Archive for Photoshop

Inspirations – Meditation Two – Quiet by Diane Varner

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , , , on June 1, 2011 by sabrina

© Diane Varner

Canon 5D Mark II  –  Canon EF 70-200 F4 IS USM (169 MM) – ISO 800 – 1/125 sec @ F/4.0

Fog most often provides a mysterious atmosphere; coupled with sunlight, it becomes extremely magical. And so it was on this particular day. The shafts of light that were pouring down through the mist and trees set everything aglow. I found myself turning in circles as I looked up and photographed the light and shadows all around me.

When I arrived home, I was pleased to find several beautiful shots and had a difficult time choosing just one for my blog. This particular image was selected as it represented the overall feeling of light and quietness that I experienced on that cold, February morning.

The original image had more monotones of gray and yet in my memory, everything felt very warm despite the briskness of the day. I wanted to recreate this feeling in my image so, as I most often do, I started modifying the colors in Lightroom using split toning. The image was then taken into Photoshop. The tree trunks were selectively sharpened and the colors were modified a bit more using the hue/saturation and color balancing tools. The file was returned to Lightroom one last time for the final adjustments. For those interested, you can view the original image here.

I want to take this opportunity to say “many thanks” to Darwin for the opportunity to share my work on his blog! ~ Diane Varner


The Daily Snap – March 4

Posted in The Daily Snap with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2010 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon G11


Here is a little number from Talbot Lake in Jasper National Park. I like the flow of the reeds through the ice and the delicate feel to this image.

The Daily Snap – Jan 18

Posted in Techniques, The Daily Snap with tags , , , on January 18, 2010 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett


Whever I see great clouds I’ll often take a snapshot of just the sky that I will add to my collection of cloud shots that I use for components or for generic stock shots. This image is a composite of one sky photo but with the photo flipped and rotated into four sections to make a mirrored image. I write about how to do this technique over at NPN but  I also have a detailed instructional download on how to do mirrored images in Photoshop for those that need a step-by-step recipe on the technique. Often faces and bizarre patterns emerge from these mirrored flips and that discovery is half the fun of the technique. 

Fall Photo Contest – Trevor Brown

Posted in Monthly Photo Contest with tags , , on October 7, 2009 by Darwin

Trevor Brown

©Trevor Brown

©Trevor Brown


This shot was taken on a very windy overcast day in Southern Ontario last fall. I was walking my dog when this tree caught my eye. With the last few leaves blowing wildly in the wind, and the tall weeds in the foreground swaying back and forth I knew I had a shot that could illustrate the intense weather happening on this day. For some strange reason though I had almost forgot about this shot until recently when I was going back through my files. When I looked at it with fresh eyes I saw the tree looking and moving as if it was conducting an orchestra, the stiff torso of the trunk with the limbs acting as arms, leaves moving in a harmonious fashion as though they are the conductors baton. I’m quite happy that I found this shot, and a good example of why we should save our old files.

Nature Photography and Photoshop – How Far is too Far?

Posted in Controversy, Ethics, Image Processing and Software, Rants with tags , , , , , , on August 8, 2009 by Darwin

Jay Goodrich recently wrote a guest column on this topic for this blog. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to read his thoughtful ideas here and share your comments.

Jay has just posted a piece on his blog on the same topic written by Samantha Chrysanthou and me. For a direct link to the piece go here. We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Also be sure to check out Samantha’s blog for more thoughtful articles on photography.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Guest Columnist – Jay Goodrich

Posted in Artistic Development, Controversy, Ethics, Guest Columnist, Image Processing and Software, Rants with tags , , , , on August 5, 2009 by Darwin

Nature Photography and Photoshop – How Far is Too Far?

by Jay Goodrich


There are two schools of thought here. One is that limiting the use of Photoshop in nature photography restricts our creativity as photographers. The other is that the over-use of Photoshop compromises the integrity of nature photography. So who’s right?


When someone looks at an astounding photograph, the first question they often ask is, “Is this real?” What is this need we feel to label an image real or not real, true or not true, fabrication or reality? It’s one thing if the purpose of the image is documentation. Reality is important in photojournalism, for example, or to portray the shrinking of a glacier. But what if the purpose of the image is simply to capture beauty, or to startle the viewer? What then does it matter if the artist altered the original photo? Does it look less beautiful hanging on the wall, or less striking on the cover of the magazine?


For some reason, we as viewers often feel “cheated” if we find that a photo has been altered, as if the photographer somehow is lying to us. But if we look at nature photography as simply another art form, then isn’t post-processing photos in Photoshop simply another medium in that art? How do we determine how much alteration is acceptable, and when the artist has gone too far?


How do we draw the line between creative license and misrepresentation? There are so many people out there imposing “the rules” of image making, that drawing the line can become convoluted and quite frankly impossible. Who are these rule makers and what gives them the right to create ideals such as “no HDR”, “no over-saturation”, “it needs to happen in camera”, “no merging of two or more separate subjects”? People have been making rules since the dawn of photography. In the film era, the discussions were regarding exposure, composition, film type, and the like. These rules existed because if you did not expose correctly, there weren’t any images to view. In present day it seems as if people are rule making as a way to control creativity. And why would we want to limit ourselves in that way?


There isn’t a photographer, painter, architect, musician, or otherwise successful creative out there who hasn’t bent or flat-out broken the rules in his or her career. Have you ever taken a flat, colorless sunset image and pushed your white balance to 9000 degrees Kelvin to yield a perfect orange glow from nothing? Or taken a backlit, rim-lit shot and pushed the sliders to the far right with a Levels Adjustment Layer in Photoshop? Think these processes go beyond the standard accepted rules of how far is too far? Miguel Lasa of Spain went beyond when he used the aforementioned Levels technique to take the prize in the Creative Visions division of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition for 2008.


We are in an ever-changing photographic world now. Digital cameras become more powerful with each new generation, and the same holds true of our software. Imagine what Photoshop CS10 will be able to do. So how far is truly too far? That is the question. Guy Tal said it best in one of his recent blog postings:

Certainly any freedom can be abused, but this is no reason to demonize the technology that enables it. This is especially true for creative tools. To put it simply, those who use the tools for the sake of using them will always produce gimmicks and clichés. This is true of any art at any period in time. Those who see such gimmicks and blame the tools are not much better, though. Ultimately the artist is responsible for the art. If the result fails – the artist failed; not the tools. 


I believe that it is up to you to decide how far is too far. Your failures will be your own, as will be your successes. Create to discover your vision, and utilize “the rules” as guidelines, but also as a springboard to take your work beyond the rules. Bend them and break them every time you click the shutter and post process those images in Photoshop. Throughout history, success has always been achieved by those who listened to everybody else, and then said, “What the hell, I’m doing it my way.”


The two images that I have included here are near copies. One has star trails and the other does not. I know what you are already thinking, “Which one is the original?” Did I pull the stars out of the original image with the Spot Healing Brush Tool to create the second image? Or did I adjust my light levels giving the star trail image the alpenglow of an amazing sunset? Good question. My question to you is, does it really matter?


©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich


©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

Photographer of the Month – April 2009

Posted in Image Processing and Software, Photographer of the Month with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2009 by Darwin
©Tony Kuyper

©Tony Kuyper

This month I want to highlight the amazing work of Tony Kuyper.  Tony’s work in the deserts of the American southwest is not just more of the same old, same old. Tony offers a fresh eye and perspective on this oft photographed landscape. I love Tony’s abstract, graphic images and his feel for colour, light and design. His vision of the desert is fresh and exciting.

When you look at Tony’s images, you immediately notice the finely crafted compositions and the sensitive eye to capture, in a stunning way, what most of us would simply overlook. Look closer at Tony’s images and you will notice immaculate and superb processing skills. Tony knows how to use Photoshop to translate his vison of the world into a fine print. I have several of Tony’s prints and they are absolutely stunning!

The great thing about Tony is his open and willing nature to share with others. Many photographers that develop a specialized technique for shooting or processing images guard their ‘secrets’ jealously. Tony does just the opposite; he happily shares his in-depth knowledge about Photoshop and offers numerous tutorials  on his unique processes for digital darkroom work.

I have seen many tutorials on Photoshop by many photographers and most often these tutorials add nothing useful to my own workflow. But Tony’s Photoshop tutorials and actions are different, they are incredibly useful and functional especially for landscape photographers. I particularly like his luminosity masks and the automated actions he created for masking have been one of the most useful additions to my processing workflow! I now use luminosity masks on about 75% of the images I process. I am not sure how I lived without using Tony’s luminosity masks!

If you want to take your image processing to the next level and if you use Photoshop, I highly recommend all of Tony’s tutorials. Thanks Tony, for the great ideas, wonderful images and your sharing nature!