Tag Archives: Sebastian Michaels

21 Days

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“They” say that it takes twenty-one days for an action or practice to become a habit. “They” also say that if you repeat something to yourself three times you can memorize it, but that didn’t necessarily work for me when I had to learn Latin! Still, repetition helps to instill habits.

I have been working through Sebastian Michael’s Photoshop Artistry class for a couple of years now. I love his approach, and I have learned a lot about using parts of Photoshop that I wouldn’t have learned on my own. Every so often, I have to go back into the class for refreshers—how to blend textures, how to create different effects, and so forth. I haven’t gotten the knack of using brushes and vectors for effect yet, but perhaps one day I will.

So, today, when Sebastian sent his newsletter with information about new postings on his Quill and Camera website, I began reading. And there was the mention of his twenty-one day course “21 Days to Creative Abundance.” I need some abundance in my life right about now. I think it’s the winter doldrums or something, even the spring is blooming all over the place down here in South Carolina.

I am just getting started with the class. I am looking forward to it. There are some habits that I need to change and develop, especially when it comes to creative work.

Today’s assignment had three or four parts, depending on how you look at it. The first is to get a journal. I keep blank composition books all the time. I get them from the dollar store, from Walmart, or any other place I can find them on sale. They aren’t pretty, but I can fix that! I have a ton of patterned scrapbook paper and Mod Podge. Instant pretty covers! The second assignment is all about the goals for my artistic and creative work. What do I want to accomplish?

This year, I some work in January to make a plan for one year, five years, ten years, life time. That is hard for me, and I need a way to keep the goals front and center so that I don’t forget them. After all, it’s no good making goals unless there is a plan to follow through.

These are my goals—again—in front of me:

1. To engage in photography regularly, whether it’s every day or not. My realistic goal is to engage in some kind of photographic experience every week. To me, that means either making images with the camera or working with images in Lightroom and Photoshop to create something “artistic.”

2. To write regularly. I already “do” morning pages, daily writings in my personal journal, but I want to expand that idea to focus on creative writing or at least writing more creatively.

3. To publish blog entries regularly. I guess that could go along with number 2 above, but I tend to write for the blog when I feel like it. I may need to go in and do a total revamp of the blog to figure out what it is supposed to “be.” But that’s another thing altogether.

4. To have a gallery show of my photographic art. Lately, I have been doing “stuff” with my images. For Christmas, I gave my father- and mother-in-law a photograph of the old barn that still stands on their house place. I had doctored it up in Photoshop. Then I mounted it on a 13 by 12 piece of board that I had stained. I gave my children the same thing! Last week, I attempted to do a photo transfer on a canvas.  My goal is to get my images off the computer and into the world. I suppose I should start looking for some kind of venue for the show.

5. Along with number 4, to get some photographs in the State Fair in October.

Sebastian said in the video for today, that telling others about goals forces accountability. So, by writing these words where people will read them, I suppose I am asking that you all, the readers, be my accountability partners, to hold me accountable for following through on some, if not all, of the goals I have in mind for this year.

So, for the next twenty-one days, between now and March 21, I will be working toward creating the habits that will help me achieve these goals in my creative and artistic life.

Saturday Evening Post

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My grandmother used to tell us that my granddaddy would read his Saturday Evening Post from cover to cover almost as soon as it arrived.

Well, I don’t have a Saturday Evening Post to read or share. I really don’t have much to share photographically or story-wise! I have enjoyed my no-rush Saturday, actually.

I did play with some textures and overlays with some photographs. hibiscus

I made this image earlier this summer. (I love my red hibiscus! I just need to find a home for it inside this year.) I used several layers of textures. I splurged and bought the Gigantic texture bundle from Design Cuts (more than 2,000 files of textures and brushes and whatnot for $29.00). The bundle has more stuff than I’ll use in a year, but there are so many goodies.

Another good resource is Sebastian Michaels’s Photoshop Artistry class. It was from Sebastian that I learned that I can blend the textures more seamlessly by adjusting the opacity of the brush itself and not just the opacity of the layers and changing up the blend modes of the layers.

So, I think I’m going to poke around in my photo archives some more and find some other images to play with!

The Best of Intentions . . . .

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I did start the year with the best of intentions to write regularly in this space. Unfortunately, like so many intentions, this one fell by the wayside—again. The good thing about this space is that it is forgiving. it sits here waiting patiently until I come back to it.

Today, I made myself leave the house and go for a long walk. According to my FitBit, I walked for 71 minutes. Now you have to realize that I took the camera with me. So that meant I stopped—often—to take pictures, or to receive images, as Christine Valters Paintner would say. The weather was excellent, if breezy. At least the wind did not try to blow me off the planet as it did last week.

There were signs of spring and renewal all over Dreher Island State Park today. I will let the images speak for themselves.

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I had to fight against the wind to get these images. I hope I can get back to the park to see how these beauties look in a few days when they are fully open. (I’m also waiting for my flowering cherry tree to bloom.)

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Today’s prompt for the Capture Your 365 Challenge was “spire.” I immediately thought of church spires and steeples, but rather than do the obvious, I chose to photograph trees reaching to the heavens, branches raised in a glorious hallelujah of their own.

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Because there is no hunting allowed in the state park, the deer are very tame. This is the last of four that crossed in front of me. I looked at the deer; the deer looked at me. Then satisfied that he had seen enough of the human with the camera, it walked sedately into the woods to join the rest of the herd.

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And we humans cannot stop nature from doing her thing. These tiny flowers were growing in the cracks of the asphalt parking lot. I don’t know what they are called, but to me, they are tiny purple stars.

And after I came home and downloaded the images, I had to play in Photoshop.

You see the original in the second photo above. This is the final result.spring bloom

I like the “grunge” look, and I’ve been working through Sebastian Michaels’ Photoshop Artistry class to learn how to combine and blend layers to create something like “fine art.” I still have a lot to learn about manipulating layers. So much of what I do is trial and error. (However, my son likes it!)

A Tuesday Technique and a Texture Tuesday

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I wrote about my cherry blossoms on Saturday. Today, I’m using one of the images to made Saturday. I played with my Lensbaby Composer Pro and Sweet 35 optic and a set of extension tubes to try for some macro photography. Let me tell you, it is sometimes much harder than it seems. There was a light breeze that kept shaking the tree branches. I knew that shooting wide open (2.8 on the Sweet 35) would allow me to use a fast shutter speed, which would minimize the shake. But I had to put the camera in the branches, and I kept bumping them. I finally resorted to hauling out the tripod. Even then I still had some problems getting close enough to the blossoms to make the image I wanted. I had hoped to get some images with the water drops from the rain that morning.

So, I chose the image above to work with. The first thing I did was make a few adjustments in Lightroom—white balance, tone, exposure, contrast, clarity. I have to admit that I make adjustments “to taste” as opposed to formula or correctness. If it looks like I want it to, I call it “correct.”  I also cropped the image to focus on the larger bloom. After my basic adjustments, I opened the image in Photoshop. (I may be one of the few photographers who still use CS6 rather CC.)

One of my favorite actions is the Levels Boost Action from the girls at Love That Shot. I’ve used this action for years. I think it boosts the contrast just a bit more and brightens the image. Then I had fun applying textures. I like textures with some kind of script on them. I think these old-fashioned papers can give the image a vintage look.

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I used a vintage postcard paper from a collection of textures and overlays. I use a free action from MCP Actions to place textures (texture applicator). I used that MCP texture application action, set the blending mode to soft light with an opacity of 60%. I did not like the script over the flowers, but I wanted to retain the color of the texture. I took a Clickin’ Moms’ class last summer, and I learned a trick that helps me retain color but lose texture. Here’s the trick:

1. Make sure you are working on the image itself and not the layer mask. This is important.

2. Use the lasso tool and outline the area where you want to remove the color.

3. Select Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Pull the slider to a high number—10 or higher. On this image, I think I pulled the slider to the right to 25. This removed any traces of the script but left the color.

Then I added Kim Klassen’s Magic Texture (KK2). I reduced the opacity to 30% and set the blend mode to soft light. I brushed a little of the magic texture off the lighter portions of the image. 

By the way, the water drops are evident in the cropped version.