One-Four Challenge: October Week Four

Here’s my final October edit for Robyn’s One-Four Challenge. My main aim for this month was to learn how to layer images to create a composite. I also wanted to build up to a really spooky image for the final week. I’m feeling quite happy with everything I’ve achieved but I’d love to know what everyone else thinks!

Week Four Edit

Week Four Edit

This week I began by opening the original image in Photoshop where I gave it the same crop as week two’s edit. Next I found a picture in my archives that I could crop down to show only the eyes – one of the very rare pictures of me! I gave this a black and white gradient map before copying it into the main image. I reduced its opacity to 20% and used the eraser tool to blend it into the background. I then added a violet, green and orange gradient map with a 40% opacity.

I then took the image into Camera Raw where I  increased contrast, clarity, blacks and shadows by a lot. Highlights and whites were also given a slight boost but I mainly wanted to give the image a more menacing feel.

Next I returned to Photoshop where I added a textured layer that I found on freestocktextures.com. I lay this over the lower two thirds of the image with a hard light blend at 10% opacity and I used the eraser tool to fade its edges into the background. I then finished off by extending the canvas with a dark green fill to create a border.

As it’s week four it’s time to include a poll so you can all let me know which of the four edits you liked best. Here are all the edits together for comparison:

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And here’s the poll:

As those of you who also follow my writing posts may already know I’m joining in with NaNoWriMo during November so unfortunately won’t be taking part in with the One Four Challenge. The only posts I’m likely to be doing are the occasional writing update and some Wordless Wedsnesday. Hopefully I’ll be back for the review month in December but that depends on how engrossed I am in editing! If I haven’t managed to make my way over to your posts this month, I apologise – I’m trying to get the whole novel thoroughly planned before November!

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Cee’s Black and White Challenge: Things Made From Wood

It’s time for another post for Cee’s Black and White Challenge. This week’s theme is, Things Made From Wood.

All of today’s pictures are of a wooden statue that my grandfather brought back from Africa in the 1970s. She’s probably quite basic tourist wear, not to mention she’s rather battered nowadays, but she’s been a part of the family for as long as I can remember. She sits on top of a cabinet in the living room. I like to think that she watches over us.

Before I post pictures on the blog I always like to have a little play around with them, trying out different levels of contrast, clarity, luminance, etcetera, to see which version I like best. This week I felt that each edit gave the image a different feel . The lower clarity and contrast made her appear soft and motherly while increasing them makes her appear sterner – especially in the second image. I loved how the high luminance gave the pictires the appearance of charcoal sketches. Because of this I decided to post three versions of each of the two shots.

I would love to know which version people like best or whether you’re just as divided as me!

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MftS: Within Shadows

Here’s this week’s entry into Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, run by Barbara W. Beacham. This challenge gives you a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics.

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

Within Shadows

Not knowing what to expect, he made his way into the dark of the forest, fingers clenched on the hilt of the ancient dagger as he picked a careful route. His eyes strained, peering into the shadows that crouched beneath the trees. Each branch that scraped against skin made him flinch; every rustle of movement caused his heart to race. They could be anywhere: watching, waiting. Ready to strike.

So many people – friends, family – had already died, their faces twisted into agonised rictuses. Those who still remained huddled within the dubious safety of their homes, too scared to venture outside. This was their only hope. He was their only hope.

He wasn’t a coward but…

How could he fight an enemy he couldn’t even see?

Word Count: 110


Some of you may have noticed that my presence on the blog has reduced recently. This is mainly because I’ve decided to join in with NaNoWriMo this year and have been spending a lot of time planning the novel I’m intending to write – tentatively titled ‘The Age of the Dragonlords’. Because of this I’ll be blogging less and less over the next few weeks and during November I’ll be on the blog with only the occasional update or photography post. I’ll miss visiting everyone’s posts (I love you all!) but hopefully I’ll be back in December and not too engrossed in editing…

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To read other entries or to submit your own, click the little blue frog.

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One-Four Challenge: October Week Three

Here’s my October week three edit for Robyn’s One-Four Challenge.

Week Three Edit 3

I’ve been playing around with this week’s image so much that I’m really not sure what steps I took to reach the final version – but I’ll try to remember as best I can!

I began with the week one edit which I opened in Camera Raw where I increased both contrast and clarity by quite a lot. A number of other sliders also moved, but I’m not sure which or by how much.

I then took the image into Photoshop Elements 13 where I added a black and white gradient map. This was then shifted into the reddish tones using the smart brush (which I’d never used before) on the ‘spooky’ setting.

Next I added a texture layer that I found here. Using the eraser tool I removed the texture from the spider web, bokeh and from some areas of the gravestones. I also faded it slightly in other areas. The opacity of the layer was then reduced. I might have also changed the blend mode. I then repeated the whole process with the texture layer reversed.

The next addition was a few spiders. As someone with a severe case of arachnophobia this was not a pleasant process! Even looking at pictures of spiders makes my skin crawl. I found two different spiders on Pixabay that I copied and pasted into the image several times, changing their sizes, orientation and opacity to suit. Several different blend modes were tried out, though I’m not sure which ones I actually used. As they all still looked a little too sharp I used the blur tool to soften their edges.

Whilst I’m not completely satisfied with this week’s edit (the spiders just don’t look right), I am glad I managed to create the composite image I’ve been wanting to for this month – even though it took me most of the week just to work out how to do it! I’m already looking forward to trying out some of the ideas I have for next week.

Here is the original image and all the edits together for comparison:

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MftS: Interlude

Here’s this week’s entry into Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, run by Barbara W. Beacham. This challenge gives you a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics.

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

Interlude

Now this is living the life of Riley.

Axien blinked open his eyes, yawning as he rolled away from the bright sunlight that bathed him. He felt as indulgent as one of the pampered cats that stalked the temple precinct. It had been so long since he’d last been able to relax.

He’d savour it while he could – after all, it wouldn’t be long before work summoned him again. For months now he’d been kept busy. The war kept everyone busy. It was… draining. Even sleeping in his own bed had been a scarce occurrence of late.

Axien groaned as a tentative knock sounded. He reluctantly rose from his bed, pulling on work clothes as he ordered the visitor to enter. It seemed his interlude was over.

“Sir.” The servant’s voice shook. His eyes remained lowered. “A new prisoner has been brought in. Lord Brecan asks that you to attend.”

The Chief Interrogator’s work was never over.

Word Count: 150

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To read other entries or to submit your own, click the little blue frog.

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One-Four Challenge: October Week Two

It’s time for my October week two edit for Robyn’s One-Four Challenge. This week I wanted to focus on the spiderweb and bokeh. I also wanted to give the image a slightly a magical or spooky appearance. Hopefully I succeeded.

Week Two Edit

Week Two Edit

To create this week’s version I first opened the image in Photoshop Elements 13 where I cropped it and added a black and white gradient map. I then took it into Camera Raw where I made these changes:

Temperature -23 (to give it a bluish tone)
Tint +6
Contrast +57
Shadows +23
Whites +36
Blacks +12
Clarity -32
Luminance 42
Luminance detail 96

To finish off I returned it to Photoshop where I overlaid it with a soft light fill layer at an opacity of 13%.

Whilst I’m really happy with this week’s edit I had actually intended to create an image using blended layers. Unfortunately, I just don’t seem to be able to get the knack of it! Very few of the online tutorials seem to apply to Photoshop Elements 13 and very little I tried seemed to work as I wanted it to. Grr. Maybe I’m just too much of a perfectionist to accept my meager attempts… Hopefully over this week I’ll be able to spend more time working on it and by next week I’ll actually have something worth sharing.

Here’s the original image and my week one edit for comparison:

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Cee’s Black and White Challenge: Cameras or Photographers

This post is in response to Cee’s Black and White Challenge. This week’s theme is, Cameras or Photos of Photographers.

photographer boo 2 edited

I wasn’t sure for a while whether I was going to be joining in with this week’s challenge because, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t generally take many pictures of people. The exception, of course, is my nephew. As I was hunting through my archives for pictures that might fit one of the other challenges I came across a few of him taking photographs.  He’s quite a budding photographer, though he’s mainly interested in taking pictures of trains.

photographer boo edited 2

The final photo is a case of ‘find the photographer’. I didn’t even realise he was there until after I’d taken the picture!

train bridge edited

I hope you all like them.

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MftS: Guardian upon the Tower

Here’s this week’s entry into Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, run by Barbara W. Beacham. This challenge gives you a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics.

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

Guardian upon the Tower

Few knew about the castle hidden inside the island. Only the watchtower was visible to the world beyond. The chambers within which his people lived, where intricate carvings gleamed in softly enchanted light, were hidden beneath the rocky slopes. As Garrin watched a group of tourists wheezing their way to the island’s summit, he hoped it stayed that way.

From his vantage point upon the tower, concealed behind a veil of magic, he observed such groups with unpleasant regularity. He felt little but disgust. Their disrespectful antics as they traipsed over the ancient masonry, voices loud and brash, was nothing compared to the debris left in their wake.

The girl was different.

She fascinated him. Day after day she sat in silent serenity, her pencil skimming over the sketchpad upon her knee. An enticing curl of auburn hair tumbled over her forehead. A gentle smile curved her lips.

He wondered how she’d smile at the sight of the citadel below.

Word Count: 150

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To read other entries or to submit your own, click the little blue frog.

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One-Four Challenge: October Week One

It’s now October and so time for a new image for Robyn’s One-Four Challenge. I took this image just last week when out for a walk around the village. I’ve always found graveyards fascinating places to walk around – I always wonder about the stories of the people buried there.

Here’s my first edit:

Week One Edit

For this first edit I’ve done very little, just a few tweaks. I quite liked how washed out the original appeared to be, with the bright light streaming through the gravestones, and I wanted to heighten this effect. To do so I opened it in Camera Raw where I made these changes:

Temperature +2
Highlights -14
Shadows -100
Blacks -35
Clarity +20
Vibrance -16
Saturation -12
Luminance 25
Luminance Detail 55

I then opened it in Photoshop where I reduced the dark splodge at the base of the gravestone on the left – I felt it was a little distracting – and gave the image a slight trim.

Here’s the original image for comparison:

gravestones

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Cee’s Black and White Challenge: Backs of Things

This post is in response to Cee’s Black and White Challenge. This week’s theme is, Backs of Things. I considered taking some photos of the backs of random items for this one but then I thought about all the pictures I’ve taken of my family that only show their backs . In the end I decided to create the whole post around these shots .

walking bw_FotoSketcher

Most of my family hate having their photograph taken. I have no pictures of my brothers at all past childhood . My dad and sister both scowl any time I point a camera in their direction. My mum will occasionally allow me to take a photo but then usually insists I delete it! Only my nephew is happy in front of the camera. Because of this I’ve got quite a few shots from the back, taken when they don’t realise I’m snapping away behind them.

For those of you who know my mum, Millie Thom – yes, that is her dancing in the picture above. We were in Morecambe, the hometown of the classic English comedian Eric Morecambe, and she couldn’t resist practicing her Morecambe and Wise skip dance. I couldn’t resist capturing it on camera!

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