Cookie Cutters

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sailboat element-1


I had some fun with this technique. As a scrapbooker I could see where this is a great technique. Above is an example of the frame style cookie cutter. I thought The sail boat could benefit from an artsy frame. I chose this one because I thought it looked like the photo was painted on sand. Below is an example of the shape style cookie cutter. I was originally going to use a round flower shape but decided to just have fun with it instead. When would I ever use a snail cookie cutter, I don’t know but it was too cute not to try.

flower snail elements-1

You can find the amazingly easy directions on how to use the cookie cutter in the article Get Cooking with the Cookie Cutter by Diana Day in the March / April 2012 issue of Adobe Photoshop Elements Techniques Magazine. She even gives information on finding and downloading custom shapes from the internet. I tried to do this but had no success. I was looking for a seashell to put my beach bird on but couldn’t find one. I know I will need to download some custom shapes when I try the steampunk style again so maybe I will find that seashell then.

original photos

                                       13 03 29_3815                            76 03 26_3850

Let the Sun Shine


sunbeams elements

Add sunbeams to your photos

This is a technique I tried once before. I found it very difficult and frustrating and thought it looked horrible. Today, I sat down and thought this will be the day to conquer sunbeams. I will be using the same directions as the first failed attempt.

As usual, I am working with step by step directions from Adobe Photoshop Elements Techniques Magazine (March / April 2012). The article by Matt Kloskowski titled Let There Be Light! has 11 steps. This time, it only took me 41 minutes from start to finish. It was easier than I was thinking but I would still classify it as a medium difficulty. I think if I had an artist’s eye, it would be easier.

I like the look of the sunbeams and hope to find more photos this technique could help enhance. Below is the original, sunbeam-less photo. I also like the original photo as is. I like the darkness of the branches which tends to get a little lost when you add the sunbeams. All in all, I am happy with both.


The Spitting Frog

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shutter speed 1/250 – clear stream of water

Here is part 2 of lesson 3.

Shutter Speed

As usual, here is my list of what I thought about while taking the photos. As this is part 2 of a lesson, not much on my list has changed this time.

1. identify the goal – to find movement so I can show clear and blurred to show the difference in shutter speed.

2. ISO – keep as low as possible. I used 100 even though it was a dreary, cloudy day. This speed worked fine for the shutter speeds I was using.

3. AV / TV – back to TV mode I go since I was specifically trying to show motion.

4. Depth of field / speed – As this is repetitive and the same thing as choosing AV / TV, I will be crossing it off my list.

5. focus – I had to focus on the frog which was fine as long as I didn’t shake the camera.

6. vertical / horizontal – check and check

7. clean background – I did move in closer to get rid of a bright pink towel in the background.

8. change point of view – This is the same answer as above. I moved in closer (let’s just list number 9 here which is move closer) and I did walk around on both sides of the fountain. Shooting form the other side gave me bright green beach chairs in the background which made it too cluttered. (See, I am learning!)

10. face into the scene – the composition rule I used for this shot

11. slow down – I have to admit, I broke this rule this time. My husband said for the very first time he would go on a photo hike with me. I knew I wanted to go shoot the waterfalls and water fountains at the pool of the Hard Rock so it was his lucky day. Besides it being terribly hot and humid, I didn’t take as much time as I might have because I knew I had someone waiting on me. He would have given me as much time as possible but I always rush myself when I know someone is waiting. I need to work on that.


shutter speed 1/40 to blur the stream of water


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f/5.6 – small depth of field


Lesson 3 is a two parter. I worked on depth of field and shutter speed.

Depth of Field

I was working on a “flowering” theme for photo friday and thought it was the perfect subject to practice depth of field at the same time. This flower is popping up over our backyard fence from the neighbor’s yard. As this is a lesson and I am trying to remember what I learned before, I keep a little list of things to do with the hopes it will become second nature to me eventually.

Here is how I approached this part of the lesson:

1. identify the goal – I think depth of field, I think floral. I know it could be used in many circumstances but my first thought is floral.

2. ISO – keep it as low as possible. I used 100 as it was the middle of the afternoon on a sunny day.

3. AV / TV – Yes! I switched back to my favorite mode, AV for this one since I was going for depth of field and not shutter speed.

4. focus – I have many flower shots where I focused on the center of the flower and the sneezy pollen parts, (sorry but it has been a long time since I learned the actual names of these parts in 8th grade science), are out of focus. This time I tried to focus on the sneezy pollen parts.

5. vertical / horizontal – I remembered to take shots of both

6. check for busy backgrounds – I changed my position around so I wouldn’t have a blown out sky behind it. This goes with…

7. change point of view – I did move left and right but other than that, I couldn’t really move around since this flower was in the neighbor’s yard (and they were in the middle of a cook out).

8. get closer – again, hard to do when you are trying not to interrupt the neighbor’s party. I didn’t think a crazy lady on a step stool with a camera peering over the fence would go over too well.

9. rule of thirds – I did position the sneezy pollen parts on the left third of the shot so it wouldn’t be directly centered.

10. slow down – every time I start to walk away, I think of this and force myself to take about a dozen more shots. Sometimes these are the shots I end up liking the best.


f/11 – slightly larger depth of field. You can start to see outlines taking shape more than in the top photo.


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I finally had the opportunity to work on another lesson. This time I didn’t really have a theme in mind so I chose one of our dogs, Sport. Here is how I practiced.

1. goal – always define the goal of the shot. In this case it was simply my dog

2. fast shutter speed = sharp focus. I’m still trying to get used to shooting in TV mode and not AV. Fast for me is 1/250.

3. take lots of shots – I took a total of 17 this time. After all, you can only call your dog’s name so many times before he actually wants to get too close.

4 – slow down, which I kind of lump together with 3. I was ready to chill with my camera as long as my dog would let me.

5. get closer – I read about how a dog photo should spotlight the dog and not the empty yard around the dog, so this is what I practiced, getting a nice close up shot of just my dog.

6. change point of view – I actually did do this. I sat toward the left of him and then moved toward the right of him. This gave me some shots where he is looking back over his body at me.

7. make the eyes the focal point –  I always aimed my focus at his eyes

8. shoot vertical and horizontal – This of course is easy when I remember to do it. I’m kind of surprised I didn’t end up choosing one of the vertical ones since this is similar to a portrait.

9. no busy backgrounds – This goes with several other points like, get closer and define the main goal. It was easy for this photo shoot since I just wanted up-close shots of my dog. I just filled the frame with him.

Hopefully some of these points will become second nature to me and I won’t even realize I am doing them. But for now, I keep a list with me and read over it every time I start taking pictures with my camera. I can’t wait to see what lesson 3 has in store for me.

The Doors

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plain edit

Turn Photos To Sketches (by Larry Becker – September / October 2012 issue of Adobe Photoshop Element Techniques) was so easy and fast. It took only 9 steps and 31 minutes for me to complete this transformation. I occasionally like the look of a line drawing for architecture but I like how this incorporated the photo and line drawing together. It’s the best of both worlds.

01 08 08_0499_edited-1


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coffee edit

This is the most fun I have had so far in Elements. It was super fast and super easy to do. It took my bland photo and turned into a work of art! The quote came from my Java Junkie Pinterest board but there isn’t really an author I can give credit to. If you want to learn how to do this groovy technique check out the article Creating An Edgy Poster effect by: Diana Day in the May / June 2013 issue of Photographic Elements Techniques. Try It! It’s fun!

retro coffee mug

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