Old Trick Still Works

This image was created at an abandoned homestead in the Palouse region of the northwestern United States. The coiled up barbed wire had golden orange lichen on it. The lichen coordinated nicely with the yellow colored wild mustard plants that were backlit from the sun.
I used the OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera by Olympus & the ED 12-40mm f/2.8 – my new favorite walk around lens, hand held.


One way that I add a soft blur to my images is with Gaussian Blur. I especially like the look when coupled with a backlit image. To create the effect above I start in Photoshop by duplicating my layer, then I add some Gaussian Blur to the top layer; go to Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur and set it to approximately 25 pixels. The top layer will appear quite blurry. Next change the blend mode to Soft Light. Reduce the opacity to taste. I also add a layer mask to reveal all of the details in key areas. It is an old trick but it sill works beautifully and it is easy to do.

To learn more ways to creatively enhance your images check out my latest “Guide to Creative Filters & Effects II”. Carol Carson edited this eBook for me and it has tips that will work for both PC and MAC users.

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13 Responses

  1. Jacqueline Milburn says:

    Thank you for the trick…Love the image, the circle of barbed wire ties it all together….

    Thanks so much Jacqueline. I thought so too. I was obsessed with the shot 🙂

  2. Glen Fox says:

    Denise it is so exciting to see you working and loving your Olympus camera and lenses. I’m hoping that you will try either the Oly 300/4 or Panasonic-Leica 100-400 for bird and wildlife photography and apply your skills and creativity there. We need a real, bold, and highly skilled master to encourage the rest of us who have made the choice of m4/3 mirrorless cameras. These new high quality lenses give you a full-frame equivalent of 600 – 800mm, that you can shoot hand held.

    In awe, with patience and great respect I wait…

    Hi Glen, Thanks so much. I would be willing to field test them. I need a bit more time in my life though :). I’m not getting rid of my Canon gear or big lenses for birds or wildlife just yet… I appreciate the kind words.

  3. Judy Boyd says:

    Denise, I am happy that you are sharing images from the Olympus and your techniques. Love your work! (Maybe I should say “your play,” as you seem to love what you do!)

    Hi Judy, I do love what I do 🙂 The Olympus has been a great addition to my Canon gear! Thank you for the kind words.

  4. Tony Botelho says:

    I love how simple yet beautiful this photo is. When I went to photography school many, many years ago we were taught what they would call KISS (keep it simple stupid). I have found out that the photos that have the most impact are the one’s that are simple, and easy on the eye. Thank you for posting this photo, and for the info. on the Olympus. It sounds like Olympus, as well as Sony has a lot to offer in their mirrorless cameras.

    Hi Tony, Yes, my best friend just bought the Sony, he loves it. I have been working with the Olympus exclusively here in the Palouse (except for IR) and have to say that it has been so nice to capture images without a tripod and not have to worry about them being sharp at 1/30 sec.
    PS-good advice 🙂

  5. Kathy Graff says:

    This is a very nice image: the subtle colors, the textures in the weathered wood and wire, the soft blur. An image you can come back to over and over and feel peace and calm. I really love it.

    And…I am still loving my OM-D E-M5 Mark II. I’m really impressed with the image quality and how well contrast is controlled in bright light (can’t always choose the lighting conditions you’re working in). The camera has been criticized for its’ menus/interface but I’m not having much trouble with that–and you can assign a set of settings to a single button or lever–or set up multiple settings. It’s been fun learning a new system and I’m trying some things that I wouldn’t have with my Canon cameras. This will broaden what I do with the Canon system. Overall, I’m very very pleased with the Olympus.

    Hi Kathy, I’m with you, the interface seems like a breeze to me. I am loving everything about it. I do wish that I had time to go online and browse some of the APPS I have heard are available for the Sony to see it they are available for the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Thank you for your kind words about my image.

  6. Deirdre Sheerr-Gross says:

    Love your eye, Denise… and your heart.

    Hi Deirdre, I hope you are enjoying your time in the Palouse, thank you for the kind words. They mean so much 🙂

  7. Joe Barranco says:

    Love the image. Your creativity and use of Olympus system. But it brought back good memories of being out in Palouse area last year with you. Wish I was on the trip again this year.

    Thanks Joe, you were missed. Maybe next year?

  8. Lynn Padwe says:

    Denise: Had a fabulous trip with you in the Palouse this week.
    Can’t wait to get your Olympus. You are a fantastic teacher and
    marvelous person. So glad I could attend. Warm thanks for all
    your encouragement. Hugs, Lynn

    Hi Lynn,

    I’m so glad that we got a chance to meet and talk. You are wonderful person and you have the artist eye! I look forward to working with you again, maybe with a new Olympus Camera?
    take care,

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