Category Archives: Corel

Corel digital photo editing products

A week’s worth of work all in one picture

How I Did It

Long-time readers know that I have been on a mission to accomplish in Photoshop everything that I previously had been doing in Corel Draw, Corel Photo-Paint, and Corel PaintShop Pro.

Until recently, those three Corel programs collectively cost less than half of what Photoshop cost.

Now, with software coming to us out of the cloud, Photoshop 2014 is a mere $9.99 a month. That is a significant savings over the previous cost of a full version of Photoshop and upgrades as they came out.

This past week I have been working on really getting to know what I can do using layers and masks, and here is the product of my work:

Sunny Window

That is a conglomeration of many pictures: wood floor, curtains and windows but without muntins, sunset, condos overlooking Mission Bay, and water and boats. I created the muntins myself; that took the most time.

I had to use layer masks to get the sun to be bright enough to shine through the window, but since the windows didn’t have muntins, the whole thing look too artificial. After I created the muntins, the sun shining on the floor looked artificial, so I had to add shadows cast by the muntins. That took the second most amount of time.

Although adding muntins created a better look, it was strenuous work then to mask out each of the itty bitty windows in order to let the water and boats show through. That was the third most amount of time.

I am off a little in the perspective with some of the muntins, but considering this was my first time to try to do this in Photoshop, I think I did pretty good, and next time I want to do something like this, it will go much faster and more smoothly.

Remember: Anything you see here at Russel Ray Photos might be a lie!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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White's Tree Frog

Photographic Art

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I got sick back in mid-November (probably from those K-6 students I teach chess to!), I was looking for something to do while sitting at home. My music collection and YouTube playlists were complete, so that left my collection of 317,872 (plus or minus) pictures. About half of them had never been cataloged…. just sitting in file folders with the date and location noted. So I got busy. It took until yesterday, but I finished, and I found a lot of interesting stuff!

A couple of things happened while I was cataloging pictures. First, I noticed how big the RAW files were, and whenever Photoshop made changes to a RAW file, it created a little “sidecar” file. I found the sidecar files irritating. So I went looking for options and discovered Photoshop’s open source DNG files. DNG is a RAW that is not proprietary; anyone can use it! The coolest thing about the DNG files, though, is that they are about 80% the size of Canon’s CR2 RAW files and when Photoshop alters them, the information is included in the DNG file instead of in a separate sidecar file. I downloaded Adobe’s DNG converter and went to work.

While I was cataloging pictures, I found lots of old video files in the AVI, MPG, and MOV formats. Those video files were huge! I found a free (open source) video converter called DVDVideoSoft Free Studio and converted all my old video files to the modern MP4 format. Conversion was fast and painless.

When I first started taking pictures with the Canon Rebel XSi, I had it set for best quality JPG files. Then I switched to RAW+JPG. Once I understood how RAW files worked, I switched my camera to RAW files only. However, I never went back and deleted all those duplicate JPG files. Done.

After converting CRW, AVI, MPG, and MOV files, and deleting duplicates, I had an extra 4½ terabytes of disk space available!

Lastly, I noticed that I had a lot of good pictures. Some were really good pictures. None of them were great; I don’t have the equipment for great pictures. However, with over 300,000 pictures, I was thinking, “What can I do to distinguish myself from other photographers and, perhaps, make some money from my interest in photography, nature, and life?” Ah, the quandaries….

Could I make my not-great pictures into great pictures with digital photo editing software like Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, and Photo-Paint, all of which reside on my computers? My answer: A resounding “No!”

However, all three programs have some very interesting filters, and I’ve learned how to replace backgrounds, merge pictures, create composites, etc. I decided to take a not-great picture that I really liked and see what I could do with it. Here’s the original picture or, as my wise old grandmother would say, the basics as it came out of the camera:

White's Tree Frog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That is a White’s Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea), also known as a dumpy tree frog or an Australian green tree frog. The Australians apparently simply call it a “green tree frog.” I guess that means that I can call a California Condor simply a condor…. Hmmm….

My basics picture is washed out, lacking in contrast, lacking in sharpness, lacking…. and the poor dumpy tree frog has some skin blemishes which distract from the picture except for perhaps a biologist or pathologist.

First I cloned out the skin blemishes and added some contrast and sharpness to get this:

White's Tree Frog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Then I went to Photoshop’s Filter Gallery and created these:

Photoshop Water Color FilterWhite's Tree Frog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Photoshop Angled Strokes FilterWhite's Tree Frog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Photoshop Angled Strokes and Dry Brush Filters combinedWhite's Tree Frog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Photoshop Poster Edges FilterWhite's Tree Frog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Photoshop has several dozens of filters and third-party filters also are available. Filters have slider controls to create interesting effects within each filter, and filters can be combined, stacked, etc., to create hundreds of thousands of interesting variations. Add filters from PaintShop Pro and Photo-Paint into the equation, and the possibilities probably get up into the millions, perhaps endless….

My favorite is the poster edges, followed closely by the Angled Strokes Filter. What I was trying to do was create a porcelain frog, which I think the Angled Strokes Filter does quite sell. At the very least, I wanted something that looked fake instead of being a photograph of a living creature.

Having been successful in trying to create something different from everyone else, I had to decide if there was a demand for it. I am not sure if there is a demand for it per sé, but I am pretty sure that I can create a demand. My marketing and real estate background gives me the skills I need to do that. I’ll divulge more in a post coming up in the very near future, like in the next couple of days.

I also had to have a name for my work. I have settled on “Photographic Art.”. I’ll be working on a logo today. Not sure what I will come up with, but here’s my first attempt:

Photographic Art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Quite often one’s first attempt at something is correct (think answering questions on a test). I really like my first attempt and it won’t surprise me if that’s the logo I go with.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ocean Riders

Ocean riders

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I am not ashamed of admitting that I thoroughly enjoy taking pictures….

….and then photoshopping them.

The ability to photoshop pictures comes in real handy when the location of a subject is not conducive to taking pictures. It allows one to remove all sorts of distractions, like people photobombing your picture, or utility wires, or ugly skies, or…. or…. or….

It can be very difficult to get good pictures of public art because usually people are standing around staring at it, or children are playing on it, or…. or…. or…. Such was the case with a sculpture that I found in Imperial Beach titled “Ocean Riders.”

IMG_4876 framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Children were playing on the base of the sculpture, so I didn’t even bother putting that in my picture. The upper areas of the sculpture, though, were backdropped by buildings. The area where the sculpture was sited didn’t allow any good points from which to get good pictures, so this is all I got:

Ocean Riders

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ocean Riders

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Those are what I consider snapshots. The buildings and palm trees make me want to tear my hair out. Since replacing backgrounds is my latest adventure in Photoshop, I thought those two pictures would make great first attempts, so off I went. It was much easier than I thought it would be and only took me about thirty minutes to get these two pictures:

Ocean Riders

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ocean Riders

If I had not told you what I had done, you never would have guessed.

So, whaddaya think? And if anyone says they like the first two pictures, I’m going to unfollow you!………..lol

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hibiscus cube

Digital photo editing software

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Imperial Beach, CaliforniaDisclaimer: All of the photos in this blog post have been significantly “photoshopped.”

I got my start with Photoshop with version 1.0 way back in February 1990. I was already entrenched into the PC world by then but my business had customers using the Macintosh, so I had a Macintosh in the office just in case a Client needed me to do some work in that computer environment.Silver Strand Training Complex

The Big Four software programs in my office were Word, Excel, Photoshop, and CorelDraw. With those four programs, I could do anything. In September 1994 (finally), Photoshop hit the PC environment and that was the end of any association for me with Apple computers. Word, Excel, Photoshop, and CorelDraw still are the Big Four on my computers, and CorelDraw isn’t even available for Apple computers.

Public art in Palm Springs, CaliforniaI know that Photoshop can do anything that CorelDraw can do, and it’s been my goal since April 2007 (Photoshop CS3) to force myself to use Photoshop for all the things that I’ve been doing in CorelDraw, which I have been using since version 1.0 hit the market in January 1989.

Adobe, however, made that difficult to do in one sense because Photoshop CS3 was a whopping $649.  The price for CS4 went to $699 where it stayed for CS5 and CS6. Unreasonable for anyone other than the extraordinarily rich, the über wealthy, and people like me who were willing to alter the family budget and do without 175 happy hour margaritas at On The Border.

African lioin at the San Diego ZooRecently Adobe has made Photoshop and its sister program, Lightroom, available on a subscription basis, which seems to be where the software market is moving. If you own Photoshop CS3 or later, you can get both Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 (the latest versions) for just $9.99 a month. How great is that? Well, let me put it into numbers.

For people who bought Photoshop and then upgraded when a new version was released, which was every 15-18 months, here’s the cost for CS3, CS4, CS5, and CS6:

CS3, April 2007 - $649
CS4 upgrade, October 2008 - $199
CS5 upgrade, April 2010 - $199
CS6 upgrade, May 2012 - $199
Total over 61 months: $946

Happy ThanksgivingThe subscription cost for Photoshop and Lightroom for 61 months at $9.99 a month is $609.39. Quite a savings. There are arguments for upgrading every other time, which would save $398, and you could always buy the software at Amazon or Fry’s Electronics and sometimes get a discount. So there have been ways to save money over the Adobe retail price.

HibiscusA cool advantage of the subscription method of having software is that you get updates instantaneously. No more waiting 18 months for the latest and the greatest because you always have the latest and the greatest, providing that you let your software upgrade itself. You can turn that feature off, and there might be an argument for doing so. We all know that software has bugs in it, even upgrades and updates. Sometimes the upgrade/update fixes a bug but introduces a new bug.

Zoey the Cool Cat soccer ballA real life example that happened to me:

A couple of months ago I had lot of Actions and keyboard shortcuts set up in Photoshop CC (the latest version, available only by subscription, but you can still buy CS6 from Adobe). I had Photoshop set to automatically install updates. One update totally deleted every Action and keyboard shortcut, basically resetting it to the factory defaults. That was not cool, and I let Adobe know on their Facebook page. Within a couple of days they had another update that fixed that problem. Too late, of course, since all my Actions and customization had already been deleted, causing me to spend several hours re-recording the Actions and setting my keyboard shortcuts again.

Lonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust HDR collection dynamic brightness filterAfter that experience I set Photoshop NOT to do automatic updates. I would decide when to do updates, usually on weekends or holidays when the world’s not busy demanding my time. In writing this post, I went looking for all the ways that I could set Photoshop to update, and the ways that I used to use are completely gone, including Adobe Updater and the preferences from within Photoshop. Maybe they learned….

Many people seem to be upset at the subscription method but I think it’s brilliant. My Microsoft Office software is also via subscription; it’s called Office 365. With two very large companies going the subscription route, I think you’ll see more and more of it within the next five years.

Lonely day on the seawallIf you don’t like the idea of a subscription, buy Photoshop CS6 before it’s no longer offered for sale; currently $699 at the Adobe web site. There are other options, too:

      • Corel PaintShop Pro X6—This program can do 95% of everything that Photoshop can do and is its main competitor. The 5% difference is stuff that is unique to Photoshop, like some of its filters. Don’t worry, though, because PaintShop Pro has things that are unique to it that Photoshop doesn’t have, like a set of different filters. PsintShop Pro X6 is selling for $59.99 right now direct from Corel’s web site. This was my go-to program from May 1993 to April 2007. I still have it because I like many of its filters and frames, and I’m much more skilled at it than I am Photoshop.
      • St Andrew Catholic Church in PasadenaGIMP—GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is an open-source, freely distributed program. I have heard good things about it but have not tried it, mainly because all my time right now is dedicated to Photoshop, the de facto standard. However, GIMP doesn’t cost anything, so that’s a big advantage. I use two open-source programs: Audacity for recording and audio manipulation, and, of course, WordPress. Both Audacity and WordPress remind me of a comedian whose name I do not remember. He was talking about Wikipedia: “The great thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute. The worst thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute.” That pretty much sums up open source programs, including, in my opinion, Audacity and WordPress.
      • Ocean Beach, CaliforniaPicasa—This is a Google program. I tried to use it once and it literally took over my computer for several hours looking for digital images; there was no way to stop it. Imagine what happened when it finally found my six external hard drives with 175,000 digital images on them. Yep, hours and hours and hours of cataloging. As soon as it finished, I uninstalled it. That was a couple of years ago. Maybe newer versions are better.
      • The Gear CatsAdobe Lightroom—If you’re looking for a great program at a reasonable cost, Lightroom is for you. This program is for photographers and doesn’t do the advanced graphics and image manipulation (such as compositing) that Photoshop does. It sells for $119 through January 11 at the Adobe web site. I also have this program but I’m not using it currently because of my time bias in favor of Photoshop.
      • U.S. Route 80Adobe Photoshop Elements—This program has “elements” of Photoshop. I call it “Photoshop Lite” because it can do all of the stuff that Lightroom does and some of the stuff that Photoshop does. I consider this a more powerful program than Lightroom but, interestingly, it costs less than Lightroom; $69.99 through December 28 from the Adobe web site.
      • For some other options, check out Photo Editing Software Review 2014.

Hibiscus cube

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ferris Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cat at a cat show

Are you taking a picture of me?

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Smile if you made flip books when you were young.

So while I was cataloging pictures, I found two pictures of a cute cat at last January’s cat show:

Cat at a cat show

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cat at a cat show

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The two pictures are almost exactly the same size with the cat positioned in the exact same location in both pictures. Not quite, but close enough for government work. Thus, I took the two pictures to CorelDraw X6 and positioned them on top of each other with the intent of cropping them so that the cat would be in the exact location, which would then allow me to make a two-picture flip book using Corel VideoStudio Pro X6. Here is the end result:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This, of course, gives me all sorts of ideas……………………

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lonely sentinel

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I don’t get sick very often, but when I do, it lasts sooooooooooooooooooooo long, as if it’s trying to make up for all the other times that I should have gotten sick but didn’t.

While I’ve been sick, I haven’t been able to add much to my photograph collection but I have had time to catalog a lot of pictures and post-process them in Photoshop CC.

I came across a picture late last night that was begging for me to have some fun applying various filters to it, especially since the picture’s focus was, as photographers say, soft.

I never throw such pictures away because the technology in today’s photo editing programs is just too powerful. With a little effort one can make something beautiful out of something so-so.

Here’s the original picture as it came out of the camera:

Lonely sentinel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I think it has great composition, taking full advantage of the rule of thirds, but, along with the soft focus and lack of detail, it’s kind of flat and lacking contrast, especially for a landscape picture. Dull, boring, and uninteresting…. blah….

I did my initial post-processing in Adobe Camera Raw, as I always do, and got this:

Lonely sentinel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Much better contrast and colors, especially in the sky and tree. However, after doing that, I decided that I wanted more from that purple mountain majesty in the left third of the picture, and possibly even from the other mountains.

I took the second picture to the Topaz Adjust plugin for Photoshop and started applying filters to it to see if I could get something more significant in that purple mountain majesty. Here are the ones I liked:

Topaz Adjust classic collection detail medium filterLone sentinel with topaz classic collection detail medium filter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Topaz Adjust classic collection photo pop filterLonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust classic collection photo pop filter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Topaz Adjust HDR collection dynamic brightness filterLonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust HDR collection dynamic brightness filter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Topaz Adjust vibrant collection bold filterLonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust vibrant collection bold filter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Topaz Adjust vibrant collection clarity filterLonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust vibrant collection clarity filter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Topaz Adjust vibrant collection crisp filterLonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust vibrant collection crisp filter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Topaz Adjust vibrant collection detail strong II filterLonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust vibrant collection detail strong II filter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Topaz Adjust vibrant collection dramatic filterLonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust vibrant collection dramatic filter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Topaz Adjust vibrant collection gritty I filterLonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust vibrant collection gritty I filter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Topaz Adjust vibrant collection neutralizer filterLonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust vibrant collection neutralizer filter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Topaz Adjust vibrant collection portrait drama filterLonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust vibrant collection portrait drama filter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I liked the detail in the mountains using the Vibrant Collection Gritty I filter best (third picture from the bottom). However, when I selected the mountains and then applied the Gritty I filter to them, they looked out of place with the rest of the picture. I needed detail but more purple mountains majesty. Next I chose the Vibrant Collection Bold filter, and I liked what it gave me. Here’s my final rendition:

Lonely sentinel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The last picture, then, is a three-selection composite:

I first selected the marsh and the tree and applied the Topaz Adjust Classic Collection Detail Medium filter to them. That increased the contrast and detail. Next, I decreased the yellows just a smidgeon. My lens, a Tamron 28-300mm lens, has an overall yellow cast to it which the Adobe lens correction profiles knows about. However, I didn’t want to apply the lens correction to the whole picture, so I applied it manually just to the vegetation.

My second selection was the sky because I really wanted to increase the contrast between the blue and white to show how dramatic the clouds were. Great clouds are something we don’t see often in San Diego. I applied the Topaz Adjust Vibrant Collection Dramatic filter to the sky.

Lastly, I selected just the mountains and applied the Topaz Adjust Vibrant Collection Bold filter to them.

There you have it. Masks and layers are extremely powerful, letting you do some magnificent things to photos that otherwise would be simply snapshots. Most every good photo editing program has masks and layers. Learn how to use them and you can Wow! all your friends with the magnificence of your photography.

Smile if you know what song purple mountains majesty is from….

Location of the lonely sentinel:

Location of the lonely sentinel

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos