When Photos Go Electric

original for What She Sees

original for What She Sees

A few months ago I was working on a picture, adjusting the color, the highlights, contrast levels, etc. I decided to “play” with it when I was done adjusting it and had saved the image to some folder. I ran it through various filters, finding none that I liked really. Then I clicked on one that shifted the image so much that I was really on to something…for me, anyway.

You see, I have pretty much taught myself Photoshop Elements, the little brother (or sister) to Photoshop CS3. Along the way, I’ve referred to an excellent book by Barry Beckham,  The Digital Photographer’s Guide to Photoshop Elements 4: Improve Your Photographs and Create Fantastic Special Effects. I highly recommend this book to anyone having trouble with Elements. (However, he hasn’t published a revised edition since Elements 4 so you’ll have to simply work your way through the improvements that Elements 6 arrived with.) I’ve taken a few classes here in town at Working With Artists in Lakewood (Colorado) and learned some of the various aspects of it; if you’;re in the Denver area, please check out Working with Artists/Flash Gallery….terrific bunch of folks and definitely a fine bunch of photographers!
Overall, though, I’ve taught myself the bells and whistles that I know. And I have a long way to go to master what Elements has to teach me. So, I slog onward…………….

So, as I was saying, one day I was “playing” with this piece. Well, it wasn’t this piece right here, but you get the idea…or you’ll get the idea as we move on. I clicked this filter and began playing with it, moving the

What She Sees

What She Sees

sliders back and forth until the photo looked just right in its new state of….of……man, what did I do? Where’d it go….the filter! The filter I had clicked on had disappeared in my excitement (or else I was just tired at 11:45pm, which is more likely the case…I have a tendency to stay up way passed my bedtime when I’m “playing”). The photo had shifted so much from the original but, I was so tired, I just left it on the screen, full frame, so it would be there when I got up in the morning. THEN, I’d figure out how I did it!

In the morning, I got up and realized I was moving Ken again! (I was spending so much time at Ken’s house helping him move that I’m surprised I had forgotten. Maybe I was trying to forget so I wouldn’t have to do it anymore!) So, I sepnt the day at Ken’s and forgot about the image until I got home.

I was vexed when I sat down at the computer that evening. I tried everything to come up with how I shifted the photo. But it wasn’t to be. I left it and decided to “let it come to me” later. Having it “come to me later” proved to be a relative concept. I got lost in playing with other images, avoiding the new style I had happened upon quite by accident. No problem…getting lost in other ways to play with images is quite easy for me and pretty much comes naturally nowadays. I can’t seem to leave an image alone once I get the original set the way I want it, setting the color tones and the contrasts just right. I’m sure some Photoshop Elements elf is looking over my shoulder goading me to JUST DO SOMETHING to an image to shift it somehow!

Clouds - Wall - Calle Aguila - Santa Fe, NM

Clouds - Wall - Calle Aguila - Santa Fe, NM

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t shift everything I do. I set the color tones and contrasts the way I want and then save it, name it (many of my photos get named as I am taking them, some I sit and ruminate on), and place it in a folder for later.  The photo at the left was taken in Santa Fe a couple of years ago, when I was visiting a long-time friend. I stepped out onto his patio one afternoon and simply snapped the picture with my trusty Canon point-and-shoot. I cropped the photo ever-so-slightly and actually did very little to boost the color and contrast. I did bring up the contrast enough to have the clouds in the window pop out a bit more, though.
My trip to Santa Fe simply wasn’t long enough; I was there 2 nights and 3 days, with a modicum of drive time on either end. Being there in November was a treat, however, because the colors were muted but vibrant as hell. Sounds a bit confused, doesn’t it? Sadly, I haven’t been back. My friend moved to the west coast the following summer.

When I went back to work on some photos the next day, I began my search with a much more relaxed manner. Relaxed, are you kidding? I tried everything! And then, I found it! I backed up with the use of “Undo” to track my progress in reverse to make sure I wouldn’t lose how to do it again. This is the way I work sometimes…because I forget some things easily…especially processes…I have to simply crack away at it until I remember, which can be frustrating. I do learn, however. I do learn!

So, how did I do it?

Wouldn’t YOU like to know!

The Whales Maw

The Whale's Maw

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