How to Pastel Edit Your Photos

I thought with summer vacations just around the corner, it would be fun to share how to I put a pretty pastel tone onto my photos. If you have children, a pastel tone makes the perfect photo edit, and if you can get your children near water – the ocean, a river or a lake…kids+beach=one sweet PASTEL vacation memory. Or maybe you already have some beach photos tucked away on a computer or cell phone? If so, get them out, today I’m going to walk you through the tools I use to make those sweet sun & sand photos of family even more precious, simply by adding a pastel tint.

For today’s sample beach photo, I went into my archives to pull out a beach photo I shot while on vacation at Carpinteria Beach, California. Carpinteria is an artsy little community near, better known, Santa Barbara. One morning I spotted these two kiddos playing in the sand. They looked about the same age difference as my (now) adult kids, it reminded me of my kids playing together on the beach at that young age. So adorable! I know, I am a big fan of photos with children on a beach…the sun-kissed tones of sea foam, soft sunlight and sand…suddenly those little rascals become Angels.


A detailed PDF tutorial download is at end of post, but in a nutshell... My original (SOOC) shot was poorly composed, however, by shooting in landscape orientation allowed for a good crop later. Notice how in the SOOC photo, the children are centered…the new crop will position them at a Rule of Thirds grid intersection.

I’m getting ahead of myself…before the crop, I took the SOOC image into Photoshop Elements 12 to run the  Florabella Collection, Trinity Action bundle, Pastel Film action to give it the pastel coloration and add golden sunlight gradient in the upper left corner.

Then I opened a saved copy in Elements again. (At that time) I cropped the new pastel-edit photo into a square and, also, used the Elements “healing tool” to eliminate the oil drilling rigs that lined the horizon. *I duplicate the FB pastel layer so when I run Topaz edit it is done on a separate layer. That duplicate layer is taken into Topaz Labs, Black & White Effects to further enhance it into a dreamy look. In TL, Black & White Effects, I selected the Opalotype Collection of Presets. Oh my gosh, the photo looked good in so many of the opalotype collection choices! Finally, I chose the Milk Memories preset effect within that Opalotype Collection (photo below.)

This may look extreme, but remember it will be a layer (in Elements) above the Florabella edit with its opacity pulled way down.

I brought that Topaz Labs, Milk Memories, edit back into Elements, as a layer above the FB pastel image. Reduced the opacity (as I mentioned) of the Milk Memories layer to 38%, revealing more color & detail from the FB layer. This makes more sense looking at the screen shot in the PDF tutorial.

At that point the edited photo is ready to print at a quality  300 dpi, or for online viewing. I add a solid layer (soft blue) to frame-out the photo for viewing online, (see PDF tutorial for details).

That’s it! Honestly, it took 5 times longer to type this post than to edit it. That is what I love about Topaz Labs and Florabella  They’re as easy as Click & Go. If you love pastel photos, these are the two tools you should have in your photo editing toolbox. The biggest advantage is the degree of control you have over the look you wish to create. That is not something you get from photo-editing apps. When these two are used in combination, as I am showing, your creative possibilities are ENDLESS.

Download my Pastel Edit of Photos tutorial, for a detailed walk-thru HERE.

Thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside!

Weekend Wanderings 5.21

Welcome to Weekend Wanderings! We just returned from our 40th Anniversary Get-Away, so with a Sunday “post deadline,” I was pushed to go into my archived photos to create a post (out thin air.) A surprise win-win since that gave me an opportunity to revisit some old photos using my favorite technique of photo-editing…Pastel Effect. Today, I am re-sharing a Paris carousel photo to INSPIRE you, too, to dig through your old photos to rethink them in Pastel tones.

While digging through my old photos on my computer I came across a few beach photos that I could not wait to Pastel-edit. So, here’s what we’ll do when we Meet Lakeside next time: I will share my favorite photo-editing tools that will take your photo (that you will find tucked away on your device, maybe forgotten, right?) anyway… as I was saying…these tools will take your photo to a swoon-worthy pastel printable masterpiece ; )

I will be editing my forgotten photo of children playing on a beach – trust me, you will want to try pastel editing on all your vacation photos. Water, sand and children are the perfect combination for this heavenly technique. Just the thought of capturing those images, to later pastel-edit, makes me want to book another vacation to a lake, river or ocean immediately!

This pastel post comes just in time for summer vacationing, after learning these tools, you will see photo opportunities in a whole new Pastel light.

Are you planning a vacation around water?

Thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside,

Reveal – Fence for Zen Garden

It’s Reveal time for our new Zen Garden Fence! Captain finished installing the third section of the horizontal 6-inch and 8-inch redwood boards (screwed on, so warping is less likely) and he capped the top with a 6-inch width boards. The seams, where the sections join, are hidden with thinner 2-inch wide redwood strips.

Then the new fence got a thick coat of espresso oil based stain. We rolled on the stain. The fence’s rough face boards darkened to a charcoal color, but will lighten in time to the dark espresso. I like the charcoal color more than Captain does, I think its darkness provides an enhancing backdrop to the plants.

I would have stained the tops of the bench stands with a rich wood color instead of the same dark espresso that Captain used, but they will also lighten in the summer heat.


Below, is the final zen garden with the stands & bonsai all back in place, including the new guy on the block who started the whole remake. Gotta say, the new area takes on a beautifully dramatic look at night when the plants are spotlighted with landscape up-lights.

The remake cost was around $100. since we used redwood for durability. The solid fence is a huge improvement to the last version. The new solid fence defines the zen garden area and hides the clutter behind it. When designing a fence, don’t be afraid to mix wood orientation (vertical with horizontal) and the color of stains, to create the look you want. The dark-stained horizontal planks add an Asian linear simplicity that goes well with Captain’s bonsai, and is typically seen in zen gardens. When the stands were re-positioned we did not feel limited to reproducing the old configuration, we experimented by moving everything around to create a new look. Some larger trees were moved to ground level so we balanced their height by lifting some of the mid-level plants even higher, to create another layer of height. To do that we took a couple of the shorter length wood stands and stacked them on top of longer length stands (genius!). We also used blocks of wood, stabs of rock, and an old tree trunk as lifts under some bonsai pots to bring height using other natural elements. Just when I think we are done with our remake-remake…I envision a tall ceramic glazed fountain!

Do you have an area in your yard that needs a Simple Re-Remake?

Thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside!

A Mother’s Lesson about the PATH

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas, mums, and moms – soon to-be, new, or like me, empty-nester.

Years ago, I bought a ceramic tile inscribed with a quote that quickly became our mantra for parenting, in fact, I keep it, in plain sight, next to the kitchen sink, because even as a mom of adult “children” I sometimes need to be reminded. It reads, Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child. Good advice, especially during college years, when our kids lived miles away. It was comforting to say, “Figure IT out,” when situations arose; and they did “figure IT out” because they were prepared to make their own decisions.

Now, kick off your shoes, relax and listen to this podcast, it’s my Mother’s Day gift to you…

The podcast: School of Greatness, with Lewis Howes, Episode 478, is an interview with Kyle Cease, who transitioned his 25-years as a successful comedian into a career as a transformational speaker. Kyle has an interesting perspective on decision-making.

Also, every so often I come across an article that is relevant to what is going on in the lives of younger moms I know, and also relevant to today’s politics, which seems to be pretty chaotic lately. HERE is an interesting viewpoint on private education in the U.S.

It’s Mother’s Day – Enjoy your Greatness!

Thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside!

Child on a tricycle photo source:, Soledadsnp

Zen Garden Remake (again)

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In Sunday’s, Weekend Wanderings, post I gave you a peek into our new backyard project, Captain’s Remake of his Zen Bonsai Garden. I’m surprised how quickly this project has gone thusfar. It is turning out to be one of those projects where … Continue reading

Weekend Wanderings 5.7

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Here in California, winds & rain have calmed down (for now) and it is warming, so everyone seems to be outdoors; lots of barbecues, neighbors hiking the river trail  & puttering in their yards. Captain & I walked over to the Annual Bonsai … Continue reading