I've Been Away

By Roger (17 April 2014)

You ever notice how, sometimes, we get ourselves into a funk? The timing of said funk is always awful. Bad things pile onto you all at the same time. You don't notice the good news because you're stewing over the bad. It's a low down place to be. Yeah, that's been me for the last couple of weeks.

For 10 days, I was on the road with back-to-back-to-back-to-back trips, with no more than six hours between them: Florida; Virginia; Georgia; Virginia; South Carolina; Virginia. That might have worn me down a bit, but that wasn't the problem.

Just before and during that travel, I experienced several things that ranged from a death in our family of friends and a serious illness, all the way down to camera problems and quite a few things in between. I don't have much patience when things I can't control/fix go wrong. I get downright cranky when all these things happen simultaneously. I was chugging along on inertia, mostly.

Inertia was giving way, when a photography friend scolded me with the obvious – “Everybody goes through hard times.” Thanks. You are absolutely right! The sun began poking through the clouds (in the center of the photo because, if it had been a perfect composition, you would have never believed I took it).

Thanks for the emails and tolerating me when I don't post every week. It worked wonders. I promise the next blog will be about photography fun.

Rest in peace, Charlie. You were quite a man; a positive force in thousands of lives. Long ago, you introduced two of them to each other, and we just celebrated 35 years of marriage.

Semi-Live from Photoshop World

By Mark

Today is the first full day of the conference, and we are about to head out to the After-Hours party.  Yesterday, was the Pre-conference seminars, and Roger and I went with noted aviation and wildlife photographer, Moose Peterson. 

We headed out to the home field of the Dixie wing of the Commemorative Air Force for a day under the sun.  Whoops, slight changes in the forecast required our flexibility.  First, the unfortunate change impacted Roger more than it did me.  They had scheduled re-enactors with real WW2 uniforms to pose with the aircraft.  Because the uniforms are period and semi-fragile, they wisely decided a day in the rain was a bad choice.  Now I am an aircraft enthusiast, so I was OK. 

I might have under-represented the weather.  It was pouring down in buckets with great lightening and loud thunder.  Fortunately, most of it passed on to the South, leaving us with just a steady drizzle.   Moose really pushed us to change the angles for better shots.  Get down low as some people embraced.  

He and his sons (also photographers) and his wife Sharon (also a photographer) provided coaching and held on to ladders. 

They have a flying Zero, a Kate as well as USN aircraft.  My favorite SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber was there. 

In 6 minutes in June of 1942, these aircraft found the Japanese fleet at Midway and changed the course of the war.  

We got to climb up to see the Bell P-63 King Cobra they are restoring as well.  Not a great performing aircraft, but still a piece of history.  All in all, the trip was a good outing, even if we were a little damp.  

Watercolors

By Mark

I’ve always been impressed by the skill needed to accomplish a really well done watercolor painting.  It really takes a lot of planning to leave those white areas alone as you build up all of the other colors.  Varying the shades and intensity of light and shadows takes both a creative talent and an artistic eye.   Masters such as Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent could capture the ethereal light and with a few brush strokes transform it into magic.  

Fishing Boat by Winslow Homer

Fishing Boat by Winslow Homer

The Tease by Sargent

The Tease by Sargent

Well, I have none of those skills.  What I do have however is Photoshop and something I mentioned a few blogs ago—the Artist’s Watercolor extension.

Adobe’s resident mad scientist Dr. Russell Brown demonstrated this at a previous PSW.  It was pretty cool to see, but I hadn’t had a lot of time to play, I mean work with it, since then.  I have to say that I really like my tiger photo from our zoo trip earlier this year.  I knew I wanted to do something more with it and said “aha!”   Actually, I knew I needed a blog topic and then said “aha”!  

Starting from Lightroom, open your image for editing in Photoshop; then go to the Extensions Menu and open up the Adobe Watercolour panel.   I highly recommend you watch the video tutorials starting with http://www.russellbrown.com/watercolour/RB.html .  They show you what each of the features does as you progress along.  These menus take advantage of Adobe Scripting and actions.  They run a fairly complicated but repeatable set of steps.  Each step has an instruction panel to guide you along the way.  Step 2, adds a background canvas texture and then generated two outlines;  A dark version and a lighter version, which serve as the basis for your painting.  Depending on what you like you choose your starting point.

Each step gives you the opportunity to add levels of color and detail which are all taken from your original image and painted on with the special brush the authors created.  The more you paint, the denser the color.

As you work through the levels, keep an eye on your layers panel as each step is run.  New layers are added up until you hit step 8.  At that point, all of the layers are flattened and you lose sight of how you got there.

You can start over if you need too.  Play around and make multiple versions so you can judge the impact of each variation.  Who knows you just might wind up creating something nice.