Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Blizzard of Dec. 2010

Here are a few shots from the (first?) blizzard of 2010 in New York.

This was an unusual blizzard for NYC. Of course we don't get that many blizzards to begin with, but when we do, they tend to be wet snow and ice. The type of snow that sticks to tree branches, which can make for some lovely images.

This storm was very powdery snow. So no sticking to trees. Instead we have snow that's acting like sand. It looks sort of like a white dessert out there with windstorms and dunes. So that was the focus of my images.

 I liked this happy sad face combo. They were quite small so someone had to have gone down on their stomach to carve them into the snow. That or it's a naturally occurring phenomenon. I like how the happy face has hair. 

 This image and the following five shots were of a small drift of snow on a particularly windy corner. The formations were amazing. It could have easily been some desert mesa in Arizona or part of the Grand Canyon. I purposely eliminated anything that would give an idea of scale since they look to me like they could be massive vistas shot from an airplane instead of two feet high.

 This shot was taken at a park. Something, perhaps some park benches, were causing these little peaks in the snow, but to me they looked like a mountain range or a moonscape.

This is Pier one as the sun sets.

Monday, December 27, 2010

How to make a snowflake from your photos in Photoshop

For all you folks out there with Photoshop who are stuck in due to the blizzard today and want a fun little project, give this a whirl. It's looks intimidating due to the number of steps, but once you get the hand of it, you and squeeze one of these out in 2 or 3 minutes.

This is my first attempt at a tutorial, so be kind and if you have any advice for making it clearer or easier, or if you just want to heap me with praise or curse my existence, feel free. Actually, you don't really have to be too public about cursing my existence.

So let's start with a horizontal image. Make sure it has some interesting stuff going on along the bottom. You'll understand why that's important in a few minutes. 

Here's a shot I just took of my terrace mid-blizzard.

Make sure the image is relatively small as we'll be making a slice and duplicating it and we don't want to end up with too massive a file (unless you're planning on printing it at 20 by 30 inches). I like to resize to 1000 pixels high. Go to Image/size and you'll end up with this palette. Put in this info

Once you've resized your image, go to the layers palette and double click on the  background layer so it becomes layer 0. 

Once that's done, go to Select/All or hit command A on the Mac, Control A for Windows. Once the entire image is selected choose Edit/Transform/Rotate and put 60 degrees in the rotation box in the top menu.

This is what you should end up with.

Move the tilted image to the right side of the canvas and make sure the edge hits exactly at the bottom right corner like so:

Go to Select/Deslect or hit command D on the Mac or Control D on the PC  to deselect the image.

Now go to the magic wand tool and select the empty space on the canvas. 

Once that's selected go to Select/Inverse to select the image.

With the image still selected go to Select/Modify/Contract and if it doesn't already say so, put in one pixel for the measurement and click OK.

Now go to Image/Crop.

You should have this.

Then duplicate the layer so you have this.

Then head over to View/Snap To, and deselect Guides.

Then go back to View/Snap To, and select All.

Then go to Image/Canvas Size. Click the box that says relative and put in the following dimensions. The width should be triple the current height, in this case 3000 pixels and the height should be double the current height, in this case 2000 pixels, and most importantly be sure to place the resulting image in the top middle of the canvasa by choosing the top middle box in the nine positioning boxes.

This should be your resulting image.

Now take the top layer and using the move tool position it to the right of the bottom layer like so. It should snap into place.

Then go to Edit/Transform/Flip Horizontal.

You should have this. Use the magnifying glass to take a close look to make sure the edges are meeting :

Then merge visible:

So you have this:

Now duplicate the layer and go to Edit/Transform/Rotate. 

Now head to the top menu bar and click on the bottom middle box in the nine positioning boxes on the far left. This is extremely important and easy to miss do don't forget to do it. 

Once you've clicked the bottom middle box, put 60 degrees in the rotation box and you should end up with this:

Double click on  the newly moved slice to position it in place.

OK, believe it or not, you're almost done. 

Use the keyboard and hit command J and then command/shift T. This will repeat the last action. Do this four times and the entire snowflake will be done. 

If you're still up for doing more, then select all the layers and click New Group from Layers. Once that group is done, click duplicate group.

Make sure group is selected along the top. 

Go to Edit/Transform/Scale.

Hold down the option and shift keys and drag the image inward.The top layer should shrink while staying in the center of the design. When you've hit a size you like, stop dragging and double click in the center. 

Feel free to keep experimenting. Change the colors of different layers using the hue saturation bar, or alter the lightness or darkness. Throw in drop shadows. Have fun and feel free to show me what you've created.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas in New York

I wandered around midtown for a few hours tonight doing a little shooting. Boy was it frigid. Of course I never do that well with the cold under the best of circumstances. Anyone out there live in a nice warm place and want a photographer this winter?

Anyway, midtown was bustling. Maybe a bit too bustling. The crowds were overwhelming around Rockefeller Center, but once I got out of that madhouse, it was a bit easier to grab some shots.

Anyone see the windows at Bergdorfs this year? Gorgeous!