Category Archives: Product Testing

Curbex (new word?- Country Urban Exploration) ‘Enjoy The View’, Plus Photovision discussion

I came across this gloriously ratty seat when I was chasing down the bald eagle in yesterdays post. I’ve actually been to this site before, it’s an abandoned shack and field off the main road into Durango, CO, I pass it whenever I go into town. The chair is new, though, as are several piles of dumped trash in the field to the right of this image. Sigh. But back to the image… I fell in love with this chair at first sight. Not enough to sit on it and get wet, mildewy or scabies, but as a photographer who has a secret urbex fantasy (I really, really love urbex photos and wish that I was in a place where I could take more of them), this seemed like a good mix of urbex and country landscapes. Hence, curbex. Which has probably been used before, but I will swear forever now that I invented it.

I watched my first episode of Photovision 2010 last night, and for a set of DVD’s that cost me $30, it was well worth it. I think if I lived in a place where there were lots of photo workshops and such, it wouldn’t be quite as helpful. But I learned several things, including several handy Photoshop tips that I am super glad of using. One I used in last nights image- making a layer, turning it black and white with gradient map (photoshop menu Images–> Adjustments –> Gradient Map) and then I lowered the opacity to around 50%. It gave a darkened, moody, desaturated feeling to the image. Another handy photoshop tip was to create a layer and change it from normal to hard light- it gave an amazing strong look to the photo (also lowered in opacity, it would have been too intense). I use the lighting in layers a lot with textures, but hadn’t even thought to use it in an image! It made the photo (an HDR from 3 exposures) look a bit more edgy. Hopefully not too edgy, but it needed that look. Once I see the whole set, I’ll make more of a comment. But, halfway through the first DVD, it’s already worth it to me.

Lots of little details worked on here, but I’m glad that I did them. I really liked this image, as soon as I saw it in real life and could imagine what the final photo could look like… yay!

For more urbex, I’ll gush in the near future about Scott Frederick Photography, but you can check out his blog here right now! He is a steady contributor to, as am I, and I really respect his work.

See my work at, flickr, or “like” it at facebook or buzztown (see links on right). Lots of stuff coming up soon, including some exciting opportunities to get cheap photo shoots in my new home studio!



Ladybug on Leaves- experiment photo. Tomorrow photo teaser, too! Plus Japanese Earthquake Support.

Sometimes I come across a photo which I like, but know it’s just not 100% great… this was one like that. I liked the idea and the image, but in the original, the ladybug and the leaves were almost the same color (taken in Yosemite in early December). There was also some distracting elements- the leaves in the lower right corner were in focus, but which dragged the eye downward (I felt). So I played, experimenting. I think my weekend pictures will be more on this level from now on- I’ll still post fav images if I am really in the mood, but I’ll try to save the great ones for the week. That means, though, that I’ll have more experimental and fun ones on the weekends, and sometimes those get the most responses. So don’t walk away on the weekends… unless you have a life or something (unlike me).

Anyways, OnOne PhotoTools has been a good help lately, so I went there. I’m finding that I use that for blur and glow pics mostly, and I wanted to explore more filters. This photo got the antique color filter and the 81 warming filter. I also went back into Photoshop and Lightroom and blurred the area around the ladybug (masking rocks) and played with the ladybug’s coloring as well.

A fun experiment, for sure.

Enjoy my photography at This one isn’t there yet, but I depend on the comments of others to tell me what is good and what isn’t, so I factor in responses here, on facebook and on flickr to get ideas of what to post in the future.

**Speaking of future posts, I have a photo which I’ve been working on since November which I’m finally happy with- that will be my photo tomorrow. For Boulderites, it’s an image from one of your amazing local sites. Check back to see the image- hopefully stunning HDR (already submitted to as well). **

**The 2 images which I created for Japanese Earthquake support are on my site at I have had many visits but not many purchases and I’d love comments on why you think that may be. I really hope to be able to help in this small way. I really, really like the idea of giving back, though, so I will be working to build relationships and add images monthly or so which will be “donation” images. Suggest some organizations and causes to me, I’ll be working with the companies to bring some knowledge and hopefully some financial support their way in the future.**

Compare: Snow Covered Trees (IR vs IR Glow)

Above is the “IR Glow” version… I softened the clarity on that one. Below is a more sharpened version.

So… what do you think? We had this great, wet spring snowstorm this week. All of the snow melted quickly, but at 7:30 am my kid woke me and wanted to go play in the snow. I was grumpy until I saw how beautiful it was- then I grabbed my camera and split with her! We were wandering the streets around our house with snowpants over our pj’s, and I managed to snap 200+ pictures in about 15 minutes.

I’ll be showing more over the next week or so, but this one called to me. This is a single shot, with some OnOne conversions that really brought out the glow in the snow. The branches are normally a bright yellow (not sure what kind of tree) so I wanted to remove the colors as much as possible. I used one of the glow filters in PhotoTools and then the B&W IR conversion filter. I reduced that one to allow for some of the blue sky to come back, but really liked the result. So much that later on in Lightroom I took out the yellows and oranges to make it that much more striking. Perhaps someday I’ll set up an IR camera… it’s tempting, for sure!

The two versions are a softened and sharpened version. My vote is for the softened one, surprisingly. You don’t have to look far at my work to see that I like sharpened images a lot. But lately, doing the daily photo thing has caused me to definitely be more creative and more open to different looks and ideas.

Anyways, I would LOVE critiques and/or thoughts on which is a better image. I’ll have an HDR version of this out soon, too, as well as other shots from this glorious morning shoot.

Seen on flickr, facebook and my website,

More OnOne Pics: Delicate Blossoms Zoom

Original Image

Final Image

I liked this image but knew that it had some distracting elements and needed some oomph added. I don’t usually play with blur filters but I thought that a slight bit of zoom blur would be nice with this… so I applied that in Photoshop (after, I might add, removing some of the distracting blue tones in lightroom). I masked the blur off the blooms and then moved to OnOne PhotoTools, because I just didn’t think that Topaz Adjust had the look that I wanted. I do like a lot of what Topaz Adjust has to offer, but PhotoTools has so many filters that it’s just a completely different deal. Anyways, a few different filters added in brought out the slight glow and the bit of vignetting (another look I don’t usually do nowadays but it seemed good here). Back to Photoshop for a deep red filter (masked off the flowers again) and a trip through Topaz DeNoise to clean up the nasty noise… et voila!

I could have probably reproduced this look in Photoshop. But it was fun to find and use the filters in PhotoTools, and it comes out great… better than my fumbling fingers sometimes. I still haven’t tried to figure out the masking deal in PhotoTools, once I have that understood it will be a much more valuable tool (in my opinion). But even without that it’s still pretty damn nice to have.

I think it’s an improvement… maybe not the best flower pic in the world but one that makes me happier now. And right now I’m all about Spring, so any spring flowers will make me smile big!

I’ll put this plus other OnOne created images together soon in a comprehensive review.

I have a big chunk of work at, and here and on facebook and flickr. I’ll be posting my monthly deal this week in one or all of those places, it’s usually a good deal for someone, maybe for you this time! Come back and check it out.


OnOne Comparison… of 1 shot, Spring Bulbs

Here is the original image, taken last year (a bit later in the year, but the idea of spring is making my mouth water I’m so hungry for it!):

I like the spring-like colors, but the touch of yellow was distracting and I didn’t want to toss the whole thing just due to the burnt out section on the main flower, so I went into Photoshop and OnOne PhotoTools and created this:

I really, really liked the dreamy look and glow to it, as that is exactly how I feel about Spring right now- very dreamy and hoping. I added a few glow type filters in PhotoTools, plus one (called Deep Forest, I think) that deepened the green and made it more of a blue tone. I removed the yellow in photoshop and played with the curves to get the blacks just on the edge of black, and the rest of the image staying darkish except for the glow on the flowers.

To me, this is an improvement. I’m not sure if I could have figured out a way to do this just in Photoshop, but it was a delight to have the PhotoTools option available. It makes it so much easier and can get me the exact look I want. Also, I saw last night that I could make some filters “favorites”, which should make it much easier for me to find a specific look for an image (that was one of my main complaints/concerns about PhotoTools, that there are just too many filters to find what you want). I need to figure out if I can do masking there without a Wacom tablet… that is another problem but I’ll let you know if I’ve figured it out!

This is posted to, my website. I also have photos posted to flickr and facebook (links are on this home page). Enjoy and have fun with my work!

Another OnOne Edited Image- Glowing Star Lily & Who Will Be #1000 at

Since I haven’t had it in me to put together a full review yet of OnOne PhotoTools Pro 2.6, I’ve decided to post images as I do them, explain why I used OnOne there, and then do a “pulling together” review sometime soon.

First off, I chose this flower to photograph because I love Star Lilies. I decided to try (sorta spur of the moment) some backlighting, as I haven’t done that yet with any shots. Once I feel comfy with flowers, I hope, I will be diving into photographing people with various light setups. But first first, right? So I lit this from underneath/camera left, with another light on the background. Then the fun came (although, to be honest, the lighting is pretty fun for me!).

I edited this in Photoshop and Lightroom, and used PhotoTools extensively. I increased the exposure a lot in Lightroom, and really enjoyed the recovery slider there, as I had some blown-out spots on every image. Sigh. But this was a single image, and I got to Photoshop pretty quickly. I went into OnOne PhotoTools almost immediately- I think I messed with the pollen color a bit (that was a major frustration for me, but I think this worked out ok). In PhotoTools I really wanted to highlight the glow through the petals, and there are several filters that worked well for that. ChargeMoreMoneyGlow was one, and I used another but VERY lightly as it “glowed out” everything. I think I returned to Photoshop and played with the brightness and contrast until I felt like I had finished in Photoshop… once I finished there, I took it back to Lightroom and played with the saturation of the colors, finishing with this image that I’m happy with.

I think it’s obvious that I’m happy with PhotoTools, I keep using it with images and only once or twice have I not been happy with my results. The only problem, if you can call it that, would be that there are so, so many filters, and you get only a vague idea what they do from the sample pics shown… you really have to apply it to see how it will affect your image. I’m going to have to keep a list of favs and what they can do, I think. But being overwhelmed by choices in a cheap (well, cheapish) photo manipulation software is a good problem to have.

See more of my images at, or my flickr or facebook pages.

*Reminder- if you go to view my images, check the visitor count, as it is creeping closer to 1000! If you are #1000, leave a quick comment so I can reach you later for your free print, ok?*

This is posted

Pau Hana Photo- Shadow of Serenity

I took this photo last summer in Hawaii. I’ve always wanted to finish it, but held off for various reasons. Publishing it just in time for the end of work Friday (or the beginning of the weekend for many of you) seemed like a perfect way to show it off. I did not do many changes to the original here, just a trip through Topaz Adjust in Photoshop to deepen the shadows (contrast changes helped there too) and lighten the water colors. I also removed some distracting yellowish tones from the rocks and chairs. Overall a photo that makes me go “AHHHHHH.”

See more of my work at, or on flickr or facebook (links to all on the side of my blog).

This weekend is the random, big deal for the month… see my posting from last night. And next week I promise to put together a review of OnOne software’s PhotoTools Pro 2.6, which has been a fun experiment all month.

Enjoy your weekend! And enjoy the art that is out there!