Make Your Own Planet

It’s been a while since I posted any nifty little Photoshop trickery, but there has been something I’ve wanted to try out for a while – I just needed the right picture.  Your ingredients here are a panorama with level edgeswhere both the fore and background are pretty plain.  After getting this night shot at Greenlake a little while back, I thought I might have the raw materials:

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It’s really not too hard!  Hit the jump for the whole walkthrough!

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Diesel – A Reason To Advertise

Commercial detritus has always been a fascination of mine, especially things like old signs.  I’m not the only one – you see the pictures everywhere.  If I was making one up in my mind, I’m thinking a rough kinda industrial product, big letters, old peeling paint, decrepit building.  I’m thinking something like this:

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That wasn’t really how things started.  If you want to see the original and hear a little more, hit the jump.

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The Evolution Of Panorama

Panoramic photography is a lot of fun.  There is nothing like the viewpoint you can get by stitching together a bunch of shots into a broad sweeping view.  I first posted instructions on how to shoot a panorama back here.  We then had a couple posts in a row alternately described as Panoramania and Panorama-orama.  Lots of fun.  All the instructions for how to actually capture the pictures are still fairly valid but I want to tell you there is a better way.  Behold!


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See that shot?  Not too bad, right?  The real magic however, is twofold.  First off,  I shot that hand-held.  Yes, it was in fairly bright sun so the exposure was easy, but it includes a beach scene and rolling waves are just about the hardest thing to put in a panorama.  The real beauty behind it all is Adobe Photoshop CS4.  Whereas before I told you to use Panorama Factory or Autostitch, which are still fine, I just need to spread the word that the built-in panorama creation tool in CS4 beats them all.  In fully auto mode, it stitched together 6 individual shots to create this without any manual intervention.  Without much if any moire, and without totally barfing when it came to the water.  The original shot is 10,000 and some pixels wide and I think it’s beautiful.  If anyone is really interested, I can post a larger version too.

The moral of the story is this: go shoot some panoramas.  Certainly a tripod and level will help and for night shots it might be the only way, but don’t limit yourself!  Software is constantly improving and even if you don’t have Photoshop CS4 right now, you might get it down the road (or you might get this feature in something free or low cost in 6 months).  Things change!  The only thing you can’t change is the fact that you might not take pictures today.  I’ve certainly regretted the things I’ve not captured.  Do yourself a favor.  Digital is cheap.  Go take pictures.

2 Steps to Snappy Pictures

Seattle can be a dreary place – you may have heard.  The overcast gives an even light that can be good for portraiture, but when it gets too dark out, you often end up with flat light.  However you get it, flat light makes boring pictures.  Simple as that.  A while back, I put up this technique (or at least linked to it) on how to add some pop to a picture that needs something extra.  It works well, but it takes a little while.  There are more than a few steps.  It involves brushes and such.  When you need it, great.  But what if you want something easier?  There are a couple caveats, but once again, I’ve stolen something I can help you with.  Let’s start from the start:


Wanna see how this picture gets at least marginally more interesting?  Click the jump for more.  I promise it’s easy!

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Black & White – So Many Choices

Like most things in life, when you want to convert a color photo into black and white, there is more than one way to get the job done. When you want good enough, life is simple. Got Picasa? Hit that Black and White button. Even in Photoshop, you have a few options:

  • Image -> Adjustments -> Desaturate
  • Image -> Mode -> Grayscale

Black & White Conversion - How To

Want to learn about a few more choices, by all means, click for the rest of the post.

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Grain Terminal Of The Damned

One of the stranger features of Myrtle Edwards Park is that smack dab in the middle of it is a massive grain terminal.  Seattle may be full of industries like fishing and shipping, but for some reason, grain doesn’t seem like it fits with ever-damp Seattle.  Nonetheless, there it is.

Myrtle Edwards Park Grain Terminal

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I’m not going to get all specific about it’s world-class air scrubbing abilities or all the dual conveyer belt action enclosed within, but I do know that if you shoot it from the side, it looks pretty insane-assylum-like.  Good enough for me.  I’ve taken some other shots and panoramas from the side that show all the silos.  If people get interested or if I get desperate, maybe I’ll post more.

Photographic Alchemy

It’s been a while since I’ve done any Photoshop here.  Maybe I had too many good pictures to have to salvage anything.  Well… no longer.  Let’s jump to the end:

Twenty Fourth Street Lettering

As always, click for larger image

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I liked this picture.  From the same day of wandering as this and this.  Brass(ish) street letters in the sidewalk marking the names of streets are always something I’ve liked living up here.  The problem is the original shot looked like this:

Twenty Fourth Street Original

It’s dull.  There is no contrast.  The subject doesn’t pop out at you and isn’t dramatic enough to stand on it’s own.  I’m not saying this is a great shot.  It’s just a shot I *wish* was great.  So it’s all about the Photoshop.  Let me stop to remind you that I don’t have any original ideas – this technique was almost entirely stolen from Blurbomat, and as such, I’m not going to go through it step-by-step here.  If you want to see some step-by-step stuff, let me know in the comments.  Really quickly, the transformation is a result of using a blurred layer blended with the main image, and then masking off the important parts (in this case, the letters in the sidewalk) so that they are brighter and stand out against the background.  After that, tweaking the curves, levels, and colors as you see fit.  I call it punchy.  You can call it whatever you want.  It’s my blog and I win.