Friday, October 28, 2011

Editing photographs

There are a variety of fine editing tools in Photoshop that can save a special image. Some friends of mine recently lost a cherished horse named Cruz. They asked if I could edit out a fence in a photograph so they could have a large print made to frame in memory of Cruz.

Of course I said "yes." When I got the jpeg, though, I found that it was a low-resolution image, which meant they would likely get a somewhat "fuzzy" enlargement. Lower resolutions (2 megabytes and smaller) are fine for snapshots or Web uses. For enlargements of 11x14" or larger, the image needs to be at least 10 megabytes, preferably larger. Most of my 11x14" images are 35-40 megabytes. More pixels or dots per inch makes a finer image, especially at larger sizes.

The Photoshop tools I used for this project were the clone tool, healing brush, and blur tool. I cropped the image and adjusted the levels and color balance. Then I used the unsharp mask filter to sharpen the image as much as possible. Sharpening a low-res image is challenging because there just isn't enough detail to sharper, so you risk making the image appear to be coarser. In looking at the finished image, I think I would have used the blur tool more to reduce the checkerboard pattern of the fence in the background. I would also blur the right edge of the image a bit more. I took out the distracting fence but didn't "clone" in the bottom of the sapling in the photograph.

My favorite is the sepia-toned image but my friends wanted the color image, which they are printing on canvas. I can't wait to see it!

The entire project took about two hours. If I was working with a film image, these corrections would take hours, requiring air-brushing and touch-up by hand with inks and brush. I doubt, though, that it would look as natural as what we can get using Photoshop tools.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cards and calendars

Every year I spend hours and hours designing new holiday cards and calendars. Last year I realized that people just don't send cards like they used to and don't buy calendars either. So many organizations give really wonderful calendars to contributors, that people won't spend what it cost me to produce a calendar. A couple of years, I received five free calendars in the mail – beautiful ones. So last year I donated four of my photographs to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency for their calendar. They gave me several which I handed out to friends and neighbors. This year they can't budget for a calendar (bummer), so I'm producing my own again. I donated use of one of my most popular images – a panoramic of Ruston Way waterfront – to the agency for their efforts to reduce air pollution in Tacoma (a worthy cause).

Still, people ask me about holiday cards and calendars, so I came up with a selection of favorites. I can't afford to keep an inventory on-hand anymore though. A couple of years ago, I discovered that does a very nice job of hosting my cards and calendars which can be customized at no additional cost. Cool!

So I posted my 2012 calendar, created a new holiday card, and updated four favorites. Something new I'm doing this year is adding a description on the back of the card. All of the images I choose for holiday cards are meaningful to me. I hope you are moved somehow by the image itself, but people tell me that they enjoy hearing about the stories behind the images. This post will be a bit longer because I want to share the story that goes with the image at the top of this post.

The calendars are 25% off through Halloween when you buy two or more. Zazzle just had a half off pre-holiday sale on cards. I'm hoping they'll have another sale in a couple of weeks. Check out my Holiday Cards & Calendars.

 Anybody Home?

Ireland is the land of my ancestors. In 1984, I journeyed there, in part to
honor the memory of my parents who passed away a couple of years earlier.
 I photographed the doorway in this image in Kilkenny, Ireland – a place
that feels very much like home.

The Sequalitchew Creek woodland in DuPont, Washington – the ancestral
home of the First People of the Nisqually River delta – is also a place that
feels very much like home.

This photo illustration combines two images that fit together – if only in
my imagination – creating a visual representation of my journey
from a place of origin to a place of destiny.

Places that feel very much like home.