Photoshop

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography Creating a Faded and Streaked Border in Photoshop.

Creating a Faded & Streaked Border for Your Prints in Photoshop

When I decided to test Bay Photo Labs for the quality of their metal prints, I wanted something different than the regular 8x10s or 20x30s.

In addition, I wanted a theme and not just pick a few photos for the wall. I decided on 3 images with 3 different colors. After all, what’s the point of getting test prints made and all the colors are the same?

So I chose three different images to represent the three primary colors of Photography: Red, Green, and Blue. AND, I did not want the prints to be just normal prints. So as I was sitting there pondering what I wanted, I was examining the canvas prints on my wall. They have “fade to black” sides which make them appear to float off the wall. A light bulb went off over my head.

Here’s the set and the result of that inspiration:

This technique is rather easy and you can get some great looking wall prints with it.

It uses a technique called “pixel stretching” and uses the gradient tool to bade the stretched pixels to black.

It took me about half an hour to decide on the theme and final print size. I wanted square metal prints to they look better from a distance and you didn’t have to worry about trying to get the arrangement to look nice on the wall.

Square prints make this easy for two reasons: The image is relatively big and the prints are small enough to hang in a narrow wall space.

So Let’s Begin:

***To make things a bit easier, I’ve also incorporated a video after the main blog to help you better understands the steps.

First choose the image you’d like to use. Second, choose your image size. The beauty of this technique is you can make your final print a 20×30 then have the main image float as a 16×24.

For an example, I’ll use an image of the Locust Beach pilings in Bellingham, Wash., I shot a few days ago.

Storm clouds and raging surf at Locust Beach along Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash. (photo © Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

It’s a nice image and my wife and I want a nice print to hang on our wall. We’re thinking of a nice 20×30 canvas.

I want a nice image to float inside a 20×30. Doing some quick math, to get a 2″ faded boarder my main image should be about a 16×24.

1. Make the image a 16×24. I use 300 dpi to keep good detail in the image and a high enough resolution to make a high quality print. The 16×24 stay with the 3:2 ratio of the sensor and gives an even border.

2. Take the image and using the “Layers” panel in Photoshop, duplicate the “Background” layer twice so you have a total of three layers. To make it easier, I re-name the layers as follow: Top is called Main Image, and the middle is “Faded Border.”

3. Click on the “Background” layer to highlight it. Using the Canvas Size command, make your canvas the size you need, in this case it’s20x30, with a black background. You can choose any backround color you like. I just prefer black.

4. Highlight the upper layer and click on the “eye” to hid it. This makes it easier to work in the next few steps.

5. Highlight the middle layer. Don’t forget this part or you’ll be doing all the pixel stretching on the wrong layer. Yes, I did this a few times and it is very frustrating.

This is the “pixel stretching” tutorial:

6. Using the “Single Column”  or “Single Row” marquee tool, select a pixel about halfway along the length of the side. As a note, this tool selects all the pixel in that row (horizontal) or column (vertical) and looks like a single dotted line.

7.  Select the Free Transform tool. It’s under the Edit drop down menu up top, or use the “command-T” key combination. Click and hold the middle square and the drag it slightly past the edge of the canvas. Be sure to go just a touch past the edge of the canvas. Hit enter to complete the transformation.

8.  Complete for all four sides.

This is the “gradient tool” fade-to-black tutorial

9. To create the fade to black, I use the Gradient Tool. The option I have is “Black to Transparent” and check the “Reverse” box in the options panel. How much you want the fade to black depends on where you start and stop the gradient tool. I keep it simple and just start at the edge of the main photo and end at the edge of the canvas. ***You can create your own gradient by clicking on the gradient pattern in the options bar. A window comes up with all the options.

10. Now, go to the layers panel and click on the eye on the Main Image layer. Make it visible.

11. On the bottom of the layers panel, or in the Layers Properties in the Layers drop-down menu (Layer > Layer Properties > Stroke), select Stroke. A panel open with all the option. You can have a thin or thick line, choose which color you would like, have the line inside, centered, or outside. Choice is yours. Play with

For the color you’d like, click on the small color box and another window opens. This is your color Picker. To pick the color you’d like from your image, use the magnifying glass. Click on it and hover over the part of the photo with the color you’d like to make your border. Click on that and then the OK button. Your border color is now chosen.

12. Your image is complete. Use the “Save As” command to save the file to keep the changes. In Fact, at the beginning of the process, I like to use the “Save As” command at the beginning and then “command-s” along the way. I save the file as a layered PSD file so I can make changes if needed.

The process only takes about 5 minutes per image.

Here are a few tips to make the workflow smoother and save time:

  • Learn your menus
  • Learn the quick key combinations
  • Work on one photo at a time. Saves RAM and CPU time.
  • Have your colors already chosen. Having a goal at what the final image will help you zero in on the final colors quicker.
  • Play around with the application. Don’t be intimidated by Photoshop. Yes there is a lot to the program, but it is a powerful tool and using a powerful tool just takes a little practice.
  • Be flexible. While working the image, you might decide on a completely different approach.

Below is a video of the process in action. I hope it clarifies the above steps.

title=”© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography Storm clouds and raging surf at Locust Beach along Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash.”

BTW, the metal prints from Bay Photo Lab turned out absolutely gorgeous. The colors are deep and rich, the detail is phenomenal, and mounting on the wall was super easy.

But the best way to make your images the best they can be:

  • Have a goal of what your final image should look like
  • Create a plan and then execute it
  • Ask questions if you don’t have the knowledge.

Feel free to comment or ask questions.

Have a great day and thank you for stopping by and reading. All comments are appreciated.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

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Blazing Glory!! Sunsets in Bellingham, Wash.

The past few weeks have offered some blazing and glorious sunsets here in Bellingham, Wash. One of the things I like to shoot during sunsets are something different than what everyone else shoots: the sunset. It’s nice to get something better. During one particular evening, the sight of the setting Sun was too much to bear. I just had to shoot it.

Bellingham Waterfront

Sunset over the Georgia Pacific Paper Mill - Steam from the Puget Sound Energy Encogen power plant is lit by the Sun as it sets behind the old Georgia Pacific paper mill on Tuesday afternoon Feb. 7, 2017, in Bellingham, Wash. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

Sunset over the old Georgia Pacific Paper Mill – Steam from the Puget Sound Energy Encogen power plant is lit by the Sun as it sets behind the old Georgia Pacific paper mill in Bellingham, Wash. Prints are available for purchase. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

 

Click for more Bellingham Sunset Photos

An Afternoon at Mt. Baker Ski Area: It’s Black & White

Went up on Friday to #OptOutside to the Mt. Baker Ski Area east of Bellingham. Fact is, I needed to feel the crisp cold air in my lungs, view the snow-capped peaks, and hear the crunching of ice and snow underfoot.

Plus, I wanted to get the alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan. It was a beautiful clear day so no clouds in the west could block the light from the setting Sun. A LOT of people were up in the area. I would say most of them weren’t there for the skiing.

Last Rays

Sunset from Picture Lake with a view of Mount Shuksan on Friday afternoon Nov. 27, 2015, at the Mount Baker Ski Area in western Whatcom County, Wash. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

The last rays of the Sun ignite Mount Shuksan on Friday afternoon Nov. 27, 2015, at the Mount Baker Ski Area in western Whatcom County, Wash. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

In fact, many people were just enjoying the view with some sledding on the slopes of Picture Lake. Just a fun post-Thanksgiving romp in the Pacific Northwest Winter Wonderland.

Click Here for more & to Learn an Easy Way to Convert to B&W

Two Minutes: Long Exposures in Rough Weather

We had a major storm come through Bellingham, Wash., the past few day. On Wednesday, I went to Boulevard Park to practice my long exposures.

I’m still looking for the elusive “silky water” photo I’ve seen in others’ images.

Fluffy Waters 1

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography - Images from a stormy Tuesday evening Nov. 17, 2015, on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography – Images from a stormy Tuesday evening Nov. 17, 2015, on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash.

Click For More Tips & Tricks

A vs B: Which One Would You Choose for the Front Page?

On Saturday, I shot the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade for The Bellingham Herald. They needed me to choose one for the front page and then 5 more for the inside on A2.

A- It Isn’t Easy Being Green:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Bennett Burke, 3, right, leads his mother Corrie Burke and Sarah Fowler during the St. Patrick's Day Parade along Cornwall Avenue in downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Mar. 14, 2015.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Bennett Burke, 3, right, leads his mother Corrie Burke and Sarah Fowler during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade along Cornwall Avenue in downtown Bellingham, Wash.

First, I had to make sure I got the names of the subjects. Second, find one that was symbolic in some form. Many of the images the participants in the parade lacked flair or symbolism.

B- Follow The Leader:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Sherman leads his owner Mary Tully of Bellingham as Cadence Osage Testa, center, and Milagro Mauricio, both 6, chase them down during the St. Patrick's Day Parade along Cornwall Avenue in downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Mar. 14, 2015.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Bennett Burke, 3, right, leads his mother Corrie Burke and Sarah Fowler during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade along Cornwall Avenue in downtown Bellingham, Wash.

For the front, I chose A as I like the kid on the bike, the flow of the image, and the obvious St. Patrick’s Day feel. The other one is nice, but the dog is too prominent, the background is distracting and there isn’t really a good moment other than the two girls.

Had I had the names of the people in the photo below, It would’ve been a strong contender. I like the moment, composition, and their outfits. But since the parade was moving along somewhat quickly, it was difficult to get their names.

C- The One That Got Away:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Images from the St. Patrick's Day Parade along Cornwall Avenue in downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Mar. 14, 2015.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A band plays during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade along Cornwall Avenue in downtown Bellingham, Wash.

 

Tips for Photographing Parades:

  • Get INTO the Parade: have fun and shoot from the street. It will help you stay mobile and agile. Trying to shoot from the crowd is very limiting.
  • Move between the entrants. Get low on the ground, shoot a few “Hail Mary’s.” Don’t just shoot from eye level.
  • Use a wide-angle and get close. This adds intimacy and keeps your main subject large in the photo.
  • Keep a telephoto on a 2nd body. It’s faster and easier to switch bodies than lenses. I dropped a lens and broke it doing this.
  • Keep a notepad and pencil/pen ready to get names. It helps when editing if you have names.
  • Pay extra attention when floats with horses come along. They can get spooked and stampede. Best to just go to the edge of the crowd and let them by.
  • Just pay extra attention. Sometimes the drivers may not see you as they’re watching the crowd.

Which one would you choose and why? Would you submit the one of the band and use a generic caption? Or would you chose another one? Here is a link to the gallery from the parade: St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Bellingham, Wash.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

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Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally and internationally published freelance photographer living in Bellingham, Whatcom County, Wash., north of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe.

His clients include Getty Images, Wire Image, The Bellingham Herald, and many local business in Whatcom County. Previous clients are Associated Press, the New York Times, L.A. Times, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and many others.

His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings. He is available for assignments anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.