Author Archives: Denise Silva

Asylum

This past weekend, RRPT led 3 tours photography tours at Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA). The first tour was a night tour, where the focus was on light painting. The images featured here are from that particular event. We also led two day-light tours, morning and late afternoon. TALA is an amazing place. When you enter, you are transported to the past. The owners are working hard to keep the facility alive and open to the public with photography tours, historical tours, ghost tours, and more. To learn more about TALA, click here.

We are hoping to schedule another night photography session later this year. For more information, join our mailing list by signing up (see the side bar) or by following us on Facebook.

The ladies in this images, Macy and Danielle, were great awesome models! We can’t thank them enough for helping out!! _XT11233-Edit _XT11275-Edit-2_XT11294-Edit_XT11405-Edit_XT11218-Edit

 

History… what’s yours?

Awhile back I decided to get a subscription to Ancestry.com. Starting with myself, I have grown the family tree forward 1 generation and backwards 7 generations (into the late 1700’s so far!). I have added over 1000 family members!

My families origins are Portugal, Sicily, and Scotland. The experience has been moving and educational. I have spent hours thinking about my family members who have passed, those that are still here (that I need to spend time learning from), and those just born. As part of this process, I have had an opportunity to go through old images, that before I could not relate to (or rather place in relationship to myself) until I starting building the family tree. More exciting, because I come from a long line of pack-rats, I have images to attach to the names I am finding.

If you have never thought of researching your family’s history, you might consider it.  It is hard to put into words just how extraordinary, intriguing, and compelling this process has been. I am curious to see how far back the lineage records of my family will go.

Another cool thing is… I now have the skills to repair and archive these images my family has treasured. Here is one of the images I found along the way.

1915 – My great grandfather (Bernardo Scaparro), his sister behind him (unknown), to her right my great grandmother (Josephine Scaparro), the baby is my grandfather (Frank Scaparro), my uncle (Thomas Scaparro), my uncle (Joseph Scaparro), and my uncle (Dennis Scaparro).  These are the Sicilians.

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To see other images, spanning from 1915 – 1967, you can click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Book! Demystifying Photoshop

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 11.30.31 AMAdobe Photoshop is an extremely powerful post-production tool and was developed for graphic artists, designers, illustrators, and photographers alike. What does this mean? Well, it means that Photoshop has more features than any photographer is ever likely to use for processing photographs. But it also means that this is one of the best platforms to enhance your imagery.

The ability to use Camera Raw with Layers and Masks will enable you to take your images to the next level, whether you just want to enhance a single image or composite multiple images and textures to create an entirely unique piece of art.

The goal of this book is to introduce Photoshop and its features to photographers and to demonstrate how these tools may be used from the photographer’s perspective. Throughout this book, I will use images, and screenshots to demonstrate various techniques commonly used by photographers in Photoshop.

If you download the iBooks version, you will also get enhanced functionality, such as built in videos and interactive galleries to help reinforce what you are learning.

If you would like to purchase the Kindle/Android/PDF version, click here and then click Buy, just below the cover image.

Playing With Ice

Although winter is steadily coming to an end, ice may have a place in your future! Here is a fun idea to try out at home, maybe on a warm summer day to keep you cool while you practice some macro photography.

Start by taking a plastic container or a clear Pyrex cooking dish, filing it with water and submerging flowers, either silk or real). Put this in the freezer the night before you need it and let it set up. You do not want to freeze it too early, as the ice could turn weird on you.

Next day, take it out and out it in a large aluminum baking dish, or something similar.

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Start shooting away. You might be intrigued by the results… soft, hints of subject matter.

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Be creative… you don’t need to stop at the ice… use textures and borders to highlight your image!

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The possibilities are limitless! Let your creative juices flow!

It’s Almost That Time of Year Again! Cherry Blossoms!!

That’s right, it is nearly that time of year… Cherry Blossoms! You would think that Spring lasts for weeks, but really, in a Cherry Blossom’s life cycle, this period of time is brief and in fact, very elusive. Weather is the biggest factor, with varying degrees of impact. For example, last year:

  • The weather pattern resulted in blooms being nearly 3 weeks late.
  • Windy mornings near the water make it impossible to get a crisp shot.
  • Rain, very common during early spring in DC, knocks all the blooms off.
  • Late-March and early-April is generally frigid, making the experience less than pleasant.

But who’s listing! Capturing the elusive cherry blossom is what we, photographers, are all about. Suffering for that one stunning image! So get ready, because it coming… RRPT will hold a Meetup, so keep an eye on the Meetup page (click here), as the Meetup will be announced as the timing predictions get more accurate.

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Star Trails and More – Meetup

Star trails and more… RRPT is holding a Meetup at Spruce Knob Lake! June 12 – 14

It is a camping adventure. For more information, click here.

Last year the weather did not cooperate for star trails, but it did deliver some amazing skies and there are lots of other opportunities to shoot!

Images by Geff Bourke.

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Texture Tutorial!

Today’s blog is a tutorial on the use of textures. Often we see texture added to images of flowers or landscapes with bland skies. Although these types of images are awesome for texture use, for this tutorial, I will demonstrate how a texture can also add character to portraits. I will be using an image I took for a newly engaged couple.

In this tutorial I will also be featuring Joel Olives textures. Joel creates his beautiful textures, overlays, and bokeh overlays monthly. I joined Joel’s Texture Club in February and over the past 7 months, I have received hundreds of incredible textures. Joel also shares his methods and provides a blending action on his site as well. If you are interested in Joel’s textures, follow the link and use DENISE20, to receive a 20% discount on your purchase!

joelolives.com

Here is a sampling!

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Because they are high resolution, they can be used to enhance any image without worrying about pixilation or degradation.

At first blush, the thought of incorporating textures may be overwhelming, particularly with so many options. But actually, it is pretty easy and once you get the hang of it, it can be done in minutes. The tutorial will seem long, but that is because it includes loads of images (so you know where to look for things), as well as multiple techniques on how to achieve different types of blending effects. In the end, this tutorial will provide you with a step by step process to get your creative juices flowing.

So let’s get to it!

First, start by opening your image and making any adjustments you may feel are necessary (brightness, contrast, saturation, etc). For the image I selected, I needed to make sure the doorframe was straight and I corrected any lights/darks, as well as enhanced her beautiful eyes. Now that my image is ready, its time to add a texture.

 

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There are a number of ways to add a texture to an image. I will show you the two ways I use most often.

1) File/Place/Select File/Place
This technique will bring the image in as a new layer and already have the transform feature activated so you can scale it to fit the background layer. When scaling the texture layer, you may decide to scale one for one (to fit exactly on the background) or you may decide that you want it to be bigger than the background. This may be the case, when you have selected a texture you really like, but for a particular image, the edges are too dark.

2) Open the texture as its own image, the select the move tool (V).
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In the texture layer, left click on the texture image and drag to the image you are working on. Before unclicking, hold the shift key. This will drop the layer in a new layer and scale it to the background directly. Should you wish to change the scaling, as noted in #1, just choose Edit/Free Transform ( T or Ctrl T – PC). This will allow you to scale the layer (texture) to your liking.

For this image, I selected jo-tc-aug-2013-13 from Joel Olives August 2013 Textures.

To get the image in to my working file, I chose option #1 from above.

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For me, the texture opens in to Camera Raw. This gives allows me to make changes to the texture prior to inserting it in to my working file. For this texture, I added a little Clarity and Vibrance, then I hit ok.

As you can see, the texture definitely needs some scaling! The great thing about Joel Olive textures is that they are high resolution, so scaling this texture to fit my image will not degrade the texture (and therefore, will not degrade my image) at all.

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To rotate just the texture layer, select Edit/Transform/Rotate 90°CW.

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Next drag your corners out until the meet the edge of your background images. The texture will lock in. If you wish, you can also drag the end texture layer out further. For this particular image and this texture, I like the dark edges with the leaf pattern, so I am sticking with a one to one ratio.

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There are a couple of ways to blend in a texture.
1) Manipulate the Opacity slider
2) Use Blending Mode

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 7.18.04 PMHere is the result using #1 (Opacity slider) – This result is not very pleasing and to truly see your background image the opacity of the texture would have to be so low, as to not even feel like a texture.

To make this technique work, you would need to add a Layer Mask and then mask the texture out of areas, such as her face and arms. Using a Layer Mask for this can be difficult and requires multiple brushes, at various opacities, often leaving a “hard” edge. Using the Blending modes and the techniques discussed below will give a more subtle and even feel to the texture.

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Here is the result using #2 (Blending layers) – This result is miles ahead of just using the Opacity slider. You can use a number of Blending modes to achieve the result you are seeking (Overlay, Soft Light, Screen for a lightened effect, even Multiply for a dark edgy feeling).

 

 

 

For this tutorial, I chose Soft Light.

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Next you can soften the effect of the texture by changing the opacity. I changed the texture layers opacity from 100% to 75%. As you can see, the background image is more prominent, but I have lost those beautiful eyes and her skin looks dirty and uneven from the texture. We are going to fix that next!

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Once the texture is in place, you can manipulate it using Layer Adjustments.

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You can use any adjustment from the Layer Adjustments menu (Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, Levels, Curves, etc). These adjustments are personal preference and based on the image to which the texture is being added.

For this image, I chose to make a Levels adjustment, to slightly darken the texture layer.

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In order to have my Layer Adjustment only impact the texture layer, I must associate the adjustment to the texture directly, as indicated by the downward-pointing arrow on the adjustment layer. To link layers (this technique links any layers/adjustments) hold the Alt or Option (PC) and however over the layer you want to link (in this case, the Level Adjustment). You will see a downward-pointing arrow appear, left click your mouse and the adjustment will be attached. To remove, just repeat these steps.

 

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If you do not link your adjustment to the texture, the adjustment will after both the texture and any layers beneath. This might be what you want, but if not, the linking technique will be your solution.

At this point, there is a decision to make.

Do you want the subject matter (in this case the face, eyes, and skin) to retain the some texture or no texture at all. Depending on your preference and the image to which you are adding a texture, there is different method for each.

First we will see the technique that retains some texture…

Start by hiding the adjustment layer (click on the eye), then select the texture layer and change the blending back to Normal and increase the opacity back to 100% (all temporary).

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Now, choose the Color Picker tool.

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With the color picker, left click on the texture, looking for a medium tone.

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This color/tone will become the Foreground color.

 

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Once you have made this selection, change the texture Blending mode back to Soft Light, the opacity back to 75% and click the eye on the adjustment layer.

Select the Brush tool (B). Use a soft edged brush and set the Brush opacity to an opacity that is pleasing. For this image, I chose 70%.

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Left click on the texture and then with the brush tool, paint over the areas of the texture that you want the background image to be more prominent (show through).

Since we “placed” the texture, when you go to paint, you will get the following message.

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Just select OK and then begin painting.

 

 

 

 

 

For this tutorial, I have “lessened” not removed the texture from her face, eyes, hair, and left arm. To show the difference, I have not removed the texture from her right hand. However, were I to “finish” this image with the option, I would have likely lessened the texture in her right arm as well. You can still see some texture on her fact and left arm, however it is not as intense.

 

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Next lets look at the technique to remove the texture from her altogether, while leaving the underlying tone of the texture behind.

For this technique, you will need to create a New Photoshop file. You will only use this temporarily, so there is no need to Save it.

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After you hit OK, you will get a White background layer. First thing we need to do is Fill it with color (any color). To do this, select Edit/Fill and under Contents Use: choose Color. The color picker tool will come up, pick a color and choose OK. Then choose OK to fill.

 

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Next choose the Healing Brush Tool.

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Now, holding the ALT or Option (PC) key down, click anywhere on the color image. Your brush will change to the sampling tool.

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This “loads” the Healing Brush.

 

Once you have completed this step, return to your working image. Make sure the Healing Brush is still selected and click on the texture layer.

Start brushing out the texture (even though the brush is a color). It will look like you are coloring on your image, but you are not. I promise, just keeping brushing, stopping every so often (for larger images) to let the Healing Brush process. Remember, you are not painting with this brush.

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Here is a close up of the process. Here I am about halfway done. You can see that her skin tone and his are the same, but the texture is completely gone. You may see that the Healing Brush leaves some color… no fear, just brush over the area again and it will disappear.

 

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Now for the final image (I am sticking with the “no texture” option).

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Remember, every choice I made in this tutorial, was just that a choice. There are many ways to incorporate textures in to your images… let your imagination guide you. 🙂

Valentine’s Day Gift from MacPhun!

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Save 25% on Tonality and Snapselect, plus be entered for a chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card.

These great savings are available from now until February 16, 2015.

_XT17391-EditTonaScreen Shot 2015-02-11 at 3.50.29 PMlity: Create fascinating black and white images. Inspiring presets, film emulation, layers & innovative features ensure the most romantic pictures you ever made!

This image was converted to B&W using Tonality! The software is amazing and with the layer technology embedded, the amount control you have over the end result is unparalleled.

 

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Snapselect: Sort and organize your pictures quick and easily. Easily find your best images and get rid of duplicates. Save disc space & have more time to do what you love!

 

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Exclusions: Raffle of ten $15 Amazon Gift Cards: Everybody who purchases from Macphun Software USA Valentine’s Special is automatically entered and has a chance to win. You must be a resident of North America in order to receive an Amazon Gift Card.

New eBook demystifying Lightroom 5!

Denise just completed her first eBook – Lightroom 5!  The book demystifies Lightroom, from setting up preference for optimal functionality to importing images and organizing your workflow to developing images to their full potential to creating watermarks and exporting images to share.

This eBook is 65 packed pages of information on how to best use Lightroom in your workflow. With lots of step by step instructions and illustrative images to guide you!

http://roadrunnerphotographytours.com/educational/e-books-2

The book is priced at a very affordable $5.99 and payments are handled thru PayPal.

If you have any problems downloading the book please send me an email

don@roadrunnerphotographytours.com

Thanks,

Denise and Don…

Moonrise Over DC

In a very perfect photographer’s world, the photographer would be the only one to capture an image, to witness a scene, or experience a setting, thereby allowing that photographer to share that one of a kind shot… well, we all know that as photographers we live in a far from perfect photographer’s world! Even if in the moment we stand alone, we tend to trend the same hallowed ground as our friends and compadres. Therefore, to truly “own” an image, especially of iconic places, we have to try to find a way to “see” it differently.

Last year, I had the privilege of shooting the moonrise over Washington, DC with many close friends and at least a hundred acquaintances ;-)… We all saw the same stunning, crystal clear, huge orange moonrise over some of the most iconic monuments in the country, if not in the world. Within hours, many people had posted their images and at first I felt there was no need to add mine to the bunch… but I had finally gotten to see this seldom scene alignment of moon and man, and I wanted to work on my images and share them… so I spent some quiet time contemplating… how I can do this differently… then it dawned on me… the color of the moon it what took my breath away… so that would be my focus. The resulting images can be seen below.

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It took me time to “see” these images in this way, but I like the result and I appreciated the challenge. Even though I fantasize about the perfect photographer’s world, I will always choose to go out shooting with friends, as the companionship, encouragement, and down right ribbing is a gift; and the challenge of creating images that are competitive with their talent and art keeps me trying!

To see the rest of the set from the moonrise, please via my Flickr set by clicking here.

This opportunity is presenting itself on March 5, 2015. The full moon will rise over the monuments at 6:18pm. The alignment shown here is from the Netherlands Carillon in Rosslyn, VA. RRPT will be holding a Meetup at this location that evening. Click here to learn more about this and other Meetups we have schedule.