Thanks for coming back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see where my photographic journey has brought me. The last few days have been damp, rainy and cold and I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I decided to do a little photography experiment. My wife had a floral bouquet that she was about to throw out and I decided to use that as a photographic subject before the trash can received the flowers!
After taking a few photos, I thought it would help if I added some fresh flowers to the base. I took a few more photos and then decided that maybe it was time to try using a flash to see what type of effect that would create. The result was that all the flowers were equally illuminated, and this was not the effect I was interested in achieving. After trying a few more shots and not getting what I was looking for I decided the best way to approach this would be to use Photoshop to make some edits.
In Photoshop I made selections of the base and tabletop of both a photo with and without flash. And using a mask on both photos I edited out some of the oppositely illuminated flowers. And then merge the resulting two photos and the result was a photo with the dead flowers being somewhat dark in the fresh flowers being somewhat bright. This was close to the photo I was trying to achieve. My next step was to change the background of the photo to eliminate my kitchen wall! I found a photo that I’ve taken of some plywood and so I use that as the background by first lightning the photo by using a blend mode and then adding a very light orange adjustment layer; the net result is background that looks something like wallpaper.
Since the right side of the photo look like that was the direction of light I decided to try and use a drop shadow to create a shadow. This attempt did not turn out as well as I would like but it is a first attempt and this blog is about documenting my attempts at learning photography and using post-processing software. Here’s a somewhat finished photograph. I say somewhat because I save the file as layers and hopefully in the future as I gain more skill I can go back and re-edit this photo in a manner that is more artistic.
Please come back to visit www.dansepourdeux.com to see if I’ve made any progress in becoming a better photographer!
In prior blogs I have talked about my attempt to learn Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Elements. Continuing to develop my technical skill with these great products has been a challenge but there has been progress. Unfortunately, I have a long way to go. Maybe some of you have experienced similar issues in your journey through these photo editing programs.
First let’s talk about Lightroom. This is the digital darkroom for your images. I have invested a great deal of time viewing training videos on YouTube.com. It is amazing how much free training is available to you and how good the training actually is. My frustrations; however, is that beyond describing what the controls do and how that particular photographer uses them to make fantastic photos, there is not a lot of depth in explaining what setting to use! The frequent response is “depends on what you like”. I guess in the world of art this is something I will have to get used to it, but from my more precise business background I tend to like absolutes and answers that are clear-cut. Another area of confusion for me is “sharpness”. I have tried many different levels of sharpening of photographs and sometimes it’s hard to see any real improvement. It seems that I degrade the photos more than improve them. So lately I have started not to bother with sharpening at all and just use the preset level of 25 that Lightroom provides.
I must admit that when I look at some of my photos from a year ago and compare them to newly edited photos, I like what I’m seeing. Two of the tools that I’m beginning to have a greater appreciation for are the Tone Curve and the HSL sliders. These tools have helped improve quite a few photos that otherwise were a little dull and lacking. I suspect many of you have had similar awakenings with using these tools. One of the newer features of Lightroom 6 is the ability to create panoramas. I recently visited New York City on a rather chilly, hazy winter day. I went across the Hudson River to Liberty Island State Park and took a series of photos of Manhattan Island and then used this new feature to create the panorama that you see below.
Photoshop Elements version 14 is Adobe’s latest enhancement to their popular hobbyist version of Photoshop. A trial version is available and I took advantage of that because I wasn’t sure there were enough new features to make a purchase worthwhile. One of the new additions is Dehaze. This feature turned out to be quite helpful in several photos that I recently edited. It is not perfect, but it did make an improvement in photos by removing what appears to be haze and leaving a much clearer photograph.
Continuing with the theme of struggling has been my utilizing some of the tools in Photoshop Elements such as the Selection and Clone Stamp tools. I looked at many videos and then tried to duplicate what I just learned and in some instances it was difficult to get the same results. As it turned out the problems I was experiencing had nothing to do with my learning ability or the software itself. One of the issues is I have developed an irritating twitch in my right hand. Since I am right-handed this creates problems in editing photos. Research for solutions led me to larger input devices such as trackballs and a larger mouse. I should also mention that I have been using a Wacom pen & tablet along with a mouse. I seem to have compensated for the twitch by purchasing a beanbag type wrist support along with a better surface for my mouse. I also changed the sensitivity of both the mouse and the pen. These steps have helped significantly; however, there is still a problem with the tablet; it sometimes acts rather erratically. I could not find out why until I did some Internet searching and found out a lot of other people are having the same problem and it seems to be related to Microsoft Windows 10! So until Microsoft communicates fixes to these pen & tablet developers I suspect many people including myself will continue to experience problems with their pens and tablets when using this operating system. How many of you are having similar problems?
Okay, back to photo editing. I have been enjoying the use of Photoshop Elements 14. I want to share some of my photos with you. One is a photo taken on the U.S. National Mall in Washington, DC of the Korean War Memorial. I edited this photo with both Lightroom and Nic Silver Efex software. This created a somewhat dated look in the photo but it was still missing something. While I was out on a windy day I noticed an American flag blowing in the wind and I decided to use a photograph of that flag in the picture. Through the magic of layers, selections and patience I managed to create the photo below.
While on that recent trip to New York a visit to Wall Street provided another great photo opportunity. The famous statue of the Wall Street bull is around the corner from the New York Stock Exchange. In the last several weeks I have watch my stock portfolio drop so I decided to create a rather silly photograph of the bull market crash. I hope you enjoy looking at this composite as much as I had making it. The market will come back one day and my portfolio will improve or I may have to try to sell these photographs to buy food! It probably means I’ll starve to death.
Well that’s enough ranting for this blog post. Hopefully you found something interesting in it or found it to be a good way to waste a few minutes of your valuable time. I hope it was the former! Now stop wasting time with this blog and go out and take some photographs.
Earlier this year I purchased a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom by Scott Kelby. This proved to be an easy read and I learned a great deal about using Lightroom. That is, until I tried to figure out the Print Module. I just seemed to be one of the people who didn’t get it. I had problems getting different sized prints to come out correctly and I could not figure out how I was making mistakes when Scott Kelby’s book told me I could easily get it! Since I was not printing anything other than 4×6 inch prints and that was working out ok when I just exported a file, I decided to stop reading the book. In hindsight, this was another of my poor decisions in photography along with bad compositions, soft images and blown out highlights! I suspect some of you reading this blog have had similar or maybe worse experiences.
In the last couple of weeks I decided to make a definite commitment to learning how to use the print module in Adobe Lightroom version 6. I made a monumental decision to start where I usually start which is to begin looking at Adobe TV and the training material on Adobe’s website to learn more about the products. This was helpful but unfortunately it did not give me the detailed background I really wanted. I decided to try a different approach and began looking through YouTube.com to find some free training videos. I discovered a gold mine of great resources! One of the ones that I enjoyed watching featured professional photographer Robert Rodriguez Jr. and it was sponsored by B&H Photo. You can click on the link below to watch the video.
B&H Photo with Robert Rodriquez, Jr. and Master the Lightroom 5 Print Module
Another great resource was my local photo club. At the last meeting I brought up the fact that I was having difficulty with the print module and asked one of the club experts for some help. Denise was kind enough to spend the majority of the meeting explaining to me not only how to make the Lightroom Print Module work, but also gave me more detailed insight into the whole area of digital printing. In the way of a brief commercial, let me say that if you have not yet joined a local photo club, what are you waiting for? I have learned a great deal being a member of the club and have even competed in some of the photo contests. I have not won anything yet, but hope springs eternal even for the worst of photographers!
Denise gave me the idea of also using Photoshop for printing. I do not have Photoshop but I do have Photoshop Elements version 13. I have done some small editing with Photoshop Elements but nothing significant. So this gave me another opportunity to expand my knowledge. This time I decided to go right to YouTube.com and seek out some resources. I looked at several different videos and found one series from Anthony Morganti to be very helpful. He has a whole series of training videos on Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. You can click on the link below to look at one of his videos.
Anthony Morganti’s Learn Adobe Photoshop Elements – Episode 7: Layers and Layer Masks
I now felt that I was ready for the challenge of creating not only a composite photo using layers from Photoshop Elements but also printing the results using my newfound skills and acumen! Now I just needed a photo to edit that would be interesting and challenging. I looked no further than my last post of A Horse of Another Color. I decided to use a picture of a brick wall that I had taken recently just for this type of project. Adobe Lightroom’s Print Module also allowed me to create a gray mat and include a graphic with my initials as a watermark on the photo! This blog is not meant to be how to do it blog, so I won’t bore you with the details. It is sufficient to say that I had fun creating the composite photo in this post and also printing it successfully. When I showed the picture to my wife she said she didn’t like it because it was not natural or real! Critics are everywhere! I guess that is the great thing about photography at the hobby level, you just have to please yourself! What are your thoughts?
Fun with Photoshop Elements or just horsing around!