July 2, 2011

Photo Challenge: God Bless America!

It’s time for another Brenda Photo Challenge! This is the 4th of July weekend, so the theme is appropriately God Bless America! As a proud and patriotic conservative, I have been enthusiastically looking forward this! 

Hubby and I are collectively celebrating our birthdays right now, and a flag-designed dessert is taking center stage. The fruit on top helps to assuage any of our guilt for consuming the gooey frosting and chocolate cake. I quickly took a snapshot before we dug in! The camera settings were f/5.6, 1/30 second, and ISO 1000.

I recently read a photo magazine article about using displacement maps in Photoshop. I decided to try out the technique for the challenge. I tried a similar method several years ago, but this one is decidedly better. First, I grabbed and prepared an old stone wall photo in my inventory. This wall is actually a support for the Pisgah covered bridge near Seagrove, North Carolina (circa 1911 and one of two left in the entire state). I recommend that you never pass up the opportunity to take a texture shot like this. You may be able to use it later in your photo editing! 

Then, I merged another layer on top of this photo - a high resolution flag graphic available on the internet. Using Photoshop’s displacement magic, you can see that the flag takes on a 3D look and appears to be painted on top of the rocks. (Click to enlarge.) I also processed the image using a Nik Silver Efex plug-in filter. This step converted it to a black and white image. In the final steps, I selectively added back a low saturation of the red and blue colors on the flag, and also applied a soft sepia tone and vignette around the edges. The image of the rocks was taken at f/10, 1/40 second, and ISO 800. Pretty cool technique, huh?

Now that you have seen my contributions to the challenge, go to the web link and see God Bless America photos by the other participants!


  1. Oh the cake looks yummy, not to mention patriotic. But I'm actually eye balling the red baking dish. Have I mentioned I like red? LOL!

    Have a Happy 4th my friend AND I hope you both have very happy birthdays.

  2. Happy Fourth of July and what a beautiful cake!! Looks too good to eat LOL

    Hope you both have a wonderful birthday weekend and holiday, Donna!

  3. And I Seriously want those canisters!!!Hahahaa....You're not going to have anything left Girlie after we get through with you!!Hahaaaaa.....Never seen any design like them!

    Happy Birthdays to you both! What a MAN! You better keep him...Love the cake...

    The photos are beautiful Donna! I have no idea about the mapping thing but you did a teriffic job...It Does look 3D....
    Happy 4th of July!

  4. YUM!!! Looks so good.

    Okay, let's get down to business:

    You can send the red dish to The Real Me

    The canisters to Donna

    and the cake to me!


    Have a wonderful weekend!!


  5. Kim - You need to check out the cooking ware made by Emile Henry! This is from that line (Google for the web site). We got it on sale a couple of years ago via mail order. Easy to clean, can go in the oven, microwave, freezer - even cooktop! Amazing stuff.

    Donna - We've had that canister set now for about 25 years, LOL. It is handmade pottery. We adore trees, and the motif is gorgeous. We eyed it at a pottery show and was able to get it for half-price as the potter was packing up at the end of the day. She didn't want to cart it back home to Jonesboro, TN. The set is one of a kind and won't EVER be offered in any of our yard sales!

    Sally - Hurry on over! There's still some cake left!

  6. Neat composite image. And I love the cake. That is such a cool idea.

    Happy 4th of July.

  7. You are SO talented! Love your patriotic birthday cake and your beautiful picture you created. Have a wonderful weekend!

  8. Mmmmmmmmmmm that cake looks yummy! I love the filters you've used on both photos. They're most excellent!

  9. I've just begun to try Photoshop...I think I need a workshop, but haven't seen one available in my area until September. I have soooooooo much to learn! The flag is amazing...

  10. happy birthday weekend donna! we have tried that cake also, since our oldest daughter is a 4th of july baby!! so of course any design we have ever seen has been tried! :-) and of course love the photos.....one of these days!!.......

  11. The cake is beautiful and the technique sounds interesting and complicated, but the result is wonderful. Enjoy the 4th!

  12. I missed the photo challenge this time! I've made that flag cake a couple of times and I love that second picture! Have a wonderful weekend my friend!

  13. Happy birthday to you and your husband. That's one delicious looking birthday cake you've got there.
    I've done the displacement maps before, they are really cool. Haven't done that in a long time, I may have to do some playing.
    I love the way your photo turned out, it looks awesome

  14. The cake looks delicious! Such a colorful shot. I love the flag image. One of these days, I hope to get back to taking, and playing with, photos!

    Nita Jo

  15. I''m so glad half the country separates us or I would steal a large chunk of the wonderful cake and ruined my diet! :) The flag on stone is very interesting...well done!

    Have a great Fourth.

  16. great picture! (the cake, too!)

    i love the technique you described. i need to learn photo shop.

  17. Happy Birthday to the both of you. :) Lovely cake pan! LOL and the cake looks great it it, as well. You did a neat thing with the rock wall and the flag! You're so talented, my friend!! Hope summer treats you well. It's lovely here! Snowed on June 27th, though, and my son is going skiing at Squaw here on July 4th (their anniversary). I just learned that his wife likes to go although she doesn't ski, because she's a "lodge bunny", ROFL. Hugs.

  18. Ooooooooh, that cake looks SO scrumptiously delicious! I bet you enjoyed it! And the design was so creative. Very cool!

    LOVE the flag on the rocks photo. I'm amazed at what you are able to accomplish with the tools you have at hand. VERY NICE JOB, AS ALWAYS, Donna!

  19. Yummy! Beautiful shot of the cake! Hope you had enjoyed the cake.


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