About Me

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Pacific Northwest, United States
We'll use this blog to put out some photo tips we've found through our shooting experiences. Along with family stuff. Going to give this blog thing a try and thanks in advance for looking. And especially being aware I'm learning all this as I go!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

How to Create a Photo with a De-Saturated Border

These instructions are for a PC using Adobe Photoshop CS5

One of the many joys of Photoshop or any other photo editing software are the many things you do do with your images to make them even more uniquely 'yours'.  By the way, this image was taken in a large arena of a beautiful Friesian horse.  The arena was quite dark and I was using a low ISO and a slow shutter speed.  Giving the horse this rather abstract, flowing look.

  1. Open Image you want to add this type of border.
  2. Duplicate the background layer by using Control J.  This will create a duplicate layer of the original image in your layer palette.
  3. With the newly created duplicate layer highlighted/active click in the Edit drop downs.  Click on Free Transform….click Alt-Shift & drag handle towards the center to make the border…press enter to commit when you are happy with the size.  
  4. Now click on Background layer to make it active….Click on the Hue & Saturation adjustment layer.  Lower saturation & increase lightness to your liking.
  5. Click on the scaled down photo layer (should be the top layer) and use Layer Effects to your liking.  I like the drop shadow, inner glow, and bevel & emboss.  These can all be adjusted individually in the Layer Styles box.
  6. Before flattening you can also move the scaled down photo layer if you want to align the background layer to line up objects by clicking on the Move Tool.  
  7. If you want add some text in the border, select the Hue and Saturation layer you created directly above the Background layer.
  8. Select the Text tool and click in the border where you want the text to appear.  Using the background color you select and font type your caption.  I then use the Layer Effects to your liking.  
  9. The last step is to flatten your image and do a Save As.  I always do a 'Save As' so the original image is left unaltered.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Focus Blending with Photoshop CS5

Here is my first attempt at a tutorial using Photoshop CS5. Many of the photo editing tips I will show have been self-taught so we can be learning together. Please always feel free to make comments if you give this technique a try for us all to learn together.

Here I am blending two images with different focal points to make one image with sharpness front to back using CS5. I knew there was a process to do this even though I've never had great success at it, but I still shoot many images with merging them later in mind. Always a good thing to keep in mind, even if you can't do it yet, take the images for when you have found the way to create the magic. Memory is cheap.

I have recently found CS5 has a very easy process to make this happen. It is most useful on subjects with no movement. These images above are not a perfect subject but I included a step to help align the subjects.

These two images above were shot on an overcast day and in the shade. A good setting to cut my teeth on as there was a slight breeze and low light preventing a small aperture.
Camera settings:
  1. ISO 200, 1/50 second at f.11.
  2. It always helps to have a camera set on a sturdy tripod.
  3. Manual setting with the first image focusing on the foreground and the second focusing on the background.
CS5 Post-Editing Steps:
  1. In Camera Raw, select the images you will be using. To do this select your first image by clicking on the thumbnail. Then while holding the Ctrl button select each thumbnail to include it. In my case I had only 2 images but you can use several images with varying focal point front to back.
  2. Select Tools>Photoshop>Load Files into Photoshop Layers.
  3. If as in my example you know there was movement in the subjects, select both layers by holding down the Ctrl button and clicking on all layers.
  4. Select Edit>Auto-Align Layers which will bring up a dialog box where you click on the Auto button, then OK.
  5. Now to work the focus blend magic you select Edit>Auto-Blend Layers selecting the Stack Images button and clicking the Seamless Tones and Colors box. Then click OK.
This will show you the complicated masking and blending that CS5 will do behind the scenes for you. It's not always perfect so you might need to go into the masks and make some manual adjustments by using the brush tool and painting with black (to conceal) or white (to reveal) areas that aren't quite right. But you will get the idea the more you play around with it.
Here is my final result with the sharpness front to back even under low light conditions.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

May 17, 2008 Homeward Bound via Frankfurt and Denver

Beautiful sunrise & clouds in Bordeaux and beautiful sunset in Portland with the temperature at 95º
We got into Bourdeaux in plenty of time. And Thierry helped us in the terminal to make sure we got in the correct lines and got everything checked in before he headed home. His plan: go back to bed. The terminal in Bordeaux is much smaller and is very low key which is nice compared to the other airports we’ve been in. Our flight was at 7:15 am so we watched the sunrise which was spectacular.
Then it was on to Frankfurt where we went through a inspection where they took away our pate. We probably would have been fine if we hadn’t declared it but we were paranoid that we would get in trouble if they found it. We had brought 4 bottles of wine for the kids which was our limit and had declared that which wasn’t a problem. They explained that if the pate had been a bird pate it would have been fine but it was pork pate. So off it went into a trash bin, which Wes was sure they split up at the end of their shifts.
We didn’t have as much of a layover so after we got through the long lines we just looked around in the gift shops until our next leg of the flight which was into Denver. This was the longest part of the flight but we had our own monitors in the back of the seats. So we could watch any movie we wanted. There was about 15 different choices and naturally mine was broken. It would play the movie but it was so pixilated you couldn’t make it out. It took almost 4 hours to watch one movie which was ‘The Bucket List’ The attendants were finally able to fix it after 3 attempts and 3 hours. So I watched several movies which kept me awake.
The Denver airport was new to us and was it every great to hear so much English being spoken. Finally the last leg of our trip and I was so tired that I slept right through the takeoff. I closed my eyes for a few moments while everyone was getting seated. And was very confused when I heard the attendant taking orders for soft drinks or juice. I couldn’t figure out why she was doing that before we had even left the ground. I was surprised when I found we’d been in the air for over an hour. We had left at 7:15 am and we got home at 8 pm. But there was also a 9 hour time difference so we had been traveling for 21 hours. Previously I had never been able to sleep on a plane. That sure can change given the circumstances.
As we flew into Portland we saw something we’ve never seen before. The sun was setting, there were a few clouds and the view of Mt Hood and all the other mountains in the range was incredible. Every other time we've flown the cloud cover kept Mt Hood obscured.
So concludes our trip of a lifetime.

THREE WEEKS IN FRANCE May 16, 2008 Le Citadelle

And this is our last day in France. We visited a fortress near Rochefort, Le Citadelle. It is on the ocean and has the usual walls surrounding the interior fort. On the land side there was four archways in a moat which they could pull in the walkways that was on top of the arches if they were under attack.

And one last shot from Thierry's backyard of his father's beautiful flowers.
We had our last dinner with everyone, said our goodbyes and then packed everything tonight as we were leaving at 2:30 am for the airport. The airport is in Bordeaux which is 2 ½ hours away and Thierry is going to drive us. Like I said a few times already, he is great and has made this trip wonderful. As we w
ere getting up so early we just slept in chairs downstairs in the living room. Which wasn’t too bad, we both fell asleep pretty quickly. All of our bags were ready to go and at 2:30 we were loaded up.
One last thing that was really cool before we left for the airport was we heard a cuckoo bird. They really do call ‘cuckoo’ just like the cuckoo clocks. Pretty cool.

Friday, March 11, 2011

THREE WEEKS IN FRANCE May 15, 2008 Le Pere Lachaise Cemetery & TGV to Marennes

Today was our last day in Paris, so we packed all of our stuff and took it down to the lobby. We didn’t have to catch the train until mid-afternoon but since we had to check out before noon the hotel will keep the luggage until we return to catch the TGV.
We took the Metro to the Le Pere Lachaise Cemetery. As always the ride is even entertaining. At one stop there was a woman from Africa with a large tub balanced on her head. And the tub had all kinds of stuff in it. They make it look so effortless.
Once at the cemetery we just walked along the cobblestone walkways looking at all the very old graves and crypts. There is also a lot of statues and plaques that are very elaborate. Most of these are very mournful and some even ghoulish but all are intriguing.

The cemetery is built on a hill and the tall crypts go right up the hillside.

This is where Jim Morrison was buried and his grave site is usually very crowded with young people. Today it wasn’t crowded at all and it would be very easy to miss without a map. It was covered with flowers and candles. It has just a small tombstone but I had read in a tour book that there is always a cat near this grave. And sure enough right next to his grave was a calico cat just sitting on the tombstone. Pretty freaky.
As Paris is so big and there is limited burial space. So every 100 years the people in these cemeteries will be removed unless they have had a permanent internment.

After we strolled through the cemetery we caught the Metro back to the hotel, grabbed our luggage and headed to catch the TGV back to La Rochelle. Not too far out of Paris the weather turned pretty nice again and it was a nice trip through the beautiful countryside and through many neat old cities and towns.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

THREE WEEKS IN FRANCE May 14, 2008 Catacombs, Louvre and Eiffel Tower

We had planned on going to Versailles this morning and then later going to the Louvre. But Wes had barely slept last night and finally took what he thought was plain Tylenol around 3 a.m. What he actually took was a couple of Tylenol PM. These combined with little sleep really hit him hard. He was so wiped out and groggy he couldn’t do another day. So we skipped Versailles as none of us got up as early as planned to take the hour long trip there. And we figured another hour back we would really be cutting the time close to do the Louvre.
So instead Mia, Thierry and I went through the cemetery in Montparneseas we walked to the Catacombs.

We went through a market place that was set up the next block over from our hotel. The outside markets are very popular here as most people like to shop there for their fresh foods.
The Catacombs were only about a 30 minute walk from the hotel and there was not much of a wait to go in. There were more stairs to get to the underground tunnels which go throughout Paris. Here we saw areas where the bones go as far back as 90 feet. They had emptied cemeteries as they became so overcrowded they had nowhere to bury the dead, especially during epidemics, plagues and wars. So they brought the people (they don’t call them bones) into the Catacombs and for whatever reason they didn’t just stack them up but made very creative designs with them. There were hearts and all types of geometric designs. It is very eerie but fascinating at the same time. We could take our time as we walked through but they allowed no tripods or flashes. The guard that went along with us would shine his flashlight on areas to help illuminate it. The walls of bones just go on and on.

We headed back to the hotel around lunch time to see if Wes was going to be able to join us for the rest of the day. But he was still asleep and decided to stay in. I got him a sandwich from a small deli and did it all by myself. Most people here know a bit of English but it’s still hard to explain what you want. Wes got a real nice, dry turkey sandwich on that nice French hard bread. They just don’t do condiments here. And Mia, Thierry & I went to this Korean restaurant just down the street and had a BBQ lunch which was a do it yourself at your table. This was really fun as I even used chopsticks to take meat off grille as it cooked. We had an egg flower soup, rice, vegetables and the meat we cooked and it was all delicious.
After lunch we went to the Louvre and while we were inside it rained outside and even had some lightning. This is one gigantic building with some of the hugest paintings you could ever imagine.

And then you see the Mona Lisa which is surprisingly small. And besides being behind protective glass with guards all around it there is a roped off area that in front of the painting is about 15 feet back. The rope angles closer along the sides but the angle is not good for photos, lucky for my long lens with image stabilization.

Everywhere you look here is breath-taking, even the ceilings have frescoes and elaborate arches and gold trim.
We saw the Winged Victory and Venus De Milo besides many other famous paintings.
Gorgeous, gorgeous stuff.

And there are many different wings dedicated to different European and African art. We saw some beautiful old art from ancient Egypt and one area had Greek sculptures.

There was one very strange art object that we saw that was surprising. It was painting on a wall with a mannequin leaning his head against the wall with a pool of blood at his feet. It was disturbing which I’m sure it was meant to be as at first it didn’t look like an art object. But instead a man leaning into the picture and bleeding all over the place. Weird.
We made our way to their cafe area that was like a food pavilion at our shopping malls where we had dinner. Nothing fancy but a lot of food. I had lasagna and couldn’t believe how much I got. It was gigantic.
Then we were off to the Eiffel tower to see it at night. I was hoping to be able to take some pictures of it as the sparkling began. And we got there just in time, man is it every fabulous. The sparkling lights last for ten minutes at the top of each hour up until 1am. Then the rain began again. We were across the river from the tower so we hustled to get underneath for some protection from the rain. I took a few shots from underneath before we headed back to the hotel.
All in all, even with the rain at the end of the day it was another great day in Paris.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

THREE WEEKS IN FRANCE May 13, 2008 Notre Dame, Outside the Louvre, Eiffel Tower & Seine River Cruise

We ate breakfast in hotel this morning, they had hard boiled eggs, croissants, fruits and cold cereal. It was quick and easy so we could get our start on the day.
We met up with Yoyo & Delphine's friend, Virginie as she is going to spend the day with us.
The first place we visited was Notre Dame. This is on an island on the Seine and is spectacular. We went inside with the throng of people and found there was a funeral going on for one of the priests.
The inside of the church is awesome and we also got to see what it’s like when there is a service going on. There was roped off areas that we could walk along and see the church. And when the funeral procession needed to pass we would be stopped and they would go past us.
We then went outside to get to where the tower tours began. We climbed a spiral staircase to see the great view of Paris and to see the Gargoyles. The stairs going up are made of stone or marble, I’m not sure which. But they are very worn over the many hundreds of years people have been using them. Once you half way up the towers you get to see the Gargoyles. They are all around the perimeter and are all different. They sure add to the view as it’s a beautiful day with just enough clouds to add to the scenery. I didn’t go up into the bell tower as it looked pretty steep and I would rather look and photograph the views.

After we were done here it was getting to be later morning so we walked along the Seine River. There is a lot of traffic on the river with the majority being open cruise boats.
We found a restaurant that we were going to have lunch at which is near the Louvre. It was getting pretty hot and thought we might want to eat outside but it was very busy. And people can take hours to eat their lunch. But when we went inside we found that even though they don’t have air conditioning it wasn’t too bad inside. They had all the windows open and the ceiling fans on so it was very pleasant. We finished our meal so while Mia, Thierry & Virginia had coffee Wes went outside and took a few pictures. I hung inside for a while and then went outside as there was a small sidewalk gift shop to browse in. In the few minutes I was getting some postcards Wes saw two blonde girls with large sunglasses walk across the sidewalk and through a gateway hotly pursued by some paparazzi. There were about 5 to 7 photographers running around the girls taking photos. Wes had no idea who they were but we then remembered the Cannes film fest going on in South France right now and Paris Hilton was reported to be in Paris on her way to Cannes. So perhaps?

After we all felt more refreshed we walked through the huge center courtyard of the Louvre.
The Louvre is a very large art museum in the shape of a ‘U’. The open area in the center has a fairly new, all glass pyramid surrounded by pools which is used as the entrance. Even on the outside it’s a gorgeous building with large statues adorning nearly every façade and corner.

From there it was a quick jaunt to visit the Eiffel Tower. As Paris has almost no buildings over 4 to 5 stories you can see the Eiffel from quite a distance. And to think when it was new the Parisians hated it and it was going to be torn down after the world’s fair.
As we got closer to the park around the tower there was a small lake with a lot of trees and we saw a blue heron. We was fine with us being so close and it never did fly away. I went back after a couple of hours and it was still there but in a different part of the lake.

We had heard that there can be a wait to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower of 2 to 4 hours if you‘re lucky. Well, we were very lucky as there was only a ½ hour wait to go up to level 2. Then you change to another elevator to go to the top and that was 45 minutes. The first elevator gives you a strange sensation as it travels along at an angle and then shifts so it goes straight up.
It was a gorgeous day to be up in the tower with incredible views.
While we were up at the top there were two monks there and some people around them became very excited upon seeing them. They were even asking if they could have their photos taken with him. One man even became really giddy about this and was acting like the monk was a celebrity. They were dressed in gold yoga type gowns with shaved heads. And I just couldn’t bring myself to ask or even try to nonchalantly get him in a photo full face. I did take a couple just to show them but that was it.

As the afternoon was getting late we headed to the dock where the boat was for our dinner cruise on the Seine. We had some trouble finding the dock and had to do some back tracking. But thank goodness for Thierry who could read the signs and we found the dock in plenty of time. We had some really great food for dinner as we cruised along the river. It is amazing just how many boats are cruising along the river and sunset is a wildly busy time here as it’s just gorgeous.

All along the banks are boats of which many are houseboats that people live in. And the banks are also
full of performers and people just there to watch the sunset.

So as the sun is going down everything turns that beautiful gold and the lights begin to come on and the sunset did not disappoint. It was one beautiful night. I would eat a course then pop up to the upper deck to see and photograph the incredible views.

Here is Thierry at our table on the dinner cruise.

And here is Virginie.

And Mia.

And the many, many beautiful sights as we cruised down the Seine.

It had been a day beyond belief but it was also a very hectic day.

As I had noted Wes has been fighting a cold, had been buzzing through Paris nonstop so when we finally got back to our hotel we were beat, especially the sick dude, Wes.
Mia, Thierry and Virginie continued their day at a bar across the street. I think they said they got in around 1.