Drake’s Equation – We Are Not Alone!

Seen some pics of eggs on the net today, can’t remember how or why, followed closely by some story about star birth or some such thing. Decided to put the two together and come up with this composition..as you do.


I once read a book called “Is Anyone Out There” by Frank Drake and Dava Sobel which was all about SETI (the Search For Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) and in it Frank Drake came up with an equation which estimates the possiblilities of there being other advanced civilisations in the universe. Here’s the equation:

N = R* • fp • ne • fl • fi • fc • L


N = The number of civilizations in The Milky Way Galaxy whose electromagnetic emissions are detectable.
R* =The rate of formation of stars suitable for the development of intelligent life.
fp = The fraction of those stars with planetary systems.
ne = The number of planets, per solar system, with an environment suitable for life.
fl = The fraction of suitable planets on which life actually appears.
fi = The fraction of life bearing planets on which intelligent life emerges.
fc = The fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space.
L = The length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.

If you do the maths, it’s nearly impossible to believe we could be alone in the universe, there’s simply too many stars and systems like our own that could support life. For us to be the only one is unthinkable! Fascinating really..


Eggs photo from Sxc.hu
Earth photo from Sxc.hu


I first cut the earth out of it’s background and dragged it into the eggs photo then used the Transform – Warp tool to match the existing yolk shape in the broken egg. I then added  a layer mask to the earth and cut out the parts of it with the Pen tool that overlaid the egg shell to make it look like it fitted inside the shell properly. I needed to lower the transparency of the earth layer to see where I was going doing these.

Next on the earth layer I used Layer Blending Options on the ‘underlying layer’ to bring out the shine on the egg yoke and make it look like it was on the earth too. Adjusting the layer blending also helped with blending the colours and features of the earth onto the egg yolk underneath.

I then added a glow on the earth to mimic the light source on the other eggs via Selection – Fill with white – Gaussian Blur. A new ‘overlay’ shadow layer using the Brush tool was needed to add a little shadow around the top and left of the earth from the egg shell.

Some fine adjustments using the Blur tool on the earth edge and here’s the finished article:

Drake's Equation

Wine Glass Weather Goggles

A topical Photo Composition this time…as always, the shit weather in Ireland is a hot topic so here’s a montage suggesting we all drown our weather sorrows!


1 dull, stormy Beach shot from sxc.hu
1 Wine Glass photo from sxc.hu
1 Old Post pic from sxc.hu


The beach shot was my base layer so I cut out the Glass and Post from their respective backgrounds using the Pen Tool and copied them into the beach pic, placed and sized appropriately. I duplicated the post a couple of times and spaced them out to simulate a fence type situation, editing each one with the Spot Healing, Clone and Burn/Dodge Tools to make them look different.

Next, I masked the glass and chose a 50% opaque brush and brushed out the middle of it so you could see the sea/sky background behind it. I then duplicated the beach layer and chose Filter – Liquify to warp the sea and sky behind the glass (I grabbed a wine glass from the drinks cabinet to check how a glass distorts things for this step!). I then added 2 new layers, set them to Overlay blending mode and manually painted in blue sky and sea behind the glass, using Hue/Saturation sliders to edit the colours a bit. I then manually drew in shadow under the glass to ground it on the post a bit.

I couldn’t find a decent rainy beach shot so I added my own rain next! I added 2 ‘Rain’ layers, both just black filled with slightly different settings for Noise and Blur filters then set both to Screen blending mode. I then used the layer opacity sliders to adjust them against each other slightly.

To add to the misery of the shot, I decided to make everything Black and White. Whenever I do this I always add 2 Hue/Saturation Adjustment layers on top of the colored image, bring the saturation right down on the top one and go in and edit the Lightness for each colour channel separately on the bottom one. That just gives better control over the tone than using Image – Mode – Grayscale.

Finally, I added a vignette cause I’m mad for them at the minute and some touching up here and there, specifically using the Dodge tool to brighten the tops of posts to suggest wetness and here’s the finished composition:

Weather Goggles

Aviva Gladiator

No idea why but I just wanted to do a photo composition where one element is totally out of place in another. A Gladiator in the Aviva stadium seemed appropriate!


A hi-res, pitch level shot of the Aviva stadium Dublin, bathed in sunshine. Sourced from Google Images.

Aviva Stadium

A decent, full length pic of a Gladiator looking a little confused! Sourced from sxc.hu.

Confused Gladiator

The Process:

After cutting the Gladiator out of his background with the Pen tool, I spent quite a bit of time finding the best position and size for him in the Aviva photo so it looked like he was really there on the pitch. After finding his spot and tidying up his edges and hair with a brush & mask, I created his shadow by duplicating his layer, warping with the Transform tool and adding a Gaussian Blur then making the shadow layer slightly transparent to match the stadium roof shadow.

Next, I planted Mr Gladiator firmly on the ground by hand drawing in shadows under his feet with a soft black brush. Some more shadows next. Since I put him standing under the shadow of the stadium roof, I needed to add some roof shadows onto him directly so again, using the brush, I painted on shadows, matching the lines of the stadium shadow, then made them a bit transparent to look more natural.

Finally, I added a Photo Filter Adjustment layer, just on the Gladiator and used a sampled green color from the pitch just to match him into the color scheme a bit better.

The final result with caption:

Wrong Time, Wrong Place


Pontiac Trans-Am Firebird Photo Composition

I love Firebirds and American Muscle cars in general. Maybe the universe will be good to me and I’ll be able to afford to own (and run) one some day! Some guy in Leitrim has a Firebird amazingly and I see/hear it pass by the odd time and drool. The Firebird is a version of the car model featured in ‘Knight Rider’.

Anyhow, for a bit of much needed Photoshop practice, I decided to edit a photo of a Pontiac Trans-Am Firebird into a photo of my dining table (no idea why the table!) and try make it look like it was really there instead of on some American highway.

Here’s what I started with, said pic of a Firebird on a highway sourced from Google (sue me):


And a pic of my dining room table top, taken at an angle to try to emulate the viewpoint in the Firebird pic above:

Dining Table

After careful cutout of the car with the Pen tool and placing it at the right point on the Table image as well as a bit of Perspective Lens Correcting of the table, I was able to make it look like it blended in a bit. Here are the steps I took to finish the composition off:

  1. Duplicate the Car layer and set the new layer to Multiply blend mode to make it fit in better light wise, after all the original car pic was taken outdoors daytime and I’m putting it in an indoor, dusk shot,
  2. Select the car layer and add a Photo Filter Adjustment layer with a colour sampled from the table. This helps the car fit in colour wise.
  3. Duplicate the car layer again and completely darken it then use the Transform tool to squash it down to the rough shape of a car shadow underneath the original car layer. Remember to match the shadow direction with the light source coming from the windows at the back of the table,
  4. Blur the car shadow layer until it looks about right then add a layer mask and tidy up with the brush tool,
  5. Create a new layer and select a soft brush, black colour and paint in the shadows under the wheels. The previous shadow step leaves the car looking like it’s hovering off the table and painting in a small shadow under the wheels really brings it back down,
  6. I had to cut out the windows too and lost a bit of the sun shield built into the windscreen but I was able to draw the missing bit back in, match the colour, add noise and blur it a bit to make it look like it was always there,
  7. Reflections for objects like this are very tricky but I managed to get a slight bit of a reflection in my shiny table for the wheels using the Transform – Skew & Gradient/Mask Tools.
  8. I then used the Burn (darken) tool to further darken some shaded bits and the Dodge (brighten) tool to make those beautiful chrome and gold strips really pop out,
  9. Next, I duplicated the Table layer and blurred the new one then added a layer mask and gradient to blur behind the car but keep in front in focus, just to give the image better depth,
  10. Finally, to add a bit of mood to the pic, I added a Vignette on top of everything and stuck a layer mask on it then a gradient on the mask to fade it out towards the back of the image,

And after sticking my business logo on the car door (as you do) using Transform – Skew/Warp, here’s the final composition. Like?:


Pontiac Trans Am Firebird


Photo Editing & Graphic Design Video Showreel

Here’s a little video I put together to properly show off some of my Graphics and Photo Editing skills featuring before and after shots of some jobs and an original soundtrack written and recorded by me. A regular one man band I am! PS – Choose the Full Screen HD version for a better view.