Push The Boat Out

I’m still struggling with the new schedule for the Weekly Photo Challenge. It just does not fit with my weekly schedule and so this week I’ve got a bit of a mixed bag for you.

I don’t know which is the more predominant colour here, that bright orange or the even brighter green of the benches in the shelter. What do you think? Green or Orange?

Beach Shelter

Now this is definitely green. If you are ever fortunate enough to visit Tai O stilted village on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. you will see these little tourist boats running around. Personally I preferred to walk around the village, mainly because there are far better photo opportunities.


Still in Hong Kong, if you get the chance visit the bird market, it’s right next to the flower market so you can kill two birds (excuse the pun) with one stone. Anyway, these are green birds with a little bit of red.. I’m very good at identifying birds as regular readers well know.

The Birds

Looks like I’m on a Hong Kong roll this week. This you definitely have to do. Catch the Star Ferry across the harbour from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central. It’s a quick trip across Victoria Harbour, lasting about 15 minutes. Push the boat out (not another pun?) and pay extra for the Upper Deck. HK$ 2.50 or about UK£ 0.25p, US$ 0.30c.

Celestial Star

My last one today. I’ve been playing around with compositing photos. The model is a stock photograph courtesy of Marcus Ranum

The Sword

Well that’s it for this week. As usual, here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge

Ellen Grace Olinger – Haiku Art Site Photo Challenge- Green
New Shoots – Beyond the Window Box
A Texan’s View of Upstate New York Oh So Green
嘗試 Try – Lived in UK, Living in Taiwan
Welcome! It IS easy being Green! Photo gallery
It IS easy being green- Weekly Photo Challenge – Sunni Buchanan Photography
DAVID OAKES -IMAGES. Daily Post – Weekly Photo Challenge…..GREEN
simply.cindy Gallery of Green
“Snotgreen Sea” – Beach Books Blog
through the luminary lens Spring has Sprung


Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie (Again)

After the Red Monk I decided to have another go at putting together something Eerie for the challenge. Only this time not so dark.

The background choice was pretty easy this time as I had a photograph of three trees in a foggy field that I knew I could play with.

Girl in Blue

The next step was to get a subject and for this one I used a stock image from PersephoneStock on deviantART. The model was against a background of trees and bushes. For my image I wanted her isolated and that’s where one of my favourite Photoshop plugins comes in. Topaz ReMask allows me to extract bits of an image to use elsewhere. In this case just the model.

Using Photoshop Brushes I added the birds and the lightning. You know I think the lightning is too much. Maybe I could have done without it. What do you think?

To darken the image I used I used two textures from Shadowhouse Creations. Jerry creates some amazing textures which he freely makes available. If you are thinking of using textures in your artwork check out his amazing stuff and try his tutorials.

Of course there’s more to this image than the steps I just described, blending layers, cropping, resizing and most importantly my imagination all had a part to play in putting this together.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

Occasionally I get in the mood to dabble with Photoshop and this weeks challenge seemed like a good time to have a go. Of course it could also be that with all the high winds and heavy rain we’ve been having I haven’t set foot outside the door with the camera. However……

The Red Monk

It’s a bit dark this one but in keeping with eerie I wanted to make it that way. I started off with a photograph of Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters, trust me it is there in the background, not obvious, but it’s there.  Often when I start something like this I will try different things, sometimes just letting my imagination run wild. Originally there was a map behind the monk and then I changed it for a clock. The monk replaced a wood nymph…..you get the idea, I hope.

Now I don’t have a ready stock of model photographs on tap so I am indebted to “Marcus J Ranum” for making his models freely available for use. I’d also like to thank “dead-brushes” for the use of the clock brushes for Photoshop. Both can be found on Deviant Art.


Topaz ReStyle

It’s no secret that I am a Photoshop user and that I will enhance my images. In my opinion that’s what the digital age is all about. I’m a great fan of Topaz Labs plugins for Photoshop and I have their Complete Collection installed on my computer.

Recently I did a beta test of Topaz ReStyle which is now on general release. What does it do? Hard to explain in words but you can take a photograph and apply one of a thousand different effects to it. Perhaps the best way is to show you what I mean.

Here’s the base image. Taken as the sun was setting on Talacre Beach. On it’s own I quite like it….but it could do with something a little bit extra.

With one click I can select from any one of the 1000 pre-sets and it will be instantly applied.

But you don’t have to stick with the pre-sets default setting. You can fine tune them using the control panel.

Here you can adjust the strength of the five primary colours, mask out some of the effect, change the saturation and hue of colours, even the luminosity.

Want something a bit weird? ReStyle has pre-sets  for that.  Or maybe something dark and moody?

A thousand different pre-sets is a bit much to look at but you can search by keyword. For instance, I used “blue” to find this pre-set.

Many of the pre-sets look reasonably natural, especially any that have to do with sunset or sunrise.

I’m not saying that ReStyle should be applied to every photograph, nor is it  suited to every photograph. When I was beta testing I found I got the best results from photographs where the light was kind of low and I stuck to something that was believable. i.e. the green and really red just don’t seem to gel.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

A lot of my work has doors in it, or the suggestion of doors. We all open the same door many times over and over and each time we open it new light comes in, different air, a fresh experience, an old experience slips out and gets loose in the room.   – Stephanie Torbert

I was going to interpret this weeks theme by photographing that quintessential English treat of strawberries and cream. Make a still life of it, you know, fresh strawberries in a bowl with cream poured over them. But someone, who shall remain nameless, ate the strawberries. So instead I have chosen the alternative viewpoint and I’m going to tell you about something new.

As many readers will know I often use plugins and filters for Photoshop on my photographs. The main ones being NIK (now Google) Color Efex and the very excellent products from Topaz Labs. For some time now I have been a beta tester for Topaz Labs which means I get to try new software before it’s released for general sale. Currently I’m testing a product called ReStyle.

Topaz Labs describe ReStyle as;

designed to open up new artistic and creative possibilities for your images and to help achieve “styles” that you might otherwise not have thought of. It does this by giving you a huge variety of styles and looks, easily searchable by overall style, individual colours, keywords and more using multiple workflows.

Quite! What does that mean in practice? Let’s have a look. At the top of this post is the original image. Taken almost as the sun was set, its got some beautiful purple colours and looks quite peaceful. As a photograph I quite like it, but what if I wanted to jazz it up. Before ReStyle I would have to play around with Hue and Saturation filters in Photoshop till eventually I got the look I wanted. ReStyle takes the guesswork away by presenting me with a set of pre-filters showing me the look I will achieve with just the click of a mouse button. At the moment because we are in beta test there aren’t that many pre-set looks but by software release Topaz reckon there will be about a 1000.

Here’s an example of what I can achieve. I like the photograph above but with one click I have changed the look completely. You’ll notice that the orange colours haven’t change much. It’s the greys, purples and blues which are mainly affected.

Topaz ReStyle uses the colours of the pre-set I choose and inserts them into the original image, essentially eliminating a majority of the original image colour and replacing it with the new look.

Another example, This time I tending to a more purple hue all over. All done with a click of a muse button.

ReStyle won’t be for every photograph, I’m sure there are many that just wouldn’t convert and look good. I’m still testing but I like the idea that I can give a fresh (you just knew I would get that word in somewhere) look to a photograph.


Weekly Photo Challenge: colour

Short one today. I wanted to get the post finished reasonably quickly so I went for a quick selective colour. Easy to do in Photoshop. Duplicate a layer, convert the duplicate to Black and White, add a layer mask and then invert it. You can then paint the colour out.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Colour

Sorry it’s not a long one this week, but my previous post explains all



Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge


Interesting challenge this week considering that only last week I was talking about Digital Art. I’m going to walk you through some of the steps I took in creating a Vintage Travellers Diary, which involves using Photoshop Brushes and merging in many photographs to create the final image.

diary final

Each of the elements that you see here are merged into the base background. It would take me far too long to show you all of the steps but I’d like to try and give you an idea of how an image like this is created. Lets start with the background.


The background is made from a textured photograph; the maps are Photoshop brushes applied over the top.

Next I will add the notebook and the three photographs, which themselves are merged items, a photograph of a polaroid frame and 3 of my photographs


That notebook looks blank at the moment so the next step is to fill it in.

pictures and text

I’ve added some additional photographs, putting some underneath the left hand pages and some on top with a paperclip. On the right page, it’s a Photoshop brush again and then some text over the top.

Finally, to complete the Vintage Travellers Diary I added the torn card, the coffee cup and the compass as you see in the first image at the top of the page.

If you want to have a go yourself at creating The Vintage Travellers Diary then follow this link to the original tutorial (not mine unfortunately).