Spilled Sweetness … Seeing the Beauty In The Everyday

My camera, macro lens attached, was sitting on the kitchen counter one morning. Well, to be honest, my cameras spend about half their lives all over the house, and the kitchen seems to be one of their favorite hangouts. I was fixing my morning coffee and, as I have been known to do, I managed to spill the sugar on its way from the sugar bowl to the mug. Not quite sure why that is, but it happens.

Spilled Sweetness © Lois Bryan Photography and Digital Art
Spilled Sweetness © Lois Bryan Photography and Digital Art

I liked the little trail of the granules, the way the sun was coming through the window, and the way the mug’s reflection looked in the shiny granite. So … as it does with photographers, one thing led to another and a nice snap of the scene seemed to be in order. As always, clicking on the image will bring you to a better resolution and options for purchasing. Image taken with the Nikon D300 and the Nikkor 105mm Macro / Micro lens April of 2014.

Colorful Drinks On The House

I do a good bit of reading on the internet and elsewhere about art and photography … tutorials, discussion forums, other people’s blogs, news articles … and one of the topics I’ve been reading seems to be somewhat controversial.  Not in the sense of politics-and-religion-controversial, but still, different people have very different opinions.  It’s about images being created in different tones.  Same picture … different colors.

On the one hand you have very well respected and very talented photographer / digital artists saying, pick your favorite and go with it. Adding identical images with different colors says to your potential buyer that you can’t make up your mind.  That since you, the artist, don’t even know what you want, how can you expect your client to know which is best?

That makes sense, doesn’t it?  And is somewhat the way I’ve been operating.

Drinks On The House in Smoky Gold © Lois Bryan Photography and Digital Art
Drinks On The House in Smoky Gold© Lois Bryan Photography and Digital Art

It’s not always easy, however, as I generally do several versions of an image before I gently send it out into the universe to be loved or hated.  And I’ve been known to walk off and let a very nice version sit and cool its heels in my computer for years.

But the other side of the argument also makes a lot of sense.  Taken from the perspective of the buyer who’s looking for a particular color theme as well as intriguing subject matter, the above image might not be their cup of tea … but maybe the following is:

Drinks On The House in Cool Neutrals © Lois Bryan Photography and Digital Art
Drinks On The House in Cool Neutrals © Lois Bryan Photography and Digital Art

The market for these differing color-themed versions then is opened up not only to the general public, but to designers and decorators as well.

The first image shown above is now available on my main website … clicking on it will bring you to a version without the confusing and icky watermark.  The second image will soon be added to my website as well.  As of right now, clicking on it will bring you to my photography / digital art’s main page.  Of course if anyone out there can’t wait for “Cool Neutrals,” just let me know and I’ll be happy to hurry it along for you.

And … there ARE more … Electric Blue anyone??

Drinks On The House in Electric Blue © Lois Bryan Photography and Digital Art
Drinks On The House in Electric Blue © Lois Bryan Photography and Digital Art

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Video Link To Latest Model Home Photography

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A few posts back I mentioned a quick video I did for my latest model home photography, and promised to add a link here for anyone who might be interested …

It’s a quick 2 minutes with shots of lovely homes in Delaware, not far from the ocean.  If anyone happens to be interested in finding out more about the community, feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to help.

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Contests

In my “About” section, I freely admitted to a certain amount of shameless self-promotion, so I think it’s only fair to warn you, this particular blog entry falls squarly into that category.

A couple of the POD (print on demand) art sites I belong to offer contests or challenges.  I don’t take them very seriously, I mean I do try to make sure my entries match what the administrators are looking for, but I never expect winning or placing.  They’re just a good way of getting images out into the universe and of seeing what other artists have been creating.

A lot of photographers / artists take the contests very seriously, though, even to the point of soliciting votes from family and friends.   I don’t, so when one of my images comes up in the winner’s circle, I’m pretty excited!

Had a couple do just that over at Fine Art America, recently …

“Playful Wild Violets” tied for Third Place in the “Nature photography using DIGITAL PAPER TEXTURES” held by the “Fine Art Nature Images Using Digital Textures” Fine Art America Group on July 20, 2014.  My thanks to the group administrator, Cheryl Butler, and congratz to the other winners!

Playful Wild Violets © Lois Bryan Photography and Digital Art

And “Awww Don’t Cry” tied for Second Place in the “Hold The Raid” contest, held by Fine Art America’s “The Artistic Forager” group July 31, 2014.  My thanks to the group administrator, Alexandria Weaselwise Busen, and congratz to the other winners!

Awww Don't Cry © Lois Bryan Photography and Digital Art

As always, if interested, click on the images themselves to be taken to a better resolution version with a much more agreeable watermark.

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Beach Time

This time of year, I begin to yearn for the beach.

That first joyful roar of greeting from the ocean, my toes wiggling in the warm sand, a hot early-morning mug of coffee in my hands, a walk down to the water to get splashed by the icy little shore-waves, the gulls overhead welcoming me back.  I know I’m only one of many who feel the pull of the sea.

I’m an East Coast gal, and for several years  my little family and I had  a tradition of heading down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to spend a week in a lovely home right on the ocean. As times change so do routines, even the best of them, and I’ve been missing my old haunt for several years now.

But my husband and I recently made a trip up north, and as we drove, he found a way to give me a taste of the ocean when he found beautiful Old Greenwich, a part of Greenwich, Connecticut.

Thanks to the enticing blue bits on the GPS system, we made our way to a charming spot … a thin peninsula, jutting out into Long Island Sound. Variously known as Tod’s Point, Greenwich Point and Elizabeth Neck (correct me if I’m wrong) … the area is perfection.

It's All Yours

In this view we’re looking out into Long Island Sound. Behind me is a flock of at least 20 long necked, graceful white egrets nibbling on the water plants at the edge of the narrow “neck” of the peninsula which backs up to Greenwich Cove. (The egrets, I’m sure, will appear in newer artwork themselves, sooner or later.)

The warmth of the sunlight, the colors, the breezes and the surprise of having the place all to myself were a tonic to my beach-starved soul.  Hope you enjoy the image … it was created with gratitude and great joy.   As always, it can be seen larger and with a more reasonable watermark by clicking on the image.

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Creative Titles

An interesting topic came up in one of the discussions I follow online recently.  The question was, “Creative Titles … How Do You Do It?”

I can’t tell you how important I think the title for an image can be. I actually have a couple of images I especially like that have been sitting quietly in the computer for quite a while.  I’ve hesitated posting them, not because I didn’t like them, but actually quite the opposite.  I liked them so well I felt they deserved a special title … but so far words have failed me. Conversely, if I’m messing around with a shot and a GREAT title comes into my head, I find myself giving that image priority. I guess it goes back to my first love – creative writing.

But as to “how” do the titles come? The Title Fairy, maybe???

In all honesty I will say when I ‘m taking a long drive and am in the car for a couple of hours, I’ll put on some of my favorite music.  Many times a line of lyric I’ve been listening to will jump out at me and I’ll immediately know that it … or something similar … will go perfectly with a particular image I’ve had in my files.

The following is “Take Me Home” and, as always, can be seen larger and with a better watermark by clicking the image:

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I really feel like the perfect title can add a great deal of dimension and deeper meaning to an image. Most of the time, my titles are just descriptive, but every so often I’m actually trying to say something … as with “His Pride And Joy” which follows:

His Pride And Joy

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Creating a Transparent Overlay for Signatures and Watermarks in Photoshop

I’ve been asked how I create the transparent watermarks / overlays I use on the images I post online, so I’ve written up a small tutorial.

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So here we go … quick and easy:

Open photoshop and crank up a new document 800 x 800 or so

Background contents: transparent

Hit ok

Duplicate this layer

Open text / type tool

Type the text that you want to use for your watermark or signature on the second layer

Select the text (don’t let it create a new text layer … select on the text layer itself)

Go to “styles”

Look for “Clear Emboss – Outer Bevel” which is a gray box with a hint of an edge to the bottom and right …(this box is located to the immediate left of a gray box with a large wide red border) … these are in your regular Photoshop style offerings.  You may have to append some that are stored in PS to find it 

Click the gray box with the hint of an edge

You will see your text raise up, with a hint of a shadow

Save as whatever you want to name this document, as a .png file (with 2 layers) … do not flatten or merge down. I’m on a Mac, so I just save to the desktop …

“Interlace – None”

I then actually delete the original overlay … and go to my desktop and slide the new transparent overlay back into Photoshop.

It should be on a gray and white checkerboard and appear as a single layer.

On the transparent overlay layer, select all … then go to the image you want it to use it on, select paste … and there it is.

Transform the overlay to where you want it to sit on the base image, and adjust to what size you want it to be.

Depending on how paranoid I’m feeling on the day I post the image, I adjust the opacity of the overlay layer.   Sometimes I lower it, but sometimes I even duplicate it to make it more pronounced.  

I’m all about protecting our online artwork and other postings as much as we can, so please feel free to share this blog.

Questions, just let me know.

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A Restful Retreat

Another real estate shoot, this time for a general brokerage sale, resulted in a lovely find last week.

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I fell in love with this wonderful garden bench in this stone and brick nook.  It was a hot July afternoon … but the shade and the sunshine filtering through the  greens from the leaves of the trees and the climbing ivy created a cooling and restful moment of quiet … a perfect spot for thinking good thoughts and dreaming dreams.  I couldn’t resist a few edits in Photoshop and other programs to enhance the mood I was feeling.

To view without the watermark, just click the image.

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Bizzy … In A Good Way

Whew … bizzy-bizzy!!  Lots happening with model home photography lately and not as much fine art stuff going out into the universe from me.  Model home / real estate photography is actually something I love doing … all those issues of Architectural digest I bought over the years must have sifted into my subconscious and are coming in handy.

Here’s a shot I did from a beautiful community in Delaware recently  (please forgive the watermarks, I don’t like having my stuff ripped off – and that includes Pinterest ~ fodder for a different blog ~ ) …

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And isn’t this a pretty kitchen?

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One of the things I particularly like to do is capture the flow of a space … the way the rooms work together, as shown here:

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I’ll probably be uploading a slide show of these homes to my YouTube channel shortly … so if interested, stay tuned.  I’ll make a post here when and if.

One of the challenges of this kind of work is getting angles and lines straight and orderly.  Can be a time consuming Photoshop adventure, especially when using a wide angle lens.  My favorite for interiors is the Nikon 10-24mm and that little puppy can cause some eye-crossing distortions.

Just discovered a pretty cool tutorial from Adobe TV for a nifty feature in Photoshop CS6 that I totally didn’t know was there.  Thought I’d share:

http://tv.adobe.com/watch/understanding-adobe-photoshop-cs6/adaptive-wide-angle-correction-and-contentaware-fill/

I can’t say I’ve mastered this new technique.  I can say I spent all morning getting lost playing with it though, trying to figure it out.  Looks easy enough on the barn image the guy is demonstrating with, but try it on a somewhat narrow hallway with a table to one side, a lopsided lampshade, stairs going off to the right and a peek of a lovely room at the far end of the hall.   Not for the faint of heart, lemme tell ya.

Of course, sometimes the old way is the easiest and best way.  For uncomplicated images I still just use Edit – Transform – Skew – Scale, with a grid overlay.

And there went MY morning!!!  What did YOU get into today??

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The Merits of Old Fashioned Greeting Cards

I’m particularly happy when this card sells, as it did yesterday, at Greeting Card Universe.

Thinking of Grandfather Greeting Card by Lois Bryan at Greeting Card Universe

Thinking of Grandfather Greeting Card

by Lois Bryan at Greeting Card Universe

It means that someone, somewhere, appreciates their Grandfather … and is letting him know in the good old fashioned way. A way that those of my generation truly appreciate … something you can hold in your hands … something that someone else held in their hands. Something that someone took the time to look for, and lay down some money for … and put a stamp on and put in the mail to you. You can put it on the mantle … or on your bedside table … as tangible and REAL evidence that someone was thinking of you. You can show it off to your friends. Look … someone cared.

And there’s the other side. The buying of the card … your thoughts of that person in your life. Your rememberings. For however fleetingly, you and your memories of time spent with that person … that person’s love for you … are going out into the universe. That person may even feel a split second of joy even before the postman slips the card into the letterbox … because of the time you spent with them in the land of remembrance.

I know it’s becoming fashionable to dispense with Christmas cards … and to send your birthday and other greetings out in an email.

But there’s still something so so special about a greeting card.

So … it is with great joy … on behalf of this particular grandfather … that I thank the purchaser of “Thinking of Grandfather” today!!