Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Swirling Twirling Fun

Today's image is a fun technique. It has been around for awhile, but I have recently started playing with it, and it is really fun and easy.

You can start with any image. It really doesn't matter because the end result is COMPLETELY different from where you started. Here is the image I started with.
You never know how the colors or shapes are going to turn out, and that is part of the fun. This technique works best in Photoshop. It takes just a few steps to create a unique abstract work of art. Here are the basic steps, but feel free to experiment once you have done the basics.
Ready? Here is all you do.

1.  Open an image in Photoshop

2. Go to Filter > Pixelate > Mezzotint. Make sure the Mode is set to "Medium Lines." Click OK.

3. Now go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur. Amount 100, Blur Method "zoom," Quality "best." Click OK.

4. Repeat the Radial Blur step above as many times as you like. I have been doing it 3 times.

5. Now, make a duplicate layer of the Background Layer. The keyboard shortcut on a Mac is to press and hold the Command key and then press the letter "J." On a PC press and hold the Control key and then press the letter "J." This duplicate layer will most likely be automatically named "Layer 1."

6. Now that you have 2 identical layers, click on the original Background layer in your Layers Palette. Go to Filter > Distort > Twirl. In the Angle number box, enter a positive number anywhere between about 80 to 200. You can also set the number by sliding the pointer to the right to obtain the positive number of your choosing. Click OK. (You will not see the effect of what you have just done unless you turn off the "eyeball" in the Layers Palette of the duplicate layer above this layer.)

7. Now click on the duplicate layer (Layer 1) that you made a few moments ago. Go to  Filter > Distort > Twirl. In the Angle number box, enter a negative number similar to the positive number you entered for the Background layer. You can also set the number by sliding the pointer to the left to obtain the negative number of your choosing. Click OK.

8. With the duplicate layer still selected, you will now change the Blending Mode. This is a very powerful tool and you will be excited to see the results. To activate Blending Mode. look for the word "Normal" in the Layers Palette a little above your duplicate layer (Layer1). Click on the tiny arrow next to "Normal" and a drop down box will appear. Click on each option in the drop down box one at a time and watch the magic happen! Choose the Blending Mode that appeals to you most. One Blending Mode might be best for the image you are working on now, but another one might better for other images in the future. Be creative and choose the one that you like best with each particular image.

9. When you have found and selected the Blending Mode you like best, you can either flatten the image and be done, OR you can continue to experiment and play by rotating one layer or the other to see what effects occur. You can also experiment with flipping one layer or the other and using Blending Mode again to see what happens.

10. For finishing touches, you can saturate the colors more, crop, convert to black and white, or whatever you feel each image needs.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The true method of knowledge is experiment."  --William Blake

Find the small white rectangular box above, to the right of the main photo.  You will see the words "Follow by Email" above that box. Simply enter your email address in the box and follow any prompts. That's it! And you can easily Unsubscribe if you change your mind. But I hope you will enjoy the Blog and get some good information in each one.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Bragging Rights

I was thrilled and honored to have been named one of the Top 10 Professional Photographers Of The Year in the state of Virginia for 2019. In addition, the top image above was chosen as the Best Animal Image of 2019 at the annual professional photographers of Virginia competition.

The bald eagle image was shot from a private boat in the Inside Passage of Alaska last summer. It was a foggy gray day, with mist hanging in the valleys. We watched eagles for hours, fascinated by their aerial acrobatics as they took aim and grabbed fish in the clear, cold waters.

This kind of shooting requires a large supply of memory cards, and using Rapid Burst to capture a wide variety of images in a short period of time. The wing and body positions change constantly, so shooting with Rapid Burst gives you a much better chance of capturing a compelling shot. It is amazing how quickly these skillful hunters swoop and dive.

The other images shown are the other ones accepted into this competition. Under the eagle image, from left to right, are two Sandhill Cranes shot with a slow shutter speed for an artistic effect, a feather found on an Alaska beach (shot as I found it - I did not move the feather or add the rock), photographers photographing a brown bear in Alaska, and a water droplet on an Alaska iceberg.

All images were optimized in Lightroom, and no special effects or filters or other software was used.

As you may already know, the eagle image, titled "Eyes On The Prize," was also selected as one of the Top 100 images of the year by the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA).

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Success comes from hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do."  -- Pele

Monday, February 18, 2019


Animal behavior is a wonderful thing to watch. While animals cannot communicate via speech that we humans easily understand, we could say that their actions speak louder than words.

This breaching whale in Alaska is a prime example. Experts have no clear explanation why whales breach, but when they do it certainly appears to be with gusto, and unrelated to feeding, mating, or dominance behavior. They seem to do it for the sheer joy of it.

Most breaching whales are teenagers, full of energy. Often when you see a whale breach, it will do it several times in a row. That helps us photographers have a ghost of a chance of getting the shot. The first breach generally comes with no warning. But when you find a breaching whale it is best to keep an eye on it and hold your position in hopes that it will happen a few more times.

Your best chance of getting a sharp image is to pre-focus in the area of the previous breach, but be ready to re-focus when the action begins since often the whales will have moved a bit from the last breach. It happens fast, and I have many shots of just the splash that remains after the breach is over.

It is exciting to watch these huge creatures launch themselves almost completely out of the water. Whether they truly feel a sense of exuberance or not, I certainly do when I see this action. It is exciting beyond compare.

We hope to see breaching whales and more on the 
Glacier Bay National Park trip coming up June 25 - 30. 

We stay in a beautiful lodge and will take day boat trips 
on three separate days to see whales and all the 
other wonders Alaska has to offer. 

Only a few spaces left. Complete information here  http://awakethelight.com/glacier-bay-national-park/ 

I hope you can join me! 
Email or call to register, or if you have questions.

1/1250 sec at f/8, ISO 400.  Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with 1.4x teleconverter for an effective focal length of 560mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they are more finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not underlings, they are other Nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth."  -- Henry Beston

Friday, February 8, 2019

Lightroom, Butterflies, & Flowers - CORRECTED DATES May 14 - 18

This workshop was announced about a week ago, and today's Blog has additional information. If you are not familiar with the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia, you owe it to yourself to get on their website, and get ready to be impressed. It is a superb location with acres and acres of beautiful flowers, plus the gorgeous Conservatory (a smaller version of the Longwood Gardens Conservatory in Pennsylvania).

The Conservatory houses not only a spectacular orchid collection, but many other flower species as well. And the crowning feature is the large indoor area dedicated to a wide variety of exotic butterflies.

The Conservatory has huge windows with beautiful light, perfect for photographing butterflies. There is plenty of room to move around and get wonderful images. It is one of the best butterfly venues available.

And if that is not enough, the workshop will also provide in-depth Lightroom training. Even if you feel you know all about Lightroom, you will be surprised by all the new techniques you will learn. Whether you are a basic Lightroom user, or an experienced veteran, you will learn easier, faster, and more foolproof ways of working with it. It will save you time and aggravation, and you will come away from the workshop knowing how to create much more beautiful images. The images above are just a small example of how powerful Lightroom can be when you know the tricks. The lower image is the original RAW image, right out of the camera. With just a few tweaks, the image at the top was created. Quick, easy, painless.

NOTE that the dates have changed slightly - the workshop will run from May 14 - 18.

Each day will be a mix of flowers and butterflies, plus Lightroom. Learn how to successfully photograph butterflies, and learn creative macro techniques for artistic flower images. Plus an added bonus - time each day will be devoted to improving your working knowledge of Lightroom, with a little Photoshop tossed into the mix.


- mastering butterfly photography

- learning creative macro flower techniques

- daily sessions on Lightroom, with a touch of Photoshop

- image critiques

- personalized attention each and every day

- both in-the-field and classroom training

WHERE:  Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

WHEN:  May 14 - 18

LIMIT:  10 photographers

FEE:  Special early registration fee of $1995 if you register by February 15. After that date the fee is $2495.  Fee includes all garden entry fees, personal and classroom training on photographing butterflies and flowers, creative camera and digital techniques, Lightroom training (suitable for all levels from novice to experienced), image critiques, and a fun time! (Not included are meals, lodging, or transportation.)

ITINERARY:  Workshop begins with an extensive evening training session on Tuesday, May 14. Each day will be a combination of shooting butterflies and flowers, learning creative techniques,  Lightroom instruction, image critiques, and much more. The workshop ends after breakfast and a wrap-up session on Saturday morning, May 18.

I am happy to answer your questions and to provide more details. 
Send me an email at awakethelightphoto@icloud.com  
or  call me at 757-773-0194. 

To register,  please email me and a Registration Form 
and lodging options will be emailed to you.

I hope you can join me!

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."  -- Henry Ford