Category Archives: How I Did It

What comes out of the camera….

My wise old grandmother

When I was living in Utah with my mom, stepdad, and six other children, we rarely ate as a family at the table. In fact, in thinking back on those three years, I can’t ever remember us eating together as a family. That might explain why I stole so much food from the Food King right across the street. My friends were stealing toys; I was stealing food.

When my wise old grandmother adopted me, my youngest uncle (we’ll call him Doug since that was his name) was still living at home. Although he was in college, he knew that if he wanted to eat, supper was served at the dining room table at 6:00 p.m. Breakfast and lunch usually were served at the kitchen bar since everyone had different schedules for the day. But if you missed supper at the dining room table at 6:00 p.m., you pretty much starved until the next morning. It only took twice to realize that my wise old grandmother was serious….

After breakfast and through mid-afternoon, the dining room table belonged to my wise old grandmother. She would cut out patterns for the clothes she made, write letters to family and friends, read the newspaper, and, most important to her, put together her scrapbooks and photo albums.

Doug always found it funny how my wise old grandmother would create her scrapbooks and photo albums because there wasn’t a full-size picture in any of them. All of her pictures got cropped to meet a specific purpose that she had in mind. Cropping back in those days meant using the scissors to cut away parts that weren’t needed, and sometimes to cut out a person, a car, or a building.

Doug constantly was making fun of her but she never backed down. She knew what she wanted, she knew what she had to do to create what she wanted, and that was that!

Probably my favorite words of wisdom from my wise old grandmother are words that I have been using and practicing for at least forty years:

What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.

In today’s world, Photoshop is our scissors and our lightroom. No need to make a mess on the dining room table or get sick inhaling all the chemical smells in the lightroom. Just make a plate of nachos, grab a beer, put the cat on your lap, open Photoshop, and get started.

I am always after better or more time-saving ways to work in Photoshop, so I check out new software that comes on the market. Recently one of my favorite software companies, Topaz Labs, released a new plug-in for Photoshop, Topaz Restyle.

Following is a picture of the La Casa Estudillo Museum in Old Town. You’ll see and read more about it in an upcoming blog post, probably Saturday.

Casa de Estudillo Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That actually is a panorama comprised of six individual pictures, photomerged in Photoshop. I find it perfectly acceptable, but then I remembered the new Topaz Restyle software that I had just bought and had to go mess around some. I got a lot of interesting pictures but I liked this one the best:

Casa de Estudillo Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The original picture was taken at 8:14 AM on December 13, 2014. The Topaz Restyle picture also was taken at 8:14 AM on December 13, 2014, since they are the same picture!

The second picture certainly looks like it was taken at dusk the way the sunlight is reflected in the clouds, on the ground, in that left window, off the museum sign in the lower left, and off the exterior walls. Even to the right of the museum, it looks like the sun is shining a little more brightly over there, maybe because there were no trees providing any shade.

I love the Topaz rendition. I think it adds depth to the picture—look at the clouds through the arches in the bell tower—and a great deal more interest.

The Topaz Restyle plugin normally is $59.99 but you can get a $20 discount on it through the end of February by using the discount code FEBRESTYLE at checkout.

Topaz Labs is here.

All Topaz software has a free 30-day fully functional trial, so hop on over there, check out what they have, and let me know what you think.

Sadly, Topaz has not paid me for this testimonial….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Friday Flower Fiesta (12-12-14)—Orbs (or making something out of nothing at all)

Friday Flower Fiesta

My main reason for creating Photographic Art is because my camera, a Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i if you bought it in the United States) is a semi-professional camera that cost me about $700. My main camera lens is a Tamron 28-300mm macro zoom lens that cost me about $300. In other words, I have a whopping thousand dollars worth of camera equipment. Although I have 48 years of photographic experience, do I really think that I can compete with the professional with $35,000 worth of camera equipment and his own gallery downtown? No, I don’t.

So with the poor quality from the inadequate equipment, I create something unique, one of a kind images that no one else can create because they don’t know how I do it. They can try because they know I use Photoshop, and they might even come close, but unless they know the exact settings I use, they’re not going to get an exact reproduction of my Photographic Art. Heck, sometimes the Art is so unique that even I don’t know what settings I used, so even I cannot reproduce it!

Some of the pictures in my vast collection are what many photographers would call throwaways. However, a couple of things that my wise old grandmother told me back in 1966 has always stuck with me:

“What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”
and
“Don’t throw anything away. There is no away.”

Throughout the ensuing decades, I have learned to throw things away, but I take far less trash to the curb each week than my neighbors do. Maybe they just buy more crap than I do………….

Anyway, for today’s Friday Flower Fiesta, I thought I would take ten of my throwaway photographs and use them to make flower orbs in brushed aluminum frames. These pictures were out of focus, had poor composition, or are simply too small to use to make high quality Photographic Art. Here they are, with the original picture beneath each framed flower orb.

1

Framed flower orb

flower (226)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

2

Framed flower orb

flower (253)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

3

Framed flower orb

flower (269) original

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

4

Framed flower orb

flower (270) original

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

5

Framed flower orb

flower (301)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

6

Framed flower orb

flower (302)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

7

Framed flower orb

flower (312)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

8

Framed flower orb

flower (334)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

9

Framed flower orb

flower (342)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

10

Framed flower orb

flower (350)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

Number 5 is my favorite. It looks like a face, maybe something out of a Stephen King novel. Number eight is my second favorite, and then number 7 is third.

If you would like to learn how to create orbs, see my post here. It’s really easy; takes just a couple of minutes…. Unless you don’t have Photoshop…. Then it will take a lot longer!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas?

Moving the mouse in a straight line in Photoshop

How I Did It

It’s no secret that ever since the advent of the computer mouse, those of us working with drawing programs such as Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator wanted a way to draw a straight line. It didn’t take too long before Corel and Adobe gave us the ability to draw those straight lines.

Recently I was wanting to draw a perfectly straight line in Photoshop, and that’s when it occurred to me that since Photoshop also is an Adobe product, there just might be a way to draw a straight line.

A simple Google search told me how:

Select the Pen tool.
Position the Pen tool where you want the straight segment to begin, and click to define the first anchor point (do not drag).
Click again where you want the segment to end (Shift-click to constrain the angle of the segment to a multiple of 45°).

I’m pretty much a keyboard person, using the mouse only when the keyboard is awkward, like drawing lines.

While I was drawing lines, I inadvertently hit the shortcut key to get to the eraser. In my haste and not realizing that I had switched to the eraser, I clicked where I wanted the line to begin, Shift-clicked where I wanted the line to end, and voilà!, I erased in a perfectly straight line!

My mind started working.

Some experimentation indicated that I could do anything in a perfectly straight line simply by clicking where I wanted to start and Shift-clicking where I wanted to end….

pen tool – yep
eraser tool – yep
clone tool – yep
spot healing tool – yep
brush tool – yep

Doesn’t seem to matter what you need to do, if you need to do it in a straight line, try Click, Shift-click.

Lastly, does anyone have a recommendation for software that will record my screen while I do things? That would have been very convenient for this post.

▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒

Do you have BWS?
I have the answer:photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Christmas is just around the corner, so order today!

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Big red barn

Picture of the Moment

Many years ago, I bought a home out in the East San Diego County boondocks. When I had the housewarming party, the directions included “turn left at the big red barn.” One of my friends was from the Philippines and had never seen a big red barn. He told me when he arrived that he stopped to take a picture of it.

Every time I see a big red barn, I think of him, and today I stopped to take a picture of the big red barn that I found. Looks like this:

Big red barn

Of course, having grown up in a small farming and ranching community in South Texas, barns were everywhere. I won’t tell you what all I did in Texas barns, but pretty much every first in a young man’s life for me was “accomplished” in a Texas barn.

I think buildings, especially old buildings, lend themselves well to HDR and near-HDR photo processing. One of my favorite photo editors is by Topaz, specifically their Topaz Adjust 5 suite. I used it on the above photo, choosing the “Spicify” preset in the “Vibrant Collection” effect.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Need a unique gift?
Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

photograhic art taking pictures making art

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

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Do you have BWS?
I have the answer:photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Inquiring minds want to know

How I Did It

Many decades ago when I had several years experience with photography, my goal was to have a huge collection of lenses for all purposes—fisheye, wide angle, super wide angle, zoom, ultra zoom, double ultra zoom, triple ultra zoom………

Although it might be nice to have all those lenses in today’s world, I find that I am completely satisfied with my Tamron 28-300mm lens and Photoshop. Photoshop has so many cool features that allow me to simulate all those lenses so well that no one would know what I had done unless I told them.

A good example is this Photographic Art creation:

Two ladies at the window

That is based on a picture of a mural in the Little Italy area of San Diego. Ah, but I lie to you. That is based on FOUR pictures of a mural in the Little Italy area of San Diego. It was a wide mural, so it would not fit in my camera considering I couldn’t stand across the street because cars and utility poles would have been in the picture. I could have stood in the street, but it’s a busy street, and I know what typically happens when a 200-pound human takes on a 4,000-pound car. My only choice, then, was to take four pictures while standing on the walkway, just three feet or so from the mural. Here are the four original pictures:

IMG_7133 145IMG_7134 145IMG_7135 145IMG_7136 145

Along with the mismatch in color contrast, brightness, exposure, etc., you can see that the perspective is going to be weird, especially for the two end pictures. This pretty much tells you where I was standing in order to leave cars, people, and poles out of the picture—right between the two ladies if you can’t tell.

First I corrected the perspective of the pictures, which gave me these four pictures:

IMG_7133 (Custom)IMG_7134 (Custom)IMG_7135 (Custom)IMG_7136 (Custom)

Then I used Photoshop’s Photomerge function to merge the four pictures into one picture, giving me this:

img_7133 panorama (Custom)

After that it was just a question of making it into Photographic Art.

The one question that Julian had is why does the woman who is sitting down have a mustache. The attire certainly leads to one believing that it is a woman… Do Italian women have mustaches? Inquiring minds want to know.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Do you have BWS?
I have the answer:photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

Is he a keeper?

How I Did It

A couple of days ago, Julian asked me if I was going to teach him the ins and outs of creating Photographic Art. I can’t express how happy it made me that he wanted to learn, and considering how awesome he is in everything he has accomplished for Photographic Art, I had no hesitation about teaching him and expecting him to pick it up very quickly.

So today, before he arrived for work, I picked a particularly troublesome photo to train him on. Here it is:

Amerigo

This had 12 problems associated with it and each problem allowed us to explore different facets of Photoshop.

0 – Perspective. It’s obvious that I was standing on the ground looking up at the mural because everything seems to be tilted back. We corrected the perspective and then cropped the window at the right so that we had half a window on both sides.

  1. A little piece of something in the corner, probably an advertisement or a parking sign. We removed that.
  2. Glare from a light is noticeable. We had to clone that out to make that area blend in with the rest of the mural surroundings.
  3. A little imperfection in the stucco. We cloned that out.
  4. Glare in the window from lights elsewhere. We removed them.
  5. Two little dots which don’t look like much here, but sometimes those little dots really stand out in the Photographic Art. We removed them.
  6. Four little dots. Removed.
  7. Part of a square something or other. Removed.
  8. Another imperfection in the stucco. Cloned.
  9. Another little part of a square something. Removed.
  10. It might be hard to see in this picture, but there is a wire that starts here, goes behind the mural, and shows up again up near 3. Removed.
  11. A flag pole holder. Removed.
  12. Stucco faded noticeably so we cloned it to make it more even with the rest of the stucco.

Here is our final product:

Amerigo

Some of the many Photoshop features/variations we used included:

  1. Crop Tool
  2. Perspective Crop Tool
  3. Clone Stamp Tool
  4. Spot Healing Brush Tool
  5. Rectangular Marquee Tool
  6. Fill, Content Aware
  7. Copy, Paste, Move
  8. Brush Tool
  9. Zoom Tool
  10. Image Size
  11. Canvas Size

So, whaddaya think of Julian’s work? He certainly doesn’t sleep on the job like my other partner:

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Is Julian a keeper?

Julian back at work

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Do you have BWS?
I have the answer:photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray