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April 2013

Before I begin, I have to announce the final winner in our month-long weekly giveaways.  We had one more camera stashed away (please read There’s still time for one more give away…) and we have a winner!  Congrats to NancyP, lucky number 13, winner of a beautiful, new, red Kodak Easyshare camera!  Nancy, we will be in touch with you to find out where to send your prize!


A giveaway of a beautiful camera seques beautifully into a tutorial about photographs. I’m in love with the beautiful starkness of black & white photography.  I’m struggling enough to shoot in manual, I’m not ready to shoot in b&w.  I do, however, like playing with all of photoshops features to convert my color photo’s to b&w.

You can follow along with my tutorial, or just skip to bottom, download the action & let it do all my babbling for me.
Note: I made the action in Photoshop CS5.  It may or may not work with other versions, or with elements.  Please let me know if it works for you & what verion of photoshop or elements you are using.  I will update here as I hear from people.
UPDATE: The action also works in CS6 & CS4. It does not work in PS Elements.

My original photo was take at the Camel Farewell Memorial.  These are the burned out main supports of the barn from the horrible fire on January 31, 2013.  My first glimpse of these brought me to tears.  I though the feeling behind the photo would be much better expressed in stark black & white.


My first step was to add a simple Black & White mask, or adjustment layer.  You can do this one of two ways:

On the bottom of your layers palette, click on the black/white circle: Create new fill or adjustment layer –> choose Black & White

Or click: Layer–>New Adjustment Layer–>Black & White


For a little more drama, I added a little bit of curve to my curves.  Again, you can add the curves adjustment mask one of two ways:

Create new fill or adjustment layer –> choose Curves
Or click: Layer–>New Adjustment Layer–>Curves

I used the following settings:

Bottom curve:
Output: 49
Input: 59

Top curve:
Output: 154
Input: 140


I wanted to boost the contrast a little with levels. Again, you can add the levels adjustment mask one of two ways:

Create new fill or adjustment layer –> choose Levels
Or click: Layer–>New Adjustment Layer–>Levels

I changed the settings to Soft Light and Opacity to 50%


I next ran high pass for definition. Click  Filter–>Other–>High Pass I used 10px.
Note: This value is dependent on the size of your image. I am working with a 2848X4272 size image. The bigger the image, the bigger the number.


I am going for stark in my photo.  I want to ramp up the white.  I do this by adding a Selective Color adjustment mask one of two ways:

Create new fill or adjustment layer –> choose Selective Color
Or click: Layer–>New Adjustment Layer–>Selective Color

While on your Selective Color adjustment mask layer; click on your Adjustment Palette –> choose Whites under the colors dropdown menu –> Change Black to -38%


As my final step, I merged all my layers (right click in your Layers palette –> Merge Visible or Shift+Ctrl+E), created a duplicate layer (right click in your Layers palette–>Duplicate Layer), then ran Unsharp Mask.

Filter –>Sharpen–>Unsharp Mask
Amount: 234%
Radius: 0.7 pixels
Threshold: 3 levels

I did not adjust opacity of my Sharpen layer.  The free action leaves you the choice to adjust the Sharpen layer by sliding the Opacity slider.
Before merging for the final step, you can adjust each individual layer by using the opacity sliders, change the Blend Mode, or play with the options on each individual Adjustment palette.


You can download the FREE action to do the work for you here:

FREE B&W Action

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If you’re at all familiar with my blog postings, you’ll know that I am forever working on my yard. One week I’m adding flowers, the next pulling weeds. This past weekend was no exception and I added two beautiful young trees to my yard.

Three years ago when my husband and I decided we wanted a puppy, we spent night after night on the internet reading through lists and looking at images of different dog breeds, considering which breed would be best for us and for our future family. When it came to choosing trees for our yard, our approach was the same; we scoured nursery websites and wiki articles reading about this tree or that. What color are the flowers, when does it bloom? Does it fruit? What sort of diseases is it resistant or susceptible to? Perhaps it’s a bit much, but we wanted our trees to be just right for us and for our yard.

We finally settled on crab apple trees, Malus Evereste for the front and Purple Prince for the back. Each of these trees will blossom in the spring and fruit in the fall, white and deep pink flowers, and yellow/orange and purple fruits, respectively. The trees are a bit scrawny now being that they are still young, but I am so looking forward to seeing them grow and take shape in my yard.

As I mold and shape my garden I wonder: what will next year bring? What new flowers, plants, and trees will we add, and how will they all grow together? To narrate my story, I turn to a delightful collection from Snickerdoodle Designs: Leaving Room. The collection includes garden staples like a shovel and glove, and some surprising elements like the garden angels who watch over the seeds you sow. This Wednesday, and every Wednesday through May 22nd, you’ll find two collections from Snickerdoodle Designs featured in theStudio newsletter, each with a little something extra included. This past Wednesday, Leaving Room and Flower Creek Lane were featured.

If you’re wondering how to get the “extra” bonus that is included with each kit, there’s no secret. Just add the kit to your cart for purchase and the bonus will be included with the download. Be sure to check theStudio newsletter each week to find out which two kits will be featured next.

For my part, I’ve put together a quickpage for you to download, so in addition to the bonus you’ll get with purchase, you can add this little bonus to your collection as well! Enjoy and happy Monday.

***Download No Longer Available***



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nadiF with her fabulous page Burj Al Arab. I love the photo here, love how it’s placed in the centre of the page surrounded by a beautiful cluster. The colors of the photo go so well with the kit and the whole composition of the page makes the photo shine even more. So congrats NadiF for winning this week’s LOTW!


This gorgeous page was created with the beautiful kit HomeSpoon by Created by Jill Scraps.


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Peaceful, Easy Feeling

by Toiny Westberry 27 April 2013
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We have a now made it a daily ritual in our house to go out for a walk in the Black Forest.  I still (almost) pinch myself in awe that I actually live in the Black Forest.  That I can step outside my door, pass 3-4 houses and I’m amongst the trees.  It is an immediate […]

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Create your own Tool Presets

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 27 April 2013
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We all have our favorite ways of working, our favorite tools – ones we return to over and over again.  What is yours? Does your favorite Photoshop tool have a Preset, making it faster and easier for you to use that tool?  If not, did you know that you can create your own? In my […]

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Tea Cup Memories by The Urban Fairy and a free quickpage for you!

by renee 26 April 2013

Today I like to show you the wonderful new and huge collection Tea Cup Memories by The Urban Fairy. Imagine a quaint social gathering…hot tea and delicious light refreshments are served…cupcakes….fragrant flowers surrounding the fanciful place settings,…soft lace doilies and satin ribbons…dainty tea cups..polished silver.. and the best of friends to make memories with… A […]

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Pure At Heart by Booland Designs

by tammy 25 April 2013

Burlap and satin with ribbons and pearls; a Pure Heart knows the love of the world.  A partner for life?  Yes, it’s real.  The good and the bad, it’s a package deal.  This moment I pledge my love for you; to cherish and hold our whole life through.  And when we’re old and remember this […]

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Socks Are a Really Good Idea

by Toiny Westberry 24 April 2013
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Remember how last week was not my week?  This week is already 1,000% better.  Except.  Well.  I goofed.  Big time. Last week was so hectic, the racing around between home, schools, hospital and our on-post vehicle registration kept me hopping.  I had little to no time to drag out my beloved camera and take pictures.  […]

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Recipe For The Perfect Photo?

by Rebecca 24 April 2013

Have you enjoyed the month long birthday celebration?  Have you won something or participated in one of the challenges?  The month isn’t over so there’s still time.  I love learning new things and I love being surrounded by talented and creative people.  I came home from Japan with a card full of photos and videos […]

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There’s still time for one more give away…

by Steph 23 April 2013
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It’s been quite a month of celebration!! Some many fun things to do in the forum and so many fun things to win!! Well we have time for one more give away this month, but first lets announce the winner of the EHD, shall we?   Congrats to lucky number 19, scrappynana!!! I will be […]

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