Featured Artist Tutorial: Denise Worden

Meet Denise Worden:
 I started out as a painter using my photographs solely as a tool. It eventually evolved into making photographs as an end product because let's face it's not as messy and doesn't take as long as oil paint to dry (I do miss the smell of Linseed oil but that's another story...).

When I moved from film to digital a whole new world opened with Photoshop and then came my discovery of textures. I'd played around a little but it wasn't until I saw Doug Landreth on Creative Live that I really started exploring and using textures successfully. For me, the process is very much like painting and I love the changing and varied effects it can have on the mood of an image.

My Photoshop methods may be unorthodox, I've taught myself most of what I know by experimenting, and making mistakes and I'm certain there are frequently easier or more efficient ways to achieve the same end results. More often than not my process is a lot of trial and error, sometimes my first choices and instincts work and sometimes they don't. What usually drives the end result for me is about the mood created. There's no magic to knowing when I'm finished, I look at it, go back & forth with a few changes and its done when nothing else adds to it.

"For me, the process is very much like painting and I love the changing and varied effects it can have on the mood of an image."

This image is a 2 frame panorama I shot on this past Christmas morning. I had driven by the farm the night before, loved the old buildings and thought it might be worth going back at sunrise. My hunch was right. In spite of the unusual freezing temperatures I'm glad I ventured out!

Click to zoom images...


I merge the RAW frames in Photoshop to create the panorama then save it to Lightroom catalog to make basic adjustments. I didn't have to do much with this - standard Lightroom import settings, I zero out the "blacks" slider (to avoid getting too dark) and zero sharpening in Lightroom (it's just a personal preference that I use the Photoshop unsharp mask). Then it's back to Photoshop for the layers. As a first step in Photoshop, I duplicate my background layer and apply the unsharp mask.

Add Clouds: So, I couldn't have been happier with the rural scene and the light but I really wish there had been some clouds in the sky. I have lots of clouds in my archives and pulled one I shot around the same time of morning with the light at a similar angle and the same focal length. I wanted very subtle clouds and knew this image would work and fit well....

1) Convert the clouds to smart object
2) Create layer mask to reveal the clouds I want 
3) Adjust opacity – fine tune at the finish

Texture 1: I don't generally know which textures I am going to use although I do have a pretty good idea of what tones I want in the end result. Artistic Selections #37 has a nice subtle texture and the gradient color fits the image well.

4) Convert to Smart object (I know I'm going to have to stretch it to fit the pano)
5) Add the layer and set blend mode Multiply/adjust opacity 
6) Create a layer mask to reduce the texture over the buildings. I want less texture on the buildings so they'll "pop" a little more.

Warming: I like what the texture is doing but I want to warm it up so I'm going to add a warming filter #85. 
7) add photo filter adjustment layer

Another Texture: I like layering multiple textures, it adds a beautiful richness and depth of color. I still want something more here so I'm going to try one of my favorites - Subtle Textures 07 (Essentials Vol. 1
8) convert to smart object/rotate, fit, add texture layer and mask. blend mode multiply, adjust opacity 
9) mask to slightly reduce the texture over the buildings

One more texture: At this point I like what is happening but I think I still want to add something else to the sky. This is usually when I just have to try some things out to see what might work and I settle on Ethereal Light 06 (Ethereal Dark plus Light).
10) convert to smart object/rotate, fit, blend mode multiply
11) ...And I like it! I think that's it.

This is when I usually go back and make minor fine tuning adjustments in opacities, masks, etc. The image ended up a bit darker than I wanted so I went back and added an exposure adjustment layer. There are other options but simply adjusting exposure worked for me in this instance.

And this is my final image. You can zoom in to see the details:


To find out more about Denise Worden's photography:

Visit her website www.imagine-foto.com
Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/Denise-Worden-Photography/232129146819926?ref=hl 
Twitter www.twitter.com/DeniseWorden

denise_worden-color.jpgDenise Worden is a freelance photographer living in Central North Carolina. When not shooting environmental portraits or commercial work she's out chasing the sunrise, fog and the wildlife at nearby Jordan Lake. Her work has been featured in online and print publications, she shows regularly in galleries in Raleigh, NC. and teaches panoramic workshops. As the 2012 World Photography Organization Open Panoramic winner her work was included in the winners show at Somerset House in London. Her personal obsessions include all kinds of music (especially live & loud), Shadow her awesome rescue cat, good coffee and bald eagles.