Monday, December 27, 2010

Can I blog directly from my iPad?

I have been at a crossroads or maybe I should say I have hit a wall. I have done so little scrapping this year, really hardly any since April. I started off the year with so much excitement about the classes I was taking through, especially Stacy Julian's "Library of Memories". I was excited about learning my new camera and had so much planned. I think I just stopped enjoying it. I loved listening to the podcasts at I love learning about photography, but I am having trouble putting it all together. I figure I have this last bit of effort to do something with my pictures and the stories they document.

Idea #999: I am going to become an expert on using my iPad to digital scrapbook.

I am going to try to do this without using a scrap booking app like Escrap or ScraPad which I find reminiscent of the early days of scrap booking software. I have been researching a lot lately and I have found a few things to help me. But first I had to figure out how to share what I am learning on my blog.

Next time: How I made this layout and how I posted it to my blog!

Location:Here I am on my iPad

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All Those Photo Projects Brainstorm List

Because I keep coming up with them and don't want to forget them I will post the ideas swimming around my head right now:

  • Photobooks for Michelle, Michele, and Darby
  • Photobook for Utah 2010 trip
  • Calendars for Kathy, Jean, Mom and Dad, Vickie, Hillary, and Heather
  • CD for Jessica of her birthday and sprinkle
  • Photo Frames for Mom and Dad

I need to rate, keyword, and purge my 2010 photos.

I have converted Aug - November to Jpgs and stored the NEF and RAW files on both EHDs. The bulk has bugged me since converting and I have decided to shoot JPEG fine with my Nikon. JPEGs are just so much easier to work with.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Working In Raw is Frustrating Me!

The files are too big! I am constantly battling not having enough space. I have a 500G EHD for backups and I am just getting overwhelmed. . . Again!

Steps Again??

1. Upload to Photoshop Elements Organizer (label with date, then pic #)

2. Manually backup to EHD

3. Rate (use F11 to get to big screen view)

4. Delete 0-star ratings

5. Keyword in batch - Who, What, Where

6. Advanced Keyword for Category Drawers - Us, People, Things, Places


When do I print? When do I scrapbook? When do I get to play with my photos because it seems like all I do is upload, purge, rate, and edit. It's too much. Just too much! I never get to just scrapbook with my photos.

Digital Workflow Part 2

I am listening and watching my Library of Memories videos from Kayla Lamoureaux again. I recently returned from a two-week road trip to Utah with almost 2000 photos in tow. My workflow HAS to get better. I found this program for cheap-cheap and decided to give it a try. I am tired of PSE Organizer being so SLOW. Here I am starting over again!

First I have been working on the file organization on my hard drive. I have a folder for each year and a subfolder for each month. I upload photos with their date and number into their month folder. I have to rename lots of files this way-not sure that is a good use of my time.

I moved my pictures from my desktop into My Pictures folder on my laptop and have created a little bit of a mess. I have not been consistent in how and where I saved photos that I had edited or used for projects so things are not tidy. This bugs me to no end. I am reorganizing the files now. I had subfolders by day and found this to be totally cumbersome. I already moved the pics out of those, but I need to delete those folders. This just seems so stupid to me, but I feel like I can't move forward without this basic structure in place and solid.

I realized something recently . . . If I rate my photos first, then keyword, I don't have to keyword so many. That's that photo haystack that Kayla/Stacy are talking about. I have to narrow down the choices. That does not mean I have to keyword EVERY SINGLE PHOTO, just the ones that I might use. I don't even have to delete the ones that I might not use. That is a concept.

Importing: Upload to Monthly Folder
Backing Up
Paring Down Purge pics with no potential
Do not rate: Duplicates, Not special but don't want to trash

  1. Maybe/Details/Overview of Story 
  2. Main Idea/Theme/Got to Scrapbook/Focal Point Photo/Represent People, Places, Things, Us, School
  3. The Best of the Best

Batch BASIC Keywords to ALL PHOTOS: Who, What, and Where when you download
Who is in this picture?
What are we doing? i.e. Whitney's Birthday, Norwich Fair
Where are we? (This can be a tag that has the gps data attached to it)

ADVANCED Keywords are only applied to 2 and 3 stars. Category Drawer Keywords are also applied to these images.

BACKUP One off site for star-rated photos only!

Sunday, September 26, 2010 September Monthly Challenge

I haven't submitted anything for a while because I seem to want to spend more time editing and sorting my photos than making layouts! I can always count on the Paperclipping challenges to help me find my mojo. I created this layout with the topic of wide angle photos and my natural surroundings in mind. I am experimenting with layouts that have less "stuff" on them and more photos and words. I love the idea of a big photo used as a background to draw the viewer immediately into the action of this story. It seems to say, "Let's go explore!" As we entered the field that evening the sun was just starting to set and the light was waning fast. I loved the texture of the mushrooms and saw my daughter walking out of the frame as I crouched down to capture its remarkable texture. Again, the photo says, "Hey, wait for me!"

My second goal with this layout was to make it look like I printed the photos on canvas, then laid it out on some cardstock, added the butterfly and took a picture of it. I played a lot with the placement of objects and the painting on the edges of the background photo to create a frame. Although I was trying to keep it simple, I couldn't help but try to see how a visual triangle would fit in. As I added the finishing touches to the title I realized that the buttons, the butterfly, and the scripted text in the title create a visual triangle, directing the viewer into the story. ( I just love this design stuff!! (Hee-hee)) This was so much fun! I think I might have woken my muse!!!

{Melissa Bennett buttons and background papers from "Autumn Memories" (TDF21;}

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summary of PDS011-Lots of Rabbit Holes

There were so many designer names and resources mentioned in this week's Paperclipping Digi Show that I wanted to make a summary of them all. I hope others will find this useful to. If you have listened to the show and I have an error here please post a comment so I can fix it! Thanks, Angie

Show Notes

Digi Tips for Beginners Summarized
  •     Get a good feel for the software
  •     Undo is your best friend
  •     Print out your first few pages
  •     Start with Templates
  •     Join a community
  •     Possible: attend live events
  •     Favorite Tools
  •     Find Good Resources
  •     Ask Questions on the forums

Meetup- Izzy talks about this website for trying to find other digi scrappers in your area.
Indispensible Products
        Shadow Actions
            Jenn Barrette at (can't find)
            Kristin Rice "Shadows Perfected" 2 kits at CatScrap
            Traci Murphy (can't find - shop at ScrapArtist)
        Kraft Paper
            Ann deJong "ChromaPhobia" ( - unavailable when I looked)
            Robin Carlton (can't find)
            Steph's Printing Primer
            Anna Aspnes
            Lauren Reid

        Shadow Actions
            Jenn Barrette (see above)
            Krystal Hartley - free, great for light background
            SimplyScraps (Laura Banasiak)
            From Aaron's Blog: Five Resources for Awesome Drop Shadows and Drop Shadows Revisited
            Gimme Space by Laura Reid
            Tracy Ried's Bad Stitches                  
       His Kit for the bright colors and stitching mentioned by Steph
            Boy Oh Boy

Forums (non-shop related)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Back to RAW

A recent comment by Kayla Lamoureaux got me thinking about the file format of my digital images. She shoots in RAW because she wants to be able to make up for the fact that she isn't a fabulous photographer and RAW gives her more flexibility with her final product. She has just started using LightRoom to organize her files, which I am not ready to do ($200 for the software) so I started looking for ways to put RAW back into my workflow.

When I started getting into digital scrapping more and more I made the decision to shoot in JPEG only. I was finding my workflow to be interrupted by having to convert to JPEG from RAW. It was also slower to shoot in RAW as the camera had to write the larger file to the memory card. JPEGs are universal, but they are lossy. This means that the files are compressed with every save and data is lost  from the file. This bothers me. Having read about the minimal effect of this compression on the quality of photos as viewed by the average person, I decided I didn't want the take the time to convert to JPEG before I scrapped my photos. I also learned that you could edit JPEGs from inside Camera Raw, Adobe's Raw file processor that comes with Photoshop Elements. This made the decision to stay with JPEG easier as I like the flexibility that application offers.

The RAW files are huge. They slow down the camera. They take up storage space on my memory card and on my computer and external hard drive. Not all browsers read them, including VISTA, and Facebook only reads jpeg.

As I have been getting my digital Library of Memories up and running and defining my workflow, I have found that I am rethinking and understanding why RAW might be the better choice. Both my Panasonic Lumix FZ-18 and my Nikon D60 shoot in RAW, so going back is not that hard in terms of taking the pictures. My perception is that the RAW files are giving me more opportunity to improve the quality of my photos. That is also what I hear the experts say about it. I need to find out for myself because the RAW files do require an additional step in my workflow, and one that is potentially quite time consuming.

Here's my assignment:
I recently shot pictures at Weirs Beach in RAW. I discovered that in the RAW format the blown out areas are highlighted within Camera Raw allowing me to make sure I correct that to recover details lost. I am going to take the same picture and convert it to JPEG and edit the RAW file and the JPEG file to see if I can see any big difference. I do need to consider what might be coming in the future. Perhaps there will be software to preserve the JPEGs or to fix the artifacts (what's left behind when pixels are lost), but I don't know about that now. I will post the results of my little experiment right here. Meanwhile go to this video by Scott Kelby and see if you think shooting in RAW is the better choice.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Defining My Digital Workflow, Part 1

Goals for what I want to do with pictures:

  1. Scrapbook my favorites to document the everyday, the special, and the insightful.
  2. Share with others on Flickr,, and Facebook
  3. Print some for frames.
  4. Add to digital frame.

Steps in the process from taking the photos to final product.
As I write this I am using pictures taken yesterday at Wiers Beach. I took about 50 pictures.
  1. Take pictures, lots of pictures, lots and lots of pictures. Shooting in RAW??
  2. Upload to computer using PSE7 Organizer. Files loaded into folder for date: One folder for each month within a year. Format file name "yyyy mm dd". Add copyright info in upload screen.
  3. Keywording, Captioning, and Rating:
    1. Geotag Batch while in small import folder. (Where?)
    2. Tag for Places We Go/Things We Do-any tags that can be generalized (What?)
    3. Find Faces for Tagging (Who?)-this won't get all of them, but it's a start
    4. Move through deleting and captioning photos. Checking basic keywords, tag for edits (if a certain effect is in mind), apply star rating
      1. 1-star: Might Scrapbook or have some caption
      2. 2-star: Great Images that represent the event
      3. 3-star: Gotta Scrapbook-The BEST
    5. Write metadata to files. (Do this while you are still in the new batch window or else select batch and write. Otherwise, it will write metadata for ALL files.)
    6. Show "To Be Deleted" and delete those.
    7. Backup to Maxtor. (Maxtor will backup automatically any day that I upload. Make sure to do so before I log off. The files are backed up initially. The original versions are kept in the "History" folder. The current version of the files is in the folder labeled "C" or "D" drive. Once metadata or edits have been made those will be saved in the current folder.)
The last two steps I need to work out:
    1. Before any sharing can happen I have to convert files from RAW to JPEG.
    2. Upload 2-stars and higher to Flickr-even without any edits-just to get that backup. Any edits can be made later.
I can't upload RAW files to Flickr. When I open them in Camera Raw and edit them, I am saving them as dng - another incompatible file type. Maybe I just export them. I don't know I have to figure this out. RAW definitely gives me more flexibility with the photos and helps me to make up for the fact that I make mistakes as a beginning photographer. 

More work to go!

These are the basic steps for setting up my Library of Memories. Now I have to work backwards by date and/or in 15-minute batches practicing applying these steps. Next I will define my inspiration workflow which will outline how to share these photos.

PSE7 Organizer vs. Picasa, For Me

Let me define a workflow:

Messing around with Picasa. Now I know how to create a collage to post pictures to my blog or to facebook. I like that I have this option. It just adds some variety, don't ya think? 

My big dilemma lately has been to figure out if Photoshop Elements 7 Organizer or Picasa would be the better choice for organizing my photos.  I have about five months of photos sorted and tagged in PSE. The problem is that the tags don't transfer from Picasa into PSE as keyword tags. The tags are written to the metadata, but they aren't searchable inside PSE. Other fields in the metadata are searchable except for the IPTC field in which tags are stored. That is a problem.

From inside Picasa I can search the tags created in PSE as long as I have written the tags to the metadata-a separate, and oft time-consuming, step. I have put more photos into Picasa to use the face recognition feature, but the name tags are also not written to the metadata. I have to go to each person's album and add the name tag separately. So weird. But future editions of Picasa will probably change that. Picasa's geotagging feature is easy to use and I can do that and have the latitude and longitude added to the metadata and PSE's is also easy enough. 

I just downloaded Microsoft Pro Photo Tools to manipulate the metadata. I haven't figured out if I can search the metadata, but I can add a "Photographed by" field and the names of actual locations in addition to the lat/long info. That would be something I might want to search for later. Apparently metadata is the way to go in terms of sorting your photos. It is automatically included with each file (in most applications or web-apps) and is the way professional photographers organize their photos. Applications have been designed to make manipulating the metadata easier for the amateur, but since the explosion of digital photography programmers have not agreed to an industry standard on how to store tags and other information important to photographers. I can only hope that the coming year will bring change in this.

As I define my workflow I am using tools that I learned about in the Library of Memories class at Big Picture ScrapbookingKayla Lamoureaux's videos in class have been very helpful. I have consulted the forums looking for others who also are trying to figure out which program is best for them. The bottom line is that the program I choose has to fit my preferences and my habits and just feel good to me. I started using the organizer in PSE5. It crashed my computer so I moved to Picasa, 2 I think. When I upgraded to PSE7 I decided that since I spent the money on the software, I might as well use the whole package. It bothers me that it does get bogged down sometimes and is slow to respond. For example, I hate the way the delete file works. If I am looking through a series of thumbnail-sized photos and I delete one in the middle of the collection, I am returned to the top of that date. I have created a separate "To Be Deleted" tag to work around this, but that is still a separate scroll to it. I wonder if I can configure the tags differently. When working with a lot of tags it is very cumbersome scrolling up and down. In Picasa it's a little easier to do the tagging. I can't manipulate any of the files from within Picasa if I want to also use PSE7, because PSE7 would lose track of the files and then that's a whole other bother reconnecting and deleting. Tagging in PSE7 does make more sense though. The tags are organized hierarchical and that makes it easier to find what I want.

I've gone off and done a little more research and figured out that I can use PSE7 to upload to Flickr from inside the program. That is very useful. I even have my Facebook account and my blog linked. I want to be able to easily upload photos and layouts to my blog and to my Facebook status. I can only share PUBLIC photos so I have to decide if that's going to work. I don't really like the idea of posting pictures of my kids for the world to see, but since so many people are doing that what is the real issue there. I won't post other people's kids though. There is a problem though because the photos are not stored on my Facebook and I don't know how to direct people from my wall to Flickr and my blog. There's got to be a button or something.

I figured that out. I put my photostream on my Profile page. Not perfect, but at least my photos don't have to be in two places for people to see. Now, do I remove my pics from Facebook? Hmmm?

Next step, how to use Flickr with my blogger. Gonna go find out now.

I have been thinking about using Flickr as my online backup. For $25 a year you get unlimited storage. That seems like a really good deal. Now I subscribe to Scrapbook Trends for $9 a month. If I cancel that I will be able to get unlimited Flickr storage and a subscription to Adobe Photoshop Elements Techniques for less money. I think I will do that Monday.

Meanwhile, I took my folders of photos off Picasa. (Since Picasa is a browser application it works directly with the files on the computer. That's why it's very quick. PSE Organizer is a catalog, which is separate from the files, but has its own organizational structure. I have to manipulate my photo files from inside PSE so the organizer will not lose track of them.) I had read that it was very confusing to try to organize your photos using more than one application. I agree with this. I will continue to use Picasa to do quick collages though and to keep track of all my digital supplies and layouts. I will set it to scan those folders. I can also use the face recognition to help me figure who is in my layouts. 

This has definitely helped me think through some things as I try to implement my own Library of Memories workflow. I am posting separately about my workflow now that I have committed to using PSE7 Organizer.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Originally uploaded by croppersister
I love this strange photo of Gracie. I had to recomposed and frame it in PSE, then did some magic to enhance the colors and texture using a tutorial I subscribe to in itunes called Alibony Photoshop Elements Tips. Just keep loving this stuff!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Penscrappers June Challenge

I submitted this layout for the challenge for June. The theme was to scrap what you love using  a freebie kit by Michelle Coleman called "Wild Hearts." I love Michelle Coleman's work and have quite a few of her kits. I was trying to figure out how to make these photos fit with this kit. Sometimes it's not always obvious. There was some green paper in the kit but the pattern was all wrong. Thankfully there was a grungy yellow cardstock that works perfectly for the background of this layout. I wanted to use a little more color so adding the red reinforced the theme and drew the eye through the layout. I also worked the key-lines in to contain the layout and give it form (see this tutorial at Designer Digitals for more about this.)

I converted one picture of the peony using the Colored Pencil Filter in PSE. I like how the filter caught the water droplet detail. I used the same filter on the background photo before blending it into the background. I am trying to figure out ways to use the multitude of photo effects available in PSE in my scrapbook layouts. It just makes the layout more interesting than using the ordinary photo. I suppose it also depends on the story I am trying to tell and making it all fit. So much more to learn!

The journaling is:
Two, not just one, but two hand-sized blossoms opened to greet the morning sun. “I have a peony bush!” I stared in disbelief. How could I have lived here for seven years and not realized that I have a peony bush right outside my kitchen window? But sure enough, wedged iin between the overpopulated tiger lilies, is this two foot high bush with dark green elliptical-shaped leaves holding up twin fluffy orbs of fragrant white petals. What a gift! Did someone sneak into my yard and plant this little beauty when I wasn’t looking? Did it get mowed down our first summer here and take all this time to grow big enough to blossom? It’s a mystery and I love it! {June, 2010}

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ladeau's Advisory 2009-2010

I made this card to give my students for graduation. I really like how the blending modes hide my so-so extraction of us from the background. I used textures and brushes and text to fill up the space.

Sorry about the blur spots. I don't have permission to post these kids' images so this is how I keep them anonymous. I suppose if you know who they are you could pick them out, but I don't think you could identify them from this.  I don't know if there are any other ways to post layouts of this nature that keep identities private. I guess I have to do a little research on that and find out how other people do it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Paperclipping Festival June 2010

I just love the things that I learn from Noell over at Paperclipping. Since I've been a member for more than a year and a half now, I have gone from paper scrapping to mostly all digital. (I am not giving up hopes of going back to paper because I LOVE it! Digi is just easier and less messy.) That doesn't mean that the many (almost 150 now) video tutorials members receive are not applicable to me. Good design is just that - good! And it doesn't matter if you're paper, digital, or both. Just tell your story and use good design elements and you will have created something you want to show everyone!

This layout is going to have to go down as one of my all-time favorites. (Another all-time favorite is here on my blog.) I used things I have been learning from Susan Tuttle's book Digital Expressions and the foundational understandings of good design I have learned from Noell. The concept I wanted to practice in this layout was leading the eye (Episode 19 Leading the Eye and Episode 22 More Ways to Lead the Eye). In the tutorial Noell talks about strategies used to help the reader move through the layout in the way that you intended. Some of the techniques that I used here are directly from this tutorial. First of all I created a focal point photo that is bigger than the rest of my photos and prominently located on the left side, where the reader will begin looking at the page. The next place I hope the reader goes is to the title, emphasized with the same brown as the mat on the focal point photo and the large blended background photo also creates a natural resting place for the eye. The oversized brown stamped letter "E" that begins the journaling completes the visual triangle (Episode 1 Visual Triangles) and the brown corner brush and painted heart element invite the reader into the story.

Here's the text: Emerging from the woodsy path onto the back part of Lake Runnemede, we were greeted with the sight of the lily pad covered inlet. We began to walk around the lake with your classmates looking for frogs and turtles but you kept your eyes on those flowers. Each time we came along one close to the shore you would remark how you wanted one. I told you that it was hard to pick the lilies because they have long stems that go deep to the bottom of the lake. When you saw that your classmates had pulled a few from the water's edge, you sighed wistfully, "I wish I had one of those flowers."

Now up in the field and heading to the other side of the lake, the lilies were no longer accessible. I thought you had given it up. You were content to get your pants as glistening wet as possible by walking through the tall grasses along the path. The water seeped through the cracked soles of your sneakers soaking your socks, but you didn't complain. The warm air kept you from getting chilled.  

We stopped and played at the gazebo with your classmates for a few minutes before venturing onward. The grassy path snakes around the edge of the lake. In some places the brush was cleared for closer viewing of the water or for anglers to cast a line. We came upon your friend Maddy and her dad. Maddy was admiring her beautiful white lily flower. "Oh I wish I had one of those! I want a flower," you told her not really expecting that it was possible. Maddy's dad heard you, and, as luck would have it, at that particular spot along the path, we could see the lilies perched upon their pads in wondrous glory. Thanks to knee-high boots, Mr. Henig cautiously stepped into the shallow water to pluck a small white lily from its throne. "Thank you," you said with awe and glee.  

The rest of the walk around the lake was effortless. You held your flower to your nose, consuming its awesome scent. "It smells like licorice," you observed and offered it to my face. "You're right. It smells exactly like anise," I told you. You used it for a microphone and sang your lungs out! You talked to it. You told it your wishes and dreams. All the way home, almost two hours later, including the bus ride back to school, sitting with Colin, and going to the restroom -  where you put it in the sink - you kept it safe and intact. We put the flower in a water-filled tin by the kitchen sink where it burst in sweet fullness all evening. By morning it had closed but the memory of your lily flower lingers like its licorice perfume. (Windsor, Vermont, June 10, 2010)

As the reader finishes the text, the series of four action shots serves as the great parting shots to complete the story. I am wondering if I need something at the end of them to serve as a period of sorts. Any thoughts?

There are a few more design principles at play here that help structure the layout. I like to be able to print my layouts on my 8 1/2 by 11 inch printer so I used a 17 by 11 inch background for the base of the layout. I knew that my story was going to require a lot of space on this layout and I didn't want to feel cheated in writing all the details. I chose to use two-thirds of the layout for the journaling and the last third for the shot of my daughter and her friend holding their lilies. The rule of thirds is carefully explained in Episode 40 Designing with Lines.  Although I am a little worried that the text might be hard to read because it goes right through the page split, scrapbook pages in an album lay flat and I don't think it will be that much of an issue. As it is I spent more than two hours making that journaling fit in the space I allotted. I made sure the text butted up against that dividing line and carefully sized the series pics to follow the same line as well.  I am very pleased with the results. I hope you like it.

If you read other posts on my blog you will see that I've been learning some digital collage techniques from Susan Tuttle. She does excellent work and her book is jam-packed with easy to understand and follow tutorials. The background blending is all a result of what I've learned from her as well as the word play around the title with the subtle text accents. I just love that stuff.

Credits: Laurie Ann, Music Note Paper, "Play it Again Sam," for ScrapArtist.comEclectic Designs by Gabi, Pink, Brown, Cream Cardstock, "Simple Basics," for ScrapArtist.comPainted Heart Embellishment, Anna Aspnes, "ArtPlay Pallette 10 Things 2 Heart Collection,"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Digital Expressions-Veruca's Dream-Painting with Color Fill Layers

From Susan Tuttle's "Digital Expressions."

This one is about trying to create a timeless feel with hand-painted portraits. The technique is simple: Select area, Feather, Fill Solid Layer with a matching color, adjust opacity of new layer. You do this over and over again for each area you want to color, such as skin, hair, lips, eyes, hats, boas.  Here's mine. So much fun! I used Coffeeshop's Vintage Lace Texture. I tried other textures but the effect was not subtle enough or was too much for the photo. This works pretty well.

Digital Expressions-Harvest-Replicating the Look of Traditional Painting

From Digital Expressions by Susan Tuttle.

I used brushes from Velvetcat and Shady Medusa to create a digitally painted canvas. In Susan's directions you change the blend modes of the paint layers to Linear Dodge. This was fun to see how the colors interacted. Once most of the paint is down you apply the Craquelure Filter which gives the piece texture. I liked it at this point. Then I adjusted the colors with Auto Smart Fix. It corrected the colors. Applying the Liquefy Filter was the most fun because you got to move the paint around and see what happened. It's totally random. Finally, I mounted the picture on a frame and drop shadowed it.

While creating the painting was fun, I am not sure how I would use this technique for scrapbooking. I made up a little layout using a piece of clipart of a person looking at an empty art frame, but I am not sure what other application I could try. I also thought it would be a fun way to create background paper. Any ideas out there?

Digital Expressions-Shine Light-Making Drawings with Artistic Filters: Colored Pencil + Dry Brush

Making Drawings with Artistic Filters: Colored Pencil + Dry Brush (Susan Tuttle's Digital Expressions)

Susan teaches how to combine artistic filters in Photoshop Elements to achieve a variety of effects.  Here's the photo of the newt untouched.

Here's what happens when I add the Colored Pencil Filter. I used the same settings suggested by Susan: Pencil Width: 2; Stroke Pressure: 11; Paper Brightness: 44. It's a little difficult to tell from the preview what the effect will be. I think I needed to zoom in a little more to see it because I didn't notice how the newt is outlined. I like it.

Finally, after applying the Dry Brush filter with the suggested settings: Brush Size: 8; Brush Detail: 10; Texture: 1; I have this:

With Dry Brush the lines are softened quite a bit. I am not sure it's as effective as the Colored Pencil Filter alone. I think I will have to do some more research on this filter to see what types of photographs it works best with. I have noticed that some filters and textures definitely work better on single subjects, uncluttered backgrounds, or solid backgrounds for example. Susan's example in the text is of a dragonfly on a light wood background. The dry brush brings out the texture of the wings. With the newt the dry brush covers up the texture of his skin.

Off to learn more. I will update this when I have learned something new!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Digital Expressions-Sweet Slumber-Making Drawings with Artistic Filters: Colored Pencil

Susan suggested Pencil Width 10. I noticed that the higher the number the more white showed up on the paper. I decided for 11, as lower than that made the drawing look more like a photograph that had been drawn upon rather than a colored pencil rendering.

She suggested Stroke Pressure 11. This controls how dark the picture looks and how much detail is preserved. I opted for 7; it brought out the major lines in the picture and I think makes it look more like an actual drawing.

I kept the Paper Brightness at 41, as suggested. That affects how the whites come through underneath the color.

I had fun with this and it doesn't take very long at all to get the right effect.

This photo of the iris took about five minutes to render. This is very cool. I am just curious how to use the effect in a collage style layout???

Digital Expressions-Unbound-Designing with Type

Lesson 3 from Susan Tuttle's "Digital Expressions" - Unbound.

I find working with type to be the most time consuming of things to work with. It takes a lot of type to make a statement. There are a gazillion fonts to choose from. The options for color and size are paralyzingly infinite. Then you have to further complicate things with creating word art. Yikes. This took me about an hour probably and it is only two picture files, quickly blended. The rest of the time is creating type layers, altering colors, fonts, size, stroke outlines, etcetera. I like the effect, but if I used type more extensively I would have to have had the words decided ahead of time. Maybe even have the text all ready in separate files to be added or stamped into the piece. As it is I took the type directly from Susan's example-not much additional creativity needed.  Good font sources are also necessary. There are a bazillion free fonts on the internet. I had to download the outlined one and it took forever to figure out the font used for the main title. That one is called Traveling Typewriter. Although I had it loaded, I didn't recognize it at first. I think if I had used my TFT that would have helped because I could have seen the fonts in larger samples.

A great tip from this tutorial is the site which offers free stock photography images.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Digital Expressions-The Jacks-Popping Areas of Color

This is the second exercise from Susan Tuttle's "Digital Expressions" book.  I have done this kind of thing before using other tutorials. The effect can be very stunning. I think blurring the background portion of the photo creates a dream-like quality that is very cool. With this photo the blur also helps create a sense of movement.
Susan suggests using the Magnetic Lasso Tool but I find the Quick Selection Tool to be more effective. You can adjust it for adding and subtracting from the selection. It seems to be the better choice if you are working with a sharply contrasted photo too because it would quickly select the desired color. I wonder why she chose the Magnetic Lasso?
I used the Quick Selection tool for the sweetener packet, but found that it was easier to use the Magic Wand Tool for the cover. I guess it's just personal preference and depends on the complexity of the selection. Something to figure out.

On this one I colorized the background using a trick I learned a while ago. Select the layer you want to colorize. Go to Hue/Adjustment. Select "Colorize." Type 35 in the Hue box. The Saturation will change to 25, that's good for the effect. I used a Gaussian Blur set at around 3, just to soften the glass.

What I discovered: You could use the effect like that or you could use it to pop any color in any part of a photo, like eyes or flowers. The steps don't take very long, unless you are fussy with the selection. But the selection doesn't have to be that precise if you just want to pop a color against the same background. Here's what I mean in this example.

I selected out the bee to its own layer (Control J) and adjusted the saturation. I did the same with the azalea blossoms.  I cropped it last. The pop is subtle but improves the original. Now if I had only worked on the background layer-I'll save that for another day!

Friday, May 28, 2010

My Experiment with Digital Expressions by Susan Tuttle

I am so excited to be working through the exercises in this book by digital artist Susan Tuttle. I thought I would work through the exercises from beginning to end trying each one the way it is written. I believe that I learn best when I have followed a "recipe" to build my skill base. After I have done something a few times, I start to see that it shows up in my own style.

"Whispers" Creating Vignettes with Color Fill Layers

What I Discovered:  The photo file of the doll pictured in the text was not on the CD that came with the book so I tried to find a photo that I thought conveyed the same mood. I don't know that it does. It just makes me look old and tired. I definitely like making the vignette this way. You can control the size of the vignette with the way you drag out the elliptical selection before creating the fill layer. I also like that I can soften the effect using the eraser tool. The settings Susan suggests are the default settings for the tools-that saved some time.

The inspiration piece is by Sonya Cullimore of a bird on a tree branch. It reminded me of a photo I took a few years of ago of a local bald eagle. I tried the effect here. I liked the vignette created with the reduced opacity of 79% because I liked how the tree branches framed the shot. I cropped the photo after vignetting and I like the effect much better than on the one above. It takes less than 5 minutes from opening the file to finishing this effect.

Find Susan here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Last Hours

"Oh Angie," she cries as she realizes I'm there. "I want you to hold me."  "How you doing?" I ask, my hand smoothing the hair on her head.  "Not good," she strains.  "Are you ready?" "No, I don't want to die."  Her eyes, childlike, search my face for what I don't know.  "Are you scared?"  She contemplates that one and responds, "A little."  "Are you at peace?"  "I think so," she manages.  Hillary scoots back her chair allowing me to access the side of the bed.  Bonnie's belly is swollen and heavy.  Blood stains her gown near her left shoulder where a port was put in earlier that day.  I climb up on the bed, careful not to put pressure on the arm where an albumen infusion is replacing the fluids she lost hours ago from the parecentesis.  I rest my arms around her and lean my head against hers.  She is breathing heavy.  Her body is warm warm.  She hasn't been warm for months, but on this day her body is working harder than ever . . . to die I suppose.  For a few minutes she is gentled, comforted, but the pain in her back is working again and she has to move. 

The LNA and nurse come in and I kiss her translucent cheek and get out of the way.  They manage to pull her further to the right side of the bed and turn her ravaged body on its left side, the only position that seems to give her any relief.  Her head lays cockeyed on the pillow, her jaw slack and mouth open to catch the air.  The LNA gently lifts her head with two hands and places it in a more comfortable, natural position.  They tuck pillows in tightly against her back and between her legs.  The skin on her right leg is still red from the lingering cellulitis.  The other calf has blood seeping into the tissues-symptoms of a low white cell count.  It is red and beginning to swell about her toes. 

"I'm going!" she lifts her head from the pillow looking intently around for who is sitting within arm's length.  "Right now . . . Goodbye." Her head falls down on the pillow.  A few moments pass, her breathing deep and effortful, she opens her eyes again and mouths, "Bye."  "I love you," I call as if she's leaving on an airplane vacation trip to somewhere.  I caress her warm, fragile hand.  I run my thumb along her soft, short cropped hair.  She has a cool washcloth resting on her neck, the soak stain blooming down along the front of her hospital gown.  I notice a small collection of dark purple arteries near the skin on her right cheek.  Another bulging artery runs down from her lip along into her jawline.  Were these there before?  Is this the evidence of her failing liver and kidneys slowing down her bloodflow, bulging in her veins. I try to sing to her, but no songs come to mind. I start to hum, "Allelujia, Allelujia, Allelujia."  I think she recognizes it.  I bow my head to will back the tears threatening to consume me.  "Keep humming, just keep humming."

Over the next hour and a half, she's in and out of awareness.  She opens her eyes, the panicked look fading as she recognizes who is near.  This is our last time together.  I only know it now.  Her pastor is there, comforting her with prayers and asking her if she can rest. He's trying to console her.  He tells us later that he thinks it will be a day or two given her agitation.  "Do you think he's strong enough to watch me die?" she asks Dale about Alfred.  "I think so," Dale replies.  "We'll take care of him," I tell her.  Alfred has been taking care of her for months, on his own really.  We've helped when we could, but he's the one who has been there for every ambulance ride to the Emergency Room, every procedure, every doctor's visit.  He's the one who made sure she had something to drink and fixed her meals.  He helped her to the bathroom and to the chair.  He's here now.  Just waiting, knowing that she's leaving him now.

Bonnie was so afraid of having the port procedure.  Vickie wonders if she knew on a deeper level that her time card was being punched.  After the parecentesis, there was usually a period of extreme weakness, but once she had the albumen, she would begin to rally.  This time, the doctors told her there was no more chemical support they could provide.  Her body had simply had enough.  Her heartbeat was erratic, jumping from 34 to 134 in mere moments.  The heart could not last much longer given the extreme levels of potassium in her body and her dwindling sodium levels.   The news seemed to deflate her.  She had been dying for so many years, now that the time was near. I expected her to want to pray, to want her Bible and to be reaching for God.  Dale's presence provided comfort, yes, as he prayed with her she seemed to relax, if only for a minute. "I keep getting there and something is pulling me back," she tells Dale. Does she need permission to go? "Do you know what it is?" he asks her but she's gone again. "Bonnie, do you think that if we could take care of the pain, that you would be able to sleep?" "Oh yes," she's awake again.

As the pain increases, she becomes more and more agitated.  "I'm going to die from the pain," she cries out.  "Help me.  Right now.  Right now." Eventually amidst her begging for help that I can't give, I call the LNA in and the nurse.  Together they talk her through the quarter hour as the medicine machine is wheeled in, plastic tubing detangled, a small palm-sized bag of clear fluid hung and calibrated to deliver the correct dose of pain-killing Phentonal.  She quiets, sinks into her  pillow, anticipating the relief that's sure to arrive soon.  At last her breathing turns a little deeper.  Her face relaxes and she appears to sleep, finally.  She hasn't slept or eaten much in two days.  She's exhausted, in pain, and afraid.  She needs to rest.

We sat with her for another hour as the nursing staff prepare her private room.  I guess it will be her death room.  She rouses briefly as the pain intensifies, but I trepidatiously push the pain killer button and she dips back to unconsciousness. When we move her to the third floor, Room 335, the nurses set Alfred up to stay the night. He wants to be with her at the end. They offer us a comfort tray of coffee and cookies, but we decline.  Alfred just needs a cot and he'll be fine. He would stay to rub her legs, to call the nurse to turn her, to hold her hand and reassure her.  We need to leave, but don't really know how to.  I don't remember what Brett did.  I still think I was not believing her body would give in to death.  I had seen her cheat it so many times.  I didn't know this time was different. I kissed her warm cheek and told her I loved her.  Those were the last words she heard from me.  That's good.  That's good.  I am happy that she heard me tell her many times that I loved her.  Although she could be difficult and her own worse enemy, I really did love her.  I didn't want her to suffer anymore.

The next morning at 9:00.  The phone rings. It's Hillary.  "It's time.  You've got to come."  I quickly showered, hollering to the girls to get dressed and ready to go out the door.  I call Mom to see if she can tend the girls.  I'll have to bring the kids there as Dad is getting ready to go grocery shopping.  She calls me back in a few minutes to say that Dad will take his truck.  "Can you meet me at the school? I'll get your laptop for you so we have it this week."  It is vacation week and I want to teach Mom how to use her new toy.  Twenty or so minutes later we're in the car, heading up the hill, tears keep rolling out of my eyes and falling off my cheek. I have to wipe them away in order to put the key in the ignition.  It's raining and cold.  I adjust the car's blower to blast the windshield with heat and pull out of the bumpy drive.  At the top of the first hill, as I round the bend near the log cabin a tree removal crew has the road completely blocked.  Three orange traffic cones spread across the road.  Two men are picking up long branches and feeding them into a chipping machine attached to the bucket truck.  I thought about shouting out the window, "This is life or death!" but what good would that do.  So I thought, "This is a lesson.  To stop. To breathe. To remind myself that this is out of my control."  Now I know that she was taking her last breaths at that time.  I was sitting in the car with my children.  Whitney started singing a made up song.  Sydney was watching me.  They had the road cleared in five minutes. "Where are you going?" she asked me.  "You know Gramma is really sick." I look back at her to be sure she understands.  I can't bring myself to tell her that Gramma's dying.  I can't find the words for that.  I can't answer her questions about that now.  "Oh," she says. Mom is not at the school when I arrive and David is heading out the door to go run errands. I just barely caught him.  "My mother in law is dying," I tell him, not sure why I felt the need to share the drama of my life.  We head back into the school and I explain that I am heading to the hospital.  He's been through this a bit recently with his father and grandmother.  Judy meets us in the hall to talk with him.  She's asks how my conferences went. "Okay."  While David fiddles with the laptop and fills me in on what he's done to update the system, I eye the clock.  "So get this," I tell Judy and David the story of the tree crew.  "I guess I am okay with not being there. There's nothing I can do."

By the time I got on the interstate, I could really look at the time, it was 10:24. Would I get there in time? I didn't think about her really being gone. I didn't think about what I might see when I got there. I just thought about the death rattle and the endless pauses between her final breaths. She'd told me about these things. She'd been around a lot of death. She had told me about when her brother Lisdon died and the pain his body endured.  She had sang her friend Bertha across with "Amazing Grace" and held her dying body to its final breaths.  She knew what a body did in the end.

Mike was coming out of the unit doors as I approached.  "Is she still here?" He nodded.  I couldn't quite remember where her room was.  The desk, the room suites all looked the same.  Then I noticed "335" and knew I had the right door.  I walked in.  I see Bonnie, on her right side now, chin slack, right hand poised by her face as if to be held. Al's sitting in the chair at the head of her bed. The grey palour to her skin is unmistakable.  I know I am too late, but Brett has to tell me to make it real. "She's gone," Brett said. Vickie's eyes are bright with tears.  I walked to the bedside and touch that skin, soft and smooth as a newborn's.  It was cool.  She'd been so warm the night before.  I was glad for that because the last year she was constantly cold.

"Now she knows the secret," Vickie said.  "The secret?"  "Yeah, what happens when you get to the other side."

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Everyday Adventures at BPS"

I have no followers but I have an overwhelming desire to share my story or my art or my photography or my something.  Well, not my something!  I don't understand it.  I just want to be heard, I guess.  It thrills me to know that someone out there cares.  But on the other hand I am in the process of simplifying my own blog reader.  I have created a new category called "Inactive Scrapbooking" for blogs that I used to read. Now I only "Mark as Read" them every once in a while.  I can't bear to part with them . . . yet!  I skim through the posts I like to look at and I am trying to limit my online time to less "searching for my muse" and more "putting my muse to work."  It's way too easy to get distracted from what I really love to do.  I have been in such a funky place lately.  Taking pics, sorting, editing, but not scrapping hardly anything.  I keep having the urge to work with paper.  Today I finally did after signing up for this 4-week workshop at Big Picture Scrapbooking.

I worked on my assignments for the BPS class, "Everyday Adventures."  I am hoping I can learn something to use in school for "Our Backyard" studies.  It seems to fit in with the nature journals.  We'll see.  I had the most fun putting together this field journal.  I found papers in my stash that I had gotten from someone in an exchange at  There were so many pretty papers.  I used my Big Bite and old cardboard, lots of cardstock and some patterned papers.  I tied ribbons and other fibers to the binder clips and ended up with a nifty little book.

These are my nifty little "Goggles of Enhanced Perception."  I repurposed a pair of doll glasses that have been in my sewing kit for nearly twenty years.  The class is based on this book by Keri Smith called "How to Be and Explorer of the World."  It's going to be interesting and fun.

Brett says women should not wear a hat titled "Bone Collector."  I was cold!! March Monthly Challenge Layout

This is what I submitted:

I am submitting this layout for Challenge 2. Here are the tips from Paperclipping Tutorial #136 that I utilized to help me tell this story.
-Multiple photos are helped by the grid layout-helps to keep the layout from being chaotic
-Spread the photos with like colors across the layout so not all the greens were next to each other
-Chose a green background (not sure if that's in the tutorial but definitely from the newsletter tip about backgrounds!) to emphasize the lushness of the woods.
-Embellishments are similar in color and theme and form a visual triangle around the focal point photo
-The swirl brushes on the edges of the pages and by the title are intended to soften the hard lines of the grid
-Lastly, the journaling is subdued even though it's a lot the color kind of "hides" it in plain view.

(Paper and Elements, Vera Lim, Memories Makers No. 4)

The journaling: Norwich, VT (March 21, 2010)- Off Kerwin Hill Road is this piece of land on which the owners have several trails cut and blazed. We needed a hike with gradual inclines and dry ground to keep the girls motivated. I was just so happy. What more could I ask for? Walking through this beautiful, peaceful property on a sun-warmed March day with some of my favorite people in the world has got to be in my top ten things to do in life. As we walked we talked about not much of anything. We admired Mother Nature’s handiwork in the form of mushrooms and fungi feasting on decaying trees. We pointed out twisted and windblown trees whose desire for life outsmarted the winds that knocked them over. We marveled at the fairy glens of intensely green lichens and mosses reclaiming the fallen trunks to the moist boggy underground. The greens, the silvers, the almost-blue stones stacked into walls created a stunning canvas from which our imaginations extracted stories of what the land may have looked like a hundred years ago when 70% of Vermont was deforested. Human presence could be found amongst the handmade hunting stands, the abandoned barbed-wire roll, and the stone turned to fashion a chair upon which some long-ago hunter sat. Nature has been working hard to reclaim herself. It's the never-ending story, so beautifully crafted. I am blessed to have been there.