the Topaz Webinar on Tuesday afternoon!

We set new records for webinar registrations (4002), and maxed out the session with 3000 attendees! Wow! If you missed the webinar or didn’t get signed up, here is a link to the recording on the Topaz YouTube Channel: https://youtu.be/FadYpAftlE4

Read more Topaz News in the Topaz Corner below.

This week’s Sunday Sampler is a “double-header” since there wasn’t a blog last Sunday. Six more textures from my travels – floors, rugs, concrete, and marble! These are all neutral tones, but remember, you can always change the color scheme with a hue adjustment or make them all black & white.

When we’re doing a webinar, it’s very difficult to get to all of the questions that are asked (especially with this large a group!). Celeste had me answer a few of the most-asked questions, but I’ll address a few more in this column.

Answers to Popular Questions and some updates that have been completed since the webinar:

  • Histogram has been added (the button to open is in the lower left corner of the workspace).
  • Layer masking has been added.
    And you can copy a mask from one layer to another. To copy: Right click in the mask you created; select COPY MASK. Add a mask to the new layer, right click in the mask and select PASTE MASK.
    (See screen shots below).
  • The ability to bring over your custom presets from TS1 to TS2.
    To do that: On top toolbar select Help > Migrate Custom TS1 Presets.
  • Can Studio 2 be accessed from Lightroom?
    Yes. Here are the instructions: https://topazlabs.com/setting-up-topaz-studio-2-as-an-adobe-photoshop-or-lightroom-plugin/
  • Can Studio 2 be accessed from Photoshop?
    Yes. It should automatically install in your Filters menu along with your other Topaz products.
  • What does Studio 2 have that Studio 1 does not?
    Studio 2 now has real layers! In order to save those layers, you must FILE > SAVE PROJECT AS > it will default to a TS2 format. 2 IMPORTANT NOTES! In order to be able to save as a TS2 file, you cannot bring the image into Studio 2 from Photoshop or Lightroom. You must open it directly into Studio 2. TS2 files cannot be opened in any other program (just like PSD files can only be opened in Photoshop). Propriety file formats.
  • If you wish to save as a TIF or JPG format: FILE > EXPORT. You can rename and tell it what folder to save the work in, as well as choose TIF or JPG.
  • How do we access Studio 2 if we’re “off the grid” (no internet)? You do need internet to download the program, but you do not need to be online to use the program. Once it is installed in your computer it works just like any other program.
  • Can we search for Looks by name.
    Yes! There is a search icon just under the “Add Look” button (screen shot below).
COPY MASK
PASTE MASK
SEARCH ICON

Items on the horizon!

  • The ability to add/import additional textures (like we did in Studio 1).
  • Texture Names (similar to AI ReMix
  • Cropping/Straightening
  • Healing
  • Plug-In Access/Support (for all of the other Topaz Plug-Ins that were not updated in Studio 1).
  • The ability to add additional images as layers for compositing or adding a watermark.
  • Community Sharing of Custom Looks – not sure how this will work yet – it won’t be the same as TS1. It was great that people wanted to share looks, however there were so many that it slowed down the loading of presets.
  • Not all of the Effects in TS! were brought over to TS2 (O’Keefe, etc.). Topaz felt there was a lot of duplication and similar effects. I am discussing with Topaz how we can recreate some of these in TS2 for those who want them.

Some general info on Studio 2, pricing, discounts, etc.

  • How do I get Studio 2?
    Studio 2 is available on the TopazLabs.com website under downloads.
  • How much is it?
    Studio 2 retails for $99.99. It is on sale for $79.99 until Aug. 9th. BUT if you use my coupon code from the webinar – Hazelweb719 – you can save an additional 20% making it $63.99! The webinar coupon expires on Monday, Aug. 5th. But…
  • If you previously purchased $100 or more of Studio Pro Adjustments (not plug-ins), then you received an email last week for a FREE upgrade! If you purchased some Pro Adjustments, but less than $100 worth, you received a discounted price. Those emails were sent on Wed. 7/24 and Thurs. 7/25.

Whew! That’s a lot of info! You can always shoot me a message or email with questions, plus there is a Facebook group for Topaz Studio where people help each other (and Topaz staff chime in too). I will answer more questions here in the blog as the software progresses and updates are released.

I also added a discount code at the end of the webinar for 25% off eBooks and textures in the Peacock Studio. You can use the code Topaz25 until Aug. 10th (midnight EDT).

You can also get a copy of my webinar notes (plus images used and bonus textures) for just $5 in the Peacock Studio.

CLICK HERE to SHOP AND SAVE!

Do you ever feel like you are in a “rut” with your photography? We tend to shoot the same types of subjects the majority of the time. Here’s a great exercise to expand your horizons: “10 Photography Assignments to Stimulate Your Creativity” over on PictureCorrect.

All I can say is WOW! The folks at Pixelo have outdone themselves with this latest bundle! The Urbane Fonts & Designs Bundle contains 99 fonts and over 1000 design elements! I’ve seen lots of font bundles, but this one is really amazing with the inclusion of some great art as well. Just $29 (value $2750). Save 99%. Click HERE to grab this deal!!

Think Tank Photo is proud to announce their products have been recognized with a series of prestigious awards. Carryology has named the BackLight 26L the Best Camera Bag of 2019, Professional Photographer has featured the Retrospective 7 V2.0 shoulder bag and Stand Manager 52 in their 2019 Hot Ones product recommendations, and Australian Photography has given their Gold Award to the BackLight Elite 45L .

These awards emphasize Think Tank’s focus on quality, ingenuity, and innovation, and underscore their dedication to designing the best photography bags and products in the industry.

“The pack’s well-considered combination of features makes it a versatile all-rounder for urban and outdoor photography alike. A bag that can accompany you on city excursions, outdoor hikes and more. All while ensuring your gear stays secure and protected, yet accessible when you need it. Bravo, MindShift Gear!”

CHECK OUT ALL THE AWARD-WINNING PRODUCTS HERE!

Sunday Sampler July 21

Whew, it’s HOT out there! Here in the Northeast the heat index yesterday and today is over 110! Stay indoors in AC if possible and stay hydrated. I’m staying inside and doing some packing!

This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of some wallpaper images! When I travel I love to check around the hotel for unusual patterns in wallpaper, rugs, fabrics, etc. There are three textures and two of them have two versions for a total of 5. I think the twig one will be great to overlay in a background!

Info on the newest Topaz product is supposed to be under wraps until release day this coming week. However, you may have seen some info posted on social media – but I’ll just say, “stay tuned this week”! I’ll be doing a special blog post when it’s official! I’ve been involved with the pre-beta and beta testing and I think you will all be very happy (I know I am!).

Don’t Miss Out on my July Specials!

Just 10 days left to grab these deals!

One-on-one training special pricing until July 31st (sessions do not have to be completed in July, just purchased prior to the 31st).

AND…

Don’t miss out on the sale on Sunday Sampler Groups. These bundle the older Sunday Samplers into groups ranging from 75-90 textures each! Or, you can grab all six at an extra special discount – 468 Textures for just $60! No coupon code needed! On sale until July 31st in the Peacock Studio HERE!

Photo Competition!

I came across this photo competition being held at the Pennsylvania Center for Photography, and I thought some of you might be interested too (I will be entering). The theme for this is “Transformations”, so it’s right up our alley with creative photography! Entry is open now through Sept. 25th. If you are not nearby to enter prints, they also have a digital division.

Check out the Prospectus HERE. With some competitions you need to be careful as to what rights you are giving away. With this one, you retain all copyrights – you only give them permission to use your image (with credit) for advertising future competitions. Good luck!

Free Watercolor Action from Adobe Create Magazine

Actions are a great way to save time when batch editing photos. They can also be a fun way to get creative with your images with minimal work. I found this action on creating a Watercolor look from Adobe – CLICK HERE

I haven’t tried this one myself yet, but I did play around with one I got from Graphic River call Architectural Sketch – I like the way this image came out:

Graphic River – and many other great artists – sell a wide variety of actions on Creative Market.

One thing to pay attention to with actions – in some cases you need to “do” something before running the action. In the example above, I had to create a new blank layer and name it “ga”, then use a round brush to brush where I wanted the effect to be (over the lighthouse). THEN hit the “run” button for the action. It’s not difficult, you just need to be sure to read the instructions for each action to be sure it runs properly.

Also – if you are an Elements user, be sure that the action says it will run on Elements. Some will and some won’t, depending on the steps required to complete it.

Another quick way to create a watercolor look is with this Watercolor Creator from DealJumbo. Here you just add your image to the file – no action needed! This deal expires in 10 DAYS – and it’s just $7. Save another 30% with the code PUP30 (expires 07/22/2019 23:59:59 CET – central europe time), so use it quick!

Also be sure to check out their FREEBIES page HERE!

Have a great week – and don’t forget to watch for the Topaz News this week (due to release on Thursday). I’ll be traveling to Michigan this week for the SWMCCC Conference, but I’ll get the info out to you! Next Sunday’s blog post may be delayed a day or two as I won’t be back home till late Monday.

July 14 – Sunday Sampler

Just back from the 74th Annual NECCC (New England Camera Club Council) Conference! Always a busy weekend full of learning, friendship and exhaustion!! My brain is on overload, so this week’s Sampler is a little “short”!

This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of “old” things – a stacked stone wall, wicker basket, and old barn board. Enjoy!

FREEBIE! High Resolution Photoshop Splatter Brushes.

And this week I have an exclusive coupon code from Pixelo just for my readers! They have a new bundle, the “Ultimate Photoshop Add-Ons Bundle” with 72 Artistic Photoshop Scripts (actions).

It has a value of $195 – regular bundle price is $29 – SAVE 25% with the code meredith25 at checkout!

This bundle is only available for two weeks, so don’t miss out! CLICK HERE to check it out! See the photo below for some of the effects.

What’s included in this bundle?
– 60 Pencil and Mood Effects for Photoshop;
– 12 Artistic Color Caricature & Rough Drawings Photoshop Scripts;
– Sketches and Moods Styles;
– Pencil and Illustrate Styles;
– Commercial license;

Features & Tech Specs for 12 Caricature Photoshop Scripts
– Applicable to Photoshop (versions: CS5 through Creative Cloud 2019) and Adobe Elements (versions: Versions 13 and 14)
– Operating systems: Mac OS X and Windows
– Can be used with different image types
– Compatible with Mac OS and Windows

Grab your special deal HERE!