Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there! Enjoy your day.
This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of textures from Buffalo, NY! An old window that I did a Topaz technique on, plus some cool old brick and stucco walls. Enjoy!
Thank you to all who voted on my new logo design. It was very close between two of them (the ones that were my choices too!).
And the winner is #6! While I really liked the script font of the other one too, I thought this one was more of a “casual” script and less frilly! The peacock feather ties in the logo with the Peacock Studio (no the peacock is not going away!).
I will begin using this soon – I’m creating a vector version – and will be using with the new website design as well. Thanks for your input!
This coming week I will be teaching at the Photographic Society of Chattanooga (“Alternative Visual Artistry: Topaz Plug-Ins & Textures”) on Thursday evening, and then also doing a half-day hands-on workshop on “Topaz” next Saturday, June 22nd. There are a couple spots available for the workshop if you’re in the area! You can sign up on my website HERE.
In July I will head to Michigan for the SWMCCC (Southwestern Michigan Council of Camera Clubs) Weekend of Photography & Digital Imaging. I will be doing two seminars: “HDR – the Natural Look” and “Creativity with Topaz & Textures”. It’s a very fun weekend with many speakers, sessions, hands-on photo-ops and more. Check it out at: SWMCCC.org
Design Cuts has released another fabulous new font bundle – “The Eclectic Font Collection”. I had a chance to play around with it this week, and I created this word art with the beautiful script font included:
The bundle includes all of the following font families:
Available now for just $29! CLICK HERE to check out all the details!
AND…If you’re like me and just can’t get enough fonts, Pixelo also has a new bundle – “Fontastic Bundle” with 99 fonts for $29! CLICK HERE to check it all out!
There won’t be a Sunday Sampler next Sunday – I’ll catch up on Monday or Tuesday when I get back from Chattanooga! But…there may be another post this week on some other news…Stay tuned!
Our Tennessee journey continues! Purchasing 2nd piece of property attached to the first for a total of 2.1 acres! Put a deposit on a modular yesterday – great deal on one that someone ordered with lots of upgrades then didn’t like the outside color! Good for us! Will be heading back down in a couple weeks on the way to Chattanooga where I will be presenting on Thursday, June 20th at the Photographic Society of Chattanooga. On Saturday the 22nd I will then do a half-day hands-on workshop for them on Topaz. Just a few spots left if you are in the area!
Some soft floral bokeh images are this week’s Sunday Sampler. I didn’t blur these TOO much – you can use a Gaussian Blur to soften them even more. Great for replacing the background behind a nice flower shot!
Here’s how I used one of these in a quick edit. I had this rose shot with a fairly plain green background (which isn’t a bad thing, but I want to show you how to use the bokeh backgrounds!).
I selected the rose and feathered the edges 3 pixels. Delete the old background. Save the rose with the transparent background as a PNG file.
Open Floral Bokeh 3 and drag the rose into the background (just as you would drag in a texture). I used Neutral Density gradients to darken the background, and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment to make the flowers a little more pink. I also used a Layer Style to add a slight drop shadow to the rose (very subtle). Here’s the final screen shot:
And the final image:
Needs a stem of some type so that it doesn’t look like it’s floating on the background, but you get the idea!
Survey – New Logo Design!
I am beginning an update of the Meredith Images website and decided it was time for a new logo to tie in with the “Peacock” theme. I’ve come up with a few versions – I need you to vote for your favorite!
Here are the versions numbered. The link to vote is at the end of this article! Thanks for your feedback!
Happy June! May was such a busy month that it totally flew by! The good news is that we’ve purchased property in Tennessee – 1.3 acres of heaven! Now the real fun of purging, packing, etc. We’ll be putting a modular home on the land – plus a workshop/studio for the Peacock Studio! Hopefully move by Fall.
This week’s Sunday Sampler is “bricks”! An original image plus three variations created in Smart Photo Editor. Enjoy!
Welcome to “Inside the Peacock Studio”! In this column (once or twice a month), I will show you the “before” and “after” of an image and explain how I got to the final result. These demos will be processed with some of my own textures from groups that are available in the Peacock Studio online store. There will be a sale on the group(s) used for the upcoming week.
For this first column, I am using an image I took a few weeks ago in my kitchen with some lilacs from our yard.
I started with a trifold background (the kind that kids use for class projects). I put the cup on top of a piece of wood-looking scrapbook paper, and sat that on top of some old books to raise it up and make it easier to shoot. You can see in this original below, that the wood paper curved down slightly – I fixed that in Photoshop.
Before fixing the “floor”, I cropped my image. Then I made a selection of the right hand “board” with the Polygonal Lasso Tool. Control + J duplicated that selection to a separate layer where I could rotate it slightly to make the floor appear straight.
I then cloned out the leaf design showing beneath the cup handle. Then I started adding textures – 4 textures and a border.
First texture is from the Bokeh 2 Collection > Pale Tan. Used at Soft Light blending mode and 50% opacity. This texture brightened up the lilacs and made the overall lighting/color more uniform.
The second texture is also from the Bokeh 2 Collection > Blue-Gray. Used at Multiply Blending mode and 100% opacity. I only wanted this texture on the background and not the lilacs or cup, so I used a layer mask.
Our next texture is from the Watercolor Collection – Nature’s Pastels > Lilacs in Bloom (figured the name made sense!). Blending Mode Soft Light at 67% opacity.
Our fourth texture is from the Enchanted Collection – Tans & Vignettes 2 > Peacock Blend > Bygone Dreams. I also wanted to mask this texture from the lilacs and cup/saucer. Here’s an easy way to copy a layer mask so you don’t have to create a new one.
Click on the layer mask from the Bokeh Blue-Gray layer — IMPORTANTE: Make sure you click the actual mask icon so it is highlighted. RIGHT click on the layer mask and choose > Add Mask to Selection. You will see the “marching ants” appear.
Now select the layer of the new texture and click on the Add Layer Mask Icon (the square with a circle in the middle). The new mask will be applied.
I changed the Blending mode of this layer to Multiply and opacity to 88%. Because I reduced the opacity of this layer, you will see the mask is now more grey than solid black:
For the last step I “burned in” the edges a bit more. I selected a Soft Round Brush around 175 px at 25% opacity and darkened the edges a bit. It’s very subtle, but helped to direct the viewer’s eye to the subject.
You can save 33% on the collections used in this project – reg. $6, on Sale for just $4! Bokeh 2 Watercolor Nature’s Pastels Enchanted Collection Tans & Vignettes 2 until Midnight EDT Sat., June 8th No coupon code needed!
The folks at DESIGN CUTS have a great new texture bundle for you! The “Totally Vibrant Textures & Patterns Bundle”! Value $4082 for just $29! I just downloaded all of the goodies yesterday – can’t wait to try some out! This bundle is only available for the next 8 days, so don’t wait! It comes with their full personal & commercial license. CHECK IT OUT HERE!
Our 3rd Creative Photography Conference is in the books! What a great weekend of inspiration, creativity, learning, friends, food and fun! Here are a couple of comments from our attendees:
“The Conference was “Over The Top Good”! You two (and helpers) made it the Best. Met many fine people, learned from Best In The Business, Great Meals & Fantastic Discounts… (Hunts came through for me)…..Best To You Both for doing so much for so many.” ~ P.M.
“Thank you, it was a wonderful workshop, well organized, great lecturers and photographers. I learned a lot and was inspired by the Creative theme. Being there with like minded folks was so much fun.” ~ E.S.
“Just wanted to say thank you for a great conference! I really enjoyed the Friday workshop and all of the presenters. Having known nothing about textures, I finally have a good starting point after your class.” ~ K.C.
Due to the Conference last weekend and a trip to TN this coming weekend (yes, we finally found some property that we are purchasing!!), I’m doing a combined blog post with six textures!
This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of textures from hotel rooms!! Five of them were taken this past weekend at the Southbridge during our Conference stay. The “Geometric” is the lampshade; “Marble Simplified” is the bathroom counter; “Rug Geometric B&W” is the rug; “Swirls with Spatter” is the drapery; and “Wallpaper leaf print B&W” is the wallpaper in the bathroom!! The “Abstract Circle” was modified from a framed print in another hotel. Textures are EVERYWHERE!! Enjoy!
The new “Inside the Peacock Studio” column will begin soon (after I’m done with Conference craziness!). Watch for tutorials/videos on “how I did it”! The teacups & lilacs image above will be one I will be demonstrating.
Happy Cinco de Mayo! If the rain would ever stop it might actually feel like Spring! Pretty flowers are in bloom, however. Hope you have time to get out and do some photography!
Last weekend I was teaching at the CanAm Photo Expo in Buffalo. While we were driving to Buffalo the Wed. before, an inspection was being done on a house we were hoping to purchase in TN. Unfortunately, there were some structural issues and we decided not to proceed.
So…we decided to make a bonsai run to TN when we left Buffalo on Sunday! We got to Charleston, WV Sunday night. Then drove to Greeneville, TN on Monday morning arriving just before noon to meet up with our realtor. Spent about 3 hours looking at 3 properties, then hit the road to start home! Stayed in VA and got home early afternoon Tuesday! LOTS of driving for sure! We thought we had a property and then found out they don’t have access to high-speed internet — which, of course, is critical for me!
Sigh…the search continues!
Since there wasn’t a blog post or Sunday Sampler last week, this week we have six textures included – various types of surfaces I’ve been photographing over the past few weeks. Enjoy!
To all those who completed my survey! The results were clear on topics that you want covered – Topaz was a resounding first, with Textures & Overlays a close second. Photoshop techniques – compositing, layers & masks and using brushes were all pretty much tied for third.
The types of photography that you want to learn more about – Flowers/Gardens and Landscape/Nature were almost tied for first; Still Lifes and Abandoned Places 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The majority chose extended videos (10-30 minutes) as the preferred format, with live webinars a close 2nd.
So…stay tuned for some upcoming tutorials! I’ve decided to add a new column to the blog – “How I Did That” (or similar name) – starting in a week or two. I’ll take an image I’ve posted on social media and give you the details of how I did it!
I am also planning some upcoming videos, so you’ve all helped with the direction that those will take.
CLICK HERE to check out this great deal. Expires in 8 days!
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4. And from my friends at ThinkTank/MindShift, a couple of new products.
The BackLight Elite 45L joins the BackLight line up as a larger backpack for those longer hikes into the back country.
Get deeper into the backcountry with the BackLight® Elite 45L backpack. 45 liters of available space provides ample room for both camera gear and adventure equipment, such as a length of rope, ice axe, snowboard/skis, laptop, tablet, and of course, a tripod.
Weather-resistant zippers and materials protect your gear when trekking in the elements. And like the other BackLight backpacks, rear-panel access adds security when traveling since your camera gear is protected behind your back.
Storm proof construction with YKK® AquaGuard® zippers and waterproof/tearproof Sailcloth
Superior Fit: Robust lumbar padding, hip-hugging waist belt, quick-dry back panel, and foam ridges for increased ventilation
Back and top panel access to all of your camera gear, allowing you to work out of your bag without getting your harness dirty or wet
CLICK HERE to check out this bag and the full line of BackLight products.
And for a smaller bag, the Stash Master 13L. A travel cube that enables you to expand the photo gear capacity of any large backpack/roller/duffel, or increase personal gear space in the MindShift® Backlight Elite 45L for multi-day excursions.
Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all those who celebrate. Today is also our 35th wedding anniversary! Spring is finally springing here in southern CT – the leaves are popping open on the trees and some of the flowering trees are blooming. Lots of rain this past week, so everything has that pretty bright green color!
In honor of Spring and Easter, this week’s Sunday Sampler consists of five pretty pastel textures for you. It started with the Pink-Blue Concrete and then I started modifying from there with Topaz and Smart Photo Editor. Enjoy!
This week, Topaz Labs introduced their newest AI product, DeNoise AI. They have also now discontinued selling AI Clear as a Studio Pro Adjustment. At first I was very confused as to why they would get rid of AI Clear! It was my favorite adjustment and I’ve been using it on EVERY image at the beginning of my processing. However, after reading an article by Dr. Partha Acharjee, I now understand the why, and what is better about DeNoise AI. CLICK HERE for “The Story Behind DeNoise AI.” Another advantage of DeNoise AI is that it is not just a Studio Adjustment – you can access it as a stand-alone or as a plug-in.
If you own the old DeNoise or AI Clear, you should have received an email from Topaz Labs offering you a free copy of DeNoise AI. If you did not receive that email, contact Topaz by opening a help ticket and they will get you hooked up!
If you wish to purchase DeNoise AI, it is on sale until May 3rd for $59.99 (reg. $79.99). Click HERE to go to the store page. You can try it first with a 30-day trial.
If you do not own any of the four AI products, you can purchase a bundle of DeNoise AI, Sharpen AI, Gigapixel AI and JPEG to RAW for $199.99 (reg. $359.96). This sale also ends May 3rd. Click HERE to go to the bundle offer.
And…if you have questions about any of the AI products, there is a helpful Q&A page HERE! This page also gives you the system requirements for the powerful AI products.
Here is an image I processed with DeNoise AI. There is a LOT of noise in this shadowy image at Longwood Gardens:
Topaz DeNoise AI did a great job in getting rid of noise as well as sharpening the image:
Thank you to all those who already took my brief survey! If you haven’t yet, I would greatly appreciate 2 minutes of your time (it’s just 3 questions)! I’m looking for input as to what you would like to see in upcoming tutorials – and the formats preferred. Click HERE FOR SURVEY. Thanks!
LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY!
Don’t miss out on the last New England Conference! The 3rd Creative Photography Conference, May 18-19, 2019 at the Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center, Southbridge, MA.
SALE! Save 25% on any bundle over on Pixelo – EXPIRES 4/23, so don’t wait! CLICK HERE, then use the code EASTER25 at checkout!
I’m not sure if I will get a blog post out on Sunday next weekend – I’ll be teaching at the CanAm Photo Expo Friday-Sunday and getting home very late Sunday night. If there’s lots of news to share, I’ll post on Monday, otherwise, I’ll include more info in the following week’s post. Enjoy!
When we’re all “Irish for a Day”! Enjoy the festivities!
For this week’s Sunday Sampler, I took a colorful sunset reflected in water and created three more versions that will make great overlay/textures for your photos. And remember, you can change up the colors or even use as B&W to just get the effect of the texture. Enjoy!
3 NEW TEXTURE SETS!
I JUST added 3 new texture sets to the Peacock Studio store. Bokeh 2, Galaxies 2, and Grunge 1. These 3 are on sale for 25% off for one week only, till next Sunday 3/24 (no code needed).
These will make great backgrounds or texture overlays to your photos, for scrapbooking or other digital creations.
Check them out on our website HERE! (Just click on the Textures group)
And don’t forget – the “pre-sale” of “Working with Textures & Overlays: Turn Ho-Hum into a Work of Art – Book 2” ends tonight at midnight EDT. Save $5 with the code preorder5. And if you still don’t have Book 1, you can also save $5 on that one with the code firstbook5 (you can use both of these codes at checkout).
If you order the electronic version of book 2 I will send the link by return email. If you order the DVD, those will be shipping right around the end of March (they are in production now).
Think Tank Photo’s New “Vision” Shoulder Bag Series Blends Form with Function
Great Photography Begins with a Vision. The ability to visualize a picture before you release the shutter is essential to getting that perfect shot. With the Vision Shoulder Bag Series, you can get all the right gear to the right place, so you can turn your vision into a great photo. Sized for professional lenses, the Vision Shoulder Bag Series is designed not only for capacity but also for security. With its zippered top closure, your gear will stay safe and in place. This Internal zippered flap also provides a secure closure for additional weather and theft protection, and tucks away when not in use. The Vision series fits wide variety of DSLR and Mirrorless camera kits in a customizable padded divider system, providing ample room for pro-sized lenses and hoods. The shoulder bags also feature dedicated pockets for smartphones, 10-inch tablets, and laptops up to 15 inches (Vision 10 = 10” tablet only, Vision 13 = 10” tablet + 13” laptop, Vision 15 = 10” tablet + 15” laptop). All three shoulder bags offer tripod attachment straps, which attach to web loops on the bottom of the bag. A luggage handle pass-through and reinforced top grab handle make the Vision a versatile traveling companion when attached to your roller. Other standout features include a comfortable shoulder strap, waterproof tarpaulin bottom, expandable water bottle pocket and a rain cover. Constructed with durable yet stylish weather-resistant materials, the Vision offers access, security, and the quality you’ve come to expect from Think Tank. “Great photography begins with a vision,” said Doug Murdoch, Think Tank Photo’s President and lead designer. “The Vision shoulder bag series is designed to fit DSLR and Mirrorless camera gear with pro-sized lenses and hoods, making an ideal carry solution for professional and aspiring photographers alike.”
GEAR CAPACITY Vision 10: Fits one standard size body with a wide or short zoom plus 1–2 small extra lens, 10” tablet. Fits 24–70mm f/2.8 detached. OR fits a Mirrorless kit with 3-4 lenses including the 50-140mm Vision 13: Fits one standard size body with a 24–70mm attached + 1–3 extra lenses, and a 10” tablet. Accommodates 70–200 detached. Vision 15: Fits one standard size body with a 24–70mm attached, 2–4 extra lenses, flash, a 10” tablet and a 15” laptop. Accommodates 70–200mm detached.
Click Here to visit ThinkTank’s website for all the details!
Don’t Miss Out!
May 18-19, 2019 at the Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center, Southbridge, MA
The clock is ticking! This is our last New England Conference! And our hotel room block is only guaranteed until mid-April – the Brimfield Antiques Weekend is the same weekend as our event this year and the hotel will sell out!
Read the bios and see examples of wonderful photographs by our talented line-up of speakers over on our website.
Special offer! I gave each speaker a discount code to use on social media and at other events they teach at. MY code is Meredith25 – save $25 on registration. This code expires March 31st and will not be extended! Take advantage to save some $$.
FREEBIE ALERT! I get an occasional newsletter from Designer Candies where they share some cool Freebies! This week’s newsletter included: “Free Seamless Grass Patters and Textures”. Also available are Concrete Textures and Animal Pattern Textures. Check the website for lots of other goodies.
Happy Sunday & Daytona 500 Day if you like auto racing as we do! Looks like some Winter weather finally moving into our area this week. In Southern CT we’ve been pretty lucky so far. Most storms were rain or a mixture. Not much snow (which is fine by me!). Stay safe out there.
This week’s Sunday Sampler is some nice bokeh images of morning dew on grasses. I took these a couple of years ago when I was in Florida teaching at the Spacecoast Birding Festival. These were taken near this Great Blue Heron who was fishing for his breakfast! There were some razor sharp teeth on the alligator gar fish he caught! Taken hand-held with my Canon 70D and Sigma 150-500 at just over 400mm. 800 ISO helped as did Topaz AI Clear!
Organizing Design Assets
A comment and question was posted on last week’s blog about using all of the fabulous resources that are available in the bundles that I mention here. Mainly, how to utilize them, and even more importantly, how to organize and find all of the items! It’s definitely something I’ve been trying to work on.
I’ve started some new files by category for all of the Illustrations-Vector Art. These are mostly items I have downloaded from various web sources. This is what I’ve come up with:
I still have many “Zip” files to open up and save in appropriate folders. I add folders as needed.
My textures folder needs some work! Right now I have a main Textures & Backgrounds folder, then some are by the company purchased from (like Design Cuts, 2 Lil Owls, French Kiss, etc.). Other miscellaneous textures are filed by style (Bokeh, Chalboard, Concrete, Metal, Grain, etc.) like this:
My biggest issue right now is I’m not sure if I want to keep, say, Design Cuts all in that folder, or separate the items into easier-to-find folders! I may keep the original folders and copy items into other folders by subject. It is a hugely time consuming project since I have so many assets and have not kept up with sorting as I purchase more. So if you are in the same boat, you’re not alone! It will be an ongoing project for sure.
I’ve been invited to speak at several conferences around the U.S. this year. First up is the CanAm Photo Expo in Buffalo, NY, April 26-28. The event will be held at the Buffalo Grand Hotel, which is completing renovations and will be a beautiful new facility.
They are keeping me very busy that weekend. I will be doing two sessions on “HDR-The Natural Look”, two sessions of “Creativity with Topaz & Textures” plus a Topaz lecture in the Macro Lab on Friday afternoon as well as some hands-on photo ops in the Macro Lab on Sunday morning. Whew!
May 18-19, 2019 at the Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center Southbridge, MA
Join us for the 3rd Creative Photography Conference! We have EIGHT wonderful speakers covering a variety of creative topics:
Anne Belmont (Chicago) – Lensbaby Specialist John Barclay (PA) – “Creativity with Topaz” & “Dream, Believe, Create” Mark Bowie (MA) – “Envision: The Art of Seeing Creatively” & “Multiple Exposures for Maximum Landscapes” Betty Wiley (Cape Cod) – “Get Creative with LR”, “Creative PS” & “Luminar” Hazel Meredith (CT) – “Textures: Turn Ho-Hum Into a Work of Art” & “Creating Your Own Textures in PS with Brushes featuring Grut Brushes” Jane Driscoll (CT) – “iPhoneography + Apps” & “iColorama” Loretta Paul-Goldin (CT) – “Create Your Own Textures with Alcohol Inks” Jan Doyle (CT) – “Creative Projects with Your Photos” & “Get Your Name Out – Free Publicity with YouTube”
ADDED FOR 2019…
Friday – 2 Pre-Conference Hands-On Workshops Join either John Barclay or myself for an afternoon of hands-on learning. Bring your laptop (or follow along if you prefer) and work along with John (Topaz) or me (Textures). We will provide images so we can work together. These sessions are limited 24 people each. $69 for either session. (You must be registered for the Conference to attend these sessions.)
Friday & Saturday Nights – Optional Dinner Buffet Southbridge is a small town – why wait somewhere for dinner? Join our speakers and other attendees for an expansive dinner buffet. Sit, relax and chat a while! $20
While our Early Bird pricing was the best deal for our Conference – and we did say there would be no further discounts – we added a special code for students and friends of each of our speakers (including me). Save $25 on your registration with the code meredith25. This code expires on March 31st and will be your last chance to save $$ on registration.
I still have some spots available for the upcoming new Hands-On Workshops that begin in March on Sunday afternoons. They will be held at a local spot here in Stratford and limited to a maximum of 6 people.
They will feature training on Photoshop, PS Elements, Lightroom, Topaz, Textures and possibly more. There will be PS & Elements sessions for Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced levels (each of these is a separate subject/class). Watch for a schedule to be posted in next week’s blog!
And, if you’re not in CT, remember I have online training available as well! We screen share and can work on any subject you wish – Photoshop; Elements; Topaz; layers/masks; whatever you need help with! You can do a couple of hours or if a package of 10 hours. Email me for more info or go to my website to sign up: https://www.meredithimages.com/product-category/tutoring-sessions/
I’m always on the lookout for freebies and great deals to share with my readers. Here’s what I’ve found this week: