April 21 – Sunday Sampler

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:

BEFORE

Topaz DeNoise AI did a great job in getting rid of noise as well as sharpening the image:

AFTER

Opinions Please!

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.

CLICK HERE for all the details, speaker info, and schedule!

A great article by Toad Hollow Photography over on Light Stalking – “31 Photography Links to get you Inspired”

From the folks at Design Cuts, “The Essential, Versatile Font Collection” for just $29 (exp. 4/28).

  • 16 versatile and professional font families (featuring a total of 253 individual fonts), perfect for adding exceptional typography to your design work.
  • Many fonts include extra weights, styles and stylistic alternates.
  • Many fonts also include bonus/extras packs, containing additional creative resources.
  • Fonts are organised into carefully labelled folders, including desktop and web versions for all fonts.

CLICK HERE for all the details!

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!

March 17 – Sunday Sampler

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.

https://www.meredithimages.com/creative-photography-conference/

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 $$.

An interesting and helpful article over on Picture Correct: “Polarizing Filters: What They Are and When They Can Be Used in Photography”

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.

And over on Media Loot, “21 PSD Blackboard and Effects” (scroll through – some are for purchase and some are free).

And, one more Freebie! From Web Design Dev, “20 Free High Quality Brush Sets”.

Feb. 17 – Sunday Sampler

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.

Upcoming Event

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!

They have various options for registration – you can check the details on their website at: https://www.canamexpo.com/

I mentioned above about filing your design assets. Here’s another big bundle that you’ll need to file!

From PIXELO, the Mighty Design Bundle, 4900+ Design Resources! Value $2521 if purchased individually, just $39 for the bundle!

What’s included in this bundle?
* 51 font families with 87 unique fonts
* 67 mind-blowing Photoshop actions;
* 19 Photoshop mockups; 9 Photoshop tutorials;
* 500 premium backgrounds;
* 2987 unique vectors; 70 beautiful text styles;
* 512 textures; 681 Photoshop brushes;
* Commercial License;
* Lifetime download access;
* Unlimited and quick response.

Check out the details of all the cool products included HERE on the website.

And from Light Stalking, “Our 113 Most Useful Links for Photographers”

They have a really good list of all kinds of topics. Tutorials, Magazines, eBooks, Software, Buying Gear Online, Social Media sites to follow, and much, much more.

Have a great week!

Feb. 10 – Sunday Sampler

Happy Sunday!

This week’s Sunday Sampler is crumpled paper that has a subtle pattern on it. There’s the original and three versions – one creates a nice background bokeh, one is grungy and one is painterly with a light green color. Enjoy! And remember to share your creations in our Facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/texturesturnhohumintoaworkofart/

Don’t Miss Out! Last New England Conference!

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

Special Offer! 

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.

GO TO OUR WEBSITE TO SIGN UP!
https://www.meredithimages.com/creative-photography-conference/

Workshop Sign-Ups Continue

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:

The “original” Bundle Company – Design Cuts – has some great things going on! Their new offering is “The Designer’s Textures & Patterns Collection” – value $2436 – for JUST $29! Check it out below:

CLICK HERE to grab this great deal (Expires in 8 days)!

Design Cuts also has some great tutorials on their site like this – “How to Demystify the Photoshop Mixer Brush”. Check the “Learn” tab for lots more!

And if you work with Procreate on an iPad, they also have an all-new section with Procreate products! CLICK HERE!

Note: Some links above contain affiliate links. Thanks!

Have a great week!

Jan. 27 – Sunday Sampler

Happy Sunday! The first month of 2019 is almost over! Less than two months to Spring – Yippee!

This week’s Sunday Sampler will show you how something so “ordinary” can become a texture! Last year we did a photo shoot at an abandoned brewery. Near the end of the day I found this pile of broken plastic pieces, and of course, I photographed it! I took the image into Topaz Studio and created several versions of the image which brought out amazing color! Shots 3a and 3b are the same except that for 3b I applied a layer of white over the image and lowered the opacity to give it a more pastel look. Remember, you can always create new textures from any image by applying various filters and effects – have fun!

On Thursday Topaz released an update to A.I. Gigapixel, improving an already amazing piece of software.

“With the latest update to A.I.Gigapixel™, the first and only intelligent image resizer for your computer just became even better. The latest update includes a brand new interface, a redesigned user experience, and many under-the-hood improvements!

“Your lives are fast-paced and busier than ever, so there’s never been a better time to get image enlargements handled for good. Let A.I. Gigapixel help you save time while giving you more detail in your images for a sharper and more impressive result.”

If you haven’t yet purchased, you can go to the store HERE and grab it for $99.99. Use my code MeredithImages at checkout and SAVE 15%, making it just $85! If you already own AI Gigapixel, download the update by logging in to your account and going directly to the downloads page.

Other Topaz News!

Shhh….I can’t reveal it yet, but stay tuned for a special blog post Monday afternoon revealing a NEW PRODUCT!

Do You Need a Logo?

Some of you may know that my previous background was as a graphic designer and typesetter (in the pre-desktop days). Since I am now working Meredith Images as my full-time job, I’ve started doing some designing again. I recently completed a logo for a gal I met at the travel writer’s workshop I attended in September. She needed a logo for her upcoming website and blog – The Seasonsed Sojourner. Check it out:

I am taking on new jobs, so if you need a logo designed for your photography biz – or any other business venture – I’d be happy to work with you! I have some simple templates for watermark signatures or can create a new look from scratch as I did with the above. Email me and we can figure out the best look for your business!

And my travel blog…

I’ve started my travel writing blog as well – The Traveling Peacock! Follow Pete the Peacock and me as we travel and review places to visit, eat and rest your tired bones! Yesterday we visited a new-to-us restaurant that I reviewed. Check it out HERE – and sign up for our blog updates! And yes, I also designed this logo to tie in with my Peacock Studio theme and logo.

Freebies! Pixelo is one of my affiliate companies that offers some great deals – but they also have some Freebies available! Click HERE to check them out – fonts, templates, text effects and more!

And I found some cool “60-Second Photoshop Tutorials” as well as “99 Best Advanced Photoshop Tutorials” over on TutsPlus.

Have a great afternoon – don’t forget to watch for a special blog post tomorrow on the new Topaz product!

Jan. 20 – Sunday Sampler

Happy Winter Sunday from New England! Looks like we’ve lucked out with very little snow – now pouring rain – but the really messy part will be as the temperatures drop today and everything turns to ice! Ugh! Just keep reminding myself only 60 days till Spring!

This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of rock textures from the caverns of Ruby Falls in Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, TN. Remember, you can always modify the textures by using filters (Gaussian blur or others); Topaz products (Impression, Simplify, etc.), or if you have Smart Photo Editor you can create endless versions. Enjoy!

Today I’ll answer a few more questions from my webinar on Jan. 8th.

This first Q/A actually answers two different questions.

Q1: What is the difference between impression on the left and that of the right?

Q2: Why does my Impression panel (on the left) not show all the groups of presets?

A: Impression on the “right panel” – found under the ADJUSTMENT button – gives you the ability to use Impression the same way, but without all of the presets. You can select the stroke, settings, colors, etc. See screen shot below:

The full Impression plug-in is found on the left panel. Click the Icon at the top left (A) to see all of the plug-ins you have installed. It will look like this:

If you just click on the word Impression (B), you will see ALL of the Impression presets appear. However, if you first click the arrow (C in photo below), you will get the categories of presets like this (answer to Q2):

This question was asked on Facebook. Q: How did you assemble the 4 leaves in Photoshop to be in one image?

The composite I showed during the webinar.

A: This composite was done in Photoshop after the 4 versions of the leaves were created.

STEP 1: First we need to create a new blank file in Photoshop, so we need to know the size of one of the leaf images (6″ wide x 5.387″ high) – we need our new file to be a little more than twice the width and twice the height. So I made the new layer 28″ x 30″ with a white background.

File > New > Set size to 30″ wide, 28″ high, 300 dpi, background white.

Now we will bring in our 4 leaf images. Open all 4 files into Photoshop. We will add them to the blank file just as if we were dragging in a texture. Using the Move Tool, pull down on the tab of the leaf image so that you can see it as well as the blank image (see below). Click anywhere on the leaf image, hold down the mouse button, and “drag” the leaf over the white blank layer.

Once the leaf is over the white background, you can close the actual leaf file as we won’t need it anymore. Now still on the Move Tool, you can move the leaf into the position desired over the white layer, like this:

You will see that the leaf is a separate layer above the background.

Do the same process for the other 3 leaves, so you have this:

Now we’ll create our background. I didn’t want white for the background, so I selected one of my watercolor textures, Tan 3 (from the textures available in the Peacock Studio store on my website). I brought it in the same way we did with the leaves – open the file and drag it into the leaf composite. We want the texture layer above the white background and below the leaves, so you can drag the layer into position in the layers panel (the alternate way is to click on the white background layer before dragging the texture in, then it will automatically be above the white layer).

Hit Control + T to get the “handles” on the texture and drag it to cover the white background.

Now we’ll add the drop shadows to give the image some depth. To add “layer styles” or effects, double-click in the blank area of the top leaf layer (somewhere around the red “X” below:

This will open the Layer Effects Dialog Box. You will want to select “Drop Shadow” by checking the box AND then click on that layer (see red x below) to get the controls for Drop Shadows:

I used settings of Normal for blending mode, black as the color, Opacity 25%, Angle of light 135 degrees, Distance 36, Spread 49, Size 65.

We need to apply these settings to each of the 4 leaf layers. Instead of needing to repeat this process, you can right-click on the layer, select Copy Layer Style, then click on the other 3 layers, right-click and Paste Layer Style!

Your image is now complete. If you wish to trim any excess background to even it out, you can crop.

Always save a file like this as either a TIFF or PSD to retain the layers, then you can save as a jpg if desired.

If you are in the Long Island, NY, area and want to see a fabulous program, plan on attending the presentation by Canon Explorer of Light, Ken Sklute, Feb. 11th 5-9 p.m. in Bellmore, NY. Click here for details. I’ve seen this show and Ken is an amazing photographer and a very entertaining presenter!

If you’d like to add to your brush library, click HERE to go to InspirationFeed.com for TONS of free brush sets!

And for some free textures and PS actions, head over to the CoffeeshopBlog (they also have items for sale).

I have some students on board, but have a few slots available! Contact me for more info if you’d like to learn specific post-processing programs!

Whew, that was a long blog this week! Hope you enjoyed the tutorials!

Jan. 13 – Sunday Sampler

This week’s Sunday Sampler are some “grassy” shots to make us thing of Spring! The original image was taken in Savannah, GA, as we walked around Fort Pulaski. I suppose it could have been taken anywhere, but this was where I happened to take this shot! I modified it three ways in Topaz Impression. These will make great backdrops to other images. Enjoy!

Thank you to everyone who watched my Topaz webinar on Tuesday. I appreciate the kind words through email and Facebook. If you missed the webinar, the recording is posted on the Topaz YouTube channel HERE. You can also find it on the TopazLabs.com site under the “Learn” tab > Webinars. Just scroll down to the recordings.

And, if you’d like my notes from the webinar PLUS all the images I used, PLUS some bonus textures, you can find them for just $5 in the Peacock Studio store HERE.

Topaz also has a 20% discount code for the webinar – hazelweb14 – good until midnight tomorrow, Monday, on anything in the Topaz store. I also have a code on my eBooks and textures (also in the Peacock Studio) for 25% off until midnight Tuesday 1/15 EST.

We always have so many questions during a webinar that we can’t get to answer all of them, so I’ll be answering some here in the “Topaz Corner” over the next few weeks. If you have a question on Topaz that you’d like answered, email me at Hazel@MeredithImages.com and I will try to include it.

Q: In several of my projects I used a border texture rather than a regular vignette and someone asked why.

A: It’s truly a matter of personal preference, however, I often use the borders instead of a vignette if I want a more subtle edge-darkening. The borders also tend to be “irregular” shaped, and I often like that look.

Q: Do you always work in jpg when editing in Topaz?

A: No, usually I’m importing a RAW or tiff file. I use jpgs for the webinars because they are smaller and process faster.

Q: Where can I find more of Hazel’s work with tutorials and how long has she been working with layers and textures and creating such amazing works?

A: Thank you for your kind words! I’ve been working with textures and such for about 9 years. I’m not positive how I really started – I’m sure I saw something online or at a camera club and just started playing around! You can find more of my images on my website http://www.MeredithImages.com or on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MeredithImages/

I’ll be answering a few more questions next week.

A few items I found this week:

From Light Stalking, “The Coolest Photography Links of the Week”.

Design Cuts has a FABULOUS Vintage Bundle (I’m going to be getting this one myself)! $1780 worth of delicious vintage goodies for just $29! Check it out HERE! Retro fonts, beautifully preserved illustrations, vintage papers, effects, textures and so much more!

Ending with some sad news…

Some of you may know Joe LeFevre, a fabulous photographer, gifted teacher and gentle, sweet man, who taught at many camera clubs and conferences around the country. Sadly, Joe passed away this week. He will be missed by so many in our photographic circle. Godspeed, dear Joe.

The Adirondack Photography Institute, where he taught many workshops, posted this on Facebook yesterday.

It is with deep sorrow that we relay the news of API instructor Joe LeFevre’s passing, on Thursday, January 10th. Joe was a beloved and gifted photographer, consummate teacher, public speaker, and our great friend. He was a devoted family man and a man of great faith. We will miss him dearly. Joe is survived by his immediate family, wife Linda, sons Robert and David, and daughter Joanna. We offer them our continued love and prayers.

As a photographer, Joe was renowned for his compositional skills, and for readily incorporating cutting-edge digital technologies in his imagery. He had a special affinity for creating panoramas, and shooting time-lapse sequences and video. He created instructional DVD’s on numerous photographic topics and a DVD showcasing the Adirondacks.

Joe also cherished sharing his love and knowledge of nature photography through workshops. We know he felt blessed by the many friendships he made through them, and the wonderful experiences shared. To all those he touched, our sincere condolences. One aspect of his enduring legacy will be that he not only made us better photographers, but better people.

We love you Joe.

Jan. 6 – Sunday Sampler

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a joyous New Year! We had some quiet holiday time just the two of us at home. Nice to just relax a while. I made it to midnight on New Year’s Eve, but hubby did not! We got up early on the 31st and did a sunrise shoot with about 20 other photographers at the beach. It was a beautiful morning – great sunrise and not too cold either. Dave left to go off to work and I joined the group for breakfast. Good times!

For today’s Sunday Sampler I took the barn wood image from last week’s Sampler and ran it through some presets in Smart Photo Editor. This is a very cool little program (and inexpensive – just $29.95!). There are THOUSANDS of presets you can apply to your image, mostly contributed by users of the product. So everytime you log in there are new presets that get added to the library! I first saw this software at a seminar that macro photographer, Mike Moats did. He uses it all the time. Check it out at: https://www.smartphotoeditor.com

I’ve had several requests for private tutoring from those outside of my local area. However, I CAN tutor you ONLINE! We’ll use GoToMeeting and we can screen share so I can help you learn new techniques or assist with issues you may be having with software! Call or email me to discuss or if you’d like to review what you want to learn.

My next webinar is this Tuesday, January 8th at 5:00 Eastern time. Click HERE to sign up! I’ll be showing some various creative techniques using Studio, Texture Effects, Impression, and will do a short demo on AI Gigapixel and how I use it to enlarge my images. See you there!

Upcoming Seminars/Workshops

The new year starts a new schedule of seminars at camera clubs and conferences. If you’re in the area, join me at one of the following club seminars:

  • Feb. 13 – Milford Camera Club (CT) – “What’s New in Topaz”
  • March 5 – North Haven Camera Club (CT) – “Advanced Techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop.
  • April 1 – Greater Lynn Photographic Society (MA) – “Creativity with Textures”
  • April 12 – Westchester Photographic Society (NY) – “Topaz & Textures”
  • June 20 – Photographic Society of Chattanooga (TN) – “Topaz & Textures in Photoshop & Topaz Studio”

CONFERENCES:

  • April 26-28 – CanAm Photo Expo, Buffalo, NY – https://www.canamexpo.com/
  • And, of course, I will be a speaker at our Creative Photography Conference, Southbridge, MA, May 18-19. Join me and seven other talented speakers for a great weekend of creativity and learning! Details and sign-up on our website HERE.
  • July 26-28 – Southwestern Michigan Council of Camera Clubs Conference, Hope College, Holland, MI. https://www.swmccc.org/. They haven’t posted the 2019 info yet, but you can see what last year’s conference offered!
  • Oct. 19-20 – And speaking of Mike Moats, I’m pleased to say I will be one of the speakers for the 5th Macro Photo Conference, in Cleveland, OH. I was a speaker at the first conference in Seekonk, MA – it will be fun to visit a new location and meet some other speakers that I haven’t worked with before. There are seminars as well as lots of photo ops with all the speakers assisting. The conference is $199 and limited to 100 people. They always sell out early, so don’t delay signing up. Check it out HERE!

With the new year comes photo “challenges” – 365 days; 52 weeks, etc. While I don’t know that I will complete one myself, this article from the Photo Argus has a 52-week challenge with some great ideas and info even if you don’t do it weekly.

Photographing the moon can be tricky. Here’s a great article with helpful info from Light Stalking.

Have a great week!

Dec. 30 – Sunday Sampler

Goodbye 2018 – Hello 2019! Just one more day till we ring in the new year! Time sure does fly, doesn’t it? I have lots of plans for photography projects this coming year – the 2nd eBook is progressing (release by 4/1 or sooner); some online tutorials (written and videos); more textures, of course; and a few other projects I am contemplating! The Creative Photography Conference will be heading out to new locations – working on something for Fall of 2019. We’re planning on two conferences a year – one in Spring and one in the Fall.

This was taken along the Skyline Drive in VA in Spring of 2017. A thunderstorm had just passed by. I accented the shafts of sunlight with Studio Magic.

And, of course, you may know that we are planning a move this year to Tennessee near the Great Smoky Mountains! Still looking for our new place – I’m sure we’ll find it when the time is right!

This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of some textures taken from that same trip to Virginia. Rocks, rust and some old barn wood. Enjoy!

AND…I’ve just posted “Sunday Sampler Group 5” for sale in the Peacock Studio! This consists of all of the textures from the Sunday Samplers from Jan – June 2018. Every six months I group the textures and post in the store in case you’re new to the blog and/or missed them previously. There is always AT LEAST six months worth that you can scroll back through the old blog posts and download.

The Sunday Sampler Groups normally sell for $15 each, but I’m doing a SALE on ALL FIVE GROUPS till next Sunday for JUST $10 per group! Each group has at least 70 large textures (4500 px x 3000 px). These can be used for both personal and commercial work, but they cannot be shared, sold or redistributed in any way. CHECK OUT THE SALE HERE!

NOTE: Because these are such large files (300-600MB), I will send you a direct link after purchase. Thanks!

My next Topaz webinar will be Tuesday, January 8th at 5:00 pm Eastern time. Registration will go live later this week.

Join me for some new creative techniques in Topaz Studio, where I’ll use the Pro Adjustments, Impression and, of course, Topaz Texture Effects! I’ll give you some insight on my thought process and why I select the effects that I do, as well as how to modify presets to your taste and layer multiple presets.

Watch me take this simple leaf shot and create four versions (below) by layering presets in Topaz Studio and Texture Effects.

PIXELO has been having some great deals lately! This one expires in just 24 Hours (9 am Eastern time on Monday). THE CHRISTMAS & WINTER BUNDLE consists of:

  • 66 Ready Christmas Photo Overlays
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  • 180+ Abstract Snowflakes
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  • 120+ Christmas Light Leaks Photo Overlays
  • 110+ Christmas Sparks Photo Overlays
  • 100 Professional Lens Flare Overlays
  • 100 Fairy Light Overlays
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  • 80 Snowflake Photo Overlays
  • 77 Abstract Lines Photo Overlays
  • 60 Galaxy Stars Photo Overlays
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  • 50 Winter Frames
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  • 15 Fireworks Photo Overlays
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CLICK HERE TO GRAB IT NOW BEFORE IT EXPIRES – JUST $9

AND…check back every day this week for the 7 days of Sizzling Offers!

Here’s a good article on a project for a Winter day when you want to say inside…“How to Photograph Smoke” from PictureCorrect.com.

Dec. 23 – Sunday Sampler

Merry Christmas to my readers who are celebrating this week! This week’s Sunday Sampler will take us to warmer days with some patterns in the sand! We have the original plus two variations I created in Topaz Studio. Remember you can always change the colors with a hue/saturation adjustment or a color overlay (changing the blending mode too). Enjoy!

I created this digital card last night in Photoshop. The original image from Cades Cove (in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park) was taken a few years ago when we there in March – thus no leaves on the trees yet. But…there wasn’t snow on the ground either!

First I added the deer from another image taken in Cades Cove on a different day/trip, then I turned it into a Winter scene with Studio Magic II. I also used Studio Magic II to add the softly falling snow.

I used one of my own crop shapes to create the edges, then added a texture of mine behind it. 2 TIPS: If you want to lighten a texture in the background so that it’s more subtle, there are two ways you can do this (which one you use depends on the look you want and the texture itself). Method one: add a blank layer beneath the texture and fill it with white. Then you can lower the opacity of the texture layer and it will get lighter.

The second way is to apply a white (or colored) layer OVER the texture and lower the opacity of the color layer. In my image above I first tried the white layer under my texture, but didn’t really like the result (looked too pale). So I tried adding the white layer OVER the texture layer and lowered the opacity to 32% – bingo! I liked that look!

Here is the screen shot of the layers for this project and the details of all my steps below:

  1. I edited the original image.
  2. Added the deer and resized it to look realistic.
  3. Used Studio Magic II to create a Winter Scene in “Season Shifter”.
  4. At this point I thought the deer was too washed out from the Winter effect, so I duplicated the deer layer and brought it above the Winter Season layer. Lowered the opacity to 87% to blend it better.
  5. I’ll need a layer that contains the original, the deer and the Winter scene in one layer. I could flatten my image at this point OR what I did here is created a merged layer above the other layers. To do this hit Control+Alt+Shift+E. Yep, it takes a lot of fingers to do this (it’s nicknamed the “claw” for good reason)!
  6. Apply the snow in Studio Magic II – Snow Maker.
  7. Now I brought in the crop shape (from my collection in the Peacock Studio). We want the crop shape layer beneath the merged layer.
  8. Click on the merged layer and click Control+Alt+G to clip that layer to the shape (you can turn off the visibility of the lower layers and you will see that you have a transparent border around the shape). The little down pointing arrow next to the layer image shows that it is clipped or grouped with the shape layer below.
  9. Now we’ll add the texture beneath the crop shape. Used a texture from one of my new collections, “Computer Collections – Inky Leaks 1”. As mentioned above, I didn’t want the colors to be so bold, so I added a blank layer above the texture, filled it with white and lowered the opacity to 32%.
  10. Added my Type layer at the top. Used a stroke outline and drop shadow.
  11. Complete!

And speaking of Studio Magic…They’ve given me an exclusive holiday discount for my readers! Save 60% of any product on their website with the code hazel60 now through Dec. 31st! CLICK HERE to go to their website and check out all the fabulous products! Example of the savings: Studio Magic I and II normally is on the site for $179 – save $107.40 and grab it for just $71.60 with this discount! OR…grab their Epic Location Sets for $139.60 (Reg. $349). OR…get both Studio Magic I & II plus the Epic Location Sets combo for just $159.60 (reg. $399.00)!!! There are also lots of other sets of backgrounds, actions and more…poke around the site!

Last Minute Holiday Gift Idea!

If you need a gift for that special photographer in your life – or yourself – sign up for the 3rd Creative Photography Conference – and here’s an easy way to do it!

Take advantage of our Holiday Easy Payment Plan! Pay 1/2 of the registration fee by Dec. 31st ($175), and pay the balance by Feb. 28th ($175). If you are giving as a gift, let me know and I will send you a gift certificate that you can print and put under the tree!

You can add on pre-conference workshops now or later – but the workshops are they’re filling up, so you may want to add them now! You can also add the optional dinner buffet for Fri. or Sat. with either payment.

Contact me with any questions at Hazel@MeredithImages.com and CLICK HERE to go to the Peacock Studio Store to sign up!

Other last minute holiday deals…

From PIXELO – a fabulous special deal – the entire current shop of bundles for just $99!

CLICK HERE for this Pixelo deal!

Another great resource for bundles is Pixel Surplus – and they also have lots of FREEBIES on their website HERE!