Magic Water Gels

Flower Arranging – one of the ongoing issues with flowers in vases is getting them to stay where you want… and not flopping over.  You can use flower sleeves that come on long stems like daisies and tulips at some vendors, but magic water gels work much better in my opinion.

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Magic Water Gels

Magic water gels come in a variety of colors and are inexpensive. The only downside is they take about 4 hours to expand for use. They come in a small tube and 2 tsps of the beads grow into a full vase of colorful beads.  They are lightweight and easy to move around. They hold even fragile stems in place.

In a glass vase you see the color. They also come in clear.  You can layer the colors too.   They may appear cloudy after being with flowers for a long time but you can rinse them.

They are fun to photograph on their own too to create abstract patterns.

In an opaque vase you never see them. I have tried all kinds of ways to hold stems in place but like this the best by far!  Here is a link to one of the products on Amazon but there are many available.

Magic Water Gel

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Finishing Touch 2

Last week I showed you how to add keylines to your greeting cards or other images. This week I’m showing you an easy soft white border.  Your printers generally do not print within 1/4″ of the edge, so this border takes away any issue with that!

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Use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and type 10 px in the Feather box on the top toolbar.  This will soften the edge and give you rounded corners.  This is for a 5×7… if your image is much larger you will need to feather more. Draw a box within 1/2″ of the edge as shown by the marching ants below.

Soft border

Now Cmd/Ctrl Shift I to invert your selection so just the border is selected.  Edit > Fill > White 100%. You will see the feathered edge towards the center.  Ctrl D to deselect the box. You can make a wider border if you like.

Soft border final

 

Greeting Card Finishing Touch

Dilemma: your printer adds a 1/4″ white border on your greeting cards. It looks okay but there are ways to add a more polished finishing touch.

Finishing touch GC

 

In Photoshop, go to Image > Canvas Size and add an inch or more to width and height in White.  Then use the Magic Wand (shortcut W) and click in the white border. Now Ctrl/cmd I to invert the selection and the marching ants should be around the photo area.

Canvas

Edit > Stroke > 6 px > click in color swatch and you can click a color in your image to use. I use Inside to make sure it prints within my printer’s ability. If you choose outside you may lose part of your stroke depending on the width of your white border. This is called a keyline.

Stroke

 

Here is the final look (the black line is just to show you the border)Stroke final

You can add much wider borders of course and experiment with different colors.

 

Detached keyline

Outer Border start

For a detached keyline I create the stroke in a different way.  Let’s say your image is 5×7 and you do not want to add canvas size, making cropping more difficult sometimes.

First, click on the padlock on your image layer. It will become Layer 0.

Add a layer filled underneath your image (Ctrl/Cmd and the new layer icon will add the layer underneath your selected layer.  Edit > Fill > White.

 

Outer

On your Image layer – Edit > Transform > Hold down Shift Opt/Alt and pull a corner handle towards the middle slightly leaving a white border.

Use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and draw a box in the white area. Then Edit > Stroke > pick your color and size and hit okay.  ( The outer border is to show you the whole card area. You do not add that.)

Outer Border final

Recipe Greeting Cards

It’s fun to photograph food and then share with the recipe on a greeting card. I have given you three possibilities.

Recipe Greeting card

Print your photo on front of card and the recipe inside. Note the card is folded so the recipe is on the top half when opened. Or you can print it on the back if you want.

Gift Recipe Share

You may give bread, cookies or other baked goods at the holidays. Include a card with the photo and recipe. Print on a single 5×7 sheet front and back. (not a foldable card).

Greeting card with separate photo

If you don’t print your own cards, you can use a separate print and tack it onto the card surface. I added a title underneath the photo, but you can hand write it or leave text-free. The recipe can be printed on the inside on your regular desktop printer.

Overexpose on Purpose

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I enjoy overexposing some images on purpose.  You get a light, airy look.  Keep in mind the scene should be on the light side to begin with. A dark room overexposed would not be pretty!  f/9 @ 1/100 for slight blur

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Overexposed shots work very well when adding textures and other effects.  With a Multiply blend mode you will knock out the white and leave your subject clean. In this one I cropped and also added a radial blur.  With the image light to begin with, the effect doesn’t get overly dark.

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Landscapes on an overcast day can benefit from overexposing too.

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White subjects against a blue sky and clouds are nice too.

Plan a Project

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Charleston garage doors

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Charleston doors missing steps!

The Old Schoolhouse

Door of old schoolhouse providing light for my subject.

We all have favorite subjects but sometimes still get in a rut.  One way to lift yourself up and get excited about your photography is to plan a project around your favorite subjects. You can plan a book or exhibit or calendar using all those images.

I love photographing doors and windows, especially in historic buildings.  This collage includes doors found in downtown Raleigh.  I made them into a poster.

Doors of Raleigh

You certainly don’t have to do doors, but they can be great fun. They are full of texture, interesting shapes and color too.

And planning a project can be very motivating!

Mirror Images

Open image you want to mirror

Crop as desired – I try to use easy numbers like 4×6 for the math!

Image > Canvas Size > put in the height or width that you are doubling depending on whether a vertical or horizontal shot – for instance, if you have a horizontal 4×6, then put 6 in the width and click on the left or right pointer in the center row of the position tool.  I use white for the extension color but it does not really matter as you will fill that in.

Screen

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Photoshop will add extra space below the image in this case.

 

Click in the white space to select.

Ctrl/Cmd Shift I to inverse and select the bridge photo.

Ctrl/Cmd J to put a copy of the bridge on another layer.

Drag the new image to the white area.

Edit > Transform > Flip Vertically.

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You can also flip both layers vertically again to get a different look.

On the layer with the white, use Magic Wand W to select the white and delete those pixels with Ctrl/Cmd X.

If you have trouble with the background layer, double click the lock to make it editable.

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