Little Red Building Different Ways

I thought I’d take a break and share some more photo effects, similar to what I did last month.

I took this picture last May when I traveled by Amtrak to Washington D.C..  The train was stopped near Fredericksburg, Virginia and I used my old point & shoot Canon.  This photo was particularly appealing because of the red paint in the midst of all the greenery.

So let’s start with the original photo:

Straight From The Camera

I adjusted it before I started playing with it.  I removed some of the graininess and adjusted the colors and detail as well as the brightness.  I used Topaz DeNoise, Adjust Spicify, and Detail Feature Enhancement.  I flattened all the layers into a single layer, and saved it.  Isn’t that considerably improved?

Basic Adjustments Using Topaz DeNoise, Adjust Spicify, and Detail Enhancement Feature

This one is my favorite.  I used the Topaz Dark Night Effect and added a Star Effect filter in the lower left corner.  I probably could have made it a teensy bit bigger, but after three tries on it, decided to move on.

Dark Night with Star Effect (lower left corner)

This one uses a Photoshop Filter called Rough Strokes.  I liked its grungy appearance.

Photoshop Filter Rough Strokes

These next two are similar, but there are noticeable differences.  This is a Topaz Bokah Gentle Transition.  Notice how the background fades out and the focus is on the red house.

Topaz Bokah Gentle Transition

This one also blurs the background, but note how everything moves towards you.  It’s also pretty, just different.

Topaz Creative Blur

Here’s a black and white effect, Topaz Aged.  I tried a number of the black & white filters, but didn’t really like any of them.  I think it’s just too busy and the details don’t have enough definition.  This one was the best, but I find it only okay.

Topaz Black & White Aged Effect 2

This is also from the Topaz Black & White Filters, but keeps a little more color.  I liked it much better.

Topaz Black & White Tea Green Falloff

I enjoyed playing around to share with you, but was surprised at how long it took.  Of course, that’s why most of the photos in my blog are straight from the camera.  It takes me long enough to write up my material, let alone if I was spending so much time adjusting the photos too!

What’s nice about doing this though is being able to go back and look at the effects and see what I did.  Of course, each photo adjusts differently, but some reference material is nice.

Over At A Daily Life

Are you receiving excessive E-mails because you left a comment and clicked to see the other comments, then the post went viral?  Say, maybe one of your blogging friends was Freshly Pressed?   (Congratulations Christine!).  Over at A Daily Life is the instructions on how to unsubscribe comments.

If you’re taking a while to draft a post, you want to follow these steps to save your drafts as you go so your hard work doesn’t get lost or deleted by mistake.

Experimenting With Topaz Labs Filters

The other day, MargeKatherine played around with some Photoshop Filters on her blog, Inside Out Cafe.  I left her comment encouraging her to try Topaz Labs plug-in filters and she said –

. . . get in there and play around and see what fun images you can create! And then show me!!

So I did!

Here’s the original photo:

© 2012 dogear6 llc

It’s not bad, but before I started playing, I did some minor cloning, color correction, keystone correction (i.e., where the picture skews because of the perspective), and enhanced the detail.  Then I cropped it to get rid of some rust and crummy looking stuff.  This is how it looked before I started playing:

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Here’s vintage grunge.  Not bad, eh?

© 2012 dogear6 llc

This one is sunset.  What a beautiful warm glow it gives the bricks!

© 2012 dogear6 llc

And this is from the black & white module.  It’s called Opalotype and I used the “milk effect”.  I did do some playing around as I didn’t like the default settings (called presets).

© 2012 dogear6 llc

And lastly, since I was playing(!), here is an effect called solarized dreams.  I like how the windows glow in it and was pleased with the overall look.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

I played with one other photo as well.  Here’s the original.  It’s very pretty “as is”, but I wanted to de-emphasis the background more, especially the bright pink splotches.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

I converted it to black & white, with some color restored and a few other adjustments.  It looks very delicate.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Topaz Labs filters are available at  If you take one of their webinars, a coupon is often available for purchasing the filters or the full suite.  The webinars are also available on YouTube about a week later.

Have you been over to A Daily Life?  Recent posts include Making Time To Write and Prompts to Share Your World.

Daybook Entry – February 11

FOR TODAY – Saturday, 2/11/12

Outside my window. . . dawn is breaking and I hear the birds singing. It’s a rainy, gray, dreary day, but the birds are out! I’d have loved to watch more of the light breaking, but there were dogs to let out, a mess to clean up (which is why they’re locked in the kitchen at night) and of course, the morning ritual of the giving of the treats. That ritual has made a big difference in getting a beagle to come in willingly when I’m trying to get out of the house in the morning.

I am thinking. . . about all the things I need and want to do. Before starting this, I opened up a new page in Evernote and listed out everything I could think of to help clear my mind. I have some things to follow up on at work, ideas for both my blogs, things I need to order this weekend, and some photography equipment to learn.

I am thankful. . . for my husband. He’s still upstairs sleeping, so I have this time to concentrate on my writing. We’ve been going out for breakfast each day before work and I love having quality time with him before the day becomes chaotic. Love is not about flowers on Valentine’s Day. It’s about him making me supper each night, helping clean the house, and encouraging me to write even though there’s a gazillion other things that should be more urgent.

In the kitchen. . . two dirty dogs have gone back to bed in their fragrant dog beds. The beds are too big to run through our washer. We haven’t decided yet if we want to take them to a laundromat or just replace them. Otherwise, the kitchen is clean from last night’s supper and waiting for today’s meals to happen.

I am wearing. . . ratty pajamas. I’ve had them since my daughter was in high school nearly a decade ago. I love them though because they’re warm when the house is cold. I turned up the heat, but it’s still cold here by the windows.

I am creating. . . photographs using special effects filters. One of my blogging friends suggested it. I don’t do it very often. I take pictures to record my life and am not sufficiently interested in spending hours tweaking them. My favorite boy toy does that and he creates truly stunning fine art photography. If I spent several days working on a single picture, I’d never have a record of my life.

I am going. . . to have a few days off next weekend. Monday is a company holiday (President’s Day) and I’m taking off an extra day as well. I’m not sure yet what, if anything, I’ll do. I have a nice stack of books from the library so I might just lay around and read for an entire day. Of course, I might do that this afternoon too!.

I am wondering. . . what else I can remove from my schedule to have time to do the things I want to do. I’ve removed much already, but I still have too little time. We haven’t decided whether to jettison the garden or convert it to something less frustrating than vegetables, such as my herbs. Nothing has grown well or tasted very good, we’ve yet to get consistently good tomatoes from it, and to be honest, it would be less time and money to go to the Farmer’s Market than keep struggling with this.

I am reading. . . The Secret Staircase by Melanie Jackson (A Wendover House Mystery). I can’t remember if this came up on Amazon’s Daily Deal or if it was a recommendation based on my reading. I’m enjoying it quite a bit. It’s written in first person, but Louisa, the main character, does not live in her head – i.e., the word “I” does not figure overly much in the narration. Louisa observes her environment and the people around her as she solves the mystery of her grandmother’s childhood and genealogy.

I am hoping. . . that tax season goes well this year, everyone stays healthy, and we get our work done without a lot of drama or stress.

I am looking forward to. . . doing some exploring as the weather gets nicer. I really enjoyed all the pictures last year from our field trips.

I am learning. . . some new Photoshop skills. The Topaz Labs filters are really cool, but way more powerful than I currently am able to do. I’m also not sure I’m observant enough to see when a filter looks good vs when it looks faked. On the other hand, some of the stuff that comes straight out of my camera looks fake when the colors are so bright and the sharpness so defined. So maybe it doesn’t matter as long as I like it.

Around the house. . . the dog gates from last night are still up, keeping the dogs in the kitchen. The miniature pinscher is still in his crate. On cold days like this, he thinks the term “hibernate” was meant for him. Of course, if the beagle starts barking at our neighbor, just watch that sign on his crate whip from “Leave Me Alone” to “Let Me Out NOW”.

I am pondering. . . whether I want to go out for breakfast by myself. My boy toy is still upstairs sleeping and I’m getting hungry. I could fix some yogurt and granola, but what’s the fun of that?

© 2012 dogear6 llc

A favorite quote for today. . . I just found this one! I’m not sure what book or diary it’s from, but I really liked it:

You must live in the present,
launch yourself on every wave,
find your eternity in each moment.
Henry David Thoreau

One of my favorite things. . . is reading. I could read all the time. I realized years ago that part of our budget for money was shopping at the bookstore each week to see what was new and that my time budget also had to allow for trips to the library.

A few plans for the rest of the week. . . we have reservations for Valentine’s Day at Maggiano’s. In past years, we stayed home and cooked a nice meal rather than go out. The last few years, I made a note of it to get reservations right after New Year’s Day and it’s been nice. Maggiano’s uses their regular menu, so we know we can have a moderately priced meal.

A peek into my workday. . . I usually am up shortly before my alarm. I shower, get dressed, let the dogs out and in (plus the giving of the treats). My favorite boy toy and I leave in separate cars for Cracker Barrel, where we have a nice breakfast together. I go to work and he heads back to his home office. At work, it’s meetings, phone calls, time spent training employees, and administrative things to be done.

The legislatures are back in session around the country, so I’m tracking new tax bills and coordinating with various industry groups to promote or defeat legislation. I enjoy that part of my job, but it takes time away from other things that need to be done. I work out during lunch on most days; if I wait until I get home, I’m usually too tired.

And that’s my day so far on this Saturday, February 11, 2012 (finished after breakfast out with  my favorite boy toy).

Over at A Daily Life is a book review on the history of the Oxford Dictionary, as well as some help manging comments and pingbacks.

My self-portrait was adjusted using different filters in Topaz, including the toy camera and a tint.  The photo below is not adjusted.  It’s my favorite oak tree in the backyard.

Training Needs Practice Too

I’ve been discussing with my favorite boy toy about learning Photoshop CS next year.  I use Photoshop Elements 9 for basic repairs and tweaks to my photos, but as I get more advanced, its limitations become more apparent.

I’ve improved my skills in Elements, but my concern with using CS is that I can do all the training I want, but if I don’t practice it consistently, I doubt I’ll remember much for the few times that I use it.

It’s like this at work too.  I use an advanced software package for tax return preparation.  It’s the top in its field, but it’s not very easy to use.  That doesn’t bother me, as I use it nearly every day.  If I can learn Corptax, I can learn CS – that doesn’t bother me – it’s retaining it that I have issues with.

So I’m still considering how much more Photoshop skills I want to spend my time in training.  Here’s an example of something I improved with Photoshop.  Because I was so close to the building, it had way too much curve in the lines (keystone effect).  The lights were a little too light and the darks a little too dark, all of which were corrected with simple commands.

This was something else I improved in Photoshop.  The fence was way curved, and again the darks too dark and the lights too light.  I also dialed up the detail to make the bricks more noticeable.  Nothing major, but enough to improve it nicely.

Today’s photo was taken earlier this year.  The photo itself was pretty blah, but I used it to experiment with changes in Photoshop.  This one is tad bit creepy, but much more interesting than how it looked without adjustment.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – SURPRISE.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

dogear6 To Inhabit New Digs

This weekend, I’ll be moving my blog over to inhabit my other blog site, Living The Seasons.  I’ve had the name for three years, but did very little with it.  When I started this blog at dogear6, it was meant to be a fun little photo thing to help me learn to blog.  I’d planned on putting my more substantial posts over at Living The Seasons.

Well, that didn’t quite go as planned and this has become much more substantial than I expected.  I like the other name better for long-term blogging and have decided to transfer over to it.  I experimented last weekend with a test blog and it seemed to transfer over just fine.

For those of you with E-mail subscriptions, WordPress follows, or RSS feeds,  you’ll need to subscribe again.  Links to my blog will also have to be updated.

I HOPE YOU FOLLOW ME.  I appreciate everyone who has taken time to stop by, like a post, or leave a comment. 

I will also put a redirect on this blog for a while.  My understanding is that if you click on it, it will automatically take you to the other blog.

I will send a note letting everyone know when it becomes a done deal.  If something goes really wrong, I will not hesitate to remain at either.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Interested in seeing how my blog has matured?  Here’s my first post, with a picture of a young beagle.  The word that day was WAFT.

Here’s another picture of a baby beagle, using Photoshop skills from an on-line class that I was taking at the time.  Doesn’t he have the most gorgeous colors?  The black on his face is mostly gone and there’s a fair amount of white on his face as well.

Word for tomorrow – HUGE.  And I truly hope that is not the word I use after moving my blog around.

Why A Photo Challenge Was Begun

Earlier this year, I began not one, but two, daily challenges – blogging and photography.

Yesterday I wrote about why I started blogging and continued blogging.  As I worked on my post, I realized that while I blogged because I enjoyed it, I had begun the daily photo challenge for a totally different reason.  I started it to improve my camera skills, especially to learn how to use the new Canon Rebel that my favorite boy toy talked me into buying.

Until I bought the Rebel, I always used point and shoot cameras.  I took many good photos with them even recently, as I don’t always take my Rebel to work with me.  I do take better pictures with the Rebel and it is much easier to take good pictures too.

The first few weeks of the photo challenge were fun – oh, click this!  click that!  this!  that!  And then I decided I’d never improve my technique if I didn’t work at it harder.

So I learned how to change the focal point and the metering.  I learned about depth of field.  I did it on both cameras too.  It was funny during lunch trying to remember which button the camera used as they were not quite identical, mostly due to the age difference (about 7 years).

My reason for a daily photo challenge did change this summer to building up a portfolio of photos, which was a wonderful benefit.  I’m loving all the pictures of the dogs, my favorite boy toy, my daughter, the clouds and the flowers.  It’s certainly helped my blog.  I’m okay with changing my reason for doing it.  What was good was to begin it and let it evolve just as my blog did.

At the right side, I have some links to reasons for doing a photo challenge.  I found them inspirational and helpful.  I also listed some places to go for help on photo editing.  I don’t spend a lot of time doing Photoshop, but it can help a good picture become better or repair a photo that is a one-of-a-kind.  There are also links to others who are doing a daily photo challenge [note – these links are no longer there, but a lot of material can be found on the Internet].

As you set goals for next year, consider whether a daily challenge of any kind would help you learn a skill.  It doesn’t have to be for a full year.  If you want to expand your cooking skills, maybe you need a daily challenge for 30 days or 3 months.  If your goal is to scan old family photos, you might want to challenge yourself to scan something daily.  Challenges are both fun and frustrating.  It’s easy to get discouraged for a while until you realize that wow, I did that.  I DID THAT.  It makes it all worthwhile to keep going in the challenge.

It’s nearly the end of the week.  Do you believe it?  Christmas is coming quickly.  Today I start opening the little windows on my Advent calendar.  I waited too long to buy it this year and don’t have a nativity one, but it will still be fun to get glitter everywhere each morning even without a cat nose to investigate it (the dogs are not allowed upstairs).

I took today’s photo in mid-October at the botanical gardens.  I was amazed at how lush the pitcher plants were as during the heat of summer they looked terrible.  I didn’t realize they grew all year until I saw them in October.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – CHAMPION.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Anniversary Celebration of Days

© 2011 dogear6 llc

For me, it’s way too easy to be oblivious to events around me.  Work, fatigue, stress, and inattentiveness all contribute to days flying by without me noticing them.

One of my goals for this year has been to reconsider my routines.  One of the routines I’ve experimented with is celebrating other anniversaries.

I’ve been with limited success on this – I’ve tried writing in my journal (first day of spring), having a moment of silence (9/11), just going outside and paying attention (first day of fall).  It’s been okay, but not memorable.  And I barely remembered to do what I intended or forgot it altogether (Memorial Day, first snowfall).

I miss the church celebrating some of these days – the patriotic hymns in early July, Mother’s Day & Father’s Day sermons, recognition of our military for Memorial Day, and songs of thankfulness at Thanksgiving.  A number of churches no longer even do Thanksgiving Day services, which I think is unfortunate.

For now, I’m creating a list of what I want to remember.  Next year, I’m considering putting together a photo album that includes a short write-up of the day – either what it meant to me, what I did on that day, it’s significance for the year.  I’m not sure that idea will work either, but I would like to notice more of my life and events, even the small ones.

Today’s picture was taken during my daily walk on a super special day.  It’s not the event itself, but it does help me remember what happened to make it a special day.

Word for tomorrow – BLOGGER’S CHOICE.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.