Category Archives: How I Did It

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

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I have the answer:photograhic art taking pictures making art

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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.

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I cannot be trusted

How I Did It

I first started taking pictures in sixth grade when the principal, Miss Gustafson, asked for a volunteer photographer. She explained that the volunteer photographer would get in free to all sporting events, and the rest is history.

Even though I was using a Canon SLR in sixth grade, my first pictures really were just snapshots of the sports team and crowds.

In high school and college, my photography became more serious. I endeavored to understand the relationship between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Then throw in there film speed, film type, lenses, filters, and even film processing methods.

After college, I tried to develop a photographer’s eye for composition. Sometimes that meant sitting in the same spot for several hours waiting for just the right combination of things—light, weather, people (or lack thereof), etc. Sometimes I would take a picture and then go back several times over the next weeks and months, hoping to get a better picture.

Them days are gone………………………..

In today’s world of Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom, Corel Paintshop Pro, and many other digital photo software editing programs, I think I have come full circle, back to taking snapshots with my Canon 550D. I’m more interested in getting the picture and then making something out of it when I get back home. I think someone calls it “Photographic Art.”

For example, here’s a picture of two pigs sleeping at the San Diego County Fair:

Two pigs sleeping

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s a cute picture, but I thought it could be better if I removed the bars from their pen, not to mention the food dish and the butt of the black pig in the other pen. I even thought about that while at the Fair because I took a picture of sawdust which I thought would be good to replace the bars with:

Sawdust

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

First I removed some sawdust from the pigs, as well as a few pigskin imperfections, by simple cloning, which Photoshop makes real easy. I cloned out some feathers from on top of the sawdust as well.

Then I masked the bars and deleted them. That left me with a huge blank space behind the pigs’ heads, but Photoshop also makes it pretty easy to insert just about anything into a picture.

Here is the result:

Two pigs sleeping

Isn’t it a lot better picture without the bars in there?

Lets you focus on the two pigs, especially the smiling pig, obviously in the midst of sweet dreams.

What you see at Russel Ray Photos might not be what you get. I just can’t be trusted.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Need a unique gift? Check out Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

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It was really tall, really really tall

How I Did It

As much as I like philately, my stamp frame wasn’t meeting the needs of my Photographic Art venture. I needed to develop a new frame which would allow me to include contact information. Julian and I are endeavouring (I added the U to endeavoring for my Canadian friends) to make Photographic Art a viable enterprise that might support me when I am no longer physically or mentally capable of working (some would argue that time is now!), so contact information is essential. I really want to stay off the public dole and develop something that will take care of me down the line.

I experimented for most of yesterday before I got a format for my contact information that looked decent when I posted it at the bottom of a picture. One requirement was that it had to look good for both landscape and portrait pictures.

Then I had to develop a frame to enclose both the picture and the contact information. I could have gone to CorelDraw X6 and accomplished my task in about thirty minutes. However, since January 2012, I have been working to make Photoshop my default program since I know that it can do everything that all my other programs (CorelDraw, Corel PaintShop Pro, Corel Photo-Paint, Adobe Lightroom) do. It’s just a question of learning; actually, I guess it’s a question of having the time to learn!

After about eight hours, here’s what I came up with:

Photographic Art frame

The frame is easily adjustable for the orientation and size of the picture, as shown in these last three pictures. The first two are from my trip to the fundraiser for Cat House on the Kings, the tail end of which was a trip through the giant sequoia and redwood forests in Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park.

Stained

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Stone & Wood

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I saved the best for last.

The following picture was created using Photoshop’s Photomerge function. Previous to this picture, the most pictures I tried to stitch together was seven. This is a Photomerge of sixteen pictures! That should tell you just how tall this tree was! The frame adjusts itself for the dimensions of the picture, so all I do is create Photographic Art, determine the final dimensions of the picture, and then apply the frame.

Really tall tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Julian will be uploading these Photographic Art to Russel Ray Photos’ Fine Art America picture galleries late Wednesday evening, so they will be available for purchase on Thursday. The really tall tree will be available at a maximum size of about 9×45 inches! My frames here are not included at Fine Art America since you choose your frame there, or choose no frame.

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

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

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I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
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If you’re looking for a home inspector,
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Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

Placing a stamp frame around your pictures

How I Did It

I have had a few requests both here and at Facebook to know how I put a stamp frame around my pictures. I told the Facebook people that I would do a tutorial on that today. Since my wise old grandmother taught me to keep my word, well, here it is!

I have asked Zoey the Cool Cat to help us, and while she wasn’t enthusiastic, she agreed. She prefers to be out looking for Easter eggs, or at least the birds that laid them. I keep telling her they are rabbit eggs, but she’s not buying it; she’s smarter than that.

First, most photo editing programs have a stamp frame as part of their offerings. I haven’t liked any of them because they are too perfect, and stamps are anything but perfect. Following are two stamp frames, the perfect one and my imperfect one, so you can see the difference.

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Notice that the imperfect one has ragged, torn, frayed edges where it appears to have been separated from other stamps.

First we need to find a stamp shape that you like. For this tutorial, let’s use an oversized stamp size, like Scott #2542, a U.S. postage stamp released on August 31, 1991. I get my stamp pictures from Arago (http://arago.si.edu/) but you can download it from my blog here by right-clicking on the image and saving it to your computer.

Scott #2542

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You could learn a lot by paying attention hereThe method I’m going to teach you here works for any shape, so pay attention! There will be a test on Monday, and I want everyone to get a perfect score!

I will be using Photoshop CC, but this method probably also works in Elements and any other program that works with layers and masks, such as Paintshop Pro, Gimp, etc.

Once you’ve downloaded and saved your stamp, open it in Photoshop. We want to delete the stamp picture while keeping the stamp frame. To do that, click on the Rectangular Marquee Tool.

Rectangular Marquee Tool in Photoshop

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now simply draw a rectangle around the picture. You don’t have to be exact but make sure you get all of the picture within the box. When you let go of your mouse button, the box will turn into a moving dashed box, what we call “marching ants.”

Marching ants

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hit the Delete key and a Fill window should pop up:

Pop-up Fill window

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you haven’t used the Fill window recently, the default in the Use dropdown box will probably be Content-Aware. We want to change that to White.

Fill pop-up window

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Click on OK and your picture should magically disappear, being filled with white.

Stamp frame

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now we’re ready to insert our picture. Open your picture in Photoshop; it will show up in a new tab. Zoey the Cool Cat graciously has given me permission to use a picture of her.

Copy the picture you want to insert into the stamp frame. There are many ways to do that, but first you have to tell Photoshop what you want to copy. It doesn’t know that you want to copy the whole image unless you tell it. Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool again, simply draw a box around the whole picture. You don’t have to be exact at all as long as you are outside the picture on all four sides because Photoshop will snap the marquee to the picture borders.

Picture to be inserted in stamp frame

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now tell Photoshop to copy everything within the marching ants border, either Edit ►Copy or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C.

Switch to the tab that has our stamp frame so we can insert our picture into it. Make sure you still have the marching ants border from when we deleted the eagle picture from the stamp. If you don’t, no problem. Simply use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to draw another box where you want your picture to be.

Now paste your picture into the marquee box. To do that:
Edit ► Paste Special ► Paste Into.
The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl + Shift + Alt + V:

Edit, Paste Special, Paste Into

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That should give you something that might look a little weird, depending on the size of the picture you are inserting. If your picture is bigger than the box you’re inserting it into, you’ll see just a portion of the picture and a bounding box showing you how big the picture is. If you don’t see all of your picture but you don’t see a bounding box either, simply click on the Move Tool (red arrow below) and then click on Show Transform Controls (yellow arrow).

Move Tool and Show Transform Controls

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now you should see that stamp frame, a portion of your picture, and the boundary box telling you how big your picture is:

Stamp frame, picture, and boundary box

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If your picture is too big, the part that is not in the frame will be at the right and bottom. If you want to maintain the ratio of the height to the width (the aspect ratio), hold the Shift key down and click and hold that bottom right little square. Now move that square up to the bottom right corner of your picture border within the stamp frame. If your picture doesn’t have the same aspect ratio as the stamp, simply reposition the picture until you’re happy. Let go of the mouse and reposition the picture simply by clicking on it and moving it around.

Zoey the Cool Cat stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If your pictures always have the same aspect ratio, you can create a stamp frame that will always be correct so that you won’t have to do any fine-tuning position adjustments. If that’s the case, as it is with all the pictures from my Canon 550D camera, you can also create an Action that does everything automatically, which is what I did. My Action means that it takes about two seconds to put a stamp frame around any picture.

Remember earlier when I said that this method works for any shape? That’s how I created my Zoey the Cool Cat soccer ball:

Zoey the Cool Cat soccer ball

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you find a nicely framed picture on the Internet, you can delete the picture and use just the frame by following this tutorial.

Let me know in a comment if you have any problems while following this tutorial and I’ll help you.

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

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

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

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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

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

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

I knew I could do it!

How I Did It

In January 2012, I was using several different software programs to edit my digital pictures, mostly Corel Draw X6, Corel Paintshop Pro X6, and Corel Photo-Paint X6.

I also had used Photoshop since version 1.0 was released in February 1990 for the Macintosh. Apple lost me as a customer in 1983, so when the time came to replace my Apple computers, I went the PC route, which didn’t really upset me since PCs were 1/5 the cost of an Apple computer, so I bought five PCs for what would have been the cost of one Apple computer, which meant I could hire four more people for my business! Make more money! Oh, the joy….

Adobe ported Photoshop to the PC/Windows platform with version 2.5, and when that happened, I said goodbye to the last of my Apple products. As Adobe continued to increase the upgrade price for Photoshop, I quit upgrading. I last upgraded to Photoshop version 5.0 in May 1998.

Fast forward to June 2007. Photoshop was in version 10, known as CS3. I had heard good things about it, not to mention that it was the de facto standard for digital photo editing. I decided to learn anything and everything about Photoshop using their free 30-day trial of a fully functional version. At $699, I didn’t want to buy it until I was sure that I could use it, which meant learning it because it did have a pretty good learning curve. So every 30 days or so, I would remove the expired trial version and start over again.

Eventually I decided that I could do everything in Photoshop that previously I had been doing in Draw, Paintshop Pro, Photo-Paint, and a few free, open source programs. Thus I was willing to buy Photoshop. That was in January 2011. Fortunately, upon making my decision and heading to adobe.com to spend my money, Adobe announced that they had a subscription program.

Subscription? Heck yes! Monthly costs, even in perpetuity, are much easier on the budget than a lump sum. So for $35.99 a month with a one-year commitment, I could have Photoshop!  Count me in.

When Photoshop CS6 came out in May 2012, Adobe offered me the upgrade, still on a subscription basis, but the cost fell to $25.99 a month.

Then along came Photoshop CC in June 2013. I knew I would upgrade, especially when Adobe told me that the subscription would be $19.99 a month. Photoshop CC was the first version that would not be sold in the traditional way with manuals and DVDs in a box in a store. It would have to be downloaded from Adobe via the Internet, and there was no purchase price anymore, only a subscription. Didn’t bother me at all, but there was an uproar throughout the world. Adobe responded by lowering the subscription price to $9.95 a month. How I love Adobe.

That brings me to this evening when I wanted to create what is known in philately (stamp collecting) as a First Day Cover. It’s an envelope sent through the mail on the first day of issue of a postage stamp, usually bearing a special cachet and a special First Day of Issue postmark. I can do it quickly and easily in Corel Draw, but I wanted to do it in Photoshop this time. Where Corel Draw took me ten minutes, my first version in Photoshop took me–ready for this?–eight hours! The second version took two hours, and the final version took thirty minutes. I now have a template, though, so the next time I choose to create one, it will probably be five minutes max.

I asked Zoey the Cool Cat to help me create the third First Day Cover, and she was only too happy to oblige:

Zoey the Cool Cat First Day of Issue

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I knew I could do it!

Got margarita?Eventually I’ll be able to do everything in Photoshop and will not have to upgrade Corel Draw (X7 just came out last week; $199 to upgrade), Paintshop Pro, and Photo-Paint. That right there will save me about $300 a year, enough to pay the subscription for Photoshop with many dollars left over for many margaritas!

I am going to fine tune my template over the next few days, as well as get some different types of digital envelopes, and as soon as I have a pretty good work flow down, I’ll be offering First Day Covers to followers here, similar to what I did with my Photographic Art. Don’t miss out!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

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

Since they are dead, they won’t mind

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Back in the 1960s when my wise old grandmother was helping me find my place in the world, she would often say, “Don’t re-invent the wheel.”

The first time she said that, she also had to explain it to me. After that first time, though, I was always looking for the wheel that someone else had invented. I never felt guilty about using someone else’s wheel when appropriate, legal, and ethical because, as my wise old grandmother told me, “There have been a few billion people on Earth before you. It’s highly likely that they invented something that you can use, and since they are dead, they won’t mind.”

Recently I found several wheels for Photoshop that someone else had invented and is selling for what I consider reasonable costs. Those wheels are called Actions, and the ones that I have fallen in love with are by PanosFX.com.

You might remember me mentioning them fairly recently when I tested their photo corner Action (see Ready? Set? Action!). I did wind up buying all of the Photoshop Actions that PanosFX.com offers.

Here are some of my favorites, demonstrated quite ably by Zoey the Cool Cat, of course.

FanZoey the Cool Cat fan

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

WristwatchZoey the Cool Cat wristwatch

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

WeaveZoey the Cool Cat weave

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

BookZoey the Cool Cat book

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Light bulbZoey the Cool Cat light bulb

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Film stripZoey the Cool Cat film strip

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Wanted posterZoey the Cool Cat wanted poster

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spiral-bound bookZoey the Cool Cat spiral bound book

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Magnifying glassZoey the Cool Cat under the magnifying glass

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And lastly for this post, a Zoey the Cool Cat cube which you can print, cut, and glue to get a real cube to set on your coffee table or bookshelf!

Zoey the Cool Cat cube

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

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

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

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

Ready? Set? ACTION!

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Back in the days of film photography, my wise old grandmother would bring a bunch of photographs home from the drug store, sit down at the dining room table, and go to town identifying the photographs and placing them carefully in her many scrapbooks and photo albums using photo corners. I do believe she had the greatest collection of photo corners in the world. I know she had corners in clear, white, gold, and black.

If something new came along, she was the first to buy it and try it. I remember when she discovered rubber cement. All her packages of photo corners were sold at her next garage sale. (Smile if you used to have fun rummaging around at neighborhood garage sales instead of today’s monster flea markets and swap meets.)

Even with digital photography, though, some people (me for example) still like photo corners. Here’s Zoey the Cool Cat demonstrating the photo corners that I have been using over the past couple of years:

Cat & mouse

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You can get those photo corners via an Action in Photoshop. Takes all of one keyboard shortcut and about two seconds of time.

Recently I learned of some new photo corner Actions by PanosFX.com. The email they sent me, which was captured in my spam folder, showed some pretty cool photo corner Actions, so I went to their site to see if they had a free trial download, which they do. Unfortunately, the free trial software has only one photo corner Action whereas the full version has over 50 photo corner Actions. Here is Zoey the Cool Cat, again, demonstrating the one photo corner Action in the free version:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I believe my wise old grandmother would have loved the world of digital photography and photoshopping.

The full version of these “photo slit” Actions by PanosFX.com costs 10.90 Euros. According to Google, 1 Euro equals 1.37 U.S. dollars, so 10.90 Euros equates to $14.97. I believe I can afford that.

PanosFX.com has a lot of other software, too, that allows you to make puzzles, cubes, and postage stamps complete with postmarks and envelopes. Hmmm. Postage stamps complete with postmarks and envelopes. Hmmm. Well, heck. I think I can afford that, too, since it’s only 7.90 Euros.

Long-time readers know that I love postage stamps. Here’s Zoey the Cool Cat (yet one more time) demonstrating my postage stamp frame:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I was so proud of my postage stamp frame, but now that I know that someone has gone a step further and created postmarks and envelopes in addition to postage stamps, I’m sad and depressed.

Maybe I should just buy their whole bundle collection of 12 software collections for just 65.90 Euros. That’s $90.52. Hmmmm. I might have to wait until after today’s 12:00 noon home inspection before I can afford the complete bundle……………..lol

Anyway, go check out PanosFX.com to see all the wonderful stuff they have. You might find something you like for a price you can afford.

Ready?………………

Set?…………………..

ACTION!

PanosFX

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photographic art logoVisit Russel Ray Photos.

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I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
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02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I was an easy sell

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Friends and acquaintances of mine know that my Canon 550D is an extension of me. It’s never more than three feet away from me. I take it from room to room in the house, even to the bathroom. It’s in the passenger seat on my way to class to teach chess in the afternoons, and when I have to go to the classroom and the car is more than three feet away from that classroom, I simply put my trusty camera in the bottom of the cart that I carry my chess sets in.

Last week in one of my classes, I had some new students show up to class, giving me a total of 16 students. I have only seven company-supplied chess sets, but I have my 1994 Kasparov computer chess game at the bottom of my cart. I held the two best students back and told one of them to get the computer chess game from my cart. He did, but when he came back, his eyes were all aglow about the camera he saw in my cart, and his mind and mouth were running circles around me asking questions about cameras and photography.

The question that seemed most on his mind was about depth of field. “What is depth of field?” he asked several times while he was playing chess. I guess he didn’t like my answer each time: “It’s how much in focus everything is in your picture.”

I have that class again this afternoon, but this time I’m taking two pictures with me. These two:

Shallow depth of field

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Deep depth of field

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

See the difference? That’s depth of field, or how much of the picture is in focus.

Depth of field is controlled by the f/stop, usually with a control marked Av on digital cameras. The f/stop is the size of the opening, the aperture, that lets in light. I won’t get into the technical aspects of light, but the smaller the aperture, the sharper, more in focus, the picture will be. A larger aperture makes the picture out of focus.

Where it often gets confusing for people is that a smaller aperture is indicated by a larger f/stop Av setting, and a larger aperture is indicated by a smaller f/stop Av setting.

The first picture was taken at an f/stop Av setting of 2.8. The smaller number means a larger aperture, and more out of focus throughout the picture.

The second picture was taken at an f/stop Av setting of 18. A larger number means a smaller aperture, and more in focus throughout the picture.

The explanation using cans with text on them is a technique that I learned back in 1966 in sixth grade. Surprisingly to me, I have never seen the technique repeated in books or internet tutorials discussing depth of field. So my post here will bring that technique into the modern age.

I should also thank Miss Gustafson, the principal of my grade school. She is the one who got me interested in photography when she asked for a volunteer photographer. When she explained that the volunteer photographer would get in free to all sporting events, well, I was an easy sell.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Just make more of them!

photographic art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My first visit to the great State of California was in December 1968 for Christmas.

I was the passenger in a car driven from Kingsville, Texas (down south near Corpus Christi) to Chatsworth, California, (San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles) by my wise old grandmother (MWOG) and one of her friends. Chatsworth was where MWOG’s oldest living son (my dad was the oldest son, but he had died in 1961) and his family lived. We’ll call MWOG’s oldest living son “Charles” since that’s his name.

We stopped at roadside parks to sleep at night. Smile if you remember being able to stop at roadside parks without concern.

My wise old grandmother was a master gardener before there was such a thing, and Charles was no different. When we got out of the car at his home in Chatsworth, the first thing I said was something along the lines of, “This is the most beautiful yard I’ve ever seen!” He had flowers blooming in December! Of course, now that I’ve lived in San Diego for twenty years, I know that it has something to do with the weather.

The flower that really caught my breath was the bird of paradise (Strelitzia sp.), and ever since my visit to Charles in 1968, I was on a mission to capture the most beautiful bird of paradise with my camera. The flower is long-lasting, and it takes many days for it to fully bloom. That often means that by the time the flower is in full bloom, the oldest parts of the flower look a little ragged…. nothing that Photoshop can’t fix, of course……….

Up until recently, this was my best bird of paradise picture:

Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

See all of those pointy tips? Those are what usually look pretty ragged by the time the flower reaches full bloom like in that picture. The pointy tips on the two bluest/purple doohickeys are starting to turn brown.

In a worst case scenario, the flower looks like this:

Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You don’t know how long I’ve been trying to find a way to use that picture of the dead flowers! I’ll tell you, so you’ll know. According to the picture’s EXIF data, I took that picture on March 3, 2012!

Okay. Back to being serious (me?)….

Recently I found not one beautiful flower, but two beautiful flowers, both right next to each other…. like twins:

Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Of course, having a picture like that means that I’m going to make some Photographic Art out of it.

Since I recently bought the whole collection of Topaz software (it was on sale), I decided that this would be a great picture to use to explore that Topaz software collection.

Following are some (some?) of my favorites. I haven’t decided on an absolute favorite yet—they all speak to me—but I really like flower paintings, so #6 might turn out to be the winner. Which is your favorite?

1Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

2Bird of Paradise

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I remember when I saw my first color negative film. I thought they were so cool. #3 is a color negative created by Topaz:

3Bird of Paradise

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4Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s difficult to take such a beautiful and colorful flower and turn it into black and white, but sometimes the lack of color allows you to focus on the texture, as in #5.

5Bird of Paradise

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6Bird of Paradise

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7Bird of Paradise

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#8 takes texture to an extreme.

8Bird of Paradise

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#9 is in my top two or three, I’m sure. The simplicity and soft focus of the flower without the distraction of the texture, especially the background texture of the stucco building, seems amazingly beautiful.

9Bird of Paradise

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10Bird of Paradise

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11Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

#12 is neon light art. Ah, neon. How I love neon. I remember my first neon Coors beer sign. I paid something like $30 for it in 1976 at one of those mall stores that sold black lights and black light posters.

12Bird of Paradise

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#13 took an in-focus picture and blurred around the edges to simulate shallow depth of field.

13Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

14Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lastly, if you find something that’s pretty near perfect, just make more of them with the click of a mouse!

15Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photographic art logoVisit Russel Ray Photos.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos