Old Mill, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Down By the Old Mill Stream

Old Mill, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

“Down by the old mill stream where I first met you, with your eyes of blue, dressed in gingham too; it was there I knew that you loved me true, you were sixteen, my village queen, by the old mill stream.”

This old song, written in 1908 and made famous in 1910 by Tell Taylor is the perfect accompaniment for this photograph. The Old Mill on the banks of the Little Pigeon River in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is reportedly one of the most photographed mills in the United States. I took this photograph most likely in the late 1970s judged by the short gym style shorts the young boy in the lower left hand corner is wearing. Its funny I don’t remember actually going to this mill and I’m guessing when we were there, it was not nearly as commercialized as it is now. Pigeon Forge is located on the northwest side of Route 321 which traverses the Great Smokey Mountains and links Pigeon Forge with Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the southeast entry into the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. I like this photograph very much, but like many landscape photos, the sky in the original photograph lacked any color. I found a tutorial online which taught me how to replace the boring white sky with a more vivid blue sky I had photographed last year. What a difference the change in sky made!
Here is the original photograph:
Old Mill, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Here is a link to the tutorial. It worked like a charm! I’ve tried many times to replace a sky and this method is by far the best result I have ever gotten.

Back in the Valentine Day

Earl and his race car circa 1969

My husband has always had a love for anything that goes fast; especially cars and motorcycles. Back in the 60s and 70s, he owned a number of cars which he raced on local quarter mile drag strips. For Valentine’s Day, I surprised him with this 5″ x 7″ restored photo of him and his 1966 Plymouth Belvedere. The original photograph (below) was 3″ x 4″. He was going through old racing photographs and had left the stack of them sitting on his desk. this picture was among them and I knew he would love to have it enlarged.

Earl and his race car circa 1969I snitched the photo from the stack, scanned it and put it back. After scanning the original at 600 dpi, I used Photoshop to repair it. I cropped it and enlarged it at 5% increments using Bicubic smoother, until it reached 7″ x 5″. I didn’t think I could make it any larger and not lose quality. I cleaned up some of the scratches and other blemishes using both the clone stamp and the spot healing brush, darkened the image by multiplying the layer and took out some of the green tint. I matted and framed it and gave it to my husband this morning for Valentine’s day. He loved it. Of course now, he wants me to do some other ones.

Sunset Composite

I’m looking for some suggestions. I know there have to be a lot of Photoshop aficionados out there who could give me suggestions on this composite. I started playing with this composite with a Panama Beach, Florida sunset and an engagement photo I took. I can’t seem to get the composite not to look flat, especially around the woman’s legs. Any ideas? I tried the drop shadow but it doesn’t seem to do the trick. Also, I couldn’t get the refine edge to work but it might have been because I had used a mask to mask out the area around the couple and then applied the mask.Sunset composite

Painterly sketch effect

I love the look of a sketch with a hint (or a little more) of color. I think I like the sketch look on a photograph because I can’t draw AT ALL. Back in my other life when I was a crime scene investigator, one of the first homicide scenes I was on, I was tasked with making the preliminary sketch. This is just a rough sketch where you can write down your triangulation measurements. I drew what I thought was a passable human, when in fact, it looked more like one of those large pickles you see in a barrel than it did a human. That was one of those things that over a twenty-five year career in law enforcement doesn’t get forgotten. That poor man was forever after known as “pickleman”.

I ran across this tutorial the other day on Facebook. The tutorial was by http://www.davro-digital.com and was posted on http://www.photoshoproadmap.com. It is a tutorial for Photoshop Elements, but it was easy to use Photoshop CS6 with just a few tweaks. It is similar to the tutorial I posted on my youtube channel last year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xF_sL7ZAVnc). I love what you can learn on the internet and I love to watch videos to see exactly how the steps are performed. But unfortunately for me, my retention level isn’t long and I find that I forget steps when I am trying to replicate them and  having to switch between my Photoshop program and internet. This is why I generally watch the video several times and take notes on the steps used to achieve the specific look. This is what I did with this tutorial.
Here is an photograph I took at the front entrance of the Americas Center in downtown St. Louis:

americas center small

A pretty cool picture on its own, but this is the image when I used the “Painterly Sketch” effect:
americas center tutorial finished color bump flatten smaller

These are the major steps to use as you progress through this video:

Open a photograph of your choice, duplicate the background layer, change the name of the duplicate layer to “sketch”.

Invert this layer (“ctl+I). Duplicate the sketch layer (Photoshop automatically names the layer “sketch copy”).
Click off visibility of the sketch copy layer.


Activate the sketch layer by clicking on it, create layer mask by clicking on the rectangular icon at the bottom of the layers panel,  chose soft edge brush, change layer mode to dissolve. Paint with brush strokes


Switch copy on, change blend mode to soft light


Click on background layer, add a  new adjustment levels layer (two-tone circle at bottom of layers panel) , to give more contrast if needed. Add another new adjustment layer, hue saturation, increase saturation.

Go to top layer below sketch layer, turn off sketch layers. Merge a copy of all visible layers into a new layer Command+Shift+Option+E/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E. You might want to name this layer something more descriptive than the default name of “layer one”, I didn’t and I wish I had.


On this layer, add a Gassian blur. Go to Filter–> blur–> Gaussian blur, setting between 5-15, reduce layer opacity to between 30 and 50 percent depending on what looks best to you.


Go to top layer of layers stack, make another merged layer by “Ctl+Shift+alt+E”.  You might want to rename this layer. I did not.


Go to Filter–>Filter Gallery–>Determine which filter you like and the settings or each. Click Ok. I used Poster Edges, but you can use whatever filters gives your photograph the look you want. Reduce the opacity of the layer.


That is all there is to it. You can change the type of brush you use, the filters and opacity to whatever you like. When your image is complete, you  should have a total of 7 layers:
From bottom to top: background layer, adjustment levels layer, adjustment hue/saturation layer,
Layer 1 (first merged layer)
Sketch layer with layer mask
Sketch copy
Texture layer which is second alt plus merge

If you don’t complete the steps in the order given, your results will be different, but who knows, you make like it better. Enjoy!

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Earl and Lilly

My husband and I own a couple camping lots in Wildwood, Steadman, Missouri. Last weekend we took advantage of the uncharacteristically warm January weather and spent the night in our camper. The late afternoon light made for a great portrait picture of my husband his his favorite little girl, Lilly.IMG_7964 earl and lilly smaller

From photo to watercolor

I recently had to do a project for my Digital Video Editing class (aka Adobe Premiere and Fireworks) so I decided to do a video tutorial  on my favorite photo transformation. When the school project is completed, I’ll post a link to it on Youtube. Here’s the original photograph taken on my recent vacation in St. Croix:

Harbor in St. Croix

And here is the final product from my four minute tutorial:

Harbor in St. Croix watercolor