Photoshop World 2017

Alright, today is not Sunday as originally promised. I arrived home at about 1 AM Sunday morning and spent that day in a daze. Then it was back to work.

However, Photoshop World 2017 was absolutely awesome! I cannot wait for the next one! Photoshop World and the FFRF National Conventions are going to be my annual rituals from now on.

I met some wonderful fellow Canadians as well as some of my Photoshop heroes (Corey Barker, Glyn Dewis, Scott Kelby). Most of the talks were spectacular and I learned a lot. I tried to balance between photography talks and Photoshop talks – there was so much though and often it was tough to pick between talks when they were being held at the same time.

KelbyOne opened PSW with a hilarious TV show spoof, “Photoshop Cops.” Be sure to watch the blooper reel afterward. That link also includes the keynote address by Adobe’s Julieanne Kost.

Canon is at every single PSW and offers free camera cleaning and minor repairs. There were professional models posing – for hours! – so that people can walk up and take photos. I still have to edit my photos; however, I will write another post once I have them on Flickr.

Stacy Pearsall’s talk would tear your heart out – this was definitely a show highlight and worth the price of admission. The photos and videos that she shared were just incredible. I had to keep checking myself that this stuff is not Hollywood and that it really happened. Really powerful.

Stacy made jokes throughout her talk but we rarely laughed – not because they were bad jokes; but rather the emotional weight of her story kept us silent. She had to remind the audience that it was okay to laugh!

Stacy is now working on the Veterans Portrait Project – she started taking photos of vets while waiting in the VA hospitals. That turned into emotional/psychological therapy for her own healing.

Bibliophile that I am, I bought a bunch of books. Glyn Dewis signed his new book Photograph Like A Thief for me. I also picked up Scott Kelby’s newest Photoshop CC For Photographers and Corey Barker’s How To Create Bad-Ass Effects In Photoshop.

Since they offered a great deal, I bought all of Topaz Labs’ software.

Phew! My AmEx card is still twitching from all of that. But so very worth it!

Time For Photoshop World!

It is finally here!

At 10 AM, I leave for Orlando, Florida to attend my first Photoshop World conference.

On Sunday, I’ll blog about the experience.

March 25th Photowalk – Mimico Creek

I created a Flickr album for Toronto images. The shots from Saturday’s photowalk are in there.

Line Two TrainThe very first set of photos turned out one of my favourites.

Close to the park entrance off Bloor Street is the TTC Line Two subway. Islington Station is a few hundred meters to the left. I wanted to capture a train leaving and this did not disappoint.

The black & white conversion was done inside Adobe Camera Raw.

I think this really captured the essence of the walk; even better than the pictures of Mimico Creek itself.

The other black & white shots were done with the Nik Collection Silver Efex Pro. As I mentioned in my last post, the drizzling rain and overcast clouds really helped with creating black & white shots.

Mimico Creek 06Last week’s snow is melting and combined with the rain, really had the creek deep and flowing fast. It’s not as impressive as the flooded canals around Irving – I don’t think it will ever get that bad except in the most extreme circumstances.

This photo was close to the end of the walk, by the Etobicoke Lawn Bowling Club. Not much further ahead is the Islington Avenue and Dundas Street intersection.

I am definitely looking forward to nicer Spring weather now. My photowalks will extend beyond the Islington neighbourhood – High Park and the Lake Ontario beach areas will be good starts.

A Bit Of 3D News…

It will be good to get another post in before January ends. I have been playing around a lot with 3D this month but none of it was really worth blogging about.

After a long hiatus, I bought several more Photoshop Actions from Sevenstyles. They include:

I definitely need to acquire images – either my own photos, stock or renders – that I can use these Actions on. There are even more Actions that have been created since I last purchased. Sevenstyles is quite prolific.

Sandstone RidgeMost of my work this past month has been with World Machine and GeoGlyph. I just bought the upgrade license to GeoGlyph Professional v2; this brings some very large changes from the Indie v1 license.

This area is where most of my experimenting has not been worth showing off. But this past weekend, I came up with the following. It is still a work-in-progress but at least it is worth sharing.

I bought an HDRI sky image from CGSkies. They are fairly expensive at about $30 USD per sky; but they do add a lot of realism to the lighting. Most HDRI sites include a ground with the image, but CG-Skies removes that and has just the sky. I’d like to buy more skies, but we’ll see…

My biggest complaint with this image is that it is too smooth. I have not been able to pop out details with a normal or bump map. Hopefully I can get that bit figured out and start producing landscape renders that are really nice.

Getting Caught Up On Stuff

Screaming up again on a month without a post here. Let’s fix that.

I hinted at a sore throat and that sumbitch only just went away in the last couple of days. It was about two weeks of an actual cold and then two weeks of a dry, scratching throat. It kept me coughing and making ahem sounds.

Black Friday and all the days leading up to Christmas Eve are super-busy for work. As a payment processing company, you expect that. The entire team is essentially on-call right now. Officially, I’m on-call next Friday. Fun!

I have finally re-installed all my SevenStyles Photoshop Actions into PS 2017. Brad has been busy creating even more Actions, so I’ll have to buy more in the near future.

In spite of the sore throat, I have recorded more videos about using Headus UV Layout on my YouTube channel. I was asked to do videos about unwrapping a human model; so I undertook the challenge. I used the free MakeHuman tool to get a female model and then set out to create 3 UV Maps rather than the single UV map produced by MakeHuman.

In the very near future, I am also going to take the plunge into the world of ZBrush. There is definitely a lot to learn there.

I am hoping that all of this will take my mind off of the looming disaster of President Trumpycakes.

Adobe Creative Cloud At Last

I was still at Microsoft when they announced plans to dominate the cloud. The chosen mantra was “We’re all in!”

Ugh! I refused to say it. I found it vaguely dirty minded (yes, that borders on hypocritical but I am not a multi-national world-renowned company).

Well, my opinions of the cloud be damned. Years later, it seems that everybody is doing it. I was disappointed when Adobe announced the Creative Cloud and that they would not ship another physical product beyond CS6.

I’ve put it off for years and I am now several versions behind the latest and greatest versions.

So I’m taking the plunge but it wasn’t as easy as it should have been. A little history is in order, please bear with me.

A long time ago, there was a company called Macromedia. They made a web-based piece of software you might have heard of – Flash. They also made a program for creating websites called Dreamweaver. I bought their suite of tools way back in 2001. Then one day, Adobe bought Macromedia.

That wasn’t a bad thing really. It was a good match and brought some incredible tools to Adobe’s other incredible tools.

Then I moved to Texas. When I upgraded to the new Adobe Creative Suite series, I had to prove my registration of the former-Macromedia suite. But the Adobe ID account did not accept my Texas address. It was linked to Canada and could not be changed. For tax reasons is the official excuse.

So I made a new Adobe ID account and used that happily for several Creative Suite upgrades.

Now I am going through that process all over again but in reverse. Adobe support has apparently changed the country on my account (so much for being impossible).

Hopefully I will have the new applications installed before I finally have to get to bed for work tomorrow…

Photo Walk: Royal Botanical Gardens

On late Saturday afternoon, my friend Gabriela drove us over to Hamilton’s Royal Botanical Gardens for another photo walk. It was cloudy – but not as bad as New York – and a bit chilly for mid-May. But it turned out to be totally amazing!

Macro shot of a dandelion puffI had never really tried my hand at nature photography before. It seems to be one of Gaby’s major passions and some of that rubbed off on me. Even with just a basic kit lens on my Pentax k-X, I was trying to get some macro shots of flowers. I took so many pictures that I very nearly filled the 8 GB SD card in the camera.

Based on the style and number of photos, I opted to create a new Flickr album just for The Royal Botanical Gardens. These just did not seem appropriate to add to the Hamilton album.

In addition to the trees and flowers, the animals were unbelievable. Gaby insists that I was good luck in bringing out such a variety. The chickadees and chipmunks are used to people feeding them, so they were particularly fearless. We also saw squirrels, a raccoon, muskrat, woodpecker, red-winged blackbirds, swans, ducks, Canada geese and probably more.

Laying down in the grass for a unique shot angleI really liked how this one turned out. Something about this part of the park made me lay down in the grass to shoot just over the top of the blades. There was lots of potential to play with focal depth here.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to think too much about it. My camera auto-focused on the grass so the trees in the background blurred beautifully.

May 14 2016 PhotoWalk - RBGI cannot end this post without showing the chickadees feeding from my hand. It was an assault really; so many of them were trying to land that I felt like O’Hare Airport. As soon as one flew off, another landed. I could have stayed like that for awhile and took hundreds of images. Apparently, they like sunflower seeds best of all – so next time, I will have to come more prepared.

I have other images that I did not upload to Flickr, so more shots will appear in the album. I will most definitely aim to return to the RGB in the future too; there is much more to see and capture in an image there.

This experience has made me want to seriously consider adding some lenses to my kit or maybe even upgrading the camera body entirely (the k-X came out in 2009). The style and technique of nature pictures is also quickly climbing on my list of interests.

Another Photo Walk: Albion Falls

The weather seems to be warming up – although this winter has been about as stable as Charles Manson… So I used this long weekend to take another photo walk around a Hamilton location. Today, I went up to Albion Falls.

I had a brief scare once I got there (it is near the end of the Upper Kenilworth bus route). I started taking pictures and saw my Pentax flashing at me, “No card in camera!” I swore harshly but then remembered I had space SD cards in my camera bag. Phew!

March 27 Photo Walk - Timer & Aperture mode blendOne of my goals for this walk was to photograph a waterfall with the Timer Mode. This keeps the aperture open and creates beautiful silky textures out of flowing water. However, you need a neutral density filter to pull that off. I don’t have one… But I do have Photoshop!

So my Timer Mode photo got blown out but I also took an Aperture Mode photo. Since I used my tripod, it was easy to blend the two pictures with Photoshop. I managed to get some of the silky texture in the water while keeping the rest of the image tack sharp.

All in all, I took 77 photos but only a few were worth putting up on Flickr.

March 27 Photo Walk - Albion Falls 2I should have worn hiking shoes and climbed down into the gorge. I’ll do that next time!

I felt that some of the photos would look good with the Brad Goble’s Photoshop Actions. So I used the Watercolor Action on the photo to the right. That turned out surprisingly well and I only made a few minor tweaks to it.

Mountain Brow Boulevard crosses Albion Bridge just above the falls. On the other side of the road, I took a few photos at low angles of Red Hill Creek before it plummets over the Niagara Escarpment.

One of those photos got the Brad Goble Hand-Drawn Action applied to it. Pretty good there too I think!

[NSFW]–New Carrara Image

This image may not be visible on my Flickr site because I have marked it as “Moderate Safety” for topless female nudity. You will need a Flickr/Yahoo login to see it.

Orianne & KnivesThe recent experimentations with the Victoria model made me want to create a completely gratuitous, Heavy Metal sort of image.

Originally, she was completely free of clothing; but I decidedly a few bit of metallic covering improved the image dramatically. Two of my friends wanted to see bigger breasts than I usually create, so I entertained their request and made the image even more cliché.

When I added the metal bikini, that model could not properly conform to the pose that I had put Victoria into. Most of the bikini pushed-through to be “inside” Victoria’s body. None of the pose morphs could correct it and editing the bikini model directly failed (as it often does for Carrara). My solution was two renders.

The first was the full scene with the poke-through problems on the bikini. The second render was with the Victoria model set invisible. This changed the lighting very slightly but otherwise the two images were the same. I could then use layer masks in Photoshop to correctly reveal the bikini on top of Victoria’s “skin” rather than underneath it.

I have uploaded this image to my WIP album because I am still not entirely happy with it. I want to add some background instead of that flat brown. A realistic sky with some clouds would be good too – probably an HDRI image. Maybe I can add some blood stains to the knife blades and blood spatters to her torso.

More Brad Gobel Actions At Last!

Smoky KittyI have had a rather long hiatus from buying more of Brad “sevenstyles” Gobel’s awesome Photoshop actions. That has not stopped him from releasing more of them of course.

When it became obvious to me that I was going to have to leave Texas and return to Canada, I stopped a lot of extraneous purchasing. Once I settled in Hamilton, my future income sources were murky so I held off longer still. Well, the situation is now much improved!

So I have now added the following to my collection:

Rather than take my own photo or create a scene in LightWave or Carrara, I grabbed a free stock photo from Unsplash to use. I used the Smoke Action and then edited the original eye colour back for some added interest and focal point.

I will experiment with the other Actions later and post updates.

Photowalk #2 – Learning Some Harsh Lessons

Preparation is key! I really blew it on that front.

Today was forecast to be the coldest thus far of our very mild winter. Sure, I have been colder than this before, but when your breath and snot turn to icicles on your mustache – it’s too damn cold out there!


  1. I anticipated the cold but utterly underestimated it. That alone cut my enthusiasm to near zero.
  2. Camera controls and gloves do not mix. I really need a cable release too.
  3. Timing is key. I wanted to try some sunrise photos but there was no way I was going to endure that cold to wait for Earth to spin a bit further…
  4. Never assume your batteries have enough juice. I will invest in more to keep with the camera bag.
  5. Remember / research location. I wanted night shots of the city but completely forgot about the trees blocking the view from my vantage point.

I stood near the top of the Claremont Access. I took several photos of the access and the few vehicles on it with the goal of producing some light-painting. Weirdly enough, none of these photos even exist on my memory card. I am not sure what happened.

Top Of James Street StaircaseWhen I decided to head home rather than wait for the sunrise, I walked around to the James Street staircase. Back when I attended Mohawk College, I used to climb these stairs almost daily. I even got to where I could climb them two at a time without stopping to catch my breath.

I had set my Pentax K-x to shoot in RAW mode and I am glad that I did. The 11 photos of the staircase had an intense jaundiced colour tone from the quartz-halogen lamps. Fortunately, Adobe Camera Raw could white balanced this nicely; I doubt that would have been as easy if the camera was taking JPEG images.

I kept the image tweaking in Camera Raw and Photoshop to a minimum. The biggest changes were the white balance and resizing the photo to 2048 pixels wide. I tried a few sharpening filters but could not improve much.

Ultimately, only three photos could be salvaged. Clearly I have much more to learn about low-light photography.

Perhaps I will take more photos later today.

Painting In Photoshop

Essentially all of my Photoshop work – using that term rather loosely – has been around retouching or using Brad Gobel’s amazing Actions to generate cool effects. I realize that I need to start expanding my experiences and building new skills. I especially need to use my Wacom tablet more often and take advantage of its features inside Photoshop.

For just about my entire life I have said, “I am not an artist.”

That sort of thinking really does build up inside and impede your thinking. Not unlike clogged arteries with cardiovascular health; those negative thoughts about my own creativity have made this work harder. Fortunately, both conditions can be improved.

Larry ElmoreI am going to start getting into digital painting with Photoshop. I have a great set of images to help kick start things too. Years ago, I bought a package of line drawings from the legendary fantasy artist Larry Elmore.

These are fairly simple drawings in Larry’s unique style that cover the male-female-creature range including various character types (fighters, wizards, etc.). What really makes this package stand out is that it includes all the drawings in TIFF format with an Open Game License.

In short, I can use Larry’s excellent base images in a variety of ways within the stated bounds of the license. Primarily that means that the Elmore signature remains visible and that I am not selling the artwork.

So I will begin sharing work inside my Photoshop album on Flickr.

Maiden paintingThis is my first attempt at digital painting with Elmore’s illustrations.

I tried to use the opacity and flow pressure sensitivity features of the tablet to darken and lighten regions of the image appropriately. Each major part – hair, skin, blouse, etc. – is on its own layer in Photoshop.

My second attempt can be seen here. On this work I used Solid Fill layers and layer masks to reveal the colours appropriately.

Hopefully this is not a bad start to things. Clearly there is much for me to learn and I am looking forward to tackling that in future work.

Photoshop Editing

I currently cannot show the entire image since I do not own the rights to it. It was taken by dear friends in the Dominican Republic. I will only share the full image after they have given me permission to do so. This left-side slice of the original is the only relevant bit to this post.

I wanted to use the photo with another one of Brad Gobel’s Photoshop Actions. Running those Actions usually blurs or completely eliminates anything but the desired focus point. Nonetheless, I set out to remove much of the background clutter.

before and after

It was definitely good practice and put my Wacom tablet through its paces!

The woman in the tree shadow was removed with Content-Aware Fill. You can still see a blurry patch in the tree shadow that I could not fix. The swimmer’s heads were removed with the Spot Healing Brush.

The man with the blue shorts was the most difficult. Content-Aware Fill did a rather poor job but it was a start. The Patch tool and Clone Stamp did the rest but it was slow and patient work.

The beach recliners were mostly removed by using the Clone Stamp and approaching from both the water and the sand. Again, slow and patient was the watch word. I would frequently zoom in and out of the details to keep an eye on the progress and how it looked at full-size.

All in all, for my first major retouching, I am rather proud of how this turned out.

I would be remiss if I did not give a shout-out to KelbyOne and the Photoshop training videos that gang has created. More and more of Photoshop’s features are sticking in my head thanks to Scott, Corey, RC and Pete.