Looking Towards the Sun

“And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered.”
― Nicholas Sparks

This was post processed using Edward Hopper 1 in Topaz Studio and a 2 Lil’ Owls texture from the Exposition collection. Finishing touches in ON1 included a surreal dynamic contrast, lens blur for the vignette and the border, instant.

Taking a Walk

Smiling Back at Me
Taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Richmond, Virginia
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I love taking walks and often use my camera as an excuse to do so. Having a wonderful botanical garden so close to my house makes a big difference too – I can be there with a short drive and the scenery changes constantly.

With my camera, I’m much more observant on my walks. This is true with my cell phone camera as well. I’m looking and scanning for what could be an interesting picture. I’m also looking to see what’s new, different, or what’s changed since the last time I was there.

Not every picture is perfect and not every photo is worthy of post processing work. But by showing up and taking pictures frequently, many are in fact worth further work. But to have such pictures in my inventory, I have to be out there taking them.

The flowers above are so cheery – I feel like they’re just waiting for me to smile back at them.

This was post processed using the Fresh Start Haze and Soft Boost actions from 2 Lil’ Owls. Textures were from Jai Johnson’s Impressionist Spring and Splendid Spring collections. Topaz provided the Artries Movie Poster abstraction, and ON1 was used for various finishing effects.

Bee Chases Bee

My turn! My turn!
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Photo taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Richmond, Virginia
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While photographing the bees with my camera, I’ve observed how they attempt to knock each other off the flowers. I imagine it’s a survival technique – if the flower is good, why should they try a different one even though others are nearby without competiton?

The bees try to chase away each other, as well as wasps, butterflies, beetles, and anything else that might be collecting pollen. Sometimes they’re successful in getting the prize, other times they lose and have to find their own flower.

What’s interesting is that the butterflies aren’t easily dislodged. Often I hear a thunk as the bee bounces off a butterfly and careens off, usually acting a bit wobbly.

This was post processed using;

  • Topaz Studio – AI Clear, Precision, and Contrast; Abstraction 2 provided simplification
  • OnOne – Sunshine Radiance
  • Textures – 2 Lil’ Owls Canteen and French Script Collection
  • Border – Photomorphis Textural Borders

Bee Butt Cuteness

Bumblebee at work on a thistle
Taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Richmond, Virginia
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“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should,

for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”

Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
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The sight of this bumblebee buried deep in the flower made me laugh. As I looked for a quote to use, I realized that I didn’t have a bee butt in the picture. Instead, I photographed an upside down bee that was so laden with pollen, it looked like it was wearing pantaloons.

I was surprised to find there’s a Pinterest board for bee butts, as well as articles, tweets and all kinds of social media.

And those little round fuzzy rumps are cute as long as they aren’t sitting on me.

The original picture had a leg sticking up, looking like a turkey drumstick. I cloned that out. It was funny, but not picturesque.

The picture was post processed mostly in Topaz Studio by using AI Gigapixel to upsize it, AI Clear to remove noise and BuzSim 2 for the abstract look. Black Dust and Black Magic 3 textures in the background were from 2 Lil Owls. The picture was finished in onOne with a center spot vignette and torn paper frame.

Life’s Daily Harvest


Happy Valentine’s Day!

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little stardust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched. . .

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Every time I see these plants in my photo inventory, they make me smile. They’re nothing special – easy to grow, prolific, and common. But they’re pretty. They wave in the breeze, follow the sun with their big faces, and brighten up the garden.

Even if common, we all need some beauty and color. Life is hard in so many ways. We’re all busy, tired and stressed. Having something that is pretty for the sake of pretty is refreshing.

This photo of caladium plants was taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Here’s the original photo:

Caladium plant, straight from the camera

After my usual adjustments in Lightroom (cropping, color adjustment, etc), I post processed this in Topaz Studios, using BuzSim and Chalk Smudge Light CS. I added three textures to it from 2 Lil Owls. The textures helped bring up the colors and darken the edges. I then finished off in onOne for a vignette and border.

My post processing steps are below. Remember that Photoshop layers start from the bottom and work up. As a result, my watermark at the top is the last step in the process.

What small thing has made you smile lately? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Roses and Textures

From the rose garden at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia

One thing I particularly enjoy about post processing my photos is learning new things.

Joining a monthly club for textures encouraged me to stretch my skills in a new direction. Each month, Denise Love of 2 Lil Owls releases new textures to club members, along with instruction videos. There are also extra goodies, from retired texture collections to presets for Lightroom and /or Adobe Photoshop.

Having to log in each month to retrieve my goodies also encourages me to use the textures and goodies, as they disappear shortly after the next month gets released. The Facebook group for 2 Lil Owls gives me ideas and inspiration as well. There are many talented photographers showing their work and providing tips.

It’s been fun! And as I get more comfortable using this as a tool, I’ve found new ways to use it in my regular post processing. I’ve used the textures to warm up photos, enhance skies, and bring out colors.

The picture above used textures from the January collection, Cabaret. These textures are bold with significant texture and an opaque color. As a result, they needed a bold picture to stand up to them. I also used a Black Dust texture (another goody from January). Interestingly, black textures provide patterns without leaving color.

This is the original picture. It’s not bad straight from the camera!

Original picture, straight from the camera

Below is how I transformed it. Photoshop layers start from the bottom and work up. As a result, my watermark at the top is the last step in the process.

I think this went from a good picture to an awesome one. Of course, textures won’t cover up a bad picture, but even good pictures can be made better.

What have you done lately to stretch your creativity? Leave me a note and let me know!