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!
Happy Sunday! It’s finally starting to feel like Spring – and the Spring showers have been falling. There were some nasty storms in areas this past week – hope you are OK.
This week’s Sunday Sampler will surely make it feel like Spring! A couple of years ago I was at Elizabeth Park Rose Garden and it was a breezy day – not ideal for photographing flowers. So I decided to make lemons out of the windy day and shoot some intentionally blurred florals to use as backgrounds. Enjoy!
I sent a newsletter the beginning of the week with updates on the Creative Photography Conference and other upcoming events. I also linked a short survey to see what topics are needed/desired for some upcoming tutorials.
Please take 2 minutes to complete this survey (if you haven’t yet). It’s only three quick questions! Click HERE FOR SURVEY. Thanks!
Happy April! It’s finally starting to FEEL like Spring out there! Crocuses are starting to pop and the leaves of daffodils are poking through!
I purchased some tulips at the grocery last week and spent a little time photographing them this week. These were done at the kitchen table – I use a tri-fold foamcore board for a backdrop, draped an old lace tablecloth over it, and used some props I’ve been collecting. And so many editing possibilities! These are just 2 of the versions I created – opposite extremes! Processing in LR/PS & Topaz.
This week’s Sunday Sampler consists of some rattan seating from old subway cars at the NY Transportation Museum in Brooklyn. I especially like the ‘bokeh’ image – I sat the camera on the seat and got a pretty cool vantage point! These would also be great to turn into B&W and just utilize the texture of the rattan and not the color. Enjoy!
JUST SIX WEEKS AWAY! Don’t miss out on the last New England Conference! May 18-19, 2019
It’s coming up quick! If you want to expand your photographic creativity, then you don’t want to miss this event! Join me and 7 other speakers for a weekend of learning and fun! Seminar topics include: Topaz, textures, creative LR/PS, creative landscapes, LensBaby florals, iPhoneography & apps, multiple exposures, Luminar, creative photo projects, and much more! There will also be photo ops, loaner lenses, and photo walks. And Hunt’s will be here for your shopping pleasure!
Registration includes morning snack, lunch, all Sat./Sun. seminars and other sessions, goody bag, and door prizes!
And added for 2019 – 2 pre-conference workshops and optional dinner buffets on Fri. and/or Sat. nights.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT ALL THE DETAILS ON OUR WEBSITE…AND TO REGISTER!
I have extended my discount code meredith25 until April 15th – save $25 on your registration!
The guys & gals at DESIGN CUTS have put together another fabulous bundle of TEXTURES!!! (You know I’m grabbing this one!) “The Exceptional Textures & Patterns Bundle” sells for just $29 (value $3683). This deal expires in 8 DAYS, so don’t wait – grab your copy now!
It contains hundreds of textures, backgrounds, masks, patterns and more!
The end of March already – just WHERE does the time go these days?! Don’t get fooled tomorrow! Happy April Fool’s Day!
For this week’s Sunday Sampler, I took a slightly blurred wooden plank shot and gave it four other treatments – so a total of 5 textures this week! Enjoy!
This week Topaz Labs released an update to Gigapixel AI. If you already own the product, the update is free. If you don’t already own it, you can save $20 on the price of $99.99 until April 5th – CLICK HERE!
“Gigapixel AI allows you to enlarge images up to 600%! You can create beautiful 80 x 60 inch prints from a simple iPhone photo. Or transform your DSLR photos into sharp and ultra-detailed 100MP images.
After being training with millions of sample images, Gigapixel can now enlarge your images with a surprising level of quality.
Gigapixel performs around 2 million operations per pixel to get you results with as much detail and sharpness as possible.
No matter why you’re enlarging your photos, you always want the best possibly quality for your results. Gigapixel AI is currently the only photo enlargement product available that can actually add detail back to your upscaled photo.”
Check out more samples and grab your copy HERE on the Topaz site!
If you have a smartphone and want to learn more about apps and how to use them, check out The App Whisperer for some great info! http://theappwhisperer.com/
Jane Driscoll does some great tutorials in some of the iPhone Facebook groups…AND…she’ll be one of 8 presenters at our Creative Photography Conference! Check out info on Jane and our other speakers on the website and join us May 18-19, 2019 in Southbridge, MA for our 3rd Conference!
And join me and a great line-up of speakers at the CanAm Photo Expo, April 26-28, 2019 in Buffalo, NY. I’ll be doing multiple sessions on “HDR – The Natural Look” and “Creativity with Topaz & Textures” along with sessions in the Macro Lab helping you create some textures of your own!