- Black and White
- Displacement Filter
- Flower Photography
- Liquify Filter
- Making Smoke
- Night Photography
- Non-destructive Dodging & Burning
- Photo Walks
- Photographing Flowers
- Photography in General
- Photography Tips
- Photoshop Technique
- Street Photography
- Tabletop Studio
- This Week in the Garden
- Travel Photography
Category Archives: Photoshop Technique
Just for a change of pace, I thought I would play with some Photoshop actions in my rather large collection. I am a big fan of actions, and on a day-to-day basis I use them for practical things like sharpening images for detail and for print, and they are a huge time saver for repetitive things. But for this post I will concentrate on actions for creating a painting look to a photograph. Most of the examples, if not all, were downloaded from Action Central, are free and have been tested. Actions are easy to install in Photoshop. Here is a link for detailed instructions, but I have found that on my Windows-based machine that once the action is downloaded and unzipped, if necessary, all I have to do is double-click the action from my desktop, or wherever it is located. The action, which has a .atn file extension, installs automatically and is usable right away, whether I have Photoshop opened or not. For Photoshop Elements users, installation is a little more complicated depending on the version of the software that you have. Doing a Google search will lead you to a place to get instructions, and you could also use the Help feature in the program. Not all actions will work in Photoshop Elements; it just depends on the attributes of the action (mostly filters) but it doesn’t hurt to try.
A newly installed action will appear in the actions pallet at the bottom of the list of installed actions. If you don’t see the actions pallet in your workspace, just go to the Window menu and check Actions. The actions are displayed in the collapsed dock as a triangle pointing to the right, and to play the action select it and click on the “play” triangle.
Just a note: you may want to duplicate your original first to preserve it, and change the mode to 8-bit since some of these artistic actions use filters that are not available for 16-bit images. Just go to the Image menu and select Mode, then 8 bits/channel.
Here is my original image, taken on a trip to Canada in 2005, outside a restaurant on the way to Peggy’s Cove. Click on any image to see full size.
Following are the different artistic treatments of the same photo, all done with the push of a button. I’ve provided detail on some of them so you can appreciate the effects of the actions on a larger scale.
You don’t have to stop with the action. Here is one of the “paintings” where I added a texture, masked out some of the painting and added a signature.
Continuing my quest to build a night photography portfolio, I was out last Friday night with a couple of my photo club buddies to get some pictures of the Lowry Avenue bridge in Minneapolis. There are many bridges that cross the Mississippi River near downtown and they each have their own character built into them. After taking photos of the bridge itself we walked to the middle and there was a nice view of the Minneapolis skyline, although a bit far away for the lens I was using. With darkness coming on fast there appeared a dirty orange glow in the sky that was very unappealing and I couldn’t get rid of it by modifying the white balance.
“When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.”
To salvage the image, I converted it to black and white with Nik’s Silver Effex Pro and then cropped it.
I took a different approach for my final shot. I opened the aperture as wide open as possible, and purposely put it out of focus. The dirty orange sky was still there, so I got rid of it by tinting it blue in the develop module of Lightroom 4.
I love the winter since it gives me a chance to catch up on some things and to be a little more creative in post-production. While on a little road trip to South Dakota last fall, I had captured a photo at Mount Rushmore , and I’m sure it was like about a zillion other photographs taken over the years of this iconic masterpiece of artistry and engineering. I’d had an idea of making it less ordinary by combining this photo with an American flag and now was the time to do it. I’d also read tutorials on the use of the displacement filter in Photoshop and thought that might help to add the relief of the figures to the flag.
In my neighborhood there is an old farmstead and when driving by, I have been fascinated by this machine, which I later learned was a thresher. The whole contraption looked like some medieval mechanical dragon with wheels and chutes and chains and gears, none of which seemed at all practical. After getting permission from the owner to take photos, I had some fun shooting it. The detail images were fine, but the whole machine had so many distractions in the background that I just couldn’t use it as it was. Because I admired this machine so much, I spent more time than I probably should have masking it from the original photo so that I could composite it with a photo of a field. When I was done with that, it was fun resizing it and moving it around in the composition, but something was missing.
I find it frustrating to come upon a picturesque scene when I am out looking for landscape subjects and there are power lines or other distracting elements that are impossible to shoot around. Taking a shot is a waste of time and even though it doesn’t cost anything to take the picture, I am learning to pass on situations like that. But out in your own garden that is not the case…when you see something that is a distraction, just snip it out. This shows how doing a little manicuring can make a difference. (Click on the image to see full size.)
In the final, I replaced a bloom on the edge with foliage because it was drawing attention away from the center of interest. I then made tonal and hue adjustments and added a vignette to help keep attention on the flowers.