Backgrounds on Foamcore

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There are many ways to change backgrounds in your images, or add textures in Photoshop. But one of the easiest for small subjects like flowers is to make your own and use in the garden. I use 11×14 foamcore to mount these, one on each side, and then carry into the garden. You can cut your own foamcore or order. Amazon has offerings, here is just one available today for reference: https://www.amazon.com/Pack-11×14-White-Foam-Backings/dp/B0072ZH97S

My favorite backgrounds are mainly in one color family, like greens or yellows or browns.

  1. In Photoshop click on Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur.  You will need to take the slider almost completely to the right to get rid of all detail.
  2. You can adjust levels and color balance or use hue/saturation. If you create a nice mottled look, you can use that repeatedly by coloring it differently.
  3. Print out your image. You want to keep reflections at a minimum so I find matte is the best finish. Lustre sometimes works fine depending on the lighting.
  4. Mount on the foamcore. One piece can have two backgrounds, one on each side as I mentioned.
  5. You can have a plamp hold this in place or often you can hold it yourself if close enough or use a timer on your camera.
  6. Below I have added a third option – select a highly feathered circle on your texture and brighten slightly so an individual flower is really showcased with the effect of a vignette built in!

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Winter Flower Photos

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This time of year can be challenging for those of us who love lush gardens and lots of beautiful color. I decided to see what I could do with my Lensbaby Velvet 56 on my Canon 5D Mark II indoors.

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The flowers are artificial held by a plamp. The softness was created by wrapping light pink tulle around the lens leaving just the very middle clear.  ISO 200 f/8 @ .6 seconds.  I set the 2 second timer and then swooshed a colorful scarf behind the flowers while the shutter was open. (otherwise it was a plain neutral wall)  I used one Alien Bees light with softbox as my light, but did not trigger the flash.

After bringing into Photoshop, I added a French Kiss texture called Tea Bag.  I made the texture black and white and used a Soft Light blend mode. Then I reduced the effect on the flowers by using a layer mask and painting light grey to reduce some of the effect.

I found the frame in a Google Images search.

Selective Multi Exposure

sunflower-finalI laid a sunflower bloom on a green pillow to get a sharp center approximating the same size as the next shot. Then I placed the bloom in a pot of greenery and used Blast Mode with 10 exposures on my IPhone.

I layered the two images with the blast one on top and selected the center brown circle with Shift/Elliptical marquee which constrains your selection to a circle. I feathered it with 20 pixels.

Then I added  a layer mask to the top layer and filled the circle with black, bringing through the sharp center below without any other part from the bottom layer.

A few green areas needed Content-Aware Fill to make them consistent.

A square crop seemed to work well on this symmetrical image.

Lens Condensation

_MG_8504_MG_8504-EditIt is a little frightening to see your beloved lens covered with condensation. You get out of your nice air conditioned car and grab your camera only to find moisture on your lens.  Of course you can greatly reduce this problem by storing your equipment in zip lock bags and using silica gel bags. https://www.amazon.com/Silica-Gel-Desiccants-2-1-Inches/dp/B003DKQB02

Our recent humidity has exaggerated this problem and I wasn’t ready one recent morning but liked the result. (not recommending!)  Added a texture in the second shot.

Photoshop for Flowers

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I have been working for some time on a collection of Photoshop techniques specifically for flowers. These range from realistic adjustments to abstract results.

THE IMAGE

For this image I cut some hydrangea blossoms in my garden and put them in a simple clear textured vase. I photographed this on my hardwood floor with beautiful light coming in from the east.

PHOTOSHOP

Then I copied the background layer twice. On the 2nd one I added a Glamour Glow with NIK Color Efex Pro 4.

On the top layer, I used NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and used the preset called Deep 1.

Finally I added a layer filled with 50% Gray and set to a blend mode of Overlay. With the brush at a low opacity (around 20%) I dodged and burned several areas with white and black.

This is a brief overview of the process… more details will be available in the final collection of techniques.

Background Study

 

I was setting up a wine, grapes and cheese shot and trying different backgrounds.  Thought some of you might find it interesting that with the same setup and lights, what a big difference white and black backgrounds make!  You can try this in your house with natural light too.

By using plain backgrounds, you can more easily change them out later or add textures with blend modes.