Sunday, October 21, 2012

Flash in the Night - Fright!

As part of my participation in the Ellenburg Photography Project 52 ( ) we had an assignment for the week on the theme "SPOOKY". There is a dead tree down the street from me that I always think about photographing every time I drive past it. This was my chance for an excuse to stop and do just that.  I waited for the sun to set and head out. It was almost getting too dark to shoot the  tree against a darkening purple sky.

Here is my light, going, going, gone....

I almost never use a flash and I had to resort to using the flash, which in the end turned out just fine. There were many moths and bugs flying around and getting in the shot and round specks of light or "spooky spirit halos". Sure, that's what I will call them. I ended up using this shot:

Can you see the bug halos? No, my lens is not dirty! This shot was ok, but I wanted it to be spookier. I had taken some photos in a local graveyard last week, so I dug out this one to merge the two together after resizing it to the correct proportion for the tree:

Using the stamp tool in PaintShop Pro, I copied the headstone to an area under the tree and it ended up like so:

I know this was not the greatest copy or cut and paste job but I knew that I was going to heavily texturize it, so it did not matter much. The texture I chose was called "Rebirth (cool)" by Joel Olive and I got it as a free download from his website. Here is his website  You can join the Texture Club for $10 a month to get many textures, or sample some of his downloads to try out. Here is the texture I used:

I added the texture as it's own layer and changed the opacity to about 50% or so. It ended up looking like this:

I merged the two layers and played with the contrast and brightness until I got an effect that I wanted. I ended up dropping the brightness by -25% or so and uppinng the contrast by about 35% or so. This is what I ended up with after slapping on my copyright stamp:

Oh so spooky with that glowing headstone. Seems like a moth halo got in the photo as well! Even Spookier!
And now I must tell a joke that my Dad always says when we pass a grave yard. "Do you know why they put a fence around a graveyard? Because people are dying to get in!"

Oldie but goody for Halloween. Have fun playing with the flash in the dark! Happy Halloween! Until next time...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Going for a Ride

My husband and I went for a long ride the other day to check out some areas of North Texas. Of course I took my camera with me!  We went up North of Lake Ray Roberts, twisting and turning and kicking up dust through the long winding, dry dry dry dirt roads.

It was a beautiful blue sky day and if I had a wide angle lens instead of my point and shoot Sony, I may have been able to make it look like Wyoming. Not that Wyoming is any better than Texas...

We were actually surprised at how some of the landscape had many trees and there were actually hills! Texas hills, but little hills and valleys none the less.

There were plenty of cows to photograph. And Texas Longhorns of course. Some of them even posed for me while lazing in a field of burnt out wild flowers.

It was hard not to imagine living on a ranch out in the middle of this true "Texas Country" and think about what one might raise goats!

Milk, Cheese, Goat Meat? Actually it was quite an eye opener. I don't know if I would like being so solitary. Maybe I could try it out for a little bit and see how I could do without a Michael's or JoAnn's Fabric store or a Hobby Lobby close by...

Just as the sun was setting and we were just about home  I manage to snap some "Wyoming" big sky shots of Texas landscapes and turn them into some masterpieces with a little texturing magic. (I use an old version of PaintShop Pro for my photo finishing. )

I started with this shot of cows grazing in a field and I cropped off most of the field to the horizon was not cutting the photo in half. Newbie mistake! Also a mistake easy to make while snapping photos from a moving car...

I then decided that I wanted to use this photo as a large poster size piece so I  s-t-r-e-a-c-h-e-d it.

But then my cows stretched so I had to copy them back in from the original with a stamp tool and get rid of the stretched cows. Not to worry, it didn't hurt the cows at all. They couldn't feel it.

I used the above texture from my favorite free texture guy at and pulled the opacity down to about 65% from what I remember. This time I used the eraser and stamped some of the texture out. I did it this way because I wanted to keep that fantastic old tin type frame around the edges. In this photo below you can see where I am just starting to erase out the texture layer from over the sky area to let the "big sky" show through.

This is a look at the final piece. It has a wonderful rustic old time Texas feel to it. It will be available as a 12 x 36 poster size.

These are two other shots from the same drive. I put the same textured finishes to them.

And here is one of the prints on acid free watercolor paper signed and framed. It looks like an old artist color print! I mean an old color print from an artist!

These will be available in my online store:  Please stop by and have a look at my other creations as well.

And until the cows come home and we have the next great adventure.... here is  the sun finally setting on the day...

See what I mean about "Big Sky"? ~ Michele

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Winter is OVER

It is getting hot here in Texas. Almost to the point where we have to keep the AC on day and night. I like to open the windows at night so it has to be under 75 degrees. Some nights, especially in the summer, it doesn't even drop below 80. Good grief! And with this heat our winter flowers are burning out. Especially the winter flowers, petunias and pansies. I have already dug mine up and replaced them with something more heat tolerant.

This is a pic of one of the purple pansies I dug up from out front. I grabbed a shot of it after I dug it out of the trash bin heading for compost.

This is not the exact shot. But I merged the pansy shot with a pretty Bokeh texture from that I have been waiting to use and this was the perfect opportunity.

This is the texture I used:

I dropped the opacity to 50% or so and the two together looked like this:

I gently erased the texture on the flower and the greenery a bit to end up with this:

One final crop to a square and it was off to my ETSY shop

So no more pansies until next winter unless I get some cropping up in my compost heap! I called this "Winter Fades" Until the next adventure ~ Michele

Monday, April 16, 2012

Just Flocking Through

Here in North Central Texas we get many types of birds stopping by for a bit on their way South and back North. Our house sits on the top of a hill on a wooded acre, so we get to admire a lot of wild life as it passes through or makes our lot as a temporary home.

It has been fun over the years and I have collected many photos of Raccoon in the trees, Rabbits from my gardens, Bull Frogs from the pond and many types of butterflies. This past Spring we saw migrations of many birds. Robins, Chickadees, Cedar Waxwings as well as our resident Cardinals and Blue Birds.

One morning I manged to capture this male Cardinal as he was noisily tweeting up a storm in the early morning sun. Glad I had my 20x zoom on my Sony. With all the noise he was making it seemed as if he was much closer though.

I took these three photos and a few more of some other migrating flocks of various birds and moodied them up with one of my favorite textures, Bluetopia, which can be found at one of my favorite sites:

And sometimes I will take the textures I want to use and change the color or hue of it to suit my needs. This one is Bluetopia in green:

I added these textures layers to my photos. In some cases I had to photo retouch to get more birdies in the shot. I just couldn't get them to sit still for me! Here are the final shots.

On these two Robins I changed up the hue of Bluetopia to more of a sepia toned texture. I played around with the blues and greens and this sepia seemed to work the best with the Robin's red breast and the tone of the twigs. I did a little burn around the edges to soften the look to a more Shabby Chic look!

These two little Lovey Doves are kind of peachy colored with the Bluetopia texture in a moody turquoise green hue. The dove was actually one bird the jumped around on the branches of the tree and I took its picture. I merged two of the images together to make it look like love doves sitting together in the morning light. The magic of digital....

These Cedar Waxwings came through our yard and spent a few days. Noisy, messy and fun to watch. They perched high up in the tree tops to get the very first warming rays of the sun in the morning and again in the evening to get the very last bits of sun rays at the end of each day. Beautiful birds almost lime green with a bit of orange stripe on their wings.

And finally that noisy Cardinal calling in at the top of the three in the morning sunlight. He, or his family can be seen all during the year. I like that he sticks around. I used Bluetopia in a lovely moody blue indigo color for this one.

These images and others are for sale in my online store at

I am still trying to capture a Barn Owl that likes to hang out in the woods close by. I got one shot of him, but there were too many branches in the way for me to make some beautiful art out of him...

And now that I think about it I do have some other birds of prey photos that I should try to do something with. An Osprey and a Red Tip Hawk. I'll play around with them when I am in an adventurous mood.
Until the next adventure...Look up in the tree tops. You might capture something in the sunlight! ~Michele

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Italian Cooking Photos

Yesterday I did a shot of garlic and I loved how it turned out. Here is the post about it:

When I went to our local "Farmers Market", Sprouts, I loaded the cart up with other vegetable to photograph using the same technique. Of  course I stuck rather loosely to an Italian cooking theme. I suppose you could think of this all as Salsa in the making too! I think I am still missing some beautiful green peppers and red onion, so stay tuned!

These will all be available in my online store at on a beautiful textured water color paper which gives the photo a wonderful painterly look.

Until the next adventure, have fun, I know I will! ~Michele

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Good For You

It seems as if most of my posts are centering around the theme of the week for the 52 week challenge I am participating in with Ellenburg Photography ( for information on how to join in on the weekly challenge fun). This week's theme is "Good For You".

With this topic, I immediately thought about exercise. And then that thought quickly faded, as do most of my workouts... Then I got my thoughts immediately onto food. Fruit. Vegetables. Then fried chicken, pizza, cake, and desserts. Wow those Good For You thought deteriorated quickly as I thought about the heartburn. But somehow I kept thinking back to my mother-in-law and peppers and onions and garlic and sausage. Good for you comfort food that in the end will ward away those mosquitoes I keep having trouble with.

Here is my garlic set up on the kitchen table. Nothing too fancy. Garlic scattered about with a table runner on the back of a chair as a neutral textured background. Notice the office dog waiting and searching for morsels of something to be dropped... This is the still life photo I started with from the above setting.

On a side note, I actually once went out and bought Garlic pills in the health food section of a pharmacy in the vitimin isle. This was to keep myself from being sucked dry as I seem to be a pin cushion for skeeters. I don't know why I am soo attractive except that I must be exceptionally sweet. The garlic pills did not work by the way...

Back to the photo art...I took the above photo and lighted it and cropped it to this...

Then I used one of the freebie textures I got from  as I mentioned before, but I flipped it up.

and layered it over the shot at about 60% opaqueness if that is a word...

There was not enough of the subject showing through, but I didn't want to lose any of the textured layer elements so I went at the garlic with the erasure to bring the Good For You subject to the foreground better.

Almost there. I was pleased with this but I warmed up the color a bit and brightened it up a bit to get this final shot...

I printed it out onto watercolor paper for a matt finish and popped it temporarily into a chunky framed I have and I think it came out nice and old world looking. I will have to buy some peppers and onions today and do my Mother-in-law proud with some more Good For Yous.

This photo will be available in my online store soon! Until the next adventure get some good for you into you! Michele