Quarantine 2: Electric Boogaloo

It’s been a month since my last blog post. Autumn had arrived and I was ready to head out with my camera. I was able to get one or two outings in before Oregon reinstated lockdown measures. One of the measures states that restaurants can only do take out. Since I’m a bartender I’m temporarily unemployed again. The upside is I have more time to explore my hobbies. I decided to start where I left off at the end of the last quarantine learning Photoshop.

These picture were all from before lockdown. Half of them are work related. It’s kind of a blessing having a scheduled photoshoot day at work. It forces me to take some photos, then I can get creative in the editing throughout the week. Just recently I decided to learn how to create 3D photos on their social media. To create this effect you need to take a photo in portrait mode on a smart phone. When you use portrait mode it actually takes both a foreground and background photo. When posting on Facebook you can then convert the photo to 3D. Unfortunately you can’t really post 3D photos many places. Facebook has cornered the market to share 3D photos. You can use apps like pop pic or insta360’s to view pictures in 3D, but you can’t share them directly.

i used some overlays for this work photo. I didn’t end up posting this one yet…I might use the concept for a future post.
This is the photo I ended up using, I used a painting filter to get this effect.
The same filter on a leaf photo.
I started drawing on some photos using the Procreate app. I’ve been having some fun drawing but need to refine my digital drawing skills.
This was my favorite out of the drawing photos.
I used a painting filter on the tree. and a photo formation to make the folded paper look.
This was for work. I included it here because it’s really the first time I’ve explored using the portrait mode on my iPhone. I found an app called Apollo that utilizes the two photos taken in portrait mode. I was able to highlight the foreground to make it look like studio lights, and dim the background.
I hiked up a local butte before lockdown and used my 360 camera to create the tiny planet effect. I then added the sun and moon using Luminar 4.
My work sign with overlays.
A trio of trees just before their leaves fell.

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy out there.


Photo Mosaics

A mosaic is a picture that has been divided into small tiles that when viewed from a distance form a picture or pattern. The earliest photographic use of this tiling was used for compiling satellite photos of the moon. The first digital montage of a face is credited with being created in 1993. The way it works is the primary image is viewed from a distance, upon closer examination it is revealed to be made of many smaller images. When creating a photo mosaic I found it best to start with a simple image. Animals, faces, and flowers seemed to work the best. I also found it works better if the primary picture and the smaller images are related.

I tried out 3 different programs when compiling these. The desktop version was an expensive subscription model, took the longest to compile, and wouldn’t let me share the completed work without paying for it. Both of the ipad apps I tried allowed me to share a lower resolution picture for free. I could then pay for better resolution or to license the images for commercial use. The apps were called Pro Mosaic Creator and Photo Mosaica. One of the apps was free, the other was $2, both have in app purchase options. Ideally you should create albums of the images you want to import for these pictures. You can end up with unintended results when using your entire photo gallery. I would recommend having at least 150-1500 images for best results. The more images you compile the better quality you get. Also all three of the programs take time to compile. It took the algorithm about 5 minutes to create most of these, but it could take as long as 15 minutes. I should also mention the Pro Mosaic Creator had a cool video compilation mode so I included a video example at the end.

The first five images were made from stock photos, and had fewer then 500 images for the algorithm to choose from. The next five were made from my gallery. Where there were many more images to choose from. Hopefully nothing too embarrassing when it is zoomed all the way in!

You will have to click on the images and zoom in to see the photos that make up the mosaics.

The first mosaic was with plain color tiles.
Since Halloween is around the corner I used Halloween themed pictures in this one.
I just used stock photos of cats for this mosaic.
Stock flower photos were used in this one.
Last one with stock photos.
I used my own photos for this one. The algorithm worked better wih more photos to choose from. I also turned up the blending option to integrate the primary picture better.
Pumpkins for the season.
Simple subjects work the best. Kitty!
I should redo this one some day just using photos of my niece.
I did this one with an album of selfies. I had no idea that I took so many selfies until I complied this.

Update: to view close ups on a tablet you just have to pinch to zoom in. On a Mac desktop it is (command =) to zoom in and (command -) to zoom out. On PC it’s (control +) and (control -).


Autumn’s Arrived

I’m enjoying the Autumn weather. I think this might be my favorite time of the year. It’s not too hot or too cold. The air feels crisp after a good rain, and it’s so colorful outside.

Not too much on the photography forefront. I’ve continued learning how to use overlays, and working on my photo skills both with cameras and editing. I’ll try to find a comfortable work life balance for the winter and settle in.

These first two are for my work projects. Hopefully they don’t mind me sharing them here. I added about three overlays to create this picture.
I sort of feel like I went a bit overboard here, but I got some good practice in. My favorite part was adding the raven in the background. I add a little Gaussian blur to create a correct looking distance.
I used a motion blur for the background. I pasted the leaf and added an outline around it to create more interest.
This leaf looked like it was being painted… so I added a paint brush. Blended the colors and added a texture to make it feel paint like.
During a quick trip to the beach I found someone had erected a driftwood doorway. This ended up being my favorite after many attempts.
With Halloween around the corner I started thinking spooky and creepy. I found this doll head and started creating around it. First up I tried combining it with a flower.
I then went experimental, and started painting etc.
Seeing what I could come up with.
Distressed look.
Blending with creepy background.
Combining a couple of techniques. I started with a black and white. Added color to the eyes and lips. Painted on the lightning. Used a bird overlay. Finished it off with a distressed filter.

Cheers till next time!

Learning How To Use Overlays

Overlays in photography are images or textures that can be added to give extra dimension to your photos. I’ve had some limited experience adding them to photos. Many of the apps I use have a small set of overlays associated with each one. I was wanting to do some stuff with fire recently and didn’t have many choices with my current apps. This lead me to researching overlays on the internet. I found there is a whole business of selling overlays. Almost all of these overlays need software that uses layers as part of the editing process. The most common one is of course Photoshop. You can also use editors like Affinity, Luminar 4, and Procreate among others. I used a combination of these editors in my creative process.

There are quite a few websites offering overlay downloads. I picked one that had what I was looking for and gave me the most bang for my buck. Packages of overlays run from $10 for basic to $200 for professional quality with commercial licensing applications. I was able to download about 15,000 to my desktop for about $50. 15,000 sounds like a lot but you basically get 400 green sparkles, 400 blue sparkles, 400 red sparkles etc. All of them are slightly different but not really. I was looking for something that offered falling leaves because it’s autumn, and fire because of the recent wildfires. I wish I was a little more computer literate. I basically have everything in one or two folders on my desktop that is not well organized. (I guess that’s on my to do list.)

This picture already had a nice blurred background, I added two bokeh filters for good measure.
This was my first real attempt. the mountains and trees were my original photo. Luminar 4 makes it easy to switch the sky from day to night. I found an image of an eagle and pasted it. And finished off with fire and smoke overlays from my purchase.
This one was for work. I cut out the beer photo placed it in the fall scene and added one of the falling leaf overlays.
This was attempt number three. I hadn’t been using my camera equipment enough so I set up my off camera flash to make sure I still knew how. I added a chromatic aberration for the glitchy rainbow effect and sparkles from my new overlays.
I returned to the Raptor Center to get some pictures of predatory birds. If you have been following my blog since the beginning this was one of my very first stops. If you want to see how far I’ve come in 2.5 years check out that early posting.
I didn’t want to rely entirely on the new overlays so I used one of the textures I had made for myself a few months ago. After blending them I ended up liking the psychedelic feel of these grapes the best.
No Benjamins were harmed in the making of this. Since I now had the fire and smoke overlays, this was the first thing I though about burning. This image took 10 separate layers. Ive heard that some artist like Maggie Taylor can have 100’s of layers. Look up her work I’ll wait you won’t be disappointed.
This is a selfie of me reading todays newspaper. I just thought it was fitting. Almost every day in 2020 feels like the newspaper is on fire.

Virus and Fire and Fears, Oh My!

2020 has been a real challenge. Like in the Wizard of OZ there is no magic wizard that can give us heart, brains, and courage. It’s up to us to find those things within ourselves and continue to move forward no matter what the rest of 2020 may throw at us.

For those of you that have been long time followers of this blog you may have noticed that it’s been over a month since my last post. There has been a lot going on and I have had little time for my outside interests. I had two rough weeks at work, followed by a week of dealing with a personal problem, and then the West Coast caught on fire. I was lucky to get out my camera for a walk in one of the local parks about two days before the fires began.

I’m looking forward to Autumn, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. I enjoy the cooler weather, and the changing colors. I’m also looking forward to having a little more free time on my hands, hopefully I can get the creative juices flowing again.

Architecture and lines always make a good subject.
Stopping water in motion.
I liked that there was only one purple bloom left on this thistle. It’s a harbinger of fall… bring on the leaf photos.
Just art in the park.
I liked the green color of the single Ivy growing up the tree. Unfortunately the Ivy is an invasive species in Oregon. This ground cover chokes out local plants and weakens native trees as it climbs them.
I love the peeling bark of the Madrone trees.
The Holiday farm fire has burned around 175,000 acres and 500 houses and structures have been lost. This fire is still burning about 30 miles east of Eugene. For about a week the air was in the hazardous zone with particulates in the 300 – 600 range. This was one of the many fires burning simultaneously across Washington, Oregon, and California after a windstorm fanned flames.
I just wanted to show side by side pictures of what I usually looks like vs. one of the really bad days. The smoke has died down here, but the fire is still burning and many people are either homeless, or unable to return to their homes as of this posting.
I took a picture of a moth. I just liked the vintage creepy look.
I was looking for new things I could do with photos. I started exploring drawing on them. I took basic drawing and charcoal classes back in the day but now wish I had taken some painting as well.
I was playing with the painting idea when I realized I could manipulate the photo to make I look like I’m peeling it up off the paper. I really like this idea I may explore this again.

How To Create The Illusion Of Levitation

I’ve decided to make this blog post an instructional behind the scenes post. I figured I’d share what I’ve learned along the way. There are a couple of ways to make things look like they are levitating. You can just photoshop in an object, catch an object as it is falling, or set up stationary wires or fishing lines that are easy to erase from the final image. You can also set an object on glass above a background to create the illusion that it is defining gravity.

I used wires to keep the rune stones in place for this photo. The nice thing about this is you can get the shadows of the runes right on the book. If I photoshopped in the runes it would be hard to get that feel.
Here’s what it looks like before photo editing. The device I used for holding the wires is a magnetic soldering third hand PCB circuit board holder. I’ve seen people use embroidery holders as well.
I did this one for work. This is a combination of the holder and photoshopped in tots.
I created the illusion that I was balancing the egg. The egg was sitting on a piece of glass. See the following photo.
Here’s the set up for the previous shot.
Since I had the top down or overhead set up out I wanted to mess with it. I found a cheep way to make a top down tripod.
My set up consisted of a microphone stand ($25), a camvate microphone mount for camera stud adapter ($5), and some sandbags. You could used rice bags if you are on a budget.
Camvate adapter.

A Quick Post

Work has been a little chaotic this last two weeks. I’ve had little time for photography and other pursuits. I was able to squeeze out a few pictures for this blog post. I’m hoping to get my camera out sometime this week.

I always love peeling paint and cracks.
I’m sure my mom will like this one. Flowers and hearts are kind of her thing. I used a clone tool to create the heart shape.
Sticking with the heart theme. I used a mirror tool. Blackberrys will grow anywhere, they just took root in a crack of this building.
This reminds me of a nineties album cover.
Playing with the moth picture again.
A hold over from the last blog post. I guess I hadn’t finished playing with the falling idea.
I found an app with a Bela Lugosi filter. I may mess with this more, I like the feel.
I was making a different picture for some friends when I reversed the idea and put the masks on the American Gothic picture. American Gothic is the most parodied picture in North America. After I made this I looked it up. Someone had already made this idea, they also added toilet paper to the pitchfork. Most people think it is a picture of a man and wife. It’s really supposed to represent a father and daughter. The actual people who posed for the painting are the painters sister and dentist.

Coworker Tests Positive For Covid-19

At the time of writing this I have just found out a coworker has tested positive for COVID-19. I feel fine so that is good. It looks like they closed the restaurant for tonight but it will be open tomorrow after a thorough cleaning. I’m guessing some of my other coworkers may jump ship. I don’t blame them, it’s hard to be on the front lines where people don’t wear masks while in your presence. I myself feel that I’m too invested after 23 years. I like my company, plus my healthcare is tied to my job. I’m apprehensive again as this hits closer to home. I hope my coworker who tested positive is alright. I guess I’ll see what tomorrow brings.

As far as photography goes I’ve been using a lot of my creativity for stuff at work. It takes some time to come up with posts for social media every day. I also have realized I haven’t really been behind the lens too much. Between work and some yard projects I haven’t had time. I was able to make a few pictures today, that gave me enough for a post. Good luck out there be kind to everyone!

I took this during the day. I was able to use use a photo app that made it look like night and add the stars. I probably should have removed the telephone lines in the right corner.
In my last post I included a few backgrounds I was working on. I decided I should use them, this is one idea I had.
This was another one.
I used a mirror app then added a preset moon background.
I did this one for work. I had one of my coworkers stand in front of the tiki mask. I took a second photo without him. Then in photoshop I combined and masked out his head to make it look like the tiki was having a beer.
Working on my product photography skills.
Doing some experimental stuff.
I wanted to do a falling picture. It turned out ok. Next time I’ll pay a little more attention to detail.
I used the same photo to create this wormhole image.

Taking A Few Days Off Work

It’s been two weeks since my last blog post. I have been quite busy taking and editing photos. I actually have too many to post here. I chose a few from my backgrounds that I’ve been working on. A few from work, and a few from a mini vacation out to a cabin on the river. I also added a few videos because I’ve been working on those as well.

For a lot of my cut and paste photos I’ve been using stock or free to use photos for my backdrops. I wanted to get away from that so I decided to start creating these for myself. I used a mirroring app to create about 40 images similar to this that I could use as a background for future projects.
Another example backdrop.
Since I had the mirror app going I thought I’d have a little fun with it!
This was fun also.
I did this for work, I’m trying to keep my posts interesting. I used my insta 360 camera to catch this image.
This was for work. This is an example of using a stock image for the background. It will probably take me years to get enough background and texture images.
Sunset by the river.
This was across from the cabin we stayed at for my mini vacation.
It took me 5 minutes to wade out across the slippery rocks to get this view.
I went golfing one of the days. There is this great course called Tokatee. The course is lined with old rusty logging equipment from the early 1900’s. I took about 100 photos there. I chose just a few for the blog.
Who doesn’t love rust.
I liked the way nature just takes over. I was going for a grungy over the top vibe here.
I was there during the middle of the day with the harshest of light. I would like to return to photograph in the dusk or dawn light.
I wanted to do at least one in black and white.
I found the photoshop camera app that has lots of smart filters. This one replaces the sky with a motion background.
I did a time lapse while along the river.
Watch the sky for star trails in this video. I tried this each night but never quite got it right. I need a bigger open space with near blackout lighting from other light sources. I have a better idea of how to do it next time that I’m out of city light range.
This was the same sky replacement effect from the photoshop camera app.
This was my favorite, the water drops were reflecting light back onto the fern and made a cool effect. The music I chose also seemed to match the drops.