Just make more of them!

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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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

6Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

7Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

#8 takes texture to an extreme.

8Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

#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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

10Bird of Paradise

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

#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

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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23 thoughts on “Just make more of them!

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      It is!

      A few years ago I did a home inspection here in San Diego. My Client went to school with me at Texas A&M University back in 1973-1977. However, my name then was Russel Kirk, so he didn’t recognize the name Russel Ray when he called to book the inspection. He recognized me at the inspection but didn’t say anything until after the inspection when he saw the A&M sticker on my car.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I like the original, too. However, it’s not Photographic Art. It’s a photograph, and my photographs can’t compare to professional photographers who are selling the same thing for hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of dollars…….. 😦

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  1. Mags Corner

    This has always been a very interesting and fascinating plant to me. I like what you did with the picture, bet it was fun playing with it and coming up with all the different versions. Hugs

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  2. jolynnpowers

    4 ,7 and 14…. mostly 7… interesting set of tools what do you think the learning curve is on these? I have some experience with photo shop and just got tired of all of it.. I started to only use a few of the oppitions regularly and never planed to be a pro so the money and time was almost wasted… still looking for a program that is simple and to the point that dose not take a 4, 4 hours classed to learn… this looks about right! can you give us your review of the product or if you just think I should keep looking

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Hey, Jolyn (or is it Jolynn?).

      If you want a program that does absolutely everything, Photoshop is it. However, yes, in order to use absolutely everything, one would have a need to and the time to dedicate to learning how to do absolutely everything.

      Before I came to San Diego in 1993, I was using Corel Draw, Corel Photo-Paint, Paintshop (don’t remember who made it), and Photoshop.

      Now resident on my computer are the latest versions of Corel Draw, Corel Photo-Paint, Corel PaintShop Pro (Corel bought Paintshop), Adobe Lightroom, Photomatix, and the complete software suite from Topaz. Do I need all of those? No.

      I’m in the process of forcing myself to learn how to do in Photoshop what I currently do in Corel Draw, Corel Photo-Paint, Corel PaintShop Pro, and Adobe Lightroom. That will be four fewer programs that I have to upgrade all the time.

      Everything I’ve done here was done in Photoshop, although a couple of them were done with the Topaz software which works from within Photoshop as simple plug-ins.

      I think plugins are what I like best about Photoshop because virtually everything requires just one or two clicks to get a finished picture that is really unique. All of the software have various slider controls, so I could play around until 3014 but I doubt I’ll live that long.

      Corel PaintShop Pro can do 90% of everything that Photoshop does. The only reason why I’m ignoring PaintShop Pro right now is because Photoshop is the defacto standard. Thus, there are more tutorials, plugins, etc., for Photoshop than there are for PaintShop Pro.

      Here are the top software editing programs as I would rank them right now:

      Photoshop CC – $9.99 a month
      Corel PaintShop Pro – $79.99 but almost always on sale; sale price right now is $63.99
      Adobe Photoshop Elements – $99.99 but on sale right now for $69.99
      Adobe Photoshop Lightroom – $149
      Picasa – free – I don’t like Picasa because it takes over the computer looking for pictures. So if you have a huge hard drive and several external hard drives, it will literally spend 24 hours looking for, and cataloging, all your pictures.
      GIMP – free – I’ve read that GIMP is the free Photoshop. It’s open source software. As with all open source software I have tried, it’s not the most stable software in the world. Lots of crashing.

      If you still have Photoshop, it’s worthwhile to simply learn it. Billions and billions of video tutorials on YouTube, and lots of static tutorials elsewhere.

      Let me know if you need help with Photoshop, Paintshop, or Lightroom.

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      1. jolynnpowers

        Russel thank you.. .have learned alot of the program and have 5 video tutorials… maybe the problem is just plain laziness on my part… I spent about a year trying to learn more and more and ended up just burnt out and out of time… so I just walked away a few years ago and said enough is enough. I also want to up grade my camera then maybe the feeling for better editing will return.

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  3. Pingback: HIPPIE PLEDGE | THE COASTAL CRONE

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