30 November, 2011

Free Texture WednesDay III

It's the middle of the week & I want to share a newly created paper texture with you. I actually made it from the backside of a very old photo of my father. It has tattered edges and needed a bit of photoshop to make it suitable for a texture. I also used an old letter I found and gave it the echo of a handwriting.


afterglow download

If you enjoy this one you might also be interested in my Build your own texture pack. You can chose from 100 textures  and make packs of 10 / 20 or 30 textures. I also changed some of them as I found out they were very hard to work with and added some new ones as well.

Have fun with this one!

Just used it on this picture - makes a nice retro look.

27 November, 2011

Cracked Sky - HDR - Brushes & Texture

Hello, I hope you had a lovely week and a wonderful Sunday so far...

this morning I came across the photo of a sunrise I shot 3 years ago on my last morning on the beautiful island of Bali. It came out quite dark and I thought I give it a try to see how I would process it today. I always had the feeling, that I can do better than this, although people liked it.

The final result of my work  is this:

the sky cracked

Here is the pic I came across and that I decided to work on again:

Previous version

I my opinion the foreground is far too dark and the picture has lost all of its depth. I used a texture I bought, which is quite nice, but at that time I was fascinatied with the grunge effect it had and didn't see that it overpowered the picture.

The processing

RAW - file

It started with this raw - file, that I decided to change into a HDR picture. I only used subtle adjustments, because I feared that the tonemapped picture would become to noisy and I didn't want to have an too obvious HDR- look. But it enhanced the foreground, making the beach & the sand more visible and gave some nice depth and detail to the sky.


I then wanted to add a lightning flash. I found some brushes on the internet and was curious how they would work on this picture. I used one from jelenajovovic.com . She has some wonderful brushes that you can use in your personal and commercial work.

The question was, where to insert the lightning without making it look too artificial. I think I tried several sizes, forms of lightning s well as places where it might fit in. Finally I was satiesfied and it came down from the upper left corner:

tonemapped with lightning

So the next steps are best explained - as usual - by using a screenshot of the levels in Photoshop:

Photoshop levels

I started with the HDR picture and the already applied brush of the lightning. To achieve more detail in the foreground and make it more bright I added a gradient layer from white to transparent and changed the layer mode to color dodge and played with the opacity & the fill sliders until I thought it right. (layer 2)

The next two layers I added were the colour gradient and the texture layer. (layers 5 & 6)

I wanted to inensify the existing dark yellow colour of the sunrise so I thought decided to add another gradient layer, this time from orange to white (pls see screenshot)

orange - white gradient

This made it brighter and made the existing orange / red colours glow.

The next thing was the choice of texture.
I loved the grungy look of the texture I previously used, but decided to take one of my own from the Build-your-own-texture-pack.
When using a texture it is recommended to start with a texture, that has similar colours. That's always an easy way to achieve wonderful results.
So chose my Glass & Metal texture, that has this wonderful red tone:

Glass & Metal
I rotated the texture by 180° so that the light red part was on the beach and sea and the more darker and grungy parts were on the clouds. With the settings I chose the picture became quite dark and after trying some techniques I finally decided on adding the two layers that would brighten the image.
One was a curves layer that gaines a bit more light & contrast and the other was a levels layer for brightening the highlights. I had to place them after the white gradient. They didn't work anywhere else.

After that made some final colour adjustments and was satisfied with the result.

So, that's it for today.

Thanks for reading!

23 November, 2011

Free Texture Wednesday II

Hello, it's Texture Wednesday again

Here is just another free texture. This time it's all about colours. I know this is not easy to use, but just use your imagination and you'll find a way!

I didn't include it in my build-your-own-texture-pack just because of that ;-))

Kaleidoscope Sky


I finally found a picture were used it on.

The rainBow

Be creative & have fun!

19 November, 2011

moody morning tutorial

I love misty& sunny mornings - there is always something going on with the light and one has to be very quick to get the right shots. The photo I am going to write about was taken a few weeks back on such a morning. Iwas looking out of the window and saw that clouds were still clinging to the trees on a nearby hill. Right outside my window the fog was gone and the sun began melting away the humidity. So I grabbed my camera and went out. After 15 minutes I was in the forest and it became more foggy with every step I took.

Here's the final result of my processing:

moody morning
 That's how it looked before:

moody morning - before -

I wanted to use some of my new textures, but I had to take care, that they wouldn't overpower the softness of this misty scenery and the soft shapes of the trees.
I made only little changes concerning the tone of the picture. What I wanted to achieve was to make the empty bright space of the sky a little bit more interesting.

I added the birds using Photoshop's brush tool. You find free brushes all over the internet. I used brushes from Jerry Jones aka Skeletal Mess: shadowhousecreations brushes

As usual I am providing a screenshot  of the layers in PS:

As you can see, I used two of my new textures:

evening mood

pastel pleasure
The slightly warmer tones and a very subtle texturing of the overall pic were achieved by the two layers of "evening mood". The textures in the sky and the frame can be ascribed to the "pastel pleasure" texture.
I had to use a layer mask to erase the lower part of the texture, because it affected the tone & texture of the trees. They also became to dark for my taste.

What's important to point out is:
- you can add interest to empty spaces (skies without clouds, fog etc.) by using textures. It depends on your individual taste whether you do it subtle or go for a more grungy look.

- Be aware, that you can easily overpower a picture with a texture. I always reduce the opacity in the course of my processing work.

Thanks for reading!

Have a great weekend!

15 November, 2011

fRee texTure WednesDay


I made so many new textures, that I thought, I can give some away for free, at least the ones that I didn't include in the Pick-your-own-texture gallery on my homepage.

So, here is the first one:
You can create cool painterly effects with this one!

Green pastel brush
Aus Free texture

Feel free to use it in your personal and commercial artwork, but do not claim it as your own and please no re-selling!
I have a texture group on flickr, it would be nice if you post your work over there, if you have an flickr account!


I used this texture on this picture

Summer Wave
Tip: to bring out the brush strokes more clearly I used two layers of the green pastel brush texture.
The first one was set at Colour Burn 47% opacity/ 55% fill and the second one at Vivid Light 17% opacity and 57% fill.
Doubling texure layers and using different blending modes works quite well.

Have a nice day!

11 November, 2011

Autumnly World Vertorama

I hope you had a great week so far!

You might have heard the term "vertorama" before, to me it was quite new until sometime last year, when I discovered pictures with this tag on flickr. Curious as I am, I investigated and found out, that it's nothing more than a vertical panorama. I like the square format, so this was a wonderful opportunity to extend my landscape / forest shots, thus covering more of the ambience.

So, how are they achieved?

the photography

I usually take two or three pictures of a scenery, shooting them vertically. Just like I did with these two photos of a forest path:

picture 1

picture 2

It is important, that you take these at the same aperture value and foca length, the speed might slightly differ, but should be close (if the light allows it to be). These two pics were shot at aperture 7.1 & 1/40 sec. with a focal lengt of 18 mm.

 the software

You should take care, that there are enough distinguishable features in the picture for the stiching software .
I usually use Photoshop CS 5, but there others such as PTGui Pro 9, Hugin 2.0, Panorama Studio and Photoshop Elements 9. I don't know whether they work as well as PS, but if you don't own Photoshop you might try one of these. Hugin, for example is open source software, so its free to use.

It is quite simple in PS:
File - Automate - Photomerge - Reposition Only - Browse - Select your files - Open - check Auto - OK - Then sit back & let the magic happen..

After merging the two pics and cropping them to a square format it looked like that:

Merged pictures

As you can see, there was at least an overlap of 50 %, so PS had enough features to merge the pictures. It is usally recommended to have an overlap of at least 30% to avoid errors.

Texture and colour work

I had messed up these two pictures in Lightroom, thinking that a red tint would make this scenery more interesting. But I was to lazy to change this in LR again, so I tried to get it right with my other processing steps. It took me quite some time and inspired me to make some new colourful textures that I tried out by using this picture.

These are the textures I used:

1. rosebud                            2. sky-net                                  3. evening mood                     4. white canvas brushes

I had fun trying various textures and blending modes. Please take a look at the layer settings to see how it came to life.

I somehow re-invented the whole scenery making it my own, it felt like painting...

Again, I was surprised how textures can change a picture to the better.
If you want to have a look at other vertoramas check out my flickr set: Vertorama

Thanks for reading & have a nice weekend!

03 November, 2011

Sanur sunset, an almost deleted picture - and a free texture

I was browsing some old pics from 3 years ago -  a time when I just started to shoot in RAW - and found a series of shots from Bali, that I thought would never make a decent picture, but I wanted to give it another try. Somehow I wanted to check whether I was able to process a picture that represents the beauty of that evening or that I had to delete it.

Long story cut short: I came out quite well, but how?!

Sanur Sunset - after

I took the pic in the evening when everybody was enjoying the last light on the beach. So I was challenged with rather complicated light conditions. I didn't know what the best camera settings for the situation would be, but I knew that shooting in RAW would later give more options to correct my shortcomings.  I think I opted for some of the automatic settings that Canon offers for beginners and took my pictures. I ended up with a nicely lit sky, but a very dark foreground.

Sanur sunset - before
HDR -processing

A few days ago I checked out Trey Ratcliffe's homepage (stuckincustoms.com) and read/watched his short, but very informative and helpful HDR-tutorial. So I decidedd to see what is possible with a file like this. After playing around for some while I saved a decent HDR/ tonemapping result. Now the beach was visible, almost no noise and lovely colours.

Sanur sunset HDR

Adding textures

Next thing was to add some more atmosphere, which in my case usually means  some further processing with textures.

I chose the following two textures:

New Gold Dream

New Gold Dream is for free download, get it here:

Download Texture

Blue Flow

As usual I am adding a copy of the layer order with some remarks to show how I processed the picture:

This whole experience reminded me of the fact that in the light of technical developments one should be very cautious when it comes to deleting your files. As long as they are well composed and not totally overexposed, there is a good chance that one day there will be a way to process them and get a good result. So I rather tend to keep files on my HDD, even though I might have no idea what to do with them at the moment.

Again, thanks for reading!