Monday, 9 July 2012

How 'bout a Little Black & White

Another rainy day. There have been too many of them for my liking this summer. The end of the week was nice and warm, at times hot (for a Northern girl like me), and it was the kind of weather when you don't want to do anything serious, just bask in the shade, have a bite on our little homemade patio, walk in the garden watering the flowers, weeding a bit here and there, feeling the soft flow of warm air on your skin...

To counter that, it has been raining for two days now. It started yesterday, but that was mostly just drizzle. Today it has been pouring down all day, with perhaps a short break at noon, so that I managed to push the doggies out without too much yelling and stamping foot. They don't like the rain, oh noes, but we refuse to have a sandbox for them in the house. Period. As it is, I have to listen closely to what happens outside and kick them out at just the suitable moment when there is either momentarily no rain or only very soft drizzle.

But I've moved on to week 9 of Beyond Layers. The assignment for day 17 was to work in black & white, create a few different images and try and see what works and what doesn't. I have three different images here, and decided I'd stay away from flowers this time. I also thought I'd try out different methods, such as occur to me, to turn the images b&w.

Watering Hen

This is a watering can that stands at our front door, more a decoration than useful gardening equipment. It was originally quite bright but has faded in the few years it has stood there, and I thought b&w would suit it fine. Here I tried out what one must do to make the Desaturate adjustment work.

Processing resources:
- texture Grunged Up by Kim Klassen
- framing action Blur 50 px by Chain

Top Dog

For the above piece, I used the Black & White adjustment layers to remove the colours. The picture was originally rather dark, but shot in natural light in our living room, so it seemed a good idea to make it soft and dreamy (does that make any sort of sense, I wonder?). The dogs in the picture are Marlene and her mother Misaki, who likes to turn the large cushions on our sofa over and settle comfortably on top.

Resources used:
- texture Awaken by Kim Klassen
- texture NF-5 by Jerry Jones
- framing action Motion blur 50 px by Chain


In the third attempt I turned the image b&w using a b&w Gradient Map. The puppy in the picture is one of Misaki's puppies from last October. We had these old mail-sorting boxes in the study at that time, full of mostly my papers, and he would often crawl at the bottom and sleep there. It was a nice, safe hole for him until he literally grew out of it.

Not many resources this time:
- texture Faved by Kim Klassen

Here are recipes again. And tomorrow I'll get to read the post for Day 18 to see what Kim has to say about black & white.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

More Whispering

It's another Beyond Layers post again. Continued from day 15, the following day was still more whispers. Or rather, Kim offered us some photoshop techniques the word Whisper made her think of.   The challenge for day 16 was to use these techniques as well as two textures she presented us with.

Kim's example was so white with such a uniform background that I almost despaired before I even started. Have to shoot something in my make-shift "studio" (see the Start to Finish post) again, I thought.

There was this flower that I picked a while ago when we were walking with the doggies and Better Half suddenly pointed and asked if I knew which flower THAT was. I didn't, so to find out we took it along. It was quite withered when we got home but recovered quickly in a glass of water. It stood there together with a Red Campion I had taken as sort of reference, and I started shooting. The flower turned out to be Ragged Robin (the first part of the name is very understandable). In Finnish, it's called Käenkukka, which means Cuckoo's Flower.

Ragged Robin

Processing resources:
- texture Flourish by Kim Klassen
- font Le Grand Saut by Jellyka Nerevan
- framing action Glass 50 px by Chain

As the result of this processing was quite passable, I decided to have another go. As Better Half was working on another computer last night, I turned to this picture I had taken of a piece of chocolate to work with. It was something we bought in Vienna, called Studentenfutter (student fodder in English). You can see the ingredients in the picture. *grin* Is this what the Austrian students live on?


Resources used:
- texture The Veil by Kim Klassen
- brush Curly 8 by Green-Eyed Butterfly
- font Learning Curve Pro by Blue Vinyl Fonts
- framing action Glass 50 px by Chain

This morning after working a while it occurred to me to try if the same techniques could be applied to a photo with a noisier background. It took some trying, but here's a flower from our garden, a Snow-in-Summer in English. I'm rather happy with it, and as Texture Tuesday this time was 'Anything Goes' I'm sharing this in Texture Tuesday as well.

Resources used:
- texture Plaster Squared by Kim Klassen
- fonts Windsong by Bright Ideas & Copperplate Light
- framing action Motion 50 px by Chain

The recipes I've made of each picture I've processed are sooo useful, my memory being what it is. I'll start following them, take some steps I've tried and tested and then deviate again... Fun! Here are recipes for the above pictures.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

...the Sea Whisper'd Me

On day 15 of Beyond Layers Kim gave us a prompt: Whisper. It was very interesting to start creating from a word-prompt only. The first thing that popped into my mind was the finishing line of Walt Whitman's Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, and although I tried to find easier things that would've whispered to me, I couldn't shake the thought. That's Whitman for me, anytime. You wish you could get away from his wordiness and heaviness and all, but the words just keep rolling in my head and annoying as it is, I cannot help loving them. It's not a passionate love, but a persistent one. Very persistent.

So it had to be sea-related, but of course I knew I had no photo in the archives to convey the mood of the poem, and couldn't possibly go and shoot by the seaside, as it happens to be rather far away from here.

I decided, then, to go by the words only, not the poem. Perhaps I'll sometime get back to the poem, but I think that has to be done in photomanipulation... But here's the whispered result.

...the Sea Whisper'd Me

It's a picture taken on Baltic Sea, on 16 May this year, when we had just left Lübeck on our homeward journey. Actually, I was very happy the sea only whispered this time, instead of roaring. The North Sea between IJmuiden and Newcastle twelve days previously was rather rough, and I had my first experience of sea-sickness. Thinking about it now, it could have been much worse, but it felt like the end of the world at the time. At least I now know first-hand what sea-sickness is.

But back to the picture - used the textures here to make it even softer and at times I thought I'd lose the whole image when toning it down, but then, it's meant to be a whisper.

Resources used:
texture Optional by Jerry Jones
texture Awaken by Kim Klassen
gradient Sea Dreams 15 by ElvenSword

 And here's the recipe.

How annoyingly simple the recipe makes it look, again, and how much tweaking went into each step...

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Black & White with a Touch of Colour

A rainy day. Should have mowed all the lawn yesterday, instead of only going as far as the first tankful of mower would let me. It's too bad one needs to let the machine cool down -- gives one time to cool down oneself, and after that it's a real effort to get going again, although I do, for some unfathomable reason, enjoy lawnmowing. But now the grass is so wet that the poor machine will choke immediately if I try to tackle the backyard.

Oh well, since Better Half is off town training today, and all that the doggies do on rainy days is snore on sofas and chairs around the house, hoping I won't be suggesting anything stupid such a going out, this gives me time to do some more catching up on Beyond Layers. I'm feeling really accomplished -- I'm already on week seven, which means I'm only four weeks behind! That's great -- when I started, the others were doing week 11 already.  And so far I have completed each and every assignment. *insert some the self-satisfied beaming here*

On day 14 of Beyond Layers Kim gave us two videos to study, with ideas how to turn a photo black & white and then add some colour into it to heighten interest. She also gave a more in-depth tutorial on how to create watermark or text brushes.

The brush part really was all familiar to me, but it made me dig up something useful. Kim explained how to resize a brush you're using by using the left and right bracket key -- well, in my Scandinavian Mac keyboard the keys would be totally something else, and while trying to find out which keys to use I landed on this useful hint. Wow, Ctrl + Option drag made changing brush size really quick!

I'm not going to share the brushes I've made, since they are my watermark stamps and anyone interested can see them in the photos I upload, but the black & white assignment was interesting. Thought I'd try using the b&w adjustment layer presets instead of the actions suggested (to be able to afford the Florabella actions I'd have to be making money with my photos or with something anyway). Originally I was quite happy with the results, but decided then to try out the Pioneer Woman b&w action. It gave quite another depth to the image so I ended up using the action.

And then I had a brainwave. Earlier I fretted over the use (or rather, uselessness for me) of brushes, and now I suddenly saw what one could do: use a bold splash brush to add colour to the photo, instead of gently touching the photo with a default brush. Now that was fun to play with.

First Splashes of Colour

Resources used:
Pioneer Woman Black & White action
Splatter Brushes by Fuzzimo

I still have to figure out why, when flattening an image or saving it for web, Photoshop sometimes discards the layer styles. It was most annoying to notice that after I had cracked my brain for a good while to get a bevel to the splashes, it all vanished when I flattened the image. Luckily I finally managed to keep the bevel, though I'm not sure how.