Winter Beauty

It’s still winter here. Funnily enough, that’s ok with me.  I’ve gone from freezing all the time to being too warm a lot of the time, so winter sounds cool. It’s also keeping my heating bill down, which is nice.    😛

I don’t like being out in the snow, but I love looking at it. It makes everything look so calm and peaceful and glittery and gorgeous.

So my visit to Springfield Wood (Winter Trace) made me a happy camper.

winter-trace-1

The rugged, snow-capped mountains in the background, the adorable and oh-so-cozy looking windmill home – it’s simply amazing. I’m always in awe of landscapers and sim designers who can make magic like this.

winter-trace-2

I don’t see many stone houses where I live (none, really), and this one with the stone path and bench outside looks so inviting. The mix of bare deciduous trees with evergreens is fantastic, and the pops of red from the berries add to the overall look.

Winter Trace SleighI stumbled upon this fabulous sleigh and couldn’t resist taking a pic of the patient horse, just waiting to haul someone through this magical wonderland of snow.

Faithful DogI’m a sucker for animals, and this faithful dog is so adorable, sitting patiently waiting for his master to return.

Snow CartA bit off topic, but I’ve been taking photography classes and learning to play around with light, shadows, and depth of field.  Still, sometimes I stumble upon something, and this photo is one of those.  I love the soft falling snow, the crispness of the wooden cart contrasted with the blurriness of the bushes in the background.  I think it’s one of my favorite photos. 🙂

Winter Trace WindmillThis adorable windmill home is somewhere I’d love to live.  Imagine being all cozy and warm inside, snuggled up by the fire, while the snow falls outside.  Heaven!

Winter Trace MountainsI was really taken with the gorgeous mountains that were the sim surround – the craggy peaks covered with snow – simply stunning.

If you love winter (and even if you don’t), you won’t regret visiting Springfield Wood – just make sure you pack your camera!

Trying Out My New Photoshop Skills

Image Source: simpleicon.com
Image Source: simpleicon.com

A week ago, I was lucky enough to stumble across a post on Plurk from Daeberethwen Arbenlow about a tutorial she had made for removing a green screen in Photoshop.

Though I had watched various tutorials on the same subject and attempted it numerous times, I could never get to work as cleanly as the videos showed.

It may be that I have more experience with Photoshop now, but I’m chalking it up to the terrific job Daeberethwen does of explaining in her tutorials.  😀

Since the green screen video, I have used the method with great success. Just yesterday I cajoled my husband into logging into SL so we could take a holiday photo.

I had set up all my props in front of a green screen so that I could insert a different background later in Photoshop.  We could have just gone somewhere winter-y and taken the pic, but I wanted to try out my new skill. 😛

Also, it gave me an excuse to sort through my giant folder of ‘Christmas’ items and purge some of them.  (How do I end up with so many no-copy items that are useless to me for sets?!)

Perfect Xmas 2015

This is the edited photo and what I will be using for Christmas cards. 🙂

I used several techniques I learned in videos from Daeberethwen, including the green screen removal and using the ‘screen’ layer style to add effects.

I am still amazed at how quickly and cleanly I can now add effects and fancy bits to my photos with very little effort!

I changed my ‘green screen’ to blue, since so many of the props have green in them.  I did have to lower my tolerance a bit with the background eraser, because at 100% it was erasing much of his tuxedo!

I added a background texture (the snowflake background behind the pergola), changed the hue of it a bit, and then used the ‘screen’ layer trick to add some snow as an overlay.

After adding the text, I think the total time to process this photo was maybe 20 minutes.  For comparison, here is the original photo:

Xmas Original

As you can see, I cropped it (sorry, Frosty!), removed the blue screen, and then added my other effects.

Simple!

I love playing around in Photoshop and learning new techniques.  I have a ton of pre-made filters and actions I’ve found in various places, but I get much more enjoyment out of discovering how to do something myself. 😀

If you’ve been looking for some great Photoshop tutorials, I highly recommend Daeberethwen’s videos.  You can find the tutorial on using the ‘screen’ layer here.

I can’t wait to try this out with other photos and effects!