Aug 172013

yellow hibiscus 2 1770

yellow hibiscus 1769

I took these photos of our yellow Hibiscus flowers in June when we first bought this plant (which we later discovered is technically a tree, which may explain why it doesn’t like being in a pot). I intended to use the shots for the “yellow” theme but no matter how I processed them, they remained “blah.” Pretty flower, but not very photogenic. I tried Topaz Clarity, Detail… playing around in Aperture… but all just looked overdone… and still “blah.”

Because it is just too hot today (113F), I decided to stay in and learn more about the new Topaz ReStyle which I still have on trial.  I had been experimenting with it… but had not taken  the tutorial.. which is an hour long… dowser.. there is so much more to this tool than just the pretty colors! It’s interface is so sophisticated, yet easiest to use. And I like the results.  I’m fairly sure I’ll be purchasing it while it is still one sale.

My other goal for today was to make a personalized birthday card to post on face book for one of my childhood friends.  I brought the top photo into PSE, added words and a frame and it’s done.

The original images here: Continue reading »

Aug 102013

dandelion weed 1765

This is my first experiment with the new TOPAZ RESTYLE. I haven’t purchased it yet… but I’m sure I will before the month is out. I’d only recently started using tone mapping and this program is all about using that technique. Talk about being a kid in a candy store!


Here is the photo before I applied TOPAZ DENOISE,  CLARITY and  RESTYLE Rainforest Green.

Continue reading »

Jun 152013

smoke bush 1734 smoke bush flower cu 1733

I only recently learned that the name of this one is “Smoke Tree Bush.” It is incredibly hard to get a good photo of the bush since it does have a  bluish “smoky” look about it. But up close, the flowers are actually purple.  It seems that we have not stop wind this year, thus hindering my ability to get a good clear close up.  But I think this on shows enough.

May 262013

palo verde seed pods 1730

I know, I know!  This is NOT an “evergreen” tree… but here in the Sonoran Desert we have the Palo Verde tree (Green Tree) obviously named for its bark and I decided it works for this theme!  If it is a dry year, the leaves fall off a Palo Verde and photosyntheses works through the branches and trunks. However there is no chance of this tree losing its leaves since it is growing in the wash.

It has recently had its beautiful display of yellow blossoms, which in turn has produced the green pods.

Below is picture of the Palo Verde trees in bloom in the wash in April.

palo verde in bloom 1731

May 122013

white bougainvillea  1729

I had never seen white bougainvillea before finding this plant yesterday while shopping for drought resistant plants.  Each small white flower on a bougainvillea is surrounded by 4 bracts, which are technically leaves.  I processed this using the newly purchased  Topaz B&W and then ran it through Topaz Detail.

May 112013

saguaro top in bloom 1728

bouquet of saguaro blossoms 1729

saguaro in bloom 1727

I’ve been saving this theme for Saguaro cactus… this blossom is Arizona’s state flower. The Saguaro cactus is native to the Southwest’s Sonoran Desert which spans from Southern Arizona, Sonora (Mexico), Whipple Mountains (California) and parts of the Imperial Valley (California). There are no wild saguaros anywhere in the western U.S. states of Texas, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, or Nevada, nor in the high deserts of northern Arizona, although it is used for branding or falsely in movies and commercials to convey the Southwest. The Saguaro cactus is one of the reasons we chose to live here.

A saguaro can grow to 75′ tall and live 200 years. A saguaro’s growth is extremely slow. Growth occurs in spurts, with most of it taking place in the summer rainy season each year. By the end of a year, the saguaro seedling may measure only 1/4 inch. After 15 years, the saguaro may be barely a foot tall. At about 30 years saguaro can begin to flower and produce fruits. By 50 years, the saguaro may be as tall as 7 feet. After about 75 years, it may sprout its first branches or “arms.” The branches begin as prickly balls, then extend out and upward.

I never tire of seeing saguaro as they have such personality; like snowflakes, every one is different. Currently the cactus are in bloom in town… but the ones in the desert, not watered by caretakers are slower to have buds or blossoms.   I hope to have a landscape photo of desert cactus in bloom soon.

I’ve taken many photos of these cacti in the past, click here for more.

May 082013

falling to pieces 1727

My bucket list of things to try includes working with textures in PSE.

Two days ago, I threw this flower in my trash can at work. I liked the way it looked against the white trash bag and snuck my camera out for a shot of it. I wanted to create something “sad” from it and I worked on this a bit last night and this morning, using desaturation tricks and such between Apeture and Topaz. I was almost satisfied with it but not quite, but alas it was time to go to work.   Then as I was walking to work, I had an epiphany: what if I tried one of the Shadowhouse Textures?  So, I worked on it a bit at lunch in PSE, got the gist of what I needed to do, deleted it  and started over when I came home from work. What do you think?