VISION Issue 14

The January 2015 Issue of VISION Magazine is about my photography.  The magazine is published by Vision Explorers.

This is a picture of the cover of the magazine:



Published in Practical Photography, January 2015 Issue

A couple of my photos will be in the January Issue of Practical Photography, which will be on sale this Thursday, November the 27th.  Here is the cover of the magazine:


The four pictures I sent in are:

Moonlight-on-Pink-Sea Mirage-2 Freedom copy Dream-Wanderer

I don’t know which one they picked.  Surprise!

TUTORIAL #2 – Bokeh Photography, how “Seedling” was made

 photo 1

This is “Seedling”, as published at 500px.  At my own website I called it “Chandelier” .

For this tutorial, “bokeh” refers to the  light circles in the image.  These circles are out-of-focus points of light.  They vary in size, with the smaller circles being closer to the focal plane, the larger ones further away.  The focal plane in the image is very shallow, there is just a sliver of sharpness throughout the photo – the rest is blur.  It is this combination of the sliver of sharpness with all the soft, colourful circular blurs that “makes” the photo.

I shot this image on a Nikon D7000, with my macro lens, the Sigma 150mm f/2.8, no filters/flash.  The image was shot indoors, camera on tripod, seedling sprayed with water in a vase, at ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/800 sec.  The light was sunshine through a window, backlighting the seedling.

The image was intentionally underexposed by 2 full f/stops as part of a series of 3 bracketed images to possibly combine in HDR software.  However, I decided to use the dark (underexposed) image by itself.  This is the image as shot:


I opened the image in PSCC without any Camera RAW adjustments. I liked the right hand side of the image, and I liked the many colours I could see throughout the lighter parts of the image in spite of it being so dark.  I decided to crop to a square, and rotate a bit to get the angle I wanted.


Then I processed in Photoshop CC:

–  I created copy layer to work on (Layer 2), and applied auto curves to this copy layer: Image -> Adjustments -> Curves -> Options -> Enhance Brightness and Contrast


–  Created a copy of the adjusted Layer 2 (Layer 3), and selected shadows in this new layer: Select -> Color Range … -> Select Shadows, Fuzziness 100%, Range 0 -> Hit “OK”


–  Cleared the selection (effectively leaving all but shadows in Layer 3): Edit -> Clear and then Command + D.


–  Over-saturated Layer 3: Image -> Adjustments -> Hue/Saturation -> Leave all as is except move middle slider (Saturation) to +100


  Set blending mode on Layer 3 to “Color”, and blur the layer via Gaussian Blur (at Radius 40)


–  For the next part, you can use whatever method you prefer to adjust colours until they look right.  I used 2 copies of the colour layer, applied a violet filter to increase the pinks and tone down the greens in one, and brought back the greens with the second one by masking the green channel only.  There are so many different ways to work with adjusting colour, it really doesn’t matter which one you use, as long as the final image is what you had in mind!


–  Created a new layer (Layer 4) with all adjustments so far: Select -> All; Edit -> Copy Merged; Edit -> Paste.  After that, I made final Curves adjustments to this layer to get the contrast and brightness to be as I wanted it.


–  The resulting image is not identical to “Seedling”.  This is a new edit, but this is the process I used to create “Seedling”.  Remember, there are many ways to achieve similar results when processing images.  Each photographer has their preferred ways to work, and it is, at least for me, often difficult to explain exactly how I made something or another.  The beauty of it all is in experimentation, trying many different ways to shoot the images you want to shoot, and then trying many different ways to process your images so that you get that image that expresses what you wanted to say with it in the first place.

I hope this helps.

Thank you,


“Chandelier” at, at, and at

Two Workshops in New York City – June 23 and June 24

Steve Hill and I will be offering two separate workshops on Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24, in New York City. Each workshop will start with a Meet-and-Greet (including drinks) at the famous Gaslight Tavern, followed by introductory remarks by Steve and Ursula, and a hands-on shooting instruction photo-walk with discussion/Q&As throughout. Both workshops will end at the Landmark Tavern in Hell’s Kitchen, where we will bring the days shoot to closure, producing some finished, edited images while enjoying the tavern’s excellent food and drinks.

Saturday’s workshop will be towards the evening hours, during the golden time when light is precious both for street photography and nature abstracts found in a big city. We will walk/make beautiful photos in New York’s Meatpacking District and in the Highline Park. Sunday’s workshop will take place earlier in the afternoon in Central Park.

Registration will be limited. Food/drinks/everything else included in the package. Details and sign-up are linked below:

Saturday, June 23

Sunday (June 24)

I think these workshops will be a fun learning experience and a wonderful social get together for all participants. Thank you for reading and considering this.


Camerapixo Magazine is an international publication dedicated to creative photography. It is published once a month, in English and Polish. Camerapixo is available in several formats: online e-Books, PDF, and the Tablet version. It reaches tens of thousands of readers from over 50 countries.

It was a great honor to have been one of the featured photographers in Issue 17 of this magazine.

Artur and Anetta Heller run the magazine. They were wonderful to work with, very professional.

If you haven’t seen this magazine, please give it a good look. It is an excellent collection of photography from around the world, published in a beautiful format. Much to my liking, it has many pictures and not too many words. The tablet format in particular is gorgeous to view. I very much like it that the magazine is keeping up with times, exploring all these new ways of information dissemination, and putting them to very good use. Again, if you haven’t taken a look yet, take a look now.

Camerapixo Issue 17 – Ursula I Abresch

Tutorial #1, “coastlines”

I am hoping to put together a few tutorials. My goal is to write one tutorial per month.

To start out in November 2011, I am reprinting a tutorial I wrote for a few months ago. It is the first and only tutorial I’ve written so far. I would appreciate any comments on it, and all suggestions on how tutorials like this one can be improved. I also welcome any questions you might have on the making of this image.

This tutorial also appeared in the September 2011 issue of “Practical Photoshop” magazine.




This image is intended as an abstract impression of an evening on the Pacific Northwest coastline.


“Coastlines” is a blending in Photoshop of two separate digital images, but three digital files. I used one of the pictures twice.

– The first image was shot June of 2010, Nikon D200, Nikon 18.0-70.0 mm f/3.5-4.5 lens, at f/8 and 1/125 sec, no flash, ISO 100. I was on a ferry, the photo is a typical view of the coastline as the ferry goes by.

– The second image, used twice, a closeup of water in a pan, was made indoors with a Nikon D7000, Sigma 150 f/2.8 macro lens, Metz flash, at f/5.6 and 1/60 sec, ISO 100. The setup for this picture is:
. pan of water on a table
. dark room
. reflective material (wrapping paper in this case) behind the pan
. camera, on tripod, at a bit higher than water level
. flash on remote cable to the left side illuminating the paper behind the water
. carefully focus on a point in the middle of the pan – I use a paperclip to aid in focusing
. move the water around gently – I used a Rocket blower to blow air onto the surface to move it as if it were waves
. shoot

I used two versions of this image, the standard shot, and then the same shot with a “fisheye” distortion applied to it.


Software used: Adobe Bridge and PhotoShop CS5, Photomatix 2.0.2 plugin, in camera (Nikon D7000) editing

Both images were shot RAW and converted without adjustments from Adobe Bridge to PhotoShop CS5, sRGB 16 bit. Once in PSCS5, I worked on them separately first, and then combined them into the final image.

I worked on the second image (water in a pan) first:
– cloned out sensor dust and dust on the surface of the water
– created a copy layer and ran this layer through the Photomatix Tonemapping plugin. I used a mild tonemapping to bring out colour in the dark shadow areas. The settings for using this plugin are very particular to each image, but the idea, for me, is to bring out colour detail in dark areas and brighten up the image overall, without introducing too much noise or creating an image that looks not believable.
– blended this copy layer in lighten mode with the original
– used curves to adjust colour/contrast
– the Nikon D7000 has an editing feature, “fisheye”. I created a second version of this image using this fisheye distortion, and opened it. In PhotoShop, I had to do the same corrections/adjustments as to the non-fisheyed image, except that before using Photomatix I needed to convert the 8 bit JPG created by the D7000 to a 16 bit image for Photomatix to recognize the file.
– Once I had these two versions of the same image, I stacked them, background layer 100%, fisheye layer in normal mode, opacity 50%. Merged.
– Adjusted curves in the merged version.

Then I worked on the image of the strip of land and ocean/sky:
– Adjusted the horizon line to make it perfectly straight
– Increased contrast (curves) to a much darker strip of land

I then made a copy of this image and pasted on top of the water in the pan image. The water image was larger than the land image, because the D7000 creates larger files than the D200. This was not a problem, since I was using only portions of the strip of land image
– Set opacity on this top layer to 50%, to figure out where I wanted the horizon line to be placed. Moved the picture until satisfied.
– Once satisfied, I created a mask for the portions of the strip of land image that I wanted to keep. I discarded all information below the horizon line (on the strip of land image), but softly blended in the clouds with the water image. The dark land area I kept completely.
– I blended the two images into one (select all, copy merged, paste)
– I then worked on final adjustments to contrast/colours using curves and selective colour adjustment layers in PSCS5.
– Again, select all, copy merged, paste for a final workable copy
– Gently and carefully dodged/burned the horizon line and the land and just above the land portions of the image.
– Saved as a TIFF, and saved another resized/sharpened version for web presentation.


My hope is that with images such as “coastlines”, images that are impressions of a place or a subject, I can get to the essence of what makes a subject what it is.

Loosely, these photos are “photo-impressionism”. With them, I can abstract subjects and provide much more character than with a representational photo. Photo-impressionism allows me to express feelings, thoughts, dreams, and fleeting moments in time, when a small change in light can make the difference between utterly glorius and plain drab.

But more so than anything else, the concepts of photo-impressionism make me, and the viewer, pay attention to colour. I love colour! I play with colour and use it almost as if it were the subject itself, which, in a way, it is, at least in photography. Light is colour.

Nine Images of Autumn

kootenay fall

Nine images of Autumn are now available for purchase as individual art prints and as cards. Please click on the photo to go to the prints sales page.

For information on any particular image or any other questions, please send mail to Ursula I Abresch either through my website or from this blog.

Thank you!