The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Archive for July, 2011

Archive Photoshop Experiments

Sorry for the late and archive post. I had a temporary job for several days that took a lot of my time and energy, so I haven’t been doing much else. These shots are from an assignment from my digital photography class back in the first semester of my sophomore year in college. Our final assignment was to get creative with Photoshop, and these are some of the pieces I still think have merit.

I remember liking the leaf and wanting to put it on a different color than the dull pavement. So I turned the background blue and added a texture glass filter to it. I still like the colors and textures, but it’s not what I’d create these days.

Admittedly, this next one was never a stellar photo, just a plain shot of a flower in the shade one afternoon. However, I still like the effect. I used one layer with a slight accented edges filter for the flower and another layer for glow and darkened the background. If I did it over, I’d tighten the vignette and make it darker.

This is a composite of many layers with some glow and color layers added for mood and effect. It was a personal favorite at the time, but now I think the cutouts are a tad lacking. Still, I am pleased with the overall effect.

Strange thing about this last one. It was the first shot I put together, and I didn’t really like it. If the lab hadn’t closed early the night I was finishing up this project, I would have made another and never turned this in. I was surprised to find it was my teachers favorite of my ten, and it tied for her favorite in the entire class. Personally, I favored  one of my classmate’s image of a giant clothes iron about to crush a parking lot full of cars.

So there you have it: a brief history of my non retouching and non graphic arts uses of Photoshop.

Next Week: the kitty pictures I was going to do this week

What do You See in Fireworks?

Last week, most Americans spent the evening watching fireworks in one way or another. Most marvel at the colorful bursts that appear and vanish before our eyes. Some of us have a different perspective. Why? We photograph fireworks and therefore become concerned with how the camera records what is constantly blooming and fading before us. When we press the shutter release, we never quite know what we’re going to get.

When I go to a fireworks show, set up my camera on a tripod and wait for the first blasts. After that, I typically pick my final location. Sure I guess when I first arrive, but there’s no way to tell for certain where I need to be untill I see some action. After the adjustments I begin to think about what I’m shooting. Do I want the trails from the launch in this? Maybe I should try to press the button a bit later and get less trail? How much should I let the fireworks drift away? Would a sharper approach give more sparkle? How many blast should I hold the button down for?

It’s hard to guess what to do. Experience helps, but chance is still a major factor in getting a good shot instead of this tropical paradise of chaos, or something worse.



For this one, I’m thinking Mexican fiesta for some odd reason.



Pressing the shutter release just as the fireworks are launched can record a long trail and may result in a flower-like effect.




This combination looks like some weird amoeboid life form or jellyfish.



Ones that come up from the ground in continual streams offer some more predictable possibilities.



Sometimes, I can get a nice patriotic grouping.



Others just come out pretty.





I’m saying goodbye to real fireworks untill next year, but for now I have my unique impressions to enjoy. What do you see when you look at fireworks?


Next Week: Old Playground Equipment  OR Adventures in Stock Photography Part I

I had a brief abstract look at some old playground equipment today, so that might inspire my next post. Otherwise, I may do an informative post on my experience with stock photography so far. I don’t have much information yet, and I’ve not made any money to date, but I can at least share my story and some things I wish I had known from the start (about 3-4 weeks ago?).


I remember the way I thought about time as a child. OK, vaguely, and I’m not that old, but it was different. When I was eight or younger, five minutes was a long time, not to mention an hour. And a year? Are we talking an eternity? I was aware of time: when I had to go to bed, when my father came home, and that kind of thing. However, I was much more free from time. I didn’t have responsibility and obligations. I didn’t have to make a schedule, nor did I have much of one to keep. My first watch did more to make me feel “grown up” than anything else.





But I grew up. Slowly, the hours and years got shorter. I had things to do and often felt like I didn’t have enough time to do them in, especially in college.




I think for most people, getting up on Monday morning becomes more difficult the highschool years. Unless you are a morning person, this is your friend:



The snooze button is actually the enemy.


Right now, time is both fast and slow for me. The minutes, hours, and days go by, but I’m still waiting on things to happen in my life. Waiting, and plotting to speed up the process.


Next Week: most likely, more fireworks