Sunday’s Sky {banish boring skies}

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magazine: Adobe Photoshop Elements Techniques

issue: September / October 2012

article: Banish Boring Skies

author: Diana Day

steps: 12

time: 20 minutes

In the beginning of this article where it tells you what kind of photo works best, in this case a boring white sky, they didn’t tell you to have a replacement sky photo ready. Luckily, I recently traveled to the Bahamas and had lots of great skies to choose from fairly quickly. Don’t forget to crop it down to just have the sky.

Other than that the directions were easy to follow. I had a little snafu in step 9 to actually get the new sky to appear but , I think I was just working on the wrong layer.

I tried this sky technique with a few different colored and clouded skies until I found one that I thought didn’t look fake. Some were just too blue and others left clouds in a funky place. I have listed this, along with the tilt-shift effect, as one of my favorite effects. This technique could actually save a ton of photos for me. I highly suggest trying it.

my original photo with the blown out white sky


The Bride {vintage color}

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bridal portrait 04/00/1994 Diane Lupton

vintage color – 1950’s

magazine: Adobe Photoshop Elements Techniques

issue: May / June 2012

article: Vintage Color

author: Liz Ness

steps: 9

time: 15 minutes

The directions were incredibly easy to follow. I’m just not sure if I actually achieved the correct look. Although the article used a photo of a bride (which is the type of photo is suggests due to the bride usually wearing white and wedding photos are usually nostalgic), our photos are so different. The bride in the article has a retro look to her so she is more suited to the 50’s style vintage color I was going for. My photo doesn’t have a 50’s vibe to start with.

I still had fun and even tried the bonus option which I added below along with the original photo.

bridal portrait 04/00/1994 Diane Lupton

vintage color – 1970’s

bridal portrait 04/00/1994 Diane Lupton

original – 1990’s

Dinosaur Drew {digital scrapbooking}

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magazine: Photographic Elements Techniques

issue: July / August 2013

article: Using Digital Scrapbook Templates Is As Easy As A Bee C

author: Michelle Stelling

steps: 9

time: I’m not even going to discuss that (insert frustrated face here)

First things first, I am a scrapbooker. I have been a scrapbooker for almost 20 years. I have NEVER done digital scrapbooking before this. When I opened up this issue of the magazine and flipped to the first article I haven’t already done, I thought “Great! This will be easy”. BAM, I couldn’t seem to get anything accomplished for exactly 3 hours and 50 minutes! What the heck? Why am I so stuck on what should have been the easiest thing for me to learn in Elements?

Here’s what happened. In step 1 you gather the template, pictures, and “digi-kit” pieces. Unless I am copying a technique that has a certain design, I try to make the project my own. So first I tried to find a template so I didn’t just copy hers (which you can download and use from the magazine’s website). Found one. Paid for it and uploaded it. Moving on to collect my photos in one spot. Done. Now I need some digi-kit pieces whatever those may be. Figured it out, bought some, downloaded them. I think I am just moving right along until Step 2. Open the template in the Elements Editor. Ok, no problem. Hmmmm your photo shows 7 layers, mine has 42!!!!! I’m betting this is going to be a problem so I figure let me practice with hers like the article says and then maybe I will figure out this 42 layer thing another day. Ok. Moving along now with hers. Oh dang it. I have a vertical photo and hers is horizontal and I have no idea how to move anything around (and yes, I remembered to try the move tool this time). Sigh. My coffee is gone, I’m frustrated and ready to give up. Nooooo. I got this! I scrap (pun intended) everything, shop online some more for an easier template and cuter thingy-ma-bobs to use and pull up my big girl panties and dig in from the beginning again.

I learned from her article and practice with hers that it’s a matter of locate, place, create clipping mask and move on to the next element. So away I went and viola!!! I figured it out. I got rid of things I didn’t want by just clicking the eyeball thing to turn them off. I figured out how to move and resize the pictures. Oh happy day, I did it! Now I want to do it again to really see how long it should have taken me. 17 minutes!!! Yep, that’s it. Dinosaur Drew only took me 17 minutes after everything was uploaded.

Needless to say, I will be sticking to the old fashion paper, scissors, and glue. Although, I just might try this again for a little Christmas gift for the grandparents.  I do like how they turned out.

Below is the first one I attempted. I used another easier template from the pack I bought with the one above. As for the 42 layered template… that is a job for another day.


Warms the Soul {photo assignment 2}

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assignment – demonstrate subject decision thru the use of: the rule of thirds, thoughtful orientation, moving around the subject, adding to and detracting from the subject, getting only the elements you want to include, shoot both horizontal and vertical.

That was a lot to practice this time. I was working on the theme warmth and therefore chose my subject accordingly. I knew I wanted to use this mug and capture steam coming out of it. I tried not to center my mug so I could follow the rule of thirds the best I could for this composition. I did move around the subject and tried to get a shot in front of the window I was next to but then I would lose the steam I was going for. I also tried some vertical shots but they were just boring and left too much space above the cookies. I tried without the cookies but that was beyond bland.

One of the biggest things I have learned so far is to give up any pre-conceived images I may have. Yes, I knew I wanted to do the heart in the book thing last week and the steam from a mug this week but, I remembered to tell myself it may not work and that’s OK, I’m just going to set it up and see what I get. I think this has helped me slow down and become less frustrated. I feel like I can now start shooting with positive thinking and not the regular “I’ll never get it to look that way” thinking I was doing.

If you are enjoying my journey through photography and want to start a journey of your own, check out They have classes for the beginner to the expert on all types of subjects.

Facelift {Facebook cover photo}



magazine: Photographic Elements Techniques

issue: July / August 2014

article: Create a Fun and Creative Facebook Cover Photo in Minutes Using a Template

author: Michelle Stelling

steps: 10

time: 1 hr. 16 mins.  (I will explain)

Again, the time on this seems to be long but it’s really not. I just wasn’t as ready as I usually am. I usually have my photos picked before I start counting the time so you can get a feel for the length of time to do the project without my indecisiveness. I thought I had the photos I wanted but, I spent a lot of the time repicking a few.

Downloading the template was easy and took a minute or two which shocked me since the last time I tried to download something they recommended, I just gave up trying to figure it out.

Step 4 took me about 4 minutes to figure out to use the move tool (which they talk about using in step 5). The reason I subscribe to this magazine is to learn how to use my Elements program which I apparently still don’t know enough about to have figured out to use the move tool.  I’m a click and drag kind of person which isn’t how Elements operates.

I spent another 12 minutes just trying to pick a background I liked which of course was near the end of the list, and the last 6 minutes were because I simply didn’t know how to upload a photo for the cover to my Facebook page.  I’m not big on changing the cover of my Facebook page but the two times I have done it, my kids did it for me.

I found this to be a fun way to showcase a few pictures for my family and friends to see. I don’t see myself doing this often because I’m just not that into my Facebook page but, I will use this article again the next time I think to change it.

Accelerated {motion blur}

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03 21 12_0936_edited-3


magazine: Photographic Elements Techniques

issue: March – April 2014

article: Photos In Motion

author: Lesa Snider

steps: 6

time: 44 minutes my first time – 2 minutes per photo after that

I would suggest using a photo with a very simple background like the one I used. My first photo (you can see it below) is what took the 44 minutes. My time was spent trying to figure out how to turn the vertical instructions into the horizontal ones I needed for my photo, and figuring out why my son seemed to become transparent. It was driving me nuts until I realized it was from dragging too many pixels to blur. It would drag the lines of the netting from behind him to over him making him seem transparent. I would prefer more blur to the left of him so it looks more like a fast motion than just a blurry photo but to get that look, he would have to also become slightly invisible which is not the look I wanted.  After trying the technique with another flag football photo and then moving on to a water slide, I finally found this shot of my dog running in the grass. Smore’s photo only took about 2 minutes from start to finish now that I had all of that practice.  Unlike tilt-shift photography, I don’t see myself using this technique often (or ever).

FYI: Elements 12 apparently has a zoom blur preset effect

flag football – motion blur fail

0ctober-january 337_edited-3

The Book Lovers – photo assignment 1

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assignment: gather visual ideas, choose a subject and use different compositions and lighting

I have a rather large visual idea gallery and after looking through it, I chose books for my subject.

When my mom was a girl, she loved reading and her favorites were The Bobsey Twins and Nancy Drew. I am now the proud owner of this collection, which is almost a full collection of the original 1940’s – 1960’s books with their original paper covers and some have my mom’s childish handwriting ticking off the ones she has. I made a scrapbook page with photos of the books to capture the love for reading she passed down to me. At the time of this scrapbook page, I had absolutely no photography skills and simply stacked them up in front of the huge blue Tupperware crate they are stored in. Needless to say it was a horrible photo. I took this opportunity to try to take a better photo to go with the story and even if I do say so myself, I think I accomplished that.


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