Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pushing Pixels


So my wife bought me a book for Christmas called "Creative Photoshop CS4."  We were all up so early on Christmas day that my wife and kid were in bed early as well.  I decided to spend some time playing with lessons in the book and goofing around.  I find my stance on Photoshopping images to be pretty liberal, I also really respect (and prefer) getting things right in the camera.  To me, a photographer that is always saying "I'll fix it in Photoshop" is really missing the boat on their craft and is usually just being lazy.  Then again, once that image has been captured to the best of my ability I have no problem with pushing pixels around later and creating what I want.   Call me a fence sitter if you like, but in today's photographic world half the creativity sometimes happens after you turn on your computer.

So I opened up the book and took a tentative look.  Most of the procedures in there are beyond what I know how to do in Photoshop without a tutorial in front of me and some of them didn't interest me at all, I just won't use them.  But every once in a while I just feel like tinkering with an image for fun.  It might not sell, it might not even be that good, but it is a really creative exercise to occasionally treat Photoshop like the open box creative tool it is.  I ended up pulling an image I shot a week or so ago using black and white film (and scanned) and starting to play with the 'Painting in Photoshop' techniques in chapter one. I painted the background (that was a lot of fun actually) and blended it all in. Then my attention span wavered and I decided to duplicate the image and inverse it and use the gradient tool to bring part of him back in again.  Didn't get that from the book, just got distracted.

So then I flipped to Chapter 16 'Creature Architecture' and saw them taking objects like stonework and grafting it onto faces.  This was cool but I wanted to use one of my own images, not the stone samples that came with the book so I looked through and found a photo I took of a Maple Leaf.  What the heck, I can hide this fellow behind a leaf.  I got a bit lazy here and kind of went my own way with it.  I thought I liked the look of the leaf sticking out of his face, but looking at it this morning I think it would have been better as more of a texture just on the cheeks.  Not going to change it now.

After all this I went back to chapter one and decided their advice on bringing in a canvas texture to tie it all in was a good idea so I did that.  Looking at it I decided it looked unfinished so I brought it into On One Software's Photo Frame program and added one of their acid borders to it which I thought finished it off.  The book really preaches against preset things like this, but I like them so I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

So the book isn't going to change the way I photograph people.  I won't be shooting specifically to turn them into Octopus Face models.  It wont' change how I process my weddings or family portraits either (not a big market for Maple leaves coming out of cheekbones).  But every once in a while I'm going to have a quiet moment where I just feel like goofing around with an image and the techniques in this book, and books like it, are just going to help point me in the right direction.  I'm at the level in Photoshop now where I just take techniques I get elsewhere and turn them into suggestions. I kind of go my own way once they get me started and just use them for methods I don't understand.  Who knows though, maybe I'll develop a style with imaginary images that I like and people buy, stranger things have happened.  At the very least it is a creative outlet and there is never anything wrong with that.

In the meantime, I prefer the original image shot straight out of camera.  Oh well, maybe next time.

If the illustrative types of image creation is your thing I thought I'd point out some Photoshop Wizards that I found on Model Mayhem that are really making some amazing art.

Now I'm off Boxing Day shopping with the family.  Vistek has the Black Rapid Double R-Strap on sale online tomorrow so I'm hoping to pick that up.  I like to have two cameras on me for Wedding Ceremonies so I thought that would be a nice treat for next season.

Before I go, Dpreview has posted up an interesting article on HDR photography.  So very like Dpreview, it is pretty technical, but interesting none-the-less.  

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