Aug. 5 – Sunday Sampler

Happy August! Hard to believe we’re heading in the waning months of Summer – though I won’t mind when this humidity goes away! It’s been an exceptionally muggy Summer in CT. And sending our prayers to those in California and the West affected by the awful fires. One of my school friends lives very near the Carr fire. He’s been ready to evacuate for over a week.


This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of rocks from the caverns under Lookout Mountain in GA. We visited there a few years ago to see Ruby Falls – an underground waterfall as well a Rock City, a beautiful garden at the top of the mountain. Worth a visit if you are in the area.


A friend of mine (that I’ve known since grammar school!) is opening a shop in town – Connecticut Band Instrument Services – and I’ve created some digital pieces that have been printed on canvas and will hang in the store. There are some music quotes, and photos. And one of the pieces (shown below) can be customized with the instrument, school colors and name, etc. I’ve set up a page in my Peacock Studio online store. If you or someone you know someone who is musically inclined, check it out HERE! Click on Digital Art.


Over on inSight Designs, Free Texture Grabs LOTS of different items! As always, check Terms of Use before using in commercial pieces.

From, “5 Easy Ways to Start Photo Editing in Lightroom”

From, “11 Ways Landscape Photographers Can Monetize their Portfolios”

And a couple more great font bundles from Pixel Surplus (affiliate link)

The REFINED FONT BUNDLE – 29 fonts for $29

And the HAND DRAWN FONT BUNDLE – 29 fonts for $29

Save even more if you purchase both bundles for $54!


Have a great week!




April 15 – Sunday Sampler

Happy Sunday! Wild weather across the country! From blizzards to tornadoes; from hot to cold! Yesterday was 70 here in CT; today in the upper 30’s! Be safe if you are in severe weather.


This week’s Sunday Sampler is made up of some peeling paint from an old theater shoot that we did a while back. Some friends went there yesterday, so it got me thinking about my shots again. The one called “Peeling Paint – Film Look” reminded me of an old filmstrip – I thought it was a neat look. Enjoy!


Our friends at MindShift Gear (part of ThinkTank Photo), have release several new products designed for active photographers.

The first is the “Exposure” Shoulder Bags that offer the ultimate in durability and weather protection for outdoor photographers.

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. MindShift Gear’s new Exposure shoulder bags are storm-resistant carrying solutions for the active photographer in virtually any outdoor environment. Built with high performance waterproof sailcloth panels, strategically placed storm flaps, water-repellent DWR fabric, and a sturdy Tarpaulin bottom; the Exposure protects camera gear from the elements and withstands the rigors of adventure photography. And, with its cross-body stabilizer strap, the Exposure moves with you while you’re active or is removable for more causal environments. A waterproof rain cover is included when it’s time to put the camera away and hunker down.
Exposure shoulder bags come in two models, the Exposure 13 and the Exposure 15, and in two colors, Black and Solar Flare. The Exposure 13 fits a 13” laptop; the Exposure 15 fits 15” laptops. A 10” tablet fits in zippered pocket.

Click HERE for all the details on their website.


The second new product is an 18-liter version of its popular BackLight series, the BackLight® 18L rear-panel backpack.

This smaller version offers a lightweight daypack that enables photographers to access gear without taking off the backpack. They can change lenses or just snap a quick photo simply by rotating the bag to the front while the waist belt is still secured. Rear-panel access also adds security when traveling since camera gear is protected from behind.
This back-panel access allows photographers to work out of the bag without getting the harness dirty, wet, muddy, or icy. It features dedicated compartments that fit up to a 13” laptop and a full-size tablet. As a daypack, its front pockets total 5 liters in personal gear carry for a day’s outing, such as extra layers, a light jacket, food, and more. It is available in two colors, Charcoal and Woodland Green, and meets most international and U.S. airline carry-on requirements.

Click HERE to find all the details on their website.

I have a couple of ThinkTank bags and can attest to their durability and quality.


Some more free brushes! This week, I found this on Designmodo – 30 sets of Watercolor Free Brushes. Watercolor brushes are useful for lots of things – I like to use them to create textures (of course!).


We’re just over a month till our Creative Photography Conference! If you haven’t signed up yet, now is the time! We have an awesome line-up of speakers. Below is our expected schedule. Check out the details of the sessions and speaker bios on our website at:

Registration includes all classes, hands-on sessions, photo-ops, lunch and snacks both days, LOTS of door prizes, goody bag, vendors and more! Don’t miss out!


Feb. 18 – Sunday Sampler

Happy Daytona 500 Day! Yes, I’m a race fan! Grew up going to races with my parents at Riverside Park, MA & Danbury Racearena, CT. Hubby & I spent 13+ years covering local/regional/NASCAR racing for newspapers and websites – him writing articles and me taking photos (though we did switch sometimes). This is one of my favorite racing images from the Waterford Speedbowl as Wendell Dailey’s modified went airborne as they approached the finish line. Luckily, no one was hurt. My image was on the cover of the program the following week.

It was fun to stand in the infield of a racetrack – usually not too scary! We got to meet lots of famous NASCAR drivers over the years including Dale Earnhardt Sr. & Jr., Jeff Gordon and many more. Was very happy last year when Martin Truex Jr. won the championship. He hails from New Jersey and his dad was a driver on the then Busch North Series which we sometimes covered. Nice family and a great champion! Go Marty!


This week’s Sunday Sampler is images of rusty metal and peeling wood – from the Danbury Railway Museum in CT.


A couple more questions answered from the Jan. 30th webinar.

Q: “Can Studio be used as a plug-in to Photoshop?”

A: Yes! You can access Studio through the filter menu in Photoshop (Filter > Topaz Studio > Topaz Studio) , or it can also be used as a stand-alone program.

Q: “Can you take away the texture from the main subject (masking)?

A: Yes! You can mask any part of a texture off any part of an image. In this example I brought in an image I already edited, then went to (A) Adjustments > Texture. I selected the (B) texture I wanted, changed the blending mode and opacity (C), then I wanted to “erase” the texture from the flower. In this case, click on the layer icon to open the masking box(D):

You can then mask like in Photoshop (E):


MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR MARCH 27TH FOR MY NEXT TOPAZ WEBINAR! I will be showing you how to do composites in Studio!


Reminder…the Topaz DeHaze Promotion ends tonight at midnight (CST).

The DeHaze adjustment in Topaz Studio is on sale through Feb. 18th. Save 20% (Reg. $14.99/on sale for $11.99).

Use THIS LINK and the code DEHAZE20 to save 20%.


From, “95 Top Photoshop Tutorials”This is one of the best round-ups of tutorials I have seen. Not only are there 95 of them, they break them down into 3 pages – Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.



Feb. 11 – Sunday Sampler

This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of some images that will make nice backgrounds. I took grasses and flowers and blurred them a bit (you can always blur more with a Gaussian Blur adjustment). The third image is silhouetted branches against a pale sunset. Enjoy!


This week we are featuring speaker, Anne Belmont, who hails from the Chicago area.

As a nature photographer specializing in flower photography, Anne’s greatest passion lies in seeing and capturing the beauty of flowers and other botanical subjects up-close. It is the small, often unnoticed details that draw Anne to her subjects. It is her belief that if we slow down and look at nature in a more contemplative way, we will find subjects that convey impact and emotion, causing the eye to linger a little longer. A life-long involvement in the arts and a first career as an art therapist have shaped the way that she views art and the creative process and have reinforced her belief in the healing power of both art and nature in our lives.

On any given day you will find her in her favorite place to photograph, the Chicago Botanic Garden, a place with bountiful subjects and an ever-changing palette of color and light. She was commissioned by the Garden to do a solo exhibition of her orchid photography, displayed in 20 larger-than-life panels during the 2015 – 2017 Orchid Shows. Anne is a staff member and presenter for Out of Chicago Photography ( and partners with Lensbaby to spread the love and creativity of their lenses.

Anne’s Conference Programs

Unleash Your Creative Spirit: Creating Beautiful Flower Portraits with Lensbaby

Learn to see and photograph flowers in a whole new artistic way. We will explore ways to unleash the creative spirit, find a vision and style in photography, and follow your heart in shooting in a way that brings joy. Anne will share her unique way of looking at flowers, helping you to see and isolate beautiful, interesting and often unnoticed details. Along with learning some tips and tricks for capturing flowers, we will also explore ways to create more artistic images through the magic of Lensbaby lenses, creating evocative and beautiful portraits of flowers.

Hands-On Sessions – Shooting with Lensbaby

Bring your Lensbaby and learn from a pro how to get the creative effects you desire! I’m trying to get some loaner lenses from Lensbaby as well – stay tuned!

Lensbaby has donated a “Composer Pro II with Sweet 50” as a door prize!


If you don’t already own Topaz Adjust (one of my favorites), it is on sale through tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 12th. Save 20% (Reg. $49.99, on sale for $39.99).

This is NOT a Studio addition – at this point – but a chance to grab this great program on sale. And when it does move to Studio, you will be able to get that upgrade for free.

“With Topaz Adjust you can give your images the soul and character you envisioned in the field! Unlike our eyes, a camera lens can’t compensate for all the tonal values we see right in front of us. If you shoot something bright, you’ll lose all the details in the shadows. If you shoot something dark, the highlights will be blown out. You can try to correct contrast, details, and vibrancy yourself, but it’s difficult to make images pop like you want.

“Topaz Adjust is designed to enhance three characteristics: contrast, detail, and color. Specializing in producing vivid images, Adjust uses Topaz’s adaptive exposure, adaptive saturation, and even includes our cutting-edge detail enhancement algorithms to give you the secret “oomph” ingredients that make your images stand out.”


And watch for a post on Tuesday about the next Topaz deal!

Next week I will answer a few more questions from the webinar!

And…if you missed the webinar a couple of weeks ago or want to watch it again, it is now posted on the Topaz YouTube Channel:

We’ve scheduled my next webinar for Tuesday, March 27th. I’ll be showing more advanced techniques with masking and compositing multiple images in Studio! Stay tuned for sign ups!


There is SO much great info on the web! I’m always stumbling across awesome tutorials!

From – a post from 2008 had “50 Excellent Digital Photography Photoshop Tutorials”. While they may be older, I think they still have great info. There are LOTS of links on the site to many other tutorials – take a look around!

Have a great week!


Feb. 4 – Sunday Sampler

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I live in New England, but I’m not rooting for the Patriots – I’d like to see someone new win – Go Eagles!


This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of some mossy rocks! Remember – you can blend more than one texture and change the color or desaturate to add only texture and no color. Enjoy!


THANK YOU to everyone who watched my webinar on Tuesday! We maxed out at 1,000 people – over 2,100 signed up – WOW! If you were not able to join on Tuesday, you should have received an email with the link to the recording. And if you didn’t sign up, you’ll be able to watch the recording soon on, and scroll down to the recordings.

There were so many great questions being asked in the chat box that we just don’t have time to answer them all during the webinar. Heath Robinson of Topaz sent me the dialogue of the chat box so I can answer some of the questions here in the “Topaz Corner”.

Here we go…

In this webinar I was featuring Texture Effects in Studio, the latest of the presets to be added to Topaz Studio.

A couple of people asked, “Is Texture Effects stand-alone and Texture Effects in Studio the same thing?”

Answer – Yes, but the Studio version offers even more presets than TTE2. And there are more functions coming in upcoming releases – like 20 more textures from yours truly; Digital Frames (which I was able to demo in the beta version during the webinar); and a few other goodies! f you already own the Topaz Texture Effects Plugin, you get the upgrade to Texture Effects in Studio for free, just follow the steps here:  If you don’t yet own Texture Effects, you can save 20% on that or any other Topaz product or upgrade through Feb. 5th with my webinar code Hazelweb8.  Shop here:

Question – “What is the difference between the textures on the left panel and the texture function under Adjustments on the right panel?”

Answer – The “textures” you see on the left in Texture Effects are presets which contain multiple adjustments and/or textures. The texture adjustment on the right lets you add a single texture of your choosing. You must own Texture Effects to see the texture adjustment on the right as well as the presets on the left.”

Stay tuned to future “Topaz Corners” for answers to more questions!

We’re just over 3 months away from our 2nd Creative Photography Conference! Our speakers are lined up and we’re getting the details of their presentations and hands-on sessions dialed in. I’m going to being featuring our speakers in the Sunday Sampler, and we’re going to start with the amazing macro photographer, Tamron Image Master, Mike Moats.

“Mike Moats is an award-winning, professional macro photographer from Sterling Heights, Michigan. Mike’s love of photography, which started out as a hobby in 2001, has since evolved into a full-time business. In addition to creating his own images, Mike added Macro Boot Camps into the mix in 2006, and he now also makes speaking appearances at photo conferences nationwide, and now has an online Macro Photo Club to assist photographers with their macro goals.

“Recruited as a member of the Fuji Pro Talent Team in 2006, Mike is also honored to be a Tamron Image Master, and a Vanguard Pro. He has won numerous local, national, and international awards. Mike’s first book, Tiny Landscapes, was released in 2008, and his images and how-to articles have been published in various magazines, including Outdoor Photographer, Nature’s Best Photography, Shutterbug, PC Photo, Nature Photographer, Photo Life, Whisper in the Woods, and Michigan Fish and Game Finder; in photography collections such as the North American Nature Photography Association’s (NANPA’s) Expressions book and the Pure Michigan tourism companion; and in various corporate collateral, including on the Tamron USA blog and in Fujifilm newsletters.”

Mike will be doing a lecture-style seminar and several hands-on sessions. His lecture will be “Creating an Award-Winning Macro Image”. With Mike’s successes as listed above, he has analyzed what makes his images successful and will teach you how to take your photography to the next level, and how to create your own personal style.

Mike will show you how to creatively look at your macro photography and finish off the images with a little bit of post-processing.

His hands-on sessions will be, “The Properly Equipped Macro Photographer” where you will learn what are the best cameras, lenses, tripod/head, accessories, and camera functions for the beginner/intermediate macro photographer. Also covered, working with depth of field. And he will have a “Macro Shooting Gallery” set up for some photo ops – bring your camera, macro (or short) lens, tripod, and join the fun!

Don’t miss out on our “group specials” on registration! Go to our website at

And if you attended the 2017 Conference, you can save $25 on registration! Email me at for the secret code!

A great round up of articles over on – “The Coolest Photography Links of the Week”

And on, “20 Amazing Free Photoshop Text Effects with Tutorials”


Sunday Sampler + Tutorials

Hi everyone! We’re back from sunny Arizona and a great workshop!

What a gorgeous week – both weather-wise and scenery-wise! Temps in the mid-80’s with 15% humidity…beautiful red rocks to photograph…what more could we ask for? Thanks to Josh Goldin for the group shot above!

This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of SIX textures from the picturesque red rocks of Sedona. Enjoy!



I learned something new today too! I was reading this article on “How to Super-Charge the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop”! Changing the blending modes helps to target light or dark areas and retain the texture of your image (like skin).

And here’s some interesting tips – “10 Things Successful Photographer’s Don’t Do”.

And one more…“How to Take Control of Contrast Using Curves & Levels in Photoshop”.



Watch for info soon from Topaz to sign up for my next webinar on December 12th!

June 18 – Sunday Sampler + Tutorials, Freebies + Sedona!

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there! Hope you had a special day with family.


This week’s Sunday Sampler is a few textures from restaurants we visited on vacation and one this past week! Marble and laminate countertops make great textures as well as decorative peeling painted wood!

In this image from Virginia, I used the Marble textures as well as a couple of others from Flypaper Textures and some cool stuff from Topaz Textures!


Tutorials + Freebies from the Web

This article is titled “40+ Beginner Photoshop Tutorials”, but I think they are for more than beginners. Even for those of us who know Photoshop, there are many ways to get a result and there are always new tricks and tips to learn – check it our HERE!

Freebies! A new site I found is Creative Nerds! Check out the Freebies HERE!



Just a reminder of our Sedona Workshop, Oct. 21-24, 2017. We offer something for every type of photography! We’ll cover the natural beauty of Sedona’s red rocks as well as animals at Out of Africa, rust (textures!) and old stuff at Gold King Mine/Ghost Town, private access to the Sedona Heritage Museum (Historical Society), as well as sunrise and sunset!

Workshop fee of $450 per person includes a welcome dinner Sat. night at Javelina Cantina (Yum!), admission fees to the Heritage Museum, Out of Africa and Ghost Town, as well as water/snacks, photographic and post-processing instruction. There is a $50 discount for attendees of last year’s workshop (two are returning so far!). Limit of 8 attendees – 3 spots are filled. Don’t delay! Email me with questions at

Sunday Sampler March 26th + “I’m Curious” + Conf. Speaker Profile

Happy Sunday! This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of warm brown and red tones – wood and rust – maybe that will warm us up since it’s so cold today in CT!! Enjoy!


This week’s featured speaker who will present at our Creative Photography Conference is Kelli (KJ) DeWaal of New York.

KJ DeWaal (Kelli) is an artist/photographer who has been involved in creative endeavors throughout her life. She found herself becoming more interested in photography several years
ago and set about learning all she could about all types of photography. She has taken photography classes from Jim Montanus a well renowned photographer in her area. Along with
numerous online classes and workshops. With the age of technology, she has also incorporated iphoneography, and creating digital art on the iPad to her repertoire.

Kelli enjoys photographing still life, landscape, macro and life style images. Her images have won numerous awards in photo contests and have been very well received. Kelli will be hosting two sessions at the Creative Photography Conference. The first will be on “Creating Digital Art on the iPad Pro using the Apple Pencil.” She will be demonstrating how she puts together a digital art piece, the many various elements that can be used, how to blend those elements to create a cohesive piece using layers, blend modes, and varying opacities. She will also discuss which apps she prefers to use most. The main app she will be creating in will be Procreate.

The second session that Kelli will host will be “Creatively Display Your Photographic Images Using Encaustic Wax.” This workshop will take you step by step through the process of learning to mount your images on wood cradled board and finishing them off with encaustic wax. This technique will display your image in a beautiful way and give it a wonderful luminous finish.
Kelli currently resides in Western NY with Doug, her husband of almost 30 years. They have 2 grown children. Now that they are empty nesters, Kelli and her Mr. enjoy traveling, camping, hiking, and antiquing. This provides many photo opportunities along the way and even inspires original artwork as well.


Join Kelli and the rest of our great line-up of speakers at the Creative Photography Conference, May 20-21 at the beautiful Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center, Southbridge, MA.

Don’t forget to sign up soon and get your $20 Peacock Studio bonus credit!


With Spring and Summer coming…eventually…we’ll all be getting out more and photographing while we travel. Here’s a good article from on “How to Take Amazing Travel Photography”.


Till next week…happy clicking!


Feb. 26th – Sunday Sampler, Conference Speaker & “I’m Curious”

Happy Sunday! Another week has flown by! This week’s SUNDAY SAMPLER consists of more textures from our upcoming Creative Photography Conference location at the Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center! There are SO many cool things to photograph here for textures!

And speaking of the Conference, I made a “flip book” so you can see just how cool this place really is! Click HERE to view the book and get more details on the Conference.

This week we’re featuring another of our Conference speakers – Gerri Jones from Western New York.

Gerri became interested in digital photography in 2000 as a creative outlet.  She soon discovered that Buffalo/Niagara was a great area to photograph any subject throughout the year with seasonal interest.  She enjoys photographing all subjects and the challenge of new ways to see through the creative use of Lensbaby lenses and iPhoneography.  She also enjoys using her photographs and Photoshop to create new works of art with the application of textures.

Gerri’s images have been featured in several publications including, Nature’s Best Magazine, Erie Canal Statewide Photo Calendars, tourism guides, the Discover Buffalo-Niagara Calendars and several local commercial proposals.  Her image of Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse on Lake Ontario, won a national grand prize for the Great Lakes Photo Contest and her work is used to promote the lighthouse through “Friends of Thirty Mile Point”.  In addition, Gerri participates in several online photo contests and has won numerous awards including “Photographer of the Year”.  Besides macro photography she enjoys photographing local architecture, landscapes and occasionally small wedding venues.  She also reviews photography books for development by Focal Press Publications.  Gerri has served as assistant organizer of the Buffalo Photography Meet-Up Group to lead many members on photography tours as well as the Twin Cities Camera Club.

Gerri resides in Wilson, NY with her husband Phil, son, and Basset Hound, Thurman.  Instagram: gerri.gjones

Come see how Gerri creates her own works of art!







A popular subject for nature photographers is photographing birds in flight. While exciting to capture that “perfect” image, it is a type of photography that results in more imperfect shots than perfect ones!

Here’s a tutorial I compiled on “10 Tips for Photographing Birds” that can help you get the desired results.







Spring is coming! New vibes and sunny deals await you. Be ready for all your upcoming projects with an extra 50% Off on everything you see on our website!

There is plenty to choose from. Big bundles, courses, fonts, WordPress themes, you name it, they have it. And even better, they are all up for grabs at half price!

All you have to do is CLICK HERE and use the following code at checkout: 50SPRING (can be used up to 3 times). Offer ends March 1st at 10 AM CST.

Sunday Sampler + Topaz Corner + More!

Happy Snowy Sunday! After about a foot of snow on Thursday here in CT, we’re now getting a little more (just when the roads cleared up)! Luckily in my part of the state it’s supposed to turn to rain later today.


This week’s Sunday Sampler textures are from two botanical gardens. The ornament and snowflake were taken last month at the New York Botanical Garden during their holiday train show. The rain on glass is from the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Garden (the greenhouse is designed just like the one in NYC). See the Topaz Corner below for how I used Topaz to transform the rain on glass to something totally different!


In this month’s Topaz Corner I want to show you how you can take a texture that you photograph (or download), and turn it into something totally different. If you’ve watched any of my Topaz webinars you’ve seen a couple of example of this (if you’ve missed any of the four webinars you can find them at At the top of the page you can sort by presenter to find mine. The last one I did in January isn’t posted yet – should be soon! These webinars – by all of the presenters – are a great resource. You can search by product as well if there is something in particular you’d like to find out more about.

So for this demonstration, I will use the image of the Rain on Glass from this week’s Sunday Sampler. You can follow along if you have Topaz Impression.

Open the Rain on Glass image into Photoshop CC or Elements. Duplicate your background layer. Go to Filters > Topaz Labs > Impression 2 (if you have the original Impression, v.2 is a free upgrade).

In Impression we are going to the Painting group of effects and choosing Fine Brush Scumble III. I used most of the preset settings with these adjustments:

Brush 12; Stroke Color Variation .11.

Under the “Color” section (hit the down arrow next to Color), click on the Blue color button and increase the saturation to .09.

Under the “Texture” section, select Canvas VI. Make the texture strength .88 and the texture size .60.

Hit “OK” to apply and return to Photoshop. If you want to remember what you did on this layer you can rename the layer to Topaz-Impression-FineBrushScumble-III. Also, if you’d like to remove any of the little black spots, you can use the healing brush to do so.

Here’s the finished texture:


Don’t forget to experiment with some other presets – you’ll be surprised at the variety of effects you can create with just one texture!



I love having our images printed on canvas – they look quite elegant. My favorite company to use is Canvas on Demand. Their quality and customer service are excellent! I got an email this morning for a reminder of their current sale – 70% off! ENDS SUNDAY AT MIDNIGHT, so don’t delay. Link HERE and use code HEART70. They are not an affiliate so I’m not making any comission on this – I just think they’re the best around!

inkydealsA company that is an affiliate is INKY DEALS. If you’re like me and can’t get enough textures, brushes, fonts, clip art, etc., this is a cool resource for bundles of neat products. Right now they are having a 30% off anything on their website. Link HERE and use the code 30CUT at checkout (can be used up to 3 times per email address). Expires Feb. 15th at midnight CST.

Some other cool freebie finds from the web: Lighting Effects Pack – 50 Free Brushes & Images from Media Militia.

At Graphic Design Junction find new tutorials for 2017. 25 New Adobe Photoshop Tutorials to Learn Editing and Photo Manipulation.

And last but definitely not least…

I am often asked the easiest way to add a watermark to an image. While I “drag and drop” my logo over my image, a quicker way would be to create an Action (actions can be used in CC/CS or Elements, but only created in CC/CS). Online friend, Ken Fisher has some great tutorials on his YouTube channel – here’s the link to the one on creating a watermark actionBe sure to check out some of his other helpful tutorials as well.

Have a great week!