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On Our Most Recent Adventure...

 ...my wife and I didn’t see a single soul, but were treated to a few lovely vistas while biking the northern edge of Lake Moultrie. Normally I bring my big camera when we go out, but this time I forgot it, so I used my iPhone 7+ instead to capture two panoramic images, which I blended into one:


It is a neat process, made possible by the people who make Adobe Photoshop, and in case you’re into this kind of thing, I decided to describe it here. 


I start with the first panorama, increasing the canvas size to give me room to grow the image.  


Next I pasted the second panorama into the image, roughly lining it up with the bottom pano. The goal is to have two separate exposures, one set for the ground and one set for the sky. So when I was shooting the scene, I used the AE/AF lock (tapping on screen where you want to set the exposure/focus and then holding down your finger on that spot) to keep what I wanted exposed correctly. 


Then I switched the layer order and lightened the foreground (by reducing its opacity) so that I could see through it to align the two layers. 


Next I used the flipping super cool “Camera Raw Filter” to pull the black out of the under exposed foreground and transformed it (free transform then warp) to almost match the foreground. You don’t have to be perfect because in the next step Photoshop takes over. 


When you do most of the work above manually, I’ve found that Photoshop’s “Auto-Blend Layers” does a much better job getting the rest right, combining the two images together. A simple “Free Transform” and some guides help to straighten up landscape. 


Finally, the biggest decision of how to crop what you’ve captured comes in. I usually copy and paste several crops into new documents so that I can toggle between them to choose a favorite. Then one more “Camera Raw Filter” and a “Levels” adjustment in this new document cleans up the colors and eliminates the lingering grey. If you then save the two separately, you can have one process document and one final. That way, if you ever want to go back and re-crop or color edit differently, you have the option.


Now I may never decide to paint this image. I would guess that I paint one out of ten panoramics that I build. But either way, it is a fun process because in the end you get to see a landscape in a similar way that you would see it if you were standing there. And in the end, especially when it comes to painting realistically, it is the little things that make all the difference!

My Last Two Paintings...

 ...have started with nothing but a simple line to delineate the horizon line. While far more lines will follow on this painting after I paint the sky, this is a start. 


I Grew Up Looking...

 ...at a reproduction of this painting as my mom made my dad sit through a traveling salesman’s vacuum cleaner presentation, and for doing so, they received that reproduction. It hung by their bed ever since I can remember and I used to stare at it all the time. One day as a family we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and while there, we walked into a room with paintings by John Constable. Pointing at one I declared, “That’s the person who painted your painting!” My dad may have raised an eyebrow and walked off, but my mom raised two and went to check the name tag. When the names matched back at home, she started looking at her under hip-high son a little differently, and always supported him in his artistic endeavors. So thank you Dad for sitting through an I’m sure very boring presentation. Thank you Mom for never seeing a painting of mine that you didn’t like. And thank you John Constable for painting phenomenal clouds and pastoral scenes that endlessly captured this artist’s young imagination. And if you ever have the chance to go to The National Gallery of London,drop by “The Hay Wain” and spend a little more time than you might otherwise. It is a fascinating scene.


​I Lightened Up The Sky...

...in the second layer of paint, and now am excited about where this painting is headed. You can see the full spectrum of sky colors in the tube below the painting, and the before and current colors on the color strip to the right. Now onto the horizon line and water.


The First Layer...

 ...is done, and now I get to stare at this one for a while (and go find some post sunset twilights to stare at while I’m at it) to decide where I want this painting to go in the next layer.


The Colors...

 ...for my second layer on this painting are spread out on the palatte below the easel. To the left with a brush for each color are the water tones, while the ice flows get one brush for every three shades on the right.