Posts Tagged ‘“Liz Mackney”’

Save $20 On Topaz B&W Effects!

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

A Great Deal!

Topaz Labs is now running a promotion on their plugin Topaz B&W Effects. Starting today a $20 discount reduces the price to just $39.99. To learn more about this great deal, click on the image below and enter this coupon code at checkout: MARBW


8 Key Features

Topaz B&W Effects allows for stunning black and white conversion and contains these key features:

Zone System

A visual aid for exposure recognition. This photographic technique was originally developed by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer. Allows you to fine-tune shadows, midtones and highlights with just a click.

Authentic Grain

Allows you to apply and customize true or simulated grain to your image. Grain options developed from real film scans.

Smart Brushes

Edge-aware brush technology for local adjustments. Allows you to easily Dodge, Burn, Reintroduce Color, Enhance Detail, and Smooth Specific Areas.

Quick Tools

One-click enhancements. With the click of a button apply a color filter, change brightness, contrast, adaptive exposure, tone and get quick access to your dodge and burn brushes.

Darkroom Simulated Effects

Eight collections based on historical printing processes. Choose between the Traditional, Toned, Stylized, Albumen, Van Dyke Brown, Opalotype and Platinum collections to give your image an authentic, vintage look.

Curve Tool

Easily adjust tonality with pre-loaded curve presets or simply click and drag anchor points on the integrated histogram.

Grunge Borders

26 hand-crafted, darkroom-inspired borders for the perfect finishing touch, including grunge and burnt effects.

Adaptive Exposure

Enhance the dynamic range of your image. Correct exposure, balance lighting and redefine tonal values.

Try It For Free!

You can try Topaz B&W Effects for free as a 30-day trial. Download the plug-in today and experiment to your heart’s content. Just remember, the $20 discount expires on March 31st.

You don’t want to miss this great deal!

~ Liz

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014


Wishing you and yours a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

~ Liz Mackney Photography


Pet Portraits — Pixel Bender Oil Paint Filter

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Puppy Pet Portrait using Pixel Bender Oil Paint Filter

Mia, Age 4 Months

Captured My Heart

When I first spotted Mia at the Cape Ann Animal Aid shelter in Gloucester, Massachusetts, she instantly caught my eye. I had no intention of getting a dog that day, as I already had three cats at home and was simply on my way to the pet store for cat food.

While on my way to the store, I happened to walk past the shelter. Suddenly I heard dogs barking in the shelter’s outside pen. It was a bright, sunny day in April 2010, so I decided to say a quick “hello” to the pups. As I approached the outdoor area, the dogs all came running, barking and jumping up against the fence. All but one little black dog who didn’t make a sound. She simply sat down and looked up at me with eyes that reached into my soul. Right then and there, I knew she was mine. She had completely captured my heart.

Meant to Be

Mia is a rescue pup (SATO) from Puerto Rico. Her start in life was a tough one. Life on the streets for a dog there can be cruel. Having just lost my brother to ALS, I was dealing with my own emotional pain. Looking into her eyes I said, “I think I’m meant to heal your broken heart, and you’re meant to heal mine.”

We’ve been together ever since.

They Grow Up So Fast

With such an emotional start to our relationship — and me being a photographer — pet portraits of Mia have become a part of our lives. For the image above, the Pixel Bender Oil Paint Filter in Photoshop CS5 was the perfect match for what I envisioned for this shot when I “rediscovered” it while looking through Mia’s “baby pics” the other day.

I took the original shot back in 2010 — and loved it then. Years later, now that the Pixel Bender plugin exists, its Oil Paint filter seemed like a perfect fit for Mia’s natural fur pattern and soulful expression. I’m glad I decided to process the image again from an entirely new creative perspective.

Note: Click on the image to view at full size.

Food For Thought

As I discovered, when new software plugins become available, it’s always a good idea to look back in your photo archives to see what images may benefit from them — or what favorites may be taken to a whole new creative level.

Faux DOGUE Magazine Cover

My Cover Girl

As you can see, Mia will always be a creative muse for me.

~ Liz Mackney

Together We Can Win The Fight Against Lou Gehrig’s Disease


Editor’s Pick Gallery

New England Photography Guild Gallery

My Fine Art America Gallery




Celebrating My Love of Sunflowers!

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

I’ve always loved sunflowers. There’s something about them that just makes me smile. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. Sunflowers have magical powers. Well, maybe it just feels that way.

After the never-ending winter we had here in New England, I decided to celebrate spring this year by planting 9 packets of sunflower seeds. It was a good move as they eventually yielded a wonderful variety of 96 buds this summer. That’s pretty magical! Needless to say, I’ve had an abundance of photo ops right here in my own backyard.

A lemon yellow sunflower from the Autumn Beauty collection by the Livingston Seed Company.

Autumn Beauty - Lemon Yellow

The sunflowers’ beauty has delighted me since early summer straight through to these first few days of autumn. I even have a plant that is just starting to show its buds now. With the warm spell that is due here this week, I just may get another bloom! My camera and I are ready and waiting!

Spring Seed Planting

All of my seed packets this year came from the Livingston Seed Company in Columbus, Ohio. I happened to find the seeds at both my local Ace Hardware store and also at a nearby Dollar Store in early spring. I’m so glad I picked them up when I did, as these delightful annuals have proven to be nature’s gift that just keeps giving.

A rear view of a rust and gold sunflower from the Summertime Mix F1hybrid collection.

Summertime Mix F1 - Rear View

So Many Seeds — So Many Different Varieties

I never realized just how many different varieties there are of sunflowers. Some of the seed packets I picked up were new to me — like the Mexican Sunflower. Not only was its color unique to me, but I soon discovered so were the shape of its leaves. As the plant began to grow, I could tell something special was on the way.

All of the images featured in this article were taken over the course of the summer as each of the different sunflowers made its appearance. Here’s a bit of info on each of the varieties that I planted. Perhaps one or two varieties will speak to you as well.

Mammoth Russian (Helianthus annuus)

This Mammoth Russian was the very first to appear in my garden this year. True to its name, it is indeed one big plant! The shooting perspective I chose for this image was primarily due to the fact that the sunflower stood taller than I. I’m not the only one who appreciated its height. The birds seemed to like its overall size, as my goldfinches happily fed on it for a long stretch of time.

A Mammoth Russian sunflower

Mammoth Russian

Livingston Seed Packet Text:  The Mammoth Russian is a giant in beauty and stature. The huge, yellow flowers are often 12″ in diameter, full of plump, tasty seeds. Harvest when heads bend from weight. This sunny giant is perfect in your yard or garden to create a natural fence or just make a statement. Everyone will love your Mammoth Russian Sunflower, including our feathered friends!

Height:  10′  Blooms: Midsummer through Fall

Summertime Mix (Helianthus annuus)

The Summertime Mix was one of my favorite seed packs primarily due to the diversity of the flowers it produced. I loved the size and delicate nature of each flower as it appeared. The soft color palette was quite eye-catching and deserved to be showcased.

bi-color sunflower from the Summertime Mixture F1 hybrid collection

Summertime Mix F1 - Bicolor

Summertime Mix F1 sunflower

Summertime Mix F1

Livingston Seed Packet Text:  Summertime Mixture F1 is a true mixture of colors and forms. The single-stemmed and branched flowers make you smile by just looking at them. Wonderful for mass planting and cutting gardens. This is a pollen free-free, hybrid collection.

Height:  Approx. 4′-5′  Blooms: Summer through Fall

Autumn Beauty (Helianthus annuus)

The Autumn Beauty seed packet led to one of my favorite shots from this summer. I loved the color of this sunflower and well as its flawless, unblemished petals. As you can see for yourself, the rust and gold of this particular flower’s petals against the backdrop of its deep, green leaves definitely says, “Autumn Beauty.”

A fall-colored sunflower from the Autumn Beauty collection

Autumn Beauty - Fall Colors

However, that’s not the only variety of sunflower the Autumn Beauty seed packet brought to my garden. It was one of many.

An pale lemon yellow example from the Autumn Beauty sunflower collection

Autumn Beauty - Pale Yellow

A subtle bronze sunflower from the Autumn Beauty collection

Autumn Beauty - Subtle Bronze

An image of the head of an Autumn Beauty sunflower

Autumn Beauty - Rust

Livingston Seed Packet Text:  Sunflowers make you smile. Blooms in shades of lemon yellow, subtle bronze, rich wine, and bicolors on multiple flowerheads make Autumn Beauty a true beauty. Cut for a bouquet, plant for a natural fence, or plant in a garden for color. Harvest for your feathered friends!

Height:  5′-7′  Blooms: Late Summer to Fall

Orange Mahogany Bicolor F1 (Helianthus annuus)

Bicolor sunflowers always add interest to a garden, and this Orange Mahogany Bicolor was no exception. Round and symmetrical, it instantly grabbed my attention. It’s vibrant colors and curved, wide petals made it an instant standout.

An orange mahogany bicolor F1 sunflower

Orange Mahogany Bicolor F1

Livingston Seed Packet Text:  The brilliant colors of Orange Mahogany Bicolor F1 make it a standout in your garden. Striking colors of orange and yellow with brown center rings definitely add beauty to any spot. This is an F1 hybrid variety.

Height:  5′-6′  Blooms: Summer through Fall

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)

The Mexican Sunflower seed packet was my big surprise of the summer. Long before buds appeared, it was the plant’s dark green leaves and their unusual shape that made me take notice. Truth be told, at first I thought it might be a weed, as I didn’t recognize it. Thankfully I kept my weeding hand in check and let nature continue on its way. Was I ever glad that I did. This vibrant orange sunflower proved to be a show stopper.

A closeup of a Mexican Sunflower

Mexican Sunflower

Livingston Seed Packet Text:  Lead the uninhibited life, and let Torch light your way. Its fiery orange petals are irresistible, and it’s so easy to grow. In no time your garden will ignite with its glow.

Height:  4′-6′  Blooms: Summer/Fall

Velvet Queen (Helianthus annuus)

The deep burgundy color of the Velvet Queen added rich beauty to my garden. Contrasting with the color of the surrounding flowers, it quickly became a visual magnet for this photographer and her macro lens.

A Velvet Queen sunflower

Velvet Queen

Livingston Seed Packet Text:  Velvet Queen Sunflower’s stately chestnut-red blossoms usher in fall’s regal glory. The seeds are edible and can be harvested for a tasty treat. Use the cut flowers in fall floral arrangements or leave the seed head in place as a gift to the birds. Velvet Queen prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil. Do no overfertilize. A Victorian symbol of hope, these sunflowers are a reminder of early autumn’s grace and beauty.

Height:  5′-7′  Blooms: Summer/Late Fall

Looking Ahead

Who knows what this upcoming winter will bring? All I know is come next spring I will be one of the first on the lookout for the appearance of sunflower seed packets in the stores. Perhaps there will even be a new variety or two for me to discover.

The side view of pale lemon yellow example from the Autumn Beauty sunflower

Autumn Beauty Profile

Needless to say, the wheels in my head are already turning. I even have the next planting schematic all mapped out in my mind. Can’t wait!

~ Liz Mackney


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Charlotte Calls My Garden Home

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

All In The Family

For the last couple of years I’ve had a garter snake living under the stone steps in my garden. I affectionately named him Charlie. Each spring I look forward to seeing him basking in the sun, as that signals to me that winter is gone and warmer weather is here to stay.

This year, I discovered someone new calling my garden home. I first spotted “Charlotte” on the far side of my yard on the edge of one of my borders. Having been out shooting flowers, I had both my camera and macro lens in hand.

At first I thought it might be Charlie, as I had seen him in this area the previous year. Once I got closer though, I could see this garter snake’s head to be smaller. I then assumed this one to be female and promptly named her Charlotte. Were she and Charlie a couple? Maybe. I knew I needed to say, “Hello.”

A garter snake curls to take a look

Charlotte curls around to take a good look at me

Introducing Myself

Charlotte was definitely wary of me as I approached her. Unlike Charlie who had gotten quite used to me, Charlotte didn’t know what to make of me. I gently spoke to her and kept a safe distance for a bit. I gradually moved closer, all the while speaking softly to her, and slowly coming down to her level. As trust was slowly building, she kindly gave me some great eye contact.

A close-up image of a garter snake's face.

Meeting eye-to-eye at Charlotte's level

I continued to speak gently to her  — always referring to her by name — but was mindful not to stress her out. After all, I was used to having a garter snake as a resident, but she was not used to me.

Knows Her Name

Every morning when I come down the stone steps, I always softly say, “Charlie… Charlotte… Good Morning.” From time to time a little head pops up to greet the sound of my voice. The first time this spring I thought it was Charlie. Since then, however, I’m sure it’s been Charlotte. Never have I seen the two of them together.

The other day when I was walking across the back lawn, I noticed something up against the porch lattice making its way through the grass towards the stone steps. Naturally I said, “Charlotte?”

A garter snake raises its head in the grass

Reacting to my voice

As you can see by her reaction to my voice, I think she clearly knows her name. Looks like my “animal whisperer” skills are still working.

~ Liz Mackney


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