technique

© 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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The 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Invitational – Grace in The Heat of Battle

Super busy weekend. After a busy day on Friday shooting the NWC Championship Track and Field event at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., my friend Andy Bronson, photographer for the The Bellingham Herald, called me in to cover as they needed an assignment shot.

My job was to go to the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Invitational hosted by Western Washington University at Civic Field. I had no assignment sheet but Andy gave me one specific photo they wanted: Retired WWU Coach Ralph Vernacchia, the man the event is named for, had come into town from Arizona where he now lives. The sports editor wanted a photo of him on the field.

High Jumper

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington sophomore Katelyn Wright of Washougal, Wash., clears the bar at 5' 3.75" to win the Women's High Jump during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington sophomore Katelyn Wright of Washougal, Wash., clears the bar at 5′ 3.75″ to win the Women’s High Jump during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014.

Not so bad, I like that type of photojournalism. Interaction photos are my favorite to capture. This will be a fun assignment, but then again, all of them are always fun on some level. I’m a firm believe that there are no bad assignments, just bad photographers. Those assignments make me push myself even harder to get something creative. My wife Heidi says I feed off that.

Anywho, as I remembered the layout from the High School competition, I can plan my shots a bit easier and even stretch myself. I don’t like feeling like I fell in a rut. So when I go to the same place, be it a playground, sporting venue, or even a city council meeting, I push myself to get something new and different.

Concentration:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington University senior Andrew Knight of Puyallup, Wash., begins his approach during the Men's Shot Put at the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Knight fouled out of the competition.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington University senior Andrew Knight of Puyallup, Wash., begins his approach during the Men’s Shot Put at the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Knight fouled out of the competition.

For one, find a better angle from what I shot the previously. Get back, get closer, use a longer lens, go wide, go low, and mostly, don’t have a lead finger and burn. Anticipate moments, study the individuals, take a moment to observe.

So, off to the The Herald to pick up a D3 and 300mm f/2.8. A hefty combination. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve shot with a 300mm lens. But I’ll endure I’m sure. It’s just a lens.

Ultimate Effort:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington University  junior Ryan McDonald of Bellingham, Wash., hoists the shot put during the men's competition at the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. McDonald had a best distance of 44 feet, 7 and a half inches earning him 13th place.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington University junior Ryan McDonald of Bellingham, Wash., hoists the shot put during the men’s competition at the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. McDonald had a best distance of 44 feet, 7 and a half inches earning him 13th place.

The day was pretty bleak. It wasn’t raining but it looked like it would rain at the drop of a hat. The meet began at 10 a.m., but I got there at 11.  My first order of business was to go to the officials area to see if anyone has a roster and knows where I can find Mr. Vernacchia.

The roster was easy. The woman at the table told me they knew him, but had not seen him. So I gave them my number and asked them to call me if they see or hear that he’s here.

Splish Splash Taking a Bath:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Olympic College's Keith Ryan, left leads Seattle University's Nathan McLaughlin and Western Washington University's Noah Ripley as they tackle the Men's 3000m Steeplechase during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. McLaughlin came in fourht with a time of 9 min. 42.72 seconds. Western Washington's Matt Lutz won the event with the time 9:24.95 with WWU's Joshua Reitner on his heels earning second with a time of 9 min. 38.58 seconds.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Olympic College’s Keith Ryan, left leads Seattle University’s Nathan McLaughlin and Western Washington University’s Noah Ripley as they tackle the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. McLaughlin came in fourth with a time of 9 min. 42.72 seconds. Western Washington’s Matt Lutz won with a time 9:24.95 with WWU’s Joshua Reitner on his heels earning second with a time of 9 min. 38.58 seconds.

With roster in hand, I read what events were going on and looked at where they are. Watching, I noticed the high jump going on and figured they may be in the finals. And I was right. Only 2 woman left: One from WWU and the other from Central Washington.

I quickly found a spot on the other side of the track, sat down on the ground and hefted the 300 to my eye. Watching the background, I moved until it was nice and clean with only trees and the skyline. But, while moving WWU sophomore Katelyn Wright of Washougal, Wash., took her turn and I shot. But I didn’t like the background, so while sitting and looking through the 300mm, I moved to get a nice clean background. Then she took her second turn and I got her as she flew over the bar.

Water Hazard:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington University freshman Noah Ripley of Wasilla, Ak., grimaces in pain after taking a hard landing during the Men's 3000m Steeple chase at 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Ripley came in 6th place with a time of 9 min., 45.46 seconds.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington University freshman Noah Ripley of Wasilla, Ak., grimaces in pain after taking a hard landing during the Men’s 3000m Steeple chase at 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Ripley came in 6th place with a time of 9 min., 45.46 seconds.

As I worked my way around the track, the rain began falling. Misty at first, but by the time I got to the Pole vault, it was pretty heavy. So covering the gear, I ran under the stands. A 15 minute rain delay ensued.

As I was shooting shot put, they began the Woman’s 3000m Steeplechase. It is what it’s called: runners jumping over barriers, some into water. Oh yea, fun to shoot.

Above The Bar:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington University freshman Morgan Annable clears the bar during the Woman's Pole Vault in the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Annable took second place with a height of 10 feet, 8 inches.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington University freshman Morgan Annable clears the bar during the Woman’s Pole Vault in the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Annable took second place with a height of 10 feet, 8 inches.

Got close on the water and as they began jumping over the barrier, I would begin shooting. Most didn’t come out after the first splash, water on a lens isn’t very transparent. But I got a few zingers.

I saw the assistants setting up the hurdles. While watching, there was one shot I’ve always liked and wanted to duplicate: looking through the hurdles to the start line. I saw it once during the 90s when it won a POY award.

Compressed:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Western Washington junior Logan Myers of Olympia, Wash.,  launches during the start of the Men's 110 meter hurdles the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Meyers came in second with a time of 14.69 seconds making it a new personal best.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Western Washington junior Logan Myers of Olympia, Wash., launches during the start of the Men’s 110 meter hurdles the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Meyers came in second with a time of 14.69 seconds making it a new personal best.

So, I went to the finish line and with the 300, kneeled on the ground and looked through the hurdles. Pretty cool. But, it was too loose. Lots of space above and below. The left to right looked nice as you could only see down one row. And the light was beautiful.

I waited for a WWU student to run. The Herald only would run photos of Western students. And only one runner was from Western so I focused on him. I shot through as he set his chocks and the started. After I heard the gun go off, I quickly bounce to my feed to shoot him as he went over the hurdles. Fun times and the pain in my knees is proof.

Winning Form:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington junior Logan Myers of Olympia, Wash.,  launches during the start of the Men's 110 meter hurdles the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Meyers came in second with a time of 14.69 seconds for a new personal best.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington junior Logan Myers of Olympia, Wash., launches during the start of the Men’s 110 meter hurdles the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Meyers came in second with a time of 14.69 seconds for a new personal best.

After I shot that, the announcer directed everyone’s attention to the “Man in the Fedora.” Mr. Vernacchia showed up and was roaming the stands. Being as he was my primary assignment, I had to literally hunt him down. When I found him, he was at the Woman’s Javelin watching Western sophomores Katie Reichert and Bethany Drake.

So I shot a few of him there. After the competition was over, he stayed to chat with old friends. Katie and Bethany walked over and talked to him. Kinda poignant to get him with some new students.

Student of Javelin:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -Retired Western Washington track coach Ralph Vernacchia, right, of Scottsdale, Ariz., observes  WWU sophomore Katie Reichert of Kelso, Wash., compete in the Woman's Javelin during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The invitiational is named in honor of Vernacchia's long time service. Reichert took 2nd place in the competition.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Retired Western Washington track coach Ralph Vernacchia, right, of Scottsdale, Ariz., observes WWU sophomore Katie Reichert of Kelso, Wash., compete in the Woman’s Javelin during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The invitational is named in honor of Vernacchia’s long time service. Reichert took 2nd place in the competition.

With nearly 4 hours shooting games, I was pretty much done. The only issue was to get the results so I can identify the individuals in the photos. That to me was the biggest challenge of the day: getting proper names and spellings.

Among Old Friends:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Retired Western Washington University track and field coach Ralph Vernacchia, center, chats with javelin referee Bob Sund, left, and current WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The WWU track and field event is named in Vernacchia's honor.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Retired Western Washington University track and field coach Ralph Vernacchia, center, chats with javelin referee Bob Sund, left, and current WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchio Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The WWU track and field even is named in Vernacchia’s honor.

Sunburned and tired, I headed to the Official’s tent to thank them and get final results. Then off to the paper to download and edit for the Sunday edition and the online gallery: 33rd Annual Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Invitational.

Among New Friends:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington University sophomores Katie Reichert, left, of Kelso, Wash., and Bethany Drake of Sandy, Ore., chat with retired WWU coach Ralph Vernacchia during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The annual event is named after the retired coach.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington University sophomores Katie Reichert, left, of Kelso, Wash., and Bethany Drake of Sandy, Ore., chat with retired WWU coach Ralph Vernacchia during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The annual event is named after the retired coach.

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Paul “pablo” Conrad

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