Friday, August 29, 2014

Black and White Weekend - 8/29/14: "Train"

asks us to post a black and white photo. No spot colors. No sepia. Black and white, only.

See my photostream on Flickr:
Below my name, click on albums to find a particular type of photo (Black and White, Landscape, Still Life, Autumn Scenes, Bridges, Animals, Art Created from My Photos, etc.)

Antique locomotive, Pioneer Museum
Flagstaff, Arizona

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Good Fences - 8/28/14: "Iron Gate"

Good Fences Thursday asks us to post a photo of a fence or gate each week.

Sometimes I feel like all the fences in my images look alike. There are about three or four basic types in this area, so it's difficult to find a unique one.

I spent three days at the beginning of August driving around the area, looking for interesting fences or, at least, interesting things behind them. But at home I was looking for another photo on my computer and came across this image which I took in 2011. I had forgotten I had it.

My local Photo Meetup group was meeting for dinner in a section of Pittsburgh called The Strip District. Except for a few farmers' markets scattered through the city,  is the closest thing we have to a  permanent fresh-produce market with various vendors selling produce, bakery, cheese, T-shirts, and just about anything else you'd want. In the summer it has a street-fair atmosphere, especially on Saturday mornings. From 1978-1987, I lived nearby and shopped there often.

The restaurant was a few blocks from that area. I arrived early so walked around the neighborhood taking photos of various things that caught my eye.

And this gate in front of a garage door certainly caught my eye. To me, it looks like it was custom made by a blacksmith or artist. And what made it doubly interesting were the shadows that resulted from the low evening sun.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Digital Art - 8/27/14 "Dissonant Doors"

NF Photography prompt: Digital Art

For those who think they aren't good at creating abstracts, I have created 3 easy lessons on creating successful abstract designs in any media.  If you are interested, you can find "Lesson 1: Color" by clicking HERE.   Lesson 1 has a link to "Lesson 2: UNITY" which has a link to "Lesson 3: ADDING VARIETY."  
"Dissonant Doors"
Although I create dozens of abstract designs from my photos each year, once in a while I come up with something I really love.  I think I like this one because it has more of a painterly feel to it than some of my other digital creations. Of course, I made five or six versions before I came up with this one.  I love digital because I can experiment without wasting materials.
Of course that says nothing about the TIME I waste.
And, of course, I make great use of the undo button.
Keep scrolling down to see the images I used and the steps I took to create this image  in their captions and why I chose this title. (Click on any image for larger views of all images, then click the X in the upper right to return to this page.)

First, I decided to close my eyes and randomly select a folder from my photo files. I landed on "Doors." I previewed the photos there and noticed that I had about 6 photos with red doors and black and/or tan in or around them, so I chose those photos and narrowed my choices to three.

THE TITLE: It just so happened that all of these photos were taken in the quaint historic village of Harmony, PA or nearby. At first I thought of calling it something like Harmony or Harmonious, but I didn't think that fit my final image. So I looked up antonyms of harmony and chose "dissonant."  I decided "Dissonant Doors" fit the image and I liked the double D alliteration.

This building is now a private home
but used to be a bank.
I liked the old-fashioned screen door
on this old house.
An old barn, now used for storage at a golf course.

I chose a part of each photo, scaled it,
moved it around, duplicated and rotated it,
and upped the saturation of the reds,
until I had my basic design.
I merged all my door layers together, then I
used the Photoshop filter gallery (cutout, poster edges,
paint daubs, and underpainting) to give the

image a more abstract ambience.  I also used the
shadows/highlights tool to up the mid-tone contrast.
I then duplicated that layer, changed the mode to overlay,
and used the bas relief filter. 
I still wanted more texture, so I looked through
the royalty-free background textures I have
and decided on this grunge image.
I added it to a new layer and resized it to completely
 cover my existing image. I selected the lightest parts,
feathered the edges and erased them.
Then I moved the opacity to about 50%.

(I could have changed the mode to overlay, instead.)
Using a large soft brush, I erased a few additional parts. 

Finally, I used the shadows/highlights tool to increase
the mid tone contrast on this layer to achieve
the final result at the top of this post.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Black and White Weekend - 8/22/14: "The Shed"

asks us to post a black and white photo. No spot colors. No sepia. Black and white, only.

"The Shed"
I love going out on foggy mornings to
drive on back roads and take photos.
I found this only a few miles from my home.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Good Fences - 8/21/14: "GuGú's Truck"

GuGú in front of our house with his weekly
water delivery.
(photo by Brunie Chavez, used with permission.)
Scroll to bottom of page to view my photo for Good Fences Thursday but you might want to read on to understand why I took the photo.

Click on any image for larger views (albeit without captions.) 

When I lived in Brazil as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1967-1969) no one had running water in their homes in the small interior town where I lived.  Some residents of Glória had cisternas in their back yards to collect rain water from their roofs, but most had to haul water themselves or hire someone to carry it from ponds within the city or from a dam which was some distance from the town.  The dam was cleaner, so the other Volunteer and I hired a neighbor to bring us water from the dam which he carried to our house in four large cans on the back of his donkey.
GuGú across from our house with some typical
homes in the background.

GuGú was a handsome boy of about 14. His sister Teresa was one of my high school students, but GuGú was not interested in school. (In Brazil 4 years of elementary school were required at that time, but some children never attended. I'm not sure how many years of school GuGú completed, but it was no more than four.)

Because he spent his teen years hauling water, it's not surprising that GuGú ended up hauling all his life. As an adult he had his own truck to haul large loads between cities.

His sister Teresa completed high school and went on to become a teacher and had two sons after marrying another of my high school students José Augusto, a minister of agriculture.
At Teresa and José Augusto's home, 2011
 L to R: José Augusto, Teresa,
 Adebaldo and his wife
Maria Adgenil, Brunie, Nadja, me, Brunie's husband Eric.
(José Augusto, Teresa, Adebaldo, and  Nadja were my
students when I taught English as a foreign language
at the high school, more than 40 years earlier. Most

were in their teens, but José Augusto was in his 20s ---the
school had opened only a few years earlier and it was his
first opportunity to attend high school.)
GuGú in front of our house as a truck leaves town
carrying shoppers and vendors from the weekly
market back to their homes in the countryside. The
passengers sit on top of bags of black beans, rice, and
purchases from the market.

GuGú is on the far right with his wife Damiela and 
daughter Leninha. At the back is his sister Lucinha, Brunie

(the other Volunteer who served with me) and
her husband Eric in 2011 at the home of Teresa &
José Augusto who hosted us for several days in Glória.
(Note the natural red hair on Leninha ---very rare in Brazil.)
GuGú ended up marrying several times, having a load of children, lots of child-support payments, and in poor health with heart disease and diabetes.
GuGú's truck behind a fence in front of his home in the small town of Glória,
in the interior of Brazil's northeast, 2011.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Weekend in Black and White & Abstract Photo - 8/15-8/20/14: "WINDOWS"

The Weekend in Black and White asks us to post a black and white photo each weekend ---no sepia, no spot color, just black and white.
During the last few weeks, I've posted photos of the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh for this meme. Today I'm hopping over to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, just a few minutes walk away.

NF Photography posts an Abstract Photo prompt and alternates it with a Digital Art prompt every other Wednesday. This week is Abstract Photo.

My abstract image was created digitally from one of my photos, so it is both an Abstract Photo and Digital Art.

SCROLL DOWN to see a tip for replacing colors in Photoshop (near the bottom of this post.)

Find links to three free online photo-editing sites.

Also find tips for saving photos in various versions.

"Library Windows"
This photo was taken from the stacks in the main
branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
Looking through the window, I could see other windows
in other parts of the library.  Including the one I was
shooting the photo through, I count parts of ten
different windows.  I thought it made for an interesting
abstract design in and of itself, but then I used this
photo to create another abstract (below.)
"Distorted Windows"
(black & white version)
I copied the above photo several
times, then I rotated and scaled
each image to fill the space.
Then I copied each image once or
twice, making each smaller to
fit over the image under it.
"Distorted Windows"
(colored and enhanced)
I upped the shadows/highlights in the medium range so the
stone blocks on the side of the building would be more
apparent. I then used bas relief to add texture and depth.

I chose the very darkest areas , then filled them
with red on a new layer. I made the red transparent so
there was a hint of red in the  black areas. 

I chose medium tones & filled them with a warm tan on a
new layer in color mode and did the same for the lightest
areas with yellow orange.

Color mode doesn't work well with black or white,
so the lightest areas remained white and I had to use
a transparent normal mode (in red) over the black
rather than a color mode layer.
"Distorted Windows"
(blue version)
When you have your various
colors on different layers, it's
easy to replace them with
other colors. (See instructions.)

Scroll down for more versions.

There are several ways to replace colors in Photoshop.

First I made this version.  When I wanted to change colors to make different versions, I did this:

In this case, because I made separate layers for the red, tan and yellow orange, it was easy to do it this way:

 I went to the red layer and hit control and A (command and A on a Mac.)  That selected everything in that layer, but I only wanted to select the red parts, so I hit the up arrow once to select only the red, but that also nudged the red up a notch, so I hit the down arrow once to put it back into its original place.

I filled the selected areas with a royal blue on that same layer to replace the red.
An easy short cut for filling a selected area is to hold the shift key and hit F5. (Make sure you have already selected the color you want.)

I did the same for my tan and yellow-orange layers.

It took less than a minute to create a new color scheme using three shades of blue.

I wanted to see what I could do on several free online photo editing sites.  I tried Fotor, PicMonkey and Pixlr.  I liked Pixlr best because many of its actions have names similar to the ones I am familiar with on Photoshop.  With a click of the mouse (or 2 or 3) I was able to create the images below. I used my original photo for one and the design I created from it for the other two.

If you don't already have or use photo-editing software, you may want to try all three to decide which one you like best. It is possible that there are actions you can do on one site that aren't available on the others, so you might want to use all three for different effects.

I suggest trying the three I mention above. (Some have basic free actions and then you have to pay if you want to use more sophisticated tools.)  Or search for other free online software.

Note: if you save your image on Pixlr, it saves to the Pixlr site. If you click the X in the upper right, it asks if you want to save your image before exiting and then you can choose a title and location to save it to your computer.


When saving any version of your original photo, keep the photo number in the title.  I don't use the letters that identify the camera in my title (such as DSCF or DSCN.) Because I have had several cameras over the years, it's possible that two different photos will include the same number, but I can easily determine which is the correct one.

Today I was searching for a photo I knew I had enhanced, but couldn't find it because I couldn't remember the title I gave it.  So, I found the original, told my computer to find the number of that photo (the one the camera assigned) and discovered I had mistakenly placed the enhanced one in the wrong folder months ago.

For the photos in this post, I titled my original photo "LibraryWindows" but the abstract version is "Distorted Windows."  These are some of the titles I used:
DSCF4108.jpg (original photo) I always keep a copy in case I want to start over.
LibraryWindows4108.psd (enhanced photo in photoshop)
LibraryWindowsBW4108.psd (black and white version)
Notice the one constant is the photo's number, 4108.

Besides the psd (Photoshop) versions, I always save a jpg version of each.
I recently began to save a second jpg in a smaller size ---big enough to see online, but too small for anyone to copy and make a good print. The word Blog at the end indicates it is the size for blog posts. (DistortedWindowsAbstract4108Blog.jpg)

That way, it is ready to post online sometime in the future when I won't have to create a special jpg version because it is already done.

Experimenting at
Experimenting at
Experimenting at

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Good Fences - 8/14/14: "Foggy Morning"

Good Fences asks us to post fence photos each Thursday.

This is another of my photos from my early-morning attempts to catch the fog.  The fog was beginning to lift, when I saw this fence and the light shining though the trees. I passed it, found a place to turn around and went back to catch the fog along with the fence.

"Foggy Morning"
This photo was taken near Mars, PA.
Yes, in PA, we actually have Martians living among us.
Maybe this isn't morning sunlight, but a beam from a UFO !!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

DIgital Art - 8/13/14: "Day Lilies"

NF Photography asks us to post a Digital Art creation.
Next week's prompt will be for an Abstract Photo.

This image is both a Digital Art creation and an Abstract Photo ---or rather several photos combined.

Find Photoshop tips at the bottom of this post.

"Day Lilies"
This image is obviously a representational abstract. I used four photos, taking
parts from each to resize, combine and overlap. I used several different
Photoshop filters and tools to end up with this result.  Some of the original
images are difficult to find because of the overlapping.
After using "accented edges" I noticed that there was a tiny strip of lighter
color around two edges, so I lightened the other two.
(See original photos below.)
All of these were taken in June at
Cranberry Township Community Park in PA.

I used this large Lily twice, once in the lower right,
then I flipped it horizontally and use it in the upper
right, although it is difficult to see there.
These lilies were growing in three huge planters.
When I took theses photos, there were only yellow lilies
and also many buds that hadn't bloomed yet.
Several days after taking photos of yellow lilies,
there were also orange and deep red ones blooming
along with the yellow ones. But I saved those
photos for another project.

I used this as my background. I also copied the large lily
and added it to the top layer so nothing would
overlap it and it would be the focal point
(or center of interest) of my final image.
Notice that I used the "Rule of Thirds" when I took
this photo and also in my final abstract creation.
For anyone who thinks they aren't good at creating abstracts, I have created 3 easy lessons on creating successful abstract designs in any media. If you are interested, you can find "Lesson 1: Color" by clicking HERE. Lesson 1 has a link to "Lesson 2: UNITY" which has a link to "Lesson 3: ADDING VARIETY."

I am a retired art teacher who spent more than thirty years teaching art in public schools ---from kindergarden to community colleges, but mostly in Junior High or Middle Schools.  I also spent two years teaching English as a foreign language in Brazil.

Photoshop tip:
Do you find yourself having to constantly move to the top of the page to choose a smaller or larger brush size?
As long as you want to use the same brush shape and hardness, it's much easier to just hit the open bracket key ([) to the right of the P to make the brush slightly smaller each time you hit the key. Move one key to the right for the close bracket key (]) to gradually make your brush larger.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Black and White Weekend: - 8/8/14: "Facade"

asks us to post a black and white photo. No spot colors. No sepia. Black and white, only.

Here's a view of the outside of the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh.  There are about 2000 windows in the 42-story building.

Less than a century ago, this kind of building was possible. Today, the labor to build this, plus the materials (the outside and the first floor used Indiana marble) would make a building like this so expensive, even the multi-billionaires of the world would not spend the money to build it, even in a third-world country where labor is cheap.

of the Cathedral of Learning at the
University of Pittsburgh 
(click on image to see a larger view and more detail)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Good Fences - 8/7/14 "Iguazú - Argentina"

Good Fences Thursday challenges us to post an image of a fence or gate each week.

Today we're going to Argentina.

Last week I posted photos from the Brazilian side of the border at Iguaçu Falls, along with many of the fences or railings there to keep tourists safe.

The Argentinean falls had a different feel to me. The Brazilian falls were wide and powerful. The Argentinean ones were narrower and higher (or maybe they seemed higher because they were narrower and I was closer to them.) Because they seemed to have more vegetation close and between them, it felt more like I was in a rain forest.

I saw no wildlife on the Brazilian side (other than birds), but saw coati on the Argentinean side, but it is debatable whether or not they were "wild."

Both sides of the falls were lovely and I was able to cross Iguaçu and Iguazú (different spellings in Portuguese and Spanish) from my bucket list.

If you want to see more photos of both the Brazilian and Argentinean sides of the falls and view a very short video (less than 30 seconds) that will give you a taste of the enormous roar of the falls, you will find those by clicking HERE.

I just realized, tomorrow it will be exactly three years since I landed in Brazil for my 2011 trip. I stayed until the end of August 2011 to visit old friends, former students and cross several places from my bucket list, including these falls.

Iguaçu has 275 cascades compared to Niagara's 3.  The highest falls are about 60% higher than Niagara's, too.

You see only a tiny bit of the
fence/railing here on a bridge over a
narrow bit of falls.
Coati are related to raccoons. Despite many warning signs to refrain from
feeding them, I saw many tourists doing so. These little beggars didn't
seem very "wild" to me, but they sure were cute  ----here standing on
a wall (do walls count as fences?) watching tourists eat.
As in Brazil, there were many metal or wooden
walkways and bridges to help tourists
navigate to the best spots to view the falls.
With so much water rushing over the
supports here and everywhere, I
was a bit leery of standing at one of
these locations for too long. 

I wouldn't want to be swept
away by all of that water.
It drizzled all day but with the overspray
from the falls, one hardly noticed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Abstract Photo - 8/6/14 "Step Change"

NF Photography prompt: Abstract Photo


I copied the left side of the original photo,
flipped it to create a mirror image.
Then I just played with modes, colors, and filters.

"Step Change #2"
"Step Change #3"
Original Photo
Stairs to a high school
football stadium.
I took this photo after dark
under halogen lights, so
it was a ghastly green

which I changed to
black and white.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Black and White Weekend - 8/1/14: "Quatrefoil"

asks us to post a black and white photo. No spot colors. No sepia. Black and white, only.

Last week I posted a photo from Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. I love taking photos there because there are so many interesting shapes and shadows. It has the feel of a gothic cathedral or castle. Since I have so many images from there, I decided to post another one.

the first floor of the University of Pittsburgh's
Cathedral of Learning.