New-Old Image Stacking Technique

Recently I have been trying what I call the new-old image stacking technique. The old comes from having used an image stacking technique quite a bit in my macro work to achieve greater and sharper focus. Focus image stacking increases depth of field, something often needed in macro work.

The new image stacking technique creates a more abstract look. Sharon Tenenbaum teaches an image stacking technique that yields more of an impressionistic image style image using the camera. I really enjoyed the webinar and would recommend Sharon if you have an interest in learning this technique or any other webinars she offers that might interest you. She is great teacher and also gives all attendees a recording of the workshop.

The Technique

In the new image stacking technique you take 5-7 photos of the subject. With this technique it is critical to find an interesting subject and to move around the subject in a semi-circle keeping the subject in the same location in the viewfinder.

From there, download and edit the individual image files in either Photoshop or Lightroom. When edits are complete, load the image files into Photoshop on different layers. This can be done using Photoshop or Lightroom. Attention to lining up the images is critical. I like to select something in the image to use as the focus point and align all layers to that small specific area. Next, a create a black mask for each layer. Then fill the black mask with white of different opacity percentage, allowing different parts of the image to show through. From there, use a brush (20% opacity-black) and take out any detail that doesn’t fit with the composition or the look you are trying to achieve.

Lastly, when the overall composition is complete, merge up the layers and complete any fine tune editing or special enhancement. This includes adjustments such as brightness, color enhancements, etc.  This is done with Photoshop Adjustment Layers, Topaz, Nik Plug-In or other software programs available.

Sample Images of Image Stacking Technique

First Subject using the Image Stacking Technique – Acacia Tree
More Recent Image. Carousel, Bryant Park, NYC

I truly love this process and as you can see, you get better with practice! It allows me to be creative in ways I never experienced before. Also, it provides a new twist on an old subject matter.

Thanks for reading and I hope your inspired to try something new with your photography! To view more of work, please visit my website.

Square Flower Images for Inspiration

Here are a couple more samples of square flower images for inspiration and fun. Once again, I photographed them in my make shift studio that I have managed to get completely dark. It is such a joy to work in the dark and sometimes difficult to do since there is a bank of windows on one wall.  Absolutely no ambient light on these images! Working in a totally dark room requires an artificial light source, obviously, to illuminate the subject. For these flower images I used a strobe with a small soft box and a white foam board for fill to light the subject. Also, I used my 100mm macro lens at an f-stop of f11, shutter speed 125.  It was a lot fun to work through the process. Here is a page showing some the set up I am using.  

I do want to mention a totally dark room is not required and a tripod will work just as well as a copy stand. Also, any light source could work with an adjustment to f-stop, shutter speed or ISO.  I have used all those techniques.

The background I edited in Photoshop to give a different feel to the image and make them a one of a kind square flower images for inspiration. That process required creating the square format and selecting and masking the subject or flower in the image. Then copy that mask to a new layer. Photoshop has some great tools that makes this process fairly easy, although I still needed to clean up any areas it did automatically create correctly.  Lastly, to give the images the distressed and textured look in the background I added textures from Flypaper Textures.

Thanks for stopping by and viewing my post about square flower images. I hope you find inspiration here, in nature and in your own backyard or neighborhood. More of my work can be viewed at susanmcanany.com.

Have a wonderful week!

square flower images for inspiration

“Lily Duo” White lily bud and flower photograph intertwined with textured background.

square flower image for inspiration

“Sunflower” Yellow sunflower with green textured background.

 

 

Back in the Studio

I am happy to be back in the studio, or at least a my temporary one till I move to another location. Reunited at last with my copy stand and all the rest of the photo toys I have accumulated over the years is a really good feeling. And also a ton of fun.

In the Studio

Working with the copy stand.

To get me jump started in the studio I am working on a series of still life photos that are shot in studio on a neutral gray background. Later in my digital darkroom I combine those images with different cool texture backgrounds.  Some of the textures I have created myself, but quite a few I have purchased from FlyPaper Textures. They are a great resource for interesting textures and edges.

I have been excited about this process and the results. Although, like all things photography there are several technical issues to work out along the way. Setting up the lights and synching to the camera came easily to me, once all cables and meters were found.  However, getting those flowers to look just right took some time. Photographing a living thing does require some speed, as it begins to deteriorate once it is removed from water and placed under lights. But, I love the process, being back in the studio and I am getting some great results.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Joel Grimes. Without his tutorials, I never would of started this project.

Thanks for looking and reading. Check out more of my still life texture images on my website

 

The Library Book Is A Must Read

“The Library Book” by Susan Orleans is a must read for your summer or fall reading list. If like me, you grew up going to the library as a form of entertainment, you will find this book relatable and very interesting.

Susan Orlean’s book resonates with me in several ways. She also had an affinity for the library having gone as a child, so I found her personal story very relatable. For myself, growing up in a family of eight there was always lots of noise. Often I remember how quiet the library was. The library offers a whole different ecosystem and a world of it’s own. 

Ms. Orlean’s book also gives a history lesson about Libraries and specifically the Central Library in Los Angeles wrapped up in a story telling style that kept my attention.  A key part of this history are the many librarians and their philosophies as they guide the library through changes over the decades.

Of course the main theme throughout the book is the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Central Library. This devastating event lasted over seven hours and burned extremely hot due to all the books.  During the fire over 800,000 books were destroyed or damaged. In addition thousands of historical documents, photographs, microfiche and historical artifacts were destroyed. The library closed for seven years affecting hundreds of employees and patrons.

Harry Peaks, an aspiring actor and pathological lair was suspected and arrested but never formally charged or convicted for the crime. To this day the fire at the library remains unsolved.

One last thing this book details is the importance of the library system in people’s lives. Not only does it provide enrichment and answers for people, but it is also a refuge for many when their lives are broken. The library accepts everyone, rich, poor, homeless or not.

For me, the library is a special place often a spiritual place. If you were lucky enough to grow up using the library, I am sure you feel a forever connection also. A library is full of knowledge and freely shares it. It provides community and hours of entertainment to all who use it.

Amazingly, all of this is free. Truly, a fascinating read. “The Library Book” by Susan Orleans is a must read this year!

Thanks for reading and you can view my art at susanmcanany.com.

New Year Full of Opportunities

A New Year, a different President and hopefully both things bring a much better year than last. Last year was one of great angst and disappointment on many levels that I can’t believe this year could be any worse. Like everyone else I am happy to shut the door on 2020 and start anew.

I will say though much to my delight and surprise, I had a pretty good year selling photography prints and photo instant downloads. I guess everyone staying at home was ready to improve their home decor or take on exciting projects.

Although sales and shipping was not without it’s challenges. One thing last year definitely taught me and maybe you also was patience, especially with the delays in printing and shipping. Luckily, we managed to make it through 2020.

For this year I am adding to my collection of fine art prints at both my Etsy Store and Saatchi Art portal. Both of these online retailers offer proven track records for secure sales and I am happy to partner with them. I am optimistic 2021 will be even more successful.

In addition, I will be adding new and exciting image downloads to my stock photography collection on Etsy. These are perfect for both print and digital projects along with printing for home decor. I have received some great feedback on them. If interested please check out my Digital Download of Food, Nature, General and Textures images. They are reasonable priced and many of them quite unique.

When thinking about a New Year, nature comes to mind and all of the regrowth Mother Nature gives us each spring. My wish for all of us is that we may all be like a tree. Ready to sprout new growth of beautiful leaves, flowers and fruits in the year 2021!

New Year is like new growth on a tree.

Solo by Susan McAnany

Thanks for visiting and more of my photography can be viewed on my website.

Happy Halloween

The season for ghosts and goblins is upon us again. To join in the Happy Halloween celebration, I wanted to post an image different than the typical pumpkins, witches and candles. This image was shot in the forest in the northeast US in the summer. The whole scene was incredibly green. I wanted the subject to stand out, so I converted it to black and white and brought the color back  for the model, manikin and bench.

woman and maniken on bench

fine art black and white print

Lalita was a great model, dressed in what appears to be a wedding frock. The setting in the forest with the miniature manikin on the bench gives the image an eerie feel. Although, at the time an eerie feel was not my concept. My vision was one of a maiden lost in the lush green forest and stumbled upon the bench with a smaller version of herself causing her to reflect on her life and future. The eeriness evolved in post processing and I rather like the direction the image took, especially at Halloween.

So Happy Halloween everyone! It is the prefect day for a mask and don’t forget to catch the full moon tonight.

More of my work can be viewed at website, Saatchi Art or at my Etsy Store.

Thanks for reading.

 

Flash to the Past – Letter Writing

I don’t know if it is COVID or all the hype regarding the post office, but it seems people are having a flash to the past and letter writing once again.  Personally, I find letter writing to be a very personal, intimate way to reach out to someone. To hand write a note shows a concern and interest well beyond sending an email or text.  You are sending a person a bit of your handwriting, however neat or sloppy it may be. It will be something that someone may cherish for a long time and perhaps if you have children and grand children the card or letter will be passed through the generations. I know I am still thrilled when I find a note or card with a message from my Mom.  Something about seeing her handwriting is very comforting.

Taking all that into consideration, I have launched a line of Greeting Cards at my Etsy shop that I have written about in previous post.  Recently, I have also added Greeting Card sets to increase your choices for letter writing.  These sets offer a wide variety of cards from black and white to nature and architecture. I even have a couple of different and quirky sets for anyone looking for something more out of the box. All of these images come from some of my most popular fine art prints and stock images.

Edibles Greeting Card Set

These Greeting Cards are professionally printed on 60 lb matte paper. They measure 4.13 x 5.83 inches and come with a blank interior ready for your personal note or message.  They make a great gift or awesome for personal use.

Nature Greeting Card Set

Nature Greeting Card Set comes with six beautiful nature scenes from rural barns to coastal landscapes and close up of cheery tulips and sunflower. Each card is packaged in a cello protector. All six of these scenes are horizontal orientation and come with silver envelopes.

Quirky Greeting Card Set

This greeting card set includes some unique and quirky images including the fine art images of “Golf Meeting”, “Female Studio Sound” and “Runaway”. Also are three other images from my extensive photo library, included an all time favorite “Horses Asses”.

I hope you too have caught on to the flash from the past letter writing craze. If not please consider making someones day by sending them a personalized greeting note card. I am sure they will be tickled. Check out my Etsy store to see other Greeting Card Sets and individual Greeting Cards.

Thanks for stopping by!

Fine Art Print Rolling Hills

This week I shipped out a fine art print “Rolling Hills”, number 5 in a limited edition series. This is a very vibrant green piece of art and prints beautifully.

I was extremely happy that my professional printer was working during this difficult time of the pandemic.  They did a fantastic job as usual and delivery was prompt and undamaged. Hoping it arrives at it’s destination, my client, with just as much speed and care.

Rolling Hills

Fine Art Print Shipped Rolling Hills

When printing I like to have an half inch to inch white border around the print. This allows for ample space for a signature and numbering and also easy handling.

This fine art print “Rolling Hills” was photographed in Washington state near or in Steptoe Butte State Park. This is a beautiful agricultural area and in June the rolling hills are lush green and a delight for the eyes. The year I was there was an especially lush year. There is also an abundant of old barns that are seriously fun to photograph and make for wonderful fine art prints for resale.  Here is another post that shows other images from the Palouse area. It truly is a magical place.

I just wanted to share some good news during a the pandemic. It seems as though there is lots of negative news around and this sale helped combat it. So I am extremely thankful.  I am also thankful for the support for artists and all others along the supply chain that helped my sale and shipping of the fine art print Rolling Hills to be completed.

Thanks for reading. More of my fine art prints can be viewed on my website or also at Saatchi Art.

Greeting Cards for Resale from Art Prints and Stock Images

Recently I started looking through my work for images that would convert well to greeting cards for resale. It was easy to find the obvious candidates such as my most popular fine art prints or re-pins from Pinterest.  But, to really have a good inventory of note cards, I needed to look through my library of stock images to find some unique shots that would also work well on greeting cards and provide more variety in my inventory. Luckily, I was a little more organized than I thought so I was able to find a good assortment of images to use for greeting cards for resale.

Here is an example of a couple of greeting cards from my collection.

cake image for greeting cards for resale

nature coastline image for greeting cards for sale

The next step was to figure out how to print the cards and what kind of paper to use. I wanted a fairly thick card stock with a matte or luster surface. I used the web to research card stock manufacturers/resellers and order a lot samples. Over the next few weeks I experimented with a variety of greeting card stock and becoming a lot more acquainted with my Canon Pro-100 printer. The Canon Pro-100 is a nice printer but it does have it’s limitations when printing greeting cards.  Ultimately, I decided to have the note cards professionally printed.

I partnered with Modbox to help facilitate these batch printings of greeting cards with my images. In addition, they were interested in setting up a website selling the greeting cards also. Can’t help but feel I am on my way!

In addition to Modbox, I am also selling greeting cards at my Etsy store, so if you would like take a look click here. I think you will find some interesting content.

I still have a lot to figure out on selling greeting cards, but as my Mom used to always say ” by the inch it’s a cinch; by the yard its hard”!

I hope COVID time has inspired some new projects or hobbies in your world! For more inspiration check out my blog post on creating abstract images in your home or studio.

Stay safe everyone!

 

To Mask or Not to Mask During A Pandemic

I have to admit just writing that title “to mask or not to mask during a pandemic” gave me a weird feeling in my stomach. Yet, there is quite a bit a controversy over this topic. I like to think of myself as having an open mind so I listen to what people are saying on both sides. The Webster definition of pandemic is “a widespread outbreak of disease.”  We have heard from Dr Fauci and other Medical professionals COVID-19 is highly contagious. This only makes me want to wear a mask more when in public, especially any indoor venues. Especially with the increase in number of cases.

Obviously, my number one reason I wear it is to make every effort to protect myself and others from COVID-19.  I also strongly feel I have a civic duty to provide this protection. It is the one very small thing I can do to help contain the virus and help society reopen, heal and move towards being fully operational. I fully believe masks and social distancing is the path to recovery for our economy.

masks for pandemic

In addition,  I can’t forget and I hope you won’t either all of the doctors, nurses, EMTs, medical and hospital staff and the other essential workers. They put their lives on the line for us throughout this pandemic. Wear a mask for them and so they do not have to go thru what NYC did. Wear it for your local hospital if you won’t wear one for yourself.

The reasons not to wear one are varied and on several I agree. Sure the mask is uncomfortable and it often fogs my glasses. Sometimes I do feel stupid in it. And often I have a little stuffy nose after wearing it, but that is a small price to pay for helping society and the economy.

Thanks for reading and more of my work can be viewed on my website.