“Order in the court!” The judge banged the gavel and the audience sat up, almost at attention.

“There will be a quiz on Friday,” announced the biology teacher. The classroom came instantly to order.

Orderly chili bowls

My life is not orderly or it does not seem so to me. Life is organized insofar as I know what’s coming and when, but orderly? Is it the same thing but with a different title?

Spice – ordered?

I have a lot of shelves carefully laid out with various items, old, older, and not so old. But they are laid out by size, shape, and how well they coördinate with other things. I balance the pictures on the walls. I carefully place things on the mantel so they look “a certain way.” But orderly? I’m not sure I know how to put things in order. Does stowing all “important” papers in a big bin count?

Painted dolls – in order?

It’s worrisome. The books are in the bookcase, but attempts at creating order have never been effective. The same goes for DVDs and CDs. They are in the case … but order?

I know Garry and I tried to agree on what “order” might be. Do we  set things up alphabetically? Do we put items together by genre? All science fiction here and the westerns over there? What about all those “other” books that never really fit anywhere. Will we remember to put them back in the order from which they came?

Oh, wait. My kitchen is almost in order and my dishes are definitely in order. That’s it. Dishes. Got it.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017


Cee’s Compose Yourself Lesson: #24 Black and White: Post Editing

These are difficult for me to do because I don’t use the same process all the time or even most of the time. I don’t use Lightroom at all. I use a variety of filters by NIK and Topaz with Photoshop as the supporting application. How I transform photographs from color to black & white depends on the picture. There are a lot of ways to do it and they all give good results.

All of these pictures are new. It was the only way I thought I might actually remember what I did. It’s been a few hours and I’m beginning to forget. I’d better get to it!


#1: Boats in their moorings

This is the original shot. In color, unprocessed and  uncropped, the two boats across the water are burned out.

Even so, I liked the angularity of the composition as well as the strong contrast between the water, sky, and boats. I also liked the reflection of the boats on the surface of the water.

I thought it might be interesting to translate the shot to black & white.


A lot of processing later, I found I could not recover the detail in the burned out boats, so I decided to go in a different direction. I used Topaz Adjust to increase contrast and generally correct the exposure settings. I ran it through Topaz Clean using the “Crisp Collection using the Crisp Edge Boost” setting. This reduced detail, making the picture more geometrical. Finally, I used NIK’s Silver Efex Pro in the “Underexposed” setting  to transform it to black & white. I brightened it a bit, added a green filter to darken the water, sky and subtly increase overall contrast.

# 2: The Crop


One of our neighbors is a farmer. He invited me to drop by and take a few pictures before harvest time. In color, the original (unedited, unprocessed) photograph is not very interesting. I thought going to monochrome might improve it.

I ran Topaz Adjust, adding contrast and detail. I tried desaturating it to black & white, but didn’t like the result. I applied Topaz Adjust then went to NIK Silver Efex Pro. I used the “017 Full Spectrum” filter in dark sepia with additional dark sepia toning and a rose filter.


#3: The Clubhouse by Night


This night shot of the marina clubhouse was almost monochrome anyway. I straightened it, used Topaz Adjust to sharpen, add detail, and desaturate it to monochrome. I then ran it through Topaz Clean “Cartoon Detailed” to make it a bit more “unearthly.” An easy conversion.


#4: Leaves on the Deck

I liked this one in color, but wondered what I could do with it in monochrome. After all, it’s mostly about light and shadow with a lot of texture. The color is almost incidental.


I used Topaz Adjust to add detail, turn down the bright and raise the contrast. Not much. Barely 5%, but that was enough. I then used the Color Saturation slider to remove the color, and the green color slider to add a bit of color back into the leaves. The result is interesting.  I like both versions.


I used three different cameras for the pictures. Only the last one of the deck was taken with my “good” lens. The others were one of my Panasonic Lumix super-zoom cameras. I always reduce published pictures to 72 dpi because of storage considerations. I know it would be nice to see a higher definition picture, but storage is expensive.

So, there you go. I don’t know if I’ve answered the call on this challenge. I admit — I’m not a particularly disciplined photographer. It’s my hobby. When it stops being fun, I’ll stop taking pictures.



One of my favorite effects — certainly the one I use most often — is the oil painting filter. It softens the focus slightly and adds a texture to the surface. It’s subtle and a bit other-worldly. Very flattering for portraits, too, especially if your subject is older or has less than perfect skin. Or your focus was less than perfect!








As you can see, it’s a broadly useful tool. It’s one of the native Photoshop filters. Give it a try. You may be surprised at how versatile it is — unless (of course) you’ve already discovered it.



Please check out other floral posts through Cee’s Flower of the Day!


A Photo a Week Challenge: Artsy

I was delighted to see this challenge … until I realized that I often — okay, usually — don’t remember how I made a picture look “that way.” I wing it because, in Photoshop, I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time.

BW plastic oil bottle

I’ve never studied Photoshop. Never taken a course, or been tutored. I’ve doped out how to do the things with occasional kindly tips from other photographers. I know how to do the things I need to do often. And I’ve worked my way through a lot of years and many iterations of Adobe’s software.

solarized art effect horizontal kitchen

I can crop, sharpen, re-balance color. Now, thanks to Bob Mielke, I can adjust specific areas of a picture, zeroing in on a particular section I want to fix.


It is a bit haphazard, I admit. The negative side is reproducing results sometimes impossible. The good news is I discover all kinds of nifty stuff. It’s a new set of toys every day!


I’ve been messing around with art effects for a long time, even before I had Photoshop. Back when I used Corel (because Photoshop was out of my price range), it had good effects. I did a lot of experimenting. I called the results “artographs” because they have photographic roots, but are no longer true photographs.


Personal taste is the overriding consideration in this sort of thing. I like painterly effects, poster effects, solarization. I like outlining, turning things into “drawings,” and toy camera effects. For me, art effects are playtime. I hope you like some of them too.


These days, pretty much every camera you can buy has art effects built in. Surprisingly, some of them are remarkably good. Better than you will get using Photoshop. If you haven’t tried them, give it a shot or three. I had never used them until I recently tried them by accident. I liked the results very much.  The first two pictures in this post were done using the Art Effects Bracket on an Olympus PEN PL-5.


Late January. The woods, my Olympus PEN E-PL5. The shadows of the deck railing forming strips. Bright sun in woods … and a photography challenge.

striped shadows on the deck

Solarized Woodland from the deck

Woods in late january no snow


Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself


According to everything I have read, this lion isn’t really black. It’s a hoax, a Photoshop manipulation. It is however, not a genetic impossibility. Color mutations among creatures great and small are never impossible. This particular picture originally showed (supposedly) a very rare white lion that has been manipulated to appear black.

I’m not sure why showing an extremely rare white lion would be less intriguing than a black one, but there you go. It doesn’t have to make sense.



I love trying out various effects. Often my goal is to make a photograph look like a painting. If I were a painter, I would do it with a brush and canvas. Since I’m not, Photoshop provides interesting tools and Google’s NIK filters offer even more choices.


You can judge for yourself. I certainly enjoyed doing them.