Friday, January 25, 2013

Abstract Art in Photoshop Tutorial: Swirls with Distort

Abstract art can be one of the many uses of the 'Distort' filter in Photoshop.  Creating and making graphics with swirls to add to image backgrounds or to use as stand-alone works of art can be accomplished in just about any version of the program.  We will be using Adobe Photoshop CS6 for this beginner's tutorial.


Create a beginner's tutorial for Adobe Photoshop CS6 that will show you how to turn a photograph into an abstract piece of art using the filters available.

photoshop tutorial

How to make Swirls in Adobe Photoshop CS6 :

  1. Select 'File', 'New' and enter your dimensions.  (For the example below we used 900 pixels X 900 pixels so it will fit into the Facebook timeline photo without distortion.)  Select 'White' for the background fill.
  2. Select the 'Filter' drop down menu and pick 'Render' and 'Clouds'.  Or this maybe where you insert your own photography via 'Copy' & 'Paste'.
  3. From the 'Filter' menu, select 'Pixelate' and choose 'Mezzotint' as 'Short Strokes'.

  4. abstract art, distort filter, mezzotint, photoshop tutorial

  5. From the 'Filter' menu, choose the 'Blur'/'Radial Blur' option.  Change the default 'Amount' to 100, with the 'Blur Method' set to 'Zoom' and the 'Quality' set to 'Best'. 

  6. photoshop tutorial

  7. Now select 'Distort' from the 'Filter' menu with a 'Twirl' setting of 125.
  8. Duplicate the layer by right clicking and choosing 'Duplicate Layer'.  Select 'Lighten' from the 'Blending Options'.
  9. With the duplicated layer selected, add another twirl by selecting 'Distort' from the 'Filter' menu with a 'Twirl' setting of 175.
  10. Add color or change color by selecting one of the layers, and choosing the 'Hue and Saturation' icon in the 'Adjustments' sidebar.  You can edit the sliders to your liking or insert the following figures of: Hue 10, Saturation 25 and Lightness 0.
  11. Select the other layer.  In the 'Hue and Saturation' setting, check the colorize box and insert: Hue 180, Saturation 80, and Lightness 0.
  12. 'Merge' the layers.
  13. After cropping for your appropriate use, save the file in the required format.

    Suggestions for alterations:
    1. Use your own photographs to alter into abstract art.
    2. Choose a negative setting on one of the twirled layers.
    3. Use the 'Move' Tool to offset the twirls.
Other examples of what can be done with variations are shown below:

photoshop tutorial

photoshop tutorial

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Angel's Snow

In Custer State Park this weekend, an amazing photograph unveiled itself to us while the gentle snow fell - Angel's Snow.  It was like the angels were placing each snowflake into place, and allowing that soft glow of a daytime snowfall to shine through.  Crisp, fresh air along with freshly fallen snow in windless conditions laid the beautiful scene.  We hope you enjoy as much as we did in that moment in time.  Peace, quiet, serenity, and nature all wrapped into one.  We felt the wings of angels...

snowfall, custer state park, perfect photo suite 7, adobe lightroom, black hills photography

This photograph was processed using a combination of Lightroom 4 cropping with noise reduction and Perfect Photo Suite 7 applying Amazing Detail, The Look, and Angel Glow. 

Don't forget to join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ , Twitter, or sneak a peek at our photography on Dakota Visions Photography, LLC. Until next time, we'll see you behind the lens...

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Perfect Photo Suite 7: An Affordable Photoshop Alternative

Are you looking for an affordable alternative from having to buy Adobe Photoshop CS6,  onOne Software, Inc., a developer of innovative, time saving solutions for photographers of all skill levels, has released a Standard Edition and a Lightroom & Aperture Edition of Perfect Photo Suite 7 to complement their existing Premium Edition of the photography software suite.  Starting at $79.95, these options give photographers the ability to choose the solution that fits their workflow and budget.

We've been using Perfect Photo Suite 6 since it was released, and did a previous review of a few of the more interesting modules here.  Recently, we've upgraded to Perfect Photo Suite 7 Premium Edition and are loving the new features including the new Perfect B&W module.

The Standard Edition allows the use of the entire Perfect Photo Suite 7 as a standalone application.  The edition is ideal for those who do not use Adobe Photoshop CS6, Adobe Photoshop Elements 11, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, or Apple Aperture but still want to enhance, stylize, and retouch their JPG images with a professional touch.  This edition also lets you create and edit multi-layered files without Photoshop.

black hills photography, big horn sheep, ram
Example of Perfect Photo Suite Post-Processing

The Lightroom & Aperture Edition of Perfect Photo Suite 7 is designed for the photographer who does not use Adobe Photoshop but used Lightroom or Aperture as the hub of their photo management and editing workflow. With the Perfect Photo Suite 7 Lightroom & Aperture Edition, users can work with a variety of image formats including RAW, JPG, PNG, and TIFF.  Users can also create and edit multi-layered files, and access any of the Perfect Photo Suite 7 modules directly from Lightroom or Aperture.  After adjustments are made, images may be saved as a .PSD, .TIF, .PND, or .JPG right next to the original image in their Lightroom or Aperture catalog - providing true non-destructive editing.  This edition of the Suite also works as a standalone application for quick touch ups and edits.

Mt Rushmore, Black Hills Photography, Buffalo, Bison
Creation of Multi-Layered Photographs

The Premium Edition is the version of Perfect Photo Suite 7 that has been available since October 31, 2012 and the version that Dakota Visions Photography, LLC has chosen to work with in their own workflow.  It has offered us the greatest flexibility and seamless integration with whatever workflow we choose for a certain photograph.  It adds functionality as a plugin to Photoshop CS6 and Elements which allows users to create or refine layer masks, resize CMYK, Grayscale, or LAB color mode images, use a dedicated batch processing module in Perfect Resize, use modules as a re-editable Smart Objects, incorporate within Photoshop actions, and get direct access to module presets in a dedicated onOne Panel.

old barn, barn door, South Dakota, Perfect B&W
Perfect B&W Module

Each edition of Perfect Photo Suite 7 includes the new Perfect B&W module to develop stunning black and white images, Perfect Portrait for simple and easy portrait retouching, Perfect Effects and Focal Point for creative effects, Perfect Layers for layered image workflow without Photoshop, Perfect Mask for replacing backgrounds in photographs, and Perfect Resize for image enlargement.  In Perfect Photo Suite 7, these seven products work together seamlessly as integrated modules so photographers can create the images they envision.

All three editions of Perfect Photo Suite 7 are now available from onOne Software. Enter the world of fast, affordable, yet powerful post-processing by pressing any of the links in the story above.  Links contained in this article may be affiliate links and our disclosure can be found here. A free 30-day trial of Perfect Photo Suite 7 Premium Edition is currently available.

Don't forget to join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ , Twitter, or sneak a peek at our photography on Dakota Visions Photography, LLC. Until next time, we'll see you behind the lens...

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Standing Bare-Naked in the South Dakota Wind

wind turbines, 2013 goals, winter photographs, public domain photographs
Got your attention?!  The scary part about sharing your goals is that you are held accountable by a much larger audience, in a very public setting.  Because of that, you feel like you are standing bare-naked in the South Dakota wind!  In our December '11 article, Goodbye to 2011, Hello to 2012 - A Personal Journey we exposed ourselves to you because we wanted to be held accountable.  We built our goals to support the pillars of our mission statement and wanted to share our successes and our failures.   Today, we want to share looking back and looking forward...
  1. Passion
  2. Ability to Overcome
  3. Vision
These are the three pillars that our journey started with, and these are the three pillars we will continue to build around in 2013.  OK - let's continue on our journey of looking back and looking forward!

Looking Back: A 52 week photography project - Each week a letter will be represented, by something in the photograph or a concept portrayed.  These photographs are about the passion for learning, for making oneself a better photographer, and for pushing the boundaries that we are comfortable with.

We made it up to July 1 and almost all the way through the alphabet.  We owe you a 'Z' photograph yet to feel like we at least completely finished this project.  We didn't make it back down from Z-A, but we did learn numerous techniques and felt we have really grown from the project.  We highly recommend doing a 365 or 52 project to help you grow in your photography techniques.  And even though we don't feel that our Inspirational Quote post is the best of these projects, it is one of our Top 5 Most Read Posts for 2012!

Looking Forward: Post-Processing and Tutorials - While 2013 may be the year of the Snake, we are going to make it the year of Post-Processing!  Our goal is to learn a new post-processing technique every other week this year and include a tutorial to share with our readers.  Will our photographs go to the extreme now - No!  But what we hope is by learning these extremes, we will learn how to apply them subtly to our photographs to continue to make them better.  Software from Adobe Photoshop CS6onOne Software, Photomatix Pro, and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 will be our main focus.  We hope you join us in this learning adventure and try some of these techniques.  We encourage you, in fact, to join us in each new tutorial and post links to your own photographs using the new techniques.

Ability to Overcome:
Looking Back: Move from web only to the 'Real World' along with the web - This means in both print format for sale in a gallery and within the cover of a printed magazine. We really needed to be more realistic with time frame on this project - this is not something that happens in one year.  We'll admit that.  We will continue to work with this, but need to get more well established on the web as well as spend much more time with the art world of the Black Hills.  We have submitted to magazines and actually had magazines ask us to provide photographs for free, but we have taken the position that we do want some revenue to occur because of this.  Hey, we have bills, too! 

Also, we have broke into a local tourist attraction to post our canvas prints, but we really need to stop and decide if this is in our best interest.  In looking back, this was probably a poor first choice.  The attraction was trying to get themselves established and is not really probably the clientele we want to peruse our photography.  We will be focusing on Rapid City and Hill City galleries in 2013.

Looking Forward: Continue with renewed vigor - We need to:
  1. Research the local galleries and pinpoint our target gallery including whether our photography meets the needs of that gallery and vice versa 
  2. Establish a relationship and pursue the request to place our photography in that gallery
  3. Grow, learn, adapt and overcome
  4. Repeat.
We are also going to focus on our relationships with online revenue streams.  We would like to continue our relationships and expand their usage while not becoming an advertising page rather than a photography blog.  Our foremost goal is quality posts and photographs.  We have entered into an affiliate relationship with onOne Software since we believe in their product so much.  We will continue to share more with you as we grow with Amazon, onOne Software and Google AdSense.

Looking Back: Our art and vision takes center stage - We continue to focus on landscape and wildlife photographs in the Dakotas.  It's our passion, it stirs our emotions, and it truly is our vision.  And most importantly, we flat out enjoy it.  We don't ever want to lose the foundation we are building this business on. 

Looking Forward: Continue to expand our our content delivery system, technique improvement, and focus on the core pieces of art we produce.  Nothing fancy, just plain old good-fashioned mid-western work ethic.

If we were pushed to admit it, we would probably have a fourth goal for 2013 - Accountability.  To share one's goals publicly sets you up for possibly exposing failure and increased scrutiny, while at the same time establishing accountability and renewed vigor to accomplish one's goals.  We choose to look at the positives in sharing our goals with you. 

So here's to you, and here's to us - and hopefully neither of us have to stand bare-naked in the South Dakota wind!  We wish you the best in 2013!

abstract art, photoshop manipulation, radial blur, distort filter, Sunset on Needles Highway

Watch for upcoming articles on a tutorial for creating abstract photography in Adobe Photoshop CS6 like the photograph above and an exciting announcement on our future relationship with onOne Software!  Don't forget to join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ , Twitter, or sneak a peek at our photography on Dakota Visions Photography, LLC. Until next time, we'll see you behind the lens...

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Favorite Photography Quotes

We have been experimenting with some bokeh backgrounds in Photoshop and developed two of our favorite photography quotes into images.  Hope you take the time to share, tweet, or pin the below.  We encourage it!

Photography Quote, Imogen Cunningham, bokeh background

12 Significant Photographs, Photography Quote, Ansel Adams, bokeh background

Don't forget to join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ , Twitter, or sneak a peek at our photography on Dakota Visions Photography, LLC. Until next time, we'll see you behind the lens...

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