Monday, January 02, 2012

Make it Better Monday

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(Ok its actually Tuesday here in NZ but I hope to post this every Monday normally)


This new feature on my blog will chart my efforts in a new challenge Ive set up at DSP to take a photo( or a set of photos) a week and using Photoshop and the few filters I own (Mainly Topaz Filters) make some improvements to that photo and then create a layout with it.

I will post a before and After and some of the steps Ive taken to make alterations to the photo along the way.

My first effort is with this photo I took of the Steamship Earnslaw on Lake Whakitipu in Queenstown .

I took this photo in a small break in a very unseasonable snow storm in November. There was quite a heavy mist or low cloud on the water and gradually the mist parted revealing the Earnslaw steaming back to port from its regular trip out to the other end of the lake.

From my viewpoint on the edge of the lake there wasn’t a lot of colour in the light and the red white and wood tones really stood out.

But my photo really didnt look  much like I saw it in my minds eye.


To improve the photo I first opened it in Camera Raw and straightened the image to give a straight horizon. Then I cropped the image . I pushed down the exposure andenhanced the contrast and pushed the clarity slider up a bit  I also enabled the lens profile correction.

Using the HSL sliders and the targeted adjustment tool I reduced the saturation in the water.

Then I opened the photo in Photoshop and duplicated my image layer twice.

To the bottom layer I applied Topaz Adjust 5 and used a variation of the Painting – Venice preset – but reduced the saturation even further and masked out the ship and much of the water from the alterations

On the upper layer I applied a Topaz Lens Effect – Fog filter to enhance the existing fog . I masked out the area around the ship.

The photo now looks  more like I remember the scene to be.

For  my layout . I wanted to show the historic nature of the ship and went for a heritage style layout.






I used 2 backgrounds from my Whispered Promises Page Kit

Stained Ivory is the base layer.

Dark Edged Teal is set above that at 92% opacity and has the bottom right corner masked out to reveal the ivory background below.

Then the photo is set above that – in Linear blend mode.

The area of the photo under the frame is a duplicated portion of the photo layer and is set to normal blend mode.

I used the Frame Underlay from my Secret Desire Value collection over the photo and under the frame – set to Linear Burn Blend mode.

For the title I placed the text at the top of the mist and masked out the bottom of the letters with a large featured brush  as if the text is too emerging from the mist.

I used a separate photo of the Remarkables Mountain range at a very low opacity in multiply blend mode in the upper part of the layout ( this was completely covered in cloud when I took the original photo but a few minutes later appeared in its glory.

Other elements on the page are from my Secret Desire Value Collection.


  1. Wow Lauren--your end product here is just jaw-droppingly beautiful and I love seeing all the steps you took to get there! Thank you for taking the time to do this!

  2. Wow...this is great!! Thanks for sharing...:)

  3. Fantastic transformation! Thanks for explaining all the steps you took. Your layout is Stunning!