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This picture has been sharpened.

 
 

This picture has not been sharpened.

 

Can you spot the difference?

You surely can.

Especially if you compare the bonbon in the front.

 

I love sharp, well-defined images.

I want all of my pictures to look that way.

But the fact is that the images that come straight out of my camera are usually rather far from being sharp. Partially it’s caused by my shaky hands. And additionally, cameras themselves usually don’t produce very sharp images… for some specific reason… that I once read somewhere… but have already forgotten.

 

Luckily, there’s good news. Photo editing software has been sent to this planet to save us.

Whoever or whatever has sent it, THANK YOU SO MUCH for that.

 

To edit my pictures, I love to use Photoshop Elements 8.

It’s simple and fun to use.

And this is what I do to make my pictures sharper:
 
 

1. I open the picture in Photoshop (File -> Open…).
 

2. Duplicate the background layer (‘Ctrl + J’ on PC or ‘Command J’ on Mac).

Make sure that the newly created layer stays highlighted.

 
 

3. In the upper bar, press Enhance -> Unsharp Mask.

 
 

4. A window will pop up.

We have three sliders here: Amount, Radius and Threshold.

Frankly, I was looking for a way to use these sliders for quite some time. Until, after about 6 months of using Photoshop, I’ve learned that:

 

Amount – shouldn’t be lower than 50. I like to start with 50 and increase it if necessary. But most of the times, 50 works just fine.

Radius – I almost always use 0.6 setting.

Threshold – I usually keep this one at 0. Only sometimes, when I think the picture looks a bit too harsh, I increase this setting to 1 or 2.

 

So, once again, I usually go by 50 – 0.6 – 0 formula.

My blog-sized pictures seem to be happy with it.

 

5. Once you are satisfied with the Amount-Radius-Threshold setting, press OK.

 
 

6. Then, have a look at the Layers Palette.

Here’s a little thing that you can use, but definitely don’t have to if you are perfectly okay with the way your picture looks like now.

 

In step 2 we duplicated the background layer and since then we’ve only worked with this duplicated layer. Which means that we’ve only made changes to the duplicated layer, leaving the background layer untouched. The good thing about working this way is that now you have a very precious chance to adjust the opacity of the changes that you’ve made. You have the whole scale of 0 – 100% here for you to play with. So if you think that your sharpening should be about 20% less strong, you can easily achieve that by using the opacity slider and setting it to 80%.

Awesome, isn’t it?

 

7. In the upper bar, press Layer -> Flatten Image.

 

8. And finally save the image (File -> Save as…).

 

Again:

Before.

 
 

And after.

 
 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial as much as I’ve enjoyed this bonbon.

Mmm.

It had milk filling, my favorite.

 

Love,

Petra

 

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Right now I am preparing a yummy recipe that I’ll be posting here tomorrow. Meanwhile I have something else you might want to see.

 
Over the past few months some of you asked me how this or that photo had been taken. Your questions gave me an idea that you might find interesting to see how several of my sets looked like. I myself love this kind of information and seek it eagerly wherever possible.

So, from now on, if I find the photo set that I’ve created interesting in a certain way I’ll show it to you.

If it helps at least one of you then my mission was worth it.

 

The picture above is by far not perfect or exquisite or anything. But what I find interesting about it is the lighting. You might be wondering how on earth that set was lit and whether I used artificial lights or not. And how I dare own photography lighting without letting you know.
 
 

So, this is what the set looked like.

I don’t use lights since I don’t own photography lights.

But what I own is my home-made silver reflector (you can find its heart-touching story here). And then I have one window. And then I have some white paper that I duct taped to the wall and to my kitchen countertop. And that’s it!

Very, very simple.
 
 

This is the job that my camera did.

Well, she was really trying.

I still love her dearly.

And yes, I refer to my camera as her. It’s my best friend after all. Actually, I might start calling her Amelie.
 
 

And this is how Photoshop helped.

Needless to say, I love Photoshop.

I might start calling it Fred.

 

See you soon!

Love,

Petra
 

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These bite-sized cookies are perfect for having with tea.

(Psst, coffee is all right too.)

They taste wonderful and are very, very simple to make.

I like to prepare them when my sugar craving strikes out of the blue. Or when friends call unexpectedly saying they will come soon.

These cookies just save lives.

 
 

Here’s the list of ingredients.
 
 

1. To make your own Tea Cookies, first preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 

2. Sift the flour and sugars into a larger bowl.
 

 

3. Add the softened butter, two egg yolks and lemon zest…
 

 

4. …and use pastry cutter or just a plain fork to turn the ingredients into a crumbly mixture.

 

5. Then use your hands to form a ball.

 
 

Like this one.

Though creating a face is not necessary.

But it helps.

Kidding!

But it really does.

Kidding again!

 

Now I’d like to tell you this: Please, be patient when you find yourself in the phase in-between the crumbs and the dough ball. It only takes patience and trust that those crumbs will eventually come together. Give it five minutes or so and you’ll see success!
 

 

6. Place the dough ball on a very, very lightly floured surface.

This dough is almost not sticky at all so you really need very little flour, if any.

And besides that, the more flour you’d be using the firmer the cookies would get. And we don’t need that.

 

7. Using the palms of your hands, roll the dough until you form a log which is about 1.5 inches (3.5 cm) wide in diameter.

 

8. Then cut the log into about 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick rounds.
 
 

9. Place the rounds onto the sheet and bake in the preheated oven (350 °F – 175 °C) for 10 minutes.

The cookies should still be very pale in color when baked.
 
 

10. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Enjoy, dear friends.

(This recipe makes about 30 cookies and will take you about 40 minutes to make.)
 

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I have something to admit.

There are only few things in this world that I love more than this photo editing technique.

I know, it sounds strange, but right now that is exactly what I feel.

Tomorrow everything might change, especially if I find a new, amazing technique that will fill my heart with joy.

But today I feel like applying a vignette to all the photos that I’ve ever made.

Please, somebody, come and stop me.
 
 

This is what my picture looked like before.

It is a lovely tomato from my Mom’s garden. Actually, that’s what my diet consists of mostly these days.
 
 

And this is the same picture after I applied the vignette effect.

Adding a vignette to an image basically involves adding a subtle (or not so subtle) edge effect to it.

A popular vignette technique involves darkening the edges of your image which gives the image a slight border and helps keep the viewer’s eye in the photo.

In other words, the darkened edges make your subject stand out.

Well, who wouldn’t love that?

Let me explain this technique in particular steps – they are very, very easy.

NOTE: I am using Photoshop Elements 8 here (but I suppose that this method works fine with any photo editing program that supports layers and adjusting opacity).

 
 

1. Open your image in the photo editing program using FILE -> OPEN… .

2. Open a new layer using LAYER -> NEW -> LAYER.
 
 

3. There are 3 subsequent steps here:

  • 1. In the right-hand layer palette, make sure you click on the top (newly added) layer (it should be darkened now).
  • 2. In the left-hand tools palette, click the Elliptical Marquee Tool (if the Rectangular Marquee Tool is preset then right-click on your mouse and choose the elliptical shape, though it’s actually up to you which shape you choose).

    Also, have a look at how the ‘feathering’ is set in the upper bar. I had it set to 14. It will determine how strong and defined the border of the vignette will be.

  • 3. Click and drag over the picture to create an oval shape.

 
 

4. Click SELECT -> INVERSE to invert your selection so the border area is selected .

You will see ‘marching ants’ around your picture now.

 
 

5. I am describing another three subsequent steps here:

  • 1. Make sure that the foreground color is set to black (if not then just click the letter ‘D’ on your keyboard).
  • 2. In the left-hand tools palette, click the bucket tool.
  • 3. Click anywhere on the border area to fill it with black.

 
 

6. Now click SELECT -> DESELECT.

 
 

7. And finally, in the layer palette, adjust the opacity of the border layer to any value you like.

(Though I didn’t do that myself now – at this point, if you find the border too hard – you can also choose FILTER -> BLUR -> GAUSSIAN BLUR and use a high radius value to blur the edge of the border and soften it.)

8. Click LAYER -> FLATTEN IMAGE and then save your new picture.

 
 

I like it!
 
 

Hm, what do you think…will you give it a try?
 

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