How to Make a StoryBoard/BlogBoard in Photoshop

Have you ever wanted to combine a collage of photos and upload them onto your blog or print them out? Storyboards are essentially photo collages. When I had my photography business, clients always wanted to purchase them as they are visually appealing. They are becoming more prevalent on blogs as you can add a lot of photos to a “board.” I like using them on a blog as it makes the blog space clean and uncluttered. You can make them in Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, or any version of Photoshop. You can design several and save them as PSD (Photoshop) files, then just drag and drop the photos onto the PSD.

I will be using Photoshop but you can alter these instructions to the software you are using. Open up Photoshop, click File >New and a pop-up window will ask you for the title, dimensions, and resolution of your document. I type in StoryBoard (if I am using 300 dpi) or BlogBoard (if I’m using 180 or 240 dpi for my blog.) Type in the dimensions you want for your storyboard; it can be large, say 11″ or 16″ x 14″ or 20″, but for this exercise and for the web, I made it 7″ x 9″. Another useful size is the good ole’ 8″ x 10″. Type in the resolution and click OK. I kept the background color white but you can change it to any color you prefer.



Duplicate the layer by holding Command C (Mac) or Control C (PC), go to the top menu, select View, then Grid. This will make it easier to design the board. Also under View and Grid, be sure Smart Guides is selected. At the bottom of the Layers panel, click on the second icon on the bottom right (to the left of the trash can) and select Create New Layer. Then select the Marquee tool on the left side toolbar panel. Click onto the grid layer and make a square or rectangle. After you have made your shape, select the Paint Bucket (under the Gradient tool on the toolbar panel) or hit ‘G’ to bring up that particular toolset. Select your fill color; I chose black but again, it’s a matter of preference.
















After you have filled the shape, continue to use the marquee tool and paint bucket to create all of your board shapes. The Smart Guide will be a pink line to show you how you are lining up to the previously created shapes. Once your storyboard is finished, go to View and turn off the grid. At this point, I save my board as a PSD file so I can edit it or continue to use it repeatedly. Select the top arrow of the toolbar panel (the Move tool), and select the layer into which you want to insert a photo.




Using the Move arrow, drag and drop your photo onto the layer. You will see a cross on your photo which means your photo is now a Smart Object. Holding the Shift key down, click on a corner square and resize your photo into the black space, using the Smart Guides to help visualize placement. Holding the shift key down while you resize allows your photo to be kept proportional. When the placement is correct, hit the Return/Enter key to commit the photo to the layer. Continue to do this for all the photos in your collage.
















Once all of your photos are in the storyboard, go to the top menu, select Layer and then Flatten Layers. Save your storyboard in the file type you want. I use JPEG or PNG. You can make a board that is just squares, or make a diptych or triptych. It’s very versatile. I find that the PNG loads faster on WordPress.

Voilà! Really simple to do and you can achieve some elegant results.


Teahouse and an iPhone


The days are hot and humid here in Tucson as the monsoon season is underway in the desert. There is no greater perfume than the creosote bush whose scent permeates the air after a rainstorm. There is another oasis for desert-dwellers to soothe the effects of the harsh summer. Seven Cups teahouse is a small but mighty and instantly transports you into a cocoon of calm the moment you enter. My friend Mabel asked me to meet her for tea yesterday. Instead of my usual puer tea I choose a pot of this tea. Luckily I made it back home before the thunderstorms began. Thanks M! Photos were taken with iPhone 3GS using Iris Photo, Filterstorm, Camera +, and TiltShiftGen. Rumor has it the iPhone 5 with an 8 megapixel camera will be hitting the stores in September, can’t wait.


How To Make HDR Photos on an iPhone

There are a lot of complicated lighting situations in photography. Some photographers deal with it by using artificial light such as strobes or on-camera flash but there is also HDR. HDR means High Dynamic Range and allows you to have a perfectly exposed photograph. If you are using a digital SLR then you can take 3-10 photographs of a scene then use tone mapping and merge them into one fabulous photograph using Photomatix or Photoshop CS5. The effect can be very useful especially for interiors or dusk photographs. Unfortunately, some photographers have used the effect to the extreme and the images look ridiculously fake. But used judiciously, the effect can be quite useful and prevent the trashing of some decent photographs.

The iPhone 4 has an HDR function but since I have the iPhone 3GS (I’m impatiently waiting for the iPhone 5) I rely on a great inexpensive app called ProHDR. It’s very simple to use and it is also available in an Android version. You launch the app, and the screen will offer you the choice of manual, auto, or library (load from the camera roll) HDR. I like to use manual setting for more control. Once you choose the manual setting, the app opens the camera and will ask you to tap on a bright area of the scene. It takes a photo and you can accept it or cancel, when you accept, it then asks you to tap a dark area of the scene. It then will merge both images together and you can adjust the brightness and contrast of the image. ProHDR can produce a halo effect if you’re too aggressive with the adjustments, so I just pump up the contrast a little and that usually is sufficient.


Here are two photographs that I took in Arles, France on top of the coliseum. It was an overcast day without a lot of light. If I exposed for the sky the foreground would have been far too dark and if I exposed for the foreground my sky would have been blown out. With a DSLR I would have taken 5 or 6 bracketed images with the camera on a tripod. These images were handheld with the iPhone using ProHDR and no schlepping heavy equipment up slippery medieval stone stairs.


The final merged and adjusted image


It’s worth the $1.99 and there are quite a few HDR apps in the AppStore. I really like this one and Dynamic Light. After you process your image you can bring it into any editor (Photogene, Filterstorm, PhotoForge, or the free Adobe PS Express) and sharpen the image.

Street Graffiti

I spent a lot of time taking photographs of the incredible French street graffiti. In some cases, instant abstract art. Most of the tagging I noticed was on abandoned buildings in Montmarte or in the more run-down parts of the city. Perhaps because I’m no longer twenty but Paris is one place I feel completely safe in wandering. The graffiti was so multi-layered that I was totally fascinated by the varied compositions. It’s always been there but my eyes finally saw them.

This last one I found on a wall in St.Remy,the town where Van Gogh recuperated after his ear incident. There is something so appealing and ephemeral about the drawing being glued onto the stucco and peeling away. Such a beautiful drawing to give away to the public.