Monday, December 31, 2012

A Blessing For The New Year

This photograph was taken in the Fall of 2012 by my son-in-law while in northern Spain.  With his permission I have edited it a bit in Photoshop.  Thought it illustrates nicely the contemplation and reflection with which we often begin a new year.

Wishing each and every one of you a happy, healthy, rewarding 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year's End

As the year ends, here in the North East we have been buried embraced by more snow:

The photo on the left was posted here last week.  On the right you see snow in the last few days has now buried the same chair.

Hope you are able to look back on 2012 with gratitude for all its blessings and lessons.  See you in 2013!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The New Year and PAF are just around the corner!

Now that Christmas is over, perhaps you have time to turn your thoughts to your photography, digital editing and blogging.  I am hoping to soon return to a more regular schedule of creative pursuits.

Photo Art Friday will return from its hiatus on Friday, January 4th, 2013!  (Only about a week away!!)  Have you considered selecting a word to guide and inspire you throughout the year?  If so, you will like the optional theme for the first PAF in 2013:

The optional challenge is to link up a piece of photo-ART that features your or a 'guiding' word for 2013.  Easy peasy!  Here's an example (using the word that I think I will choose ... I think ... maybe ... we'll see ...) of what one could do:

  Contrived from  photographs of one of my paintings and a statue in my house.

 We did not have to dream of a white Christmas this year!

We are enjoying a real winter wonderland, with more snow forecast for tomorrow.

May your last few days of 2012 be merry and bright and may the new year bring you many moments of inspiration and bliss!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

50% off all texture sets

Hi there Everyone!

Have you been crazy busy arranging a wonderful Christmas for your loved ones, and now you're thinking about a little Christmas indulgence just for yourself?   Well ... check this out:

You can save 50% off all textures in my Shoppe until Saturday, Dec. 22nd at midnight.  Yes!  50%!!!  There are several new sets  to choose from.  Check them out here.  

You have only about 2 1/2 days to benefit from the automatic 50% discount on your purchase total.  Don't miss out, I've never reduced my texture sets by this much before!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas up here in the North East of the continent. 

Stay safe everyone and have a very merry, connected and inspired Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A little inspiration just for you!

Hi Everyone!

These are very busy days, right?  I won't keep you.  Just want to let you know that I'm still around and will be back with Photo Art Friday right after the New Year.  Hope your holidays are full of joy!

In the meantime, here is a little gift of gratitude and inspiration for you:

pdpa Inspiration texture  -  A Free Download

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Just a reminder ...

Hey there!  Hope all your holiday preparations are in full swing and proceeding smoothly.  I've opted for the easy shopping alternative of sitting in front of the computer and ordering gifts online.  Click, click ... and then ding, dong the ordered items are delivered to the door.

Of course, a stroll along Montreal's main street with all the decorations, music, lights and hustle and bustle is a must every Christmas.  It's just so nice not to have to stand in lines to pay for purchases.  How have you sourced your holiday gifts this year?

 I've had a couple of emails from followers who are missing Photo Art Friday. So sweet.  :)   Not to worry, it's only twelve days until Christmas, nineteen days until New Year's Day, and about three weeks until the next Photo Art Friday!  I'll put up a post reminding you of the optional theme in a couple of weeks.

Here are a couple of painterly Photoshop edits done using two of my "Painterly" textures.  You still have until Saturday, December 15th at midnight to profit from the 30% discount off all the sets when you purchase a minimum of two sets.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sharing Some Texture Love

Yes, that's me  -  covered in - buried in textures.  I currently have 2000+ textures in my archives!  It's a serious addiction and I think I need help! ;)   There are just too many great ones sitting around unused and unloved.  Sooooo - I've been doing some thinking and have come up with a great way of sharing more of them with you!  It's in the works and I'll be posting the details here very soon.  Can't wait to share this idea (and hundreds+ textures!) with you.

So stay tuned for the unveiling of a great new way to have unlimited downloads of tons of my textures!  They're
just hanging out in my head and in my archives waiting for a way photo artists can access them, love them and use them!

Oh - don't forget that you get a 30% automatic reduction off of all my texture sets with a minimum purchase of two sets until December 15th!  Check out my Texture Sets Shoppe to select your favourites.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Photo Art Panache

Did you get to wander through our virtual photo art gallery this past weekend?  The photo art showcased was beyond great.  I am truly running out of superlatives to describe the submissions.  Thank you everyone.  You're the best!

You inspire me to learn more, try harder, do better and just dive in and experiment with new forms of photo art.  That's what I will be doing (among other things!) during Photo Art Friday's hiatus in the month of December.  You know, there is nothing that says we can't pre-prepare images and then showcase them with PAF whenever we want.  PAF will return on January 4th, 2013.

Kim, a loyal PAF participant asked me to post a few images using textures from my new pdpa Abstract Panache texture set.  Thanks for the suggestion Kim.  I'm happy to oblige.  As the name suggests, they work well for making abstract photo art.  But they can be used with most photographs.  The effect is as subtle or dramatic as your blending selection.  Of course,  part of the artistry is finding the right texture to complete your vision.  I have to admit, however, that some of my best creations have been happy accidents - and I can guarantee you some happy surprises using these textures.  They are just full of artistic panache!  :)

 Here are a few examples of how I have used these textures:

Click on image for a larger view.

If you want something different and dramatic in your private texture cache, pdpa Abstract Panache is the set for you.  Until December 15th, when you purchase a minimum of two texture sets you receive an automatic 30% discount on your total.  Check it out!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Photo Art Friday, November 30th - December 1st

Can you believe it?  This will be our last Photo Art Friday for 2012 ... and it's going to be a special one!

You've been asked, for this edition of PAF, to link-up one of your very favourite or best pieces of photo-art  -  an edited photograph that you would perhaps feature on the cover of a photo book showcasing your work, for example.

Before you post and then link-up your prize pieces of photo art, please read this post about protecting your digital work.  You don't want to walk into a gift store and see your image staring back at you from a greeting card ... unless YOU are the one who made the licensing agreement!

I've been busy for the last couple of months making 2013 calendars featuring my photo-art to give as little gifts to friends and family.  I'm also in the process of making a couple of coffee-table books to document the work I have done for the year.

As I searched through my archives for the images I wanted to feature in my calendars, coffee-table books and for this post, I realized that there is a difference between 'my best' pieces and 'my favourites'.

My favourites are not always my best, as I'm sure is the case for you too.  Our favourites, while perhaps not our 'best', hold that emotional pull or connection that often only we understand.  Anyway, best or favourite, I can't wait to see what you decide to share with us this week.

Not necessarily one of my best - but certainly one of my favs.  Click on image to enlarge.

With the use of one of my Painterly textures this photograph could qualify as one of my best and certainly is one of my favourite pieces of digital photo art for 2012.

Photo Art Friday will return on Friday, January 4th, 2013.  Life will be very active for most of us between now and then.  I'll still be posting during December, so we will connect before the new year.

Thank you so much for your support, interest and loyal participation in PAF this year.  If I could make it happen, I would throw a party where we could all come together and actually meet and commiserate.  I have truly developed a warm affection for you all.

For the first 2013 Photo Art Friday edition (Jan. 4th, 5th) you can post any image you choose, OR you can post an image that features a word or words that you hope will inspire and uplift you throughout 2013.   (Not to worry, I will post a reminder about the date and theme near the end of December.)

If you are thinking of giving yourself Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 as a gift and are wondering how best to learn the ins and outs of it, check out my reviews of a few of the courses, books and tutorials currently available.  That post can save you some time, money and a load of unnecessary frustration!

If you are looking for great textures at a reduced price - all my texture sets are now reduced by 30% when you purchase a minimum of two sets.  This special, automatic reduction continues until December 15th.  If you like my texture freebies, you will LOVE my for-purchase sets.  Why not check them out?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Photo Art Friday, November 23rd, 24th

Greetings Everyone!  Hope all our American participants are having a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.

It's time to ready your photo-art and link it up to be viewed in our virtual showcase.  

As always, you can link up any piece of artwork you choose, or 
you can link up a piece using our optional theme or challenge.

This week's challenge is to create a piece of photo-art that incorporates the pdpa texture 'Signed & Sealed'.  (You can download the texture for free in this post.)

Here are three images that I have married with the pdpa Signed & Sealed texture.  Hope you like them.

This texture is a powerful one and thus not suited for every image (as I'm sure you discovered!).  But that is part of the fun of the challenge - to find the image that is the right candidate for the texture, or the right texture for an image.  If you are following the challenge, it will be the former!

Next week there is only one option for the images you will link up to our virtual showcase:

Imagine that you are preparing a coffee table photo book to give as a holiday gift to friends and family.  Go through your archives and choose the piece of photo-ART you love enough that you would put on it the cover of the book.  Then link-up that special piece to Photo Art Friday.

In other words, link up your favorite or one of your very favorite pieces of photo-art.  Oh my ... the decisions that will have to be made!  :)

BTW, if you go to the trouble to comb through your photo-art archives searching out your favorite pieces, why not place them in a separate file or folder ... and then ... why not actually make a book that features your best pieces from 2012?

There are many sites where you can upload your digitally-edited images, design your own photo-book (with or without commentary) and have them print and ship it to you.  Some sites that I can think of off of the top of my head are Photobucket, Shutterfly, Snapfish, etc.

Some of you are already experienced with making photo books, I'm sure.  If you have tips or would like to recommend a great book-making site please include them with your comments.

NOTE:  Next week will be the last Photo Art Friday for 2012.  PAF will start up again the first Friday in 2013 which is January 4th.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Some Learning Resources For Adobe Lightroom 4

In spite of knowing for the last year that I had to find a new way to organize my thousands of photographs and digital edits, it is only recently that I decided to give Adobe Lightroom 4 a try.  I first downloaded the free 30 day trial of Lightroom 4 and have now purchased it.

If you are interested in the Adobe option to "Try" Lightroom 4 free for for 30 days, check it out by clicking HERE.

It's one thing to acquire Lightroom 4 - it's another to learn it.  I have immersed myself in trying to learn it for the past few weeks.

Thought I would share a bit of the research I have done around learning how to best use LR4.  The sites I have discovered and share here do not by any stretch of the imagination represent a comprehensive overview.  (At some point you have to stop researching/investigating and really get down to learning!!) I have no personal or professional interest or connection to any of the training links I mention, I am simply sharing my research and my personal experiences with the training.

When I decided to purchase Adobe Lightroom 4, I reflexively decided to pay to take a popular on-line course.   Despite persisting with that course my sense of dissatisfaction with it grew and  prompted me to search out other resources to learn the ins-and- outs of the LR4 program. I wish I had done my research first.  When will I finally learn to look before I leap?!  :)

 If you are thinking of purchasing LR4, or already have it and want to learn better how to use it, here some good resources that I have found - so far.  The great news is that one of the most professional options that I found is, of course, from Adobe itself and it is FREE!

Let me share what I have learned from my research and the links to a few of the sites:   -   The best learning resource that I have found is from Adobe itself - hosted mainly by the digital guru (she calls herself a digital evangelist!) Julieanne Kost.  The videos are visually pristine and clear. Julieanne is precise, organized, adept and obviously knows LR4 intimately. The good news is that all the tutorials she offers at this Adobe link are free.  Highly recommended.   -   At this link Adobe provides its Lightroom 4 users with links to its own Adobe training resources and even to third party training resources.  Many of the third party resources charge for their tutorials (and rightly so) but also offer free mini training videos so that you can get a glimpse of exactly what they offer and their training/teaching style.   -   After my dissatisfaction with the course I was in, I discovered George Jardine at the link at the beginning of this paragraph and purchased the first module of his comprehensive course on LR4.  Yes, he breaks up his course into separate modules so that you can purchase only the modules ($24.95 each) you want.  George is SO clear (as are his videos - visually), thorough, precise, professional and knows Lightroom 4 like the back of his hand.  As well as learning LR4, you are getting a mini-course from George in digital asset management.  Highly Recommended.   -   Laura Shoe has a blog recommended by Adobe as a good training site for LR4.  She offers webinars, tips and tutorials - some free, some for purchase.   Worth checking out as an on-going resource for LR4 users.  I am still new to this site - so we will have to discover and evaluate it together.  -   Kim Klassen's Round Trip (LR4) course has a lot of content and Kim's enthusiasm for LR4 is infectious.  The course offers many excellent written tips to support the video material.  This Round Trip course will cost you $89. Unfortunately, the videos were sometimes a bit frenetic and occasionally confusing.  Round Trip did not quite measure up to the other courses I 'attended', in terms of its preparation and presentation.    Somewhat disappointing.   -   I have not taken any of Erin's from Texas Chicks Blog and Pics courses, but have benefited from free written tutorials on her blog  -  so thought I would let you know that she is now offering a LR4 live course (webinar) ($80 for two modules - $50 each if purchased separately).   I cannot evaluate it or recommend it since I have not taken it.   -    I like the free training videos offered on Phil Steele's site.  He gives short example videos of what you will get if you purchase his course and they seem very professional.  One big proviso - his current course on Lightroom seems to be about Version 3 and not LR4.  Perhaps a LR4 course is in the works.

I just purchased these two books from Amazon to have as desk references as I get used to working in a new way with my photographs in Lightroom 4.   Can't really review them yet, but from the research I did online they seem like they should be good bets.

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4:  The Missing FAQ by Victoria Bampton

So if you are about to embark on an Adobe Lightroom 4 adventure, you now have a few places you can check out in terms of how to learn it!

Are you thinking of purchasing LR4?
Are you already using LR4?
Do you have any learning resources that you would like to direct us to?

Any LR4 tips you would like to share?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Photo Art Friday, November 16th, 17th

Hi Everyone!  

It's time for the weekly, virtual showcase for digital photo art, aka Photo Art Friday.

The photo art hung in our virtual gallery last week truly left me shaking my head in amazement.  We were regaled with such creative, beautiful, high-quality pieces.   Give yourself a standing ovation.  Come on ... stand up ... join me ...  Let's have a round of applause that travels around the world!  (I'm now standing and applauding!!!  :-)

As is the norm for every edition of PAF, you can showcase any piece of photo art that pleases you.  Remember 'art' is the key word for what we try to do here.

Or, if you choose, you can link up a piece of photo art that has been made following this week's theme of 'digitally-edited still life'.  The themes here at PAF are always optional, so if you are unable to devote the time or energy required to participate in a challenge you can still post a piece of photo-art from your archives.

A couple of sweet participants have assumed that I create the themes based on work I have already prepared and decided to showcase.  Let me assure you that is not the case.  I make a point to choose the theme/challenge with no photo or digitally-edited piece consciously in mind.  It's quite a challenge to come up with themes that challenge the more experienced among us while not intimidating those of us who have just begun to create photo art.

I want to experience a weekly challenge that demands thought, effort, learning, growth and to experience the same challenge in the same way as the rest of you!  That's half the fun!!!  Besides, to select challenges based on what I already know I want to showcase would be way too self-serving.

So this week, I took a few shots around the house of objects that could qualify as still life - as you will see below.  (Have to admit that at certain points I asked myself who the crazy person was that came up with this 'still life' theme!)

I also looked through my archives and found another still life photo to try and turn into photo art, and then scrolled through my texture library to find a good one to apply to the photo.  Here are the results:

From among the above photographs, I chose this one to edit for the challenge this week.  Do click on the image to enjoy a larger view.  While I didn't record each manipulation made on this photograph, I think this is an accurate approximation of the steps I followed in PSE 8:

*  cropped photo
*  levels adjustment
*  sharpening
*  soft poster edges
*  filter>stylize>emboss
*  adjustments>invert
*  blended invert in Difference
*  another Levels Adjustment
*  watermark

Again, from the best of my recollection, this piece of photo art (using the same photograph) was created using the following steps in PSE 8:

*  cropped photo
*  levels adjustment
*  sharpening
*  soft poster edges
*  filter>stylize>extrude
*  another application of a soft poster edge effect 
*  reduced opacity of poster edge effect

(click to enlarge)

The above piece of photo-art was made using the photograph you see on the right.  After a bit of sharpening and a levels adjustment, the pdpa Signed & Sealed texture (see below) was applied and blended in Hard Light at 85% opacity.  A layer mask was used to remove bits of the typing from the cases.  A final pass through RadLab added to the vintage feel.

To download a free, high res version of pdpa Signed & Sealed texture, click HERE.

I know you will love the variety of effects you can achieve using it.  Don't be afraid of how dark it is.   Experiment with different blending modes and you will discover a variety of great results.

In fact, why don't we make using the pdpa "Signed & Sealed" texture as the optional challenge for next week's Photo Art Friday.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Photo Art Friday, November 9th, 10th

Welcome to this week's edition of Photo Art Friday!

As with every Photo Art Friday, you are invited to link up a piece of photo-ART ... any piece that you love enough to feel it should be classified as 'art'.  You have the option of linking up a piece that you have created in response to this week's theme "LINES".

Here are a few pieces of my photo art with "lines".  All of these photographs were sharpened, given a levels adjustment, and an application of the Photoshop filter Poster Edges.  Easy peasy.  These photographs were all shot in the city of Montreal and surrounding regions.

Next week you can feature any of your photo art that you choose


you can feature a piece that is a 'digitally manipulated still life' (as opposed to simply a still life photograph).

(If you are looking for some tips on still life photography, Amanda at Everyday Elements has just posted some here.  Of course, for our theme next week, after you take the photo you will have to do some digital manipulations (edits).  :)   Can't wait to see what all you amazing 'creatives' produce.  Judging by the submissions so far for this week I know whatever you come up with next week will be beyond great!)


If you are interested in adding some great textures to your personal archives, 
I am pleased to tell you that when you 
purchase a minimum of two (2) sets 
your purchase total will be reduced by 30%

This discount opportunity lasts only until December 15th, 2012.  

The discount will be applied automatically to your purchase total - you do not have to remember and enter any special code to benefit from the 30% discount.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

... meet my friend Vicky ...

Let me introduce you to an amazing woman, counselor, writer, photographer, wife, mother, friend ... my friend ... Vicky Westra.  We somehow met each other a couple of years ago via the blogosphere - I don't even remember how exactly.  Since we met, Vicky has been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.  She has shared her journey on her blog, The Westra World and never ceases to inspire her readers with her resilience, resourcefulness, courage, wisdom, kindness and generosity.

In her latest post Vicky shares how she is hoping to redirect some of the energy put into the amazing "pink" campaign of breast cancer awareness into actual research - suggesting that we may have now reached the goal of awareness and that what is really needed at this point is to direct resources into research that will cure and prevent this merciless disease.  If you or any of your loved ones are dealing with breast cancer you may want to support Vicky's hard-earned insight.

You can learn more about how to get involved in the fight against breast cancer from the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation.   You can also learn more about Vicky herself from a video aptly called Vicky’s Story, made about her by the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Photo Art Friday, November 2nd, 3rd

Welcome digital artists and aspiring digital artists!  

You have arrived at Photo Art Friday - a friendly, weekly, virtual gallery where you can showcase a piece of digitally-edited photo art.  If you are new to our virtual gallery, you can read the guidelines for participation here.

You can share any piece of your own photo-art that tickles your fancy OR you can share one based on the weekly optional theme or challenge.

This week's 'challenge' is to edit a photograph into a piece of art using the background/texture Cobblestone Road.  (You can find the link for a free download  in this post.)

The collage below features five pieces I digitally manipulated using Cobblestone Road.  This free download can be employed as either a background or a texture.  I chose two images from these five that I played around with to feature here.

Photograph of a young woman who walked by me as I snapped shots of architecture, then sat down on a stone wall, lit a cigarette and began to chat on her cell phone.  She seemed quite unaware that I surreptitiously included a couple of shots of her among my other shots.  The Cobblestone Road background/texture works well to enhance the photo.

This is, btw, a quintessential Montreal street scene -  beautiful, chic, stylish, slim women (French Canadian women seem to have inherited slim genes as well as loving slim jeans!) - with more of them smoking than you might find in other North American cities (or so the statistics I read say!).

In case it is slightly inscrutable, the black area originally came from a photograph of a sitting monk that I changed with PSE to a silhouette (yes, in this shot he is headless!).  I had already placed the monk on an abstract, flowery texture.  Then I put that edit on the Cobblestone Road and liked the effect of a path it produced.

NEXT WEEK you are invited to 'hang' any piece of photo art you wish to share


you can showcase an image that features distinct line(s).

Hope any of you living in the path of Hurricane Sandy did not suffer any major injuries, trauma or losses.  

Climatologists have been trying to warn us about the effects of human-produced global warming, Arctic melt and resulting extreme weather for decades.  The hottest summer on record for decades and this unprecedented hurricane in cool weather are certainly sobering evidence of menacing changes that we all need to take seriously.

Talking about the causes, however, only helps us think about and hopefully prepare for the future, it does nothing to help those who have lost loved ones, homes, communities, livelihoods, belongings, etc. this week.  My heart goes out to all of you.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stay Safe And Secure!

Hi Everyone.

First let me thank all of you for your inspiring contributions to Photo Art Friday.  The theme 'derelict' seemed to please many of you - and the variety of artistic interpretations were wonderful.

While you can post any piece of photo art you please, this coming PAF's optional theme is to use the background/texture Cobblestone Road.  You can download it here.

If you are in the path of Hurricane Sandy I hope your preparations are complete and that you and yours remain safe and secure for the duration.  Looks like it may extend its tentacles all the way up into our area, but the effects will be nothing compared to what many of you in coastal areas are already experiencing.

Here are a couple of recent photographs of good weather and fall colours.  After Sandy wreaks her havoc, there will probably be no leaves left on the trees in the North East.  Enjoy:

Speaking of being 'secure'.  I just discovered that zipped texture sets I store on Mediafire and sell in my Texture Sets Shoppe have been accessed without permission and downloaded over one hundred times.  I store most of my textures sets that are for sale on e-junkie, but recently put three of my 'for purchase' sets on Mediafire.  I assumed because I have to log in to Mediafire with e-mail and password that no one else could access my files there.  Guess I am both ignorant and naive.  Now I see that each file can be password protected (and I have done that) ... I just never expected that my work prepared for sale would be stolen right out from under me!

I am working at accepting what is (what choice does one have?) and am aware of my disappointment and slight sense of violation.  I recall that a while back Jerry Jones from Shadowhouse Creations posted that a couple of people had downloaded his free textures sets, repackaged them and were selling them as if they were their own products!  Are there charlatans lurking about everywhere on the Internet?

Anyway - I'm sharing this as a cautionary note to any of you who are selling or considering selling digital products.  It seems they are so easy to steal and that there are people out there on the prowl for any opportunity.

I'm trying.   :)