Mar 222015
 

You can do some amazing stuff in Photoshop Elements, including creating “Oil Paintings”.  I absolutely love dabbling in PhotoShop Elements  (PSE) and the things you can do with are endless.   I am totally self taught but I own numerous how-to books and have sat through many many how-to videos.   I have tried so many things but to be honest, when you are not immersed in it, you can easily forget the steps. 

About 7 years ago, when my daughter was very involved in a competitive dance program, I started a little “business”.  I should really call it a labour of love of dance because there was no profit.   When there were studio performances where I could take photos, I rented a long, fast lens.   At most competitions, we were not allowed to photograph performances but we could purchase the photos on CD.  In both cases, I used my Photoshop skills to create unique collages or clean up photos for myself and other parents.  Although I made no profit,  I made many a dance mom happy with my creations.

Today I want to share one of my most treasured creations using PSE.  The original photo was purchased on CD at one of the competitions.  In a group ballet picture, my daughter commented to me “Look Mom, I am doing a perfect arabesque!” For her to actually say something positive about a dance photo was pretty rare so I thought I would take a stab at seeing what I could do with it.  She is one of many and I knew  if I “extracted” her from the photo, it would be grainy but  I decided to work on it anyway, just for fun.

Here is the original photo:

Ballet_background copy

There’s Miss Nice in the middle doing a “perfect arabesque” (apparently)

 

Using the tools in PSE, I “extracted” her to a new file.  First, I made a rough selection, similar to the one above and erased all the other dancers.  I then further defined the selection by using the following tools

  • Magic Wand
  • Quick Selection
  • Magnetic Lasso
  • Zoom

Once I had the “cutout”  I was sure to SAVE the selection.  It can be a tedious process to have to re-do.  Trust me I have forgotten to save selections many times.

Because everything in PSE is in layers, I was then able to make copies of the cutout and apply filters as well as experiment with adding various backgrounds.  I must admit, I am far from being an  EXPERT but the more you read up on techniques and experiment, the more you learn. 

A Simple Preliminary Version

The photo below is a simple, preliminary version using a background created using a cloud pattern found in PSE and a fill colour layer.

Paint effect with a cloud background created in Photoshop

 

Screen shot of the layers used.

 

 

Final Version

At the time, I was editing dozens of dance photos for dance parents and I had purchased some interesting backgrounds.  Using the same picture, and a purchased background, I came up with this final version.

Final version printed on canvas

 

The various layers used

 

  In the photo above,

  • Layer 3 is the purchased background. 
  • The layer “Floor” is a copy of the floor from the original picture set at an opacity of 50%.  This allows the reflection on the floor to show through.
  • “Merged layers”  is just that, a layer of all the layers below merged together.  I then made copies of the merged layer to apply various artistic effects.  By making copies, you never ruin or lose your work.
  • For this print, I only used a filter called “Dry Brush”.  I also tried “Underpainting” but as you can see there is no eye symbol next to it so it is not visible.

Before and After Comparison

Below is a comparison of the original and the final with the adjustments made.  The look is very subtle but it looks smooth and not grainy.

A close-up cropped from the original photo: grainy

 

A close up of the finished photo with background removed and “oil paint” filter applied. Hides the graininess.

Once finished, I dropped it off at Costco to be printed on a stretched 12″ x 18″canvas.  I also had it framed with a simple narrow black frame.  It hangs in the hallway next to the guest bath where it often admired by all who see it. 

My Beautiful Ballerina

 

 

I too stop and admire it often. 

Not only am I proud of my work, I am proud of my beautiful daughter who was all of 12 years old at the time.  I have many, many other “creations” of photos taken of various  routines but for some reason, this one really touches my heart.  Even though ballet was not her favourite dance style, she still loved it.   For me this creation really portrays the joy dance gives her.  I will treasure it forever.

Now Miss Nice is at university and still takes dance classes and finds opportunities to perform but it is a far cry from the hours she put in during those 12 years of competitive dance.  April is the beginning of dance competition season.  I don’t miss the craziness of it all but I do miss watching her perform. 

So for now, I will stop in front of this “painting” and reminisce.  

Have you dabbled in Photoshop? 

Photoshop Elements is relatively inexpensive compared to the full version.  There are so many great “how-to” books out there.  I usually get mine from the library.  Toronto has an amazing library system.  Some of the books are even available on line, for free,  from the library.  If I really like the book, I may purchase it and add it to my reference library.

So many effects can be created in Photoshop. 
What have you tried? 
I would love to here about your experiments.

 

Joan

Mar 112015
 
Are photo albums a thing of the past

In this age of digital everything, are physical photo albums a thing of the past?

A LONG Winter and Now:  Bronchitis

I recently shared how my husband and I survived this LONG winter.  I really should have said “mentally” survived!   The day before I shared the long winter post,  I went out snowshoeing with my friend and our two dogs for an hour or so.  It was a bit longer than planned because even before we started, I commented I felt I was getting a cold.  That afternoon we were hit with a big ice storm (yes, ,more crappy winter weather!) and in the evening we lost power until nearly noon the next day. 

I am sure it was just coincidence but I woke up in the cold house with whopping, nasty chest cold!  Bronchitis to be exact. 

Why??
Why me??

Today is Day 8 and it has let up a bit but not to the point I can be really busy and actually move around a lot and “DO” something.   It seems if I move a lot, like dash up the stairs, I have a 15 minute coughing fit.   I am very fortunate, in that I am not working outside the home and do not have small children.  However,  I am in my 50s and this has really “Socked it to Me!”.   (You may need to be a child of the 70s to get that Goldie Hawn line.)

Photo albums a thing of the past

“SOCK IT TO ME” (source)

Sorting Photos

Okay enough “Poor Me”, so what does all this have to do with PHOTO ALBUMS?

You see, I have been an avid photographer for years.  I even developed my own black and white way back in the day so I have DOZENS and DOZENS of photo albums.  I also have HUNDREDs of printed pictures, needing sorting, labeling, filing and framing.  Some stacks go back 3 or 4 years.  These are mostly travel photos along with some family and artistic attempts.   Not all will go into albums, it’s also time to update the gallery wall.

With this bronchitis, I have barely gotten out of my PJs, or bed for that matter, meaning I have been unable to tackle active, productive projects like sanding and painting.  Looking around,  I decided it is time to get out the boxes of photos and empty albums and get to work on them.  Nice quiet, non-stressful activity.  This will also be a MAJOR de-cluttering / organizing task that is SO LONG OVERDUE!

Photo albums a thing of the past

Sorting and Filing is well underway.

 

photoalbum4

This is most but not all of my albums. Looking from top to bottom, you can almost see the “History of Photo Album Styles”. The top row are the peel and stick type!

 

Photo Albums

I love printed photos. 
Do you?
I love to look at them. 
I love to touch them. 
I love to remember and reminisce over them.

Will my daughter and the next generation value photo albums and the memories they hold as much as I do?

Are printed photos and photo albums following a similar path as music?  I distincely remember my first stereo receiver, turntable, cassette deck and then CD player.  Now all gone.

A couple of summers ago, at the encouragement of my husband and daughter, I sorted through all of my albums, selecting HUNDREDS of  important pictures and sent them to be digitized. I have them on both CDs and a dedicated hard drive.   I did the same with the literally hours and hours of family and vacation video we have on 8mm.  It was an expensive venture but it is very important to me that we preserve these memories.

To date, neither my husband or my daughter have taken a look at what we now have on digital.

Is that not a telling sign?

 Is the effort of labeling and filing photos, in order to capture memories of precious times together, now a  futile effort?

I have also realized I have not printed and filed away our pictures from the trip we took in August of 2013 to Prague and Vienna.  Should I bother?  Will this be the last of my photo albums?

Maybe I am just getting old and old fashioned.

Yes, we are all busy.  Life is moving so fast.   Maybe too fast.

Capturing special moments seems to be no longer all that special.  It is instantaneous.  Then it is on to the next “special” moment. 

Regardless, I will continue to tackle this task over the next few days when I need to sit quietly and watch NetFlix or listen to a book from Audible on my phone.

Do you still print photos and fill photo albums?

Do you think photo albums will go the way of records and CDs and maybe even DVDs?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Joan

( Did you happen to note the irony in the last sentence before my question? )

 

 

Mar 042015
 
surviving this long winter

I  have a message for all those bloggers who are posting “ALL THINGS SPRING”

Hello people!  It is still WINTER!!

(At least where I am!)

As I sit to write this post, we, the citizens of Toronto are having yet another major snowfall coming through our lovely city.  I can see the pretty white stuff falling ever so softly outside the patio doors of my office. 

surviving this long winter

Yup! That’s the view from my desk. And Yes, it is snowing. AGAIN!

I must admit, it has been a brutal winter in so many areas of North America.  In Toronto, we don’t get astronomical amounts of snow but we often get what is referred to as “lake effect” snow.  The proximity to Lake Ontario can influence the weather in all seasons.

Many people may curse me but I have never really been a WINTER HATER!  In fact, I rather like real winter.  By that I mean the periods of winter when it is cold and snowy versus the wet and slushy version.  Early spring depresses me when the snow turns to slush and everything is dirty and wet and miserable. 

How We Remain Sane In Winter

As I said earlier, I was never a “winter hater”.  Don’t get me wrong, I hate the driving and the inconvenience but if I choose to live in Toronto, Canada, winter is part of the package.

So my philosophy has always been: 

Dress for the cold and it can be fun!

Mr. Nice and I were skiiers.  In fact we met in a “traveling ski club”.  Small ski hills are an hour or so north of the city and there were clubs who organized day and weekend trips.  It was a blast.  It made winter fun!

Now we do not ski so much but we do get outside.

1.  Dog Walking

We’ve had a dog in our lives for over 20 years and for sure, they get you outside.  Our new pup, Chester who is now 9 months old is the ultimate snow lover!  Look at these photos.  How can you stay inside and deny this pup his romp?

surviving this long winter

Snow face. A florescent ball is a must in the snow!

surviving this long winter

It was minus 10 degrees Celsius  (or 14’F)  and who cares!

2.  Curling

In the fall I posted we took up curling.  I thought I was officially a curler at the time of the post  but now, I am the proud owner of official curling shoes and a broom!

surviving this long winter

Curlers wear special shoes. The sole of one shoe had a teflon face allowing you to slide when you throw the rock. Fancy brooms for sweeping

 So yes, NOW it is OFFICIAL!  While this sport is indoors, it is only played in winter.  If you are unfamiliar with curling, it is a great sport and probably one of the most social winter sports ever.  Winners buy losers the first drink and losers buy the second.  BTW, our club makes the BEST hot chocolate! 

Mr. Nice and I have met SO many people this winter via curling!

Lastly, as this winter has dragged on, I made a purchase to encourage us to get out ever more! 

3.  SNOWSHOES!

Now that has to be the ULTIMATE committment to winter! 

Let me tell you…

  • it is cheap
  • it is easy
  • it is fun
  • and you are OUTSIDE!

 Last weekend, we had our inaugral trip on our snowshoes with Mr. Nice and my dog walking pal.   It was SO MUCH fun!  We trapsed around our golf club.

surviving this long winter

Me and Mr. Nice

surviving this long winter

long shadows on a winters day

Today, before this snow began my dog walking buddy and I bravely took our dogs out snowshoeing….for an HOUR!  For the dogs, the snow was deep and a bit crusty on top but they never seem to tire.

Needless to say Chester is sleeping soundly under my desk  …

Winter is a reality.

Just DO it!

I’m 58 years old and LOVE winter

… you can too!

 

Joan

 

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