The weather was glorious this weekend… bright sunshine, fresh autumn air, and a balmy temperature of 63 degrees. Since Lydia and I spent the majority of Saturday indoors at the Westminster Farmer’s Market, I could hardly say “no” when the kids asked to go to the park on Sunday.
Lydia followed behind us, taking pictures of me pulling the wagon. I had forgotten to bring extra lenses, so she had to practice with the telescope lens already on the camera.
Of course, when we arrived at the park, I spent more time photographing the kids playing, and pushing Jacob on the swing, than working on my cat painting.
Many of the birch trees were already stripped bare, thanks in part to Hurricane Sandy’s 70+ MPH winds on October 30th.
The ground was covered in a thick blanket of crunchy leaves, which the girls wasted little time jumping into… and starting a leaf throwing fight.
They took turns burying each other….
The effects of Sandy were evident, with fallen and chopped trees lying everywhere.
Lydia, a bare-footed wood nymph, feigning sleep upon one large trunk.
We weren’t the only family enjoying the beautiful day. A large group was celebrating a child’s birthday at the park, and my kids were excited to mingle with kids their own age.
Jacob in particular was drawn to a 3-year-old girl dressed in iridescent fairy wings. They fluttered from swing-set to monkey-bars to merry-go-round like a pair of moths.
I would have taken a few shots of them together, but I wasn’t sure if the girl’s mother would appreciate my posting her daughter’s picture here online.
There will be opportunities later when Jacob begins dating in earnest.
My curious sweetheart, in need of a haircut, is asking me to read aloud the graffiti scrawled into the tunnel slide…. “Exit Here” seemed appropriate.
When the other group of children were called into the pavilion for “cake and pizza”, it was our cue to pack up and begin the trek back home.
With a promise from Mommy that there would be cake and pizza for our dinner, too!
I shared some new images on Facebook, of cherry blossoms, that I photographed when my daughter and I walked through our Funkstown neighborhood taking pictures.
I edited them quickly in Photoshop before posting them online, and promised everyone I’d write a tutorial explaining my simple process.
I began with this image, which was 4672 x 3104 pixels (at 300 dpi)… For anyone interested, I used a Pentax K-7, with a manual focus 28-70 mm zoom lens, set at 30 mm… f/4, ISO 100, yadda yadda…
Anyway, it’s just a typical shot of cherry blossoms taken in afternoon sunlight. You probably have hundreds of photographs just like this, as everybody takes pictures of flowers blooming; it’s like licking the cream inside Oreos… and while it’s a pretty image, I was itching to play around in Photoshop to make it special.
I started by cropping it into a square, 3100 x 3100 px, which gives me a print measuring roughly 10″x10″ at 300 dpi.
Then I adjusted the Levels to brighten the photo and increase the contrast slightly.
I created a duplicate layer – something I always do, so that I can play around with various color shades. I decreased the “blueness” of the second image using Color Variations. This gave the image a lovely greenish gold tint.
I set the Blending Mode of the duplicate image to Screen – 100% Opacity – and merged the two together into one layer. (Sorry, I forgot to take a screenshot of that).
But here is the result….
The background wasn’t fuzzy enough for my taste, so I used the Magic Wand tool to highlight the areas I wanted to Blur a bit more. I copied that area, Blurred using the Gaussian Blur filter, and once it was nice and blurry… merged it back together with the bottom image.
Here is the same photo, slightly Blurrier. LOL!
See the difference??
Alrighty then. Moving along….
Next, I began experimenting with gradients on a separate layer. My usual “go to” for floral photography is a dark purple/golden yellow combination, so I tried that first using a diamond gradient:
However, I wasn’t too impressed with the results this time around. I tried a few other pairings: pink/gold, orange/yellow, blue/gold… before testing out a forest green and yellow combination:
(I usually have the lighter hue – yellow or gold – coming from the direction of the light source)
I really liked the effect of these colors, blended at Soft Light (82% Opacity).
But my photo was still missing “something”… It seemed a bit flat and lifeless.
I do have to be careful, as I tend to overwork my images, but I couldn’t resist dusting off my favorite bokeh filter:
This is a photograph I took a couple of years ago in our backyard ~ an intentionally blurry image, aimed at our tree canopy. The dark orange parts were originally the tree’s branches, the golden parts were its leaves, and the white area was the sky peeking through. When I unfocused my lens and blurred the image, the reflections of sunlight created thousands of these “bokeh lights”.
The colors were edited, of course, in Photoshop ~ where I added the orange/yellow gradient (my original bokeh image was green!), so that I could use this as a warm, glowing filter for bokeh effects.
Back to the Photoshop tutorial:
I took my bokeh design, cut-n-pasted it over my floral photo… and had to stretch it to cover the entire area, because my bokeh photo is only 2480 px (at 72 dpi) across. Then set the Blending Mode for Soft Light, 65%.
There was already some bokeh visible in the original photo, but I think this additional filter warms the background and makes it “sparkle”… for lack of a better word.
At this point, I considered it finished.
Looking through all the pictures we took (over 700 of them combined)… I had quite a few, nearly identical, close up shots of these blossoms. So I decided to create a four-part series using the same technique.
After my first image was complete, I used the same forest green/yellow gradient and bokeh filter on each additional photo, and spent only 10-15 minutes in Photoshop per image. (A couple of them did need slight adjustments in order to match).
Go ahead and download my favorite homemade bokeh filter, and play around with your own flower photographs. Remember: Photoshop can be very addictive!