At the Beach...or not

At the Beach…or Not

The more I play with Fractalius in Photoshop Elements, the more I love it. Granted it takes a lot of time for it to render the image, after you click on the green check mark, but it can be well worth the wait.

Since I believe the internet, and information, should be free, I’m going to do a step-by-step from the setup to post processing. If you want the details, scroll on down the page…

At the Beach...or not

Gear used/Specs:
Olympus OM-D E-M5
m. Zuiko 12-50mm kit lens @ 14mm
10x close-up lens/filter
ISO: 200
Aperture: f/4.5
Shutter Speed: 1/5

Post processed in Lightroom, played around with in Photoshop Elements with the Fractalius plugin

Items used:

  • 6″ x 6″ mirror
  • tissue paper – the 99 cent store sells a package of pretty pastel tissue paper for no more than 99 cents
  • spray bottle filled with water
  • cardboard box with both ends open – I used packing tape to tape the sides together since it was a somewhat shallow box
  • binder clips/presentation clips – see image here – you can pick these up in Office Supply stores or on (search results for binder clips)
  • LED flashlight
  • flowers
  • molded plastic table 30″ x 20″
  • Note: I also used a piece of Coroplast (corrugated plastic) left over from when I was doing signs. It added a little more support to the bottom of the box and doesn’t get “hurt” when it gets wet. I’ve seen it at Michael’s (arts and crafts store here in Southern California) – also sells it (link is for search results)


  1. I positioned the table in an area where the overhead flourescent lights could shine in the front end of the box, then put the box on top and made minor adjustment for lighting.
  2. Using the binder/presentation clips I clamped a sheet of tissue paper to the back of the box. This worked fine for some of the images but not all. I found what worked best, and was used for this image, was just draping the tissue paper over the mirror and flower with one side of the tissue paper lightly resting on the front of my camera lens.
  3. Using the spray bottle I watered down the mirror and placed it in the box closest to the camera
  4. Setup camera on tripod in front of box with the camera lens somewhat resting on the bottom of the box
  5. Used the spray bottle again to wet down the flower (though you can’t tell in this image), then placed it on the mirror
  6. Tried to form the tissue paper up and over the wet flower so there was about a 4 to 5 inch gap above. In this image the brownish color is from the top of the box. In later images the tissue paper was covering just the front part of the lens so none of the box was reflected in the mirror.
  7. Using the LED flashlight I “lit up” the tissue paper, then pressed the shutter button, waited for the 2 second delay and then for the photo to be taken, before turning off the flashlight.

Post Processing:

  1. I shot in RAW + JPEG and was in somewhat of a hurry to see what fractalius could/would do to the image. I opened up the JPG file in Elements and duplicated the background image.
  2. Using the duplicate background I then went to the Filters>Redfield>fractalius and clicked through each of the presets until I found one I liked.
  3. When fractalius was done processing I did some masking between the two layers. Added another layer to brush in some darker color on the flower, it wasn’t dark enough in the shadow area.
  4. I then flattened the image into a new layer – I didn’t want to get rid of the other layers yet in case I decided to make any other changes.
  5. On the flattened layer I used the smudge tool, checked the box next to “finger paint” and applied that only to the upper, blue portion of the photo. Now it looked more like clouds than the (almost) lightening look.
  6. Flattened the image and saved as a TIFF
  7. Imported into Lightroom and set the “Tone” Settings to what you see
  8. Cropped the image a little as some of the bottom edge of the box managed to get into the photo 😦

I do not make any money from fractalius, I’m just really enjoying what it can do for pictures. 🙂

At the Beach Posters

At the Beach Posters by HDreamsPhotography

Also available as a plaque
At the Beach Plaques
At the Beach Plaque by HDreamsPhotography


8 thoughts on “At the Beach…or Not

  1. Pingback: Taking a Dip | Hummingbird Dreams Photography

  2. Thinking we understand mostly how this is done. Inspired to implement your discoveries. You understand, this is the definition of creative genius. And practice until what you do makes everything else that looks hard to everybody else look easy. Thank you for your generosity sharing this technique. A discovery and a gift. — The Healing Garden gardener

  3. In the Healing Garden, we call that ‘mind reading’. Our humble suggestion is that you take the snaps and put a Creative Commons license on those. Everybody Else can come to your site and see for free. You retain the rights someday when you gather your genius magic tricks all together. It stings, if you haven’t the rights to share your own work. An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of healing. — The Healing Garden gardener

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