Friday, April 30, 2010

Phun Phriday! #12 - Photo Impressionism



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Hey gang! It's Phun Phriday! again. It's time to step outside the box and have some Phun with your Photography.

Recently I purchased a book entitled Photo Impressionism And The Subjective Image by Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant. Kind of a long title and then as a subtitle it says "An imagination workshop for photographers". It's only about 160 pages and it is very well illustrated with lots of examples. I'm only on about page 28 - If you don't count the photos I've looked at - and it truly is an imagination workshop. Today's Phun Phriday! photo was taken in Yellowstone Park this past Tuesday, based on some ideas presented on pages 26-28. The authors used slide film so I took the ideas and converted it over to digital using PhotoShop to blend two very overexposed photos of the exact same thing together. What gives it the look is one of the images is sharp focus and the other is totally out of focus. Since I was using Photoshop to blend I brought the overexposure way back down and layered the sharp image over the out-of-focus image and reduced it to 30% opacity.

I always love to hear from you, but in this case especially since it is so different from what we normally think of when we think of taking photographs. Do you like this kind of thing. Does it make you want to try it? I'd love to hear your honest thoughts.

Have you done something interesting or new and pushed the edge or stepped out of your own box. If so, leave a link to it with your comment so we can all enjoy it.



Don't be shy - leave a comment or email me.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Texture and Feel

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There is a texture and a feel to Yellowstone unlike any other place in the world.  Nature's wonders seem to be multiplied over and over again here from the mud bubbling up from the center of the earth to the beautiful mountain peaks and lush green trees.  At some point many of the lush green trees fall victim to the other wonders of nature.







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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ahh, Spring at Yellowstone

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We had two beautiful days in Yellowstone National Park where the weather was quite nice and cooperative with some beautiful clouds to enhance the images.  Then yesterday afternoon, as promised by the weatherman, things started to change pretty fast.  Some places we had steady winds in the 50 to 60 mile an hour range and other places we had sudden gusts that made you wonder if they were going to pick up your camera, tripod and all, and send them sailing.  One such gust blew my hat right off my head and sent it down the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  It was one of my very favorite caps too :.-( .  Yellowstone is in a prime location as well as altitude for rather startling weather changes.  The photo you see above was taken this morning in a near blinding snow storm not too long before we headed home. 


This is the exact same bison on Monday afternoon, not far from where the top one was taken.  Okay, I don't know if it is really the same one ;^) .  But there is at least one in about 1000 chance that it is.

I'm pretty excited about some of the photos I was able to capture in and around Yellowstone.  I'll be sharing them here.  I hope you enjoy seeing them almost as much as I enjoyed finding them.








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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What? No photos?

Day Three at Yellowstone park. Actually It's the end of day 2 of going into the park. We drove up Sunday afternoon, and took some photos on the way, but when we got here the wireless in the lodge was down, and this is the first time it's been up enough for me to even make a post, and I haven't prepared any photos. So Watch for something new on Thursday. I really appreciate all the comments I've been receiving, on my Sunset Sunday and others, and I'll be back soon to post and get out to visit your blogs and see what you've been up to.

So long for a couple more days.


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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunset Sunday - 10



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It's Sunset Sunday again.  Come join the fun and leave a comment with a link to your Sunset Shot.

Did you see my tutorial on how to put a link in a comment?  If you'd like to learn click here.

Things might be a little strange on my blog for the next few days as I'm leaving this afternoon on a photo excursion to Yellowstone National Park.  Weather forecast for my home Tuesday is Partly Cloudy and high of 76 f.  Forecast for Yellowstone Tuesday is snow showers in the morning and high of 45 f.    Oh well, we wanted to get there before it got crowded with people so hopefully we'll still get some great shots without crowds.  You'll know soon enough.




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New Guest Photographer




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It was probably the name of her blog, or maybe it was the beautiful bright red hair that first caught my attention, but then what held my attention was her wonderful photography and her warm friendly way.

Over the past few months I've felt like I've really gotten to know Dagmar, whose blog is entitled Barefoot From Heaven and who is the owner of Silver Cloud Photography.

Dagmar hails from the Netherlands, but she has the feel of the girl next door that you grew up with and that you'd love to invite over for a fireside chat to talk old times and plot out future adventures.

 If you'd like a real treat, both photographically and personally, take some time to go and visit Dagmar at Barefoot From Heaven.  You'll be glad you did, I know I am.



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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bonus Post - How to Post a Link in a Comment

Have you ever noticed that some people know how to insert a link into their comment so it might say something like "To see what I'm talking about click here" and then when you float your pointer over the words click here your pointer changes to a little hand with the index finger pointing?  Then when you right click it takes you to a new place that the click here was linked to. On other comments you'll just see something like "Check this out at http://www.scottlawphotography.com" and if someone wants to go there they have to copy the web address and paste it in the address box in their browser.  You know people are more likely to go visit the place you are telling them about if all they have to do is click on something like "click here".  Would you like to know how they do that?

Most blogs' comments boxes will allow you to do it and here is how. You're going to use a little HTML code - don't let that scare you because it is very easy.    What you are going to enter looks like this

Sorry, but the only way I could get this to show without actually becoming a link was to enter it as a graphic.  Anyway the first part with the "<" arrow and the "a href=" simply tells the system that you are now pointing to something and not to display that code or what is between the quotation marks.  Of course what is between the quotation marks is the place that the system is pointing to.  You simply replace URL with the actual web address as shown in the example below.  Finally the words between the ">" and the "<" are what will show as a link that the reader will click on the get where you want them to go.  Built into your blog code are the instructions that tell your computer how to display those words to make it apparent that they are in fact a link, such as underlined and blue.

As an example let's say you want to share your sunset shot with everyone on Sunset Sunday and you want to write something like "See my shot here."  You want the word "here" to be the link word, so it looks like this "See my shot here." (You don't need the quotation marks).  You would simply type something like this:


Incidentally, you are not restricted to have the link be only one word like "here".  Whatever you put in that space, whether it be one word, two, several or even a whole paragraph will act as a link.

Okay, so it's a little more work than just copying and pasting your URL to the bottom of the post, but it makes it much easier for people to get to whereever you are trying to send them, then more people will go there and isn't that what your goal was anyway.  Good luck and I hope to see lots of nice links to your Phun Phriday! posts and Sunset Sunday posts in the future. 


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PhotoHunt: Addiction



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Today's theme is Addiction.  That was a no brainer for me - but I guess that's what addictions are. Just yesterday morning my wife reminded me. But I do love them so.

Click here to see more addictive photos from around the world.



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Friday, April 23, 2010

Phun Phriday! #11 - Silky Waters

Happy Phun Phriday! to you. It's time to step outside the box and have some Phun with your Photography.

If I were to try to give one type of nature photograph that is probably my favorite, after thinking long and hard I would probably say water and more specifically moving water. For some reason moving water captured in a still photo is fascinating and beautiful to me.

I am happy to say that among the people who visit my blog and comment and email me are very advanced, experienced photographers along with people who are just trying to learn the craft as well as the gamut in between. I hope the advance and experienced will bear with me today while I give a brief tutorial on photographing moving water.

Very simply put, if you want falling/moving water to give a silky look all you have to do is leave the shutter open a little longer. Every situation will be different and so the amount of time will change. Here are three examples of the exact same stream, but with the shutter left open for different amounts of time.  Note that you may want to click directly on each photo to see them in a larger size to get better detail.

This first shot was taken for 1/25th of a second.  As you can see it almost stops the water.  With a little practice, or if you are properly supported you can do something like this hand held (without tripod).

Number two of the stream was taken at 1/3d of a second.  You can see that there is quite a significant difference in the look of the flowing water.  It is very difficult to hold the camera still for that length unless you are leaning against something very solid and steady, so I would strongly recommend a tripod for this shot.

 Now take a close look at this one and see how far out the "silkiness" extends.  Look at the surface of the water even several feet away from the falls.  There is really a significant difference.  The lens was open for 13 seconds for this shot. 

Which is best?  Of course that totally depends.  We'll each have our favorite of the three depending on our mood or the mood we want to convey.

Another point I want to make is that moving water is moving water.  In other words, it does not have to be a flowing stream to give you a very interesting photo.  Sometimes just the wind will make enough movement to give you a very artistic effect, such as this one.
At first glance this may look like snow.  This is a photo on the Great Salt Lake during a fairly stiff breeze so that even though it is not flowing it is still very active.  This was exposed for 25 seconds and as a matter of fact it was so dark at the time that I had to estimate my focus because I couldn't see anything through the viewfinder to focus on. 

Exposure is based on the amount of light which hits your sensor.  It involves three variables:  First, how much ambient light is on the subject - somewhat controllable. Second, how much light is getting through your lens - significantly controllable.  and Third, how long your shutter is open - again significantly controllable. 

As far as the ambient light you can fairly easily control it on small items by adding light or shading light.  Much harder on large items.  In the case of the lake I just waited until the sun had gone down but sometimes you don't have that luxury. 

In the case of the type of photography we're talking about today, we want to be able to leave the shutter open for a period of time, whether it is 1/4 of a second or many seconds.  In that case we may need to reduce the amount of light coming through the lens.  We can do that by closing down the aperture or using a higher f stop, but even that often doesn't do enough.  In that case you may have to add filters.  I've found that a properly adjusted polarizing filter will cut one f stop, but I never leave home without my neutral density (ND) filter.  You can get ND filters at various densities that will give you up to about 3 full stops.  There are some photographers that use multiple ND filters.  Add that to the one stop of the polarizing filter - also with me at all times - and you've made a very big difference.  On the last of the stream shots above I had to have my lens closed down to f. 20 and have both filters on to get the 13 second exposure.  It was just lucky that I was also in a heavily shaded area. 

OBTW, There is one more thing you can do and that is set your ISO to as low as possible.  On my camera, however, that is only 100.  Some camera's may let you go as low as 50. 

Please let me know if  these basic tutorials are interesting and helpful to you. Also is it too basic, or not basic enough and is there too much or too little information and/or examples.

Have you done something interesting or new and pushed the edge or stepped out of your own box.  If so, leave a comment with a link and share it. 




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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Evening Shadows

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This huge pile of red rock, apparently from an extinct volcano from who knows how many thousand/million years ago stands about five or six stories high. When I first saw it I was like a little kid opening is favorite present on Christmas morning. What an exciting find. These photos were taken late in the evening to take advantage of the low sun for both color and shadow. Enjoy.
Yes, Old guys can goof around and have a little fun too.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Majestic Zion's



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I kind of liked the V-shape of the shadows on this one. Another of the beautiful scenes in Zion's National Park.


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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back to The Future





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It was almost 10 months ago when I took my wife for a drive up Farmington Canyon. It's a steep climb up the side of a mountain with lots of switch backs.  Last year I posted a photo of the road here.  At one of the corners with a pull off I noticed some large beautiful thistles that I wanted to get some macro shots of. Just as I was getting ready the largest bumble bee I could remember ever seeing flew in and started to gather pollen. What luck. He was there and gone in about 4 seconds.

This was taken with my Panasonic point and shoot camera, before I had a DSLR.  This year I plan to cover some of the same territory only with my DSLR.  I have learned so much since then I'm pretty excited about getting there again.



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Monday, April 19, 2010

Another Bonus Sunset






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Okay, you get a free bonus sunset tonight. Chad and I were photographing not very far from each other this evening and I wanted to see if I could get mine up first. So if he copies it you know who had the original.






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Headed South







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Only photographically speaking.  I thought maybe you'd had enough of the Northern sunsets and the Northern flowers for a few days and so I'd go back to some of the myriad of photos I'd taken from down in Southern Utah.  This particular shot was taken a few miles before the actual entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park.  The sun was setting and we raced down to this location to catch it with the sunset light shining on it.  I think it was worth the effort.  I hope you think so too.

By the way, friendly constructive criticism in ALWAYS welcomed and encouraged.  I can use all the help I can get.  THANX!





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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunset Sunday - 9



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It's Sunset Sunday again.  Come join the fun and leave a comment with a link to your Sunset Shot. 

This week's shot is more Set than Sun, but the non-visible Sun is creating a beautiful red/orange sky as it retreats below the western horizon.  The structure in the foreground is an Amphitheater at the Antelope Island Visitors' Center.  I thought it added some nice lines to break up the scene as it gives foreground and depth. 

So there's mine.  Can't wait to see yours?



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Saturday, April 17, 2010

PhotoHunt: Covered

The PhotoHunt theme for this week is Covered.

Less than two weeks ago our front yard looked a lot like this - COVERED in snow.


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But now it is COVERED with Spring flowers and buds as proven by the photos I took just yesterday morning.

Like this young daffodil bud, still partially COVERED with the dried outer skin.

And this purple ground COVER.

I love these bleeding hearts. I have a couple plants just COVERED with them.


Here's another style Daffodil that's COVERED with water.

And an abstract of a Tulip that is also COVERED in water.

I know this looks like bunches of grapes COVERED with powder, but they're actually buds COVERING our lilac trees.


And finally this tiny bud still COVERED with it's baby skin, but soon it will be a lovely Peach COVERED with peach fuzz, and then someday it will be sliced up and COVERED with pie crust and maybe COVERED with ice cream. Or maybe it will COVER hot buttered waffles.

Sorry I've got to go now, I'm suddenly hungry, but I hope I COVERED the theme this week.

If you would like to join in the fun or just see photos COVERING the world just click here.



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Friday, April 16, 2010

Phun Phriday #10 - Photoshop Magic



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I know what you're thinking.  "Scott, you're so confused.  Today is Phun Phriday! not Sunset Sunday".  The good news is that you get two doses of Sunsets this week - if that is good news.  But now for the Phun.

If you've been with me for any length of time you already know that I prefer some kind of foreground in my scenic shots, including sunsets.  It gives them more depth.  This sunset shot was taken from the top of a rather large hill that required a pretty healthy walk, seemed like straight up most of the time, so that I could get some interesting rock formations in the foreground.  The problem was that because it was getting pretty dark and I was seeing the back side of the rocks, but had to be exposed for the light on the lake and in the clouds, the rocks were basically black, giving only a silhouette as you see in the photo below.

What I really wanted was just a hint of light on the rock to give it some definition and the appearance that the sun was lighting the edge of the rock.  Look again at the top photo.  Depending on your monitor and it's settings you should be able to see a faint hint of light on the left edge of the large rock on the right side of the photo, as if the sun or the reflection off the lake had lit it slightly.  Do you see it?  It is subtle because in real life it would be subtle.

So the next question is how do I get some light on that rock?  And the answer is "light it up".  It doesn't matter how, but in my case I used a flash that I bounced so that it would, again, be very subtle.  I actually bounced it off the palm of my hand to keep the light level low.   


So what is wrong with that photo?  The problem is that the side of the rock facing you is the brightest lit, so when you see that photo your brain is asking "where did that light come from?"  It is obvious that it is artificial because the back side of the rock should be dark because it is the shadowed side. 

What is the answer?  Using the raw processor that comes with Bridge in Photoshop I did two things:

1.  I used the Adjustment Brush tool to lighten, almost like dodging only better, the edge of the rock.
2.  I used the Graduated Filter tool to darken the back side of the rock.

Just a little side note.  Using the two tools mentioned above to fix that rock took just a few short minutes.  Getting rid of that lens flare in the center was many times more difficult.  I tried a number of different methods that didn't work and finally ended up taking a block out of another photo and covering it.  That sounds easier than it was because the other photo was not lined up exactly the same and was slightly lighter, so that in itself took some serious doing.

Now that you know all this, if you are really interested I suggest you go up and click on each individual photo to embiggen them and look closely to see the differences.

Can you see the differences?  Was it worth the trouble?  I hope you'll take a minute to leave me a comment with your honest thoughts on it.

Remember!  Everyone is invited to join in the Phun of Phun Phriday!  Have you done something Phun with your camera or image processor lately?  Post a comment and share it.



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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Can I Borrow The Car Dad?



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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Slot Stream



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Enjoy this scene from just outside Zions National Park on the East side.



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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Classic Architecture

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Actually took this photo in down town Salt Lake City in November of 2009.  Took out about 90% of the color saturation and added monochromatic noise to give it some grain.  I think I'm celebrating the fact that I can post vertical photos again in this new blog format.  Please see my previous post and tell me what you think about it.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Did You Notice?

Today marks the biggest change I've made in my blog for some time. I'd really appreciate your feedback on it.

Some months ago I went to the "Magazine" style format. Do up remember? It looked like this.
My thinking was that it allowed people to see the photos from the last several posts all at once so they could go to the one they wanted to check out.

Feedback from friends/family said that unless someone wanted to make a comment they would never really see the full post with any extra photos, or read anything that was written in the post. Sooooo, Even though I did really like the magazine format for a lot of reasons, it had it's problems too, such as I always had to put the photo at the very top and it always had to be a horizontal photo or it looked squished on the front page. There were a few other internal problems too, but I usually managed to get around them or ignore them.

For me the most important thing is readability and viewer friendly.  I would be very grateful  for your honest feedback on which YOU like better and why.  Which do you think is more "viewer friendly".  Which one serves my purpose of sharing my photographs and having F U N with photography the very best???  Please let me know.  (Have I begged enough yet? If you want I'll post a photo of my down on my knees.)

THANK YOU FOR YOUR FEEDBACK - I WILL RESPOND TO EVERY ONE.



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Practicing What I Preach


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Maybe you saw it.  Last Friday for my Phun Phriday! post I did a little mini tutorial on how to replace boring skies with better skies.

Then on Saturday I posted a photo for the PhotoHunt Theme of Vertical and it had very boring skies.  Jessica from Quotidian Photography was kind enough to point it out in a comment she made.  My excuse was that It was very late when I posted it and I was really tired.    Last night I decided to repent (Since it was Sunday ;)  ) and I went into my files and found a great sky and merged the two together.  It just so happens that the sky that I added was taken the same day as the rock formation, and only a few miles away.  Once I found the sky it only took a minute or two to merge them together to make what I think is a better shot.

I'd love to hear what you think about it. And OBTW in case you didn't figure it out from my comment about Jessica above, I really do appreciate good constructive criticism that helps me improve my craft as much or more than I appreciate honest praise.

Note:  The bold italicized text within the post above are links to the items being discussed.  Click on any of them to be taken to the referenced point.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunset Sunday - 8






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Wow . . . How quickly these Sunset Sunday's roll around.  I hope they don't roll around too fast for you though.  Sometimes sunsets don't need a lot of clouds to still be beautiful.  It was pretty breezy when I shot this so some of the water was pretty busy, while other parts, where there were obstructions, were pretty quiet.  I like the contrast of the textures on the reflection.  Whenever possible I like to have something in the foreground.  In this case I had to settle for the little jetty and the - believe it or not that is - sagebrush in the water.  I think both of them helped balance the overall photo. 

Would you like to play along?  It's easy.  Just post a sunset photo on your blog and comment here and tell us that you have one to share.  I would love to see it. 

Even if you don't have one to share now, I'd love to have you comment and please visit anyone else who does decide they want to play. 




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Saturday, April 10, 2010

PhotoHunt: Vertical



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The theme for this weeks PhotoHunt is vertical.  For some reason I immediately thought of this close up of a vertical rock I took in Southern Utah last month.

If you want to see Vertical photos from around the world click here.







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Friday, April 09, 2010

Phun Phriday! #9 - Merging




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Welcome to another Phun Phriday!.  Phun Phriday is where we experiment, try new things, step outside the box and so on.

What a beautiful scene.  This was photographed Mar. 16, 2010 just outside the entrance to Zion's National Park. . . No wait a minute this was photographed Mar. 26, 2010 on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. . . Okay, it was both.  Sometimes you get a beautiful landscape or scenic shot like the mountain here, but the skies just aren't right, when that happens you can simply get a great sky and insert it.  So indeed the mountain was taken at Zions NP but the sky was taken 10 days later by the Great Salt Lake - about 300 miles apart.  Both original photos are shown below. 

How did I do this.  Well to be honest, with Photoshop it's pretty easy.  NOTE:  I use CS 4, I don't know if you can do this the same way in Elements and I use a PC.  It's done the same way on a MAC, but you use different keys.

Step one was to open my "Sky" photo in Photoshop.

Step two was to open my "Mountain" photo. 

Then while holding the Ctrl key you click and drag the mountain (foreground image) onto the Sky (background image) so that now the mountain is hiding the sky.  Once you are happy with the arrangement release the Ctrl & the mouse button.

You may want to rename the new layer.  In mine I just called it Mountain so I'll refer to it as such here.  Select the Mountain layer and then go to the bottom of the layers palette/panel and click the mask button (square with a circle inside it) to create a layer mask.  What this does is allow us to "erase" the sky from the Mountain layer so that the sky in the background becomes visible.

Now, make sure that your foreground color is black.  It doesn't matter how you paint in your sky with black, you can do it with a brush or in my case I did it with the combination of the magic wand tool and the paint bucket.  Using the Magic wand tool I "selected" the sky in the Mountain layer and then using the paint bucket I poured in black which created a mask allowing the sky I wanted to show through.  Since the Mountain layer's real sky did have some clouds and variation in it the magic wand tool did not just select the whole thing at once, so I had to do it a few times, and then after I got as much of it done that way as I could, I still had to go grab the brush and paint black in a few areas where the magic wand tool had missed.  But overall it took maybe 3 minutes. 

I'm not the best Photoshop user in the world.  Not even remotely close.  I have two books on it that I quite like.  The first one is Adobe Photoshop CS4 one-on-one by Deke McClelland, which I have read cover to cover, and the second one is Adobe Photoshop CS4 for photographers by Martin Evening, which I'm about 1/3 of the way through.  These books sit right next to my computer so I can grab them very quickly when I need them, which is most of the time I am doing anything besides the very basics.


I know many of you know Photoshop CS4 much better than I do, so I welcome your comments and suggestions.   As always I hope that you will share your Phun Phriday! type photos with us by leaving a link in your comments.

So the big question now that you've see the befores and the after - was it worth it?


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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Ain't No Denyin'


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Today is Thursday. This past Monday (three days ago) I drove home at 10:00 p.m. in a blinding snow storm that had cars sliding trying to get up hills and sliding off the freeways. I had to put my truck in 4-Wheel Drive to make it safely home, a distance of only about 7 miles.

Today I mowed the lawn and took this photo. That is spring in Northern Utah.



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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Weeping Rock





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Within Zion's National Park are many places you can take a fairly short hike to.  One of them is called weeping rock because as you stand under it you are very likely to get wet.  There is a constant dripping of water in numerous places out of these rocks above your head. 



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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Scenes of Snow Canyon




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Just slightly North West of St. George, UT is a State Park called Snow Canyon.  I've visited St. George several times and I've even been to a place within a couple miles of this park and still wasn't aware of it until this last trip.  What a find!  The top photo was taken on a hill called Galoot showing part of the park in the background.  The photo below is of a slot canyon called Jenny's Canyon. 






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Monday, April 05, 2010

The Answer is





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Last week I posted a photo of Palm branches similar to these and asked people to guess what they are.



Rick was the second commenter and knew right away what it is. You wouldn't think he'd seen many of these up in Canada, so he must get around. I thought I'd share a couple other photos just for fun, because I think they are very interesting.  I guess when you don't see something very often, it becomes somewhat fascinating, especially close up.  Here's a photo of the palm tree that they are all on.





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