Photoshop Sketch Action

A new addition to my Photoshop armoury, is the Uniqum Sketch Painting Multi Action. This action creates a sketch and painting effect over which ever parts of your photo you highlight and makes some interesting pictures. The cost is $6 and is available from  as a download zip file.

Inside the zip file are the actions and the brushes. It is necessary to install both in the preset files in Photoshop before you begin.

Once loaded up you need to select a picture to work on. The action works best at over 3000 px and 300 dph. Once selected, create a locked background. Then, add a layer which you call “profaction.” With this layer active, select a large soft brush and brush over the areas of the photo you want to show up as a sketch. You can do this with any colour brush.

That done, you need to make sure the correct brushes are loaded. To do, right click on the canvas or press B to bring up brushes. At the top right of the brushes panel, click on the arrow and then select “replace brushes” with the Uniqum brushes you put into the preset file. Close and activate the background layer. Now you start the action for your version of Photoshop and let it go.

Once, I got started I found the action worked well. My advice is to take the time to do something else like make a cup of coffee or sort out your laundry as watching the action is pretty boring.

Here’s what I have made on practice runs:


Dancing House, Prague


Old workshops, Cieszyn, Poland

With my new actions, and renewed interest in Lomography, my interest in photography has been rekindled.I am going to try it out on some more photographs.



Rediscovering Patti Smith

I was a teenager in the 1970s. It was the era of Bruce Springsteen singing Because the Night, Patti Smith’s Horses and Easter, Joan Baez in Hanoi, Annie Leibovitz, Susan Sontag, Fran Lebowitz, The Ecologist and CND. We studied Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes during the A level course. I read Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar, her poetry collection Ariel  and  Patti Smith’s poetry book Babel. I was a thinker, writer, philosopher and would-be photographer. Then, I went to university where it was all about history and religion.

The music, the poetry, the novel, the photography all stayed with me and followed me across Europe. They are part of who I am. Part of how I see the world. Part of the way I think.

Last year, I read an article about Patti Smith and a review of her book M Train. I pre-ordered it on Amazon and was excited when it came. I have so far only read the first chapter waiting, I think, for the moment when she will speak to me. As I am going through a retro phase, I purchased a personal CD player an d updated my CD collection. I now have CD versions of the albums I listed to as a teenager. And more. Patti Smith still speaks to me near 40 years down the line.

For me, though, Patti Smith is as much about her Polaroid photos as about music,writing and poetry. Patti Smith is an observer, a collector of memories and an archivist. She has photographed Sylvia Plath’s grave, architecture, an empty beach or an abandoned street, an empty café, shoes, flowers, chairs and cutlery. Whenever, I see her photos I am inspired. Whenever I hear her music, I am inspired. Patti Smith is food for the soul.

This is an archived page of some of her photographs in The Guardian. This is a link to her Guardian interview. This is Patti Smith on Land Photographs. Patti Smith on Open Culture.

Photoshop Vintage Action

Much as I love messing around in Photoshop, there are moments when I want to create an effect but do not want to spend the time doing each step. That’s when I use Photoshop Actions.

The action I have used below comes from Graphic River via Envato Market. I paid $6 for the action called Perfectum – Vintage Watercolor Photoshop Action. I used the action on Photoshop CS4 Extended.


The action comes as a zip file containing the brushes and the action. It is necessary to have everything installed in the Preset folder before beginning. Then to restart the PC to get everything working. A workable image of around 3000 px and dph of 300 is required. Once the image is selected then it is necessary to create a blank layer, select a brush and whiten out the part of the image to be water-coloured. Then, start the action. A few minutes later the water-colour emerges. It is possible then to go into the layers and adjust colours etc.

The images accompanying the action on the website are very inspiring and show what can be done with this action. Once set up, it is easy to use and produces stunning images. For $6, it is well worth the money.



Rediscovering instant photos

20161008_1409381When I was a child we had a Polaroid Land Camera, which was a great joy to have. We popped the film case in to the machine and then took a photo. The photo came out of the front of the camera and you had to wave the thing about until the picture emerged. The film packs came in black & white and colour. The camera was a basic machine and the colours were often washed out. The image itself was often fuzzy or out of focus. Nonetheless, in a age where films had to be taken to a chemist’s to be processed instant photography was a great draw.

Polaroid stopped making instant cameras and the technique became more artistic than a fun.I moved on to a pocket camera taking size 110 film and then onto an SLR. The Polaroid went into a cupboard. In  2008 Polaroid stopped making the instant films altogether and the use of film cameras dropped in the digital age. I think Polaroid also destroyed a lot of their production machinery. A company called Impossible bought up a few old film machines and started production again. I acquired a secondhand Land camera as part of a job lot but found it very difficult to get the film. Eventually, I gave the camera to a charity shop.

I also gave up on a lot of my other film cameras. Film was hard to come by and processing was expensive. Digital photography is cheaper, faster and it is possible to see the results right away. Using a card reader or cable they can be uploaded to the cloud, posted on social media or stored on a flash drive. They can be edited and reproduced quickly and easily. What is there not to love? So, why do I now find myself in possession of a Fujifilm Instax 10?


Fuji Instax Mini 10

A few weeks ago, I started an internet search for a small printer. Something to go into a pocket, perhaps. However, I noticed that eBay was awash with brightly coloured cameras. The Instax Mini. Hmmm. I thought. I could do with one of those for my next trip. I could print of the photos and stick them in my journal  as I went along. I became attracted to the idea of something small and brightly coloured. Then, I saw the price of the films. They do not come cheap. One pack is 10 photos. One pack is around £8.95. So, I went over to the Lomography site and saw some really awesome photos taken with instant cameras. I remembered Patti Smith.

For those of you not familiar with this musical legend, Patti Smith is a poet, singer, songwriter, photographer and artist. Her book “M Train” came out last year and is a stunning piece of writing. Anyway, Patti Smith is the Queen of Polaroid. Whenever, I think Polaroid, I think Patti Smith.

So, with Patti Smith and my travel journal in mind I bought a Fujifilm Instax  Mini 10 on eBay for the princely sum of a tenner plus postage. I ordered two packs of film online and picked up some very pricey batteries at the supermarket this morning. I snapped in the batteries, ripped open the film pack and tested the camera out. It worked. I breathed a sigh of relief. I like to take photos of distressed wood, distressed buildings, buildings with character and places with character. So, I headed across the street to the Clitterhouse Farm Project and snapped the café which has a weathered wood frontage. That is the photo resting on a tree bark. I got to focal length wrong and could have used the exposure button. But I think it has come out fine.


Tomorrow, I will take my new camera around East London in search of some gritty images. Photography has suddenly become fun again.