Lake Tahoe as a canvas

I think I finally figured out how to work with water as a colored texture. I like the idea of textures, but I wanted the water color. The key was to select just the subject from the photo you want to paste onto the texture. For the pinecone I did this with freehand select using my digital pad and pen. For the bush I used select by color, copy, paste, as many times as I could stand. I was okay with a little bit of an abstract bush. It’s not all filled in, but that allows more water to come through.

The pine cone was very small! I put it on a post to photograph it. I should have changed off my telephoto lens, but I managed to clean up the slight blur on the cone afterwards by using sharpen. The bush is from the East side of the Sierra, growing at around 5,500 feet above sea level. (Lake Tahoe is 6,000.)




Paris snaps 4

Notre Dame 6 sky dimmed tower sharpened tree and building blurred
Notre Dame, sky dimmed tower sharpened tree and building blurred (using GIMP)
Notre Dame stylized
Notre Dame stylized, (GIMP)
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Cathedral de Notre Dame
Cathedral de Notre Dame (“CAT-ay-DROLL de NOTrha DAHM)
Cathedral de Notre Dame from the Left Bank
Cathedral de Notre Dame from the Left Bank
Sacre Couer Cathedral
Sacre Couer (Sacred Heart) Cathedral
Singer at La Mere Catherine
Singer at La Mere Catherine, by the Sacre Couer Cathedral

California poppies (and art self-education)

The feature photo has no photo enhancement.

This is the same photo with Corel Painter Essentials Auto Painting->Detailed Watercolor applied. Beautiful but why…


so faded? How to enrich it in Corel Painter Essentials, don’t know, so… (good ‘ol) GIMP, Colors->Auto->White Balance followed by Colors->Auto->Color Enhance. Satisfaction.

Poppy_Painting enhanced

This next one has Photoshop Essentials Enhance->Auto Smart Fix applied because the poppy was too out of focus and this tool improved it enough to make the photo work. Intention was poppy in focus, grass blurry but opposite achieved. (Working with LCD display in bright sunlight without knowing the camera that well, and in a hurry.) Nonetheless, this composition makes the photographer happy.

field and skyI

Magical morning, March 30, 2013, Saratoga, California

The featured photo has been enhanced using GIMP Colors->Auto->White Balance followed by Colors->Auto->Color Enhance. It is the featured image because it’s more intense, but there is too much purple in the roof, and, arguably, in the fog. Here is the original.

Magical morning

This is a close up, not enhanced. (Because it is all fog, the over-purple effect of white balance and color enhance ruined it.)


In the next set, the first is original, the second, enhanced with white balance and color enhance. Very different feelings.

Zoomed less

Zoomed less enhanced

The (art) education of Nia Simone, stencils

Inspired by this fellow blogger and artist:

Pedro Holderbaum and especially this painting Menno, start studying stencils.

A link to a video about how to do it correctly: Four ways to do multi-colored stencils.

First stencil, step 3, stick it on (step 1 was getting a photo, turning it into black and white and increasing the contrast (see and printing, step 2 was cutting it out with an Exacto knife.)first stick on

Step 4. (Should be mowing this grass!)

I should be mowing this grass First try at spray paint

Failure. Bleeding from overspray.

First attempt failure

Step 3 again, this time using this cool wax you can get at the office supply (note the original stencil is black now):

A lot of patience and some sangria
Sangria to help with nervous tension. Recipe: Make iced Passionberry Fruit Tisane from The Monterey Bay Spice Company ( Mix with red wine. A few ice cubes. Be careful with the Exacto knife.

Applying wax to the back side of stencil for second try

Re-stuck for second try

The cool waxy stuff:

Stencil wax

Step 4 again, this time with tempera paint:

Note cappuccino instead of sangria.
Note cappuccino instead of sangria.

Step 5, remove stencil, discover step 4 failure. Also ruined stencil.

Second attemtp failure


Research how to do it completely with GIMP.

It didn’t work out exactly as described so here is documentation of the additional steps:

Thankfully have a photo of the spray-painted stencil, which is black now, and start with that. Make it a stencil using GIMP as described in completely with GIMP.

Thinking… Can I flip black and white? Should be simple. There’s something called Invert. Click. Nothing happens.

Struggle and experiment, use handy Select by Color (Tools->Selection Tools->Select by Color) to grab all the black.

Stencil from GIMP 2

Have dotted lines. Look in the Select menu. Find Float! Try that. (Note: This screen shot made by creating a new image, then File->Screenshot, selected The Whole Screen, then crop the result.)

Screen shot of float

It’s floating. Can it be dragged free of that background? Yes.

Floated stencil

Now what? Click Edit->Copy. Now it’s in the clipboard.

Now create a new image, (1000×750, basic working size) and paste. Notice, probably didn’t have to move it off to the side as that actually had no effect. Just making it float was the key to detaching it from the background and copying it into the clipboard.

Paste into new imageI

It’s still floating. Can I invert it now? No. Instead, Tools->Selection Tools->Select by Color and click on the white part. Now white part is selected; you can’t tell, because the borders that are highlighted = borders of black, but it really is the white part, which you can tell when you do this: Edit->Fill with Pattern:

Fill with pattern

Do Tools->Selection Tools->Select by Colors again and click on the black part. Does Invert work now? No. That would be too easy. How about Edit->Fill with Background Color? Expecting the vinyl paneling in the stencil, get this instead, the whole point of the entire stenciling exercise!

White stencil

Okay, can it be less white? Yes, but can’t remember how to make it gray. Did that somehow. (Will update this post when it’s re-discovered.)

However, can now just Control C or Edit->Copy the floating image, open the background (purchased from canstockphoto for $3) and paste from the clipboard. The image is still floating. Drag it to where you want it.

Last step, anchor it. Could this be easy? Of course not. Go to Windows->Dockable Dialogs->Layers. Find the layer in the box to the right. First adjust the opacity down so it’s kind of transparent. Then, at the bottom of that dialog box, find the little anchor symbol and click it. Sometimes. Little anchor symbol was no longer there when this was written but it was there the first time. No hallucination… really, just had coffee. Whew, anchor also exists under the Layer menu.

floated onto background

Hint: If you accidentally lose the ability to move your floating level, go to Tools->Transform Tools->Move. That puts you back in move mode.

Jason on T-shirt
Ta da!

Conclusion: Since the spray painted stencil was less of a disaster than the tempera paint, sangria is better for art work than coffee.

Mountains of Peru

Tips for using GIMP follow today’s photos.

Urubamba Valley (Sacred Valley)

Peru and Easter Island 045

From the road leading out of Cusco, heading to the Urubamba Valley:

Peru and Easter Island 360

Peru and Easter Island 355

Machu Picchu:

Peru and Easter Island 248

Peru and Easter Island 313Peru and Easter Island 312 Peru and Easter Island 252 Peru and Easter Island 356

What GIMP makes easy in photo editing, it makes up for by making very basic operations complicated. To scale down the image size for faster loading on the Web, use the Image menu: Image->Scale Image then enter 1000 in the Image Size, Width box. Click Scale.

To save the image as a jpeg, use the File menu and the Export menu. In the bottom left corner of the Export menu, just above the Help button, there is Select File Type (by extension). Expand that menu, scroll down and select JPEG image, then click Export. The first time you export as jpg, set the quality in the Export menu to 100% and click Save default. 

Saving: The default save is as a GIMP file. Don’t bother with that unless you’re going to work on it again later and want to save what you did. It is a huge file and you can’t use it for anything except GIMP, so move on. When you close the file, it will warn you that you made changes without saving; it is referring to the GIMP file. From the File menu, select Close, then click Close without saving

Cropping is also hard to find because it doesn’t have the usual symbol and is buried. Cropping is under the Tools menu.  To crop a photo: Tools->Transform Tools->Crop.

For instructions on easily enhancing your photos with GIMP and on downloading this free, open-source software, go here: What blooms in March, Saratoga.