Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Little Planets

Here's a fun creative Photoshop project that is much easier than it looks.  To get your attention, I will start by showing you the end product, then describe how it was done.  My title for this photo is "America On A Stick".  It was taken in an area of Wells, Nevada that was destroyed by an earthquake in 2008.  An American flag has been painted on a wall next to ruins that have been neglected ever since the earthquake.
I used Photoshop Elements version 9 for this project.  The hardest part of this is to pick a photo that will work well.  It helps to have a photo that has sky colors that match on the left and right edges, and a horizon that is the same height on each edge.  Here is the original photo:
I rotated this photo left 2.5 degrees (Image > rotate > custom) to get the tops of the far left and far right buildings even, then cloned out the power line across the sky.  It helps to overlay a grid across the image to get it even (View > Grid).  The next step is to rotate the adjusted image 180 degrees (Image > rotate > 180)
The next step creates the Little Planet.  The results are pretty unpredictable, so it is always kind of exciting to see what happens.  Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates.  Select "Rectangular To Polar" and click OK.
Next, fine-tune the image.  In this case, I chose to rotate it back so that the lamp post was on the bottom.  I also blended the line in the sky and some other parts of the same line using the healing brush and clone stamp tools.  Many images will have distracting patterns in the corners that you may want to crop out or retouch.  The final image, as seen in the beginning of this post, was stretched to a circle.  Resize > Image Size, then uncheck "constrain proportions" and type in new dimensions so that width and height are equal.  Finally, crop, retouch, and adjust as desired to get your masterpiece.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

365 Project

Here is a challenge for any photographer.  Take at least one good photo every day for a year.  It is much more difficult than it sounds, but can be immensely rewarding if you stay with it.  The problems include running out of ideas, lack of time, and not enough motivation.  Fortunately, there is a web site dedicated to 365ers that really helps – but be careful – it is addictive.  Our Sharp Shooters Camera Club has assigned 30 day projects to its members, and one other club member has joined the 365 project web site.
Photo #38     May 5, 2012

When I joined http://365project.org/ I had no idea that I would be making friends all over the world.  The web site gives photographers a free album to post their daily photos.  Other 365 photographers can review and comment on your photos and you can comment on theirs.  You can click on a button to select an image as a “fav”.  Sometimes, if you get enough favs your photo appears on a Popular Page where more people are likely to see it, and the comments tend to increase continuously.
Photo #266     December 19, 2012

The web site has discussions, themes to photograph, and photo challenges to participate in.  If you want more than one album, you can get two others by buying an ACE membership for $20 per year.   When you see another photographer you like, you can follow them, and they can follow you.  When you follow a photographer, all the photos they post will appear on your page for review.  The more people you comment on, the more followers and comments you will get as people discover your images.
Photo #342     March 5, 2013

I certainly never expected to be contacted by people from 39 states and 37 countries, but that is what happened over the span of my project, and I have made several personal friends.  I have seen images from Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, Estonia, and many other countries I knew little about before this project.  I am in regular contact with wonderful people who share my interest in photography, and was overwhelmed by their comments when I announced that I had completed the project and was going to scale back my participation.  I hope you will read those comments here and review the web site.