Category Archives: How I Did It

Here a mural, there a mural

Out & About

It would be fun just to drive around San Diego County all day and take pictures of the billions and billions and billions of murals.

Here is one that is two stories tall and many, many parking spaces long:

img_2345 panorama solana beach mural

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I had to take 32 pictures to get the complete mural and then have Photoshop merge them together to get the panorama. You can click on the picture to see a larger version.

The wonderful people who created the mural:

img_2377 solana beach mural stampPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And its location:

mural location

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

IMG_2316 zoey the cool cat happy july

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Need for speed

How I Did It

As I was cataloging pictures this morning, I came across this one:

img_0103 van and kayak ocean beach original stamp

copy-image002.jpg

It’s a pretty lousy picture because it was taken through a windshield in the rain. Ooogy colors, ooogy sky, just ooogy all the way around. However, I thought it had potential so I put it in my “See-if-you-can-do-something-with-this” folder.

The kayak looks rather fast, but I don’t think it can go as fast as that van. Nonetheless, I wanted to see if I could do something that portrayed speed. Here’s what I came up with:

img_0103 van and kayak ocean beach stamp

copy-image002.jpg

First I took the original file to Photoshop to see if I could do something with Photoshop’s filters. I didn’t find anything I liked so I went to my Topaz Labs plug-ins. After working my way through several of them, I found a setting in Topaz Glow that I liked, and that’s what you see.

Time required to find the right filter: About 4 hours.

Time required to create the picture after finding the right filter: About 4 seconds.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.