Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How'd You Do That?

When I became a blogger, I didn't realize just how much I would learn and how much I would be inspired by not just the amazing gardens, but the beautiful photography that the gardeners proudly post. I have always loved taking pictures, first using my mother's vintage square box camera as a kid. Once I had my first real job teaching school, I bought my own camera, a used Pentax Spotmatic 35mm. I loved that camera. For years it went everywhere with me. I lugged it through England and Ireland, and I also took a little Nikon, one of these that used a film cartridge. For my third tour of England, I had graduated to a digital camera, and most recently I took the big leap to buy a 35 mm Cannon Rebel--the new love of my life. Along with photography, I am also a computer geek, so in the pre-digital era,  I'd spend hours scanning the photos and playing with the freebe Photoshop that used to come with the HP printers. I just had fun, but never  had a way share my work, except to maybe print a home made greeting card.

Blogging now has taken me to a new level. Jen at Muddy Boot Dreams has the most amazing photos, so I asked her how she got such beautiful backgrounds for her photos, and she kindly shared her secret. She uses Picasa and Photoshop and gets textures from two web sites: Shadow House Creations and Kim Klassen So with these two web sites, I began downloading the free textures and I began playing.  Last night I played with Picasa and today I spent the morning trying to master Photoshop on my work computer. First I needed some instruction on how to work with layers and textures. After previewing several youtube tutorials, I found one that I could follow: How to Apply Textures to Photos.  (A side note: Photoshop can be pretty intimidating, but with good tutorials you can accomplish what you want, but it is a lot of trial error, time consuming, and even frustrating.)

Here then are my results from Picasa--not perfect, but hey, I am a beginner.

Before: The Head Gardener had been working in the garden all day. He called me out to take picture of a hawk, but hawks don't wait for the photographer to change lenses. But I did a few shots of hubby's tools when he finished his work: a rusty, trusty shovel and his grandmother's old cultivator that he used to ditch his rows propped up against the dying weeping willow.

Using Picasa: After adding a textured layer, the photo becomes more ethereal. I like it. The willow branch that spoils the original blends in, becoming less noticeable.

Before: I did some editing in Picasa first to a not so good photo.

After: I like this. (Picasa)

Just a pink rose with a bit of texture added.

Before: St. Patrick as it appears in the garden.

St. Patrick with a bit of lace texture added using Picasa.

Textures are easily added in Picasa: 
  • Select your photo, edit it.
  • Give it any of the special effects that you like, clean it up.
  • Then add it to the collage tray. 
  • Download your favorite texture into Picasa
  • Add it to your collage tray.  
  • Click on the collage button. 
  • In the menu that allows you to choose how to arrange your collage photos, choose multiple exposure that allows you to superimpose one image on top of another. 
  • And WHA-LA you have an amazing effect. 
  • Create your collage and share it with your readers.
Picasa is limited in what it can do, which I think makes it more fun because you can get good, instant results, so for beginners, it works like a charm. Picasa is a free photo editor that you can download.  The textures come from Shadow House Creations.

So now you know how I did that. Do you have any cool tricks or skills to share? I'd love to see how you did that.


  1. thanks for the tips! I had no idea when i started blogging I would be so worried about how my pictures look! wanting a new camera.

  2. Cool! I'll try it! Thanks, Ann!

  3. Hi Ann
    I'm still at the point and shoot stage but I love what you did with Picasa, especially the St Patrick rose image.
    Maybe I'll have a go, too.
    Thanks for sharing this info.

  4. Wow Ann, you have some really great shots here. Well done! I do very little editing but I do like when others do it, I guess I'm just too lazy :)

  5. I have been enjoying everyone's textured photos, but haven't tried it yet myself. I just love that old time feel!

  6. Hi Ann, love the textures! I haven't tried it yet as I don't have a great relationship with Picasa :o( I do have Photoshop and I'm certain if I have a good look into it there will be a way!

    Thank you for your sweet comments :o) I really appreciate them.
    You ask how I got the fieldmouse photo? Patience is the reply ;o) They are not too afraid amazingly, and as it was quite dark (I was out looking for hedgehogs not surprisingly) I was using a good torch when I spotted the little one. I put extra sunflower seed out where I spotted him, grabbed the camera, settled down on the garden bench )which is only about 3 feet away), and waited...
    I had the camera ready, zoomed in and focused ready to shoot with the flash. When the little guy popped out again I clicked. He froze for a second or two and then went about filling his belly hence the other shots.

    Very best wishes Ann, have a great week :o)
    Rose H

  7. Well, what a difference. I had been told about Picasa but have never seemed to have the time to even look at it....or perhaps I am a scaredy!!?
    Any way...really well done, Joan